As a parent how often have you heard the following phrases?
How often have these been said to you?
“I just can’t do it!”
“I’m not smart enough.”
“Leave me alone, I don’t want to talk to you!”
“Stop telling me what to do!”
Unfortunately, we have heard these phrases, too—much too often. Sometimes, we might even think, if we had just been there for that one dance recital, that one game, that final concert, or taken more time off work to be home more—maybe, just maybe, my teen wouldn’t be like this. And you may have already looked into ways to help your child.
You’ve tried telling your teen to keep working on a difficult subject. You’ve gotten more and more tuition help for your teen with little results. You’ve tried reasoning with your teen. Your teen has tried to work on bad habits. Your teen has tried to consult teachers on what to do.Your teen’s teacher tried to assign more practice work. Your teen’s teacher tried to work with them 1‐on‐1. In the end, nothing works. The teacher doesn’t understand why. You don’t understand why. And you don’t know what to do. Yet the conflicts, the stress, the frustration, the lack of motivation—all of these, sadly, remain.
Do you think you’re a bad parent? If you’ve found your way here to this report, you certainly are not. The truth is that there are many skills and mindsets that are absolutely critical for your child to develop into a successful, well‐ functioning adult, and almost all parents, and even most teachers, have no idea what those are.
As the global job market becomes increasingly competitive, we have begun to ask more and more from our teens, academically and emotionally. Without a knowledgeable, supportive coach to help them along the way, teens become stressed, depressed, unfocused, and may even feel powerless to accomplish their goals. It used to be that a parent could come to the rescue with a simple Band‐Aid and an ice cream cone. As teens, things become much more complicated. With the help of our experienced coaches, you can once again be the hero in your teen’s life.
As parents, with only 24 hours in a day and countless bills to pay, it is harder and harder to balance a demanding or stressful job along with family obligations and all of the many other aspects of our daily lives. These things help give richness and meaning to our existence, but often rarely leave enough time for us to really fully connect with what, or who, is most important—our children— especially as they become teens and face many more challenges than ever before.
Helena was at a fork in the road when she approached me. Applying for universities, she had to choose between finance and sports management. When she asked me for my thoughts, I asked her, in turn, to think through each option. We both knew she was extremely talented at sports and that if she did not get involved with sports when she was younger, she might not be able to later on. Finance, however, was a more rational choice in terms of stable employment opportunities. Helena also did not have the money to attend her dream school, Loughborough University in the UK. However, I was very familiar with available resources and directed Helena towards the Institute of Technical Education of Singapore, who had scholarships for undergraduates in Sports Management in exchange for a commitment to returning to Singapore to teach.
Initially, Helena was not empowered to take charge of her situation, believing that her chance to study at her dream school would be up to fate. I showed her that her goal was more than possible, and even guided her to resources that could make it happen when both Helena and her parents couldn’t imagine overseas education as attainable.
Encouraged, Helena decided to go for it—and she was accepted! While attending Longbourne, she was spotted by the weight lifting team coach and was recruited to try weight lifting, a sport she had never tried before and would never have known she had the aptitude for. In less than two years, Helena was able to bench more than any female Singaporean team member at the time, and ended up representing Singapore at the Beijing Olympics. As of August 2012, Helena is a sports lecturer with the Institute of Technical Education (ITE), continuing to help others realize their full potential.
In this article, I’d like to introduce 9 mindsets, to be followed in order, which will be crucial for the development and well-being of all teenagers. Taken from case studies and proven psychological studies, these mindsets have long been ignored at home and in the classroom, simply due to the fact that parents and teachers have never been exposed to these skills themselves. Read on, and make a difference in the life of your teen. As you read, think about your teen, and if any of the examples sound familiar to you.
Mindset #1 – Internal Locus of Control
As teens begin their journey from adolescence into adulthood, their dual sense of individuality and conformity start to clash. They feel at the mercy of authority figures—principals, teachers, parents, and other adults—who may force them into ideas of socially accepted norms, leading many teens to think that they are not in control of their lives and unable to make a difference or affect change in their environment. Of course, it’s great to set values and instill manners for your teen so that they understand and thrive within society as an adult, but it is also good to show them that they have the internal ability to make things happen in the external world.
Teens need to know that they have an internal locus of control over most, if
not all, things. Even if they cannot change a situation at all, they can still choose
their way of looking and feeling about the situation. They can choose to be happy
or calm in the face of challenges or pain. Having an internal locus of control means
feeling able and empowered to change things around them in the world, where
they have control over their lives. In a mindset with an external locus of control, your teen may believe that their circumstances are more often than not due to luck and therefore tend more to leave things to fate, believing that the ability to affect change are, for the most part, out of their hands.
If your teen is good at school in one subject but not another, discourage the notion that this is due to simply talent, luck, or some sort of teacher bias; instead, show them that if they add in more time or effort they can and will change the grades of other subjects too. It may take some time in comparison to a subject where they seem to have a natural talent or inclination, but it is a fact that time and effort make a difference in changing their external circumstances—and this is the main lesson they need to learn. Start small, like having your teen read more about a topic they do not understand, and then have them explain or teach what they just read to you, or find a real‐world example relating to a subject, that can help your teen understand the subject through analogy.
Lastly, be consistent with your teen—once they show improvement, don’t let up! Working with your teen, believing in them, not showing frustration, and giving encouragement along the way will be pivotal in changing your teen’s mindset of “I’m just not good at this subject!”
Internal Locus of Control Real‐Life Hero Story to Share with your Teen
In 1998, a 5‐year‐old boy named Ryan Hreljac learned in school that people
were sick and even dying, simply because they could not get clean water to drink, with some people walking for hours only to be able to find dirty water shared with animals. Ryan realized that for him, clean water was simply a short 10 steps away. Before learning this in the classroom, Ryan simply had no clue that everyone else didn’t have the same access to drinkable water that he did.
As Ryan thought about the millions of people without something as basic as
water, his young mind began to wonder, “What could he possibly do to help boys and girls like him, all the way in Africa? How much could he really do to bring change?” Ryan was determined to do whatever he could, and with the support of his friends, family and the community, Ryan eventually raised enough money to build a well in Africa a year later. In 1999, at age seven, Ryan’s first well was built at Angolo Primary School in northern Uganda. But he didn’t stop there.
Since then, Ryan started a foundation that has, to this day, helped build over
822 water projects and 1025 latrines bringing safe water and improved sanitation to over 805,813 people, involving over 650 schools in 30 countries to help fundraise. Anyone, boy or girl, big or small, can be like Ryan—even your teen. Your
teen must realize, and believe, that she or he, too, can take responsibility and make
a difference in communities both next door and across the world.
For more information about Ryan’s Foundation, visit: http://www.ryanswell.ca/
Mindset #2 – Growth
When you hear your teen say things like “I did poorly on the test. I’ll never
be good at math,” what do you do? This phrase comes from a mindset that is fixed. With a fixed mindset, your child will honestly believe that they will only be good at whatever it is they seem to be good at, and that this cannot and will not change. They honestly believe that there is only a fixed amount of things they will ever be truly good at. We both know that this is never the case. Your teens may spend more time documenting what it is that they are skilled or talented at, instead of developing more skills and new talents. They believe that they are born with certain talents, and that talent alone creates success—without effort. Of course, they are wrong.
A goal of the teen coaching program I have created is to change their fixed mindset into a growth mindset. In this second mindset, your teen will not lose hope when they receive bad grades, or lose a game, or come in third at a competition—because they will recognize that even their most basic of abilities can be honed and developed through dedication and hard work. Their brains, talent, and motivation are just the starting point towards achieving success. This mindset drives a love of learning and a resilient attitude that is pivotal for accomplishing great things.
Of course, there are plenty of reasons why so many people think with a fixed mindset. The fear of humiliation if a child fails or does poorly on something, especially for the first time, is often enough to scare them away from trying again. What can we do, as supportive parents? Encourage healthy failures. Tell your teen that it is more than okay to fail often, as long as they learn from each one.
One method for encouraging a growth mindset is the use of deliberate, or intentional, practice. Deliberate practice is guiding a child in learning a new or weak skill/subject through high‐quality practice versus lower‐quality but higher quantities of practice. This simply means that if your teen is not focused on playing the piano, and is just mindlessly playing the notes, s/he will never become truly adept as a pianist. Being fully in the moment and completely concentrating on the task at hand will place your child on a path towards true understanding and mastery of that skill or subject.
A great school should be collaborative and focus on personal growth and development rather than outcomes, but in our teens’ increasingly competitive academic environments, too few classrooms practice this. The result is that teens feel judged all the time, pressured to always feel the need to be the best of everything each and every single time—and this is dangerous. This type of environment hinders children from strengthening their creativity, prevents the development of resilience, builds a shaky sense of confidence, and severely limits their potential. With our help and the supportive atmosphere we create, teens in our program avoid this trap.
Growth Mindset Hero Story to Share with your Teen
Everyone knows Michael Jordan. As the face of the NBA for over 10 years, Michael can also arguably be called one of the best athletes of all time. This is because M. J. has one of the healthiest psychological mindsets.
In high school, Jordan was initially placed on the junior varsity basketball team. Ever since then, he’s missed over 9000 shots and lost almost 300 games in his career. However, Jordan knew that it was because of these repeated attempts and even more repeated failures, that he was able to develop the mindset that allowed him to believe and to persevere, that eventually led him to success. He firmly believed that if he worked as hard in school and in life as he had in basketball, he too could become as skilled in anything.
Michael Jordan did not just accept his initial mediocrity and initial losses in basketball—he expected them. He knew he was stretching himself past his current limits, and by doing that he was continuing to grow, develop, and improve. To him, growing was infinitely more important than winning. A stout believer that hard work conquers all, Jordan said, “I can accept failure, everyone fails at something. But I can’t accept not trying… If you put in the work, the results will come.”
Success is the result of hard work, not genetics—especially in long‐term successes. For all of the parents, teachers, and coaches reading this, do not discuss tasks in terms of winning or losing; rather, emphasize the importance of giving 100% of their effort and focus on their personal growth. The coach who motivates by fear and shame, blaming players for losses, might win the next game, but will lose the championship. Success is a long‐term game, where a player’s mindset is the most important aspect. If you want your teen to experience sustainable success that will continue for a lifetime, mastering this growth mindset is a must.
Mindset #3 – Delayed Gratification
Much of the success of Facebook and other social media is due to the idea of instant gratification. This is because of advances in technology that have allowed us to receive instant confirmation of something we ‘post’ or ‘tweet’ via ‘likes’. Everything happens so quickly that our capacity for patience becomes limited. For teens, especially those who are becoming the largest population active on social media, this problem can become much worse.
A 2008 study of temptations in 4‐year‐olds, called the “Marshmallow Study,” (a repeat of the classic 1960‐70s Stanford Marshmallow Experiment by psychology Professor Walter Mischel) revealed that children who were able to delay their gratification tended to have more successful life outcomes later on, in the form of higher SAT scores, level of educational achievement, body mass index, and other measures. The children in the study were offered two options: a small reward at that moment, often a marshmallow or cookie, or two small rewards if they could wait until the researcher could leave the room and come back to give it to them.
Being able to delay their gratification pointed at the children’s good sense of self‐control. A greater sense of self‐control can often motivate a teen later in life to, for example, stay in and study for a test rather than give in to the temptation to go out and be social too often. The teen with greater self‐control will be able to delay the gratification of going out to party, knowing that going out to party will feel much more rewarding if they first passes that test they studied so hard for.
One way to begin developing your child’s sense of delayed gratification is by giving your teen small amounts of money to save for what they would like to buy, and not simply purchasing items for them without showing how the money for it was earned and where it came from. Realizing how to earn the ability and resources to obtain an item will teach your child the true value of not only money but also hard work along with a more genuine sense of gratification.
Teens will also begin to greater appreciate gifts from parents if they better understand the process by which the money was earned. Parents can ask children to calculate the cost of a certain toy or family outing, then ask them to divide that cost by a parent’s hourly earning or salary breakdown, to realize the amount of time and effort it took to accumulate the amount needed for that toy or outing. Through this process, children are often able to understand how their actions can make a difference to the family.
The most beneficial thing parents can do is to teach our teens the value of patience, perseverance, and dealing with desire in a way that celebrates it while tempering it with the ability to wait.
Delayed Gratification Hero Story to Share with your Teen
Nelson Mandela won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993 and liberated his country of South Africa from apartheid—and he was able to do this by mastering delayed gratification.
When Nelson Mandela fought against oppression and for the rights of his fellow South Africans as head of the African National Convention, he was placed in jail and sentenced for life. At the Robben Island Prison, Mandela further developed the mindset of delaying his gratification. Multiple times he was offered a chance to be released, but time after time he turned it down, saying that he wanted to be released on his own terms. Instead of choosing instant gratification and being immediately released, Mandela knew that if he delayed his gratification, it would be worth much more, since his terms included the release of others who were also fighting against apartheid.
Eventually, with help from public pressure, Mandela was released from prison on his own terms. At the age of 71, when most people would already have retired, Mandela could easily have chosen instant gratification by seeking to live the rest of his life with much deserved relaxation. However, even then, after 27 years in prison, Mandela’s mindset of delaying his gratification forced the issue he cared so deeply about up to the surface and he decided to run for presidential office. He knew that if he delayed his gratification just a bit longer, he would play a huge role in bringing peace to his country.
Nelson Mandela chose to suffer in the now in the hope of future gratification rather than choosing immediate gratification in the hope that future suffering will not be necessary. Mandela’s sense of responsibility, dedication to the truth, and commitment to ending oppression for his countrymen were all brought about by his ability to delay his own gratification.
Our greatest leaders, strategists and businessmen have all become very skilled in sacrificing short‐term pleasures for long‐term goals. Other examples of delayed gratification include saving money, studying at school, and making sacrifices for others. The result will be greater self‐discipline and patience, which are vitally important qualities that determine long‐term success in both our business and personal lives.
Mindset #4 – Gratitude
Anyone can be guilty of taking what s/he has for granted—young and old. The only difference, for many, is that older people have had more of those things taken away, or lost, and have generally therefore developed more gratitude. The danger is in always relating one’s happiness with another’s, and coveting that person’s belongings, awards, or situation.
Many teens may feel that they are ‘poor’ if they do not have what they think most other teens have, and therefore what they think they, too, should have. Of course, this is relative. In a global society where mass media propagates the lifestyles of the top few percentages of society, teens often develop a skewed conception of their situation in the larger scope of society.
Study after study, a strong gratitude‐focused mindset has also shown remarkable long‐term benefits, such as helping people to feel less depressed and happier overall. One great exercise to develop this mindset it to encourage your child as early as possible to keep a gratitude journal, and to write in it as often as possible. Through this continual exercise, your teen will never have to be told how lucky they are—they will slowly realize this for themselves.
Gifts of gratitude such as letters and cards, given often, are another great way to further develop your teen’s mindset. Helping your child to develop a habit of reflecting on their blessings and bringing joy to others through expressing their gratitude often will increase their chances of happiness and success in the future.
Gratitude Hero Story to share with your Teen
Taylor Swift, a famous musical artist, would not have the success she does today without her gratitude‐focused mindset. Most well known for her narrative songs about personal experiences, Swift tries to give voice to the emotions of millions of others who may have endured similar experiences in life: love, heartbreak, and other challenges. All throughout her journey and career, Swift attributes her success not to her talent, but to her fans and supporters. She always goes out of her way to thank and surprise fans, making them feel included as much as possible, and she has made this an important part of her daily routine.
Just like any normal person, Taylor Swift also has many worries in life, and also has days when she’s feeling down. Knowing that this is very normal, she tries her best to balance these with positive things: good things in her life, people she deeply appreciates, and anything else she may be grateful for. Realizing all of the great things in her life and all of her talent, hard work, and achievements has made her even more grateful to her supportive fans.
This mindset has helped Swift to become the youngest songwriter ever hired by Sony/ATV, the youngest to win Album of the Year in 2009, and the youngest to single‐handedly write and perform a number one song on the Hot Country Songs chart, not taking into account the number of Grammy Awards she’s won. Clearly, gratitude is a big part of becoming and staying successful.
Mindset #5 – Awareness of Time as an Expression of Value
What makes a good student? What makes a musician or athlete great?
What was the one thing these individuals used in helping them to become successful? Time—time spent studying, practicing, and performing. However, if you were to look at any individual, chances are that they have more than one role that they play, whether it is also a devoted husband, driven employee, determined father, or a dear son. Our children also have many roles to play: diligent student, caring daughter, a good friend, a responsible sister, and perhaps even an aspiring dancer. Based on these roles, that is how we all spend our time.
The problem is that this discussion of roles and values is happening less and less. Without realizing that they have the role of being a responsible brother, sister, son, or daughter, our children have an even harder time connecting their chores and responsibilities to these roles that they have been given. If adults value being truly good parents, then they will plan to spend time with their children, just like how children will consciously plan their time and activities based on what they value. What would your child do if they had an extra hour for themselves? Would they use that hour to help a friend, help the family with chores, study for a test, play with others, practice a hobby, or cook for the family? With a discussion of the roles and values your child holds, it will become much more clear how they should, and will, spend their time.
If your teen wants to become a top piano player, they will realize and understand why it is so important that they diligently practice for a certain amount of time each day, and will then plan it. If becoming a top piano player is something that you as a parent value but your child does not, then you can see the difficulty in getting them to commit their time to practicing. Why else might your child value the role of becoming a top pianist? Why do you value piano playing? Perhaps it is because you think an instrument will reflect well in long term academic planning and might help your child become admitted to a top school. Does your child eventually want to attend a top school that would allow them to find the perfect job? Discussing these roles and values with your child will help to find common ground and help them to realize the importance of how they spend a resource that they can never get back—time.
Many adults are still oblivious to this mindset of being aware of one’s own roles and values. And because so few adults understand this, even fewer children today learn to analyze and plan out their time this way. With the newer generation of teens, attributes such as self‐absorption and selfishness have been reported to have increased, and this is because less and less children today are sharing their time and resources with others, so that when they are asked to share their time in a certain way, like helping out with household chores—especially if there is a helper; teens might not understand the value in it, or understand it the same way as you, their teacher, or some other family member.
So, with time as the new currency, how can you help your teen understand and decide where to invest their time? Think about the values in your family and the different roles each family member plays. What are the important tasks, and how do these tasks add to those values in your family? Lastly, how can you put these values and tasks into your family’s weekly schedule?
Once your teen truly masters this mindset, they will no longer view helping around the house as chores, but rather as ways to show their dedication and participation in the family. They will see helping or babysitting younger siblings as an act of love and adulthood, not a chore. If roles and values are not made clear now, then it will be incredibly hard for teens to suddenly give you their time in the future. And teens will not understand this on their own. We as parents and mentors must teach this to them, and help them to discern how to use time wisely.
Time as Value Hero Stories to Share with your Teen
Perhaps the most moving example of a teen who utilized her strong time value mindset is the story of Chelesa Fearce, from Riverdale, Georgia. Homeless in America, she and her family of five would sometimes even resort to sleeping in their mother’s car. During Chelesa’s four years of high school, her family was only able to rent a small home for a few months. Despite her difficult circumstances, Chelesa knew her role was to be a responsible daughter and good student—good enough to succeed and help the rest of her family. This realization fueled her drive to diligently complete chores, study, read, and complete homework, often from only the light of her cell phone during her time spent at the homeless shelter. Despite external circumstances making her studies seem less of a priority or even a joke, Chelesa carved out time to focus on her academics, with this perseverance due to the value she placed on her role as a good student. She saw that it was important for her to do well in order to make her family situation better in the future.
In 2013, Chelesa graduated as the Charles Drew High School valedictorian with a GPA of 4.466. Her hard work had paid off. During her last two years at Charles Drew, Chelesa was able to take all college level courses, allowing her to begin attending Spelman College in the fall as a third year junior.
Another homeless teen, Lane Gunderman intensely focused on his studies, stating “I always knew I was going to go to a college…But I didn’t know if it would be a very good one.” Lane never doubted that his main role was a future college graduate, and he worked tirelessly to make that happen. His time and values were aligned, and with that it was no surprise that he chose to focus on a science competition over video games, shopping, or other activities to fill his time. In March of 2013, Lane made it to the final round of the Intel Science Talent Search Competition for his research on molecular dynamics simulations, and was able to attend Stanford University on a full ride.
Olivia Bouler also has an incredible time value mindset, with her passion and life‐long goals set on making a difference in the world through environmental activism. Olivia initially became interested in birds at age 4 and had read about and studied them since that day. At the age of 11 Olivia realized the devastation caused by the biggest oil spill in US history in the Gulf of Mexico. Wanting to contribute however she could, Olivia decided to commit her drawing skills. After writing to the conservationist Audubon Society for permission to raise money on their behalf, Olivia set up an initiative promising original gulf bird illustrations to her first 500 donors helping her to raise $25,000.
Shortly after, Olivia’s innovative idea was picked up by AOL Inc, an American multinational mass media corporation, who donated $25,000 and offered to host her efforts as a part of AOL artists’ profiles. 180 drawings later, Olivia managed to raise over $90,000 in addition to AOL’s donation, with her project’s Facebook page “Save the Gulf: Olivia’s Bird Illustrations” amassing over 21,000 fans. Olivia now says she hopes to attend Cornell University to become an ornithologist to continue her love for the study of birds. With such a clear and driven mindset, Olivia was able to realize her roles and use this to plan and achieve her goals.
When these teens work tirelessly—it is because their motivation is clear.
Their time use is based on a value they hold dear. All teens know studies are important; however, to make it a value of their choice means that their time management must reflect that. They cannot just schedule study in their calendar for you as a parent to rest assured. They must, like Lane and Chelesa, speak of education as a value and demonstrate this through their efforts and results that this activity is of value to them.
For Olivia, she used her talent and interests in birds to connect with a greater social good. She was clearly aware that she could use her time for either personal hobbies or bringing about positive change in the world. Taking on more responsibility and a greater role in society, even at such a young age, did not faze her. Olivia dedicated her time to when her values lay—in saving the Gulf birds.
Mindset #6 – Visualization of Success
When coaches tell athletes to imagine themselves making a winning goal, or a tie‐breaking shot, they aren’t just doing it for motivation. Recent studies within the past several years have uncovered connections between the use of the right hemisphere of the brain in influencing tangible achievements. Visualization exercises are now regularly a part of pre‐planning routines of Olympians and other peak performers. Creatively visualizing a desired result gives the athlete greater confidence even before they start.
If your teen is low achieving, has poor self‐esteem, and does not believe in themselves, chances are this is not a coincidence. In order to break this negative cycle, encourage your teen to imagine themselves successful. Instruct them to visualize the sequence of what they want to see, what they want to do, and the outcome. Before a big speech or performance, have your teen close their eyes and imagine themselves giving an amazing speech with the audience wildly applauding. They need to feel confident in themselves before they perform, and the way to do this is by genuinely feeling like they know what to do and have done it before. Get your teen to stand in front of a mirror, and say to themselves the reasons why they will do well and succeed. These reasons could be the amount they practiced, the effort they put in, the great outfit they are wearing, the good night’s sleep they got, or even their great smile.
Just as how our minds can affect our physical performance, even more recent studies have also shown that physical aspects can also in turn affect us mentally. So when your child is practicing before that competition, make sure they are wearing the appropriate attire for the event, and is poised in confident postures—back straight, face forward, and hands on hips or to the side. When your child visualized success, did they see themselves accepting the award with a hunched back, looking down and reserved? No! They were smiling and ecstatic, with their hands in the air. Don’t let your teen half‐visualize their success. Get them to mirror it completely, and they will become the change that they see.
Success Visualization Hero Story to Share with your Teen
Jim Carrey, a world‐renown comedian, didn’t start out successful nor did he originally have much support. It was through his hard work, tenacity, and belief in himself that brought him success; what helped him develop many of these traits, however, was his mindset for creative visualization.
Born the youngest of four children to a Canadian‐American couple, Carrey never finished high school after his father lost his job. Instead, Carrey had to begin working full‐time at the age of 15 as a janitor to help his family make ends meet as well as help care for his mother, who suffered a severe chronic illness. When the family finances eventually improved, Carrey resumed working on his comedic acts, continually improving them. He also began to visualize, and genuinely believe in, his success. He believed that, “Our intention is everything. Nothing happens on this planet without it. Not one single thing has ever been accomplished without intention,” and this belief brought him to visualize good things happening to him.
In a short period of time, Carrey went from doing open‐mic gigs to regularly paid shows, building his reputation in the process. Parking his car in wealthy neighborhoods, Carrey would imagine that the large house he was seeing was his, or that this neighborhood was where he belonged. In his 20s, he even pulled out his checkbook and wrote himself a check for 10 million dollars, for “acting services rendered”, at a time when he was still flat broke, despite working very hard.
Over the years this check became frayed, ripped, and deteriorated. But onThanksgiving of 1995, the check in Carrey’s wallet became real. He would actually be paid 10 million dollars for his part in Dumb and Dumber. Of course, you know the rest of the story. Jim Carey would go on to act for many award‐winning movies, and currently has won two Golden Globes. The power of creative visualization will empower your teen to deeply feel and achieve their goals.
Mindset #7 – Mindfulness & Being Present
We’ve all experienced negative thoughts. As teens, your children will be more prone to these types of thoughts as they face more and more challenges. With negative thoughts that cloud your teen’s mind and prevent them from fully focusing, your teen must learn to be present, and have a mindset of mindfulness.
This mindset helps your child to recognize negative thoughts for what they are, and observe these feelings without judging whether they are good or bad. If your teen has done poorly on a subject before, what kind of thoughts do you think will be blurring your child’s mind the next time they take an assessment? Negative thoughts—thoughts of self‐doubt and potential failure. Will these thoughts help your teen to do well on the test or project at hand? No, they won’t. Will these thoughts prevent your child from fully focusing on the assessment? The answer is most certainly, yes.
By focusing and dwelling on these thoughts, even into the future, your teen will not be able to move forward. This mindset of being present is about neither focusing on the judgments (good or bad) of these thoughts nor the thoughts themselves, but rather focusing on tasks at hand, and realizing how these thoughts make your teen feel. They will slowly learn to let their negative thoughts pass and to let them go.
This program works with teens to continually practice and learn this mindset through meditative and scheduled “slow down” exercises as well as through the use of journaling.
Being Present Hero Story to Share with your Teen
A famous actress and singer, Demi Lovato was recently awarded for her dedication toward helping teens and young adults with mental health challenges through mentoring. Having overcome difficult issues with anorexia, bulimia, and even self‐harm, Lovato says that it was the inability to deal with the emotional damage from bullying that led her to these problems. When her bullies verbally teased and abused her, calling her fat and other terrible things, Lovato said, “What they said to me sticks to me to this day and it affected me, turning me into the person I am today.”
In Demi Lovato’s book “Staying Strong: 365 Days a Year,” the singer‐actress and now writer encourages others to set time aside for daily mediation to boost mindsets that strengthen mindfulness. Through mediation, inspirational quotes, and positive thinking, Lovato was able to isolate and prevent her negative thoughts from harming her any further and to slowly let them go.
If you, or your teen, has ever been bullied, then you know how difficult it is to sometimes let the words roll off your shoulder. Sometimes, the words stick—and they are not nice words. They are hurtful, and oftentimes come from people and kids who are also not aware of the impact of those words. While this program will help your child be able to focus and let go of negative thoughts, we also encourage you to talk about the consequences of words with your child.
Mindset #8 – Choosing and Creating Strong Relationships
No one succeeds alone. Humans are naturally social creatures, having evolved to depend on others for protection, resources, and emotional fulfillment. Relationships enrich our lives. In today’s competitive environment, less focus is on learning to truly work as a team, and it is easy to lose sight of the importance of the other aspects of our lives, aside from academics and personal development.
Does your teen have many friends? If not, what is keeping them from building stronger friendships, and if so, how many of those friends are close enough that your teen confides in them? Is your teen aware of the measures of a good friend, and the measures of how to be a good friend? Does they know how to build these strong friendships in the first place?
If your teen is not getting along well with others or has trouble making friends, have them make a list of attributes that they would like in a good friend. Next, ask your teen if they would be willing to take on those attributes themselves. This forms the basis of how your teen should act, and how they expect to be treated. If your teen wants a friend who will be generous, your teen, in turn, must also be willing to share.
Friends, teachers, coaches, family members—these are all people with whom we build relationships. They are whom we depend on, learn from, confide in, offer comfort, and most of all, share experiences with. Teens who learn how to build strong relationships with others will be surrounded by a supportive community. This same community, in turn, will help them through difficult times in their lives and celebrate with them during the best times in their lives. As an increasingly mobile society, it will become more important than ever to be able to have the skills to build and maintain connections with others wherever they go, from high school to university to internships at work.
Creating Relationships Hero Story to Share with your Teen
Having broken three world records in the 2008 Olympics, Usain Bolt is one of the fastest men alive, with the nickname “Lightning Bolt.” At the young age of 15, Bolt was the youngest male World Junior Champion in track and field, and has been winning more awards ever since. Even with all of the impressive accomplishments, Bolt’s athletic abilities are not his only great traits.
According to Bolt’s best friend, Nugent Walker (“NJ”), the star Olympian is also very caring, loving, and kind. NJ met Bolt when they were six years old, and was also from the same hometown in the district of Reserve, Trelawny, in Jamaica. NJ recalled always stopping by Bolt’s house in the morning so that they could walk to school together, discussing everything from family to relationships.
Although they did everything together, the two were rivals when it came to sports—even though Bolt would always come in first or second in the 200 and 400‐ meter sprints, NJ remembered that he never won long‐distance races. Soon enough, the boys separated when each attended a different high school, but they both continued to travel to school together and their friendship grew stronger still. As Bolt’s athletics intensified, NJ would stay after school and help his friend keep up with his studies as he trained. The pair was inseparable until the age of 16, when Bolt left to train professionally in Jamaica’s capital city, Kingston.
When doctors told Bolt to consider a different career due to sustained injuries from running, NJ was the first to be consulted. To this day, their relationship is so strong that the two friends still talk regularly via telephone, wherever they are. Through thick and thin, through injuries, fear, and defeat, to competitions, medals, and victories, NJ shares in each and every one of Bolt’s achievements, and continues to encourage him however he can. They are truly spiritual brothers.
In the face of challenges, especially today’s struggles, our relationships are the most important aspects of our lives. Our friendships allow others to understand and comfort us in times of need, and support us in times of difficulty. Our mentorships allow us to learn and mature from the wisdom of others. All in all, knowing how to create and sustain strong relationships with others builds a community of caring and loving individuals that will inspire and help your teen as they grow into healthy young adults.
Mindset #9 – Resilience
Many people know that failure is a huge part of learning. However, what people rarely know is that failure—and how you deal with failure—is a key part of success. How often does your child fail at something? This could be something as little as an art or science project not meeting expectations to not winning a competition to getting low grades at school. The key to turning those losses into successes is how your teen reacts to them.
Of course, this is much more easily said than done. First, as a parent, it will be difficult for you to watch your teen go through this, but have confidence that it will be beneficial to your child in the long run. After an unsuccessful event, congratulate your teen on a job well done, despite the outcome. Express that you are proud of your child for the effort they had put in. Next, ask your teen how they could have been better prepared, in a non‐judgmental way, and how you or someone else can help prepare them for the next event, competition, or test.
School and academic environments can be unforgiving. We know, however, that in life, there are always second chances, and picking ourselves back up after falling down often makes us stronger, with thicker skin to take on more falls. The worst part about a fall, about a failure, is not the skinned knee or the painful palms; it is the negative emotions and feelings associated with it, and it is these exact same negative components about themselves that your teen must be able to abandon in order to truly build resilience. Failing is not a negative reflection of oneself, but it can be easy to associate with one’s sense of self worth, and this can be dangerous in the long run.
Top‐level universities such as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) recognize the need to build resilient adults who will thrive in the workforce. They are also aware that students they accept may not be especially prepared to deal with the increased level of stress and rigorous curriculum at a new environment, coupled with the tendency of these accepted students to be high achieving and perfectionists. In order to create a supportive environment that builds resilience and fearlessness of failure early on, MIT allows all freshman students to take their first semester courses pass/fail, with no grades. Should a student fail a course, their record shows no signs of ever having taken that course.
Where do most of MIT’s students go after graduation? They largely end up at the top innovative companies of the world, coming up with creative solutions and not afraid to get back up and learn from their mistakes. If your teen has the mindset that ‘if I never try, then I will never lose’, you can tell them that this is true. But if they never try, they will also never win. Being afraid to fail not only goes hand in hand with being afraid to succeed, but also inhibits creativity and potential.
Resilience Hero Story to Share with your Teen
From a child suffering from ADHD to the world’s best swimmer, Michael Phelps had a long, tough journey to becoming one of the world’s most impressive athletes. We all know of Phelps as the most decorated Olympian of our time with the greatest number of medals and a few broken world records, but most of us have no idea that this same athlete used to feel humiliated when his school nurse reminded him to take his Ritalin in front of his whole class.
Diagnosed with ADHD when he was in the sixth grade, Phelps knew that he was having trouble paying attention in class, and for several years the pills seemed to help. However, at the age of 13, Phelps felt that the medication was a crutch that he was no longer comfortable relying upon.
Applying his mental strength to attempt to control his behavior and to force himself to focus, Phelps slowly tried to wean himself off of the Ritalin with his doctor’s help, but often, his attempts would fail. Undeterred, he kept trying, until one day his teacher told his mother that he would never succeed at anything due to his inability to focus for adequate periods of time. Phelps’ mother became unsupportive of her son’s battle to free himself from the medication.
Despite the lack of support from his teacher and mother, Michael Phelps defied their beliefs and indeed succeeded without his medication. Discovering that swimming and other sports helped to channel the excess energy that made Phelps ‘jumpy’ and ‘fidgety’ in class, he was able to overcome his diagnosis. “Your mind is the strongest medicine you can have…you can overcome anything if you think you can and you want to,” says Phelps.
The athlete’s encounter with countless trials, failures, and repeated attempts honed his mental resilience, which helped him to not only overcome ADHD, but also to achieve his dream of becoming one of the most impressive swimmers in Olympic history. Phelps continues to face challenges managing his energy, but his continued struggle and perseverance is what we have to learn from him. We are all humans and the greatest thing about us is our resilient spirits.
You, too, can enable your teen to achieve their dreams. I wish that for you and your teen charge – tell me how it went .. Let’s make it happen – see and let the teen see the Star in themselves.