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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? Wrong. There are approaches to inspire them to go out of their self zones and develop concern for the world 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 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. Truth is, it’s the opposite that is actually true: how can they act more responsibly if they are not given the chance? If anything, psychological studies have discovered that the more you place your trust on someone, the more he will likely behave as 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 what other is feeling. For example, if your child’s pet fish died, you empathize not by saying “It’s understand how you feel.” Empathy is grieving together. If your teen is hung up on looking “uncool” when volunteering, don’t dismiss it as “teens being teens.” Empathy entails decisive action, like exploring ideas on how 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 there’s a biological logic behind that. Ever heard about mirror neurons and their influence on group behavior? Here’s the bottom line: don’t expect your teens to do what you personally wouldn’t.

4. Appreciate their efforts.

Feeling invisible to you is an excellent way to quash their motivation. After all, why contribute you don’t feel like you’ve done a part? This is why it’s vital to express to them that their work is making a significant difference. And you have to say it to each of them, and not merely address a group.

5. Give them a meaningful purpose.

Why should these teens do all of these things? Is it to impress their parents? Is it to spend time with someone they like? To increase their grades? Each of those is 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 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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