Friday, 28 June 2013

Teenagers and Parents - How Parents Can Effectively Connect With Teens

I truly enjoy speaking with Teenagers. For some reason, I connect with teens... probably because I'm a big kid myself. I understand that most teenagers have 2 distinct versions of themselves. The first version can be challenging. This teenager thinks he or she knows it all and will say or do anything to be "cool!" That's right! This teenage version is only interested in not showing his or her vulnerability. This can be frustrating to an adult!
But understand this, the other version of that exact same teenager needs you! He or she has goals, dreams, and most importantly, they are scared to death! It's our jobs as adults to connect with teens! Not make them... connect with us!
How do you do that?
1. Show up!
It's difficult to connect with anyone if you're never around. Adults are very busy and can't be everywhere. But schedule the time. In the past because of work, there were times I had to miss my son's practice or soccer game. But I noticed when I scheduled a future game and put it on my calendar, I would not break it! I was there!
2. Create an atmosphere of unconditional love!
Most teens believe they are only loved if they get good grades, if they do their chores, if they make the team. Obviously, getting good grades and doing chores is part of teenage life. But don't judge their overall worth if they forget to take out the trash. Teenagers want unconditional love! Yes, you have to be their parent... but you should also be their biggest fan!
3. Speak to teens with respect!
I know it can be challenging but teenagers are people. And no one (teenager or adult) likes to be barked at and spoken to like they are complete idiots! After a long day at work, most adults come home and have little patience. (I understand this because I have two kids myself.) But try to be patient, slow down and watch your tone!
4. Teen issues are important!
Teen issues may seem silly to us, but they really matters to them! Let them express their feelings! Adults verbally say, "we care about teen issues." But we show teens that we don't care by interrupting and not letting them talk, rolling our eyes, or multitasking while their talking. When adults do this, teens feel as if they're not being heard and will slowly start to withdraw. Months later, you'll wonder why your son or daughter never opens up to you!
You'd be surprised how these simple actions make a world of difference between teenagers and parents. Please understand: I am not implying that we don't have discipline at home or school. Teenagers will run all over you if they don't sense structure and boundaries. I'm simply stating that adults need to "step up" and make more of an effort to connect with teenagers. I know you may not like their music, but make an effort to listen to a few tunes. You would be surprised how teens react when they think you know or have at least listened to their music. Ask their opinion on certain topics and engage with them on activities.
Don't forget, you were a teenager too! Do you remember how you felt about adults? Today's teen feels the exact same way!
Empower your teen with Darryl's new book: Be Extraordinary - The Teenager's Roadmap to Success! Log onto:
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Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Motivating My Teenaged Son In School

So, a few days ago I mentioned about promoting responsibility with the kids, that got me to thinking about motivation. I have recently noticed that Beth, the oldest is UBER motivated, she is facing a long summer, post A level exams and within the first week she had 2 new jobs, to add to her Body Shop At Home  business and her babysitting for us. She is now working at the local pub and has 3 days a week doing admin for my husband. Brilliant!!!

However her younger brother Tom, is no where near as motivated and it has got me to thinking, why? Is there anything I have done differently with him than I did with Beth and can I do anything, other than nag, to increase his motivation? So I did some research and overwhelmingly I was put to shame!

When Beth started secondary school, Trent Valley Academy she attended the school where I worked as a teaching assistant and later as a cover supervisor (covering lessons in teachers absence, it saves the school getting supply staff and keeps better consistency for the kids), therefore I was really involved with all her teachers and very occasionally even covered some of her lessons or form times. I knew all her friends and was involved with after school activities and school trips. I could join in with conversations better because I knew who she was talking about and I could help her better with what her teachers expected because I knew them well too. Beth had a really good relationship with most of her teachers and I think that was partly because they knew her outside of lessons as well, through me. I'm not saying Beth did so well at school because of me, not at all, she worked extremely hard and has a very bubbly personality so I think she would have done well wherever she went, but I do think my active involvement in her school had an impact. School and home were indelibly connected, they were unavoidably linked for her. My friends were her teachers! Poor thing!

I left my job in October 2009 and now have no role in education so am probably a bit out of touch now and any way Tom went to a different school. He attends the local Grammar school Queen Elizabeth's High School and I have got to admit, I have always found it a bit intimidating. Not just his school but Grammar in general. When I was a kid only the posh ones went to Grammar and they always thought they were better than us "Normal" kids, or so we thought at the time! In hind sight I'm sure they thought we had a problem with them, anyhow, we didn't really mix much and now my boy goes to one!

Tom wanted to try for the entry exam and to be honest I thought it was a good idea. He was a big fish in a small pond at his primary school, Everton Primary School  which had served him well for his early education, it was a lovely village school and Tom excelled there. He's a bit of a cheeky chappy, sometimes a bit of a clown and he got on famously with his teachers and loved to please them but I was a bit concerned he might be a bit easily led down the silly road at secondary with much bigger classes and less time for the teachers to connect with their pupils. I felt he would thrive with the firmer hand of a Grammar.

I cannot deny they have done a pretty good job of keeping him on track, he has had a few detentions but just for calling out and being a bit silly, not for anything major, and that's exactly what I wanted from the school. A firm hand. He hasn't fallen in with a "bad crowd", he's just a little exuberant sometimes! But he seems to just cruse through, getting away with the minimum of effort in most of his classes. Most of his reports come back saying he sometimes lacks focus and could excel in the subjects if he focused more, he's a bright boy and I worry he's wasting his talents.

So what can I do to give him a boost???

So far I have had very little involvement with school and Tom is in year 9, except parent evenings I've not been there. I wouldn't recognise his teachers if I passed them in the street and I have left the discipline to them, although I have always backed them up when he has come and complained about one teacher or another. I realise now this is not good enough. I may not work in Tom's school but that doesn't mean I should avoid it all together. I know that pupil achievement improves when their parents become involved in their work ( I don't mean doing it for them, I mean being interested in what they are doing), I know teachers really appreciate parents being involved and showing an interest, I know that being involved actively with school, PTA, extra curricular activities, volunteering to help out on trips etc. all promote a positive response to school within our children, so why have I not done it?
I can only think it goes back to those childhood prejudices and fears about not being good enough for Grammar.

Tom will be starting his GCSE courses in September and I really don't want him to miss this opportunity to get the best start to his career path that he can. I can't do it all for him, he has to take some responsibility for his work, grades and behaviour but because he gets good marks just by coasting along I think he doesn't put maximum effort in, he doesn't see the point. Maybe, just maybe if I get a little more involved with school, a little more familiar with his teachers and a little more interested in his work, maybe if I stop accepting "Fine" as the answer to "Have you had a good day" and stop accepting "No we didn't get any" as the response to "Have you any homework?", maybe if I start asking "What did you enjoy most about you lessons today?" and " Can I see what you did today/" and "You need to do your homework please" maybe if I start calling his form tutor once a term to see how she thinks he's got on and maybe if I actually go to some school events, even if Tom isn't involved, maybe, just maybe, he'll get a bit more motivated because if there is anything Tom likes it is to please people.

I feel a bit cross with myself that I have just let him coast along and gradually loose his motivation but I hope that with a little more involvement from home he too will excel in his GCSE exams.

Here's hoping!

Friday, 21 June 2013


Yesterday I noticed that our German Shepherd dog Polly had been worrying at her paw and had licked/nibbled all the hair off one toe. It looked weird. I needed to take her to the vets as she was due her vaccinations any way so I got on the phone and made the appointment. The only time they had left for today (Friday) was 08.30. I really wanted her seen in case she made it more sore during the weekend and she wouldn't stay still for me to examine it, but what was I going to do? I needed to get Zach, my 21 month old to nursery for 09.00. The vet practice and Nursery are in different directions, I'm good at multitasking on the whole but splitting myself in two was an impossibility even for me! Worry not mother.... Beth, my 18 year old, stepped in. she heard me on the phone, knew the problem and said she would take Zach, problem solved. I know I am extremely lucky having Beth at home to help me out in these circumstances, and I know I'll miss her help if she does decide to go to university but I also know there are so many 18 year olds who absolutely could not be trusted to get their baby brother to nursery on time in the morning, so many who probably wouldn't care if they got to nursery or not. So what makes Beth different? Well, I'm afraid I'm taking most of the credit for it! I won't claim it all, some others may have had a bit of in-put, and some of the credit I guess should go to nature, however, I have always believed children respond brilliantly to being given responsibilities and praise. Don't get me wrong, we're not constantly barking orders at our kids but we do encourage them to take an active role in the home. They have their meals prepared and laid out for them and a way of showing they appreciate this is for them to help with the washing up. They each have their own room which is nicely decorated in their choice of theme and furnished with their choice of furniture, they should keep them tidy so it's easy for me to flick a duster over and run the vacuum round, assuming they want a clean space. Their clothes are washed and ironed for them so they are expected to put them away neatly. We don't think this is too much to ask. As they have got older and so want some of their own cash we have agreed to give them more jobs and pay them for those jobs, earning their pocket money, if you like. Picking up after the dog every day earns you £10 a month but it has to be done every day - they hate that job! Ironing earns you £15 a full basket - I hate that job! Cleaning the truck inside and out earns you £10, it's a big filthy truck, Doing the clothes washing, drying and distributing earns you £10 a month. Babysitting earns £4 per hour. At one point Beth was getting £40 a month from these extras, as well as her babysitting when we managed an evening out and her regular hours waitressing at the local pub. Minted! However, she was not good at staying on top of the washing so I claimed that back and the poo picking didn't get done very much so I got that back too, but she has ironed a basket of clothes for me this week and cleaned the bathroom and vacuumed upstairs, so we owe her! Tom, my middle one, aged 14, hasn't yet got into the swing of these cash rich extras but is slowly beginning to show an interest. He isn't as bothered about his bedroom being clean so it's not left as tidy as my husband, Kieran, might like it to be, but it's not bad for a 14 year old boy, it smells sweet and we can usually see the floor! He grumbles about the washing up, but he does it and his homework is always done. Eventually. Whenever the kids have done these things for us, even if they are jobs they have to do we say "Thanks", we let them know it's appreciated and we find that then they are more happy to help next time. We believe they are learning what goes into making and keeping a home, they begin to appreciate what they have got when they have earned it and are more able to budget for themselves. They are more likely to offer to help, like Beth this morning taking Zach to nursery for me, because they have more of an understanding of how the cogs all have to work in unison to keep things ticking along. I am very proud of all of my children. Beth is growing into an independent and thoughtful young lady, Tom is sensitive to others and so kind, even though his head is in the clouds a lot of the time and baby Zachary is growing into a fun, robust little character under the watchful eyes of his older, generally quite responsible brother and sister. And we all have Polly to look after us, whose toe is fine, she had some tar stuck to her pad but its gone now and is all ok. xxx

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

A Levels

So we have finally come to the end of exam period. We now will need to live through, and support through, several weeks of waiting for results day and the "do we get the university post or not?" answer. It has been a stressful time for Beth, my beautiful daughter, she has slogged her guts out and we are so proud of her, whatever the out come. She is worried, it was hard and the papers were not kind, but she is pro active, she has NVQ's in beauty she is also working on and is now a Body Shop At Home consultant. She has her fingers in many pies and I know she will succeed with whatever she decides to do. BUT.....If she doesn't get those grades I know she will cry. 2 years work and she's convinced herself she hasn't done well. My job, convince her she can achieve anything she sets her mind to. Make sure she knows that university isn't the be all and end all, give her the confidence to go out into the world of adults and be strong, confident and brave and to be able to conquer her demons. But above all my job is to make sure she knows she is loved and supported, wherever life takes her. Following is an article that I hope will prove useful to those of you who are going through the same.

Beat Exam Stress

AT exam time you really want your mind to work for you, to help you absorb information, remember and work with it to provide great answers to the questions. But for most students it is right at exam time that the mind fails them. It's called EXAM STRESS. Exam stress is caused by worry around exams. You may worry that you don't enough, or that you won't link the information to the question, or that you won't achieve the results you need. But the biggest worry at exam time is the fear that you might "go blank". Stress is not completely bad. You need some of it to make you productive. For example, imagine noticing that you have no food. That would cause you stress - and you would make a plan to find some. But constant stress is not good and doesn't work in your favour - especially when you need your mind to be sharp, focussed and on its best behaviour. The good news is you can do a few things to keep exam stress at bay and ace your exams. Right up front, the best way to beat stress is to know you are well prepared. If you have worked consistently and revised well, you will know that there is really no reason for you to worry. Exams are designed to reward consistent work and good preparation. Those who have not worked or prepared would probably have cause to be concerned, and so they will definitely stress on their way into the exam room - and that would worsen an already bad situation. There is no replacement for academic discipline when it comes to succeeding with exams and staying calm through the process. Work consistently through the year, revise thoroughly, be organised with your preparation such as having a study timetable, get plenty of rest and eat well and you should be fine. However, even the best students have experienced stress before exams. Sometimes the weight of expectation can be heavy. Your expectations of yourself, your family's expectations of you, the school's expectations and the need to do well in order to be accepted to the next level of study are enough to stress anyone. There is also the self-confidence factor. You may wonder, "Am I good enough"? You may doubt your ability even though you have proven it to yourself many times before. You may even doubt whether you deserve academic success. A lack of self- confidence can be crippling. It will add to any stress you have as you prepare for exams. So what can you do to conquer exam stress? Let's assume you have done the required work this year to achieve academic success. To make sure stress doesn't mess up what you have worked so hard for, add a few more skills to your arsenal. First, learn to relax. Your brain must be relaxed in order to function at its best, to take in information, recall it and work with it. So take time to "tune out", push the exams out of your mind and chill. Turn off the music and the cell phone, stay away from your television and your computer, don't get onto the social networks. All these things need your brain to work. You are trying to relax it - it needs time off. Sit down in a comfortable place, close your eyes, think about nothing but your breathing, let any thoughts you have drift away, and give yourself five minutes of brain recovery time. And try using visualisation. It is a powerful way of telling your subconscious mind to get with the programme and work with you. By visualising what you want, you give vivid instructions to your brain to find what you need to succeed. Most people who try this are surprised at just how well the brain guides you to where you have told it to take you. Spend some time with your eyes closed seeing your success. Imagine yourself in the exam room, calm and relaxed, feeling confident and answering the questions well. Imagine your goal, the results you want to achieve. See your report or your certificate showing the results you want. Allow yourself to feel the feelings you will have when you receive your results and you have done well. Perhaps even imagine yourself receiving an award, or telling your friends and family how well you have done. Bring all of your senses into the imagination exercise. See the exam room in your imagination. Smell the smells. Feel the certificate as you hold it and read your brilliant results. Hear the congratulations of your friends. And if there is anything appropriate to taste - go for it! Affirmations are a great way to boost your confidence. It works well with people who lack confidence, but even the most confident students can use a bit more of it. Take time to tell yourself how good you are. Yes, it will feel strange at first, and if you are naturally humble it could feel a bit uncomfortable. But you are a great person, so let yourself know that. Say things to yourself such as: I deserve success I easily understand what I am studying I can recall information clearly I am a successful student. Does it matter if you believe the statements to be true? No. Keep reminding your brain about them, and they will become true. Say the affirmations out loud to yourself as if you really, really believe them (don't do this in the exam room!), repeat each one of them five or six times before moving on to the next, and don't judge them, just accept them. Create your own affirmations, and enjoy using them. Be careful not to allow negative thoughts in when you are doing your relaxing, visualizations or affirmations. In fact don't ever allow negative thoughts in at any time. Your brain will take you wherever you want to go - to failure just as easily as to success. If you keep telling yourself you can't study, if you keep thinking you are going to fail, if you imagine yourself panicking in the exam room - your brain will take you right there. Some exam stress is inevitable. But you can control it. If you are well prepared, have allowed your brain time to relax, spent time imagining your success and have affirmed yourself as a good student, you will have no reason to stress at all. Jonathan Payne is a Hypnotherapist and Mind Management specialist based in Durban, South Africa. He works extensively with stress related conditions as well as assisting clients to overcome limitations by understanding where their minds are tripping them up. He teaches relaxation and centering techniques to help clients focus, get motivated, find purpose and succeed. He is available for talks and seminars to assist organisations with stress, motivation, focus and productivity. Article Source: Article Source:

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Acivities For All The Family

Teenage Dating - How Should Parents Respond When Teens Begin Dating?

This is a topic which can raise strong emotions in parents which is completely normal. It is scary to think of your son or daughter starting to date. Of course, our minds often go to the worst case scenarios - they will date someone who is no good, they will start having sex, they will get pregnant, they will shut me out completely as a parent. All of these are obviously legitimate fears, however, most teenage dating does not go this way.

There is no "best" age at which teens should begin dating and there is no "best" way for a parent to support their teenager as they enter into the dating stage. However, there are a few tips to remember which may be of help. First, it is important to remember that generally girls mature faster than boys and therefore teenage girls generally become interested in dating at a younger age than do boys. This also means that often times, teenage girls may date boys who are older than them (note that I said "boys" and not "men"). Second, it is important to remember that dating is a new, exciting and sometimes heartbreaking experience for teenagers. Being open to the process, not overly critical of your child's choice of a boyfriend or girlfriend (unless of course you believe they will cause your teen harm), and supporting them is important so that they are more likely to come to you if they have questions or concerns related to dating. Finally, remember that your teen will likely have many boyfriends or girlfriends and that is okay and normal. During the teenage years they are not picking out their lifelong mate - they are just looking to get to know someone on a new level and engage in a relationship which is emotionally (and sometimes physically) intimate. The dating process will help them discover what it means to be in a more intimate relationship which will benefit them when the time comes to actually look for someone with whom they may be in a long term committed relationship.

One concern I have heard voiced by parents of teens who are beginning to date is how much freedom they should give their teenager and should they allow their teenager and their boyfriend / girlfriend to ever be alone. Both questions are tricky and somewhat specific to each family's situation. Some things to keep in mind when making this decision in your situation are:

- Is my teenager generally responsible?
- Does my teenager generally make healthy decisions?
- Do I know at least a little about my teen's boyfriend or girlfriend?
- Do I think my teenager will let me know if something is wrong?
- Does my teenager generally have good boundaries and decent self esteem?
- What parameters can I put in place to allow my teen a little freedom which can gradually increase as we feel this situation out further?

If your teenager is generally trustworthy with decent self esteem, they will likely be okay with a little freedom. However, if your teenager is generally not where they are supposed to be or does not come in when they are supposed to - it is likely that they will continue with the same pattern when out with their boyfriend / girlfriend. Particularly with teenage girls, self esteem can play an important role in dating behavior. Girls who have very low self esteem are at risk to be taken advantage of by males. They are generally in a position where they just want to feel good about themselves and connect with others and often will let others take advantage of them in an effort to get this connection. Allowing themselves to be used by others can be a devastating experience for teens so it is important, as a parent, to be aware of such situations.

In general, it is ideal for you as the parent to know the people your teen chooses to date without being overly critical of them. Invite them to the house for dinner, allow them to hang out with your teen and watch movies, play video games, listen to music, etc. as a means of getting to know them without being overbearing and overprotective. for the toughest of them all...what about sex? We all know of situations where teens in high school and sometimes even middle school become pregnant and this is one of a parent's biggest fears. The reality is that there is no way for a parent to stop their child from having sex - if they really want to do it, they will find a way to do it. However, it is possible for a parent to have a thoughtful discussion with their teenager about having sex and to attempt to put some parameters around their dating relationship which may help them see there are other things they can be doing within their dating relationship. For starters, it is always best if parents can have an open conversation about sex with their children. It allows children to see that their parents are not living in the dark ages and that they are not so uncomfortable by the subject that they cannot even talk about it. In addition, it opens the door so that should an issue come up with your teen related to sex, they may be more willing to come to you rather than try to hide it. In addition, giving your teen ideas about how they might want to spend their time while out with their boyfriend / girlfriend can be helpful so that their time is more structured. This helps them to see that they can have fun doing various activities with their boyfriend / girlfriend and that the relationship does not need to be built around physical intimacy.

There are not clear guidelines for teen dating and there are no clear cut answers for how to help your teen navigate the process smoothly and safely. The above suggestions and tips can help calm the waters, however, it is inevitable there will be some waves during the teenage dating years since this experience can be both very exciting and painful for teenagers.

For more information on Life Coaching or coaching for parents please visit or email

My name is Karen Vincent. I am a Certified Life Coach as well as a Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker with a Masters Degree from Boston University. I have worked with teenagers / adolescents and their parents for the last 15 years in a variety of settings, including outpatient therapy, specialized schools, and in the home.

I have developed and conducted numerous parenting classes and support workshops specific to parents of teens. I have also created and presented training for professional staff including teachers, therapists and counselors who work with adolescents in Massachusetts, Connecticut and in New York City.

In my work, I partner with parents (usually through phone calls) who are experiencing difficulties in connecting with their teenage children and who are struggling to manage social, emotional or behavioral issues which arise during the teenage years. Through working with me, parents are able to:

• work through any self doubt they are having about their parenting
• develop action plans for addressing their areas of concern
• develop new ways of parenting their teens effectively
• discover new ways of connecting effectively with their teens
• eliminate sleepless nights and worries while Restoring Peace of Mind During the Teenage Years

Please call for a free Coaching Consultation: 774-245-7775

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