Monday, February 3, 2020

Your Greatest Gift

Of the abundance of gifts you can offer your teenager - the absolute number 1, first, above-all-else is the two-part gift of (1) empathizing and (2) teaching - when they make a mistake or ‘fail.’.
By taking the time to empathize, you share and convey that feelings of anger or frustration – or defeat - are perfectly fine to express or experience.  

And also – by taking the time to teach, to guide, to coach, to reveal new learnings conveys multiple messages - (o) you care, (o) you want them to perform better and (o) you empathize with them as fallible human beings. Far too often - when a teenager fails, they feel as if they’ve let us down – and believe they are diminished IN OUR EYES!  At that moment, we need to intervene and interject that (o) we don’t love them any less and (o) failure is OKAY – that’s how we learn.  But also, too often, we don't take the time to guide them to improve. We either (o) malign them - inferring that they are “dumb” or (o) we don't take the time to guide them in learning what they obviously didn't know!   

I find it painful and aggravating to see a sports coach degrade an athlete who just made a mistake – when that athlete KNOWS they ‘did it wrong’– already feels bad.  That’s the most fertile time to TEACH, not malign or degrade.  Same thing with your teen!!  

Beyond that, into ‘life’ - other than school and teachers, too often, no one gives our teens constructive feedback regarding their performance or efforts – other than to say “you didn’t try hard enough.”  In almost all cases, THEY DON’T KNOW what to do differently or better – it’s just too global and thence, meaningless.  This presents a great opportunity to walk them through – or talk them through – the specifics of how to do it better the next time. As I learned from my son when he was three, it’s very easy to say “Yes, Daddy” – and have NO CLUE what I said – it’s just easier to agree… Be patient, be sure your voice conveys support and understanding – NOT frustration

And remember to enjoy them – even when they fail!


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