Empowering Kids: Finding Authentic Goals and Overcoming Fear of Disappointment

There comes a sense, mostly with kids, “Am I going to disappoint someone?” “What if I don’t reach the outcome of that goal if I don’t succeed in that goal? And then, if I disappoint someone, I’m not going to be enough for my parents.” I know a lot of the families I work with; they’re like, “No, my kids know that they’re not going to disappoint me.” And then when I’m coaching the kid, it’s like, “What is your real fear?” “I’m going to disappoint my parents.” It literally does not translate the same way. It’s great when they can articulate it, but a lot of times they can’t. Like, they don’t know that is like a deep fear that I am going to, and you’ll see this long into young adulthood of this fear of, like, “I’m going to disappoint people who have loved me and supported me, or maybe they haven’t, but I still feel like I’m going to disappoint them.” 

 And that’s why it’s really important to try and get kids and teens to create goals that are aligned with their own interests, not the interests that their parents have for them, not according to the parent agenda, because no matter how well intentioned a parent is in thinking, like, “I know what’s best for my child,” it’s not usually going to work out for the best of the child because it’s not something that came from them. It’s not something that they want to be doing. And so then they’re probably going to end up going off course or they’re going to encounter the first barrier they encounter; they’re going to be like, “Oh, it’s too hard.” And then the parents are like, “What? What are you talking about?” But it’s because they’re going after something that they don’t really feel that excited about to begin with. We want to help them figure out the things that they’re curious about and the things that they’re passionate about. 

 Purpose is a hard thing for a young person to have. So it doesn’t even have to have this huge purpose in life. It can just be more of their purpose for the next few months; what’s their main big driving thing that they want to strive for? And as long as it comes from them, they’re going to be much more inclined to stay on course. And here’s the thing that I find interesting: I think that grit and goals are probably the easiest thing for an adult to look at with their children and really give exercises to do to show their brain, like, “Hey, you could stick with this even though you don’t like it, and look at the outcome you get and then the reward of the goal.” I think the hardest thing to do is to create that internal drive in them. 

Listen to the full episode here:

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


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