Prep for Success: Helping Teens Develop Leadership Skills
One habit many successful leaders and visionaries have in common is that they start every day with the same morning routine. What they do isn’t as important as the simple act of repetition to start the day right.
For all parents— but those of teenagers especially— we want to help our children establish these types of habits and traits sooner than later. Take a moment to think about what those look like currently. What is your teen’s morning routine like? Do they wake themselves? Leave the house with homework, books, everything they’ll need for the day?
Starting the day on time and prepared requires organization and time management. Holistically speaking, they are two of many executive function skills that play an integral role in building habits associated with success in adulthood. Time management, self-advocacy, communication, self-reflection, the ability to respond appropriately to others, and effectively applying feedback can change the trajectory of career or life goals.
How can we help our teens gain these skills? Begin by helping teens recognize their strengths and face their weaknesses. We have to teach our teens that it is a strength in itself to be able to face up to the areas we need to work on. While some leadership skills are inherent to a person’s personality, others are teachable. Hone those that are natural, then teach the teachable skills.
Time Management and Organization. Everything goes better if you start with a plan. Encourage your teen to find a planning method that works for them: a paper planner, an app, a wall calendar, a daily to-do list, or some combination. Keep in mind that what works for one teen may not be the best option for another. Once they’ve chosen a method, help them make using it a habit. It will probably take your teen some time to get used to writing down everything, but don’t let them give up. Encourage your teen to include not only the scheduled events of the day but also study time, down time and even time with friends. Remind them to look ahead and plan specific times to work on larger assignments due in the future, like research papers and projects.
Communication. Teens need to learn to express themselves clearly and confidently, in both oral and written communication. They must also learn to listen carefully and pay attention to body language and social cues. Being able to speak publicly is a great skill, but remember that our children are the generation of text and social media as primary communication methods. Teens need to become comfortable having verbal conversations and interacting with people they do not know well, perhaps even in a setting that is unfamiliar. Emphasize the importance of sharing a conversation so they do not talk more than they listen.
Self-advocacy. Perhaps one of the hardest things for parents is to step back and allow our children to face issues on their own. However, it is one of the most important things parents can do for their teenage children. Teens must learn to clearly express their needs. They must be able to ask for help or approach another person to discuss a concern. Role playing confrontational situations or circumstances that cause discomfort is a great way to provide a safe space to practice how they would react in a real life. Share your own experiences to help your teen see that you have felt the way they feel and it is a normal skill set to build. If your child does not respond well to validation through your experiences or you are not comfortable sharing, find a similar circumstance in a familiar television show or movie to help illustrate effective ways to self-advocate.
Responding to Feedback. Harvard Business School lists “accepting and acting on feedback” as a “must-have” skill. It’s also one of the hardest skills to be comfortable with, no matter your age. We can help our teens learn how to to respond appropriately to and effectively apply feedback by encouraging them focus on the outcome. Emphasize that improvement will likely follow when critiques and suggestions are implemented. Even the most seasoned professional seeks feedback in their work or performance, so it is important to make this a habit early on. Another aspect in this area that is often overlooked is the ability to disseminate feedback. Teens should be able to assess the feedback and analyze how it should be implemented, similar to the educational model of learn and apply to demonstrate understanding.
An Online K-12 Academic Plan Based on Needs and Skills. Laurel Springs School embraces a thoughtfully designed course schedule on an individual level. For Upper School (9-12) students, this takes into consideration post-secondary goals, including a catalog of courses approved by the NCAA Division I and II, and University of California A-G enrollment. For all Laurel Springs School K-12 students, an academic plan begins with Admissions Coordinators and Placement Counselors helping set their students up for academic success. Once enrolled, students’ academic progress is monitored and this helps guide future course enrollment.
Ready to start your online learning journey? Connect with us via our website to learn more about the fully accredited K-12 and postgraduate online enrollment and course offerings that may be the perfect fit for your family.