As parents we can look for opportunities to praise not only your own teenager, but those that you come into contact with.
I was recently on a school camp when we encountered extreme weather conditions, resulting in our campsite losing our large marquee shelters to heavy winds and minor student injuries. We approached a nearby group of teenagers who were staying nearby with three police officers, as part of a program for teenagers at risk. Immediately, their leaders prompted them into action and it was a real joy to see these young men working alongside our own teen students to fix our campsite.
Some hours later we thanked each young man personally for their assistance in what was quite a difficult and extreme situation. I watched their chests puffed out with pride as our students offered personal thanks and praise. I was later told by the program’s team leader, that for many of these troubled youths, this was a rare opportunity for them to receive praise and encouragement. How this saddened me!
Just this week, we held a special school assembly in honour of these young men, and it was wonderful to see them each receive an official, framed Police Certificate of Merit for their assistance that evening. They received this award in front of the police members, our staff, students and School Principal, and most importantly in front of their parents and siblings.
Actively seeking ways in which you can look for the gold in your teenager each day can provide great ways to build your child’s self image. If they complete a task without you asking (I know this might be a rare occurrence in your household!) take the opportunity to thanks them. Let them know that you notice the good that they do.
If our boss at work encourages us or sends a nice email, it does wonders for our self image and makes us want to work better and harder. Imagine what this does for your child!
“Pleasant words are as honeycomb, sweet to the soul, and health to the bones.”
Proverbs 16: 24
The previous story I shared about our school camping trip highlights the importance of seeking opportunities to allow teenagers to shine.
All children have been created with unique gifts, talents and abilities- sometimes it takes a bit of prompting for these to be unlocked. Some children will display their gift naturally, such as sporting abilities that provide ready opportunities for praise. But what of the teenagers who is not at all sporty or lacks academic abiltity? These children may run the risk of not receiving regular encouragement in the school environment,.
Perhaps your child thrives when they are active and ‘hands on’, such as mowing the lawn or making the family dinner. I have lost count of the number of times I have been frustrated with a student in the confines of the classroom who refuses to sit still and focus for even five minutes. This same student will then surprise me by being willing and able to help out with whatever is required once we get outdoors on a school camp or other physically demanding activity, whether this be assisting other students in setting up their tents or collecting buckets of water for the cooks on camp. It is these opportunities that provide the golden opportunities to allow our children to shine!
My teen son had to complete four hours of community service twice in one year as part of his school curriculum. Initially, when he first received this assignment he wasn’t overly enthused about pulling weeds out of someone else’s garden or picking up litter around the local recreational reserve. However, once he completed each task, he admitted that he felt really great about himself and personally encouraged that he had served someone else.
Opportunities for your child to shine….
- Encourage your child to do something for someone else, without payment. Eg: mow the neighbour’s lawn, babysitting
- Give your child the responsibility of cooking the family’s dinner one or two nights per week.
- Encourage them to take up a new interest or passion such as:
Singing childminding painting
Fishing a new sport photography
Drawing painting cooking
Carpentry story writing bike riding Computer programming
It might take a few starts before they find something that excites them, but encourage them to begin somewhere.
‘Any human anywhere will blossom in a hundred unexpected talents and capacities simply by being given the opportunity to do so’
‘For many children, joy comes as the result of mining something unique and wondrous about themselves from some inner shaft.’
Thomas J. Cottle