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How to Help the Youth Become Involved 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? Maybe not. There are methods to influence them to stretch out of their self zones and have greater concern for the people around them.

As a parent, these steps can help you shape your teens into responsible and community-loving adults one day:

1. Give them autonomy.

How would you probably like it if someone were to always breathe down your neck whenever you move? That’s just how it feels for majority of teenagers. Adults can get quite defensive when this point is raised, saying their kids have to act more responsibly before they can be given autonomy. However, it’s the opposite that is actually true: how are young people to act more responsibly if they never get the chance? If anything, psychological research has uncovered that as you trust someone more, he is more likely to act the way 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 kid’s pet dog died, for example, empathizing is not saying, “I know how it feels.” To empathize is to grieve with him. If your teen is hung up on looking “uncool” when volunteering, don’t dismiss it as “teens being teens.” Empathy requires decisive action, such as taking steps to make volunteering cool.

3. Set a positive example.

Children may have never been great at listening to their parents, they have never failed to copy them. And the reason behind that is largely biological. Ever heard of mirror neurons and how they affect group behavior? Bottom line is, don’t demand from your teens what you won’t do yourself.

4. Appreciate their efforts.

Feeling like you don’t see them is a sure way to kill their motivation. After all, why contribute you don’t feel like you’ve done a part? That’s why you really have to communicate to them how their work is making a difference. And it’s important to actually tell them individually rather than as a group.

5. Offer them a meaningful purpose.

Why should these teens do all of these things? Is it to impress their parents? Is it to get a chance to be close to 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 lives and being less likely to suffer depression compared to others who’d rather stay at home.

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