If the teens in your life don’t seem to have strong specific interests or passions, that’s okay.

Young people — from middle school to college — are often exploring many interests and struggle to find their passions as they grow up. 

You can support them with a few simple steps to help broaden their horizons — which just might lead them to a new hobby or passion that makes their heart sing. 

Explore the tips below to learn how to help teens explore their interests — and find their “spark.” Research shows that when young people know their sparks, and take initiative to develop those passions, they are more likely to succeed in school and relationships.

Connect them with people that can help them grow — and give them new perspectives.

When young people are exposed to new people, they may see themselves in a new light, too. Introduce teens to people who work in various fields — maybe your neighbor who is a teacher, a friend who works in health care, or a relative who manages a shop. Encourage your teen to shadow people whose careers are interesting to them. It might just spark a new interest, or help them see a future career path they hadn’t considered before.

Tech check

If your teen seems overly invested in technology or the internet, and seems disinterested in other activities as a result, consider setting family boundaries around phone and internet use. Creating an agreement alongside your teen can be a helpful way to set expectations that everyone can live with. Click here for advice from a cyberbullying and tech expert.

Expose them to new experiences.

Showing young people new things can include signing up for clubs and school events — but it doesn’t have to end there. Try attending concerts, plays, farmers markets or street art fairs to talk about the passions and skills that contribute to those events. Bring teens along to board meetings, faith-based events or trips to other cities, and encourage them to observe what sticks out to them. Ask them about what they learn, and see if anything catches their attention.

Colorado story

Watch the story of Andy, a mentor at The Matthew’s House in Fort Collins. When he first met 14-year-old Ethan, Ethan didn’t even know how to hold a guitar. But a few lessons with Andy sparked Ethan’s passion for music — and helped him grow his confidence.

Encourage them to explore their strengths.

Young people who find their hobbies and interests are more likely to build their voice and confidence in all areas of life. As adults, we can encourage young people to name their opinions, share their voices, and see the impact of their efforts.

Colorado story

Andy, a youth leader at Full Circle of Lake County in Leadville brought a local artist and local youth together to plan and execute a mural project that reflected the community’s stories. When adults collaborate with youth to bring projects to life, our young people will start to see themselves as leaders.

Try this

Here are a few conversation-starters to use with young people who aren’t sure about their abilities and interests. Try asking these open-ended questions in the car, on the bus, or while cooking dinner — a place when the pressure is off, and you’re both relaxed. 

Click on or hover over the boxes to reveal the questions.

What are three things you own that are most important to you?

Who do you most admire that you follow on social media? Why?

If you could try any job for a day, what would you do?

What are three things you like about yourself?

For more ideas, explore our other resources. Here are tips to start conversations with teens, and listen well as they share their interests and curiosities. As you introduce young people to new hobbies and experiences, how does it go? Send us a note or DM us on Instagram to tell us about it! We are always looking for the stories of real parents and adults who are supporting teens.

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