Motivating your teenager

Have you wondered what happened to your child, with that lovely beaming smile and helpful disposition long-ago remembered?  If you’ve arrived in Teenage-land with a bump and wonder how you got there, have a look at the facts.

Teenagers get a bad press

If you believe everything you read in the press about teenagers you’d be forgiven for thinking that they are unmanageable and disengaged.

Look at your teenagers and tick off their positive points from the following.  Does your teenager:

  • Eat healthy foods when presented with them
  • Join in with family activities when requested
  • Comply with house rules most of the time
  • Shower and change clothes daily
  • Have friends at school
  • Engage in occasional sport

If you can tick 4 out of the 6 points above, you should be pleased.

Don’t focus on the negatives

On the other hand, you might think that you have lost touch with your teenager and that they are distant and remote from you.  Teenage years are the time of our lives that we change the most, physically and emotionally.  It’s tricky for a teenager to keep in tune with their own feelings, never mind allowing you into their thoughts!

Self esteem typically is lower and self-perception changes.  Youngsters make negative comparisons between themselves and their peers.  As we are the adults in the relationship we should be helping them to focus on their positives.

So where did the self esteem go?

Help your teenagers to recognise the reasons for lowered self esteem:

1.         Social awkwardness

Where once your teenager would embrace you, granny and auntie with a bear hug, it’s not really cool to do that at age 14 – 19.  Conversations about school and clubs just aren’t interesting and now that’s the barrier for the extended family.  The strong familiar bonds now feel strange, even though the love remains.  Parents and grandparents take longer to understand the grunts, and don’t always share the joy of the TV choices or music.   Separation or silences ensue.

2.         Isolation due to home gaming or social media

Teenagers will insist that they are playing online with their ‘mates’.  This, they believe, amounts to socialising.  Mehrabians Rule (Mehrabian Study 1967 – 1972) states that body language constitutes 55% of our two-way communication.  If your interaction is at both ends of a microphone it’s easy to see how this natural ability can become eroded.  Foster plenty of reasons for your teenager to step away from the X-Box or laptop.  Support them to enjoy the face-to-face company of their friends.

3.         Hormones/mood swings

It’s not just the girls who suffer from hormones.  Boys suffer enormous anxiety around their emotional ups and downs, they just don’t verbalise it as well as the girls.  Hold the thought that the passing of time will help this to stabilise.  And remain calm yourself!

4.         Sleepiness

Do you remember being sleepy as a teenager?  Even with, or maybe because of, the heightened brain activity due to the constant stimulus of TV, PC, phones, games etc, teenagers sleep very deeply.  It’s hard to break that slumber.  Especially on a school day.  As a preventative measure, insist on a realistic ‘lights out’ time and unplug the wireless connections.

Part 2 - "Tips to try at home" coming soon.