Are You Giving Your Kids Time to Slow Down and Think?

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Children and teens today are VERY busy. Their schedules are full of schoolwork, homework, sports, college prep, summer jobs, family life, and more. Space to think? It’s rare, unfortunately. Consequently, self-reflection is probably the last thing on a teenager’s mind.

Self-awareness is a product of careful introspection. When your teen focuses on her own personal character, including her values, beliefs, heroes, goals, struggles, shortfalls, etc., she will soon begin to experience the benefits of being self-aware. People who are self-aware learn to act intentionally and deliberately instead of being reactionary. They are able to redirect negative thoughts, be true to who they are, and be a positive light to the people around them.

Here a few easy steps to help encourage your teen to become self -aware:

  1. Journaling. Encourage your teen to take a couple moments a day to quietly reflect. Have them write down what they are passionate about, what they value, and whom they aspire to be. Suggest they write about their emotions, too. They will be surprised how cathartic it can be!
  2. Set them up with a mentor. We all need mentors! Mentoring relationships provide great learning opportunities for people both young and old. They allow us to model our life after someone we admire and aspire to be like, and learn practical life wisdom from the pros. Your teen’s mentor could be a pastor, a friend, or someone in their desired career field.
  3. Be open about your own life experience. A huge part of being self-aware is the ability to identify key people and events that played a role in creating our worldview and life perspective. Talk to your teen about the people who played essential roles in your own life (parents, grandparents, a favorite college professor, an author, etc.). One of the greatest gifts we can give young people is encouragement and wisdom generated from our own life experiences.
  4. Don’t always gloss over mistakes. When your teen messes up in a relationship, does poorly in a class, or fails a test, it’s easy for us to want to ignore the shortfall and boost their self-esteem because we want to see them happy. However, it’s important for our teens to know their strengths AS WELL as their weaknesses. Knowing areas of needed improvement will help your teen improve her character and mature.

Dennis Trittin is President and CEO of LifeSmart Publishing, author of What I Wish I Knew at 18: Life Lessons for the Road Ahead and co-author of Parenting for the Launch: Raising Teens to Succeed in the Real World. With world-class leadership experience, passionate advocacy for the next generation, and acclaimed resources and speaking engagements on the topics of leadership, life skills, and parenting, Dennis inspires and equips young people and those who guide them.  You can follow him on Facebook and Twitter!

Image Credit: man8os via Deviant Art