As parents, we want our teens to succeed in life. We want them to set meaningful goals, discover their passions and choose fulfilling careers.
With the diverse opportunities available nowadays, you’d think they’d have an easy time achieving their dreams. The reality, however, is that teens these days are more stressed out about their future than ever before.
While some teens have the good fortune of knowing the kind of career they want to pursue from an early age, a large majority have no idea what direction to take. They hesitate to make any decision fearing that one wrong step could negatively impact their future. They worry they’ll choose the wrong careers or end up making too little cash to support themselves. At the same time, they’re anxious that they’re wasting valuable time that they’ll never recover while others are pulling ahead.
Such thoughts only serve to create a cocktail of emotions (mostly fear and anxiety) that keep teens going around in mental circles without actually doing anything constructive.
That’s where you step in.
As a parent, you can help your teen recognize that their life and identity is in their hands. If you want them to succeed in life and have the courage to chase their dreams, you have to find ways to inspire them. Encourage them to discover their talents or learn new skills to push their lives in the direction they wish to go. Help them understand that the greatest obstacles they have to overcome lie within them. They need to realize that they can do anything they want or dream to if they’re willing to put in work.
If your teen has messed up in the past, explain that they can always let go and begin anew. Struggling teens often feel like they wasted their lives. The guilt and shame of their poor choices can prevent them from seeking out their dreams. They might feel that it’s too late to turn things around. These teens need assurance that their past doesn’t define them. Let them know that they can also create whatever life they choose –they might just have to work a little harder to get there.
So how can you inspire and motivate your teen to follow their dreams?
Give them a little nudge.
Sometimes all your teen needs is a little nudge to push them from their comfort zone. You could start by reducing their allowance and encouraging them to find jobs to make up the cash deficit. First jobs can be invaluable sources of inspiration for teens struggling to find direction.
Expose them to new experiences.
Your teen can’t get inspired if they always stick to the same routine. To get them out of their rut, find different ways to expose them to new experiences. This could be as simple as trying out a new hobby or attending an event they normally wouldn’t. Alternatively, if you have the funds and time for it, you can send them to another country to experience a totally different culture. These experiences can expand your teen’s mind, opening them up to career paths they hadn’t considered and even helping them to revise and refine their dreams.
Challenge them to think creatively.
Another way to inspire your teen is by challenging them to come up with new ways to do things. Some of the great startups of our time started this way. Encourage them to think of all the various ways teens can earn money, then brainstorm on ways they can add value or put a different spin on them. For instance, if they mow the neighbors’ lawns, could they do some landscaping as well?
Connect your teen with a mentor.
Your teen might not always listen to you but they might respond well to someone they look up to. This could be an older teen or young adult who’d be willing to share the steps they took to pursue their dreams. A mentor would not only offer advice but also give feedback and act as a soundboard –all immensely useful for your teen.
Having your whole life stretch out before you is exciting but it can also be a little scary and overwhelming. Our teens have so much potential and it’s up to us to encourage and inspire them to take the next steps towards creating the life of their dreams.
Tyler Jacobson is a proud father, husband, writer and outreach specialist with experience helping parents and organizations that help troubled teen boys. Tyler has focused on helping through honest advice and humor on: modern day parenting, struggles in school, the impact of social media, addiction, mental disorders, and issues facing teenagers now. Follow Tyler on Twitter and Linkedin.