My 14 year old daughter was having one of those days where nothing seemed to go right. She was sitting at the kitchen counter with her head in her hands peering down, “Nothing I do is right, everyone hates me and even you can’t find things you like about me.”
What she was saying tugged on my heart strings and I could remember back to my years as a teen saying the same statement.
“Oh, yes I can. I can name lots of things I like about you.” I responded.
Then she threw out the dare, “I bet you can’t name 200 things you like about me!”
I thought to myself, “Whoa! 200 things, that is a lot!”
However, I took her request seriously. The next evening she found in her room on the pillow a sheet listing “10 things I love about you”. I don’t believe I got to 200 qualities I appreciated about her but I did leave a list each night for a number of days. The list challenged me to see the assets she had as a young women trying to find her way in life.
Relationships are a hugely important factor in all humans’ lives. However, in a teens life relationships between teachers, mentors, parents, peers and other caring adults can profoundly positively impact a teen’s motivation and success.
Think back to an adult that positively impacted you as a teen. What did they do? How did they treat you? What did they say to you that made an impact on your life?
The Search Institute has conducted research which shows that relationships where teens are authentically shown that they matter, challenged to grow, provided support, have a say and able to connect with people and places that expand their possibilities are more motivated in achieving success.
Here are three small changes you can make to build an authentic relationship with a teen.
- Building Internal Strengths
The story about my daughter and the notes I left her were my way of helping her build internal strengths. We all have strengths and those strengths are expressed in many different situations. Many teen may not be able to see the strengths they possess or have a hard time acknowledging a strength. As a parent take the time to let your daughter or your son know what you love about her or him.
- Two Important Questions
What is one good thing about yourself?
What is good thing about your life?
Asking these important questions regularly helps your teen to see the good in him/her and in life at the present moment.
- Affirming the Good
You see your teen using one of their strengths, call it out. However, be very specific about your observation and positive feedback. An example would be:
“I noticed you asked the boy standing on the side of the court to come and shoot baskets with you and your friends. He looked like he appreciated being included in the fun.”
In this situation your son or daughter was supported in the value of including everyone in the fun.
Research has shown that even a modest effort on the part of the adult to form a personal connection with a teen can dramatically impact that teen’s motivation. Building supportive relationships with your son or daughter and their friends is not hard.
So today smile at a teen, ask how it’s going, and notice the good. You are growing a relationship and making a difference in the world. Now go do it!
How do you authentically build a relationship with your son or daughter?
Let me know in the comments area below.
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