How To Help Your Teens Succeed
I’m not a parent myself - but in my time as an SAT and ACT prep tutor, I’ve learned what great parents care about.
In simplest terms, parents care about success and happiness for their children as they grow up.
Even for adults, it’s a challenge to be both successful and happy in life. So how can we set teenagers on this path while they’re still in high school?
This can be particularly difficult to navigate with high schoolers - teenage hormones, a crammed schedule, and high-pressure sports and academics can make high school a harrowing experience for kids and parents alike.
After 6 years as a tutor, here are TWELVE of my best ideas for parents to help their teenagers lead successful and fulfilling lives!
1) Ask Your Teens What They Want To Do.
It seems simple, but we can just ask our teens what they want to do with their lives.
What do they want to be known for in life? What career ideas excite them?
Gently starting a conversation about this is easy if you focus on asking teens, not telling them. Catch them in a good mood and let them know you just want to help them reach their goals.
2) Keep An Open Mind About Your Teen’s Life Goals.
Although it may be challenging, just listen and let your teenager discover and reveal their goals in your presence.
With the benefit of your experience and adult wisdom, it can be hard for parents not to overwhelm their kids with advice - but for now, just listen.
You may strongly disagree with your kid’s life goals, but being confrontational with a teenager usually just leads to arguments.
So, always keep an open mind. Listen past the surface, and try to hear the depth of your teenager’s goals. Even if you don’t agree with them.
3) Remember When You Were Their Age.
A key to helping teenagers succeed is to always remember what life was like when you were their age.
That crazy mix of laziness and energy, confidence and embarrassment, boredom and excitement…
It’s not easy being a teenager!
Perspective always helps with patience. Think back to being in your teen years, and it will help you approach your teen with a patient, open heart.
4) Give Your Teen As Much Financial Support As Possible - But Make Them Earn It!
If there’s one way parents can always help their teenagers out in high school, it’s with money.
There’s no two ways about it - education, sports programs, fine arts, and travel opportunities cost money. So does hanging out with friends.
You don’t have to be a spendthrift, and you don’t have to give your kids everything they ask for. However, teens usually don’t have any money of their own.
One of the best ways to handle this is to make teens work for an allowance. From chores around the house, to getting a summer job, this gives teens a taste for the true value of a dollar.
At times you may feel like a “walking wallet” to your kids. Your teenagers may not seem appreciative today, but give them some time to grow up - they’ll thank you in the future for your support.
5) Give Your Teenagers The Benefit Of The Doubt.
As an adult, you may tear your hair out watching your teen procrastinate, make mistakes, and play video games or socialize on their smart phone.
But, like all of us, they’re trying the best they can. The difficulties of high school are far different than the challenges of adult life.
It’s easy to forget how much pressure they are under - and how much they want to live up to their own self-image (and there’s that pesky peer pressure in high school).
6) Help Teens Plan Ahead Wisely.
Although it’s important to allow freedom for your teen to explore life, you also need to balance that freedom with the wisdom you’ve gained over the years.
Think through the challenges you’ve faced - mainly from your college years onwards - and help your teens prepare in advance for circumstances they might not even imagine yet.
From financial advice to career wisdom - travel tips and college advice - you can be a fountain of wisdom for your teen.
Provide insight into life subjects that teenagers may not have thought about. Just don’t force it on them, or they’ll probably shut down or get argumentative, because they also want to figure things out on their own.
7) Remind Teens That Grades And Awards Aren’t Everything.
In the competition of high school, every teen wants to be “the best” at something. From Honor Roll to the football team, there’s no shortage of rankings, grades, and awards handed out in high school.
But, life is a marathon - not a spring. And although it’s important to perform well in high school, it’s also true that most high school grades and awards are long-forgotten by the time real life arrives.
Parents can help teens by reminding them not to invest too much ego and pride into high school grades and awards. It’s great to win, but it’s also great to lose - it helps us learn, improve, and grow mature gracefully.
8) Help Your Teens Explore Their Creative Sides.
Teens experience music, drama, art, and literature in a unique and awesome way. To a high schooler, everything is new. Every band, movie, and author (that adults may take for granted) has the potential to be exciting and life-changing for a teen.
Likewise, participation in the arts offers the chance for teens to change their lives and experience leadership, self-discipline, and creative engagement.
Does your teen want to learn a musical instrument or take part behind the scenes on a play? If so, consider yourself lucky as a parent, and do everything you can to encourage your teen in their artistic pursuits.
Art, music, and creative writing offer a lifetime of fun and enrichment - help your teens discover the world of fine art in high school (if it’s something that might interest them)!
9) Teach Your Teens Lessons In Personal Finance and Entrepreneurship.
Speaking from personal experience, the shift to “living on your own” and managing your own finances as a young adult was one the most challenging times of my life.
As much as I love my parents, they didn’t really prepare me with budgeting or personal finance tips, so I had to learn through expensive trial and error.
Teach your teens to avoid bad debt, to spend less than they earn, and to budget for success. Help them understand the importance of money and how it can help them achieve their personal goals faster.
High school is also a great time to teach your kids lessons about business and entrepreneurship. If there’s one life skill that will never go out of fashion, it’s the skill of creating value for the world with a profitable and sustainable business.
If you don’t know much about business and personal finance, now’s a great time to learn alongside your teen! Entrepreneurial teens and parents can get quality family time while working on innovative business models together.
10) Give Teens Exposure To Jobs And The Real World.
With all the focus on getting teens ready for college, it’s common to lose focus on what really matters - the life that comes after college.
For most of us adults, the working world is where most of our time, energy, and self-expression are spent. But teens usually have absolutely ZERO idea of what that world is like.
You’re doing your teenage son or daughter a big favor by making them get a job, or help out in the family business.
The sooner your teenager understands the day-to-day reality of working a job, the sooner they have a personal incentive to find the right job for themselves.
11) Admit That You Don’t Know Everything.
As an educator, admitting that I don’t know can be one of the most useful tools in my teaching kit.
Telling a teen “I don’t know - let’s figure it out together” is one of the most honest and effective ways of opening a genuine dialogue on an important topic. The words “I don’t know” often lead to useful lessons for both mentors and kids.
The same goes for parents. Moms and dads who aren’t afraid to say “I don’t know, but I’ll help you figure it out” are able to show love and lend a hand when your teen needs your advice.
Try it out! Rather than ignoring or faking your next response to a tough question from your teenager, try saying “I don’t know” and going from there. You may be surprised by the quality of conversation that results.
12) Consider Enlisting A Professional.
Parents don’t have to raise their teenagers alone.
College counselors, tutors, coaches, piano teachers - all can add richness and depth of mentorship to your teenager’s life in high school.
Reach out to professionals in your area to learn more about how they can help your teen succeed in school, sports, and life.
And for SAT, PSAT and ACT test prep classes and tutoring, contact us at Love the SAT Test Prep!
Successful And Happy Teens Are Awesome!
Parents have a tough but rewarding job - they shepherd their teenagers into a life of independence and self-reliance.
By focusing on these 12 tips, I hope you can get some exciting new ideas to help your teen grow, learn, and enjoy life.
Do you have any tips for other parents or teenagers? Leave them in the comments below the article!
For advice on SAT and ACT test prep for your teenagers, contact us today for a free consultation!