Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Get Your Teen to Love Learning!

The world is changing rapidly. It is important your child can keep up. Learning is not an option. As long as we live, we must learn in order to survive. In fact, continuous learning is considered an essential life skill. As such, it is important you teach your child to have fun with learning.

Often time’s learning sounds like hard work and even a bore to a teen who just wants to explore life. After all, who wants to sit and write poetry or work on a complicating math problem when other things sound like more fun? Learning, however, does not have to be boring and does not have to be done at the kitchen table with books opened and spread everywhere.

If your teen does not show signs of being interested in learning, there are a number of things you can do to motivate him/her. The most important part is that you demonstrate patience with your teen. Here are a few tips to use.

7 Tips to Encourage Your Child to Learn

Inspire your teen: Give your child the opportunity to speak to people from a variety of professional backgrounds and interests. There is nothing more inspiring than speaking to individuals who enjoy their job and speak positively about their journey, including all the challenges. Overtime your child will develop a more positive outlook on learning and welcome new challenges.

Find out his/her learning style: There are many different learning styles, including verbal, logical, audio, visual, or hands on. Find out your teen’s learning style and let him/her know you noticed s/he learns best when taught in a specific way. This way you are coaching your teen to pay attention to teaching styles and making it easier for him/her to pick up new information. When s/he has figured out which style works best, s/he will enjoy the work more because it will seem less of a struggle.

What’s going on at school: Be involved with your teen’s school work. Ask what they have learned each day and ask them to quiz you to see what you know about science, English literature, geography, etc. Kids often enjoy teaching their parents for a change. As they are quizzing you, they are strengthening their own knowledge of the day’s lesson.

Learn as a family: Organize family learning opportunities by going to a museum, library, sports hall of fame, etc. The first few times you can pick a place your teen will enjoy (based on your child’s interests). This will persuade your teen to be open-minded about family trips. There may be a few objections in the beginning, but the more often these family activities are repeated the more open you teen will be to the experience.

Tap into your teen’s strengths: Learning can be hard work. Tap into your child’s strengths to encourage learning. Everything seems more fun when we are good at what we are doing. The same holds for your teens. While it is important to develop your child’s weaknesses be sure you allow him/her to use his/her strengths too.

Set an example: When you show that you enjoy learning and reading new material and are willing to put in the effort, your teens are likely to follow. Be sure to let your teens see your enthusiasm for learning...not your pressure to learn something new in order to retain your job. Demonstrate to your teen that learning is a natural part of life.

Be creative: You know your children the best. You know what excites them and you know their areas of interest. Combine these two important pieces of information and be creative to make up attractive new learning scenarios.

Interested in more information on how to get your teen excited about learning? Contact Teen Life Coach in Toronto, Ivana Pejakovic, and find out how you can teach your child to love learning.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Speak to Your Teens

By: Ivana Pejakovic, B.Sc., MA

Parents often times find themselves at a loss when it comes to speaking to and understanding their teens. Many times genuine parental concern turns into fights and misunderstandings.
The “trick” is to speak to your teens. Really speak to them and really listen to them without judgement (not easy but very important!). Parents often times ‘speak’ to their teens with the expectation that they will speak and children will listen and agree to their parents. Although this would be ideal for the parent, it is hardly fair to children.

The steps listed below are directed for parents. As a parent, it is your role to demonstrate good communication skills to your children. When you role model this steps, your kids will naturally adopt the behaviours as their own. Here are the tips to help you improve the quality of communication with your teens.

6 Tips to Effective Communication

Stop to discuss: Often times parents speak to kids as they are cooking, folding laundry, trying to write an email, searching for a phone number, etc. When multitasking you are not giving your children the attention they deserve. Your teens will feel unimportant and will be less likely to approach you for advice next time. When your teens approach you, stop what you are doing. If you are in the middle of something, ask them to wait for a minute or so, finish your task and turn your full attention onto them. Giving your entire attention to your teens will encourage them to keep coming back to you for guidance.

Check your immediate response: Your children are closely looking for your immediate behavioural and verbal response when they tell you stuff. As soon as they hear a vocal reprimand or see behavioural condemnation, they have already decided to end the discussion as soon as possible or to conceal information from you. Be aware of your words and behaviour when speaking to your children and try to remain objective at all times. An initial supportive attitude will calm your teens down and make it easier for you to let them know that you do not approve of their actions.

Acknowledge your teen’s feelings: Whether happy or sad, never dismiss how your teens are feeling, even if they are upset over a trivial matter. It is not for you to decide what should and should not get them upset. The first thing you ought to do is verbally acknowledge what they are feeling (good or bad) and why. The second thing is to accept their feelings. Accepting your teens’ feelings will help strengthen their trust in you.

Relate to your teen: Because of the age and maturity difference between you and your teens, it can be hard for you to see each other’s perspective. It is up to you as a parent to think back to your teen years and remember how a little thing easily became a ‘big thing.’ Your teen cannot ‘remember’ how it is to be an adult but you can use your personal experiences when speaking to them to let them know you understand.

Don’t command: No one likes to be ordered around or told what to do. Teens are developing their individuality and independence and as such don’t like to be ordered around. Ordering them around will challenge them. As a result, they will either rebel or confirm. Neither case, however, allows your teens to be who they want to be or to learn how to make good choices. The power of good, well delivered advice and a good example is far more effective than directing them.

You stop and you listen: Do not cut your teen off in the middle of the sentence. No one enjoys being cut off without having their full ideas heard. Often time’s parents tell their teens to stop and listen without being aware they do not stop to listen. Your kids want to be heard and have a right to be heard. Do not teach them their opinion doesn’t count by cutting them off. Slow down and listen.

Interested in more information about how to relate with your teen? Contact Teen Life Coach in Toronto, Ivana Pejakovic, and find out how you can communicate with your teen and strengthen your relationship.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Teens: Where to Find Help During Decision-making

By: Ivana Pejakovic, B.Sc., MA

As a teen you may find decision-making to be difficult, tricky, nerve-racking, and maybe even embarrassing. Some decisions are just plain hard, some require extra knowledge, some require confidence, and others require the ability to resist temptation or pressure.

Whether you are trying to decide what school to go to, whether to get a tattoo/piercing or not, how to deal with a relationship break-up, or even whether you should become sexually active, it is usually a good idea to ask a few people at different stages in their life, with different life experiences.

Remember, you have options and people to turn to:

Friends: For some of your decisions, friends are an excellent choice. They know what is going on in your life, what is trendy, and you may feel they are understanding and non-judgemental. Although these reasons may depict friends as the best people to go to for help, keep in mind your friends are as inexperienced as you for many of your dilemmas (kind of like ‘blind leading the blind’). You can ask them for their opinion but don’t assume they know what they are talking about just because they appear confident. While they want the best for you, they unfortunately, lack the necessary knowledge for many of the tougher decisions.

Your parents: Without a doubt, decision-making is easiest with supportive parents who can advise you on what to do. You can be assured they have your best interest at heart and will be willing to support you in your challenges. Parents are usually one of the best choices for teens. Unfortunately, you may feel your parents’ are unsupportive, or have opinions and advice that is outdated or wrong for you.

Your teachers/ school counsellors: By talking to a favourite teacher or school counsellor you will learn they often have more knowledge than you think. Teachers don’t just know history, math, science and other subjects. You’ll learn that they also have fabulous experiences they can share with you to help you make your decisions. Keep in mind, however, that some teachers have a hard time opening up to students. While they have a right to privacy, it is easier to relate to someone when they tell you about their life.

Life coaches: You may find that advice from those you speak to is biased or perhaps not for you. Some questions can also be embarrassing you may not want to discuss with your parents or other family members. This is a great time to take advantage of a teen life coach. Teen life coaches are unbiased, teach you to make choices based on what is important to you, guide you based on your strengths, and truly care for your well-being.

Yourself: Nobody knows you like you do! After receiving advice from others, carefully consider which options would make you happy. Be aware if you are feeling pressured or if you have negative feelings popping up when you are thinking about certain choices and outcomes. In the end, your decisions should be based on your values and researched facts. You’ll know which decision is best for you based on how you are feeling. A feeling of peace and contentment is usually present when you pick the choice best suited for you.

It is up to you to gather advice or facts from a variety of people to help you make the choices that will increase your happiness, pride, and self-worth. Your choices are ultimately yours to make and you should be careful with who you allow to influence you.

Have more questions about the decisions in your life? Contact Teen Life Coach in Toronto, Ivana Pejakovic, and find out how you can strengthen your decision-making skills.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Teens: Long-term consequences of avoiding decision-making

By: Ivana Pejakovic, B.Sc., MA

Many teens (and adults) find it extremely scary to make the big life-changing (or life-directing) decisions. They are afraid of picking the wrong choice, disappointing their parents, embarrassing themselves, making mistakes, taking wrong action, and so on. With so much pressure, it almost appears easier to shy away from making decisions and letting life play out on its own.

Decision-making, however, cannot be avoided. In fact, the older you get the more responsibility you will have; this includes more opportunities to make a variety of decisions. While, some decisions are easier and some are harder, it’s up to you to take charge of your life and choose what you think is best for you. Knowing you have the power to shape your life anyway you want is extremely empowering and means you can be whatever you dream of being.

Not making decisions leads to...

Because making decisions can be difficult and requires time and effort, many teens choose to dodge this responsibility. While this method may appear to work for a while, you’ll soon notice the consequences catching up to you. When you notice you’re not getting the results you want in an increasing amount of areas in life, life will no longer seem fun, but hard and tedious.

Here are 5 major consequences of avoiding decision-making:

Feeling disempowered or feeling you’re being controlled: You have enormous power in your life. The power you hold is reflected in your ability to choose anything you want. When you choose to avoid decision-making, you’re willingly giving up control over your life. Also, if you’re not willing to make your own decisions, others will be more than happy to choose for you. Unfortunately, others often choose what they think would work for them, assuming the same solution will work for you. Be careful when you allow others to make your decisions, you’ll hardly ever get what you want.

Low self-esteem: Believing you don’t have the ability to make the right decisions for yourself is extremely diminishing and degrading. In addition, not getting the results you want (which often happens when you don’t make your decisions) may lead you to think you don’t deserve anything better than what you’re getting.

Low self-trust: Self-trust is a learned skill and is important for creativity, independence, and success. If you don’t trust yourself to make decisions, you’ll never trust yourself in other areas of life either. Not making decisions may lead you to not trust yourself to deal with life’s challenges, to handle new experiences, or to meet new people.

Unhappiness: It’s up to you to create the kind of life you want for yourself. Don’t give up your happiness by being afraid to make decisions. Happiness and fulfillment do not come from making the right decisions, but from learning from the decisions you’ve made.

Bad Habit Formation: When you continually avoid making decisions, you’ll eventually form the habit to avoid decision-making altogether. Once this habit is formed, you’ll move through life without making very many decisions unless you choose to change this habit. Unfortunately, one habit often leads to other bad habits such as making excuses, avoiding problem solving, complaining, settling for mediocrity, and giving up.

Have more questions about the decisions in your life? Contact Teen Life Coach in Toronto, Ivana Pejakovic, and find out how you can strengthen your decision-making skills.