In a recent teen coaching session, my client Brynn* was distraught. With tears in her eyes, she said she was feeling pressure from “everywhere.” She had a full schedule of after school sports and so much to do for school. She was staying up late to complete homework and study. She felt exhausted. Like many teens, she lamented that her parents’ constant reminders and check-ins didn’t help. “They stress me out!” she said, “It’s like they are so focused on what I am not doing. I wish they would focus more on what I am doing!
Where is your parenting focus?
As you guide your daughter toward becoming a responsible, successful adult, an important question to ask yourself is: where is your parenting focus? Are you paying more attention to what she is doing well or are you frequently pointing out her shortcomings or what she needs to do?
It’s common for parents to feel their teens need frequent reminders in order to get things done to reach their potential. And, although parent reminders come from a loving place, too many are likely to result in resistance, rebellion, or withdrawal. Regularly pointing out what your teen is not doing or the areas that need improvement can lead to feelings of inadequacy and frustration. Your daughter may start to feel as though she can never please you, which can be damaging to her motivation and self-esteem. It can also create a wedge in your relationship, making communication difficult and strain your relationships.
So, what’s the alternative?
Instead of pointing out her flaws, devote equal, if not more, time to recognizing and acknowledging her personal strengths and the effort she puts into various aspects of her life. When you praise your teen’s efforts, it sends a powerful message that it’s not only about the results but also the journey. This builds internal motivation and boosts her self-esteem. Focusing on how she’s reaching a desired outcome and what she’s learning along the way encourages confidence, perseverance, and resilience. Your appreciation and support of what she’s doing well/will also strengthen your relationship and encourage her to be more open and calm with you.