Empowering Teens as They Become Young Adults

It all goes by so fast. Parents hear this phrase time and again as children grow from infants into adolescents and beyond. While this is true, it’s important that parents don’t miss the opportunity to gradually build children’s confidence and give them the tools to help them feel empowered as young adults.

According to the Boys and Girls Club of America, “An empowered young person recognizes their capabilities, self-determination and worth…They have the confidence to take risks and are aware that failure is a step toward progress, not a sign to give up…And they know they have built a foundation of self-empowerment to rely on in times of struggle or when they are feeling lost and need to recalibrate.”

They encourage adults to consider the following to help empower young people in your life:

  • Help kids and teens explore their interests and potential
  • Give them the space and trust to practice autonomy
  • Speak with honesty
  • Trust their ability as leaders

Diana Fendor, Vice President and Blogger for Girls’ Globe, writes from her perspective as, “a leader and as a young person learning from other leaders.” She encourages adults to:

  1. Listen More
    2. Provide and Encourage Mentorship
    3. Pass the Torch
    4. Exercise Humility
    5. Give Young People a Seat at the Table

As parents, we can actively work with our children as they learn and grow. We can focus on empowering them and be aware when we might instead be enabling them.  

The American Academy of Pediatrics writes, “Adolescence is the transitional bridge between childhood and adulthood; it encompasses developmental milestones that are unique to this age group. Healthy cognitive, physical, sexual, and psychosocial development is both a right and a responsibility that must be guaranteed for all adolescents to successfully enter adulthood.” 

Empowerment in these areas is critical for our children to grow into confident and healthy young adults. According to parent coach Sheryl Gould, 5 ways we can promote empowerment and growth are:

  • Teach them to come up with solutions to their problems. Ask questions like, “What do you want to do about that?” or “What are some options that you have?”
  • Begin to let go of the reins and give them more ownership of their lives. Give them age-appropriate responsibilities and hold them accountable, like their own laundry, chores around the house and to earn/spend their own money.
  • Hold your teen with positive regard and see them as capable of making good choices. If we view our child as incapable, we will be tempted to rescue them. 
  • Allow them to make mistakes and learn from them. Avoid criticizing their mistakes. They are teenagers after all. Remind them that they are learning.
  • Don’t allow them to get away with blaming others for their own irresponsibility. Empower kids to think differently about how their behavior impacts their life and the lives of others.

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