by Dawn Lyons
The concept is so simple that it is easy, too easy to overlook. But it is something that can change how you and your teen interact with one another and consequently, change your family dynamics for the better.
And it can be expressed in a single word: appreciation.
Teenagers want, and need, to feel appreciated because it gives them a sense of personal value. The coach who applauds a good play or the boss who acknowledges the focus and dedication used to complete a project or task help to build and reinforce a teenager’s sense of worth as a contributor to a team, an organization, the community. But teens also need to feel they have value within their family.
Too often, the assumption is made that a teenager knows how much they are loved and valued as a member of the family and household, but this may not be the case. As we rush through our responsibilities each day and often look to our teenagers for help with chores around the house, making meals and looking after younger siblings, it is important to make a conscious effort to thank the teen in an honest and unrushed manner.
An expression of true appreciation will go a long way to help the teenager feel their efforts are valued and that they are an integral part of the family unit. In addition, teenagers are less likely to become annoyed and resentful about pitching in to help out when they receive positive feedback and gratitude for what they have done.
Adding physical indications of appreciation and affection for your teenager can further enhance this positivity. When away from home, verbal praise can be accompanied by simple touch – a stroke on the arm, a pat on the back, or a quick arm around the shoulders is enough to get the message across. At home, where teens are more comfortable and less concerned with appearances, full hugs can – and should – be given when demonstrating gratitude.
Additionally, because you can never be certain what your teenager is thinking or feeling, hugs and verbal indications of affection within the home should also be given “just because.” This will provide your teenager with a sense of overall love and belonging within the family regardless of how they happen to be participating at any given moment. It may also give your teen the boost they need if they are troubled or stressed.
Demonstrating appreciation and affection for your teen and their efforts will improve their outlook with regard to both their place in the family and their value outside of the home. This will have a positive impact on the overall dynamics of your family.
As a bonus, by taking the time to recognize your teenager more often, you will gain a greater sense of pride in your teen and their accomplishments. You will also gain enjoyment yourself by implementing the “just because” hugs and words of affection, but most importantly, you will help your teenager to gain a strong sense of their own value as an individual – not for any specific accomplishment, but simply because they are there.
It is a simple act that holds the power to make an extreme difference.
Dawn Lyons is a mother to three boys and a professional freelance writer. She is passionate about empowering teens to create their own success and also helps adults who influence youth development to have a greater understanding of teen culture. Follow her on Twitter and visit her at www.linesbylyons.com.