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 We sure know that parenting a teenager can be like lassoing a volcano!


Want to be less tired?

If you’re like too many parents, you dread waking up each morning and dealing with the unpredictabilities and even animosity spewing from your teenager.

Here’s a thought

– the wisest reply to ALMOST EVERY teen issue – is to ASK - -


“why do you say that?”

“why do you think that?”

“what tells you that or supports that?” from you past [experience]

WHY is this universally powerful?

Because (1) we frequently reply to issues – THINKING we know what they’re thinking and we reply to that – and we are often wrong.

And sometimes, even if we’re right. a teen will tell us we’re wrong, just to disagree!

Secondly, by subtly asking them to explain their thinking, it causes them to reflect on THEIR OWN thoughts and thinking

Thirdly – it often diminishes the venom and anger they may be feeling

Fourth – it gives you time to consider and plan YOUR REPLY [which very often, is another question]

So the keys are:

·         Pause [take a breath, release any emotion]

·         Gently ask WHY _____?

·         Follow up in a low-key manner with no [negative] emotion,

·         maybe with a non-commital  “That’s interesting…”

·         OR “that’s an interesting thought – thanks for explaining”

BTW – the minute you make it a debate or argument, even if you win, you lose!

Think long-term vs. short-term.  Do you really need to in this debate or issue?

We learn most from our mistakes – allow them their mistake-making leeway. 

In a huge proportion of cases, they’ll come back, with love!

Questions or comments?  CoachSteve@Launch-Your-Life.com


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Of course here are no rules and regs of parenting      [should there be?]

But there are some very important elements every parent needs to understand and hopefully succeed at!

No matter how you look at it, it all starts at home!

·         prejudice,

·         bigotry,

·         defeatism,

·         pursuit of excellence,

·         caring for others,

·         honesty,

·         conviviality,

·         overcoming defeat and failure,

·         learning from failures

 Be assured – pretty much every case of bigotry, prejudice and hate – whether ethnic, religious, even the handicapped - was learned or encouraged at home.

By the exact same token, the pursuit of excellence is learned in the HOME in two ways:

(1) kids will model their parents’ behaviors in their approach to life and work, and

(2) positive comments heard by your child for any effort that’s not perfect - any good effort should be reinforced and complimented AT HOME.

I’m sure you can add other elements to the list above – just please be clear in explaining why they’re important and how to live them or apply them.

And please don’t be negative in your comments – every degrading comment undermines self-esteem and success – and hence, their life!

Be very careful with the ‘yeah, but’s’ – which are really negatives partially disguised.  Strive for ‘yes, and…’  [notice the more positive difference?]

And I pray you’re not one of those who believes – “they’ll just pick it up – no need to teach it.”

PLEASE DO – teach it! 

Yes – you have awesome responsibilities as a parent of a teen.  Hope this gives you worthy insight toward helping them in ‘approaching greatness.’  

If you’d like to contact me, I’m at CoachSteve@Launch-Your-Life.com  


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My late wife, in her last months, required oxygen to maintain her balanced emotional and cognitive processes.  Sometimes the flow was a bit ‘off.’  When I mentioned what she was going through to a nurse friend of hers - a psychiatric nurse - she came right over. Within about three sentences, she had my beautiful wife settled, calmed and peaceful.

My point? How you approach someone in the midst of emotional upset or turmoil can change the entire situation INSTANTLY.

It's not that your teenager is anywhere close to that but if you change your approach and your response you can instantly change their reaction and help the entire situation to improve, not worsen by ‘fanning the flames’ even higher.

As in so many difficult circumstances, PAUSE, then say something supportive or information-querying.





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 Regardless of the source or cause of Covid-19, like any other crisis in life, after surviving it – or during - we should LEARN from it!

There are two powerful elements which parents should ROLE-MODEL and teach their kids: (1) Resilience and (2) Resourcefulness.  Regardless of what else happens in the world or their life, those two skilled traits will enable them to survive and flourish – almost anything!

 #1 - Resilience is the ability to bounce back from failure or a setback, get back at it and fight!

And the ONLY source of Resilience is failure!!!

 I have seen gifted kids who coasted through most of school and life and when they hit the challenges of college ad fail, as one example, they collapsed emotionally and attitudinally because they’d never faced adversity before and had no idea how or what to do.

The same thing happens with helicopter parenting! Those parents prevent their kids from experiencing failure and setbacks and hence their kids never develop any capacity to deal with ANY setbacks.

·         THE KEY, however is for a coach or a parent to be there to guide or instruct and to caringly uplift that young person from their defeat - and teach them what they may have done wrong or what they might or should do in the future.

But let's not forget - without that failure the lesson would never have been learned!

 #2 – Resourcefulness is the ability to find a different path or approach to achieve a goal.  Current example? Classroom learning is only one way to education, NOT the only one.

Creativity is very closely linked to resourcefulness. Creativity is defined as combining two or more thoughts or ideas not previously connected.

How to do that?

Challenge or broaden their thinking!

·         Encourage wild ’n crazy, goofy thinking. I KNOW of an instance in which a truck driver made a suggestion to stop breaking off taillights every time a truck backed in to load.  His idea didn’t work – but another driver 100 miles away, same organization, took his idea, modified it a bit – and won a national award!!   Without the first “failed idea” – the 2nd one may never have occurred!!

·         Ask a lot of ‘what-if’ questions…

·         Point out things you see and ask – “how could we use that at home or in the pool or under the house, etc.”

·         Ask “how else could we get that done [some task] if we didn’t have the tools we usually use?

·         One other great one: reverse and use your two-year-old’s stage of asking :”WHY?” over and over and over…!!

If you enhance and reinforce your teen’s strengths in those two areas, you will develop crucial life skills – AND EVEN their self-confidence and self-esteem!!


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·        Suicide

·        Drug addiction

·        DWI

·        Poor grades

·        Loss of control of your teen

·        College failure or ‘the 5-year plan’

·        No job/ no career/ no future

 The large majority of teenagers will NOT experience the first three – but as you go down the list, the possibilities INCREASE!  Like it or not, we are a society IN DENIAL – “no, that will never happen to me – or my teen” – and yet, during a TV interview, I asked the reporter – in his interviewing parents of teenage drug deaths - how many parents EXPECTED their teen to overdose? The answer?  NONE!  No parent expected it. 

 My purpose here is not to scare you – but to at least open your eyes to possibilities – and an approach we follow which we believe will DECREASE the PROBABILITY of all these

 In our coaching process, we ask our teens to:

1.      BRAINSTORM their dreams – the wild and oddest the better [these are NOT goals]

2.      Boil them down to 2 or 3 dream GOALS [now, they’re goals!]

3.      Develop A PLAN to achieve those dream goals

4.      IMPLEMENT that PLAN in small micro-steps WEEKLY and DAILY

            We power walk over the old “I’m gonna” approach – because that NEVER works.

5.      We encourage, support and re-inspire them along the way [we all lose motivation sometimes – don’t you?]

6.      We emphasize small, daily micro-goals, small enough to COMPLETE that day.  That daily completion builds momentum, belief – and SELF-BELIEF!!

 A couple key/ critical factors:

·        By getting them to focus on THEIR OWN dream goals, their self-motivation automatically increases.

·        For the same reason, their focus and self-discipline also strengthens.

·        AND they almost always become fr more attentive regarding the importance of their school academics – and that emphasis increases also!

 And oh, BTW, because they’re moving toward their own goals, each of the fearsome items at the top of this article DECREASES in probability!!!!!!!!!



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(I was 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 for adoption.” That’s 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? Well, that speaker’s prime recommendation for business leaders is empathy… And that’s exactly what you could use with your teenager! This may 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.]  Most often, 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!”  Everyone 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 a teen! So how do you listen?  That old standard query “how’s it going?” is just too empty and meaningless – DROP IT!  BTW - the best way to re-establish control of a discussion is to ASK A QUESTION! Ask 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 understand]” I told you it might be simple – and fairly easy - but may require HABIT-CHANGE from you!   Also BTW – 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!!!
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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 question!! 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” from.   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/ potential. 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!
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Have you – as have I - grown weary of that expression? And yet - it may have a lot more immediate relevance and value than we thought. With no 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’ I see 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! 1.      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 your teen! 2.      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!] Next, try 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!! So – 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. Then, 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!! One other great exercise arising from their Dream list – truly for the whole family, if you’d like: create, develop a Visualization Board. I did 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. If you’re 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! 😎
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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????? Happiness is 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 like ·         career, ·         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. EXAMPLES to 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!!
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BUT NEED TO!!!  - - - - The teenage 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 ·         Weak self-discipline ·         Low motivation ·         Just don’t care ·         Belligerence, sarcasm, unpleasantness ·         Drug or alcohol use, abuse, even addiction ·         Suicide – talking about, threatening to, or carrying it out As in all human behavior, there are no absolute answers, no cure-alls!! HOWEVER, we have found that our process in success-coaching teenagers CAN have a strong, strengthening effect on each of the issues listed above.  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
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