As parents to teens, helping them to keep their 'unique spark' is one of the most important things we do for them. Sadly, and all to often, I am seeing this 'spark' diminish in many of the teenagers I coach. This of course can be 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 enough to dull the brightest of sparks!
When I use the term 'spark' I mean just that! Have you ever seen 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 spark (he was about 14 at the time) and then one day, I listened as he was playing Xbox with his friends and what I saw was his spark! He was laughing, shouting in excitement with his mates and just being allowed to be himself.
The more I coach teenagers, the more I realise that every single teenager has their own unique spark, but sometimes it is just hidden and often not obvious to parents. So, here's some tips that will guide you into helping your teen get in touch with their 'spark' and feel confident again.
1. Help them to embrace their 'uniqueness' and make sure they know that everyone has different talents, strengths and gifts to offer and begin to help them focus on those every day. Start helping them work out what they are; make a list of their attributes and seek out examples that will inspire them to become more of who they are, so they feel they 'good enough'.
2. 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 regularly and watch some great stand-up comedians. What could you do to create more connection?
3. Try not to add any additional pressure on them to perform and achieve academically, leave that to the school. Let our role be one of guidance, support and love (and feeding them well!). Don't let the pressure get to you, as it the very thing that will create anxiety in your teenager.
4. 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 will be doing'. That is one of the biggest mistakes we can make, put too much focus on the future and not enough on the present.
5. 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, as my passion is empowering young people to shine and thrive. Please feel free to call me for a chat on 0424 589954 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org