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How to Help your Teen find Direction

Posted on 30 April 2019
How to Help your Teen find Direction

'Lack of Direction and 'Motivation' are the most common issues teenagers face at school. After helping countless students to find their way, I have gained some invaluable insights which I think is really worth sharing with other parents so you can give your teen the guidance they need. 

Having two teenage boys myself, I know it can be both frustrating and worrying all at the same time when your teenagers just seem 'switched-off', 'disengaged' and have absolutely no idea what their next step once they have left school. So, I hope by sharing some of my insights, it will help put your mind at ease and give you a fresh perspective.

One of the most important things to bear in mind is that there are a record number of students falling through the cracks of the 'one size fits all' educational system. While some schools are adapting to meet the needs of students in a fast-changing world, some are quite simply still stuck in the past! I believe we have to change our approach and think far more broadly by treating each student as an individual with unique needs and aspirations, hopes and dreams, rather than a cog in the educational wheel.

The pressure of preparing for exams is huge and enough to send the most dedicated 'high-achieving' student into a spin! Anxiety and depression are on the rise with teens, and when it gets all too much, it can tilt them over the edge. The mental and emotional health of teenagers must be the number priority above all else.

One of things I share with parents is how utterly pointless it is to continually ask which job or career they want to do as early as year 9! New jobs and careers are being created at a rapid speed, so by the time they leave school or further education they will more than likely fulfill a role we have never heard of before.

I don't know about you, but I have personally tried to 'motivate' both my sons at different times in their school life and I can tell you from personal experience, it is totally fruitless and a complete waste of time and energy. 'Does 'emotional exhaustion' ring any bells? We can guide them for sure, but ultimately it has to come from them. I hate to use clichés, but it is so true that you can take a horse to water, but can't make it drink.  I had to make this mental note to self : When what we are doing is not working, we have to admit defeat, take a deep breath and find the courage to try something new to get different results.

My suggestion is for you to take another approach! This way is far more effective and rewarding and doesn't damage your relationship with your teen. Here's what you do. Rather than putting your attention on what job they may or may not do in the future, help them instead to figure out 'what makes they a unique individual', thus helping them to get to know themselves more. Understanding 'what makes them tick' as a powerful starting point and simply taking the 'next step' most alligned to each student gives a sense of direction.

To help you re-focus from 'What job' to 'Who they are', I've compiled a list of questions to help you gain the insights you need to dig a bit deeper and start helping them find direction and clarify next steps:-

  • What environment are they most happy in?

  • What it is about your teen that makes them a unique individual?

  • What are they passionate about?

  • What difference would they like to make in this world?

  • What are their interests?

  • What do they love/like and dislike?

  • What kind of friendship groups do they have?

  • What well-known person do they identify with and why?

  • What are their natural talents?

  • What personal traits do they have which stand out?

  • Are they naturally ambitious and driven or more 'happy go lucky'?

  • Are they naturally a 'team-person' or do they prefer their own company?

Their answers to these questions over time will help you begin to understand 'what makes your teen tick'. Once you have a better undertanding, it's important to make sure they are heading in a direction which will help develop their natural skills. For example; why do chemisty as a subject if they don't like it; see no reason for needing it in the future and instead have a love for music? Oh and by the way, this is not about sitting them down and firing these questions at them, so please pick the right time, maybe take them out for something to eat, go for a walk together and drop a few of these questions into a chat.

It's important to remember our kids may not be like us and therefore not driven by the same things. Consequently they have a very different set of motivators. Be very careful not to impose what motivates you onto your kids'. Their direction may not be what you had in mind, but it's far more important you support your teen's most natural pathway rather than one which is imposed on them.

All in all, I hope this has given parents some insight into how to help your Teen find direction and their 'inner-motivation'.  If you would like some guidance with helping your student find direction, I am here to help with my 'On-Track Student Pathway Coaching'. Give me a call and I can chat through what I can do to help get your teen feel more motivated and get them 'back on track'.  Thank you




Tags: MOTIVATION finding direction

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Karen Claridge | Coaching for Success | Edge Coaching Academy | Student Coaching Perth