Is your teen feeling lost and unsure of who they are?
Do you have the tools to support them in deciding what they want to be in the future?
Are you worried social media is bogging them down as they endeavour to keep up with their peers or save face?
Encouraging your teen to develop their sense of self requires them to understand and live life according to what is important to them. They can live out their values by generating and achieving goals, which we know ultimately leads to wellbeing and satisfaction. Teens can be easily influenced by their peers to go in undesired directions. They will also ponder who they are and what they want from life with no real idea how to solve this problem. This poses a challenge for them to make wise decisions about activities, friends to spend time with, managing boredom and what to do at the end of school.
Signs your teen is struggling with a sense of direction –
- Difficulty making decisions – Instances where they are asked a simple question and either have difficulty knowing how to respond, or respond impulsively. They may be unsure of their long term plan.
- Unhelpful thoughts – Thoughts such as “What’s the point doing this, I will never use this again?”.
- Negative self-beliefs – Thoughts such as “I’m not good enough”, “My life has no direction” and “Everyone has their life figured out except me”. These thoughts often stem from feeling low and experiencing a lack of purpose in life; they are unhelpful and unproductive.
Australians, in general wish we could spend more time improving our overall wellbeing, but the most difficult part is determining what will bring you satisfaction.
So if we as parents struggle, how can we point our teens in the right direction?
Asking our teens some simple questions is a great place to start.
- What’s important to me? – Everyone values something, but what we hold as important is different for each person. Your teen’s views have been influenced by your own values, their temperament and their previous experiences. For example being fit or having fun with friends.
- Am I doing what’s important to me? – If they look at their day, is it filled with things they feel obliged or pressured to do? Or is it filled with activities that are important to them over the long term?
- How do I start doing what’s important to me? – For each value that they are not living out, consider what goals could bring them closer to this value. For instance if they value time with friends, encourage them to spend less time on the internet and more time organising outings or invite friends over!
So what’s the next step?
Managing your teen takes patience and persistence. Sometimes as parents we struggle to find the right words and the time to follow through with these conversations. Having support can enhance your techniques in guiding them into the future.
Written by Jenn Broekhuijse - Psychologist - www.creatingchange.net.au