Written by: Shani Fowler
It probably doesn’t seem so long ago that your child gave you sleepless nights with the feeds and teething, and now its sleepless nights with worry! As parents we worry as children make the transition from childhood years to adulthood, we all need to spend time encouraging teenagers rather than arguing with them!
The tunnel of teen
The tunnel can be confusing for a teen, but like all tunnels there is a light at the end. You may wonder where your polite and obedient child went. If you look carefully in their room, past the piles of laundry, you will find them – oh there they are asleep under the duvet (until 12 noon if it’s the weekend)! There’s no denying teenage years can be one of the most challenging periods of time for children and parents alike, but encouragement is what is needed – so what is the best way of appealing to all that attitude and hormone?
It is good in its rightful place. Offer positive words and comments – but the praise has to be considered and meant. Praising a child constantly and for everything isn’t going to encourage, it can bring about temporary feelings of pride and happiness but may fall quite a bit short of providing sustained self-esteem – praise has to be merited.
The simplest yet an effective route to encouragement. At work, if we are thanked we feel encouraged and are more likely to want to repeat the behaviour. Teens feel encouraged and if they are thanked for doing something constructive, especially if they hadn’t been asked!
Acknowledging positive aspects of them. Let them know you are glad of their kindness and you think they have a great sense of humour; how thoughtful they are to take time if they help you to do something or perhaps help their siblings. Everyone likes to feel appreciated; again it instils a willingness to carry on with good behaviour.
Show confidence in them
Empower them by telling saying such things as “I really know you can do this….” and “I trust you to do that.” This kind of language builds self-worth. Let them know you value and admire the effort they have put into something. Even when the outcome was not what they had hoped for. We are not all good at everything but if we have truly given it our best shot – that is seriously all we can do.
Allow them to make choices and let them know you thought the choices they made were good (if indeed they were). It will improve their confidence. If they made a decision that wasn’t so good, it is helpful to say, “well that didn’t really work out maybe next time think about doing it a different way.” We don’t have to slam down on a wrong decision, we all make them and its part of the learning process.
Verbal affirmation is valuable but actions can speak louder than words. Attending their football matches or concerts shows you care and encourages them to carry on. It shows you value what they are trying to do.
How do they feel?
Consider how they feel. It’s great to let them know you are proud of them but those are your feelings. Tell them that they should be really proud of themselves. Ask how they feel they have done, it will encourage deeper self-confidence if they have their own positive feelings for their achievements. To know that it is okay to feel proud of yourself is positive, it inspires to aim higher and keep achieving. It can help focus on personal development and growth.
Encouraging and motivating teenagers is about what we say and do. Allowing them freedom to make some decision, attending their events and letting them know how valued they are. At the end of the day we want them to transcend that tunnel, emerging as well-adjusted adults. Ones capable of making decisions, dealing with mistakes, and respectful to people. With our encouragement, motivation and guidance we can get them there.