What can YOU do to challenge adultism, right now? Here are five ways to start:

  1. Talk directly with all children and youth you meet. Listen to what they say, tell them what you think and feel, and focus on respect and trust-building every time you talk with them. Focus on the conversation and don’t be distracted. Respond accordingly when it’s appropriate.
  2. Integrate young people throughout your world. Actively involve children and youth throughout your life and throughout your community. In your home create active, meaningful and deliberate opportunities for your children. Throughout your neighborhood treat your young neighbors as you’d treat any adult neighbors- or better. At least don’t ignore them. At work lobby for and lead efforts to actively involve young people in decision-making, no matter what you do. Across your whole community advocate with young people to actively integrate children and youth in everything, everywhere, all the time.
  3. Change yourself then change the world. How do you behave in adultist ways? Do you talk down to young people? Making decisions with young people people requires having young people at the table – are they there? When was the last time you had a meaningful conversation with children and youth? Change yourself first. Change the world second. We shouldn’t expect others to do something we aren’t doing ourselves.
  4. Don’t humiliate young people. If you wouldn’t say it to an adult in front of adults, don’t say it to children and youth in front of children and youth. There’s an assumption that we should call out young people in front of their peers in order to “teach them a lesson.” While we may think we’re teaching them to behave, we’re actually teaching them that humiliating other people is okay. That’s not okay, and as responsible adults we should not humiliate young people. Ever.
  5. Teach young people that their community belongs to them. Our society is actually yearning for people to actually dig in their hands and do the work of social change in all kinds of areas. We have to teach young people that along with adults they’re directly responsible for the outcomes of their communities, both by role modeling and by taking action.
These are some early steps. What would you do next? Learn more at freechild.org/adultism.htm and search this blog for the topic “adultism”. 

CommonAction is available to train, speak, and share about this topic and many others. Contact me to talk about the possibilities by emailing adam@commonaction.org or calling (360)489-9680.

Written by Adam Fletcher, this article was originally posted to http://commonaction.blogspot.com. Learn more at adamfletcher.net!