The Secrets to Motivating Your Teens and Success

I’ve been thinking a lot about goal setting, motivation and success, especially with teens and their eventual college admissions. I continue to find this age fascinating as teens still are kids, yet vary so much in maturity, personality, and the path they think they have to take to reach their destination.

What is the secret to getting your teen to achieve their potential while rising above and beyond the status quo in reaching their own success?

How is it that some teens actually want to take the steps necessary to ace a calculus test or write the most organized in-class essay on Shakespeare’s Macbeth while others give the least effort possible? What makes it so easy for some students to seek out extra help from a teacher (not their parents forcing them to see a tutor) so they learn and understand and earn high grades whereas other cringe and sweat at the thought of seeking assistance during office hours?

When I taught honors freshman at New Trier High School, during class discussion, many of my students would reference the Wall Street Journal or the New York Times newspapers (yes, back in the days when many more households received the daily paper!) in our class discussion whereas others would reference their detailed annotations on the graphic novel Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi as we discussed the historical relevance of the Islamic Revolution, the author’s personal growth, and relate to our lives today.
Their comments stemmed from well thought out ideas, specific evidence, and heart-felt connections. Their efforts reflected the students they wanted to be – amazing, loyal, serious students.
I know we want our teens to set goals, make a list of things to do, and get into top colleges, but don’t we first have to take a step back and really look at who they are becoming based on their daily actions? For example, if your teen wants to receive “A grades” on English papers, what specific steps do they actually take to show a mastery of thoughts, words, and beautiful, fluid sentences?
  • How often are they reading above and beyond the teacher’s assignments?
  • How many drafts do they think is the norm to write before submitting the essay?
As I analyze my own goals and think heavily about the daily actions I need to take in 2020 to achieve them (like weight lifting, learning to love the math part of my business, and eating at least two super foods a day – ugh) I need to see myself as I want to be in order to fulfill those habits and goals – just as my high achieving students saw themselves and then easily acted upon their visions.

As parents of teens, we must find the balance between allowing our children to become their own person through their own trial and error; reminding them they can achieve their dreams through concerted effort and they need to take action to get there, again and again, even when they question themselves, even when things are difficult.

With the visual image of our future selves in mind (and our future sons or daughters in mind) we optimistically propel through any friction or hesitation that could block the achievement of our goals; and then, we achieve them. Ahhhh, smile, relief, belief in ourselves grows.

In all your decisions let wisdom be
For your success, you hold the key.
Happy 2020 to you and your teens! xo 😊
p.s. If you want your teen, especially your juniors to start strategizing, organizing and getting motivated to finish 2nd semester strong and prep for college applications, please message me or email me.
I’d love to give you some simple ideas that go a long way so you see results!

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