Empower the Teens!

Okay, I’m on a kick to empower teens.

And any question that I’m presented with when it comes to teen, I look at it through the lens of, “How can I empower the teen?”

Any parenting issue that I’m faced with in my own home, I look through the lens of, “How can I empower my teen?”

The strangest thing is, this totally makes my job easier as a parent because I’m putting my teen’s burdens on their own shoulders.

Also, the last 3 podcast episodes have been about school, teens disliking school, and empowering your teen is a pretty good solution to the problem of your teen hating school.

If you haven’t listed to my recent podcasts about school, check them out here:

190 – How to Help My Teen Who Hates School Part 1

191 – How to Help My Teen Who Hates School Part 2

192 – From failing at school to thriving in life. Real Mom Story with Ashley Funk

Make sure you check out those powerful episodes, and . . .

. . . If you want to join me in this cause of Empowering Teens, here are 6 simple steps that you can take today to empower your teen.

#1 Help Your Teen Find Mentors

I believe that this might be the most important of the 6 simple steps. I also acknowledge that I am totally biased, and I am a coach, I mentor teens, and my life has greatly been impacted by my mentors, especially the ones who put up with me as a teen.

So, as you listen, just realize that I’m biased, and you might need to determine your own views on this.

But, here are a few things that I see when it comes to mentors.

  • I’ve said that for years!
    • I work with a handful of teens AND their parents. I can’t tell you how many times a parent tells me, “My teen just told me about something that you taught them; BUT, I’ve been teaching them that for years!”
    • Teens are more willing to listen and learn from a mentor who’s not also their parent.
  • Don’t go it alone.
    • In school we’re taught to work alone, and don’t cheat, and no talking.
    • The problem is, too many teens are trying to do it all alone. When you get your teen a mentor, they stop feeling alone.
  • Mentors can be FREE.
    • Obviously I charge for my coaching services, but there are also free options out there.
    • Church leaders, sports coaches, a favorite teacher.
  • Mentors have a HUGE impact
    • One of my favorite questions to ask my students towards the end of their senior year was, “Who’s had the most impact on your life?”
    • Yes, often the answer was one of their parents or grandparents, but most often it was a favorite teacher or coach. When I asked why they had such an impact, it always boiled down to how much they cared and listened.

#2 Have Empowering Conversations

One of the most empowering things that you can do for your teen is to give them a voice and help them process their thoughts through conversation.

This is why I’m such a proponent of having empowering conversations with your teen. Treat them like an adult, who can think and problem solve, and they will start to act like an adult who can think and problem solve.

If you want to have empowering conversations, you’ll need to listen to your teen. A lot of parents struggle with this. I’ve heard that because you have 2 hears, and only one mouth, you should listen twice as much as you speak.

If you want to have empowering conversations with your teen, here are some great questions you could ask.

  • A- What are the disadvantages of ______?
  • B- What are the benefits of _______?
  • C- What might be an alternative ________?
  • D- What might be an unseen cost ________?
  • E- What might be an unseen advantage ________?

Bottom line is, teens are way more capable that we give them credit for.

Help them activate their capability and their creativity by empowering them through conversations.

This is a powerful part of letting your teen Find Solutions

STOP fixing your teen’s problems for them.

We’ve created a bad habit of adults taking care of teens and doing all the work for them. The problem is, this is disempowering to teens.

Instead of figuring out an alternative for your teen, but that task on their shoulders. Let them be responsible for their education and choices.

#3 Don’t Accept “I Don’t Know”

One of my famous sayings as a principal was, “‘I don’t know’ just means ‘I’m to lazy to think about this right now.'”

Anytime my students would catch me saying, “I don’t know,” they’d jump at the opportunity to call me out with my own saying.

The truth is, when your teen says “I don’t know,” and this is true for you as their parent too, they turn their brain off. They accept “I don’t know” as the final answer.

Instead, I like to set ground rules when I ask a question, like:

“I’m going to ask you a question, and ‘I don’t know’, or ‘IDK’ or any form of ‘I don’t know’, is not allowed.”

Sometimes I’ll follow an “I don’t know” with a, “Let’s pretend you do know,” or “What if you did know?”

“I don’t know” has become a habit for most teens, and you might be guilty of this habit too.

If you want to empower your teen, don’t accept I don’t know as an answer.

#4 Trust Your Teen

Some of my least favorite phrases from parents on trust are:

  • I don’t trust my teen
  • My teen lost my trust
  • They won’t let me trust them
  • My teen has to earn my trust

The problem is, this puts you at the mercy of your teen. Whether you trust them or not is dependent upon them, not you. This is disempowering to you and to your teen.

I know this can be unpopular, but . . .

. . . Trust your teen.

Unfortunately, most teens are taught not to trust themselves and to look to the adults for the answers.

If you trust your teen, they will start trusting themselves.

When your teen learns to trust themselves, they will have access to their own wisdom. They will get better at trusting themselves and fixing their own problems.

#5 Let Them Own Their Results

I know it’s hard, and I know it’s scary, but it’s VITALLY IMPORTANT!

Sometimes you’ve got to get out of the way and let your teen fail.

This might be letting them fail at school. This might be letting them try something that YOU know won’t work, just so they can fail and find out for themselves.

If you want to empower your teen, help them understand that they own their results.

They are responsible for their results, and parents who try to keep teens from owning their results, aka getting them out of trouble, pulling strings, bullying teachers and coaches, are actually disempowering their teen.

#6 Let Them Set the Expectations

Recently we had a “tough” parenting moment in our home with one of our teens. Fortunately, this is what I practice for everyday, so I feel like we handled it really well.

One of the things that really helped was when I asked my teen, “What do you think the expectation should be?”

The next thing I asked was, “What do you think would be a fair way for this to be handled?”

This was a ugly situation, that could have really sucked, but I was able to stay calm, and my whole focus was on, “How can I empower my teen?”

In the end, he set the expectation for his behavior.

He set the expectation for the consequences following his actions.

I looked at what he proposed, offered one or two suggestions, he countered with another proposal, and we settled on an expectation and consequences that he came up with.

Step 1 – Go take the parent trap quiz!

It’s free, easy, and will take you less than 3 minutes.

Step 2 – Use your quiz results to focus your energy on growing in the area indicated by your quiz results.

Step 3- Come work with me to help you up level your parenting!