Monday, February 24, 2020


What if your teen is only average?  Shocking?  Depressing?   Fact is, most of them are! [by definition, 84% of all of us are ‘average’]

But who BECOME the real stars?? - the real champions in almost any field? Research data collected in a wide array of fields - from sports to academics to professions, business achievements, etc. - ALL point to the fact that it's NOT innate talent but instead targeted, directed effort toward a goal – AND the ability to focus, change, improve, grow and become better – making small micro-changes over time – that’s what makes top performers!!!

There's been much research in recent years by Angela Duckworth at Penn in the field of GRIT – and that’s exactly what she’s found!! Her research, including a fair amount with cadets at West Point (US Military Academy] shows that those top, TOP performers in virtually every field did so through a long-term commitment - usually over a period of years, toward their goal.

So how can you help your teen to accomplish ‘great things’ – maybe not world-changing – but still pretty darned good?  

Start from a basic premise: we're all driven by habit.  So our habits are going to define, even decide what we do on a daily basis.  Second, any new habits will only occur over a period of time in small micro- bites.

Please erase the idea that it takes 21 days to change a habit! It is simply not true.  The most current research indicates that it takes about 66 consistent days to change - or instill a new habit [even that varies based on a number of other elements and factors.]

So as you guide or coach your teenager toward new success habits, here’s a 3-step process:
1.      Develop or identify a specific idea of the new, desired goal – [NOT the goal you’re trying to shed]
2.      The next time you see your teen come close to or APPROXIMATE that action or behavior you'd like to see, compliment him/her – specifically – “that was really good – the way you ___________! J] *
3.   [next time] Catch him or her “being good” or executing that behavior – and compliment again

* Remember – 66 days, approx. to instill a new habit.  You probably won’t or can’t maintain that – but keep at it
* This reinforcing process requires varying and different compliments or wording over time – the same words over and over become lost or invisible.

If I can be of assistance in any teen development area, just PM me or email at

Monday, February 3, 2020

Your Greatest Gift

Of the abundance of gifts you can offer your teenager - the absolute number 1, first, above-all-else is the two-part gift of (1) empathizing and (2) teaching - when they make a mistake or ‘fail.’.
By taking the time to empathize, you share and convey that feelings of anger or frustration – or defeat - are perfectly fine to express or experience.  

And also – by taking the time to teach, to guide, to coach, to reveal new learnings conveys multiple messages - (o) you care, (o) you want them to perform better and (o) you empathize with them as fallible human beings. Far too often - when a teenager fails, they feel as if they’ve let us down – and believe they are diminished IN OUR EYES!  At that moment, we need to intervene and interject that (o) we don’t love them any less and (o) failure is OKAY – that’s how we learn.  But also, too often, we don't take the time to guide them to improve. We either (o) malign them - inferring that they are “dumb” or (o) we don't take the time to guide them in learning what they obviously didn't know!   

I find it painful and aggravating to see a sports coach degrade an athlete who just made a mistake – when that athlete KNOWS they ‘did it wrong’– already feels bad.  That’s the most fertile time to TEACH, not malign or degrade.  Same thing with your teen!!  

Beyond that, into ‘life’ - other than school and teachers, too often, no one gives our teens constructive feedback regarding their performance or efforts – other than to say “you didn’t try hard enough.”  In almost all cases, THEY DON’T KNOW what to do differently or better – it’s just too global and thence, meaningless.  This presents a great opportunity to walk them through – or talk them through – the specifics of how to do it better the next time. As I learned from my son when he was three, it’s very easy to say “Yes, Daddy” – and have NO CLUE what I said – it’s just easier to agree… Be patient, be sure your voice conveys support and understanding – NOT frustration

And remember to enjoy them – even when they fail!