Tips for motivating your teenager – From The Iphone – to The Real World and Beyond.
by: Vicky Reihana on
So you have a teenager? Welcome to a world where adolescents or young adults as they’d much rather be called, spend hours on end with their faces pressed to a device. Unfortunately for us, it’s not the same kind of devices we were attached to growing up – board games, outside equipment and bikes. The teenagers of the 21st century are mostly technological kids. They’re the ones we have to literally pry from their Ipod, Ipad, laptop or other device just to get a word out of them. And even then, if we do get our teens attention after intercepting their social media posts, we’re more likely to be met with a blank stare while zombie fingers automatically type for the brain… selective consciousness I call it.
Our teenagers often appear to be semi vampirish, since they’d much rather be in their room, phone in hand, lights off and door shut tightly while they cyber group chat to the kid they don’t really know and collect ‘likes’ on their social media profiles which they’ve doctored to make look like their lives are so exciting. I’ve lost count how many times I’ve heard these young adults moan about spending time with the rest of the family. Do they even remember how many siblings they share their house with or what their parents look like?
Heaven forbid if your kids had to take a break from their technological addictions for non-important things, like to have a shower or to eat dinner! Don’t be silly I hear you say. Your teenager showers with her phone right next to her? Yup, and she can eat dinner and post on twitter at the same time too. It would be a disaster if she got a facebook message and couldn’t check it within one minute flat; wouldn’t it?
When did our kids become vampires anyway? When did they become addicted to technology? When did they stop wanting to spend time as a family unit? We catch ourselves wondering if there is an easier way to open the lines of communication with our semi-antisocial teens. Is there an easy way to willingly get them off the couch and outside in the fresh air, because you’re sure if they don’t get some sunshine soon they will end up with a Vitamin D deficiency!
Well, I’m really sorry guys – but gone are the where kids jumped on their bikes and rode around the neighbourhood from dusk till dawn. As a Mum of two teenagers, I know that getting your kids off their devices and into the big wide world can be an uphill battle, but there is hope. For all the times your encouragement to step and step out has ended with frustration and tears, just know that you are not alone – we are all in this together.
While we would love to impose our own thoughts, judgement and ideas on entertainment, ideal pastimes and how our days should be spent, it helps to remember not everyone is built for sport or for being out in the big wide world (in public spaces or groups). Some kids just don’t like or have a knack for team sports, group activities and being the centre of attention. For those kids who do prefer their own space and the company of an electronic device, it’s not the end of the world.
My teenagers are now 16 and 12. I’ve long accepted that when I pry their fingers from their phones and social media and urge them to join me in a little dreaded physical activity – I probably do sound like an old fart (their words). Using patience h0wever, and persistence ‘ve figured out a few things that do work. To make your life a little easier, here’s my four top tips for getting your teenager out of isolation and into your awesome company.
1. Acceptance – Stop beating your self up about it! Our teenagers today have been born into a world of technology that is evolving faster that it ever has before. Devices, phones, online profiles and technology – it’s just how they socialise, communicate and express themselves and more importantly, a big part of their education is built around using a computer or other device. Basically, these young adults know no better. While it may be difficult for us to accept, we were not born into this technically advanced world – but they were..
2. Set the example – Monkey see monkey do! Here’s some food for thought… Many parents want their kids to act in a certain way, but they fail to realise they are not setting the right example or parameters for this to happen. For example, do you put your phone down when you child tries to talk to you? Or do you dismiss them saying you are busy while replying to an email or text or a social media post or dating profile? I would be lying if I said I haven’t done that before (emails) and I think it’s the same for most of us. If you want your kids to be present in your home (be consciously there) then you need to be present for them. If your kids want to speak to you, if it’s dinner time, if its after working hours – be present for your kids, talk to them and set the example they need. Remember, each time you dismiss your kids because you are ‘busy’, they are learning that this behaviour is appropriate and normal, and they are likely to form the same habits themselves.
3. Balance and boundaries – Working from home with an online business can see me sitting at a desk for the bulk of my day. Because I want to be present as much as possible for my kids, I am and very conscious of the time I spend on the computer when they are around, generally I aim to get most of my work done during school hours so that I can be there for them when they are home.
As a parent, it is your responsibility to set boundaries for your kids, to let them know when they can and can’t go online or use technology. A good example would be ‘No technology during the hours of 6-7.30pm’. This allows you to have family time and a chance to catch up with all family members and really be present for one another. If your kids are already teenagers and you decide to implement a boundary or limit for technology in the home, remember, they may rebel or complain at first, but stick your ground and it will eventually become ‘normal’ and they will re-organise their day to fit your household routines and boundaries.
Once the boundaries are set – stick to them and set the example by respecting the boundaries yourself – remember, you are their role model. While boundary setting may not be foolproof, if you set the right boundaries when your kids are young you’re setting a good foundation for when they are teenagers.
4. Motivation – Move your body yourself. If you are to be a role model for your kids and you want them to be active, then you’re going to have to get moving yourself. Whatever exercise you prefer, show your kids your health is important to you. Do something every single day! Involve the kids. Ask them to walk the dog with you, have a hit of tennis, go to the gym together…. Anything.
It’s not going to work if you simply shout demands from the couch. Kids don’t like being told to ‘Just do it!” when they know it’s not something you would not even do yourself. It’s called being hypocritical and unfortunately, it doesn’t fly with teenagers as well as it does with little kids.
Your participation will be the motivating factor your teenagers need to get moving themselves. It may take a little push (perhaps literally) and some encouragement, but at the end of the activity you’ll notice a positive change in their attitude and a bounce in their step, whether they like to admit it or not. I’m not saying it will be easy and there are likely to be times when your teenager point blank refuses to participate, but don’t let that stop you from setting a good example and asking or offering an opportunity for them to get active with you. You can make a huge difference in the life, health and attitude of your teenager simply by showing them that fitness is an essential part of a healthy life.
While the message may not sink in overnight, eventually your teenager will realise that your intentions are good – and that maybe, just maybe you were right. Wishing you the best of luck with your young adult – this computer device thingy generated blog is complete. Now it’s up to you.