How To Encourage Teens During Tough Times

My Ideal College shares way to help teens through difficult times.

Last week was part 1 of my interview with Deanne Barrett. She provided easy ways to help us better connect with our teens. In case you missed it, you can click here to read that blog.

In part 2 of my interview, Deanne shares ways we can lean in, support, and encourage your teenagers during tough times.

Our kids are growing up in a world of instant gratification, but that’s not how the real world works. How do we help them navigate this?

We need to create a family environment with times without technology. We don’t know how to be bored, still, or just let our mind roam. Our human bodies cannot handle being engaged so often. You can make the car a no phone zone. Where you can look out the window, talk or just be silent. We need this for our mind and body. You can also schedule time like a Sunday afternoon hike or play a family game. Set a rule of no electronics an hour before bed. This will help everyone sleep better.

How can we help our kids’ ability to take initiative and want a challenge? These are traits in many jobs.

Deanne: This is developmentally understandable. It happens for some kids. This kind of teenager wants low effort / high reward. This is why video games are popular; they know the science of when and what type of reward a kid needs to keep going. Kids who are not going to take initiative or are not motivated, need a structured environment. What kind of situations can we put them in that are structured and have positive peer pressure? For example, scouts – “this is how we do things” and  “everyone is doing this.” We need to create an environment that will set them up for success.

How can we help kids who are highly driven? Sometimes they get stressed and burn out.

Deanne: I taught advanced students. For most of them, school was easy, then in the 10th grade it wasn’t. The schoolwork was finally a challenge worthy of them. I saw two things happen. Some kids would go into procrastination mode. They would think this is hard, I must not be as smart as I thought I was, so I am going to put the brakes on everything and not do it. Other kids would go into hyperdrive and start focusing on things that were not as important. For example, for a project, they might focus on making it look pretty versus the content. They focus on the things they feel are easier versus the hard stuff.

As a teacher, I had to redirect them on where they need to put their focus. As parents, we have to do this at home. For example, focus on getting more sleep because if you don’t have a refreshed brain, you have nothing to work with and less time on overdoing the studying. It’s all about helping our kids set priorities. Your child may say, but all I want to do is study. As parents, we want them to study, but we need to help them be more effective at it. Kids sometimes think if we just spend more time, it will work, but we need to help them learn how to spend their time effectively. Where are they going to get the most bang for their buck? Most kids don’t naturally know how to do this. Sleep is the number one for kids because so many stay up late on their phones or studying. It becomes detrimental for their health. Learning how to prioritize is a key life skill for them to learn.

How else can we teach our kids to prioritize?

Deanne: When they have a week where maybe they put off schoolwork or have so much work that they don’t know how to balance and they are overwhelmed. We need to let our kids go through this tough time.  We need them to have times when they are not as successful. What can you do differently next time to avoid that rough week from happening again? If you are the mom who is always on top of them, they are never going to hit that crunch until they are in college or another time when you are not with them. Then they don’t know how to recover. You need to let them struggle and go through the pain to learn how to recover.

Your child has a right to fail. I know it’s uncomfortable as a parent, but If they fail, it’s theirs rather than if they succeed, but it’s because the parent did so much. What your child is learning is a lot of academics, but much of that they are not going to use again. For example, I had to learn algebra, but I haven’t used it since. Algebra was hard for me, but what I learned from it is how I deal with challenging situations. I shut down and I failed. Because I failed, I learned what I needed to change to succeed. We need to spend time in the uncomfortable. That’s true for parents. We need to lean in when our kids want to push us away. It’s also true for kids, you need to spend time in the uncomfortable. Learn how to study and learn how to ask for help – that’s where the growth is.

Personal growth cultivates leadership in leading our own lives. That is the inspiration behind Radiant Mom. We think of radiance as being something about beauty, but really it’s about having your personal power and being able to be present even when things are uncomfortable. When we can tap into our strengths to help us deal with the uncomfortable. So, if we have a child who really needs to step it up in school, then you have that light and love to help them. You say to your child, “You can do this. I am right here with you. Let’s make this happen.” You light that fire to help encourage and support them.

Help them see – –  you can do this and I am here to support you. Our teens need that from us.

You can learn more about Deanne Barrett and her Radiant Mom work by checking out her website radiantmom.ca or gratitudework.com. You can also view our full interview on my YouTube channel by clicking here.

Now tell us what do you do to “lean in” with your teens. How do you support and encourage them during tough times? Tell us in the comments below.

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