We’ve seen much craziness and wild accusations in recent months and years about schools, teachers, school boards, etc. - some well-intentioned, some self-serving.
Please remind yourself:
YOU are ultimately responsible for your teenager’s life and success, NOT the school, teachers or school board.
Brief reminders: THE RESEARCH IS CLEAR – neither intelligence nor school grades predict nor define success for your teen. The two most important, most powerful influences toward anyone’s success are RESILIENCE and RESOURCEFULNESS.
One of the weaknesses of today’s teens is the result of helicopter parenting – that is, parents protecting their kids from adversity, failure, defeat – WITH THE RESULT – documented by countless college professors – that, when they fail, today’s college students DON’T KNOW WHAT TO DO ☹ ☹.
There are a couple things you can do to strengthen your teen’s resilience:
(1) DO NOT ‘fix things for them –
(2) instead, ask them what they think they should do – this time or ‘the next time’ –
(3) AND THEN [VERY important] - ask a follow-up question or two:
· “how do you think that will work” –
· “what past experience makes you think that?”
There are more, but that’s a start.
It’s been said that ‘every time you do something for your child that they could have done, you (o) prevented learning AND (o) taught them that you don’t have confidence in them!!!
The more you follow our suggested ASK, DON’T TELL approach, the more resilient and innovative and self-confident your teen will become! And isn’t that a worthy goal?
ASK, DON’T TELL is much like the Socratic method – or a Jewish mother: always reply with a question, never an answer! [we have a resource we can send you if you’d like]
To build Resourcefulness, again, ask A LOT of questions, then invite and reinforce wild ’n crazy ideas!!
It’s been said that “every new idea was at first considered preposterous.” How true!! In the days of the Fax machine, imagine that salesman telling you – “I’m going to send this piece of paper though your phone line…” WHAT????????
· “How else might you or could you do that?” [whatever the task]
· “How else?” [again!]
· “What’s the real goal here? [that will very often re-slant their approach]Again, it’s been said – “Nothing is more dangerous than one idea when it’s the only one you have.”
Brainstorming – a treasure trove, a gold mine, a flood of wild ’n crazy ideas!! KEY POINT: while brainstorming, NO NEGATIVES - nothing rejected [that comes later, after (1) clarifying, and (2) combining, where possible]
GUIDE, LEAD, INFLUENCE your teen toward great success: Resilient, Resourceful - for life!!
If I can help you in any way, please message me to discuss what’s on your parenting mind [at no charge]. [for background] I’m a former spec ed director, school psychologist, 30+ year success coach now focusing on teenagers.
Yeah, I know- "it won't happen to my teen" - same thing I said.
BUT IT DID. She took her own life.
If there’s one thing we should learn from this teen world today – they do things completely unexpected, illogical, non-logical and unanticipated.
We see more and more and more media reports about teen suicide. It happens for several reasons – some legitimate, some hyper-inflated.
But let's talk prevention.
The most important thing to know is YOU DON’T KNOW!
YEARS of research says, “there are always signs.”
And yet, there are MANY reports of teens who have great relationships wit their parents, family, school, good friends, community and on and on – real contributors, etc.
And all of a sudden, they end it.
This problem will never have a perfect solution – but here’s a starting point:
LISTEN. Listen, listen, listen, listen!! Stop telling.
ASK, DON’T TELL – stop telling, sermonizing, correcting, etc. The split-second you lapse into that tone of voice, your teen zones out.
That’s not what a possibly emotionally illogical person needs!
Let’s recall: emotions are beyond logic.
You realized that years ago when you fell in love with the wrong person.
In sales, people buy on emotion, not on logic.
The golden door into a teen will always be LISTENING.
Stop refuting their logic or their feelings!
Recognize, accept, VALIDATE every feeling they share and then ASK ABOUT IT.
ASK, DON'T TELL!
“tell me more”
“tell me about that”
“please tell me what made [makes] you think that]
“help me to better understand”
DO NOT LAPSE INTO CORRECTING THEIR THINKING.
ASK, DON’T TELL has been our philosophy for several years and it has drawn out amazing results and information the parent wouldn’t have had if they immediately knee-jerk-reflexed into arguing.
As adults, as parents we are constantly attempting to tell or teach or instruct our teenagers – EVEN THOUGH they’re at an age when [we hope] they’ve begun to develop a mind of their own.
Let's respect that! Let's listen and listen and listen deeper.
As said previously, listening is the greatest gift you can give.
After my daughter died, I spent many hours reflecting, wondering, searching. She was surrounded by loving family and even professional services.
I am fully aware that this isn’t practically possible, but I came to the belief that the only real solution was to literally hold her hands 24-7.
· LISTEN, deeply.
· Ask gentle, non-invasive follow-up questions.
· Validate feelings they express even if they make no sense to you or are totally opposite of “the reality” you see.
· Watch for signs – changes in behavior or patterns.
· Love them deeply and remind them often.
THE NEW PARENTING [reduce your stress and theirs!!]
Almost no one could have predicted the rocket-like changes in our society. And to be absolutely sure, parenting MUST ADAPT.
When I was a school psychologist MANY years ago, we told parents that by about the age of 12, they had lost real control of their kids. Fast forward 20+ years – that loss of real control is far greater.
So what can a ‘modern’ parent do? Here are four adaptations or adjustments to parenting - not huge changes, more like adjusting your grip on a golf club or using a Cuisinart rather than an electric mixer.
1. Listen first, really listen. In 7 Habits of Successful People, Steven Covey said “listen first to understand, then to be understood.” As a society [probably including you] we are busy form our reply when we should be listening intently. Listening, according to one writer, is the greatest human compliment.
· You will also find that by listening first, the level and intensity or arguments will lessen.
· Listening shows respect.
· As with each of these steps, CHANGE WILL BE HARD. You’ll make a commitment – then forget. Not a huge problem – just reminding yourself that you’re human – and commit to doing “it” differently the next time.
2. The next logical step is one we’ve used with much success: ASK, DON’T TELL.
· After you’ve LISTENED, ask a follow-up, non-confrontational information-gathering question [è usually TWO follow-up questions…]
· In delivering sales training a few years back, I did an entire sales presentation asking only questions. I never made a declarative statement. It takes preparation!
· One frequent teenage reply to a question is “I don’t know” – and much of the time, that will be true! They just didn’t think – they just acted! So, this becomes you chance to GENTLY ask “How do you think you might react the next time this happens?”
o Have 2 or 3 or 4 prepared follow-up questions in your mind:
§ “how do you think that went?”
§ “what could you do differently or better the next time?”
§ “what did you hope or think the outcome or result would be?”
§ PREPARE ANOTHER 1 or 2 OF YOUR OWN
· If you approach this properly, you can build an even better/ stronger relationship with your teen – non-confrontational, solution-finding
· Socrates [remember him?] – used his Socratic method – questioning, leading students to their own revelations about their world, people, science, etc.
· You should also be thinking within and about ‘Discovery learning’ – which every kindergarten teacher uses to lead a student to reveal THEIR OWN answer to a question or a problem. It also enables far greater retention and even self-satisfaction – which we can easily call self-growth!!
3. Be a coach, not a drill sergeant
· Every time you speak harshly and forcefully – without improvement suggestions, you will change NOTHING. The more you TELL and demand, the less of a THINKING teenager you’re building.
· If you notice, the best coaches – in sports, life, debate club, dramatics – don’t confront nor lecture - they TEACH and question and SHOW HOW.
· Coaching involves but is not just teaching. It’s also supporting, encouraging, injecting some renewed motivation!
4. Lastly, QUESTION your expectation for this teen - your goals and hopes [and, in #3 above, did you encourage teach and support, or just assume they’d be as perfect as you were?].
· Do you want a clone of you – or do you just assume because they have your ‘seed’, they’ll just be like you? Do you want them to be their own person?
· At the other extreme – in a brief survey last year, a very large number of parents “just wanted their teen to be happy.” That was an empty, meaningless reply. It hugely omits a parent’s role to share their wisdom and insight and valuable experiences with their own teen!
· You also have a very important role in teaching values for your teen – which you will do by word AND BY DEED.
· If you show laziness or constant tiredness or taking the easy way out, what could they learn? And if you feel any guilt here, let it pass and become more of the parent they need.
And with each one of these steps, LISTEN, OBSERVE, offer constructive feedback as they evolve. You will one day be proud of “what you built.”
If you have questions or would like more information, please email – CoachSteve@Launch-Your-Life.com
In YOUR opinion, is your teenager performing below his/ her potential?
If so, if you could gently, even invisibly guide them toward THEIR OWN desired growth or change or development, would you be interested?
We are preparing to release a very effective [low stress] system, enabling a teenager to strengthen their life in whatever area they choose – academics, sports, any area. Before we release it to the public, we’d like your insight as a parent. In exchange for your reply, you will receive a free gift, for you or your teen!
That’s the unanswerable question for too many parents of teenage boys.
Yet, it’s contradicted by the FACT that all humans are inherently motivated.
So what’s the answer?
If you think it’s a biological or psychological problem, there’s at least an 80% chance you’re wrong!!
And if it’s not biological or psychological, there’s only one element left: their ENVIRONMENT – the world in which they live: parents, siblings, friends, school, sports, other activities.
As a parent your first reaction might be something like “how dare you? I’m doing my best… I feed him, clothe him, care for him…” And in most all cases, it would be hard to find fault in your parenting.
Bottom line: when you left the hospital after he was born, they probably didn’t give you a book to tell you how to raise the perfect kid.
Parenting is hit or miss – if you miss, try again, DIFFERENTLY.
I’m amazed at how often I read of parents whose teens “suddenly” won’t do anything – school, household chores… Are they REALLY believing this just started happening? I think not!
If you’re a helicopter parent, doing and giving everything for him – why should he get off the couch?
Frankly, [subjective opinion] – those kids who have THE LEAST are often the most motivated.
Might you be trying to fit him into the paradigm box of your expectations – and he refuses…?
Are you trying too hard?
Have you given him every book and resource to ATTEMPT to make him into what you want?
Has he failed – and given up? If so, what did you do next?
Failure can be very upsetting, often creating an “I’m no good” thought.
Think of his possible interpretations – did he fail himself? Did he fail you?
Here are some questions to ask yourself:
• What are your expectations of him?
• WHY do you have those expectations? [yes, instantly you will say “for his own good”]
• Do you think he understands that?
• Would you, when you were a teen?
One key is to provide or allow as many different resources as he’s interested in – and let him discover his own motivation.
BTW - recent research shows that video-gaming is not harmful, unless done to excess.
I had robotic surgery a few years ago – I hope my surgeon was very good at video-gaming!
• Have you said unkind things when he fell short – or did you reply as a teaching coach would – “this is how you can do it better…”
Bad example: we see too many parents trying to live out their sports dreams through their kids – which often makes them wild and over-emotional FAR too often and nutsy! ☹
1. “Fertilize” him with resources and opportunities.
2. DON’T force any of them on him.
3. Avoid over-persuading. You’ll turn him right off – and lose this battle.
4. Be patient. I’ll bet he notices – and emotionally ‘returns’ to receptivity.
Two over-arching thoughts:
LISTEN And LEARN.
If you’re interested, we have some simple tools you can use to begin to guide this process.
If we can be of help in this or any teenager issues, please message us here or CoachSteve@Launch-Your-Life.com
One of the main areas of focus in business, executive and even personal coaching currently is the issue of finding your WHY. That is, understanding your life’s purpose – WHY you’re here, on this planet, this life, this world. That might seem too lofty or unnecessary or over-intellectualizing, but – it’s a worthwhile objective for most adults.
However, while that focus on knowing your WHY is important, it may be too premature for most high schoolers. It does provide an excellent interim step to get them moving and thinking toward dreams and success and all its related elements toward life success.
In working with teens, we’ve found that helping them, guiding them, leading them to identify a dream goal that they can pursue now has value. [yes, like most all goals, it can be changed, deleted or replaced] Until high school, for the most part, they have been TOLD what to do, where to go, etc. – by parents, teachers, coaches, et al. But beginning to pursue “something of their own” on a daily basis, exercises and strengthens a number of valuable traits. It helps them to become more motivated, more focused, more driven and more success oriented. [we’ve also found that pursuing their own dream goal improves self-esteem and even family relationships AND academic performance!]
We also find that life and career dreaming is often quite foreign to their thinking and mindset. And yet, it can plant some valuable fertilizing seeds toward their thinking, future and even today's life and world.
If you’re interested, we have a couple simple tools you can use to begin to guide this process.
If we can be of help in this or any teenager issues, please message us here or CoachSteve@Launch-Your-Life.com
Success to you and your teen!!
A FINAL NOTE: ALL WE HAVE IN LIFE IS HOPE - and this is your teen’s starting point!
In teaching sales skills a few years ago, I did an entire sales presentation ASKING ONLY QUESTIONS! I never made a single declarative statement. And it worked! The class understood and valued what I had done. [old expression: “sellin’ ain’t tellin’, askin’ is”]
In ‘negotiating’ or communicating with teenagers - you could do much the same thing!
This may take a little thoughtful preparation on your part, but the results will be worth it - fewer arguments, improved relationships, happier family life, greater mutual respect!
We are all predictable [ask your spouse or partner!] – so you can readily predict what your teen will say to almost anything [assuming you listen well].
Imagine an entire conversation with your teenager in which you ONLY ask questions! Nothing snide, nothing sarcastic, nothing condescending, no sermonizing. Just lead the conversation through and with questions. [like the Socratic method – see below]
Remember always that if you don't participate in an argument there is no argument. By asking questions, you take the lead, you don’t argue and you’re always guiding the conversation. I can instantly hear many readers objecting and disagreeing and saying this won't work. Yes it will!! It may take a little prior thinking on your part – especially if you already argue with them often. But THINK – if you don’t argue – and they expect you to, they’ll be dumbfounded when you don’t! Give it a try and see how far you get! And please report back as to how you did. I am always open to new and advancing learning.
Let’s develop a list of good, worthwhile questions. I’ll start:
· “that’s an interesting point – please tell me more”
· OR – “I don’t follow your thinking – please tell me how you got there”
· “Now THAT’S enlightening!”
· “just curious – what evidence or past experience makes you believe that?”
Socratic method is a form of cooperative argumentative dialogue between individuals, based on asking and answering questions to stimulate critical thinking and to draw out ideas and underlying presuppositions
If your teenager isn't performing up to expectations, they must be defective!
What are you going to do?
Send them back to the factory?
Expect the schools to fix them?
Give them the proper pharmaceutical drugs?
- - - and if you don't believe that your teenager can be strengthened, built, refined - much like a coach builds an athlete - then you're done!
But if you believe they have the capacity for growth and change and even championship status, watch these pages next week for some easily workable, proven, low effort solutions!!
Depression is one of the more prevalent issues for teens and their parents - and it’s worsening daily. FACT: if you treat it only with prescription drugs, you are precluding their learning coping skills.
I watched a presentation about depression recently – which should fascinate you, even if your teen is not depressed. The link is below, from NY Times best-selling author Johann Hari. My fear is that many parents will simply ignore or reject it L. I will leave it you to decide yourself. I also have the transcript, if you’d like to read it. If you’d like to talk about it or to obtain the transcript, I’d be happy to – just email me at CoachSteve@Launch-Your-Life.com
Parenting is not an automatic, knee-jerk response. NO ONE just knows it. It’s not inherited nor pre-printed in your brain in the parents book of know-how!
Chances are that you’re parenting exactly as your parents did – or exactly the opposite!!
The world has changed IMMENSELY in the last 5 years, let alone 10 or 15 – when your teen was born.
And by today, your kids and their world and their chances to do incredible things HAVE CHANGED!!
So your plan of action must change also!!!!
– which presupposes that you PAUSE, and think
– don’t make it a knee-jerk reaction.
[Consider] - ‘Why did my teen do that or say that?’
All human behavior is successful [purposeful]. [Many people will disagree. They’re wrong]
There’s some gain, or self-image preservation that a teen “accomplishes” by their actions.
Example: If they don’t know how to do something and don’t want to admit it, avoiding it preserves their shaky self-image.
I’m sure you can see lots of other self-image protections in your teen’s actions – whether they’re belligerent or unkind or avoidant - those are self-image protections!!
Many years ago, I observed gifted kids who were academically strong and therefore had never been challenged in school/ classes. When they finally were, typically in college, they were emotionally defenseless – they had no strategy no mental resource available! It had never been developed! They simply didn’t know what to do – and their self-image was “under attack!”
So if your teen becomes defensive or belligerent or avoids doing something needed or requested or explained, this is a great time to [pause, think], then follow our ASK, DON’T TELL strategy.
ASK, DON’T TELL means stop telling, reverse your paradigm, and begin gently asking clarifying questions.
Teens are TIRED of being TOLD. So by shifting to an ASKING, information-seeking mode, not sermonizing or “teaching” – you’ll get further AND strengthen your relationship!
BTW – Discovery learning – leading them to their own revelations – is THE most powerful means of learning!
SO – was there information here you can use? When?
Got your information-seeking, non-accusatory questions? Prior thought and preparation is what makes anyone a champion!!