Teens are seeking affirmation.
Desperately, in fact. That’s why so many are glued to social media. They’re looking for that next “Like” or “Follow” to somehow affirm who they are as people. They’ll go anywhere they can to find encouragement or approval—even to strangers online. That’s how badly they need it.
But as we know, looking for approval anywhere and everywhere is dangerous and ultimately will never fulfill the true need for acceptance. Teenagers need affirmation from one person more than anyone else—YOU. Parents have more influence on the life of a teenager than everyone else combined.
That’s why it is so important that you offer affirming statements on a regular basis to your teen. Even when you don’t feel fondly toward them, even when they’ve pushed your buttons all week, even when they’ve been rude and difficult—*especially* then.
It’s been shown that teenagers (and all people) will rise to your expectation of them. If you constantly tell teens they are unintelligent, a failure, mean, rude, or going nowhere, they’ll live up to that. But even if that teen isn’t living right, if you speak a higher expectation over them, they’ll strive to live up to it.
So is it lying to speak words of affirmation to a teen that’s missing the mark?
First of all, there is ALWAYS something good to say about EVERYONE. God created us in His image—so there’s a lot of good there!
Secondly, the Bible tells us to call things that be not as though they were (Romans 4:17). Why? Is the Bible telling us to lie? Of course not. The Word of God is calling us to a higher place with our thoughts and words—a place of faith. It is how God created the universe and it is how He expects us to approach our faith on the earth.
You can make a BIG difference in the heart of your teen and even see a hardened heart turn around and become soft when you speak the right words of affirmation to your teenager on a regular basis.
Here, we’re offering 10 things you should speak to your teen as a starting point.
1. You Are Important to Me
Do you remember being a teenager? Then you know that nothing goes without saying. You might think your teen should already know this, but they need to hear it—over and over.
2. I Enjoy Spending Time With You
You probably won’t get a return compliment on this one even if they feel it! Say it anyway. Ignore the eye rolls and don’t be offended if no response comes. It’s going in their heart!
3. You Have a Bright Future Ahead of You
One of the things teens question more than anything is their value and their purpose in this world. They secretly wonder if they’ll ever amount to anything and what they could possibly offer to this world. Your faith in them will mean more than you know.
4. I Love You
You can never say this enough. You may think that paying for clothes, showing up at events, or helping with homework says this enough, but you would be wrong. Tell your teen “I love you” and do so often. They need to hear this.
5. I’m Proud of You
There are so many stories of adults who remember never being told these four important words. Every single child needs to hear this from both parents. Say this and say it often. “I’m proud of you” goes to the very soul of a teenager.
6. You Are So Thoughtful!
This may be a Romans 4:17 statement of calling things that be not as though they were—but you can find *something* to use this on! Teens can often be very self-focused, so you may need to be on the lookout, but the moment you see something even close to thoughtful—drop this one on your teen. It may spur greater and more frequent acts of thoughtfulness in the future.
7. You Make Such Good Choices in Life
This may be speaking something over your teen that isn’t the case right now, but it’s important to say when they do make a good choice. One member of our staff sends cards to her teenage nephews and always gushes to them about how proud she is that they make such good decisions in their lives and always try to honor God. She doesn’t know for certain that they do this, but she hopes that by sharing her expectancy and belief in them, it may inspire them to do so.
8. You Handled That Really Well
Teens desperately need to hear when they do something well. They soak up these words like a sponge and often remember them forever. When your teen does something well—anything—tell them. Research shows this is especially important when they’re trying something new. Just as important as what you say is what you *don’t* say. Teens don’t need their flaws pointed out—they do enough of that themselves and have an atmosphere swarming with other insecure teens who will do the same. From you they need encouragement, encouragement, encouragement.
9. I’m So Impressed!
Your teen will likely never admit it, but he or she wants to impress you so much. And it means the world when you tell him or her that this has been achieved. Find more ideas on encouraging your teen HERE.
10. God Loves You So Much
Most teens don’t feel very lovable or worthy of attention and affection. But the sooner they can find out how much God loves them—the Creator of the universe, the Savior of the world—the better. Developing a relationship with Him is the antidote to every problem facing teenagers today.
We hope these ideas have given you a good start. Whatever you do, be a blessing and encouragement to your teen on a regular basis. Over time, you’ll see a big change!
We know there are so many other great things to say to your teen. Share your ideas below!