launch your teens with life skills
Updated: Jan 18
The Millennial generation have lived during a time with undue emphasis on self-esteem and how awesome and special they are. A study by Dr. Jean Twenge of San Diego State University showed increased narcissistic tendencies among American students. Dr. Twenge concludes: "Almost all of the empirical evidence demonstrates a rise in self-focus among American young people, including narcissism, high expectations, self-esteem, thinking one is above average, and focusing on personal (vs. global) fears. The evidence clearly supports the view that today’s young generation (born after 1980) is—at least compared to previous generations—more Generation Me than Generation We."
The majority of Millennials believe the world would be a better place if they were in charge.
Phrases that speak to this ideology include: “Everyone gets a reward." "Just show up and get a gold medal." “Everyone must feel good." “You are awesome just for being here.” These ideas have given our young adults an unrealistic sense of their capabilities, and as a result they expect to walk into a top job position without having to start from the bottom "because they are so awesome."
In addition, society has been overly concerned with safety and this has produced over-protective parenting. We have "padded" play grounds into safe grounds, prevented children from getting dirty or going barefoot and increased safety policies on everything. Children have been discouraged going to places on their own, shielded from any kind of possible danger and spent most of their childhood in doors, in front of screens. A study on risky play and children`s safety concludes that: "Numerous developmental and health advantages have been linked to children’s need for outdoor risky play as a means to learn through experience. Societal trends limiting children’s access to outdoor risky play opportunities combined with a culturally dominant excessive focus on safety can pose a threat to healthy child development."
Then there is also the concern about liability and the necessary precautions to take in order to avoid risk.
Our teens will not be ready for real life if we overly focus on their safety, comfort and awesomeness instead of preparing them for the harsh realities of the real world. It`s important they develop a healthy sense of who they are and how they have been created to contribute to the world around them as they step out of their comfort zones and begin their life long journey.
"The teen years are not a vacation from responsibility. They are the launching pad of life." Alex and Brett Harris
For initial and life long success, we need to cultivate three kinds of intelligence:
Emotional Intelligence: self-awareness (strengths, weaknesses, how I respond or react), self-management (planning, decision making, self-control), social awareness (relationships, interpersonal skills)
Moral Intelligence: character, personal disciplines, healthy sense of self, positive values, ethics
Leadership Intelligence: vision, purpose, mission, priorities, perspectives, planning, assessing, evaluating
How do parents cultivate these skills in their teens?
My short answer to this question is "give them experiences that reflect the real world."
Involve them with"real world skills" as much as and as soon as possible.
Encourage them to "do hard things" to get them out of their comfort zones.
Start "overly preparing" them and stop "overly protecting" them.
Allow them to fail, learn from mistakes and develop a healthy relationship to failure.
Involve them in decision making, planning and brainstorming solutions.
Allow them to learn through natural consequences and admit when they are wrong.
Require them to critically think through problems as you do less "telling what to do" and more "asking them what they would do."
Take a step back and give them space.
If parents continue to over-protect, over-provide and over-serve their teens, teens will not be able to face real world problems and manage life on their own.
When we prepare our teens for life, we enable them to participate in solutions that lead to critical thinking skills, problem solving and leadership development. This prepares them to become independent thinkers, to lead and to live their lives with more purpose and direction.
Parents, we should be saying, "I want to work myself out of a job!"
Here are some general principles to think about:
If they use the car, they need to fill it up. It`s about respect for others.
If they borrow something, return it in better condition (if possible). Its about consideration.
If its broken, learn to fix it. It`s an opportunity to get curious. They may discover their vocation in the process?
If they make a mess, clean it up. Their actions affect others.
If they make a promise, keep it. In business a forgotten promise may cost them their job.
If they`re wrong, make it right. Trustworthiness and integrity are sought after values in life.
If they are prideful, they need to learn humility. Arrogance won`t get them far in life with regards to social skills and likability.
I have offered you a few thoughts to think about for now. No one loves your teens more than a parent. No one understands your teens more than a parent. No one wants the best for them more than a parent.
We want to see our young adults thrive and engage in a world where they feel they are needed and contributing to a bigger purpose. At the end of the day, your teens really want to make a difference in the lives of others. Call them out and challenge them to make an impact and lovingly guide them in the process. Help them know where to start.