Watching your Teen begin to lose thier sparkle can be extremely worrying for parents. This can be of course for many reasons however, experiencing the pressure to perform at school, the stress of exams and the anxiety most teenagers face growing into young adults is at the top of the list and quite honestly, enough to dull the brightest of sparks!
When I use the term spark I mean just that! Do you remember seeing their face just light up when they are doing something they love not matter how small! That's what I am talking about! There was a time when my eldest son seemed to be losing his sparkle (he was about 14 at the time) and then one day, I watched him with his friends and there it was, such a relief! He was laughing, shouting in excitement with his mates and just being allowed to be himself. His sparkle was there in spades!
The more I coach students, the more I know for sure that every single child/teenager has their own unique spark, but sometimes it is just hidden and often not obvious to us as parents. So, I have come up with my top six ways which I hope will help you guide your teen to get in touch with their 'inner- spark' and feel good about themselves again.
1. Help them to embrace their uniqueness and make sure they know that everyone has different talents, strengths & gifts to offer and begin to help them focus on those every day. Start helping them work out what that is for them, make a list of their attributes and seek out examples that will inspire them to become more of who they are so they feel 'good enough'.
2. Remember to help your teen to not over-identify with academic achievement and exams results. It is an important message I reinforce to all the students I coach. I say 'you are so much more than any exam or test result. It is not who you are'! I see plenty of 'bright sparks' who are not academically inclined and who are going to do great in the 'outside world'. The exciting thing is there are so many wonderful pathways for our kids to follow and now more than ever before, academic success is only one of the pathways available. So, please, please avoid using the word 'Bright' in conjunction with academic achievement and let your teen know that everyone 'shines' at something.
3. Teens need to feel a deep sense of acceptance, connection and belonging. As parents it is important we find new ways every day for them to experience these feelings. If they don't feel it within the family, they will go elsewhere looking for it. We have to think outside the box more, start getting creative in how you do this.
The one thing I know works in our family is laughter! So, we try and sit down together once a week and watch some great stand-up comedians or just find the funny side of everyday life. What could you do to create a greater connection?
4. Make a huge effort not to add any additional pressure on them to perform and achieve academically, leave that to the school. We have to remember always that the mental health of our teenagers is of paramount importance. Let our role be one of guidance, support and love (and feeding them well of course!). Don't let the pressure get to you! It will have a knock-on effect by creating anxiety in your teenager if they feel deep down that they are 'not good enough' and falling below in your expectations.
5. Encourage them to explore, be adventurous and try new things. Find out what the love and loathe! Focus on helping them to discover who they want to be and not what they want to do when they grow-up. That is one of the biggest mistakes we can make, put too much focus on the future and not enough on the present.
6. Lastly, you have to watch closely what lights up your Teen. They want to shine at something, so help to discover their passions and interests. That is the starting point and the spark comes when you see them being themselves and loving whatever they are doing. And then, just help them do more of that!
Good luck and if you would like some extra help with reigniting your teen's spark, I would love to help them find thier 'inner spark' once again! Please feel free to call me for a chat on 0424 589954 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org for futher information