Teenagers. Everything is so apocalyptic. -- Kami Garcia
Ain’t that the truth? Being a teenager can be pretty traumatic, and parenting one can be even moreso, lol. But it’s our job to be the adults, and to come alongside our teenagers and give them encouragement to keep on keepin’ on.
But sometimes we run out of ideas about how to do that, especially if we are homeschool parents. Since we are with our teen(s) almost 24/7, we can tend to repeat the same old maxims over and over again. Sometimes we need some fresh material, am I right? 🙂
So recently I polled about a bajillion parents of teenagers to find out how they encourage their teens — what they do and say to help brighten their teen’s countenance and help them feel like life isn’t so hard after all. I’ve compiled their answers into a very helpful list!
NOTE: You can get this list as a printable file — scroll to the bottom to do so!
The list itself is broken into four parts — first, the encouraging actions we can exhibit towards our teens; second, encouraging words we can say to them; third, rewards we can give to them; and fourth, some quotes from some of my blogging friends that give even more ideas. No one should leave this page without some good encouragement ammo to use with their teenager!
To an adolescent, there is nothing in the world more embarrassing than a parent. -- Dave Barry
100 Ways to Encourage Teens
ACTIONS: Behavior we can exhibit towards our teens to encourage them
- Actively listening to them
- Hugging them
- Spending one-on-one time with them
- Not judging them
- Valuing their thoughts and opinions
- Helping create opportunities to hang with friends or have their friends visit
- Noticing when they are doing something well.
- Saying words of encouragement even when they are not doing so well
- Smiling at them
- Showing interest in their interests
- Finding ways for them to pursue their interests and activities
- Keeping the wonder of learning alive
- Having a meal together
- Showing respect to them
- Praying with them and for them
- Treating them as an equal
- Not nagging
- Discussing their future together and getting excited about it
- Exposing them to positive role models
- Helping them research goals and the steps needed to reach them
- Having coffee together
- Doing some school alongside them every day, no matter what their age
- Knowing their love language and using it towards them
- Using an equal balance of love and discipline
- Helping them get their first job
- Liking and enjoying their friends
- Helping them identify how their behavior moves them toward (or perhaps away) from their goals.
- Letting them know they do have power, because they tend to concentrate on what they aren’t allowed to do rather than establishing themselves as responsible individuals ready and capable of handling more.
- Staying up late to talk when they come in
- Listening to their music
- Giving them the benefit of the doubt
- Watching their presentations and performances and sports games
- Letting them plan their day
- Sitting down with them to plan their day
- Driving them places cheerfully
- Leaving them notes
- Making their favorite dinner
- Asking questions about what they like and don’t like
- Admitting when you’re wrong
- Letting them vent
- Communicating with them with enthusiasm and affection
- Sharing stories about your own teen years with them
- Reminding them of the long-range reasons why they are doing something
- Playing video games with them
- Buying them gas for their car
- Trusting them
- Reminding them how they have helped you or others
- Putting them in social contexts where they can be encouraged by adults other than you
- Point to past successes like learning to tie their shoes and reading. They thought those were so hard to ever accomplish but look at them now!
- Giving them important tasks to do to show that you rely on them
Related Reading: 10 Effective Strategies for Motivating Homeschooled Teens
WORDS: Things we can say to our teens to encourage them
- I love you.
- Embrace this unique opportunity of learning without pressure.
- Never forget to have fun during the journey.
- One day at a time.
- Say positive things about who they are.
- I’m on your side.
- I’m only trying to help you get to where YOU want to go — where is that?
- HOW can I help you get to where you want to go?
- Now is the time to take big risks, to do it even though you are scared, because we have your back. No matter what happens, we’re here if you “fail” in a way that we can’t be once you’re out on their own, so NOW is the time to test yourself and really see what you can do!
- You can’t fail anything unless you give up.
- We do get do-overs.
- Who do you answer to?
- What you do today impacts your future.
- You can accomplish anything you are willing to work for.
- We are in this together.
- God has a plan and a purpose for all of us, in everything. Stick with His plan, and trust it.
- Our strengths were planned ahead of birth. Our weaknesses are of no surprise to him. The world is full of unique people and each of them is an incredible gift.
- What do you want, where are you going, and what do you need?
- The choice of how you behave and what you do is how you establish your own personal power.
- Explore your interests now, because you might not be as freely able to later.
- Thank you.
- You wouldn’t know what a good day was if you didn’t have a few bad ones.
- I will not give up on you.
- You are my favorite (fill in the blank).
- God loves you even more than I do.
- Being beautiful (or handsome) on the inside is more important than on the outside.
- I’m sorry.
- I love (fill in the blank) about you.
- You are doing a good job.
- Everyone has things to work on.
- Who do you know that has what you want, and how did they get it?
- A change is as good as a rest — try something else for awhile.
- I respect the way you handled that.
- Will you forgive me for (fill in the blank)?
- Don’t think of life’s sufferings and trials as things to be avoided, but instead as paths to human triumph.
Related Reading: Homeschooling Teens Who Are Easily Distracted
REWARDS: Things you can give your teen for a job well done
- Privileges the other kids don’t get
- Gaming or electronics time
- Starbucks or Itunes gift card
Never lend your car to anyone to whom you have given birth. --Erma Bombeck
- Tricia at Hodgepodge.me – Just work on one thing for 15 minutes. Then take a break. Come back, do something else for 15 minutes. Then get some coffee or a cup of ice cream. Work some more. Then go for a walk. You will be amazed what you can accomplish in small spurts and with a change of scenery for inspiration.
- Heidi at Starts at Eight – TPOPT = The Power of Positive Thinking. And your best is ALWAYS good enough!
- Amy at Rock Your Homeschool – Stay true to yourself and your beliefs. Shine with the light God has given you. And always the golden rule!
- Stacey at Layered Soul – I am always on the lookout for good choices and actions…so I can let them know that I noticed…and that I am proud of them for doing the hard things. Yes, sometimes they roll their eyes at me…but at least I know they heard me.
- Shelly at There’s No Place Like Home – You know yourself more than anyone. I will always take that into consideration, and so should you.
- Mary at Not Before 7 – I love to encourage my teen by paying attention to her growth, accomplishments, and positive attempts at change. This includes character but I also include accomplishments on her YouTube channel or Instagram! She loves when I notice what she is doing. And these compliments are fun to deliver over frappuccinos so we can reconnect.
- Adrienne at The Mommy Mess – My son’s love language is food! I love to bake something special or cook his favorite dinner when he needs a little extra fuel in his love tank.
- Tina at Tina’s Dynamic Homeschool Plus – My teen boys said the best thing I did was to help them get started on time so that as they got to be teenagers they didn’t need the prodding. And I will always be ready to listen more and give less advice unless they requested the feedback.
- Amber at Classic Housewife – How I encourage them depends on which kid and what’s going on. One might just need a hug with no talking. The other might appreciate some kind words, or a written note, or some brownies. All of them need and enjoy positive reinforcement that says “Hey, I saw that good thing you did there, or how hard you tried, and that was awesome.” But I also think the relationship has to be in a good place for them to believe it. And one thing I’ve always tried to do with my kids is to share their interests, try to participate sometimes, and listen to them talk about them for hours, etc. You know, like Minecraft.
- Tina at The Homeschool Resource Roadmap – You are a unique individual – designed by God to be like no one else. Let’s work together to figure out His plan and purpose for you and make it happen.
So next time your teen is looking down in the dumps, pull out one of these ideas to help them along the way! A little encouragement can mean a lot! (Although they’ll never admit it, of course. This is the teen code, as you may already know.) 🙂
Shared on Finishing Strong — a great linkup of posts about homeschooling middle & high school!