From Screens to Dreams: Empowering Teens’ Inner Drive

Where do we help these kids to really go into that internal drive and start recognizing it? So first and foremost, we have to get them off their devices and spend less time on phones, scrolling mindlessly, and watching videos that aren’t really adding any value to their lives. Because in my experience, especially more recently, phones, silly videos, and silly TikToks are such a time sucker and such an energy drainer that the teens will tell me, “I just, once I’m on my phone for a while, I just don’t even feel like doing anything else because I just feel like low energy and I’m bored or whatever.” So first and foremost, we want to look at how much time they’re spending on their phones and we want to monitor that.

And if you’re a parent and you’re like, “Oh, my gosh, my kid is on the phone all the time,” how would I ever do that? Start with baby steps. You don’t just pull the phone out and be like, “Okay, you’re never using your phone again.”  You want to just start with teeny, tiny baby steps and, like, gradually kind of backing it down and decreasing the time and even explaining to them why you’re doing that and what the purpose is. Teens, even if they don’t agree, do like to hear the rationale. They do like to know the reason why. And that can just be a good starting point for getting your teens to start figuring out their passions because we want them to have time to do so. Time and space to explore things, to try things on, to try out for different teams and see what feels like a good fit, to try different clubs, to see what works and what doesn’t, to let them be bored and see what that feels like, and to see how they were going to manage discomfort. And so we can, we need, we can do that by giving them the time and the space first and foremost,

Some things that parents get stuck on, and even myself at times, are explaining them to our kids. In the sense that they’re going to understand what being on their devices does versus being off their devices. Like, what are some things that parents can explain in a vocabulary that their younger teens will understand, like, “Look, this isn’t a punishment?” But how do we explain it to our kids? I think it starts with building self-awareness. And so in a very non-judgmental kind of way, pointing out gently to the tween or the teen, like, “I noticed that whenever you spend a lot of time, you know, on the couch just staring at your phone, I notice, like, you’re kind of grumpy later on. Or I notice that you don’t really seem like you want to do anything else.”  And so you’re making the observation, but in a way that’s, like, non judgmental. You’re not telling them they’re lazy. 

You’re not telling them what’s wrong with them. You’re doing it in this non-judgmental, non-confrontational way and trying to get them to build that awareness themselves. And then you can ask a follow-up question, like, “Do you notice that about yourself, too? Or what do you think you could do differently so that you don’t spend an entire Saturday staring at your phone, and then you’re upset later on because you feel like you wasted the day? So what do you think you could do differently tomorrow? Or what do you think you could do differently for the rest of the day today?” And so you’re kind of getting them to think about things and see what kind of solutions they can come up with.

Listen to the full episode here:

How to motivate your kids” with Dr. Melanie McNally | Part 1

Information about Dr. Melanie McNally:

For more parenting content, visit my Podcast Redefine Parenting Show: