But, we love them, don't we? And, although they often do their best not to express it, they love us, as well. That's why we want to do the best we can as parents for our Tom-Cat-Teens. We want them to be happy and successful. But, how do you get through that hormone-thick exterior and make an impact on this person who will toss out a monosyllabic response once for every five questions asked?
The only way for a person to be truly successful is for them to find happiness in what they are doing. That goes for our teens, too. And for them to figure out what it is they should be doing, teens need to discover their passions and strengths. Often, even at this age, they still haven't found these and need our help to zero in on them. But how do we do that when our teens are unwilling to open up?
Here's a little secret about teens: the whole cat-thing is a facade, and every now and again, their dog-like qualities surface. When they do, you need to be ready. You can't push a teen to tell you what they are into, but you can wait one out. When you are driving her to a friend's house or sitting down to dinner, she'll slip and tell you about the funny thing a friend said on the bus, or the cool thing she learned in art class, or how her friend can do a front-hand-spring. When she cracks that door, don't push it open, just listen, absorb and file away. This is what excites your teen. Now, do a search and see if you can find an app that let's her explore her art interest, like SketchBook Express.
This may be her passion, but may not be her strength just yet. It's okay if she's not wonderful at graphics and design right away. Encourage her to continue her passion out of her love for it. And, as she continues to work on it, she will also be building her strength.
What we as parents often are inclined to do when our children are successful is to praise their accomplishments, but psychologist, Carol Dweck, has studied praise and children and has learned that contrary to what many parents believe, praising our teens’ accomplishments actually stunts their desire to continue pushing. Why? Because when you tell your teen she's created a wonderful painting, she's focused on the goal (wonderful art), and not the process or effort it took to get there. So, the next time she considers creating a piece of art, she may feel pressure to repeat that same success, which can be too much for some teens, therefore some decide not to try again for fear of failure.
Instead, fight your urge to praise the accomplishment, and instead praise the effort and improvement. "Wow, I can see how much you have improved over the last three months. You've worked very hard to get to this level."
As a result, you get a teen who wags her tail a bit when no one’s looking, yet still prances like a non-interested alley cat. That’s a happy young person who is on her way to success.