“Be careful with your words; they can be forgiven, but not forgotten.”
As someone deeply passionate about the power of words, I’ve always been drawn to motivational quotes. They are not just phrases but powerful tools that can inspire and guide us.
“Be the best version of yourself.”
“You are exactly where you need to be.”
“Failure is not fatal.”
“Moving on does not mean quitting, it means you choose happiness over hurt.”
“The only person responsible for your happiness, is you.”
“Stop shrinking to fit into places you have outgrown.”
“Freedom isn’t the ability to say yes, it’s the ability to say no.”
Teens can certainly resonate with these quotes—however—these quotes assume a level of life experience and self-awareness that comes from years of living, making mistakes, learning, and evolving – experiences that most teenagers haven’t yet had.
It’s about a journey of unbecoming everything that isn’t truly you to discover your authentic self. But for most tweens and young teens, they are just beginning to explore who they are. Their journey is more about formation than transformation.
The brains of teenagers are still developing. The prefrontal cortex – responsible for decision-making, planning, and understanding consequences – is not fully matured until the mid-20s. This biological fact alone suggests that the wisdom often imparted in self-help materials may not resonate with or be fully comprehensible to a teenage audience.
A twelve-year-old recently commented on one of my quotes on social media: “Instead of wondering when your next vacation is, maybe you should set up a life you don’t need to escape from.” At first, I questioned why a twelve-year-old would feel the need for such an escape. But this prompted a journey back to my own teenage years, a period marked by bullying, navigating my parents’ divorce and many other struggles that many teens can relate to, including attempted suicide. So believe me, in no way am I suggesting life isn’t challenging for teens—I’ve been there.
I’m not in any way suggesting that teenagers should be shielded from positivity. On the contrary, they should be exposed to positive messages, even showered with it, but with an understanding that there is a level of maturity and life experience that accompanies many of these messages floating around out here.
Learning about self-esteem and developing a sense of identity is crucial during teenage years, the context is different. Empowering quotes that resonate with adults often miss the mark with teenagers. Quotes that suggest defiance or independence might be misinterpreted by teenagers who are still navigating their place within family and societal structures.
For instance, ending toxic relationships is a complex concept; a parent setting boundaries or saying ‘no’ does not equate to toxicity, but I teenager might interpret it that way. Teenagers are still under the guidance of guardians, and part of their development involves understanding and negotiating these relationships, not necessarily rebelling against them.
This brings us to the critical task for parents, guardians, and even aunts like myself: building a bridge between the adolescent and adult worlds. The heart of the matter lies in the potential misalignment of self-help wisdom with the teenage experience. The surplus of motivational quotes and self-help narratives, while seen as universal truths, may not necessarily apply to the teenage context.
Young teens are at the beginning of their journey of self-discovery and identity formation, a path distinctly different from the transformative journey often depicted in self-help materials.
The key is to provide tweens and teens with tools to express themselves healthily and to understand their emotions. It’s about guiding them through the complexities of their feelings and experiences, not with the intent of transforming them into something they are not yet, but to help them navigate the challenging world of adolescence with resilience and self-awareness.
Inspiring Quotes for Tweens and Teens:
• “Be careful with your words; they can be forgiven, but not forgotten.”
• “It doesn’t matter how slow you go, just don’t stop. Pause, but don’t stop.”
• “Don’t waste your life trying to live someone else’s.”
• “We must be the change we wish to see in the world.” – Gandhi
• “The more you give, the more you get.”
• “Being different is one of the most beautiful things.”
• “Don’t change so people will like you. Be yourself and the right people will like the real you.
While self-help and personal growth material inspire and help heal many adults, some need adaptation to resonate with teens. Acknowledging their unique developmental stage, the challenges they face, and the fact that their journey is just beginning. Providing empathetic and developmentally appropriate guidance fosters a healthier and more realistic outlook for teenagers as they navigate one of life’s most challenging phases—the teenage years.
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