Knowing how to express your thoughts in writing is an essential life skill, but writing does not come easily to everyone. Teenagers who struggle with writing need to practice, but will be hesitant to do so if it is not fun. As a parent, you can encourage your teen to write more often by providing opportunities for enjoyable persuasive writing activities.
Choose an Entertaining Topic
Teens have strong opinions when it comes to their entertainment choices, even though you may not always agree as to the value of your teen’s choice. Ask your teen to complete a persuasive writing piece that successfully convinces the reader that his favorite movie, television show, or band is one that is worth checking out. To make this more fun, you could have other family members prepare their own persuasive writing piece and let a neutral, third-party judge who best made the case for their favorite for their favorite movie, television show, or band.
Even if your teen claims to have no interest in national politics, he is probably interested in local issues that will directly affect his life. Examples of these issues might include public schools requiring students to wear uniforms, high schools requiring community service in order for a student to graduate, states placing restrictions on teen drivers, or communities closing youth centers and canceling activities for young people due to budgetary concerns. Encourage your teen to write a persuasive editorial on one of these issues to submit to the school newspaper or a local news magazine.
Make It Personal
For older teens, deciding what to do when they graduate is one of the most challenging tasks they will face. Because of this, a great persuasive writing prompt is the topic of whether it is better to go to college directly after high school, take a few years off and then go to college, or simply skip college completely and enter the workforce. Ask your teen to take a stance on this issue and support it with specific examples. Suggest searching for research into college graduation rates as well as anecdotal evidence from people who made a decision that worked out well for them. When the paper is finished, be supportive of your teen's efforts no matter what his opinion on the issue is.
Make It Useful
A problem teens have with persuasive writing is that teens don't feel that it is a useful activity, to simply write an argument about an idea. Teens are focused on the here and now – rather than on what they need to do to establish their future career. The next time your teen wants to do something you're not sure you agree with, such as staying out past curfew to attend a party, ask him to write a persuasive letter for you so that you can make your decision. The prospect of a tangible reward works well as a motivator for a reluctant writer. Before you offer your ear, however, make sure you're committed to listening to your teen's thoughts.