Most parents know there can be a MILLION reasons why a child thinks he was unable to reach a particular goal. However, these are typically the ones I see in my office and are often associated with the teen years.
- "I can’t." (I’m not good enough, I'm not smart enough, etc.)
- Blaming others
- Chaotic family life
- "I don't care." (Apathy, depression)
The first is simply a disbelief in self, which is extremely common with teens. And the reason is simple; teens have typically not conquered many battles as of yet, so their confidence can be low. That’s okay! It’s extremely normal for a 15 or 16 year old to feel as though they are unable to ask a girl on a date, get into the college they want, or even just voice their concern to an adult. However, please be aware that these are all opportunities for them to take on the challenge. Please do not rescue your kids from a chance to overcome the odds. (Especially if the odds seem daunting!)
This is their time to face the dragon (metaphorically of course). The cool thing about facing a metaphorical dragon (as opposed to a real dragon) is that even if they lose and fight bravely, you can still be proud of their bravery! Your child may have trouble being proud of a lost fight, but you can still be proud for them.
Blaming is very common for teens (and everyone) but if it becomes ingrained in their behavior it can eventually become a dangerous cycle. Blaming is the easiest way to protect one’s self from failure and for teens is often directed towards: parents, teachers, siblings, society, or simply "life" as a whole. Don’t let the blame settle on someone else unless it truly is someone else’s fault. Eventually, teens will NEED to be able to distinguish whether they or someone else is to blame for a failed aspiration or project. And if they are convinced everything else is someone else’s fault then they won’t know when that’s true or not.
Don't forget, it's easy for us parents to put the blame on others instead of our kids (or ourselves) too!