Category Archives: Teen Development

So You Want Your Child to Be Resilient…

Life is hard, and it takes a strong person to stand up to the adversity that life dishes out with amazing regularity. Young adults of the “millennial” generation are sometimes criticized for not being resilient. According to the stereotype, they … Continue reading

Do You Over-Praise Your Child?

Praising a child is a good thing, isn’t it? Doesn’t praise boost self-esteem, which is crucial to achievement, sound decision-making and healthy relationships? According to Heidi Stevens’ superb article, “In Criticism of Praise,” in the January 2015 issue of the … Continue reading

My Top 5 List of What Parents Can Give Their Adolescent Children

Nearly every parent knows that growing kids need unconditional love. And of course young children are powerless and innocent about most things, so they need our support for food, shelter, security, clothes, medical care, etc. A big theme of my … Continue reading

The 12 Most Important Insights for Parenting Teens

A common question from parents: “There’s so much advice out there, a lot of it is conflicting. What should I focus on? What’s most important?” Over the years, I’ve read most of the classic books on parenting, and I’ve given … Continue reading

Conscious Parents Can Take Luck out of the Equation

My parents weren’t what I call “conscious parents.” They were good, caring people who raised eight children, with varying results. By “raised,” I mean they did the best they knew how to give us food, shelter, clothing and the necessities … Continue reading

“Your Teen” Online Magazine – A Great Resource for Parents

I’ve discovered Your Teen, a weekly online magazine that’s a great resource for parents of teens. The current issue has these articles… “Why a Working Gap Year Is Worth Considering for Your Teen,” by Tim Elmore. “Move-Out Skills 101: Making Lunch” … Continue reading

Effective Communication Skills – The Game-Changer for Parents of Teenagers

Teenagers know they’re growing up, and they don’t like being treated like little kids. They need the wisdom and guidance of parents and other adults. But they hate lectures, sarcasm, put-downs, screaming, commands, threats, ultimatums, shaming, judging, and blaming. Don’t … Continue reading

Six Secrets To Your Son’s Success In School

For several months a group of writers focused on the issues of boys and men are collaborating through the writing and sharing of blog posts in order to bring greater awareness to the unique challenges boys and men face in … Continue reading

Bye-Bye Dirty Dozen, Hello 7 Key Parent-Child Communication Skills

For me, the best book ever written about parent-child communication was Dr. Thomas Gordon’s P.E.T. – Parent Effectiveness Training, a 1975 classic that is still widely used today. It isn’t easy to raise kids. Sometimes they’re sweet and adorable. But … Continue reading

Recipe for Disappointment – Making Assumptions about Your Teen

The dad lets his son borrow the car. “Be sure to have it back by six. I’ve got an important place to be tonight.” “No problem, Dad.” Six o’clock comes and goes. With no sign of his son, he makes … Continue reading

Mentoring Boys – The Challenge of Improving Communication Skills

For the next several months a group of writers focused on the issues of boys and men are collaborating through the writing and sharing of blog posts in order to bring greater awareness to the unique challenges boys and men … Continue reading

Signs Your Son Is Using too Much Tech (And What To Do About It)

For the next several months a group of writers focused on the issues of boys and men are collaborating through the writing and sharing of blog posts in order to bring greater awareness to the unique challenges boys and men … Continue reading

A Tale of Two Coaches – One Gets It, One Doesn’t

What informs my insights about parenting? The real world. And a lot of that is just stuff I read in the local paper. Today I read two stories about coaches. Here in Texas there has been a scandal due to … Continue reading

Why Teens Rebel – In Case You’ve Forgotten…

When they’re little you read to them, hoping they’ll love books and reading and learning. Before you know it they’re in school, beginning a journey that will teach them about the world. And in half a dozen years, puberty begins … Continue reading

Justin Bieber and Dennis Rodman – What These Two Men Have in Common

Poor Justin Bieber. I read that he was arrested, forced to wear a jump suit and photographed for a mug shot because he was drag-racing in Miami in a rented Lamborghini. Oh, and he failed a sobriety test, DUI for … Continue reading

A Powerful Parenting Skill – Get Kids to Think for Themselves

My wife, Kathleen Scott,  contributes regularly to the San Antonio Express-News Travel section and sometimes to the Food section. She also is working on a third draft of a mystery novel. I think it’s remarkable that she made a successful … Continue reading

Michael Gurian: If I Were a Parent of a Boy…

For the next several months a group of writers focused on the issues of raising boys to become men are collaborating through the writing and sharing of blog posts in order to bring greater awareness to the unique challenges parents … Continue reading

Adults Can Improve the Way They Mentor Youth – And Make a Difference

Adults care a great deal about the youth in their communities. They want fewer kids to be at risk. They want more kids growing up to be strong, happy, successful adults. They’re willing to be mentors to young people. And … Continue reading

Kid Hacks His Education, Hacks His Life

You’ll want to watch this video all the way through. This 13-year-old boy is amazing. You’ll wonder how young Logan LaPlante could become so smart, so articulate, so mature, and so happy after only one year of adolescence! As you … Continue reading

Wisdom…

Forty years ago, I was in graduate school at Duke University, in over my head, learning as hard and fast as I could to catch up to my classmates. It paid off – I earned my Ph.D. four years later. … Continue reading

Good Advice for Parents – Pound the Rock

Parenting a teenager may be the hardest thing you ever do. It can sometimes seem like a thankless, hopeless endeavor. You have your dream – to help your child grow up to be a strong, independent, happy, successful adult. But … Continue reading

Build a Bot, Train a Brain

What if there were a teen extracurricular activity that was fun, wholesome, kept kids off the streets and the couch, while permanently wiring their brains for critical thinking, problem solving and social skills? And oh yeah, I forgot… and a … Continue reading

Comedian Louis C.K. on Raising His Daughters

“I’m not raising kids. I’m raising the adults they’re going to turn into.” – Louis C.K. An empowering, realistic distinction! Instead of seeing their teenager as a kid who’s been in the family for more than a decade, parents need … Continue reading

It Takes a Village

This is Myles Turner, a 17-year-old boy from Euless, Texas. He has worked hard to prepare himself to be a highly recruited college basketball player. Next year he’ll join some lucky top program like Duke, Kansas or Kentucky and earn … Continue reading

The Generation Gap – A Failure of Parent-Teen Communication

A teenager made a dumb mistake and damaged a tool. His father, angry, shouted at him about carelessness and irresponsibility. No love, understanding or respect was communicated in the heated interchange. The boy felt like a failure and resented his … Continue reading

The Silver Spoon Syndrome – Give the Gift of Work

Jennifer was a clerk at an auto parts store in Vista Hills. She got the job because Jackson, her husband, was a mechanic at the Chevrolet dealership and was friends with the owner. But she, like her husband, was a … Continue reading

Single Mom Creates a Village to Raise Her At-Risk Son

In his classic book, The Wonder of Boys, Michael Gurian makes the claim that “three families – not one – raise a healthy boy to healthy manhood.” The first family is the “nuclear family,” the parents and grandparents who raise … Continue reading

Life is Hard – And Then You Strive

I’m recalling a moderately distressing experience that started with a phone call. My wife was about to return home from a shopping excursion at a mall about 30 miles away when her car wouldn’t start. She asked me to drive … Continue reading

Tim Wright – Innovator of Modern Rites of Passage for Youth

By the time young people reach high school, they’re launched on that phase of personal growth we call adolescence. It’s a ten- or twelve-year journey in which a boy can become a man and a girl can become a woman. … Continue reading

10 Important Lessons Moms Can Teach Their Sons

A boy who grows up without the guidance of a father is at a disadvantage, even at risk. But the role of the mother, who more often than not is the primary nurturer, has an enormous influence. This guest post … Continue reading

My Vision: New Rites of Passage Appropriate to the Modern World

“When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.” 1st Corinthians 13:11. In the modern world, boys don’t … Continue reading

Teens Rise [Fall?] to the Cinnamon Challenge – An Epidemic of Low Self-Esteem

“The Cinnamon Challenge.” Young teens dare each other to swallow a tablespoon of cinnamon in less than a minute without water. Many teens see it as a popular way to have a lot of fun. Part of the excitement is … Continue reading

The Internet’s No. 1 Parenting Podcast Series

Have you been listening to the weekly Strong For Parenting podcasts? If not, then you’ve been missing something! For more than 20 years, Meredith Bell and I have been having fantastic conversations about things that are important to us. Frequently … Continue reading

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From Teen to Adult – Take Luck Out of the Equation

I’ve written often about how important it is for teens to work on exercising the critical thinking part of their brain (for connecting the dots, analysis, judgment, self-control and decision-making). Parents need to know that this part of the brain … Continue reading

I Got Lucky – My 9 Rites of Passage

I’ve been reading about traditional and modern rites of passage. So far, the two most helpful books have been Crossroads: The Quest for Contemporary Rites of Passage, ed. Louise Carus Mahdi, et al (1996); and From Boys to Men: Spiritual … Continue reading

A Good Idea – Raise Your Child to Be an Entrepreneur

This article from the online Wall Street Journal got my attention: “How to Raise an Entrepreneur,” by Barbara Haislip. It not only quotes some of the great entrepreneurs of our time about the personal strengths that matter, it suggests tips for … Continue reading

You’ll Be a Man, My Son

Once upon a time when my youngest boy was about 18 years old, we were walking together and he asked me, “Dad, what does masculinity mean to you?” A loaded question. I sensed that he was aware that he was … Continue reading

Puberty – The Lost Passage from Child to Adult

The goal of parenting a teenager:  to help the child mature into a responsible, happy, successful adult. Even parents who consciously keep this goal in mind often have an awful time dealing with teen emotion, rebellion, risk-taking and substance abuse. … Continue reading

The Greater Influence on Teen Behavior – Nature or Nurture? Surprising Answer…

It was one of the coolest weddings I’ve ever attended, the reception turned into a lively celebration, I was doing the kind of dancing I do only after I’ve had way too many drinks, and my friend and I were … Continue reading

Are You a “Conscious Parent”?

In another post, I talked about a movie that portrayed a dysfunctional family that included two well-intended but – as I described them – “unconscious” parents. I put my own parents in that category. I knew that my mom and … Continue reading

Free Resources – Help Your Teen Wire a Smart Brain

Every time a teenager tries to figure out why something happened, tries to understand the relationship between thing A and thing B, tries to see the connection between cause and effect, foresees possible consequences, evaluates options, solves problems and consciously … Continue reading

Health Alert for Parents – Eating Breakfast Cereal (ANY Brand) May Be Bad for Your Kids’ Health

Hey, moms and dads! What are you feeding the little kiddos for breakfast? Their favorite cereal? So easy! So many choices – both sides of an entire aisle at the grocery store. And nutritious! Wait a minute. Not so fast. … Continue reading

Dad Gets Lucky – Gives Sons Christmas Present with Profound Permanent Consequences

It was the Christmas of 1982, and my boys were 10 and 12 years old. I didn’t think twice about what to give them. It just seemed like a great idea at the time – identical Commodore 64 personal computers. … Continue reading

5 Magic Questions – Help Your Teen Learn from Mistakes

Fact: To learn from what happens to you, you have to take the time to think about what happened, why it happened and what you could have done differently. And most people don’t always do that. Fact: Busy teenagers almost never … Continue reading

Many Parents Avoid Frank Talks with Their Teens – For Good Reasons

I’ve written two books, Conversations with the Wise Uncle (for boys) and Conversations with the Wise Aunt (for girls). Both are fictional accounts about an older relative mentoring a young person during the teen years to give the child a “heads up” … Continue reading

My Interview with Lon Woodbury of LA Talk Radio – What Parents Can Do to Help Wire Their Teen’s Brain for Critical Thinking

Lon Woodbury (LA Talk Radio) and I had a great discussion about the teen brain (to listen or download, scroll down to January 28, 2013). I talked about the big changes going on in the pre-frontal cortex (PFC), the last area of the … Continue reading

Change the Game – Help Your Teen Become Strong for Success

You know who Tiger Woods is. It’s impossible to imagine anyone on the planet who doesn’t. At the age of 37, he’s already a legend. He stormed onto the PGA tour 16 years ago, and a few months later he shocked the golfing … Continue reading

For Parents of Teens: How to Change Your Child’s Behavior

Father: “Hey, son. I thought I asked you to clean and put away the tools after you use them.” Son: “Oh. Right.” Father: “Well, the tools you used last night are still on the bench. Why didn’t you put them … Continue reading

Child Brain Development – Hardware, Software, and Data

These days, a  hot topic for parents: teen brain development. Books have been written about it. Nearly every magazine that a parent might read, including National Geographic, has had an article about it. I have written extensively about it. But … Continue reading

Interview with Chris Efessiou – How to Empower the Developing Teen Brain

Here is the recording of my conversation with Chris Efessiou, author of the excellent parenting book, Chief Daddy Officer. In it I reveal some scary things most parents don’t know about their teenagers. For example,  that the developing brains of teenagers … Continue reading

Teenagers vs. Adolescents – A Heads-Up for Parents

Most parents think of their child as “officially” an adolescent when they technically become a teenager on their 13th birthday. And they think their project of raising the child to adulthood is pretty much over after high school, when most … Continue reading

West Point Ingrained My Critical Thinking Skills

When I was in high school, I got an A in every subject I ever took. I didn’t find out until later that I hadn’t learned as much as I thought. But man, I knew how to make A’s! My … Continue reading

Straight Talk for Teens – Young People Sharing Perspectives

One of the perplexing things about teenagers is that they tend to trust the input of their peers more than the advice of their own parents – perhaps because they feel their friends understand their situation better. Understanding this dynamic … Continue reading

Playing Chess Can Boost Your Child’s Intellect – Permanently

If you’ve followed my blog, you know I often write about adolescence as the sensitive time of life during which a child’s brain can be wired for basic critical thinking skills. The window of opportunity opens at puberty and closes … Continue reading

Low Self-Esteem – One of the Perils of Being a Teenager

It’s unfortunate that so many teenagers feel miserable… Maybe they can’t afford the clothes the cool kids wear – I WON’T BE POPULAR. Maybe they lag behind in reading and basic learning skills – I’M NOT SMART. Maybe they were … Continue reading

Larry Winget’s Work Ethic Message to Graduates

Larry Winget My colleague, Meredith Bell, has published an article about truth-telling author and speaker, Larry Winget. You’ve heard the phrase, “tell it like it is.” Often called “the pit bull of personal development,” Larry is famous for telling it … Continue reading

Will Watching Violent Video Games Affect Your Teen’s Behavior?

An issue has been preoccupying my mind – young people who watch violent video games. In the entertainment world, the video game business is much bigger than the movie industry, with more than $10 billion spent on video game devices … Continue reading

Your Child Can Develop a Brilliant Mind – Or not…

The human brain has dozens and dozens of areas that perform special tasks. While a baby is born with a complete brain, it’s like a brand new computer with no software and no data. So throughout childhood, the outer layer … Continue reading

The 3 Most Powerful Ways to Give Your Teen An Edge in Life

It’s amazing what you see when you step outside the box. I’ve been focusing on the special challenge of raising teenagers for over a year now, and I’ve been outside the box the whole time. Inside the box, you understand … Continue reading

A Huge Turning Point in the Life of a Teenager…Usually Doesn’t Happen

What’s the most high-impact event in the life of a teenager – the one that changes everything? Well, it’s not the party celebrating the 13th birthday. Or the first date, although that’s the perspective of many young people. No, the … Continue reading

Will a Teen Decide Based on Reason, Habit, or Emotion?

I consider myself a serious thinker. But to be honest, I’m not an intellectual. I’m biased towards action. I have a Ph.D., but 95% of what I know today I learned on my own after earning that degree. So seemingly … Continue reading

Good Parents, Great Parents

I’m sure many parents of teens dream of someday saying about their grown child: “He’s doing so well. He’s a really, really smart guy.” (Or gal…) And they hope their grown child says about them, “I had such great parents. … Continue reading

Aha! Personal Development for Teenagers!

For over 30 years my work has been focused on adult personal development – personal strengths and people skills. My company, Performance Support Systems, has published some award-winning internationally recognized assessment and development systems, all brain and behavior-based. For nearly … Continue reading

The Story Behind the “Wise Uncle” and “Wise Aunt” Books

For quite a while now, I’ve felt that the kind of personal development that we encourage with adults should begin during the teen years, if not before – that in fact the adult learners we serve with programs like ProStar … Continue reading

Reading Will Help Your Teen Develop a Fine Mind

I have a friend whose dad had a personal library of several thousand books. When my friend was about ten years old, his dad enrolled him in a speed-reading course. Soon afterward, he began reading the classics of world literature. … Continue reading

Sean Covey on Teen Peer Pressure

Teens are famous for doing wild and crazy things without thinking about the consequences. I shudder when I remember some my own antics as a teenager. Of course one of the reasons for this behavior is that they’re experimenting and … Continue reading

Teen Development – The All-Important Core Strengths

A successful, happy life. I guess everybody knows it takes more than than money and beauty. Just ask Bernie Madoff and Kim Kardashian. And guess what…It also takes a lot more than a good education and business know-how. I try … Continue reading

Sex Advice for Teen Girls – Establish Boundaries

The book, Conversations with the Wise Aunt, is in the final stages of preparation and will soon appear as a Kindle ebook. In the chapter, “A Nice Way to Say No,” Aunt Maria explains to her niece, Trisha, how boys … Continue reading

Jackson’s Story – Teen Rebellion Channeled into Positives

In this blog space, I’ve referred many times to something I call the “teen journey.” It’s the difficult, perilous 12-year developmental period called “adolescence” that has a profound, permanent impact on the rest of a person’s life. Every teen journey … Continue reading

What Sowing Wild Oats Is All About

A friend once told me a story about his older brother. My friend was a top student and multi-sport athlete in high school, and he eventually got a football scholarship and later had a successful career as an executive. His … Continue reading

A Quick, Simple Overview of the Human Brain

Often when I write adolescence I make reference to a part of the brain called the prefrontal cortex. To help you appreciate where that part of the brain is and what it does, I’ll give you a quick guided tour of … Continue reading

Conversations with the Wise Aunt

Not many parents feel comfortable talking to their kids about sex and other momentous topics. There’s a lot of ground to cover, and parents know they’re not experts on every subject. Besides, times have changed, and they remember their own … Continue reading

Conversations with the Wise Uncle

Not many parents feel comfortable talking to their kids about sex and other momentous topics. There’s a lot of ground to cover, and parents know they’re not experts on every subject. Besides, times have changed, and they remember their own … Continue reading

What’s Happening in the Developing Teen Brain

In another post I described the phases of child brain growth. At each phase, different areas of the brain are developed. Two important things happen during each phase – blossoming and pruning. Dendrites are the tiny filaments on a brain … Continue reading