Is your teen failing to launch?
All your teen does is hide in their room on their phones, listen to music, or play video games day, after day, after day. You’re worried if you don’t interrupt their GPS before it hits the destination, they’re going to live in a van down by the river or under a bridge!
No matter how much motivating and cheerleading you do, they’re just not moving forward and you’re losing your patience.
They’ve got failure to launch.
Whoa now. That’s catastrophizing – projecting your fears onto a situation, losing perspective and making it worse than it is.
After a year of pandemic school/living, time to decompress is healthy for the teenage brain and in fact, all that ‘doing nothing’ on the outside is supporting their brain development and growth on the inside.
Plus, this was a year that no teenager would have signed up for! Along with feeling a bit lost and uncertain their self-esteem took a hit too.
-forced disconnection from their social networks (integral for social development)
-extra-curricular activities cancelled (important for fitness, motor skills development, collaborative communication and building confidence)
-online education delivery not suited for all learning and personality types
Your teen may even have mild social anxiety now that the world is reopening after a year of feeling safe behind a screen (also normal).
“I’m exhausted trying to motivate my teen every day.”
I know you love your teen and want them to be happy and successful. Motivation is an inside job. Motivating your teen is trying to change them to how you want them to be, making where they’re at inherently wrong. They hear nagging, feel like a failure and internalize they ARE a failure.
Motivating your teen makes it more likely they’ll dig in their heels and be less likely to do what you want!
Encouragement is loving and validating your teen where they are without expectation of change.
That doesn’t mean tolerating laziness. It means getting curious about where they are and who they are in a safe place of acceptance. The irony is, only when they feel safe where they’re at will they choose to move, and it will be their idea.
So….I’m just supposed to be patient while they do nothing all summer??
Not entirely. It’s about finding a balance based on their age and maturity level.
Design a simple structure to create predictability, lower anxiety and promote feeling safe. Being consistent but not controlling with a schedule supports your teen to get enough sleep and make time for basic responsibilities while taking on more responsibilities.
i.e., Dinner at the same time on most nights, Wi-Fi off by 1am unless it’s a specific gaming night, attending weekly activities or volunteer commitments, etc.
Studies show that helping around the house builds confidence, increases resilience, helps connect effort to outcome and improves success in the workplace. Would you believe many teens tell me they want to learn more life skills?
Teaching your teen new skills is an opportunity to spend time together and encourage them.
Responsibility over burden. Where’s the line?
Choose age-appropriate responsibilities (even if your teen doesn’t like them) and be open to negotiating because your teen might have some great suggestions you haven’t thought of.
-Walk the dog/pick up
-Collect and put out the garbage
-Empty the dishwasher
-Wash the dishes
-Help with dinner
-Basic house cleaning
-Clean out the vehicle
-Sand and re-stain the desk
-Mow/edge the lawn
-Water the lawn
-Clean the garage/shed
Start small and work up as you create consistency. Make an agreement with your teen what they might earn by doing these jobs and doing them well – more technology/gaming time, special activity, more independence, etc.
Fuel their passion.
Few things build confidence more than pursuing a passion and learning skills your teen finds exciting and worthwhile. It might mean research, finding a course or watching instructional YouTube videos.
Don’t be quick to judge.
But what if my teen wants to be the new lead drummer for a punk band?? Go with it!
When you get behind their passion you build trust and connection and allow natural outcomes like taking more lessons, or pursuing another passion because of something your teen learned along the way. Remember, this is about building confidence and encouragement.
Get a job!
If your teen is old enough, encourage them to try a part-time job in an area they’re curious about or volunteer somewhere to gain experience. Even a summer job outside their passion area is more fun with friends.
Supporting your teen to set small, meaningful goals (sorry, you don’t get to tell your teen the goals you have in mind for them) is a powerful starting point to building their confidence and helping you connect.
You’re in the passenger seat now. The more you try and take the wheel in the driver’s seat the worse their ‘failure to launch’ will get. Be the best shotgun rider they’ve ever had and let go of how fast you’re going or to where. This is a long road trip, not a 1 mile drag race.
But I’ve tried all that and I’m at my wit’s end!
I’ve got you.
This is your LAST chance to jump into my LIVE Challenge – 5 Days to a Better Relationship with Your Teen! It started yesterday and it’s not too late to get in on key communication and relationships skills to lower your stress and create a more open and respectful relationship with your teen. Registration closes later today and the Challenge won’t run again until September.
Click below to join a community of other caring and courageous parents in a safe space for learning, growth and encouragement.