This V-day, Believe in Your Teens Unconditionally

affection-dad-daytime-960829Have you ever had someone believe in you more than you believed in yourself?  How did that make you feel? It probably made you feel like you could take on the world (or whatever situation you faced at the time). That is how powerful unbridled belief from others can be.

As Valentine’s Day approaches, the world is ablaze with talk about romance, kind gestures, and LOVE. At LifeSmart, we believe that believing unconditionally in someone is one of the most powerful ways to demonstrate love.

Many successful people also point to their parents’ or guardian’s belief in them as the driving force behind their success. They believe that if their parents hadn’t been confident in them from the get-go, they wouldn’t be in the same place today. I am precisely one of those people, and I will be forever grateful for my parents’ unconditional love and belief in me (even if I may not have always felt deserving). It helped more times than I can count—including when I dropped a full grade point on my GPA during my first year of college versus high school. I remember how this caused me to question whether I was college material. However, I was sustained by their belief in me and turned things around the remainder of my academic career.

Teachers are also in a special position to demonstrate belief and affirmation in their students. I remember being one of the shortest boys in 8th grade, and this sometimes affected my self-confidence. I’ll never forget when my favorite teacher, Mr. Wulgeart, wrote the following in my yearbook, “Denny, there’s a saying that good things come in small packages. I think you prove that saying.” That meant the world to me.

Do your children (or other young people in your life) know beyond a shadow of a doubt that you love them unconditionally and believe in them unequivocally? Do they know that you see them as talented, worthy, and brimming with potential? Make certain they do rather than assume they do. It is a tremendous asset for teens to be surrounded by adults who believe in them—who can affirm their uniqueness and value. This Valentine’s Day, make sure your belief in them is an inner voice, encouraging them to dream big and persevere through life’s challenges.

Your child, mentee, or student will make his or her share of mistakes along the way (I know I sure did!).  But having the benefit of unconditional acceptance and belief from you will soften those blows and provide a safety net they can always count on.

Not so sure how to let them know you’re their biggest fan? Here are some ideas:

  • Be upfront. Whether it’s at a meal, during a tutoring session, or after a class, be willing to open up. Tell them that you believe in them (and why). Call out some of their greatest assets and character traits. Don’t just compliment them for their achievements; look for opportunities to appreciate their most admirable qualities and when they do something kind.
  • Write them an affirming letter or note. Stick a note in their lunchbox, or if you’re a teacher, consider putting a sticky note on one of their assignments. Knowing you went to the effort to do that will speak volumes to them!
  • Be generous with your time. What says, “I believe in you” more than carving out time in your busy schedule to do things they will enjoy?
  • Let them overhear a compliment you make to another.
  • Speak from experience. Share your own downfalls, mistakes, and past life experiences. A little perspective from a “pro” can boost their confidence and build trust!

We can be the cheering squad that calls out the strengths and affirms the dreams and potential of the young people in our lives. It’ll let them know that if they were a stock, you’d be a buyer! And, the best part of all? Your belief will breed their belief in themselves.

Who could benefit from your gift of affirmation and belief today? What ways do you show you care about the children, students, and mentees in your life?

Our Top Ten Mentoring Themes

american-best-friends-blond-hair-1574650.jpgIn the cold of winter, few things warm our hearts more than celebrating National Mentoring Month. For those of you who are working or volunteering in this vital role, we salute you. One of the most powerful factors influencing the health, well-being, and hope of young people is having a caring mentor in their lives. Thank you for being that person to love and coach them toward a brighter future.

At LifeSmart, we are often asked by mentors what are the most important life lessons to impart to their mentees. Since our book, What I Wish I Knew at 18, has 109 life success pointers, this isn’t an easy question for us to answer! Nonetheless, after giving it some careful thought, we came up with our top ten list. Whether you’re a mentor or parent, teacher, or coach, we hope these ideas will make an impact as you guide and influence young people.

  1. You’re in the driver’s seat. There is a saying that life is what you make of it, and it’s so true. No matter our backgrounds or circumstances, our hard work and initiative will make all the difference. So, make it happen, don’t wait for it to happen. #lifeisuptoyou

  2. Character and attitude matter more than you’d think. Young people often think success is all about smarts, wealth, or circumstances. Don’t buy it. In the long-term, their values and soft skills will matter more. So, help them build a strong personal brand with qualities like integrity, high standards, dependability, resilience, relational skill, work ethic, positivity, kindness, respectfulness, gratitude, and humility. #morethansmarts

  3. Surround yourself with positivity. Every influence, whether friends, music, books, or media has a positive, neutral, or negative impact on our lives. It pays to emphasize the positive and minimize the negative and to be aware of which is what. When it comes to friend selection, emphasize quality over quantity by focusing on people who share their interests and values. #bechoosy

  4. Get to really know yourself. The teen years are consumed with busyness, change, pressures, and key decisions. Unfortunately, they often sail through life without truly understanding themselves—like ships without a rudder. By building self-awareness in areas such as their assets, values, personality, interests, and passions, you can help them build self-confidence and a positive vision for their life. #selfdiscoveryiskey

  5. Success requires vision and There are dreamers and there are achievers. Buoyed by “you can be anything” messages, young people often assume their dreams will naturally, somehow, come true. Disillusion naturally follows when reality hits. Help them turn their dreams into goals, their goals into plans, and their plans into actions and you will make a huge difference. #lifetakeswork
  6. Time is precious, so use it wisely. The older we get, the more valuable is our time. Successful people carefully manage their time, focus on their priorities, and avoid distractions to the extent possible. Today, technology and screen time are presenting innumerable challenges to effective time management. Help them control technology, rather than allowing it to control them. #guardyourtime

  7. Give everything your best. Whether it’s our biggest project or smallest task, having high standards and putting forth our best effort are signs of a true leader. This is especially true when we’re part of a team and others are depending on us. We may not always win, but we can always hold our head high when we give it our best. #allintowin

  8. Develop a growth mindset. Although we can never guarantee a positive outcome, we can work to get a little better every day. This includes our knowledge, wisdom, skills, character, health, and relationships. A key ingredient is committing to be a lifelong learner. Growth is a sure momentum builder. #onwardandupward

  9. Deal constructively with adversity and disappointments. Life is filled with bumps and potholes, often outside of our control. Unfortunately, many mentees face challenging life circumstances and often, family dysfunction. Help them understand that adversity happens to all of us, that it grows our character and our value, to take one day at a time and work the problem, to keep the faith and a maintain a positive attitude, to tap into their support system, and to pursue healthy stress relievers. #youcandoit

  10. Life is about love. No doubt about it. The key ingredient to a happy and fulfilling life of positive impact is love. How well do we demonstrate love to others? Do we love and take care of ourselves? Do we love what we do? Do we love the journey and not just our wins? Do we love and appreciate the beauty that surrounds us? And, if we’re a person of faith, do we love God, too? What if success was measured in units of love? It would change the world! #livetolove

Well, there you have it. . . our ten best list. We hope these stimulate great conversations with the young people under your guidance and that they are inspired to take them to heart.

Keep up the great work! We’d love to hear your ideas, too.

 

3 Ways to Help Teens Be Their Best Selves

I’m sure we can all relate. There are teens in your life (whether your children, students, or mentees) whom you want to see thrive. You want nothing but the best for them, and it can be discouraging when they make unwise decisions or when they perform poorly in a class, job interview, presentation, networking opportunity, or the like. Your first instinct is to wish you could have been their “inner coach.” But, then you realize that much of our personal growth comes from our disappointments and mistakes.  Experience is the best teacher of all, isn’t it?

However, since we are the ones with the life experience, it is our job as parents, teachers, and mentors to share our wisdom and lead by example. We want the teens in our lives to be their best selves in all arenas of their lives (school, relationships, sports, family, spiritual life, job, etc.), so it’s up to us to show them our best selves as well.  Here are three ways that you can help your teen be his or her best self and excel to the best of their ability.

  1. Remind them about the importance of positivity and an uplifting attitude. No one enjoys a Debbie Downer! This is especially true at job interviews and other similar networking opportunities. If your teen is looking for a last-minute summer job or hoping to nail down an internship, talk to them about the importance of positivity. Employers are much less likely to hire someone who has a negative, sullen countenance. Make a concerted effort to model this behavior yourself. When an unexpected situation arises, do a self-check and note the kind of behavior you are modeling around your teen. Positivity is not only good for our own morale, but also the morale of others. An attitude that uplifts others will benefit them not only on the job search—it will likely impact every area of their life for the better!
  2. Help them master the art of making a great first impression. As teens mature, their relational skills become that much more important. There are new friends to make, new jobs to land, new ambassadors to cultivate for their network, and perhaps interviews for college and scholarships. Today’s younger generation is far more casual than their adult counterparts, and many are flunking the test in more professional settings. The sooner they can develop an A game when meeting new people (especially adults!), the more successful they will be. Create fun role-play scenarios that involve new social settings and job interviews to help them build confidence when meeting new people. And, encourage them to view every adult they meet as potentially the most important person they’ll ever know. Trust me, they WILL stand out if they do.
  3. Don’t forget to instill an appreciation for (and the practice of) politeness. ‘Pleases’ and ‘thank-yous’ go a long way in every facet of life (job interviews, networking meetings, social settings, first dates, etc.). This is another area that we as parents and teachers can model ourselves. Do we make a conscious effort to be polite to both strangers and friends? How about within our families? Impress upon your teen that manners are essential to building a great personal brand.

 

One of the greatest assets we have to offer the teens in our lives is our wisdom and life experience. Let’s use it to their benefit by building the life skills that will help them thrive in the real world. It starts with leading by example—because our actions usually speak louder than our words!

Priceless Mentoring Conversations

mentoring

You did it! You’ve entered into one of the most important and fulfilling roles you’ll ever play. You’re a mentor. And now that you’ve signed up, you’re probably wondering, “What next?” And, then you remember all of the mentors who invested in you and how they…

  • Listened to what was on your mind and heart
  • Encouraged you every step of the way
  • Inspired you to be more than you ever imagined you could be
  • Shared real life stories to help you face difficult situations
  • Offered wisdom that you would apply in the years ahead
  • Understood you and believed in you

    These are the hallmarks of a great mentor.

If you are a new mentor, perhaps you’re asking the question, “What should we talk about?” Of course, the answer depends on the age of your mentee and whether yours is a more formal or informal mentoring relationship. If it’s a formal one, you’ll be given guidance and direction from your program leaders. Regardless, the age of your mentee will also inform your conversations…helping them navigate life NOW while sharing a glimpse of what lies ahead in the next few years. That’s different for a fourth grader than for a middle schooler or high schooler.

In our work with What I Wish I Knew at 18, we are often asked what are the most important topics to share with the younger generation, whether in the classroom, the home, or in mentoring relationships. Drawing from our recent “Leadership for a Lifetime” blog series, here are some invaluable subjects to discuss in an age-appropriate way and when the timing is right:

  1. Their uniqueness, value, and strengths. Far too many young people have an incomplete understanding of the treasure they are to this world. You can help them build their self awareness of who they are and what they have to offer. This Personal Balance Sheet exercise can help.
  2. The importance of positivity. It is said that you become the average of the five friends with whom you associate with most. Whether it’s friends, music, video games, TV, movies, or websites, surrounding yourself with positive influences is a key in life.
  3. Living with vision and intentionality. Today’s students are facing tremendous pressures, distractions, and anxiety with little margin to spare. It’s easy to become consumed with the NOW. Have them share their dreams and their goals for the next five years. Then, encourage them to make plans to turn their dreams into reality.
  4. Building a personal brand based on integrity. Brands aren’t just for businesses like Coca Cola and Starbucks! Encourage your mentees to develop a strong set of core values like integrity, work ethic, dependability, kindness, generosity, respect, teamwork, humility, and high standards of excellence. Share whom you admire the most and encourage your mentee to do the same, and you’ll open up this critical topic.
  5. The value of adversity and the power of resilience. Help them understand that adversity happens to all of us (using your own story for examples). The question is, How will we handle it? Share the personal growth you’ve gained from adversity and how those who helped you often faced similar challenges. Today’s adversity can become tomorrow’s encouragement to someone else!
  6. Time is of the essence. We’ve never faced a time when distractions were more prevalent. Help your mentees understand that time is a precious asset and should be managed accordingly.
  7. The secret formula to life. In the end, life is about how we use our time, talents, and treasure to make the world a better place. Through conversation and volunteering together, you’ll help them appreciate the formula, U>Me.
  8. Stay flexible. While you may have a lesson topic in mind, it’s important to ask whether there’s anything special they’d like to discuss. Whatever that is, that’s where you go!

We hope these suggestions lead to unforgettable conversations with you and your mentee. We salute you and wish you the very best in your mentoring relationships!

A Free Gift for the Young and Old

January is National Mentoring Month, so we at LifeSmart are focusing on all things mentoring! Why are mentors so important? Simply put, they offer wisdom and insight, friendship, encouragement, accountability, and invaluable connections for building a professional network. Mentoring relationships serve as a powerful intergenerational bridge that keeps us connected. And, all parties reap the benefits!

I was fortunate to be mentored by two pioneers in the investment consulting industry when I was a young professional, and my experience was amazing! Duncan Smith and Madelyn Smith were my heroes—successful investors and incredible people of integrity. Despite their heavy workloads, they always took the time to mentor me, and I truly believe this was the key to my career success. I was always baffled by the fact that so few of my peers sought out similar opportunities.

Ironically, years later, I filled the role that my mentors once had and I became the one who mentored the up-and-coming professionals. Again, I marveled at how few people came forward with interest in a mentor-like relationship. Whether it was from a fear of imposition or other factors, our young professionals rarely sought mentorship from their more experienced colleagues. Simply put, those who did were the ones on the fast track.

Today, the issue is still the same. I strongly believe that most of today’s young people are declining a gift that is sitting right in front of them—a mentor relationship. A mentor would likely help them not only become more knowledgeable, well-rounded people, but better employees with more know-how and gumption! Having a mentor would give them a winning competitive edge—a leg-up on the others.

By consulting with the veterans in the industry, young people can learn the job more quickly, along with the secrets to getting promoted. So, whether you (or your students or teens) are evaluating your career choices or already on the job, don’t hesitate to take full advantage of the wisdom around you. It is a free gift that you will be forever grateful you accepted. And, believe me, most experienced adults are honored to be asked!

And, if you’re an adult with the capacity to give back, I urge you to become a mentor to a younger person. Whether it’s associating with existing mentor organizations in your backyard or something more informal, your community is filled with young people who would gain from your wisdom and friendship. Trust me, you’ll receive far more in return.

If you’re a parent, one of the most valuable things you can do is to invite role model adults into your children’s lives. Who do you know that they could benefit from knowing? If I’ve done anything well as a parent (and, believe me, I have my share of warts!), it’s that I am a prolific connector on behalf of my kids. It is amazing to see the fruit that has come from the new relationships that have been formed! Believe it or not, I even gained a beautiful daughter-in-law from such an introduction!

Have you taken full advantage of mentors and wise counsel in your life? Who are they? How have they helped you in your life? Don’t forget, if you are a parent or teacher, encourage the young people in your life to pursue a mentor relationship. Few things will offer more lasting value.

12 Tips for the Getting the Most from a Mentor

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Did you know that January is National Mentoring Month? I was fortunate to be mentored by two pioneers in the investment consulting industry. Despite their many responsibilities and heavy workloads, they always took time to mentor me. I took advantage of every learning opportunity with them. I believe this was key to my career success, and I’m forever grateful to them.

Interestingly, many of my peers didn’t pursue these same mentoring opportunities. I never understood why because mentoring is the best way to accelerate learning, particularly on a career track. By consulting with veterans in your field (or even just with those who are ahead of you on the road of life), you’ll make a better career decision, learn the job more quickly, and discover the secrets to getting promoted. With the right mentor, you’ll also gain practical wisdom about life and key decisions you’ll be making. They’ll teach you from their own personal experience what worked and what didn’t. For many mentors, the opportunity to mentor gives new meaning to their past adversity and challenges.

Here are 12 tips for finding—and getting the most—from a mentor:

  • Identify the areas in your life or career you’d like to improve in the most.
  • Look for people who are doing what you want to be doing, and doing it well. Without being obnoxious, look for ways to observe them in action and get to know them, if they are open to it.
  • Ask them to honestly share their assessment of your strengths and areas for improvement. Have a mindset of being open to receiving constructive feedback.
  • Ask them for suggestions on ways to build on your strengths and correct your weaknesses.
  • Ask them to identify the most important life lessons they’ve learned.
  • Find out what qualities they admire most in other people.
  • Discuss your career plan with them and seek their advice on how to position yourself for the next step.
  • Seek to learn, not promote yourself. Don’t be a user.
  • Be prepared. If a mentor consents to meet with you or allow you to shadow him or her, read up on the subject matter ahead of time. Find out what your mentor reads (books, authors, papers, websites, blogs, etc.) and read them, too.
  • Follow up on (i.e., apply) your mentor’s suggestions and directions.
  • Show appreciation and recognition for your mentor’s influence in your life.
  • Be a value-added “mentee.” Return favors and time/energy investment in appropriate ways. What can YOU do for him or her?

Don’t hesitate to take full advantage of the wisdom that surrounds you. Mentors can be a benefit in many areas of life! Many times, a mentor can provide a fresh perspective — a new way of looking at a problem or issue. Look for a relationship in which the mentor is more a coach than an advisor — one in which he or she facilitates your decision-making process by suggesting alternatives, rather than telling you what to do. Ideally, your mentor will motivate you to do your best work—and be your best you!

LifeSmart Publishing has valuable resources for mentors, including our What I Wish I Knew at 18 book and student guide. Be sure to check out the curriculum and resource section of our website.

 

Image Credit: Stuart Miles, freedigitialphotos.net

Stress Busting Tips for Parents and Teens: Part Two

In the second part of our series on stress (check out part one here), we’ll focus on how we, as parents, can help control stress in our own lives as well as in the lives of our children. Of course, we want to be a part of the solution, not a part of the problem!

As parents, we play the leadership role in nurturing our children to be healthy, self -confident, and well-prepared future adults. That includes fostering healthy stress levels for all parties. With growing evidence that high adult stress is being passed on to our children, we’ve got a lot of work to do on ourselves!

Much can be gained by understanding our children’s stressors and how we may be contributing to the situation. Is our behavior or the way we are communicating with them stressing them out even more? To that end, here are some powerful parenting strategies to help reduce their pressure:

  1. Examine our influence. Are we tuned in to our children’s stress and whether we’re adding fuel to the fire? Do our children see us as part of the solution or part of the problem? Do we need some constructive change in our parenting?
  2. Value the child more than their performance. Several teen stressors can be attributed to overzealous, performance-focused parents with control issues. Is doing their best good enough? It should be. Our children need to know they are loved unconditionally for who they are, not what they do or how well they do.
  3. Avoid overcommitment. During the teen years, the desire for credentials can cause chronic overscheduling at the expense of sleep, exercise, and down time. Do our children have the capacity to apply their stress reducers?
  4. Alleviate decision-making pressure. Reassure them that their future will not depend on getting into a specific college or choosing a specific career. We need to let them live their dream without forcing the issue.

At the same time, we parents have our own share of stress to manage! Launching a teen into adulthood is a defining moment. It’s fraught with mixed emotions, important decisions, and, often relationship strains as they exert their independence. We marvel at how it happened so fast, inevitably with some regrets.

In our book, Parenting for the Launch: Raising Teens to Succeed in the Real World, we offer strategies to help parents cover the bases, build an enduring relationship, and position our teens (and ourselves!) for a successful transition. Here are some stress-busting tips we share:

  1. Remember, you are not responsible for their life. You’ve offered love, security, wisdom, and guidance, but you’re not in the driver’s seat forever. You’ve moved over to the passenger seat and soon will be in the back seat. They’ll make mistakes just like you did, and that’s okay! Relax a little, release your control grip, and extend yourself some grace!
  2. Focus on building relationship capital. This is a critical time to invest in your relationship, even if you don’t see immediate payoffs. The keys are showing unconditional love, mutual trust, and understanding, and affirming their worth and potential. Do more “sharing with” than “talking to.” And, have fun!
  3. Recruit positive third party voices. Parenting really is a team sport. Actively seek out great adult role models who will reinforce your messages and develop relationships with your children. It’s a total win win!
  4. Remember, your identity reaches beyond your role as parent. For many parents (especially empty nesters), the launch of a child unleashes an epic identity crisis, causing them to hold on for dear life. This is a self-confidence destroyer for our children. Yes, life will change, but it can still be great!

Sure, the teen years offer unusual challenges and stress. But, handled constructively, they will position your teen to soar and your relationship to grow in new and wonderful ways. There’s nothing like it in the world.

Parents, how do you rate when it comes to your own personal stress level? How’s your relationship with your teen during this especially high-pressure season for them? Do you have any tips to share with other parents? We’d love to hear from you!

Building Positive Relationship Capital with Teens

When my wife and I first became parents, we naïvely assumed our kids would be just like us. I always imagined that we’d have a little “mini me” (or at least a “mini we!”) running around the house. That theory went out the window as our firstborn began “revealing himself.” We had given birth to a highly energetic, creative kid with an extremely high people orientation. Coming from two very analytical, task-oriented MBA types, he was definitely unique among our gene pools! So much for “me plus she equals he!”

While it may have taken some time (which, for him may have seemed like an eternity!), we learned to understand and value his uniqueness.

Your kids may be just like you. Or, they may be completely the opposite. Both scenarios present challenges, and it’s easy to misunderstand one another and hit bumps in your relationship. That’s why it’s so important, especially in the teen years when so much is at stake, to build lots of relationship capital with our children.

Imagine a large bucket. Now, picture a stream flowing into it containing essential relationship ingredients like love, trust, respect, understanding, encouragement, fun, humor, shared experiences, and real conversations. The stronger the flow of this stream, the stronger the relationship will be with your teen. When your relationship bucket is full, you’ll gain entrance into your children’s lives, enjoy better two-way communication, understand each other better, and negotiate conflict more peacefully.

Right now you may be feeling like your relationship bucket with your teen is running on empty. If so, please don’t despair! The reality is that the “water level” in any relationship rises and falls over time.

In your relationships, which ingredients are flowing strongly and which could use some enrichment? Are there any “leaks” to repair that are causing you or your teen to shut down? If so, here are some ways to refill your relationship bucket:

-Offer to treat them to their favorite coffee shop or frozen yogurt spot. No agenda! Keep it light and let them lead the conversations. Think “share with” rather than “talk to.”

-Offer to do something with them you know they’ll enjoy, even if it’s not your favorite.

-Jot them a note mentioning something you admire or appreciate about them.

-Show interest in their world (music, entertainment, activities) and stay positive.

-Ask for their advice or opinion on something.

-Have real conversation at the dinner table. No TV, no phones.

-Avoid conversation topics that cause sparks. Stay low risk until the capital levels have been rebuilt.

By applying this relationship bucket concept, you’ll have a steadier inflow and plug those harmful leaks. In time, you will regain entrance into their world more and more. You’ll also be better positioned for an enduring relationship in the adult years.

How are your bucket levels these days?

The Gifts of Unconditional Love and Belief

Parents! Teachers! Mentors! If you have young people in your life—young people you believe in—this is crucial information for you!

Have you ever had someone believe in you more than you believed in yourself?  How did that make you feel?  It probably made you feel like you could take on the world, or tackle whatever situation you faced at the time. That’s the power of unbridled belief from others.

The famous artist Pablo Picasso claimed, “My mother always told me, ‘If you become a soldier, you’ll be a general; if you become a monk, you’ll end up as the pope.’ Instead, I became a painter and wound up as Picasso.” Many other successful people also point to their parents’ belief in them as the driving force behind their success. They believe that if their parents hadn’t been confident in them from the get-go, they wouldn’t be in the same place today.

I am precisely one of those people, and I will be forever grateful for my parents’ unconditional love and belief in me (even if I may not have always deserved it!). It helped more times than I can count.

Do your children (or other young people in your life) know beyond a shadow of a doubt that you love them unconditionally and believe in them unequivocally? Do they know that you see them as talented, worthy, and brimming with potential? Make certain they do. It is a tremendous asset for teens to be surrounded by adults who believe in them—who can affirm their uniqueness and value. That belief is an inner voice, encouraging them to dream big and persevere through life’s challenges.

Your child, mentee, or student will make his or her share of mistakes along the way (I know I sure did!).  But having the benefit of unconditional acceptance and belief from you will soften those blows and provide a safety net they can always count on.

Not so sure how to let them know you’re their biggest fan? Here are some ideas:

-Be upfront. Whether it’s at a meal, during a tutoring session, or after a class, be willing to open up. Tell them that you believe in them (and why) and that you’re bullish about their future. Call out some of their greatest assets and character traits.

-Write them a letter or note. Stick a note in their lunchbox, or if you’re a teacher, consider putting a sticky note on one of their assignments. Knowing you went to the effort to do that will speak volumes to them!

-Be generous with your time. What says “I believe in you” more than carving out time in your busy schedule?

-Speak from experience. Share your own downfalls, your mistakes, and your past life experiences. A little perspective from a “pro” can boost their confidence and build trust!

We can be the cheering squad that calls out the strengths and affirms the dreams and potential of the young people in our lives. It’ll let them know that if they were a stock, you’d be a buyer! And, the best part of all? Your belief will breed their belief.

Who could benefit from your gift of affirmation and belief today?

Building a Rock-Solid Foundation for Our Teens: One Community’s Response

How do we set our teens on a pathway to their destiny—to help them fulfill their dreams and purpose?

It’s a fundamental question for their future—and our future—and the answer is multi-faceted. But, for now, I’d like to focus on one of the most vitally important prerequisites—a healthy and solid support system.

Research experts such as Dr. Chap Clark conclude that every adolescent needs at least five loving, trusted adults in his/her life to develop the emotional health, stability, and self confidence to succeed in adulthood. While other factors such as education, skills, and opportunities also matter, relationships with adult role models are key.

The reasons are many. Adults who have strong relationships with teens can offer love, friendship, support, affirmation, life wisdom, advice, and essential network connections. They’re tremendous assets to our children and invaluable third party voices for parents. Speaking personally, it’s been a major parenting priority for us, and our children have benefitted immeasurably from their relationships with many adult friends.

It’s great to see that some visionaries and communities are taking a proactive stance to connect our youth to caring, adult mentors. One such community is nearby University Place, Washington where community leaders of Project 5:1 recently brought speakers and resources to area parents, educators, mentors, service organizations, and the faith community at a weekend conference. Illustrating the broad-based support for this initiative, the conference was sponsored by numerous businesses; service, parent, mentor, and school organizations; non-profits; and churches. Feedback was overwhelmingly positive.

Local media supported the event as well, an indication of the compelling need for supporting our youth. As shown in the following news segment at King 5 TV in Seattle, I was honored to serve as a workshop leader on my topic, “Relationship Building Strategies to Help Teens Soar.” http://www.king5.com/story/news/local/2014/11/15/project-51-event-helps-parents-connect-with-teens/19110123/

In my talk, I shared four relationship keys with teens: 1) valuing their uniqueness, 2) affirming their worth, value, and potential, 3) communicating to build relationship capital, and 4) recruiting positive third party voices (the 5:1 concept being a perfect example). It was encouraging to see how many people are committed to building strong relationships with teens!

If you would like more information about the event, the movement, or my talk, please contact me via www.dennistrittin.com or check out www.projectfiveone.com.

In this season of gift giving, it’s hard to think of a more meaningful gift than an investment in the lives our children.