Somewhere in time it became a common admonition to make subjects look at the camera for portraits. However, this "rule" can cause a lot of grief and ruin photographs. Having a person looking at the camera and smiling can make a nice image. But if the subject continually wrinkles their forehead, squints their eyes, or can not make a non-overdramatic smile when looking at the camera, then you are better off having the subject look away.
Portrait photography should always be a pleasant experience for everyone involved. It is never worth tears or fear to try to force a young subject (or older camera-shy subject) into a pre-conceived notion of a "proper portrait." The best portraits capture the personality of the subject.
Let your subject look at a prop or out of the frame. With a little imagination in props and backgrounds you'll find that these portraits quickly become some of your favorites.