How to Encourage the Youth to Serve in their Communities
Parents usually cannot even make their children clean up their rooms, so it’s impossible to encourage teenagers to abandon their computers and work on an “impossible” challenge, right? Wrong. There are techniques to persuade them to move out of their self zones and grow concern for the world around them.
As a parent, the following steps can aid you molding your teens into responsible as well as community-loving adults someday:
1. Give them autonomy.
How do you think would it feel if someone were to breathe down your neck each and every time you move? That’s exactly the way most teenagers feel. Adults can get quite defensive when this point is raised, saying their kids have to act more responsibly before they can be given autonomy. Fact is, the opposite is true: how can a young person act more responsibly if he is never given the chance? If anything, psychological studies have discovered that the more you place your trust on someone, the more he will likely behave as you want him to.
2. Show real empathy.
Empathy is not just “putting yourself in another’s shoes” or being a very good listener. It’s actually feeling what other is feeling. If your child just lost his cat, you don’t empathize by saying, “I understand.” Empathy is grieving together. If your teen is scared of looking “uncool” when volunteering, it shouldn’t be simply accepted as “teens being teens.” Empathy requires decisive action, such as taking steps to make volunteering cool.
3. Set a good example.
While children have never been great at listening to their parents and elders, but they have always unconsciously mimicked them. And there’s a biological explanation for that. Ever heard about mirror neurons and their influence on group behavior? Here’s the bottom line: don’t expect your teens to do what you personally wouldn’t.
4. Appreciate their efforts.
Feeling like they’re invisible to you is a perfect way to douse their motivation. After all, why pitch in when you feel like nothing’s changed? That’s why you really have to communicate to them how their work is making a difference. And you need to say it to them individually, not as a group.
5. Offer them a meaningful purpose.
Why should these teens do all of these things? Is it to make their parents happy? Is it to spend time with someone they like? To get some kind of points from their teacher? Each of those is poor motivation. Try explaining to them how the youth’s service can contribute to the overall good of your community, and what the possibilities are if they don’t show up. This is good motivation because a purpose in life is one of the most crucial factors of psychological as well as physical health. Proof is retiree volunteers living longer and less likely to be depressed than their stay-home counterparts.