Pep Talks to Give Teens

talking-with-momWhen you first become a parent, your primary role is to take care of your child’s basic needs. As your child grows, your role as a parent is constantly changing – evolving from doing everything for your child to teaching your child how to do things for themselves. By the time your child reaches adolescence, you, in effect, become your teen’s coach. You are there to guide them into achieving their own success. You can provide your teen with options, but then you should give him/her space to make his/her own decisions. You should stay engaged with your teen, but believe confidently in your teen’s ability to problem solve and recover from mistakes.

One of the things that coaches do best is give pep talks or an encouraging message. Teens are often doing their best to demonstrate confidence, but inside, they are uncertain. A parent’s pep talk can make all the difference in a teen’s mindset. Here are some encouraging messages that you can share with your child during challenging times in adolescence:

Pressure to Be the Best

It seems like there’s a lot of pressure nowadays to be the ‘best’ in everything. That is unrealistic and actually a poor measure of success. What I want is for you to be the best version of yourself. Most of us aren’t the BEST in anything, but we can grow and improve. We can identify our strengths and weaknesses and develop our abilities through hard work. Truly successful people are the ones who know how to grow, learn from their mistakes, are willing to work hard, and aren’t afraid of change.

Starting High School

High school is a rite of passage that everyone goes through, and most students feel nervous on the first day. You are not alone. For most people, the high school years will be filled with both amazing peaks and difficult, rough spots. That’s how life is, and high school is good practice for it. Most people who look back on their high school years realize that they worried too much, so take a balanced approach to this time of your life. Use high school to try new things, discover your own style, create friendships, and develop a sense of humor about what life throws at you. Keep it all in perspective by remembering that most adults were not defined by high school. We learned things, made mistakes, and survived with some good memories.

First Impressions

The old saying “you only get one chance to make a first impression” is very true. I wish it could be otherwise, but people do notice and judge your facial expressions, body language, appearance, cleanliness, and clothing choices first. That does not mean that you need to conform to some specific look, but it does mean that you should try to start off on the right foot. When meeting others, be polite, take your personal grooming seriously, and consider the impression you’re giving others. Be mindful of your bad habits. Play up your strengths. Recognize that a clean, polished look will be received best. If you are not getting the reactions you want from others, evaluate what impressions you may be giving to see if that might be having an impact. The most important thing is to have a look that honors who you are and boosts your confidence! In the long-run, you’ll be glad you made the effort.

Test Anxiety

It’s normal to feel nervous before an important test, and it’s certainly important that you prepare in advance, and then, give it your best shot. However, it’s also important to know that these individual tests do not define who you are or how successful you will be in your future. Your character, spirit, and work ethic will get you further than anything else. Yes, your grades and SAT scores are important for getting into college, but none of your bosses will ever request to see your grade from the Algebra final exam or your SAT score. No single grade is going to determine your fate. So, take a deep breath, do your best, and know that your test scores are only one small measure of the amazing person you are.

Peer Pressure

An important life lesson is learning how to handle yourself with strength and dignity in the toughest of situations, and high school will give you that opportunity to practice. You will likely be pressured to try drugs or alcohol, to dress a certain way, to break rules, to act “cool,” to have the things everyone else has, or do the things everyone else is doing. Most teenagers feel a strong desire to have everyone like them, but the truth is that no matter how nice you are or how much you try, there will always be someone who doesn’t like you. You will waste a lot of energy if you care too much about what other people think about you. It’s when you start being honest with yourself and show people the true you that you will start meeting people who like you for who you are and not for who you were trying to be or who others want you to be.

Deciding on a College

You should choose the school where you feel you’ll be the happiest. There are over 5,000 colleges in this country, and they all have great things to offer. We will do some research together to figure out how colleges differ and which ones fit your priorities, but honestly, the education and experiences you receive in college are defined more by you and your choices than the school you attend. And, you are not stuck with whatever you pick. If you go to college, and it doesn’t seem like a good fit, you can transfer! No matter what you decide, it will be an amazing experience that will provide some great lessons in life.

Toxic Friends

Unfortunately, throughout life, we all come into contact with people who are just not good for you. A true friend is someone that you can trust and who provides support and encouragement. It really hurts when someone you think is a friend betrays you or acts manipulative, unkind or critical. It breaks my heart that you have to go through this, but it’s important to know that it’s not a reflection on you. Learning to keep toxic people out of one’s life is an important skill we all need, so let’s talk about how you might handle this type of friendship differently in the future.

Deciding Whether to Tryout

When I look back on my life, I realize that I don’t regret the times I tried out for something and didn’t get it; I only regret the times that I let my fear get the best of me and didn’t try at all. The truth is, life isn’t always fair, and you will inevitably face rejection. Sometimes you will win, and that will be an amazing feeling, and you will learn a lot from participating. Sometimes you will lose, and that will be a disappointing feeling, but you will also learn a lot from that. If you let it, every failure teaches us something and prepares us for future success. More importantly, we come to realize that the failure did not end our world – we become resilient and have confidence that we can overcome difficulties in life. And, sometimes, we don’t get the thing we thought we wanted because there’s something better for us around the corner. So, the best advice I can give you is that it’s always best to try. Don’t sit out on the sidelines of life.

Dealing with a Breakup

A breakup is a disappointing time in life. I remember when I had my first breakup, I felt like it was the end of the world. Fortunately, it wasn’t. In fact, all disappointments in life are temporary, thank goodness. So, it’s ok to feel angry and sad now – take time to process your feelings. But then, pick yourself back up and move on. Revenge, what-ifs, regrets, hatred, or pity parties are very tempting, but you’ll find that they are a waste of precious time and energy. Dating in high school is a great way to learn about relationships, so that you can figure out what you really want in a relationship as an adult.

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