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You’ve probably noticed the huge popularity of motivational quotes all over the internet. And there's a message there. As much as people may want to ‘direct’ those quotes to us, they are also particularly meaningful, even personal, to the individual who posted them.  My message is – life beats down on us daily. And we all need to support each other.

And for you as the parent of a teenager - you need to do pretty much the same thing. As frustrating and even angering as teenage behaviors and unpleasant comments may be, it's important to keep in mind that they really are trying to establish their place in society in their own minds and in your household.  They are filled with doubts and wonderments.

So your BEST function as their parent is to look beyond their shortcomings and the negative things they do and remain positive, upbeat and encouraging. But keep in mind - a key element – your comments needs to be subtle - not directly expressed or explained.

I'm sure many of you will have doubts and even rejections of these thoughts but they are true and valid and real.



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 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 start 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


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Very often, we tell our kids to “do your best!” But what happens if they don't know how to do that? My mother's classic comment was “if you’d just apply yourself.”  I never knew what that meant. And that's where parenting launches into high gear!

One of my favorite courses in grad school was “Concept acquisition” – that is, the study of how anyone acquires the concept of “two” or “girl” or “apple.”  The major realization was and is – each of us sees or perceives “distinctive features” that someone else may not even notice, but clearly, for the learner, identifies a TWO – and is not a GIRL, not an APPLE. 

Let’s take that further:  in studying “in the zone” we find that, over time, everything becomes boring. But what re-ignites interest and directed motivation is “finer and finer levels of detail”, such as, in bowling, getting the 7-10 split once every fifty times, not once every hundred.  Golf is a better metaphor.  When my friend and I took up golf, we knew we were getting better when our tee shot was only one fairway off, not two or three.  These exact same concepts are how you help your teen “do their best.”  

As in bowling or golf, we needed a lesson in very specific actions or grip or release or stance or approach.  I once took an at-home study course in which the entire first module was about what to eat before starting, how to sit, where to sit, etc., etc.  You may need to guide your teen in some of these prelim steps as well.

I am a huge believer in the effectiveness of micro-goals –the essence of all success and a close cousin, no, brother, to ‘finer level of detail.’  Encourage your teen to work in short bursts, much like Salman Khan of the Khan Academy recommends for at-home, virtual learning. 

And DON’T FORGET – compliment the heck out of them each and every positive, even small step forward, as they get closer and closer to “doing their best.”

REMINDER: we are all our own worst critics, as is your teen OF THEMSELVES.  Say nothing negative unless they ask – and be very gentle and instructive, not negative and destructive. 


 Your human teenager’s human performance in any field is defined and limited by their self-esteem or self-image - what they believe they’re capable of – or NOT capable of.

 That self-image is a MINDSET.  Mindset defines performance – but also determines if and how they will grow – or fail to grow – to plateau, to remain exactly where your teen is now and always!! J L 

 Mindset is an attitude - a habit of thought. How do we build an attitude?  Same way we build or install any habit – REPETITION and REINFORCEMENT.  But be careful!  If that repetition is not progressing toward the final product we want, we are creating mediocrity!!

 And that’s where Carol Dweck’s GROWTH mindset enlightens us. The GROWTH mindset is the belief that we are capable of learning or performing better.  This mindset is crucially important – because many of us, unconsciously or unintentionally fall into that CLOSED mindset of “that’s all s/he is capable of – they can’t do any better.”   We do it to ourselves, we do it to others and worst - we sometimes do it to our teens.

 This is a common human problem: - we are our own worst critic. We also criticize our teenagers – when they need positivity THE MOST! If your teenager is criticizing themselves, saying they’re no good or dumb or just can’t get it - it's up to you to help them to seek out and find and LEARN FROM – where they fell short or failed – and get them back in the IMPROVING- not quitting -game!!!!!

These are the crucial points:

(o) find what/ where they fell short,

(o) compliment the good they did and

(o) help, enable, encourage them to try again – the sooner the better!!

 Strengthen or re-strengthen or reinforce their good.  And to use the lessons of Carol Dweck and mindset – ASKING “what did you learn from that mistake or setback?”  DO NOT LECTURE.  They will often be negative about themselves – which is where YOU come in – GUIDE THEM in searching, finding the lesson it taught!!!

 The core element in building an open mindset is constant positivity: always maintaining a positive attitude, regardless of the depths of any setbacks. The core elements of that open mindset are the belief and the perception that it's all there for Learning and growth and advancement and strength. We all tend to see setbacks that we caused as our weaknesses. Everyone has them and does them.

The key issue is to listen, accept, validate and then ask your teenager what they learned from this setback. And you might remind them that the greatest learnings occur from mistakes failures and setbacks - not from what you did right! That's the gold medal. Value, treasure and use every negative instance that your teen experiences – TRULY VALUE IT because that's the only thing that builds untapped potential.

If you have questions or comments, contact us at CoachSteve@Launch-Your-Life.com




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 If you consider the best of the best in any profession – sports, sales, trial lawyer, great public speaker or even singer/entertainer, they've already “done this before many times!”, ‘before the big game’ or the big presentation or the big stage. It’s exactly like they did it in practice.  That's the secret of effective performance!

So why throw your teenager into the game or world of life – without practicing?

You KNOW they will be faced with many large and small decisions and choices –and talking them through with their trusted advisor – YOU – can only help their decision-making!



STUDYING [or avoiding]


If you lay out or describe an actual, probable situation with them – and either ASK them how they’d handle it, what they’d say – or suggest what they might say – you have the basis for discussion.  They may disagree [probably?] – but you will have introduced your point.

And be as specific and detailed as possible.  Adults have a tendency to speak to young people in generalities and assume their teen will directly apply it to a situation. 

Don’t allow them to say “I’d say something like _____”  Make them tell you the exact words they would say.  THEN you have the basis for practice and refinement. Mastery in any endeavor comes from practice!!

Remember – the simplest way out of a conversation is for your teen to say “yes, I understand” = when in fact they either don’t understand or don’t care.  STAY THE COURSE.  Don’t be militaristic – don’t get loud or emotional –and in many cases, you may choose to come back to this issue at a later date.  Remember - almost all learning requires repetition!!!  

Oh, and of course – one of your best tools in connecting with teenagers – HUMOR!  Make them laugh, even at your expense.

And - if you have questions or comments or an issue you’d like to discuss, email us at CoachSteve@Launch-Your-Life.com  



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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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