In light of the lack of employment and the media enhancement of all that is wrong in our world, many adolescents have no drive to succeed. Why should they get good grades? They can’t afford college and are ineligible for scholarships. Why do the homework? Why go to school at all? Why do chores? Why care?
A few parents have related that they have a child that no matter what bribes they receive or consequences doled out they won’t be swayed from their apathy. Their desire is so little they are willing to lie in filth, do and eat nothing. What works for most people doesn’t work for all.
As we nurture the children and young adults around us we need to prepare them to be positive and hopeful during difficult times. Finding joy in work–school work, chores, or any type of work–is the only path to a positive life no matter the circumstances.
10 Tips of Encouragement for Teens
1. Against the Grain. Wrestle (arm, hand-to-hand, on the floor-not WWF) with your kids and don’t let them win. They need to work hard and fill empowered in this adult world. Even an eleven year old can hold their own and sometimes win on their own. Let them win on their own power. When they over power you move on.
2. Point out their Brilliance. This means truly seeking to give positive feed back at appropriate times. Constant positive comments without some constructive criticism isn’t healthy. Be Real!
3. Teach young people how to accept compliments and constructive criticism: Think before they speak, say thank you, give credit to the sources of help behind successes; (for criticism)Stop, Look, and Listen; repeat comment back to critic; then take time to evaluate comment; apply comment or give reasons for not applying.
4. Give opportunities for show stopping success. Help them achieve goals by giving opportunities to improve skills. Help them try out for sports teams, scouts, dance recitals, music, drama, essay or speech contests, and clubs. If they fall short evaluate what they need to work on to improve and do what you can to facilitate that.
5. Daydreams are important. They are not lazy or a waste of time. Share your dreams and listen to theirs. Don’t give your worldly experiences about how their dreams are doomed. Let them have their dreams. Discuss what they would need to do to achieve those dreams or just enjoy their creativity. They may not be Idol material but they can enjoy music all their life.
6. Bribes? Offering incentives to motivate them may be helpful. Make sure the bribe is healthy and focuses on time with you or something useful.
7. Stonewall? Sometimes you are the brick wall they beat their heads against. Evaluate whether this tactic is healthy; stop if it is not. Pick your battles carefully. Sometimes that firm stance you take can give them strength and encouragement later in their life.
8. Pray for them. Whether you believe in a higher power or not you can actively meditate positive thoughts and images. Visualize them succeeding. See them healthy and happy. When I pray I try not to dictate to God what I want for my child. I thank God for blessing my child with specifics and then say, “if it is in their highest and greatest good, if it is thy will.” Then I thank God for inspiring my mind with those things I can do to help my child. Then I need to be still and listen. I’m not always still and so the listening gets sketchy.
9. Give appropriate affection. This is usually a hug or touch on the arm but it could also be a game of basketball followed by high fives. Sometimes my teens do not want to be touched, unless I’m making dinner and then they want to hang on me. When they want distance use your words and respect (my tongue has teeth marks permanently embedded). When they want to snuggle–let it be.
10. Give your teen chores that develop independence. Teach them skills they can use in the work place. Volunteer projects are great ways to gain skills and improve outlook.
May you thrive as you encourage your teens to thrive!