Teens will resist and resent the very things we desire for them to change if we try to force those things onto them. The things we know are good for them...the things that we know will make them happier, more successful...those are the things they will develop an aversion to if we don’t “do it right”.
Many parents and coaches are making this one big mistake when it comes to trying to motivate their athletes to change. Once you see the following 3-step change process in action (inspiring story below), I guarantee that this mistake will stop and you will start seeing the change in your child you so desire to see.
If we try to force change on a teenager (or anyone for that matter) before they desire to and are ready to change, it will take a lot longer and it may never happen. We know this to be true as adults.
Things like: better eating habits, a better work ethic, better habits in school, better hydration, better attitudes.
As leaders of youth, which includes parents, teachers, coaches, and any other youth influencer, we need to learn and deploy the following 3 Step Change Process. And it starts with this overarching idea:
People change when they are ready to change. Now that readiness may come from being inspired, from experiencing a major failure or perspective-changing life event, or maybe it is just a slow forming desire over-time. Whatever the reason, they will change most effectively and permanently when they are ready to.
Ready for the 3 steps? Let’s dive in.
Step 1: Meet them, love them, and affirm them where they are.
We have learned this to be true at PFP. Day one, we do a deep dive to find out “where they are” right now. Ready to change? Eager to? Reluctant to? Feeling forced to?
This step is THE most important. It sets the tone for the race. And there is no one right answer to one’s readiness to change. There is only one wrong way: forcing it because we are ready for them to change.
Step 2: Build trust, OVER-TIME, through attention plus helping them get what they want
At PFP we care more about long-term, lasting change than we do about short term, quick fixes. With that said, we go into the relationship with a mentality that we will do everything we can and give our best effort to see change happen fast, but never at the expense of never seeing change happen. Which we know comes from forcing our timing and beliefs onto them.
We must go against our desires and feelings as coaches/influencers for someone to change. We cannot act on those emotions if we want to have a shot at lasting change.
Everyone craves attention in some capacity. They want to know that they are seen, understood, and cared for.
It is at the root of a trusting relationship. Showing up, being curious about them and their life, listening, going out of our way to help them. Attention is important. (Note: if the craving is coming from insecurity, that is another conversation)
Helping them get what they want
Some kids come into us and what they really want is to just relax, have fun, and get the weight of expectation and pressure to achieve off of their shoulders. So that is what we do.
Others come to us and they want to vent. They want someone to chat with who doesn’t have any motives, who won’t judge them.
And some, not many, but some, really want to get tangible results because they are mentally and emotionally ready to change.
Again, what they want doesn’t really matter. All that matters is that we help them get it because it will lead to them trusting us.
Step 3: Challenge them by inspiring them to be more than they currently are
Finally, weeks, months, or maybe YEARS later, we can influence them to pursue what we believe they need. We can inspire them to care about the things that we believe are important for them to care about.
It is the mark of a great coach. The ability to get your “players” to care about the things you believe they should care about.
It might come in the form of an inspirational speech to a group, a heart to heart talk, or a message they read from us. It might be a personalized video one of our coaches sends to them encouraging them to “go for it”. Whichever the medium of communication, it is heartwarmingly awesome when the lightbulb goes off. We’ve seen it hundreds of times.
Everyone wants to skip ahead to this step, but ya can’t. It doesn’t work. I have tried it. I have seen parents force it. And in doing so we have robbed that kid of making positive changes to their life in their timing. Better late than never is so, so true.
Parents, I do not need to tell you because you already know, but this will not happen overnight. To be honest, it rarely happens in 12 Weeks! But when you finally see those breakthroughs happen, one at a time, it becomes worth the wait. Worth the time and money investment you make.
Imagine your kid 5-10 years from now. An active, healthy, young adult. Self-motivated, hardworking, driven. Light years ahead of his/her peers.
I started working with Taylor when she was in 7th grade. Year after year I helped this girl prepare mentally and physically for collegiate sports. Last year she was finally a freshman at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. Division 1 Lacrosse, playing for a top tier team in the country.
She decided when she got there they she was not going to join the party scene. She was immediately an outcast. Criticized and ridiculed by others. But she stood her ground. You know what she said?
She said she remembered all the times we said, “you gotta" stand for something or you will fall for anything.” She remembered us telling her, “When you feel alone and isolated as a high school or college student, you are EXACTLY where you are supposed to be. Call us, and we will remind you that uncommon living today leads to success later.”
She stood her ground. She did not give in when most would have. And now? The team respect and admire her. Big time. She is typically the designated driver. And the coaches are looking to her this year to fill a BIG role on the team.
Can you imagine what would have happened if she stopped after 12 weeks of training with us? It is not about us, but it IS about the commitment we have to seeing every single athlete who walks in our doors experience lasting changes that will lead to confidence and success in sport, but more importantly, life after sports.
Whether it be at PFP, a certain club team, or another solution, make long-term investments in mentors and coaches whom you trust to help your child succeed. Be in it for the long-haul. It is so, so worth it.
Dedicated to your athlete’s success,
P.S. If your athlete has been gone for awhile, send us an email and let’s get them back on the schedule. Our theme this month is MINDSET. Developing a confident, successful, resilient mindset. Their success 3 months from now depends on what they do today.