Wednesday, November 18, 2015

How to tell if your high-schooler has the basics for success

Most high school and college commencement speakers tell graduates something akin to “you are the future – this nation depends on you!  And most parents tell their children something similar, perhaps like “you can accomplish anything you set your mind to.”  Unfortunately, for the majority of graduates, one of two things happens: (1) little to nothing, or (2) they fail once or twice and have no clue what to do next – so they give up.  We hear lengthy discussions from professors and college officials about today’s college students responding weakly to challenges and failures.  If today’s young people – ostensibly the leaders of tomorrow – are going to change or improve the world, they are going to have to begin by changing THEMSELVES – soon!

How to tell if your high-schooler has the basics for success:  

Does s/he:

  • ·        Have a beautiful, lofty life-goal yet, even if it’s probably unrealistic?

  • ·      Take initiative toward his/her goals and hopes?

  • ·      Take some small step(s) daily or at least weekly toward it?

  • ·        Demonstrate self-discipline by forgoing immediate gratification for future success or gain?

  • ·        Thoughtfully decide how to use his/her time, both work-time and leisure?

  • ·        Rebound or recover from defeat reasonably?

  • ·        Maintain attention to time control, i.e., keep a calendar or daily planner – and follow it?

  • ·        Receive positive, encouraging parental support toward his/her goals and dream?

Of course, no teenager (or adult?) will be absolute in these areas – so your question becomes – how much is reasonable?  Does s/he demonstrate these habits - 
·        Very little?
·        Sometimes?
·        Often?
·        Usually?
·        Always?
And here’s the bigger question: is anyone ‘in charge’ or taking the lead in further strengthening them?  If you’d like to learn how you might strengthen your student’s possibilities, please email or call us at, (518) 475-1538.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015


Sound a bit odd? Not if you start by recognizing that all human behavior is successful – at living out that unconscious script in our heads.  Your teenager’s actions telegraph or transmit what’s going on in their self-expectations EVERY DAY. 

If s/he tells you - “I didn’t get to it…” - and the task was important – to you or him/her, and s/he tries to explain it away with an empty excuse, there are a limited number of explanations: (a) … didn’t believe s/he needed to do it; (b) … didn’t believe it was ‘worth doing’ (c) subconsciously or not, is avoiding or rebelling against it – for one of the following reasons: (1) rebelling against one or both parents, or (2) against an authority figure, i.e., teacher or other, or (3) against himself/herself: doesn’t think s/he is WORTHY of or CAPABLE of it.

Number 3 is the big one!!!  All human performance is dictated and defined by self-perception – it’s ALL-CONTROLLING!  Hence, this becomes an important area to explore.  Ask exploratory, tentative questions, not accusatory.  I have used this more than once with students I coach – and they found these questions – and their self-reflection – quite interesting and meaningful.  The next stage – evoking some movement or progress – is now easier.  But, since it’s probably an unconscious process, you need to support them in a positive way, using all those skills you’ve learned about positive reinforcement, successive approximations and ‘catch them being good.’

If you do one thing as a parent (I’d expect you do a lot more!) – build self-image.  But do it with specifics, not generalities.  Research tells us that the same generality used repeatedly becomes useless.

And one more thing – pretty closely related to what I just said: MOST parents have told their kids at least once – “you can achieve anything you set your mind to.”  But when they do or think they do – and don’t succeed, they probably don’t know what else to do.  “Work harder” is exactly equivalent to the generalities referenced above: semi-worthless.  Instead, work with him/her, break tasks into smaller chunks or blocks, gently remind them of the task and deadline for completion - and if a further setback or defeat occurs, discuss what LESSONS were learned. Failure is a lesson waiting to be taught.

In our next post, we’ll get into more specifics and live examples.  If you have specific issues you’d like addressed, please let me know!
Steve Simons,