I have recently been talking with C.S. Shride, the award-winning author of Lucy Dakota: Adventures of a Modern Explorer, about teens and empowerment. Carol Sue Shride wears many hats. She is a writer, speaker, educator, entrepreneur, explorer, mentor and mother of a tweenager. She is the perfect person to collaborate with for this article as she writes full-time creating and contributing to books and articles on a mission to inspire teenage girls and women, to show them how they can love themselves more fully and live the lives of their dreams. When I asked her if she had any tips that would help parents empower teens, she brilliantly came up with five great ones that I know you will find to be useful, and beneficial, in your own relationship with your teenager!
Shride’s Advice —
If you want your teenager to feel more in control of their own destiny and begin to act more like an adult and take responsibility for their actions, a great way to do that is to empower them to make their own decisions and choices in life. As a parent, there are many ways this can be done, and as a teen, the key to being empowered is how you look at the world around you. Here are some great ideas for parents and kids to set young people up to trust themselves and their abilities.
- Allow your kids to make some decisions. Start young with simple decisions so they are already skilled at weighing options and making sound choices by the time they are teenagers. Give them the freedom to choose what to eat, what to pack or what to wear. Occasionally let them decide where to go on a camping trip or on vacation, or make them responsible for one aspect of the adventure (such as a couple of meals during the trip, or activities one day) to give them a sense of responsibility and control over their own destiny.
- Teach your children to take responsibility for their actions and their decisions. Begin instilling the idea that they are responsible for the quality of their life at an early age. Help your kids face the responsibility for the outcome of their decisions. Decided to make spaghetti on the camping trip but forgot the noodles? So what? What can you use instead? Use your creativity to problem solve and learn how to accept responsibility for what you do (or forget to do) without passing the blame onto someone else. Be solution oriented and practice saying “I made that choice” together.
- Reflect on what might have happened differently if other decisions had been made. Help your child to see how their decisions affected the outcome of the situation. Maybe you have blisters on your heels from wearing the wrong shoes hiking. What would have happened if you decided to do something differently, such as checking out your shoes on a shorter walk the week before, or trying out different sock combinations on walks before the big hike to see what worked best? Focus on mistakes as learning opportunities, not failures.
- Allow your child a chance to try again. Don’t let making mistakes on the first attempt at something keep you from trying it again. If the first way didn’t work, try another. Keep trying till you find an answer to your problem that works. Teach persistence. Mastery of anything only comes from repetition (and lots of failure in the early stages).
- Take risks. Allow your children to take age-appropriate risks and make time to talk about the outcome of their choices. Don’t always choose the easiest or the customary way to do something. Sometimes we need to make mistakes to grow and sometimes our missteps can bring us some of the best moments of our lives. Take chances and encourage your kids to do the same.
Use these five tips in your own life and in your relationship with your teenager to grow self-esteem and give both of you a greater sense of self confidence in your decision making abilities.
More from C.S. Shride and Lucy Dakota:
Check out her website: http://lucydakota.com/ and be sure to read Lucy’s blog while you’re at it! Each week she puts together an article she feels is relevant to girls her age. http://lucydakota.com/blog
Photo Credit: Flickr User – Tristan, The Booklight