It’s normal to worry about your teenager. You want them to succeed in life and be happy. Right now, it’s nerve-racking to see them feeling stuck and unmotivated. There are some steps you can take to help them become unstuck and hopefully take the first small steps to turn things around.
When they Feel Demotivated
Feeling motivated all the time is impossible, especially when you encounter obstacles and challenges of which there are many in 2020. Your teen doesn’t have school to support them anymore, their friends are busy chasing their dreams and looking for work or a way to kick-start a business idea is challenging at the best of times. Talk to your teen about these things. Explain that this period of time is challenging for every teenager in every era and we all come out the other end unscathed (relatively!). Explain how the media sells drama and encourage them not to pay too much attention to it, talk about small steps to move forward, teach them to form daily habits to help them to action. Habits trump willpower every time. Whilst willpower runs out, having a daily routine like drinking a large glass of water on waking, then doing some exercise followed by a shower and breakfast whilst checking phone, starts the day off without undue effort and sets your teen up for doing other things throughout the day. Taking one step, even a tiny step forward, can change their mindset. The only step is the next one.
Have Conversations about Finding Work to help them Rediscover A Purpose
A lot of the anxiety of the school-leaver is worry about the future, about earning a living and becoming independent. The Internet has fundamentally changed how business is done and the Pandemic has not only highlighted this but advanced the cause of the online economy tenfold. What this means in practice is your teens will have online jobs. Many will need upskilling and training to make them work-ready. Researching this can start now. All they need is a laptop.
The Internet offers plenty of opportunities either to upskill virtually or to be self-employed doing online gigs or doing remote gigs for a brand/employer. Since most teens are tech-savvy, they might start their careers in customer support, as a brand ambassador, a content writer or an online tutor. This is the era of the multiple-career, in which your teen can expect to have 5 or more careers in a lifetime. They can try out different roles first, see how things go and career-switch within 1-4 years. Many teens have very successfully set up their own businesses. Start simply. Simply having a conversation with them about the future helps. Use newspaper articles to script your conversation: “I read an interesting thing in the newspaper this morning about being a content-writer..…” .
Manage Their Expectations
Make sure that your teen has realistic expectations. The influencer culture has led many teens to believe that online work is an easy way to make money. It’s simply not true. They can earn money quickly from gigs like teaching English or doing promotional tweets (browse freelance jobs online) but earning a decent living online requires investment of time to learn the business, along with consistent hard work and passion for what you do. The passion is what drives the consistent effort. If your teen is half interested in a project in the online world, where longevity and perseverance are key to success, they will give up before reaping the benefits. If they mean to set up a business, set up a shop online, design websites or establish their name as a blogger, this can take up to 2 years of solid virtual learning and hard work before they are likely to generate income from it. Many young entrepreneurs do gigs to earn money whilst working on their long-term business plans.
Encourage your teen to be mindful of other people’s expectations too, which might confuse them and take them in the wrong direction.
Use Opportunities to Develop Skills in the Home
Whether your teen is working as an entrepreneur or for an employer they will need to have strong soft skills. By this I mean that your teen should be a good communicator and a team player, be professional, flexible, and responsible. They will need to develop good problem-solving skills and have a strong work ethic. Most importantly, they have to be positive and willing to learn from others and share knowledge. Talk to your teens about positivity, seeing the positive side, seeing the glass as half full. It’s easy to teach team building and responsibility within the family as there are always lessons about sharing or allowing a younger sibling to shine or helping Mum and Dad out. Communication too can be developed around the dinner table by discussing a topic in the news.
Encourage your Teen to Own Their Goals
And don’t worry if they haven’t set themselves a goal yet! As a parent, you’ll have some idea if your teen is a great writer or is good with people, or is a born comedian. Bounce ideas around with them to see if you ignite a spark. Help them by using every opportunity to kick-start a conversation about what they’re doing when they’re happiest.
Start by ensuring your teen is setting goals for themselves. It’s okay to listen to what parents or friends have to say, but they should own their goals if they have any chance of succeeding. Chasing someone else’s dreams is not motivating. Encourage them to take a few minutes every day to check on their personal goals and examine why they’re chasing them. Ask them questions. Are they motivated by the money, by having a successful career, or do they plan to own their own house within 10 years?
Help them to Visualize the Details
If they’ve set themselves a goal, ask your teen to envisage as many realistic details as possible about it. If the goal is to find a job, get them to visualize how the CV looks how an interview might go, what it might be like to work in an office, have colleagues, be answerable to a boss etc. The key is to be as specific as possible. The visualization process will help them transform the goal into small steps to take towards accomplishing it.
Encourage them to Share their Goals with someone else
Encourage your teen to write down their goals then share them with someone else. Sharing their goals with someone else, a parent, grandparent, close friend, coach or mentor boosts their motivation and increases the chance of successfully implementing their plans. Being accountable to someone else also creates a kind of impetus to complete the project. Encourage your teen to approach someone who is important to them and whose opinion they value, someone who will check up on their progress and make sure they don’t give up.
Make Sure to Tell your Teen that There’s Time
They have time to make mistakes, time to reconsider, time to try a career, and time to invest in a new one. Remind them of how far they’ve come and how proud you are of what they’ve accomplished to date. Explain that you understand it’s not possible to be motivated all the time but now is the time to form good habits for the future and above all to try things out and keep all options open.
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