Raising Compassionate Kids in an Indifferent World (Guest: Heather Wilson)

BTRadioInt-300x75-300x75Youngsters learn compassion and caring by observing how those qualities are demonstrated by the role models they know best: parents, grandparents, neighbors, teachers, coaches and others. Young eyes are always watching … always. Raising compassionate kids in an indifferent world might be a challenge sometimes and, with life itself as the classroom, school is never really out. Fortunately, Heather Wilson has some great ideas that can help.

Brighter Hope

Its’ really about making hope brighter, especially in those places where hope is dim. It’s about giving of ourselves and our abundance to help those in need. It’s about putting hands and feet to compassion, and realizing later that everyone has become better as a result. And it’s about teaching our children the true service and joy in giving.

A How-to Plan

Heather Wilson, GoSendGo, Christian CrowdfundingIt’s good to encourage compassion and caring in our children, but it’s even better to incorporate it into a “how-to” plan. Our guest on this program, Heather Wilson, offers some practical activities of service and giving, ways to help our kids become more aware of the needs around them and how to address them in simple and life-lifting ways. Heather will also share about an endeavor close to her heart, a way for individuals to come together to create major acts of benevolence all over the world.

ABOUT Heather & GIVE-sEND-gO

Heather Wilson is a co-founder and CMO of GiveSendGo.com, a free Christian crowdfunding site. She and her husband, Dan, currently live in Maryland with their five children.

GiveSendGo, Heather Wilson, The Changing Behavior Network, Christian CrowdfundingTechnology and creative design have always fascinated Heather, so, when she and two of her siblings started talking about an idea for a site that would allow people to join together and make a difference all around the world … well, she jumped in with BOTH feet. After a period of intense development, GiveSendGo officially launched in October of 2015. It is now the #1 Free Christian Crowdfunding site on the internet. (29:37)

www.GiveSendGo.com

TO LISTEN, use the player below or left-click the link. To access the file right-click and “Save Link as …” to save to your audio device), CLICK HERE FOR LINK


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BONUS: Heather has put together an excellent, free resource for you. It’s entitled, “10 Crowdfunding Ideas to Create Summertime Family Adventures.” It also contains an additional bonus. Download it directly HERE.

Great Interventions Take Practice (Greg Warburton)

Greg Warburton, Ask More Tell LessFor years, I have been encouraging people of all ages to consider diligently practicing changes in thinking and/or behavior, ideally, with an attitude of mastery. Indeed, great interventions take practice.

We seem to be clear about the value of diligently practicing physical skills and technique in athletics, music and art. At the same time, however, we seem to be much less clear, or even unaware, about the need to practice using different parenting interventions or changes in thinking. Making a decision to diligently practice in these arenas will pay off.

A Need for Change

Let me share an example from my book, Ask More, Tell Less (Chapter Ten, “Drastically Decrease Lectures and Speeches”). Perhaps you have heard a child say something like, “I’m dumb,” or “I’m stupid,” or “I can’t learn.” In lecture mode, the conversation might go something like this:

(Parent) No, you’re not. You can do a lot of things and you’re smart. I don’t want you to keep saying those things about yourself. You know you won’t ever do well thinking that way. Besides, I don’t like seeing you so upset, so stop talking that way. Why do you keep saying such negative things about yourself anyway?

(Child) I don’t know.

(Parent) Well, please stop talking like that.

 

Here the beginning practice is noticing to build awareness; this type of parental communication shuts down the conversation and leaves the child powerless to think and decide for himself? Who is doing the thinking and talking in this example?

Ask More Tell Less, Greg WarburtonA New Framework

To create a framework for practicing in this arena of thinking/belief change, you might think in terms of the work-out language of physically “doing reps.” So one should begin parental practice by thinking in terms of doing thought-and-feeling-watching reps and mental-shift reps just like the reps in physical skill practices. You can decide to notice your thoughts and feelings 10, 20, 50 or 100 times a day, plus whether or not you need to make a mental shift from DON’T lecture unnecessarily to DO ask quality questions. Based on what thoughts your noticing practice produces, you can ask one additional question: “Will this thought/belief work for me or against me in achieving what I want in this situation with my child?”

Quality Question-Asking

As you practice building awareness of the long-term impact of thinking and doing too much for a child, imagine practicing shifting from giving a “lecture” like the one noted above, to practicing what I call quality question-asking. Right now, as you are reading this, practice noticing the felt mental-and-emotional shift when a parent stops lecturing and telling their child what to do and think and begins practicing asking thought-provoking questions like these:

How much longer do you plan to practice believing you’re stupid?

Does saying “I’m dumb” and “I can’t” help you make friends or lose friends?

If you stopped believing you’re stupid for just one second, what one new thought might sneak into your brain?

 

Rather than spending a lot of time telling your children what you think, spend the time skillfully asking them what they think. When some different action or behavior is necessary, begin by asking them what they plan to do.

Time to Reflect

Take a moment to practice reflecting. Here are some questions to get you started:

Can you imagine making this shift from telling to asking?

Can you see the efficacy of asking a single question which replaces the typical lectures children are given when the desire is for the child to change?

Can you see how this question-asking practice takes some of the pressure off of the parent who is anguishing over figuring out the just right thing to do or say?

Are you the kind of person who sticks with new practices or do you notice you give up and revert back to old, known ways? ###

Greg Warburton is an experienced mental health professional who believes that children and parents grow as they become more self-reliant. For more information about his work and this book, go to his website [link].

 

 

Tackling the Terror: Empowering a Child to Overcome Fear (Guest: Michelle Cohen)

BTRadioInt-300x75Welcome to this interview with Michelle Cohen entitled, “Tackling the Terror: Empowering a Child to Overcome Fear.”

Fear has been described as a guide to wisdom. That sounds a bit strange, but fear can, and does, help keep us alive sometimes. Fear, for instance, is what keeps us from wanting to make friends with rattlesnakes. A little fear is a healthy thing.

Michelle Cohen, Tackling the Terror: Empowering a Child to Overcome FearBut too much fear can be crippling, a major handicap that limits the quality of one’s life. It eventually can make people sick as it steals the joy from their lives. It’s important, therefore, for one to learn to address and manage fear effectively.

Children are certainly not immune to experiences that frighten them. Real or imagined, their fears, especially fear of the dark, can trouble them greatly. Youngsters expect us, the adults, to “fix” what frightens them.

But do we, really? Is it possible for parents, grandparents and teachers to dismiss a child’s fear by saying something like, “There’s NOTHING to be afraid of.” Well-intending statements like this don’t work very well, and they can often compound the problem.

Actually There Is Something Under the Bed, MIchelle Cohen

Solution: Empowerment

Our guest on this program, author Michelle Cohen, will urge us not to dismiss a child’s fear, but rather empower them to manage it effectively themselves. Michelle is with us on this program to share her insights and multiple ways to give kids the strength and skills to conquer once powerful fear of the dark, and other fears. Michelle will also offer possible explanations for what children are seeing, hearing and sensing in their moments of fear and distress.

Successful Protocols

Not only do these interventions work (Michelle calls them “resolving fear protocols“), guidance counselors, therapists, psychologists and families have been using them successfully for years.

Michelle Cohen

Michelle Cohen is a creative, multi-faceted, multi-talented producer and author. Her work has been featured nationally in television, radio, stage, film and print. Michelle’s production work includes the off-Broadway mega-hit, “Schoolhouse Rock Live!” and she’s the author of Actually, there IS Something Under the Bed: A Parent’s Guide to Empowering Their Child in the Dark. (28:15)

http://www.michellecohenprojects.com

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Forgiving My Father … Again (Keith Zafren)

Keith sent in this article some time ago. I asked him if I could save it for a Father’s Day piece on The Changing Behavior Network. It carries a powerful message that needs to be shared. Thanks, Keith for your willingness to share something so close to your heart. We present, “Forgiving My Father … Again.” –JDS

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Keith Zafren, The Great Dads ProjectIn my book, How to Be a Great Dad—No Matter What Kind of Father You Had, I wrote a chapter on “Forgiving Our Fathers.” It was an emotionally moving chapter to write because I have spent years (and thousands of dollars in therapy) working out my painful relationship with my dad, learning to see him as a man in pain himself, owning the good that he did bring to our relationship, growing in compassion for the life he lived—and endured—and forgiving him for the many things he did and did not do that hurt me.

Jack Called It

 A few years back, I completed Jack Canfield‘s year-long Train the Trainer course. During one of the training weeks, I asked Jack in the public session a question about my business and an issue I felt frustrated by. I was looking for some business advice. I got way more than I bargained for (as is often the case with Jack).

He “processed” me in front of the group about this issue that actually led right back to my dad’s rejection of me. I had no idea when I asked my business question that the situation I felt frustrated and a bit angry about was in fact also an emotional trigger of a past experience with my dad.

It was my final experience of my dad—the day he told me he didn’t want to be my dad. Those were the last words I ever heard him speak to me.

Keith Zafren, How to Be a Great DadLingering Pain and Sadness

We had no contact after that for over a year. Then I received a phone call from his landlord informing me my father had been found dead of heart failure in his apartment.

He was alone.

After twenty-three years of working out my pain and forgiving him for so much, I now realized I had not yet resolved that last rejection. Because it was so painful, and perhaps more importantly, because it turned out to be so final when my dad died, that rejection got stuck in my psyche as somewhat of an independent rejection, somehow split off from all the other pain associated with missing my dad and feeling his repeated rejections of me.

It was as if those final words were frozen in time.

Even after fourteen years since his passing, those words touched a place of deep sadness in me. I had allowed his words to define me as a fatherless son, and my heart still ached.

Time to Do More Work

Jack asked me questions that led me to see that it was me, not my father, who was still causing the ache in my psyche, telling myself that I was somehow not okay, that I wasn’t a good son, that I must have done something wrong that contributed to—or even caused—my dad’s rejecting tone and words.

My dad was gone, but I had kept his voice alive in my head and heart all these years around this final interaction.

When I encountered other men since then who disapproved of me in some way, even if I just perceived that disapproval, it would often trigger this same feeling of sadness and anger I harbored deep within me toward my dad due to his final disapproval. And I would sometimes respond to the man triggering this feeling with some of the emotion I still felt toward my dad.

Jack helped me see it was time to let all this go. It was time to release my dad from the judgment I felt toward him for not wanting to be my dad, and the judgment with which I viewed myself (that I had done something wrong). It was time to forgive my dad for rejecting me, and to forgive myself for judging my dad for doing so.

I chose to forgive—to finally let this rejection go as well. I chose in that moment, and the days that followed, to release my dad, and to release myself, from judgment.

The Difference It Made

The freedom has been remarkable since. I feel at peace—finally. I’m not worried any longer about the disapproval some may feel towards me, at times. It’s no longer tied to nor does it trigger pain I’m harboring inside me. That pain has been healed through forgiveness.

I’ve let my dad rest in peace.

And I’ve been living in peace from that day forward.

I see what a difference it makes for me in being more present to my kids as well. Because I am at peace, because I am not feeling my dad’s rejection, I am more free to fully give myself to my boys, to love them the way they need me, and to not worry about anything.

I had no idea my lack of forgiveness was affecting me as much as it was. But I can see it now because of how free I feel to love my boys.

Remember, great dads shape great kids.

Great dads let go of the past to be more fully engaged in the present.

Be a great dad today.###

 

Keith Zafren is the founder of The Great Dads Project and author of the award-winning book, How to Be a Great Dad—No Matter What Kind of Father You Had. Keith has spent seventeen years learning firsthand how to raise three great teenagers and stay close to them, no matter what. He coaches busy dads not to repeat the mistakes their fathers made, but instead, to create fantastic relationships with their kids. Check out his FREE video training course.

Clearing Out the Clutter: Family Organization Pays Off (Guest: Alison Kero)

The Changing Behavior Network, The Speakers GroupWelcome to this informative program, “Clearing Out the Clutter: Family Organization Pays Off.”

Alison Kero, Clearning Out the Clutter, ACK OrganizingWhat pops into your thoughts when you consider the word “clutter?” Could it be a garage that contains anything you could possibly want except your car? Or how about a dozen near-empty paint cans holding colors you don’t like that have dried up years ago? Or what about the closet of good clothes that are being crushed by an overflow of things you will never wear again?

Clutter is Common

Truth is, the vast majority of us are living with clutter in our lives right now, and we probably don’t fully realize what it’s costing us. Perhaps it’s time we DO take a look at it. Perhaps it’s even time to get organized and not only feel better about it, but set the right example for our children.

Clutter Has Many Faces

Alison Kero, ACK Organizing. Conquering Emotional ClutterAccording to our guest on this program, declutter expert Alison Kero, clutter in our lives is more than an overflowing garage, old paint cans or the stuffed-beyond-belief closet. Clutter can affect us in other ways. It can  have an existential, spiritual quality or it can have emotional characteristics that are overwhelming. Indeed, clutter has many faces. Alison will help us take a look at it, and she will offer suggestions for decluttering our lives as well as our life space. We and our families will be the better for it.

Alison Kero

Alison’s business, ACK! Organizing, had its beginnings in 2004, as it grew from her own search for ways to more easily get and stay organized. She soon learned that self-love was a huge decision-making tool that helped her, and ultimate her clients, to create the best possible living space filled only with what they liked, used and needed. Alison’s expertise as an organization and productivity expert has been shared on broadcast and internet media and publications, including the Dr. Oz Show, CBS Morning News, The Mike Huckabee Show, The New York Times, US News and World Report, Manilla.com and numerous blogs. (27:05)

TO LISTEN, use the player below or left-click the link. To access the file right-click and “Save Link as …” to save to your audio device), CLICK HERE FOR LINK


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BONUS: Alison prepared this article especially for The Changing Behavior Network. It’s entitled, “How to Gain Happiness, Health & Productivity Through Organizing.” [link]

 

Three Habits for Connecting with Your Kids, Even in Conflict (Kirsten Siggins)

Thanks go out to Kirsten Siggins for this excellent article. It captures the essence of the sort of authentic communication that can build strong connections of communication with our children. Here is “Three Habits for Connecting with Your Kids, Even in Conflict.” –JDS

……………………………………….

Arguing and kids often feel like they go hand in hand:

That’s so unfair!

You never understand!

I hope you are happy because I am NOT!

 

Kirsten Siggins

Such a flurry of these “conversations” seems loaded with resistance rather than respect. These conversations are exhausting, frustrating and leave everyone feeling drained or annoyed. It is also the time when parents often say and do things without much thought, those knee jerk reactions to make a point or seek completion faster. Almost all conversations begin with good intentions and possibilities, yet, when heated, they turn into arguments that shut communication down and end with judgment, blame, or even shame, all of which lead to conflict and fractured relationships.

We’ll look at three ways, or habits, for connecting more effectively and authentically with our children.

#1: Be Who You Want Your Kids to Be

Research is showing that effective communication is the most important skill we are failing to teach our kids, particularly when conflict is involved. Kids do what parents do, not what parents say, so effective communication begins with you. How you approach each conversation is going to model what competent conversations look and sound like to your child. If you find yourself constantly arguing with your kids, that will become their communication norm, and they will approach each conversation the same way.

The good news is, it isn’t too late to change that impression. Rather than butting heads and talking at each other, pause and take the time to stop what you are doing and actively listen to what your child has to say, what their needs are, and what their experience is like. This doesn’t mean you have to like or even agree with their comments, but it does mean you will have a better understanding of what is going for your child. It also models to your child what listening looks and sounds like so they learn how to actively listen.

#2: Be Curious; Don’t Judge

Parents love to fix and solve everything for their kids. It is faster and easier than having them figure it out themselves. Unfortunately, this approach robs them of learning, skills development and accountability. It sends the message that your way is the “right” theirs is “wrong”. Argument then enters the picture. Arguments begin when the focus is on self, wanting to prove points, be right or share wisdom and expect others to agree with you. It amounts to judging others’ thoughts rather than being open and curious to explore and learn about them.

Argument: a reason or set of reasons given with the aim of persuading others that an action or idea is right or wrong. (Google)

Rather than tell or solve, ask questions to learn what is actually going on for your child and explore possible solutions they propose. This builds confidence and send the message that you believe they are capable of solving their own problem, trusting they can find effective solutions.

The Power of Curiosity, Kirsten Siggins, Kathy Taberner3: Questions = Connection

Neuroscience has found that, when we enter into a conversation with another and we become curious by asking an open question, dopamine is released, making us feel good as it creates a mind/heart connection. As we continue to ask open questions to better understand and collaborate, we continue to feel good. We have found this happens even when we feel emotional, even “edgy.” Using curiosity, our emotional tension starts to dissipate and wash away, allowing us to be present and connect with our children, rather than disconnect in conflict. With each open question asked, you are able to shift from conflict to connection, making even the most challenging conversations manageable and drama free.

Any time you find yourself entering into an argument, pause and put a “what” or “how” in front of your thought and LISTEN to what your child has to say. This will help you stay curious and connect with your child by better understanding them. It will keep you cool when things heat up AND it will model to your child what confident, competent conversations look and sound like. ###

Kathy Taberner & Kirsten Siggins are a mother/daughter communication consulting team with a focus on curiosity and founders of the Institute Of Curiosity. Their book, The Power Of Curiosity: How To Have Real Conversations That Create Collaboration, Innovation and Understanding (Morgan James 2015), gives parents or leaders (or both) the skills and the method to stay curious and connected in all conversations, even in conflict. [website]

 

 

Kids and Summer Camp: Coping with Homesickness (Guest: Dr. Frank Sileo)

BTRadioIntAs schools close for the summer across the country, thoughts turn to activities for kids and families. One of those activities is summer camp. Here’s an earlier interview I did with child and adolescent psychologist, Dr. Frank Sileo, regarding something that might be an issue for some youngsters, especially first-time campers. We present “Kids and Summer Camp: Coping with Homesickness.” –JDS

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Bug Bites and Campfires: Coping with Homesickness, Dr. Frank SileoThe excitement of going off to summer camp and all the fun it brings can be offset by a first-time camper’s anxiety about leaving home. Summer camp and homesickness are real, indeed.

Feelings of homesickness are typical; most youngsters experience them the first time they spend the night away from the familiarity of home, family, pets and long-time friendships. Although it is a common type of separation anxiety, homesickness doesn’t feel common at all to the youngster caught up in it.

Our guest on this program, Dr. Frank Sileo, will offer insights and ideas for addressing feelings of homesickness. He will also share ways parents can help their child become more capable and confident BEFORE the youngster goes off to camp, often preventing many of the symptoms and experiences of homesickness.

Bug Bites and Campfires, Dr. Frank Sileo, Bug Bites and Campfires: Coping with HomesicknessDr. Sileo is the author of the children’s book, Bug Bites and Campfires: A Story for Kids About Homesickness. It’s a great example of evidence-based treatment wrapped up in a great story.

Dr. Sileo is the Executive Director of The Center for Psychological Enhancement in Ridgewood, New Jersey. He has been recognized time and time again for his skill as a child and adolescent therapist and his abilities as a speaker and author. (26:55)

http://www.drfranksileo.com

TO LISTEN, use the player below or left-click the link. To access the file right-click and “Save Target as …” to save to your audio device), CLICK HERE FOR LINK


(START/STOP Audio)

 

Introducing: THE SPEAKERS GROUP

balloonclipOkay, I’ll admit it: I am excited about this! After a couple of months of planning, The Speakers Group is now a reality. I thought starting The Changing Behavior Network five years ago was a great experience, but this one tops it.
We will continue to add to this distinguished group, but I’d like to offer special thanks and recognition to the following authors/experts. Through the years, they have been my guests on the Network. It was their faith and confidence that made this “debut” possible in the first place: Mike Ferry, Alison Kero, Dr. Laurie Hollman, Judge Tom Jacobs, Natalie Jacobs, Terry Lancaster, Christy Monson, Peggy Sealfon, Rosalind Sedacca, Kirsten Taberner Siggins, Kathy Taberner, Dr. Daniel Trussell, Dr. Larry Waldman and Greg Warburton. –JDS

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The Speakers Group, The Changing Behavior NetworkThe Changing Behavior Network announces a new component to the efforts of encouraging and supporting children, teens and their families in what many consider difficult and challenging times: The Speakers Group.

What Is It?

The Speakers Group is made up of guest authors/experts that have been interviewed on The Changing Behavior Network. They can provide a number of services for you or your organization, including ARTICLES for your blog or newsletter, INTERVIEWS and BOOK SIGNINGS, CONSULTING (including coaching), PRESENTATIONS, TRAINING and CONFERENCE keynotes or break-outs. These individuals make up a strong collection of resources … so use them!

(Using the “Free Materials from Our Experts” tab at the top of this page, you’ll see that these folks also have provided excellent complimentary materials on their particular specialty.)

Two Things

Two things are especially unique about these listings in The Speakers Group. First, each one of them contains a “Listen to an Interview” audio link to an actual Changing Behavior Network interview with that person. This enables you to “sample” their expertise without even leaving the page. And second, since The Speakers Group is a listing and not a booking agent or a speakers bureau, you will be able to communicate directly with each group member or their staff. That’s a BIG benefit.

A Great PLACE to Start

Consider asking one or more of these experts for an article for your blog or newsletter in exchange for a byline about their work, book and website. What better way to start a great relationship?

To go straight to The Speakers Group page, CLICK HERE, or use the tab at the top of this page.

For information or questions about The Speakers Group, email us at:

admin@thechangingbehaviornetwork.com

Technology, Our Children, and Social Connections (Guest: Danielle Lindner)

BTRadioInt-300x75-300x75All parents want their children to grow up to become happy, healthy adults that love their work, their families, and their relationships. But there’s a concern: How do they develop and maintain needed skills for those important relationships in life? This program is about technology, our children, and social connections.

If you take a moment to reflect on it, this really is an ongoing concern facing our children and teens today.

Danielle Linder, The Changing Behavior NetworkSocial Connections

Yes, we’re talking about social connections, the old-fashioned way: person-to-person and face-to-face. Of course, some youngsters will be better at it than others because it’s a skill like many other skills. But, if our children do all of their networking using techno devices, what happens to their face-to-face capability? How might it affect them on the job, in marriage, as a parent, or as a friend later on?

Our Guest: Danielle Lindner

Our guest on this program, Danielle Lindner, strongly believes we should address these issues now rather than later. Listen in as Danielle points out her concerns and how we can help our children understand and act on the value of improved face-to-face interaction with friends, family and others.

DLinderbookA teacher, trainer and educator, Danielle has extensive experience in both the public and private school settings. Seeing a need for an enriching, challenging and socially-engaging program for young people focusing on a scaffolding approach to learning and a strong character education curriculum, she founded The London Day School and Kindergarten Enrichment Academies in Florham Park, New Jersey.

Danielle has written a number of books for children that carry a focus on character education. (The book shown here is Tango: The Little Turtle Who Was Afraid to Go to School.) Danielle is a contributor to the Huffington Post and other publications, and she was named a Top 25 Leading Women Entrepreneur by the New Jersey Chapter of Leading Women Entrepreneurs and Business Owners. (25:32)

TO LISTEN, use the player below or left-click the link. To access the file right-click and “Save Link as …” to save to your audio device), CLICK HERE FOR LINK


(START/STOP Audio)

BONUS: Here’s an excellent article on this from Danielle. It certainly relates to this topic. It’s entitled, “The Joys of Being Bored.” [link]

Academic Success in Teens is Equal to Their Ability to See the Future (Dr. Larry F. Waldman)

Larry F. Waldman, Dr. Larry F. Waldman, Larry F. Waldman, PhD, "Who's Raising Whom"14-year-old Jason is like most adolescent males. He’s into video games, hockey, and, of course, hanging with his friends. If you ask him the classic question adults love to ask teens, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Jason will reply, “I don’t know—maybe a lawyer or an engineer.”

A Capable Underachiever

Like many of his peers, Jason views school more or less as a nuisance—something you have to get through. Although he is intelligent and capable (according to most of his elementary teachers), he underachieves in school. Jason usually does just enough to get by and he rarely studies. Due to his good native intelligence, he has managed to earn C’s, B’s, and even an occasional A in middle school, all with little or no effort.

While Jason gives lip service to becoming an attorney or an engineer, he usually thinks no further into the future than the upcoming weekend—when he can socialize with his friends. The most futuristic thinking he engages in involves obtaining his driver’s permit about a year down the road.

Jason will start high school in the fall. As usual, he has given little thought to the importance of doing well in high school and is destined to under-perform, just as he did in middle school. Jason’s parents often try to impress him about the importance of good grades in high school. Like many teens, unfortunately, Jason tends to ignore his parents when they attempt to advise him.

This is classic student underachievement.

Vision toward achievement

In my nearly 40 years of practice as a psychologist I have had the opportunity to work with three adolescents who graduated at or near the top of their high school class. These students were by no means the most intelligent members of their school. These teens were average to above-average intellectually and were diligent, organized students.

The one outstanding characteristic, I believe, that was common to all three of these students which separated them from their classmates, is that they had VISION. They possessed the capacity to truly see the future, and they were willing to work for it from middle school on.

I cannot tell you how many times a bright, capable, but “visionless” teen told me that “grades in middle school are not important” or “it’s only my freshman year (in high school); I have plenty of time to bring my grades up.”

Grades in middle school are, in fact, important because they set the stage for how the teen will do in high school. I have never met a teen who earned average (or below) grades in middle school and performed at an outstanding level through high school. As Vince Lombardi, the famed coach of the Green Bay Packers, said: “Practice doesn’t make perfect; perfect practice makes perfect.” That “perfect practice” begins in middle school. Moreover, by doing well in middle school, students are referred to advanced classes in high school, which can improve their grade point average (GPA) and induce colleges to offer them scholarships.

What most “visionless” teens fail to realize is that after their freshman year there are only five, not six, semesters in which to improve their GPA. Students typically apply to college at the end of the first semester of their senior year and are usually accepted (or not) by April of their senior year. Thus, that final semester of their senior year does not even figure into the GPA for purposes of acceptance or scholarships.

do the math

Therefore, if Jason does poorly his first semester of his freshman year, earning C’s and a few D’s, perhaps with a B in PE, he might earn a first semester GPA of 1.8. If he does a little better second semester of his freshman year, receiving C’s and B’s with an A in Band, this might result in a second semester GP of 2.6. If he finally “gets it” beginning his sophomore year, and from that time forward earns A’s and B’s for the remaining five semesters, (which is highly unlikely), he might average a 3.4 GPA over those next five semesters. Doing the math, we have 1.9 + 2.6 + 5 times 3.4 = 21.5, divided by 7, which results in a cumulative GPA of 3.0 at the end of Jason’s first semester of his senior year.

WRWThis unimpressive GPA now precludes Jason from any academic scholarships, prevents him from getting accepted at any prestigious college, probably limits him from attending any university out of state, and may even stop him from gaining acceptance into his own state university. Jason may still have a chance to become an engineer or an attorney, but he will now have to work really hard to attain his goal and he (and/or his parents) will have to fund every dime of his education. Jason’s inability to “see the future” at the young age of just 14 closed the door on many opportunities. It certainly is unsettling to recognize that choices a 13- or 14-year-old makes can affect him or her for the rest of their life.

start talking “future”

Parents must begin to talk about “the future” with their children as soon as the child can understand the concept of the future. Waiting to discuss the future when the child becomes a pre-adolescent is too late. Parents should read to their kids before the child is one and do so for the next five to seven years, until the child can read to the parent. Parents should also model being “studious” by reading, writing, doing “paper work,” taking a class perhaps, and doing “homework.” Parents should also speak of their own academic successes; even their failures. By implementing these concepts, children may develop a better “vision” of their future which will facilitate the likelihood of achieving it.###

Larry F. Waldman, Ph.D., ABPP is a recently semi-retired licensed psychologist who practiced in the Paradise Valley area of Phoenix for 38 years. He has worked with children, adolescents, parents, adults, and couples. He also provides forensic consultations. He speaks professionally to laypersons, educators, corporations, and fellow mental health professionals. He teaches graduate courses for Northern Arizona University. He is the author of five books (currently) involving parenting, marriage, personal wellness, and private practice. His contact information: 602-418-8161; LarryWaldmanPhD@cox.net; TopPhoenixPsychologist.com.