By Cary J. Green, PhD http://leadershipandsoftskills.com/
As parents, we want our children to succeed. We encourage our youngsters to do their
best, and teach them to be honest. We emphasize the need to “play nice” with others, and
to be courteous. As our children advance to junior high and high school, we can foster
their success by facilitating development of additional skills. We also can help our
teenage children create a realistic mindset for achieving success.
Successful people understand that intelligence is not enough, and recognize that the right
skillset and mindset are indispensable. The ability to maintain a proper attitude and
perspective can be the difference between succeeding and giving up. Additionally, the
ability to prioritize time on activities that contribute to future success is a critical skill for
young people. Lastly, mentoring can boost development of skills, insight, and confidence.
1. Intelligence is Not Enough
Intelligence alone is not enough; young people must develop key skills to be successful.
Academic success skills such as effective note-taking and test preparation, and staying
organized can improve performance in school. Soft skills such as time management,
critical thinking, communication, problem solving, and interpersonal relationship skills
can improve performance in school and on the job.
A young person who understands the importance of these skills and who actively
develops them greatly increases his or her likelihood of achieving success. Parents can
foster success in their teenagers by emphasizing the need for key success skills and
facilitating their development.
Parents can foster success in their teenagers by helping them develop an attitude of self-
confidence balanced with humility. This attitude will empower teenagers to step up to
challenges, handle setbacks, and to seek and utilize advice from others, all of which
contribute to success.
Help your teenagers understand that they will have to put forth increasing effort to
succeed as they progress from junior high to high school, from high school to college,
and from college to career. Contrasted with an attitude of entitlement, an understanding
of the need to work harder (and smarter) as they progress in life will create in your
teenagers realistic expectations for the increasing demands encountered as they grow up.
Help your teenagers keep their inevitable setbacks in perspective. Teenagers need to
understand that very few people succeed at everything, and that successful people often
have experienced failures and setbacks. Teenagers who fail to recognize these facts can
become disillusioned and want to give up when faced with a poor grade, failure to make a
team, failure to win first place, or with constructive criticism.
A young person who recognizes that setbacks are neither uncommon nor necessarily
detrimental can more easily move past the setback. Help your teenagers see that,
although not enjoyable, setbacks often teach valuable lessons. Talk with your teenagers
so that they understand why their setback occurred, and help them learn from the
experience. Encourage your teenagers to keep the setback in perspective and move on.
Share an example in which you moved beyond a setback.
4. Prioritization and Future-Orientation
Help your teenagers discover what is truly important to them, and instill in your teenagers
an attitude of future-orientation. Help your teenagers see how today’s activities and
decisions can have a big impact on their future.
Help your teenagers identify their strengths and interests. You can check with your school
counselor to see what resources are available. Show your teenagers how to prioritize
their effort on activities that develop their strengths and align with their interests. As
their strengths improve so does their likelihood of success.
Show your teenagers how to prioritize their time so that they set themselves up for
success now and in the future. Simply setting aside a specific time each day for studying
and completing homework is an easy way to prioritize time for academic success. This
prioritization can bolster grades now and pave the way for college admission in the
Finally, encourage your teenagers to take on challenges that improve their skills. Help
your teenagers see the challenge as an opportunity to develop skills that will pay
dividends now and in the future. Help your teenagers understand that it’s natural to feel a
little nervous when they step up to a new challenge. Without this understanding,
teenagers tend to avoid getting out of their comfort zone, and thereby miss excellent
opportunities to develop their skills.
Parents can mentor their teenagers and can also enrich mentoring by finding additional
mentors. Mentoring allows your teenagers to develop skills and gain new perspectives
that enhance their current and future success. Mentors can also bolster teenagers’
confidence by sharing their experiences.
A mentor who works in a career that is of interest to your teenagers can give them insight
into the career as well as recommend courses and point out specific skills needed for the
career. Your teenagers can then take the courses and prioritize development of the skills,
thereby increasing the likelihood of landing a good job and succeeding in the career. A
mentor who has excellent skills in a particular area can help your teenagers develop those
skills. A mentor who has an inspirational story can help your teenagers gain confidence to
pursue their dreams.
Clearly, parents have a great role to play in fostering success in their teenagers. By
helping your teenagers develop key success skills and the proper mindset, you set them
on a path to success. Parents don’t have to be experts in everything discussed above.
Utilize school staff as well as other resources in your community. Finally, let your
teenagers know that you are proud of them and always be a great encourager.
Cary J. Green, PhD, has been an educator and mentor to young people for more than
twenty years, and has held academic leadership positions for more than ten years. Now a
full-time author, speaker, and academic/life-skills coach, Green has taught undergraduate
and graduate students at three different universities. He has taught leadership and
academic success classes, and has provided countless hours of mentoring on academic
success, leadership, soft skills, and career navigation. Green has received numerous
awards and honors for teaching and mentoring. Although he has enjoyed success as a
researcher, educator, and leader in higher education, his true professional passion is
mentoring young people on the development of leadership and soft skills that empower
them to succeed. Check out http://leadershipandsoftskills.com/ for more information on
his books and personalized coaching program.