listening to a leadership speaker >> ) “If you were a business manager and you said
to an employee “your numbers are down.
If you don't bring them up soon, I don't know what your future here will
be.” Imagine that as a parent, saying
something like, “Son, your grades are down. I don't know about your future with
this family. We may have to put you up
probably not gonna happen… But what’s a parent to do – when they’re frustrated
or out of ideas to deal with their teen’s (o) grades; (o) crappy attitude; (o) TOO
many hours gaming; (o) exploring or repeatedly using drugs or alcohol; or (o)
even into depression and talking about suicide?
that speaker’s prime recommendation for business leaders is empathy… And that’s exactly what
you could use with your teenager!
sound simplistic – and if it is, that’s OK.
Think about what causes or motivates any teen toward any of those
actions? It’s really quite simple: they’re
FEEDING their SELF-ESTEEM – even if it’s dismally low. [Yes, that DOES happen.]
they’re trying to get attention – trying to get their parents or friends/ peers or whomever to “look at me” – “see me,
recognize that I’m here” – and very often, “I don’t know what’s going on in my
head or in my world – so I’m just lashing out!”
wants to be heard – or listened to – EVERYONE! So your wisest course of action is to LISTEN!
Experts tell us that the most powerful Sales skill, Leadership skill and Communication skill is
LISTENING. And VERY probably – parenting
do you listen? That old standard query “how’s
it going?” is just too empty and meaningless – DROP IT!
the best way to re-establish control of a discussion is to ASK A QUESTION!
some more innovative questions like
“what did you do today that you’re proud of?”
“I’m not sure why you did that [or said that] – what did you
want to accomplish?”
“What did you fail at today?” [GREAT for general conversation –
“Huh? Why would you ask that?” as well as building skills to rebound-from-defeat]
“How can I help?”
“I’m not sure I understand – please help me to see [or
you it might be simple – and fairly easy - but may require HABIT-CHANGE from
– the old style commanding “because I said so” doesn’t work anymore. Why? Life has changed. They may say OK to your face, but they are FREE
to do almost anything – as soon as they’re 50 yards away. And wouldn’t you rather have a kid who THINKS
rather than just blindly obeys? [yes, you would, even if you deny it now!]
ASK AWAY – AND LISTEN! You’ll
learn a lot – to guide your parenting – and teen!!!
Pity is a necessary and valued trait – to share or give to someone
experiencing crisis or tragedy in their life – death of a loved one, failure at
something - college acceptance, didn’t “make the team” in sports, failed a
class at which they worked very hard, exclusion from a social group – all
deserve pity or at least empathy.
But, as with most adults and especially champions – in any area
– sports, business, theatrical/ entertainment – sooner or later – that person
has to get back up and get back in the game.
We – as their support system – should clearly express our
sympathy and empathy.
But after some reasonable period of time, we need to help,
encourage and support them to move past the pity stage and encourage them to
‘return to life’
Teaching our kids to rebound
and recover from setbacks, adversity and pity will absolutely strengthen the quality of their life – without
Pity, left to fester, will lead to lethargy and “giving up” and
in the long run, they become quitters. And no one wants to hang out with a
quitter. If anything, we all want to hang out with someone who overcame
their adversity to be a winner.
Remember – “a winner’s a loser who tried again.”
Helicopter parenting is an example of the cost of pity. While
those parent’s intent was honorable, experience has shown how weak their kids
are now. And the only way those teens will rebuild is NOW to suffer and
face and learn to overcome the adversity their parents had “saved them”
Even kids who grow up in poverty should receive empathy and pity
and even support of supplemental programs – but then be inspired and
‘ignited’. Pitying too much or too long will prevent them from growing
out of or past their current circumstance. And worst of all – will
prevent them from uncovering or releasing their actual real capacity/
So when you see a teen who deserves pity, as a parent or coach,
teacher, etc.– give it – but
then, soon after, SUPPORT and RE-KINDLE THEM!!
In actual fact, it’s a
form of love – share it!
– as have I - grown weary of that expression?
- it may have a lot more immediate relevance and value than we thought.
school for weeks/ months, and if the pandemic quarantine keeps them at home,
these poor kids – and their parents – could benefit from a ‘new normal’
and read and note parent’s annoyance and aggravation by and from their
teenagers constantly. And what occurred
to me after the first few hundred such readings was that, with a moderately
simple “pivot” [there’s another new/ popular term] – any parent can change -
AND IMPROVE! their teen paradox!
CHANGE your expectations!
In far too many instances, parent’s expectations of behaviors and
choices of their teens are simply not realistic in a world far different than
when they were teens. Question your expectations – and even discuss them with
ASK, DON’T TELL. By this
age, teenagers are SO TIRED of being TOLD what to do and when to do it. Why not
reverse your paradigm – make it a dialogue – a two-way, mutually respectful communication. Trust me – it works! [LISTEN to them!]
to get them involved in their own dream goal pursuit. In our coaching of teenagers, we’ve found
that as soon as their focus is NO LONGER what the teacher said, or what Mom or
Dad want them to do – and is replaced by pursuit of their OWN personal dreams
and goals, their self-motivation takes over – and their internal stress and
outward hostility DECREASES!!
what am I saying? Invite or suggest that
they brainstorm EVERYTHING they ever hope to achieve, possess become or
experience – IN ANY AREA(S) of life.
be prepared with several suggested questions and actions they might pursue. As in
all these suggestions – make it a fun project, NOT an assignment. If done right, it’s ALL ABOUT THEM – and that
motivates and inspires ALL OF US!!
great exercise arising from their Dream list – truly for the whole family, if
you’d like: create, develop a Visualization Board.
my first one many year ago – at a sales meeting with more than 100 people in
the room. We had a great time, each doing
his own – but contributing or making suggestions to others - as you should.
interested, we have questions and a process we can recommend – for Questioning,
for Dream List and for Visualization Board - just ask! And of course, there’s no charge nor fee! 😎
HOW YA GONNA GET THERE?
Absolute basic fact learned
25 years ago: the more specific the goal, the easier it is to achieve –
and the reverse: the more vague the goal, the harder it is to achieve.
When we surveyed
parents asking their goal(s) for their teenager, the most frequent reply
was “to be happy.”
With total respect
and appreciation, that's not very helpful. What IS happiness?????
achieving or fulfilling a goal.
Happiness is not
possessions. Those are the rewards of success.
But back to
happiness: happiness requires (!!!) a goal!
So if happiness for
your teen is your goal, what's THEIR goal?
Think about things
type of work,
indoors/ office or outdoors
needed and desired finances/ salary, etc.
family situation, kids if any
where they’ll live - geographic location –
and anything else you consider important or valuable.
Next key issue: ASK,
DON'T TELL. As you consider these things, avoid TELLING your
teen. Make this just subtle, conversation - ask 'softball' questions- not
hard-edged challenging ones. Your role is to guide and coach, not to direct.
facilitate exploration with your teen:
“What do you think you’d want to do with your life?”
“What is it about that interests you?”
“Hmmm, that’s interesting… are there other similar but different areas
you might also enjoy?
“What kind of education or experience will you need to be good at that?”
“I’m not being skeptical, just wondering - what if that doesn’t work out
for you, what else might fulfill you?”
“Again, not being skeptical – can I help – only if you’d like, to explore
other similar careers that might be just as entertaining to you, for you?”
“How can I help or support you in getting there?”
Once you’ve begun
this questioning, gently come back to it from time to time. Very often, the
more you push, the more they’ll back away – so gauge your teen’s reactions and
replies to guide your next steps.
[In ALL these
questions, expect to hear “I don’t know” – a lot! Because in many cases, they’ve never thought
about them before.
One way to help
their thinking is to have 2 or 3 or 4 alternatives in mind when you ask the question. If they negate or reject them - fine! You and
they have learned what they DON’T WANT!
It also helps to
NOTICE what seems to make them happy. Very often, people don’t notice what
makes them happy until later on.
Finally – DON’T make
this a formal pursuit [or “investigation”] – just add it to your parental
knowledge bank, to refer back to in guiding your teenager toward HAPPINESS!!
BUT NEED TO!!! - - - -
years evoke a LONG, often scary list of issues – which FAR too many parents
want to hide from – but we have a solution.
What many parents
will see or experience from their teenager:
Lack or loss of focus
Just don’t care
Drug or alcohol use, abuse,
Suicide – talking about,
threatening to, or carrying it out
As in all human
behavior, there are no absolute answers, no cure-alls!!
have found that our process in success-coaching teenagers CAN have a strong, strengthening effect on each of the issues
Here’s how: we
ask our students to (o) brainstorm and list everything they ever want to
achieve, possess or become in life. (o) Then,
they are guided to filter those dreams down to shorter range goals and actions,
(o) then develop a plan – and (o) begin pursuing their dreams!!
KEY POINT: when anyone begins to
focus on their own dreams and goals, their “need” for unpleasantness, drug or alcohol
use or addiction, and even suicide – diminishes
or lessens a great deal.
Further, their focus, self-discipline, motivation and “Just
don’t care” attitude improves GREATLY!!
Again, this is
not a cure-all – but it’s one more tool to help them help themselves.
While we don't yet
have data to support this expectation, we know that every student with whom we
have worked increased their own motivation and academic focus and school
success without our ever mentioning that! Essentially, we are guiding them toward igniting
their own self-motivation and achievement drive!!
If we can help
you to use this idea with your teen, please contact us at CoachSteve@Launh-Your-Life.com
Thoreau said “most men [people] lead lives of quiet desperation”
does NOT describe you nor your family. However,
it SHOULD make us think - - -
WHY BE AVERAGE?
was a popular
expression a few years ago,
is now a book and a t-shirt.
Everyone wants to be ‘the best’ or ‘top of their class’ or ‘better
than the next guy – or gal’ – but most people WILL BE average –
just by definition – [84% of the population is ‘normal’ or average.]
No one wants to be average… but there is a way out!!
There IS a way to get past ‘just average’, to stretch beyond!
One of the best questions you can ask your teenager is ‘what
will you do today that you’ll be proud of?”
Yes, the first time you ask, you’ll get a weird reaction – like
“what book about me are you reading now, Mom?” And that’s OK.
But by asking that question, maybe a day or two later, and then periodically
from time to time, you will have planted the seed for your teen to think about
pride of performance and achievement.
And as in any growth opportunity, nurturing it with positive comments
will help it grow – and probably enhance your relationship with that teen!
By accumulating a long series of “days I’m proud of” – be assured
your teen will excel, surpass their peers and achieve excellence – and along
the way, build that most powerful driver of human performance: POSITIVE
Try it and see –
and report back and tell us how you did!
NOT TRUE! ['just live with it']
Far too many people accept
the false wisdom that that's just the way teenagers are. You can’t do anything about
it – you just have to live with it. WRONG!
With a relatively small
‘pivot’ – you can easily and substantially change the situation, your home life
and your teenager’s life!
Develop a mindset in which you
(b) laugh gently,
if appropriate – OR show no emotion nor facial expression;
(c) ASK, gently,
“I’m not sure I follow – tell me more about why you think that.”
USE that information to more wisely reply and
DISCUSS your reasoning and needed decision.
comfortable in making a solid decision if and as needed – remembering that a
consensually agreed-to decision is always easiest to enforce – because they had
buy-in to it!
that you are REALLY trying to listen and understand – but that your ultimate
concern is their safety and life, even if it’s a painful decision.
consequences of breaking this rule in your mind BEFORE the conversation begins.
the decision or rule is broken, YOU MUST enforce it! If you don’t, they will see you as weak.
If that rule is broken again, administer predefined
MORE STRENUOUS consequences
Be EXTREMELY CONSCIOUS
and aware: with all the freedoms teens have, the more authoritative and domineering
the atmosphere you create, the more defiant they will be.
AND IN OUR NEXT
discuss the most frequent or aggravating things your
teen does or doesn’t do: Laziness; Homework/ schoolwork; Screen time/ games; Unpleasant, possibly nasty; Messy bedroom; Clothes strewn around bedroom, not put away,
Mom or Dad,
always have the answer, you don't. You can best help me to grow and
'become' by listening - listening to my thoughts, ideas, struggles- and NOT jump
in and tell me what I should do. That gives
me a far better chance to become the me you’d hope for. We learned in school that the most powerful communication
tool and skill is to listen...
Gotcha, didn’t I? You can’t wait to argue, debunk, reject such blarney!!!
naturally achievers. THAT’S SCIENTIFIC
So when someone
acts like or even describes themselves as lazy, there’s a reason.
For teenagers, it
may be attention-seeking behavior!! [it
probable answers: they may just be TIRED.
They’re going through immense physiological changes – their bodies are
literally growing – and that takes energy.
It’s much like a surgical patient recovering in the hospital, not
allowed to go home yet – their body is rebuilding.
procrastination [almost the same thing but not quite] – is basically FEAR. It occurs because
(o) “they don’t
know how” [to perform or complete the task] – and they may be ashamed to admit
some other fear-like reaction going on inside their head.
In some people –
adults and teens, there is actually a FEAR of SUCCESS – which shows itself as
laziness, procrastination or avoidance.
Might there be
deep-seated psychological issues? Yes – but not as often as you might think. And
if there are, the solutions are pretty much the same ones listed here.
And, there may
be several other causes going on – but simply labeling it as laziness evades
the question, the issue, the cause.
Bottom line? Laziness
is a defense mechanism – they’re hiding something – even though they may not consciously
realize or understand that they’re doing it!
do? Use patience, empathy, support,
GENTLE encouragement, DON’T MAKE A BIG ISSUE of it. The bigger you make it, the more defensive
they’ll become. In reacting – show no emotion.
And when you
see “movement,” progress, got off the couch or whatever, – what BF Skinner
called ‘successive approximations’ – compliment that action or movement -
without making it a HUGE thing.
And as always
with teenagers – stay the course and ‘soldier on’ – with faith in your heart
and a thick skin!