Why Your Teenager Needs to Make MistakesFeb 14, 2022
One of the traps of parenting a teenager is the urge we feel to share our wisdom. We see our son or daughter heading down a path that we know from our own experience is not going anywhere good. So we sit them down and tell them how we have been there before. How they need to listen to our advice so that they don’t make the same mistakes we did. In our minds this makes perfect sense—we are just trying to steer our teenager away from potential pain and suffering.
The problem is nine times out of ten, they won’t take your good advice; in fact, sometimes it feels like they do the opposite just to prove you wrong.
My recommendation is that you embrace the power of experiential learning and focus your attention on empowering them to solve their own problems.
In simple terms, experiential learning is learning by doing. The premise is that it is only through personal experience that we can truly “get” something. I like to think of it as knowing about a topic vs. really understanding how to do something. For example: You can know all about how to ride a bike, but the only way to really learn to ride a bike is to get on it and start pedaling. And we do this with the knowledge that we are going to have to fall a few times before we eventually “get” it.
In the same way, your teenager can know all about good study habits, but the only way for them to “get” what works is for them to try and fail a few times. Or while you can share all of the reasons why their new boyfriend or girlfriend is not good for them, the lessons they will learn from the experience of figuring out they are not happy in the relationship and eventually breaking up with the person will serve them for the rest of their life.
One of our themes here at the Family Enrichment Academy is that a change in perspective changes everything. Here is a perspective shift for you to consider:
Rather than helping your teenager avoid a potential mistake today, put your attention on teaching them to be resourceful so they can overcome today’s mistake.
Resourcefulness is a skill they will use today, tomorrow, and every day of their lives.
Peace be with you and your family,
Family Enrichment Coach