Does your teen love to take risks? Do you worry about their safety especially around drugs and alcohol, sexual activity etc.?
These are not the risks I'm encouraging – these are real dangers and your teen needs you to maintain strong healthy boundaries and parental guidance.
However, teens have a developmental need to take risks. Many animals have this hardwired into their brain development during the adolescent phase. Chicks need to jump out of the nest in order to learn how to fly. Your teen’s lower threshold for risk taking serves an evolutionary purpose.
If they don't get this need met in healthy ways, then they are more likely to take dangerous risks.
So how can risk taking be healthy, safe, and fulfilling?
Are you a perfectionist, an achiever, are you hard on yourself?
I’m sure you’ve failed in your life and made mistakes. We all have, it’s how we respond and get back up that counts.
Your teen needs to make mistakes too, to fail and grow.
They need you to step back, just not too far.
They need you to help pick up the pieces, to face the feelings of disappointment, to tell them you still believe in them, to help them see what they can learn from this and how they can do better next time.
They don’t need you to rescue them, they don’t need you to save them from the consequences of their mistakes.
Jessica Lahey in her fantastic book “The Gift of Failure: How to Step Back and Let Your Child Succeed” gives an example of this…
Ah… procrastination… a common phenomenon…
One of my teachers at school use to say… “procrastination is like masturbation, you’re only f***ing yourself!!”... (crude I know, but true!!)
So why do we do it… if it only increases our chance of failure… what’s the point…
Fear underlies procrastination… fear of failure… fear of doing our best, and then it not being good enough… whereas if we put it off… and then we fail… we can say “oh well, I didn’t really try, I could have done better”… it’s a safety net…
Through our fear of failure… we are more likely to fail…
So how to help teens stop procrastinating…
Do you want the best for your teen?
A life of clear direction, confidence, great relationships, and all round happiness?
Do you worry that they’ll end up in a job they hate, going through the motions of a humdrum life without any real satisfaction?
Do you want them to set their sights high and then go for it?
3 ways to support your teen to dream BIG:
1. Encourage them to dream big for themselves AND others!!
Ask them what their dreams are. What do they really want for their life? Not just in their career, but also in the areas of relationships, lifestyle, health, and finances.
What kind of world would they love to live in? How can they contribute to this? What are the issues in the world that they care most about and that affect them emotionally? How can they use their gifts and talents to contribute?
Do you feel under pressure to live a perfect life?
Do you know anyone who has a perfect life? … really???
Have you ever compared yourself to others and felt inadequate because your life wasn’t where it ‘should’ be?
Have you ever put pressure on yourself to work more, study more, earn more, be more… because you felt you had to live up to some unrealistic expectation?
When I was 20 I felt the pressure to do everything and be everything…. I wanted to have a successful career, lots of money, the perfect relationship, kids, travel, a fancy home etc etc…. and I felt like I needed to do all this before 30….
When I thought about my perfect life I never thought about things like… being happy… being healthy… feeling connected… or contributing to my community…
Now I’m 32…. I ‘should’ be married… own property… have kids… have lots of money, a fancy car, and a fancy career title by now… surely….
Do you treat yourself well with kind words and encouragement?
Do you do what makes you happy or do you do what is sensible and risk free?
Do you express your love and appreciation to those around you?
Do you charge what you’re worth?
Do you do what you love?
What do you want in your life?.... happiness??
Some people will say that desiring happiness is a trap…. because no-one is happy all the time… and if we try to avoid our unhappy feelings (by turning to food, shopping, sex, drugs, etc.) then we end up addicted, compulsive, and generally avoiding life…. and then yes… desiring to feel happy all the time becomes a trap…
But what about a joy that’s deeper and truer than a fleeting happy moment…. what about a joy that can underlie even the most painful of emotions…