“Hard work, willpower and dedication. For a man with these qualities, the sky is the limit.”
- Milkha Singh, former Indian track and field sprinter
Willpower is defined as the determination to do something difficult. It is essential that you develop this determination in your children, especially teenagers. This is because teens face immense pressure to perform well in various areas, especially academics. The enormous burden, competition and resultant stress can make them lose the willpower to pursue a target. This is where you, as parents, can help them get back on track.
1. Help frame a plan
Setting a realistic target and creating a plan to reach the deadline is the first step towards gaining clarity. Once these are in place, the child is well-prepared and her willpower becomes stronger.
2. Discuss obstacles and solutions
Talk about possible obstacles and solutions to the plan. This helps him think ahead and improves confidence to complete his pursuits.
3. Encourage journal writing
Maintaining a journal helps self-analysis. Encourage her to write down the day’s achievements, areas of improvement and how to go about it. This helps your child think about her actions and learn from mistakes. Reflective learning increases the willpower to do better.
4. Be a role model
Adolescents learn by observing elders. So, if you use willpower to handle daily situations, stay focused and positive, your teens too will do the same.
5. Appreciate wholeheartedly
When a teenager is appreciated for reaching a milestone or completing an activity successfully, she tends to work harder. The drive to earn appreciation increases. Also, pointing out instances where willpower has facilitated progress helps build confidence.
Along with these, ensure teenagers get enough sleep and proper nutrition. Lack of rest weakens the body and mind, and prevents them from using energy properly. Also, encourage them to go for simple exercises like meditation. It will help their focus, clarity and posture, which are essential factors for developing positive energy and willpower.
In the face of failure
What should parents do if children lose the will to continue? Generally, the immediate reaction is to be protective, give suggestions without listening or prescribe follow-up action.
A study titled, ‘Can a parent do too much for their child? An examination by parenting professionals of the concept of overparenting,’ by Locke, Campbell and Kavanagh (2012), in the Australian Journal of Guidance and Counselling, states, ‘Extreme levels of parental protection of and responsiveness to children could be counter-productive.’
So, do not overprotect the child. Instead, encourage the child to talk about what is bothering him. He could be facing obstacles such as difficult tasks, boredom or fear. Together, try to work out methods to overcome these obstacles so that he can attain his goals. Explain the importance of persistence to him and why quitting is not an option. Remember, work along with him instead of putting your thoughts forward.
With these tips, you can help your child develop his willpower so that he can sail through life smoothly.
Related video: Dr Geetika, psychologist, on why a child needs a mentally strong parent.