Teen boys in large numbers are not launching into adulthood. More so than girls, boys are living at home longer, not finding jobs, and generally floundering well into their twenties. The reasons are societal in my opinion. A whole generation of TV shows, advertising and movies have been all about empowering girls sometimes to the detriment of young boys. “You GO girl” is a common mantra today. While I’m all for girl power and empowering women of all ages, we can’t forget our teen boys. They need some encouragement too.
There are 5 ways you can encourage your Teen boy EVERYDAY
1. Praise Their Successes
What is he good at? Math? Science? Sports? Find those things and foster the skills. Maybe it’s not even something easily tangible. My son is VERY good at talking with people. He does NOT know a stranger. Genuinely he is interested in people and their lives. We encouraged that often. Not only did we praise him when he told us about meeting a new person, but we would make BOLD statements about him being an EXPERT in communicating. We made comments like “Go talk to your teacher. You know that’s what you are good at doing. See if there is something you can do for extra credit.” We made sure we took every opportunity to reinforce his strengths.
2. Be Interested in Their LIFE
Teen boys often spend very little time standing still or at home. They are typically active with activities, a job or time with friends. This makes it harder to connect with them, but it is CRITICAL to keeping open communications. Stop them for an extra minute to ask questions about how things are going. Ask about specific friends, how they are doing, where are they going, and what have they done that was really fun this week. Find out about what’s happening in their classes not necessarily about their grades. Don’t ask “yes or no” questions or they will give you one word answers. You have to ask specific questions. Don’t let one day go by without finding out a little bit more about what’s happening in his life.
3. Ask about their Goals
Life happens FAST. We have to take it one day at a time, but we can’t ignore planning. Every week, month, year your teen has goals too. Getting up on time might be a short term goal. Going to the University of Central Florida might be a long term goal. <Yes, I chose UCF because I am a UCF mom – Go Knights!> If they don’t set goals, we need to get them thinking in terms of goal-setting and breaking them down to achieve them. Find out what they are wanting to do with their future. Do they want to go to college? Where? Why? Help them figure out how to build their resume for a strong admissions application. If they don’t want to go to college, what do they see themselves doing in 3 years, 10 years, etc. Talk to them like you would your friends. Listen without judgement. Give feedback if asked. Let them dream but keep them rooted.
4. One on One Time
In our house we called it “dating” your child. Every now and then I would take my son out to a movie, dinner, to sit on the beach at sunset or just for ice cream. It was nice to just have the 2 of us. It made him feel special. The truth is it made ME feel special too. It gave me the opportunity to teach my son manners and how to treat someone on a date. However, it gave us time to connect without distraction and that was priceless. If nothing else, he knew I loved him. My husband did the same thing with our daughter.
5. Encourage Them to Unplug at least 1 day a week
Our teens spend a crazy amount of their day on cellphones and computers. We call this the Screen-Age for a reason. Encourage activities at least once a week that require him to unplug. Let him use his social skills and be active. Let his brain rest from the overwhelming amount of stimulation it gets on a regular basis. Just having a face to face conversation with a neighbor helps his inter-personal skills. Each time he unplugs and survives <insert eye roll here>, he will realize more that there is a world outside of texting, games and computer screens.
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