(Inside: Encouragement for teens is needed. A simple, yet powerful way to encourage your teen is to text them inspirational and motivational memes. Download free memes today and help your teen thrive.)
“Can I talk to you?” my eleventh-grade student pulled me aside before the bell.
Independent. Strong. This young man boasted athleticism and confidence. Yet, tears filled his eyes as he explained, “You know I’ve been working hard to get my grade up in your class, so I wanted to tell you…I just might not be myself today… I had a big fight with my mom…”
Do you know what my student wanted from me in the moment?
Encouragement. A few simple uplifting words.
In my twenty-plus years of working with teens, one aspect of raising older kids continually surprises me: no matter who the teen is…
All teenagers crave encouragement. Like the rhythm of intaking oxygen, teens need a continual intake of kind words.
Teens have more pressure than ever. Maintaining grades, figuring out who they are, navigating social skills, and then add to that the underdeveloped frontal cortex and the beast of social media and you have some stressed out kids. That’s why teens need parents to recognized that the adolescent years hold unique pressures and they need parents to say, “I believe in you” in a thousand ways from a billion different angles.Yes, I want all of the Freebies!
Moms need encouragement too! Here’s some for you: Best Podcasts Every Mom Needs to Hear
Science proves that healthy encouragement can make a life-long, empowering impact. Psychologist Carol Dweck conducted a study that caught the world of education’s attention. Fifth graders were given medium-level math-problems to solve. They were praised in one of two ways:
Then, the students were given progressively harder math problems. Do you know which group thrived? You guessed it…those who were praised for working hard. The ones praised for their ability were scared to make a mistake because it made them feel like they weren’t clever or smart. Yet, the ones who were praised at working hard knew that whether they conquered the hard math problems or not, they were still doing a great job. As a result, that group was more successful.
We see evidence of Dweck’s study in our daily lives:
As adults, we better thrive in life when we’re in a nourishing, encouraging environment – it’s the same for teens.
Related article: How to get your tween/teenage son to open up to you
However, telling your teen they are amazing-amazing-amazing for hanging up their towel one- time last month is not what I mean. (Because you know you want to take them to doctor to get their arms checked.) Or being all chill when you found out your kids and their friends binge drank in your home. (In that case, please, be the opposite of chill. Overact. Holler like the zombie apocalypse has arrived. Don’t even be sorry.)
Teens need structure, stability and healthy expectations.
Plus, there’s evidence that insincere praise over non-praiseworthy thing is unhealthy for our kids. Parental guidance is an important part of a kid’s development; I mean – after all – sometimes it needs to be us that tells our kids they’re embarrassing themselves. (Everyone else is all Minnesota Nice.)
But mixing that loving truth telling with encouragement in Dr. Gottman’s 5:1 magic healthy relationship ratio is a powerful way to raise kids. (Five positive interactions for every one negative one.)
So, how do you give healthy encouragement to kids? You think about the healthy person you want your child to be and you praise for the qualities that shape their character.
We use healthy encouragement in parenting by making the meat of our encouragement look like this:
(It should be noted: This doesn’t mean you never tell your child they’re pretty or awesome just because. Of course, when your three boys emerge in their suits ready for Christmas Eve, every boy-mom swoons – as they should!)
Every momma out there wants our healthy encouragement to sink in. So, let’s meet our kids where they’re at…and let’s be honest – our kids are at (on) their phones. A simple way to encourage your kids is to text them self-affirming memes.
But add an individualized touch to it. Meaning, if your kid wants to try out for the speech team and they are shaking like leaf, text this meme with specific reasons why you think they’ll do well. (“You’ve practiced, you know your speech – just do you!”)
Or if your kid is struggling with friendships, remind them, “You are loved! By your family, your friends – even when you don’t feel loved, remember you ARE LOVED!”)
Because my goal at Empowered Moms and Kids is to research powerful ways to parent, and then give you free stuff to support that goal, I have a gift for you to support us all in encouraging our kids. You can download 15 colorful memes. Send your beloved kid a few texts over the next week and watch them walk a little taller in a few short days. I guarantee they will love it. (If only secretly, because they can’t always let you know you’re appreciated – their hormones hinder it.)Yes, I want all of the Freebies!
I don’t know if my student’s mom sent her son a sweet text reminding him that even in the conflict, he is loved beyond measure, but I bet she did. Because mommas are awesome like that. (And that includes YOU!)
Cheryl is a mom of 3 boys, wife, speaker, high school teacher, and author of Empowered Moms & Kids. She has a Master’s degree in Educational Leadership and is passionate about learning and teaching. On www.empoweredmomsandkids.com you’ll find inspiration and encouragement for moms raising tweens and/or teens. Read more in the “about” section of this page.