In Parents, Parents' Coaching

How to Break the Hold of Apathy in Your Teen’s Life

In a world that has so much to offer, apathy should play no part in a young person’s life. Yet many teens today are having a crisis with this illness due to being unable to face the challenges of everyday life. A common apathy definition describes this condition as a loss of faith and hope in a person’s life. People may lose faith in themselves and feel they don’t have what it takes to accomplish anything in life. Or they may lose faith in others – family, friends, work colleagues or society at large – due to injustice, hardship and crime.

Apathy can take on a number of forms to include voter apathy, student apathy, bystander apathy, social apathy and more. Parents who suspect their teens are suffering from an apathy disorder should talk openly with their kids or consult a professional counselor to help with this problem.

What is the Definition of Apathy?

By definition apathy is a condition in which people experience a loss of motivation, incentive and enthusiasm for life. Apathetic people may show symptoms of depression, disinterest, fatigue or despair with their surroundings, family, friends, career, etc. When asked to define apathy in their teen’s life, parents may say their kids are indifferent, show little to no interest in school or social activities, seem downcast and disheartened and have no purpose or goals for their lives. This illness affects different people in different ways. However, for the most part, people suffering from this condition generally reflect a feeling of hopelessness and despair.

Causes of Apathy

Apathetic behavior is not caused by any one factor. Many different factors can contribute to developing this condition either on a temporary or long term basis. Most people experience apathetic behavior at some point in their lives due to circumstances and conditions around them. However, when people succumb to the negative aspects of their circumstances and lose hope altogether, their apathy syndrome can become a deeper-rooted problem.

The following are some of the most common causes of this illness:

  • Stress
  • Disappointment
  • Difficulty in reaching academic, career or personal goals
  • Loss of faith in themselves or others due to challenges in their lives
  • Lack of self-confidence and self esteem
  • Being overwhelmed by world or local problems
  • Psychological problems
  • Physical afflictions
  • Unexpected death or tragedy in the family

Not everyone that experiences these problems develops apathy. However, knowing the possible causes of your teen’s condition can help you seek solutions for an apathy cure. If the meaning of apathy is loss of faith and hope, looking for ways to help restore these attributes in your kids’ lives is the first step towards overcoming apathy. Apathetic behavior need not destroy a young person’s life. There are ways in which parents can help their kids combat this condition and live a happy and meaningful life.

Warning Signs

Parents who feel their kids may be suffering from apathetic behavior should look out for these warning signs:

  • Loss of interest in hobbies, family, friends, school and other normal activities
  • Lack of motivation for work or play
  • No vision to accomplish anything in their lives
  • Fills life with worthless activities such as TV watching, video games or Internet surfing with no purpose or goal
  • Excessive TV watching, Net surfing, video game play
  • Feelings of frustration when around people with vision and goals
  • Lack of motivation to start or finish any project of activity of value
  • Overeating with little interest in exercise or staying healthy and fit

If not dealt with, apathy can take a toll on a young person’s life, leaving him or her with little vision for the future. Over time, this behavior can foster feelings of guilt, shame and self-pity which can very easily lead to apathy depression, an even worse condition to tackle. Parents shouldn’t sit back and let apathy define their teens’ future. The key to combating this condition is recognizing the early warning signs and looking for ways to help bring back your teen’s zeal for life. By getting rid of apathy meaning can be restored to a young person’s life.

How to Deal with Apathetic Disorders

Those suffering from this illness should know that it can be overcome. The following steps can help parents deal with this condition in various areas of their teens’ lives.

  1. Keep Apathy in Perspective

Indifference is a common apathy synonym to describe how teens may feel while in this state. Other synonyms for apathy include unconcern, lethargy, passiveness, aloofness and insensitivity.

It’s important that teens realize that in most cases apathetic symptoms and feelings are temporal and not long lasting. Most teens who suffer from this condition are not ignorant, boring, lazy, incompetent or incapable of accomplishing their goals. However, they may be passing through a state where they feel they or their situation will never change. By putting their feelings into perspective, they can see their situation more clearly and take steps to break free from apathy’s grip.

  1. Identify the Cause

Apathetic disorder can be triggered by a person, place or event in a teen’s life. It’s important teens identify the cause of their condition and separate fallacy from fact. Parents can be extremely helpful by staying optimistic and helping their teen maintain a positive attitude toward the difficulties they are trying to overcome.

  1. Embrace Change

Parents should look for ways to initiate change to eliminate the cause of this illness in their teen’s life. Helping your teen take control of the situation may be the catalyst to breaking the hold apathy has on his life. Small disruptions in your schedule, innovative ideas, new people and places can all help to instill enthusiasm where there is none. Look for ways to create positive energy in your teen’s surroundings be it through music, people, food, events or other interests and hobbies.

  1. Consider the Good in Your Past

Sometimes a trip through memory lane of past happiness and joy can help break the grip of apathy and restore a teen’s perspective. Talk about happy occasions you’ve shared together in the past and how these events brought you closer together as a family. It’s always helpful to count your blessings and remember the good. Good memories and feelings can help override negative apathetic feelings and give your teen something to look forward to. You can also talk about victories from past difficulties so your teen can regain courage and faith to combat the difficulties he is currently facing.

  1. Start Small and Break down Problems

When it comes to overcoming apathy, sometimes you have to start small. Try to break down problems that contribute to apathetic behavior and consider what steps can be taken to resolve these issues and restore order in your teen’s life. Small action is better than none at all. Most teens can manage to take small steps to overcome monumental problems. By accepting small challenges daily, teens can move forward in regaining their motivation and enthusiasm for living.

Empathy vs Apathy

Empathy can be described as the ability to understand how other people feel and appreciate their difficulties and problems. Empathy allows people to “walk a mile in others’ shoes” and understand exactly what they are going through. People who have this attribute are generally patient, kind and caring. In contrast, apathy, demonstrates the opposite. Apathetic people are generally unconcerned for the needs of others. They are indifferent to the needs of those around them and feel it’s hopeless to even try lending a helping hand.

The following apathy quotes are fairly accurate in summarizing what this illness does to people:

“The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference . . . The opposite of faith is not heresy, it’s indifference. And the opposite of life is not death, it’s indifference.” – Elie Wiesel

“A lot of you cared, just not enough.” – Jay Asher

“It’s a disease. Nobody thinks or feels or cares anymore; nobody gets excited or believes in anything except their own comfortable, little God damn mediocrity.” – Richard Yates

“…the opposite of love is not hate — it’s apathy. It’s not giving a damn. – Leo Buscaglia

“American youth attributes much more importance to arriving at driver’s license age than at voting age.” – Marshall McLuhan

“If I look at the mass, I will never act.” – Mother Teresa

Types of Apathy

Most people would find it difficult to describe apathy in a sentence as there are so many different forms of the illness. Political apathy refers to a lack of interest or concern in political events. Many people today abstain from voting in presidential or Congressional elections as they feel their vote will make little difference in how the country is run. As a result of voter apathy, fewer people turn out for elections; this affects the selection of Congressional and presidential candidates which in turn affects the creation and implementation of new laws. Accepting political apathy means people don’t care about how the government is run. The effects of such unconcern could be disastrous for future generations.

Social apathy affects how a young person perceives his social life. He may feel like a failure in making friends or establishing serious relationships with others. While it’s quite common for teens to feel awkward when it comes to socializing, apathetic behavior can kill a young person’s desire to even try befriending others or taking part in any type of social activity at all.

Student apathy can cause young people to lose interest in their academic studies or in pursuing higher education to advance their career. Kids who become apathetic about their education no longer care if they learn or not. They may consider education a waste of time or feel they can’t measure up to their peers. Victims of bullies may become apathetic towards their studies as a result of verbal or physical abuse on campus. Some students are apathetic towards certain courses as they can’t relate to the material being taught. Others may simply find certain subjects unchallenging due to already excelling in the subject matter. By identifying the cause of apathetic behavior towards their academics, parents can help their kids overcome these feelings and move on.

Bystander apathy is a sad reflection of many in society today as it shows how little people care about each other. A breakdown in teaching our young people good morals and values helps to contribute to this attitude. Bystander apathy keeps people from reaching out and helping others in need. It stifles love and compassion and promotes an “every man for himself” outlook. Parents can help curtail this attitude by teaching their kids to be compassionate, kind and caring from the time they are young. By ingraining these good habits and attitudes in children when they are small, it increases the chances of their growing up to be compassionate adults.

Even if apathy defined your teen’s mindset and behavior in the past, there’s no reason to accept this condition today. By working together, parents, teens and teachers can help break the hold that this illness has many young people and restore their love for life and outlook for the future.

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