Biologically, the teen years bring with them the greatest reshaping in the brain any of us undergo in life! This process brings with it a host of changes in perspective, personality, and stability. The natural result of these changes brings on a period of exploration and discovery shaping the changing identity. What a teen does and is exposed to during this critical time in life has a large influence on the teen’s future (Hedaya, 2010).
Gallup studies show the most successful people are those highly aware of their natural strengths and skilled in using them to their advantage (Rath & Conchie, 2009). Stop for a moment and imagine yourself using your strengths, that thing that you’re naturally good at, that comes easy for you, that you enjoy. Now feel the natural motivation, confidence, and engagement that come with using those strengths.
Our attitude toward our self (self-esteem) and our perception of our self (self-concept) are influenced by internal and external factors.
A lack of motivation and decreased performance may be results of low self-esteem, poor self-image, or learned helplessness. Learned helplessness occurs after repeated subjection to uncontrollable stressors or failures. An individual essentially learns he/she has no behavioral control his/her environment or situation (Seligman, 1972). For example, a teen struggling to bring a math grade up makes every attempt she perceives possible to achieve a better grade, yet continuously fails. She, in turn, begins to believe there is nothing she can do to achieve that better grade and gives up trying.
Since, external factors are often beyond our control, it’s important to teach your teen early how to capitalize on the internal factors, or what she can control. First, learning to exercise control over her own thought processes, motivation, and actions then showing her that she can effect change in herself and her situations through her efforts (Bandura, 1989).
I am a lifelong learner by choice and a strong believer in an education’s positive effect on personal growth, first and foremost.
The tangible benefits speak for themselves. Financial independence and lifestyle increases with income potential. A 2013 Bureau of Labor Statistics review of median weekly earnings by degree type shows those with less than a high school diploma earning $471, those with a high school diploma earning $652, some college, no degree - $727, an Associate’s degree - $785, a Bachelor’s degree - $1,066, a Master’s degree - $1,300, a Professional degree - $1,735, and a Doctoral degree - $1,624.
Helping a student succeed in academic pursuits involves reducing stress and anxiety, building competency, finding what she’s naturally passionate about, findings out where she really wants to be, and creating effective systems to get her there.
Pursuing an education provides your child the opportunity to follow her passion. To do what she really wants to with her life, brilliantly.
To quote Nelson Mandela, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”
Studies in positive psychology demonstrate the most effective approaches in promoting wellness (living well), increasing self-esteem, and reversing effects of learned helplessness are those that focus on building competency rather than fixing weaknesses (Seligman & Csikszentmilalyi, 2000). So, maybe there’s an outside-of-the-box way for the teen in the prior example to use one of her strengths to bring up that math grade while learning to be ok with the fact that math just isn’t her thing.
How does it work?
Coaching focuses primarily on shifting ineffective perspectives, identifying and challenging default and limiting beliefs, thoughts, actions, and behaviors. Coaching focuses on building competency and personal fluency skills (self-awareness, emotional intelligence) while helping the client achieve goals through individually tailored action plans. The coach introduces evidence-based tools, systems, and resources. The coach acts as support and accountability while the client develops and achieves goals one-step at a time. The client gets to experience and process each success individually building confidence, self-esteem, and self-efficacy along the way. Your teen will create systems and tools for lifelong use, become more cognizant of her needs and the needs of others, learn to make achievement look easy, and turn her aspirations into reality!