How to Help the Youth Become Involved in Their Communities
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 methods to influence them to stretch out of their self zones and have greater concern for the people around them.
As a parent, these steps can help you shape your teens into responsible and community-loving adults one day:
1. Give them autonomy.
How do you think would it feel if someone were to breathe down your neck each and every time 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. Fact is, the opposite is true: how can a young person act more responsibly if he is never 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 so much more than simply putting yourself in the other person’s shoes or being a very comforting listener. It’s actually feeling what other is feeling. If your child just lost his cat, you don’t empathize by saying, “I understand.” Empathy is grieving with him. If your teen is scared of looking “uncool” when volunteering, it shouldn’t be simply accepted as “teens being teens.” Empathy takes decisive action: how can you make volunteering cool?
3. Set a positive example.
While children have never been great at listening to their parents and elders, but they have always unconsciously mimicked them. And there’s a biological logic behind that. Ever heard of mirror neurons and how they affect group behavior? Here’s the bottom line: don’t expect your children to do what you yourself couldn’t.
4. Appreciate their contributions.
Feeling invisible to you is an excellent way to quash their motivation. After all, why do you have to contribute when you don’t feel like it will change something? That’s why you really have to communicate to them how their work is making a difference. And it’s important to actually tell them individually rather than as a group.
5. Give them a meaningful purpose.
Why do these young people need to do all of these? Is it to make their parents happy? Is it to have an excuse to spend time with someone they like? To gain some kind of points for their grades? All of these are 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 to that is retiree volunteers being less likely to be depressed and having longer lives than others who prefer to stay home.
Citation: The Best Advice on Churches I’ve found