Parenting a teenager is not for the faint of heart. The propensity for drama and emotional fluctuations can leave many parents wondering how they can channel their child’s energy into something more productive or worthwhile.
At the heart of this emotion, however, is often a tremendous capacity for compassion and empathy. When it is redirected into an activity that is meaningful, young people have the potential to give whole-heartedly to others and learn about themselves in the process.
This is where organizations like Girl Up come in.
As Director of Girl Up, Melissa Hillebrenner knows how making a meaningful impact in the world can positively influence your child’s sense of self. A campaign of the United Nations Foundation, Girl Up provides a platform for girls to come together from across the globe to talk about challenges that other girls are facing. Through online engagement and community mobilization, Girl Up has empowered nearly half a million girls from the U.S. and around the world to act and make a difference.
Wondering how you can encourage your daughter or son to channel their energy for the betterment of others? Melissa offers four key steps in helping teens give back:
- Be a role model. One of the best ways to encourage your child to act charitably is to let them observe you doing the same.
- Communicate purposefully about giving. Be sure to establish an open, age-appropriate dialogue with your child about larger issues like education, hunger and health – it’s the best way to find out what matters to them. Once a teen is engaged and invested in a cause, they’re more likely to be interested in doing something to help.
- Find ways for them to make a real, tangible difference. Youth today are observant and they want to know that they’re making a real impact. Work with your son or daughter to find opportunities that suit their interests and abilities. Start by encouraging participation in vetted online advocacy forums and social media channels where they can add their voice to the mix and gain the perspective of others. If they’re interested in doing more, research ways to take their actions offline.
- Think globally. Thanks to the Internet and advancements in technology, there are numerous ways for your child to make a difference in places outside of your local area. Young people really understand how connected the world is, and they care about their global community.
When teens give back, they’re given the opportunity to talk about, act upon and see the impact they make on the issues that matter to them—while simultaneously developing a strong sense of purpose and social responsibility.
Johnson & Johnson is a proud partner of GirlUp. Learn more about how you can help GirlUp through our Donate A Photo app.