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How to Get Your Troubled Teen Back on Track

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TEENAGERS
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Ken Rabow on Our Kids

Why are so many young people willing to self-sabotage every aspect of their potential future? Not participating in class, not doing the required studying, staying up late, sleeping most of the day away and missing more and more school. For quite a few, video gaming and/or substance abuse is another big factor. The most frustrating part of this is that these same people are very often gifted in some way and yet here they are... off the tracks.

Many young people today are able to thrive or at least get by in a nuclear or single parent family, learning from their caregivers and finding other elders to learn from at school, sports, dance, music, etc. These young people grow through the ritual of daily tasks of homework, tests and projects. Graduation becomes their rite of passage. But what if your child does not connect to such a system?

You've tried it all -- traditional therapy, behavioural therapy, conditioned response, pharmaceuticals, begging, pleading, tough love -- and some of it worked for a while and some didn't work at all.

It may seem hopeless sometimes, feeling that your child will never grow up and take responsibility, but it has been my experience that some alternative approaches can make a world of difference. Once your child goes beyond their regular world filled with all the trappings that keep him/her where they are and finds a support system with a non-judgemental mentor/life coach on their side and open to thinking "outside the box," that child will become motivated to start the process of getting back on track.

Four ways to create success for your teen.

1. Find a mentor to work with your child, someone not from the immediate family, preferably at their office, on Skype or the phone, and have the mentor ask the student these pertinent questions:

a) Are you happy with how things are going in your life?
b) Do you see your present way of being as a viable long-term strategy?
c) If you could be doing anything with your life, what interests would you wish to take on?

2. The mentor and the student can put together a daily routine based on the student's interests (e.g. meditation, yoga, tai chi, weight lifting, biking, jogging, playing an instrument, singing, or reading) -- basically all the things we were told that have no real financial benefit. Start with two 20-minute routines to be attempted five to six days a week, slowly building up to as many routines that the student feels they can comfortably handle. (Five is a good final number.) Make a weekly worksheet that divides the tasks into columns with room for the student to write the duration of each daily exercise (0-20). The goal of these exercises is to empower the student. These exercises are self-motivated without help from the family.

3. Hold bi-weekly meetings discussing progress, looking at existing obstacles and exploring solutions to these obstacles in a non-judgemental way.

4. During these sessions the mentor asks, 
"If you could do anything at all with your life, without concern of how you would make it happen, what would you choose?"

With this answered (this can take some time), the mentor and the student can go about finding ways to put their toes into the pond of these life purpose quests. It could be a 12-week workshop, a college class, a volunteer position or starting a small business. This time is used to help the student bring his/her "daily work" training into these new situations and enhance his successful patterns accordingly. I have heard many young people come to me stating that up until this time in their lives, their home has been their box of safety and joy, which they find wonderful and yet limiting... not a good long-term strategy.

With this mentoring system, an important goal is to help these newly empowered youths create the tools they need to feel safe going out into the world successfully. Create mini-boxes of safety for them to thrive in, places where they can learn to be self-empowered. Without exception, students who go through the entire process choose self-empowerment over self-sabotage. They not only succeed but most often become examples of leadership in their chosen vocation.

Help your child find his/her inspiration and get on track for a successful life.

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