Creative Ways to Recognize Positive Behavior in Teens and Young Adults

INA Blog Creative Ways to Recognize Positive Behavior in Teens and Young Adults (1)The teenage and young adult years are complicated times. They are full of heightened emotions and intense growth and learning. This time of life is also when people discover where their passions lie. This forces them to ask big questions about what their future looks like and what their purpose and meaning is in life. 

Amid this time of growth and reflection, behavior can fluctuate and parenting can sometimes feel overwhelming. Even though there is no manual about how to parent young people at this stage and life, one thing is certain: it’s important and necessary to encourage positive behavior in teens. Here are some techniques to help.

Encourage them to work.
Whether it’s working at your local community center as a lifeguard, babysitting, bagging groceries at the market, or scooping ice cream at a local shop, finding and holding a job teaches responsibility. They learn customer service skills, what it means to work hard for a purpose, and how to advocate for themselves. It also allows them to earn money that they can save toward college, a car, or other major life purchases. In short, work teaches positive work ethics and behavior that results in valuable, long-term skills that they can take well into adulthood.

Recognize their efforts.
When you see your teen or young adult working hard – getting good grades, helping around the house, being kind to others – tell them that you see them and notice their efforts. Everyone, no matter how old, loves to be seen and heard. Be descriptive and specific with them: tell them that you’re proud of them, that you’re excited about what they’re doing, and that you enjoy seeing them step into their full potential. It’s even okay to reward them for a job well done – take them out to dinner or to coffee, plan a night at home with things that they love most, or pay for an outing for them to take a friend somewhere fun. Write a card to show them how appreciative you are of their uniqueness. Praise is a wonderful and powerful motivator that encourages them to repeat good behavior and continue to work hard to find their purpose.

Teens and young adults can feel overlooked and unheard sometimes. Make a point to listen to their thoughts and take them seriously. Being a sounding board and giving them undivided attention builds trust. It also creates an open line of communication that will show them that you care and want to know more about their lives, their viewpoints, and their feelings.

Most of all, don’t underestimate your influence. Model what positive behavior looks like – at home, out in public, at work, and more. Teens and young adults learn by watching adults in their lives. 

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