How to Build Up Your Teen-When it’s the Last Thing You Feel Like Doing
By Barbara McRae, MCC
Without meaning to parents sometimes send messages to their kids that do more harm than good. Your sons and daughters need you to believe in them. They don’t need you to be afraid for them. For instance, if your daughter applied for a part-time job at her favorite clothing store and she feels confident she’ll get the job, it is best not to tell her to put in more applications elsewhere.
Moms and dads often want to protect their children from disappointments. But your kids don’t want to be protected; if it doesn’t work out, she will have learned a valuable life lesson and next time she will be better prepared.
Your teens and 20-somethings will make mistakes; we all do. As much as possible, let life become the teacher. Then be comforting and help her get back on track by resuming her job search.
Use the Language of Belief
Showing doubt or disrespect can be devastating for a young adult. If your son missed studying for an important test, continue to demonstrate your love, instead of withholding it. Tell him, “You may not yet fully understand the consequences of blowing off an exam, but the job market isn’t what it used to be. Smart kids like you need to make the best of their assets.”
When a parent (or an educator) tells a student he’s smart, he wants to live up to that belief. Use “the language of belief” whenever possible.
Make Affirmative Statements
It’s also important to notice and comment on what your teen is doing that you want to reinforce. Saying, “I’m proud of you” goes a long way. If success isn’t within reach yet, say “I’ve noticed the effort you have been putting into this project, and will pay off in the end.”
I know that when you’re parenting emerging adults, it’s much easier to criticize than to affirm their behavior. It gets easier when you challenge yourself to say during each conversation. You could say: “I know you’ll do the right thing in this situation,” even if you’d handle it differently! This way, you’ll be accelerating your teen’s growth.
It’s true that the more mistakes we make, the faster we learn. Don’t let your fear and need to protect get in the way of a young person’s healthy development. Create space for mistakes to happen. If it doesn’t turn out well, there’s room to do it better next time.
Building confidence causes teens to naturally “rise to the occasion”, allowing them to take on more self-responsibility as they prepare for a fulfilling future.
P.S. For additional support on how to use affirming words in your communications, see Coach Your Teen to Success. (www.amazon.com).
~ Barbara McRae, Teen Parenting Expert, Campus Calm