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

If you’re a parent, these steps can help you mold your teens into responsible and community-loving adults in the future:

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. 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 so much more than simply putting yourself in the other person’s shoes or being a very comforting listener. It’s actually feeling the emotions of the other. For example, if your child’s pet fish died, you empathize not by saying “It’s understand how you feel.” To empathize is to grieve with him. If your teen is scared of looking “uncool” when volunteering, it shouldn’t be simply accepted as “teens being teens.” Empathy entails decisive action, like exploring ideas on how to make volunteering cool.

3. Set a good example.

Kids have never been superb at listening to their parents, but they have always imitated them. And there’s a biological logic behind that. Ever heard about mirror neurons and their impact on group behavior? Here’s the bottom line: don’t expect your children to do what you yourself couldn’t.

4. Appreciate their efforts.

Feeling like they’re invisible to you is a perfect way to douse 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. Give them a meaningful purpose.

Why should these teens do all of these things? Is it to make their parents happy? Is it to get a chance to be close to someone they like? To get some kind of points from their teacher? All of these are poor motivation. Explain to them how the youth’s service can bring great benefit to your community, and what can happen 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 to that is retiree volunteers being less likely to be depressed and having longer lives than others who prefer to stay home.