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June 20, 2018 Wednesday 02:11:19 PM IST

How to Help Teens Find Purpose

Parent Interventions

It is vital for everyone to have a purpose in life. Purpose has four defining features: dedicated commitment, personal meaningfulness, goal-directedness, and a vision bigger than self. The development of purpose is intricately woven with the development of identity. Thus embarking on a voyage of discovering one’s purpose is critical to during the adolescent years. Research shows that teens and young adults that seek purpose report higher life satisfaction and levels of happiness. New research even suggests that a feeling of purpose in young people is associated with better physical health. 

Adolescence is the time to explore one’s inner and outer world. It is a time to seek new activities and experiences. Teens seek novel experiences. This helps young people try something on for size, see if they like it, and then decide if they want to make it part of their life. Unfortunately so many young people today are not actually able to explore—teens are often either disillusioned from the banality of school or over achieving students are on the treadmill and cannot step off for fear of falling behind.

For teens (or parents) who have already had many experiences in life, and are still confused about their purpose, here's a good exercise. Take out a blank sheet of paper and write at the top, "What is My Life Purpose?" Then, have them begin writing answers. They should write any answer that pops into their head. It could be a word or two, or a sentence.

Repeat this several times at regular intervals of months. Teens use to change their likes and passions quite often. Having an open conversation with them about your own life experiences will give them enough hints to build their goals on the basis of reality.


(Indebted to various sources)


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