How to Help the Youth Become Involved in Their Communities
Parents usually cannot even make their children clean up their rooms, so it’s impossible to encourage teenagers to abandon their computers and work on an “impossible” challenge, right? Maybe not. There are techniques to persuade them to move out of their self zones and grow concern for the world around them.
As a parent, the following steps can aid you molding your teens into responsible as well as community-loving adults someday:
1. Give them autonomy.
How would you probably like it if someone were to always breathe down your neck whenever you move? That’s exactly the way most teenagers feel. Adults can get quite defensive when this point is raised, saying their kids have to act more responsibly before they can be given autonomy. Truth is, it’s the opposite that is actually true: how can they act more responsibly if they are not given the chance? If anything, psychological studies have discovered that the more you place your trust on someone, the more he will likely behave as you want him to.
2. Show real empathy.
Empathy is not just “putting yourself in another’s shoes” or being a very good listener. It’s actually feeling the emotions of the other. For example, if your child’s pet fish died, you empathize not by saying “It’s understand how you feel.” To empathize is to grieve with him. If your teen is afraid of looking “uncool” when they volunteer, don’t simply accept it as “teens being teens.” Empathy takes decisive action: how can you make volunteering cool?
3. Set a good example.
While children have never been great at listening to their parents and elders, but they have always unconsciously mimicked them. And the reason behind that is largely biological. Ever heard about mirror neurons and their influence on group behavior? Here’s the bottom line: don’t expect your teens to do what you personally wouldn’t.
4. Appreciate their efforts.
Feeling like you don’t see them is a sure way to kill their motivation. After all, why pitch in when you feel like nothing’s changed? This is why it’s critical that you communicate to them that their work is highly valued. And you have to say it to each of them, and not merely address a group.
5. Give them a meaningful purpose.
Why should these teens do all of these things? Is it to make their parents happy? Is it to get a chance to be close to someone they like? To gain some kind of points for their grades? All of these are poor motivation. Try explaining to them how the youth’s service can contribute to the overall good of your community, and what the possibilities are if they don’t show up. This is good motivation because a purpose in life is one of the most crucial factors of psychological as well as physical health. Proof is retiree volunteers living longer lives and being less likely to suffer depression compared to others who’d rather stay at home.
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