Sunday, August 15, 2010

Helping Adolescents/Teenagers Stay on the Right Path

D. Dale Fairclough, CPC, PE

29 June 2010 (original date)

For parents on the go, I’ve assembled some quick tips for raising your teenager. Now, I know it isn’t this simple, but these ideas should provide some ideas to consider.
Developing a good relationship with your child

1. Talk, talk, talk. Have a conversation (not lecture) with your child. Genuinely talk about things they like and have an interest in. Let them know that their voice is important. If you can create a good relationship in that way, then it sometimes is easier to talk about the other things you need to talk with them about.

2. Develop their self-confidence. Encourage them to think critically and to speak up.

3. Have patience and be calm when you are dealing with them. It is alright to let them know you are not pleased, but yelling, etc. will not help the dialogue. Remember they are going through puberty, etc. and they have a range of sometime uncontrollable emotions.

4. Avoid the desire to over analyze their emotions and mind state, etc. Sometimes, let them be. No need to correct every instance of an emotional outburst. Give them a minute and then talk about the need for self-control…

5. Be a role model for how you expect them to behave and handle things. You cannot just tell them how to be, you must show them. They are always watching whether you believe it or not.

6. They are developing their identity. Along with puberty, this can be a very turbulent time for them. Understand this. Help them develop confidence. You can do this by praising them way more than you are critical of them. Aim for 4 genuine praises (even if they are small) for everyone 1 correction.

7. Realize that they are no longer little kids—ensure you are giving them their space and privacy.

8. Love them and hug them no matter how big they get. Maybe not in front of their friends though!

Expectations and Responsibility

1. Develop clear expectations for what you expect in terms of school, household responsibilities (cleanliness, chores), conduct in and outside of home, curfew, boundaries, etc. These must be clear and also reasonable (not just “because I said so”). Explain “Why” it is important that they do what you are asking. What are the real consequences in life? If they need to be motivated by punishment or losing out on privileges. If that is the case, make sure the consequences are well understood and more importantly that you enforce them.

2. On the flip side, give praise and rewards when they meet and exceed expectations.

3. Some expert may disagree with this approach, but I instituted an allowance system for my son several years ago based on him fulfilling his responsibilities. The criteria I used are: school, behavior/conduct, cleanliness/chores, being prepared/on time, and bonus. Explain that you really want them to get all the point/dollars they can each week and that it is easy-- but put the responsibility on them to achieve the target as long as they understand what they need to do. I typically give the bonus only for extra effort shown in one or more of these areas. Allowance is withheld for serious issues of school or behavior/conduct, but otherwise I try not to take away points for unimportant and inconsequential things since you do not want to appear as though you are analyzing their every move.

Daily Routine (i.e. School/After-school)

1. Set up an after school routine for your child to follow each day. Routine in general is of tremendous importance for children. For instance, the routine might be for them to have a snack, complete their homework and studying without the TV, perform household chores, then play video games/TV for a time before other activities. Make sure you check with them each day about homework, projects, and notices and get them the help they need. They should have an assignment book with the due dates for homework and projects.

2. For schoolwork. Set expectations based on what you know your child’s abilities are. If they are not a good artist, be satisfied with a good effort in art even if it results in a B-. Encourage them to put forth their best effort each and every day and praise their efforts even more than you praise the grade.

3. Talk with their teachers so that your child and their teacher both see how serious you are about school.

4. Show them that each homework assignment, quiz, etc. makes a difference. Take it one day at a time, and they will be surprised with the result of their hard work. Along with this, teach them to rebound and get back on track after a not so great day. Challenge them and reward them.

Talking about the future and what today means

1. Ask them what they may want to be when their older. Don’t be dismissive if it’s not exactly what you want since there’s a good chance they may change their mind at some point. You have to be careful not to make them hesitant to open up to you. Instead, encourage them to explore more about their desire. Go on the Internet, to the library, or to talk to people in the field.

2. Figure out what they are good at and start researching options yourself. Expose them to some of these careers/jobs that you think might fit them without forcing it upon them. Emphasize that no matter what they want to do in life, working hard in school, having a good character, good attitude, and work ethic will only help them achieve their goals.

3. Help them visualize what they what to accomplish. Ask them what steps they need to take to get there? How and when will they take these steps? This helps them develop a planning mentality.

4. Then help them visualize how much harder things can be for them if they don’t make good decisions and do what they need to do.

Importance of making good decisions

1. Sometimes explaining right and wrong doesn’t get through. Instead, teach them about being smart. Point out the consequences of mistakes. Real-world examples often help. In fact, if you can point out a bad mistake you have made, it often helps to show them that you too are not perfect. Be very vivid when describing the consequences of big mistakes. Do not think that something is so beyond your child that it can never happen. Better to talk than to regret not talking.

External relationships/activities

1. Try to involve them in different things that involve other children. This helps them learn how to socialize and interact with others.

2. Keep them involved in activities they like especially if it involves other kids that can be a good influence. This might be sports, music, dance, boys/girls scouts, the YMCA, church-related activities, etc.

3. Encourage them to keep "good company"—good friends that are moving in the same direction that they want to.

4. In cases where there is only one parent, you may need to find good adult examples/mentors for your child. The mentor doesn’t have to spend a whole lot of time, but it is important for children to have a model of the same sex (as well as of the opposite sex)


1. Make sure they are resting adequately and have a proper diet. Breakfast is important to having enough energy to make it through the day. Consider multi-vitamins/minerals, cod liver oil, etc.

2. Children who get regular generally more healthy. Exercise, daily if possible, is essential to maintaining good physical health. I also believe that exercise, whether is is by playing sports or being physically active otherwise, contributes to improved self-esteem and mental health. That's just for kids, but us adults as well.
3.  Don't be shy about talking to your child about puberty and other health issues.  There are many booklets that you can use as a guide.  Ask your doctor, visit your library, or search online.

Dale Fairclough, CPC, PE is the Founder of and Chief Coach/Consultant at Achieve Coaching and Consulting. To get in contact with Dale, please visit  or send Dale email at Copyright 2010 by Achieve Coaching and Consulting.

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