A Simple Plan: Resources

Teaching the Youth to Be Community-Oriented

Majority of parents can’t even convince their kids to tidy up their bedrooms, so it’s impossible to encourage teenagers to dump their computers and work on an “impossible” endeavor, right? Maybe not. There are approaches to inspire them to go out of their self zones and develop concern for the world around them.

If you’re a parent, these steps can help you mold your teens into responsible and community-loving adults in the future:

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 inquiries have revealed that when you place more trust in someone, he is more likely to do as you would like 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. If your child just lost his cat, you don’t empathize by saying, “I understand.” To empathize is to grieve with him. If your teen is scared of looking “uncool” when volunteering, it shouldn’t be simply accepted as “teens being teens.” Empathy requires decisive action, such as taking steps to make volunteering cool.

3. Set a good example.

Kids have never been superb at listening to their parents, but they have always imitated them. And there’s a biological logic behind that. 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 they’re invisible to you is a perfect way to douse 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 do these teens have to do all these things? Is it to make their parents happy or proud? Is it to get a chance to be close to someone they like? To gain some kind of points for their grades? Each of those is 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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