“Don’t wish it was easier; wish you were better. Don’t wish for less problems; wish for more skills. Don’t wish for less challenges; wish for more wisdom.”

Jim Rohn, an American entrepreneur, author, and motivational speaker

Rude and greedy behaviour among adults is contributing to the epidemic of gang and knife crime among children according to the UK Government’s school behaviour adviser Sir Alan Steer who is also a well respected Headteacher of Seven Kings High School in Essex in the UK.

Talking about the growing problem of knife crime Sir Alan said,

” It is connected to a violent sub – culture. But we bear some responsibility. Sometimes as adults we don’t model the behaviour we want youngsters to follow. Of course the kids have a huge responsibility, but there are questions about what’s going on at home. Parents have a huge responsibility. Government doesn’t bring up children, parents do.”

In my work as a Parent Coach I help parents become far more aware of the influence they wield on their children. Whether it is through the words they use, or the actions they take, parents are a role model for their children throughout their lives from toddler to teen whether they are aware of it, like it, or even accept it.

I also work with teenagers helping them set positive goals for their future as I believe kids who know where they are going are far more likely to succeed in life. While it’s fine setting goals with them its discipline that is the key to bridging the gap between setting goals with kids and their accomplishing them, and lots of kids find self discipline difficult. So it’s all about starting in small ways with little changes.

I think it’s helpful to role model self discipline from eating a piece of fruit each day to walking the dogs for exercise every day – because it’s always in the simple, small things that leads to building great habits over time.

I think it’s useful to get teenagers to focus on their goals and to ask them if they want to suffer from the pain of discipline or the pain of regret. The difference will be a future made up of potential or of disappointment.

So I like to help kids set up their goals and plan their discipline when they are all fired up and raring to go focusing mainly on the small little things they are going to do today and tomorrow and for the rest of the immediate week. That’s where the discipline begins and where the success and feelings of motivation and self respect starts.

The wonderful thing that seems to stem from these small steps is that there is a knock on effect in other areas of their lives too as one positive thing seems to lead to another which builds greater self esteem all round very quickly.

I believe that teenagers don’t have to change loads of things as that just makes them feel overwhelmed. A few simple changes can transform a teenager’s life – getting them to move in the more positive, hopeful direction of success. So that in 3 months, 6 months, a year or 3 years they can look back and see just how far they’ve come and how the small changes made such a difference in their lives.

It’s the mentality of a journey of a 1,000 miles starts with the first step.

I help kids look at the people they hang around with because these people influence their lives either positively or negatively and they can be nudged off course just a little at a time until they finally say to themselves “Gosh, how did I end up here?”

So it’s helpful to get teenagers to ask themselves 3 key questions:

1. “Who am I around a lot?”

2. “What are these associations doing to me or for me?” What have these people got me doing, listening to, reading, thinking and feeling?

3. “Is this OK?”

Then they’ve got to do the difficult bit of reflecting and taking the time to be serious about whether these influences are having a positive or a negative influence on them. They’ve got to take 100% responsibility for the choices they then make in deciding whether to keep hanging around with them or to move away from them.
They need to decide for themselves whether the people around them are a positive energising influence or a negative, downward spiraling influence.

So then they have 3 choices:

1. To disassociate from them – which is not an easy option or an easy decision for a young person to make but is one that can completely transform the quality and direction of their lives.
2. Limit the association and start to move towards more positive people
3. Expand their friendships and associations to more upbeat, successful people and what I call “friendships on purpose” as this can really sky rocket the quality of their lives and their self esteem and happiness.

That’s why teenage kids need support and help from their parents, teachers and other adults of influence around them and why they need positive role models to nurture, guide and nudge them in the right direction and to support them through the change of direction.

It’s about teaching kids the empowering philosophy of Jim Rohn’s words

“You must take personal responsibility. You cannot change the circumstances, the seasons, or the wind, but you can change yourself. That is something you have charge of. You don't have charge of the constellations, but you do have charge of whether you read, develop new skills, and take new classes. Walk away from the 97% crowd. Don't use their excuses. Take charge of your own life.”

It’s about helping youngsters have a future to look forward to that they create and get excited about whatever that may be for them.

It’s about helping, influencing and inspiring one teenager at a time.

It’s also about setting firm, fair and consistent boundaries for them so they feel the “tough love” of being guided, protected and nurtured surrounding them and about being a positive and uplifting role model for them to follow.

It’s from here that we can slowly change, influence and enhance society over time.

Author's Bio: 

Sue Atkins is a Parent Coach and Author of "Raising Happy Children for Dummies" one in the famous black and yellow series and mother of two teenage children. She has written many books on self esteem, toddlers and teenagers and has a collection of Parenting Made Easy Toolkits available from her website. To find out more about her work and to receive her free monthly newsletter packed full of practical tips and helpful advice for bringing up happy, confident, well-balanced teenagers go to => www.positive-parents.com

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