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6 Steps to Success for Teens



By Marjie Knudsen

This past Wednesday we had the pleasure of welcoming writer and child advocate Marjie Knudsen to our weekly Twitter chat. The subject: How to prepare teens for a successful school year. Earlier, Marjie wrote this blog post directly addressing teens. We reproduce it here, knowing that parents will also appreciate the insightful advice.


"You have no control over what the other guy does. You only have control over what you do.” - A.J. Kitt

Take a moment to step out of your teen life. Fast forward to your 30s. What do you see? A better question: What would you like to see? You have the ability to run your own life.

Here are six steps to success:

1. Choose to stay calm. You may find yourself surrounded by drama at times. It can come from your family, friends, school, teachers, or others. Remember, you can choose to stay calm even when others are upset. Give yourself time to calm down and figure out how you want to deal with a situation. You might even use a tool like Annie Fox’s simple breathing technique for calming down quickly.

Having an emotion does not mean you have to act on it. You can learn about why anger can be so intense and some ways to deal with it at TeensHealth.

2. Take good care of yourself. It’s not selfish to focus on yourself at times. In fact, by taking care of yourself, you end up being in a better position to help others. Just make sure that you don’t need others to focus on you or demand all the attention!

If you need help with making healthy choices or saying no to peer pressure, find other teens who have been there. A 15-year-old shares an interesting perspective in “High School Without Drugs and Alcohol.”

3. Improve your relationships. Your relationship with your parents can be difficult. Your parents want the best for you, but sometimes they may not know how to show it. Their reactions are not necessarily about you. Check out Vanessa Van Petten’s fantastic list, “10 Important Things I Wish Kids Knew About Their Parents.”

Friendships are important, yet you can choose your friends. Do your friends make fun of others or start rumors? If so, you can stop bullying and even take a stand against it. Some ideas for how to do this and how to help others are at the Bullybust website. The Bullybust website can help if you are being bullied as well. You have a right to feel safe.

4. Remember, no one can predict your future. A parent, teacher or friend may put a label on you. They might say that you are lazy, smart, a troublemaker, quiet, shy or any number of other things. They might even try to predict your future — but they cannot. And neither can you.

Avoid dwelling on what others say about you or even your own negative thoughts about yourself. Instead, pay attention to your strengths and things that you are good at. This will help you build confidence in yourself. Then you will have the energy to tackle harder stuff. Take a look at what a 17-year-old from California writes about helping with goals in “Your Dreams, Your Future — 4 Steps to Help You Get There.”

5. Find a positive role model. Take time to find an adult you would be proud to be like when you are older. It could be a grandparent, a teacher, a public figure or a parent. This person, at their core, acts, speaks and lives in ways that you admire.

Once you find that person, ask yourself what he or she would do in any situation, and do it. You can find an example of an inspiring grandmother in “The Most Inspirational Person in my Life,” by a 14-year-old from New York.

6. Do your best, and let go of the outcome. Do you give your best effort — no matter how things turn out? You will make mistakes; that is how people learn. Even though you might feel stress from parents or teachers, consider how you might be stressing yourself. See the story of a superstar who cannot be happy or enjoy her life because she is too focused on the outcome in “The Price of Success: Girls, Stress and Being Your Own Worst Enemy.”

The choices you make today steer the course of your life. They also impact others, because there is always a chain reaction. Teen Dylan Mahalingam explains this well in a short video from TEDx Teen, “The Ripple Effect.”

You may want to share this blog with your parents. If you do, let them know about the ScreamFree Institute. The website’s message is similar to this one, but it is written especially for parents, teachers, and others who work with youth.

Marjie Knudsen is a writer, parent and child advocate. Follow Marjie on Twitter @MarjieKnudsen



Comments:
Comment by Kate Gardner, posted 8/23/2010, 11:20 AM:

Simple, specific steps. Kudos, Marjie! Would you take a look at our site, www.SUCCESSFoundation.org, and review our SUCCESS for Teens program (book, audio, Facilitator's Guide, downloads and workbook)? I believe you'll find multiple match points in our message with yours! Thanks! Kate
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