How To Help Your Child Overcome Their Fear of Failure

How To Help Your Child Overcome Their Fear of Failure

We want our kids to confidently take part in activities that bring them joy and make them an interesting person, but some kids get so paralyzed by the fear of failure that they avoid participating in activities that could bring them happiness.

Lately, I’ve seen too many kids in my private practice that are avoiding life because they are so afraid of the feeling of failure. Luckily, I’ve had some pretty good success with a technique that I call the Stepping Stone Method.

By using the Stepping Stone Method, kids are able to develop their Mastery skills, which is an important element of the Self-Motivation Success Formula that I believe produces happy and successful kids.

Before I give you the step-by-step plan on how to use The Stepping Stone Method, I think you should understand how Mastery Mindset is related to the fear of failure.


The Connection Between a Mastery Mindset and Fear of Failure


If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, then you know that Mastery is one of the key principles to The Self-Motivation Success Formula and that I promote parenting that encourages a mastery mindset.

As a review, Mastery is the drive to participate in an activity – and to improve the performance in this task – simply because we enjoy performing the activity. Kids who have a mastery mindset persevere longer when the task gets difficult, need less outside encouragement from parents to engage in the activity, and derive much more intrinsic rewards from the task.

Kids with a Mastery Mindset aren’t as affected by failure as kids without a Mastery Mindset because they generally view mistakes and failures as learning opportunities. These kids believe that the goal of participating in an activity is to improve on their skills in this activity over time.

It’s important for kids to learn a mastery mindset now because this mindset will help them be happier and more successful as adults. Kids with a mastery mindset mature into adults who seek out careers, hobbies, and relationships for the intrinsic value – and not for baseless, showy reasons.

I’ve pointed out before how important it is for your child to participate in a hobby because it leads to so many great things such as higher self-esteem and increased social interactions, but if your child refuses to participate in a hobby (or any other activity) because they fear failing, then what do you do?

That’s where the Stepping Stone Technique comes in.


The Stepping Stone Technique


The Stepping Stone technique will teach your child not only how to develop mastery in a task, but also how to tolerate failure.

The philosophy of the Stepping Stone Technique is that any kind of mastery is a process that includes multiple steps – and some of these steps just can’t be skipped. Kids who have a fear of failure tend to focus only on the imagined BIG OUTCOME of the task and not on current step – or very next step.

For example, I had a client several years ago who refused to participate in any kind of activity where she wasn’t absolutely sure it would result in a success for her.

If she didn’t think she would win the spelling bee, she would purposefully mess up on her first try.

If she didn’t think she would be as good as the other kids in a dance class, she would refuse to even enter the dance studio building.

And despite having a natural talent for singing, she put up a huge fuss when her parents talked to her about  joining the Church youth choir because she envisioned that the whole Church body would make fun of her for her terrible voice (which was untrue – she had a wonderful voice).

Then I taught this client’s parents the Stepping Stone Method and they put it to use right away. Because their daughter had a natural talent and enjoyment for singing, they encouraged her (ok – they bribed her with allowing her to use the family car on the weekends) to consistently attend choirs practice and to participate in all choir performances for the next 3 months.

And after the 3 months, this client was able to overcome her fear of failure. Not only did she thoroughly enjoy singing in the youth choir, but she also became more courageous about trying other activities and tasks as well.

So how did this client have such a huge transformation in such a short amount of time? Let me take you step by step through The Stepping Stone Method.


The Steps:

(Step 1) Start Small. I’ve seen all too many times that when parents start to work with their kids on changing their behavior, they want to begin big, but in reality, it’s best to start small. So, when beginning The Stepping Stone Method, choose one small thing you would like your child to try and focus ONLY on that.

(BONUS TIP: This step works especially well when the activity or task you want them to try is something that they already have an interest in or they are naturally talented at it.)

In the case of the example from above, my client’s parents chose to focus on encouraging my client to join the youth choir because she had a natural interest in singing and had a natural talent for it.

Scientific research tells us that long-term behavior change is more likely to happen when we start small and experience a quick win. Experiencing a quick win allows the child to begin filling their confidence tank, which allows them to have the confidence to try the next scary thing.


(Step 2) Focus Only on The Current Step. Like I mentioned before, many kids with a fear of failure often focus on the ultimate goal – being the winner or the best at the activity – and this paralyzes them from participating in the activity in the current moment.

When this happens, encourage your child to only focus only on completing the current step to the best of their ability.

In the example from above, my teenage client started having an anxiety attack right as her mother reminded her that it was time to go to the first practice. My client told her mother that everyone would laugh at her when she performed with the choir in church and that they would say bad things about her behind her back.

Because I had prepared my client’s mom for this, she stayed calm while her daughter spoke about her anxiety, she didn’t judge her daughter or shame her for feeling these things, and gently reminded her that all she had to do today was to get in the car, get to the Church, and go into the choir room and participate with her friends.

This worked, and my client was still nervous on the way to the Church, but she was able to get through the whole hour of practice successfully.

When my client’s mother asked her how practice went, she replied, “It wasn’t bad like I thought it would be. It was fun.”

My client’s mother repeated this strategy for the next several choir practices and for the next several performances. After about a month, my client didn’t need this encouragement from her mother anymore because she had experienced a month of small wins and she was able to gain enough confidence and experience to know that participating in the youth choir was actually a fun activity.


(Step 3) Focus Only On Intrinsic Rewards, Not on Extrinsic Ones. It super important when using The Stepping Stone Method that you reinforce the intrinsic rewards gained from completing this current step, rather than the extrinsic rewards.

Just as a reminder, intrinsic rewards are those rewards we get that speaks to our inner happiness. The enjoyment we get when working on a task, the pride we get from completing it, or the happiness that our work brings to others are good examples of intrinsic rewards.

Scientific research tells us that people who are successful and happy tend to be driven by internal rewards. People who are internally driven to perform tasks also score higher on scales of perseverance and creativity.

On the other hand, extrinsic rewards are those tangible rewards that we get after performing a task. Examples of extrinsic rewards are earning a paycheck or allowance or getting a bribe for doing a household chore.

Reminding your child of the intrinsic rewards for overcoming a fearful task sets them up for overcoming this fear for other tasks as well. This worked well with the teenage client from our example. When my client’s mother picked my client up after each choir practice, she simply stated to her daughter, “You did it – you must feel great!”

She didn’t say, “See? I told her it wasn’t so bad,” or “I knew you would have fun,” or “I don’t know why you put up such a fuss when it wasn’t that big of a deal.”

I had coached my client’s mother to simply reflect how my client might feel after completing a successful task on her long journey of being a youth choir member. I also reminded her not to be offended if her daughter denied it – just hearing this statement spoken very calmly was very healing for the daughter.


(Step 4) Make Failures/Mistakes a Non-Issue. Kids who fear failure need to reframe how they think about failure. Instead of thinking that failure is a final statement of their abilities or worth as a person, they need to understand that mistakes or failures are just learning opportunities.

I’ve written in the past about how teaching our kids to take smart risks that include learning from failures sets them up for a successful future. If you think about it, every successful person has experienced failures, mistakes, or set, but they did not let these negative events stop them from pursuing their task. Perseverance in spite of failures is what defines successful people.

In order for this step to really make a difference for your child, though, you need to come to terms with how YOU feel about mistakes and failures:

  • Does it embarrass you when your child messes up?
  • Do you feel like your parenting is being judged when your child makes mistakes?
  • Do you unfairly believe that your child’s mistakes are due to their permanent personalities (and cannot be changed)?

If you are as uncomfortable by your child’s mistakes/failures as they are, then you might be unknowingly contributing to their belief that mistakes/failures are horrible experiences that cannot be overcome.  


(Step 5) Turn Negative Self-Talk Into Positive Statements. Finally, the last step is equipping your child with the ability on how to turn negative self-talk into positive encouragements.

It’s natural that we sometimes have some negative self-talk, but the faster we can turn that negative self-talk around, the more likely we are to persevere through tough times.

This worked well for my client on the path to participating on her youth choir. When my client spoke about some of her negative self-talk, her mother helped her see the situation in a more positive light. For example, when my client told her mother that the Church members would say bad things about her behind her back about her singing, her mother reminded her that they might say something nice about her like, “I didn’t know CLIENT could sing so well,” or “I’m so glad to see CLIENT with the other kids singing.”

This is definitely a skill that many kids with low self-esteem or fear of failure need to master. For more on learning how to help your child turn negative thoughts into positive ones, check out this previous article.

If you teach this skill to your child now while they are young, then they will be able to tackle any challenge when they are adults.


Take Home Message


I’ve seen way too many kids stop participating i life simply because they are afraid to fail. It hurts my heart every time I talk to a child with this challenge, but I have seen so many kids enjoy life again once they have learned to take scary tasks one step at a time.

My client who started out tackling their fear by participating in the youth choir is in college and is able to start new tasks and be part of new experiences all on her own. It took some work by her parents and some therapy from me, but she was finally able to take on her own confidence about life.

Once she gained confidence from being in the youth choir, she was able to utilize her stronger “courage muscle” by trying new experiences – and then gaining even more confidence after experiencing even more successes. When she failed, or a situation didn’t go as planned, she now had the skill to realize that these were learning experiences, and she was able to turn her negative thoughts into positive ones.

It might not happen overnight, but your child can have this same transformation too by using The Stepping Stone Technique.

Before leaving today, be sure to download the worksheet about how to turn negative thoughts into positive ones. By going through this exercise on this worksheet, you’ll be better able to help your child in the moment when they need some positive thinking!




Are You Using The 3 Important Elements That All Successful Modern Parent Use Religiously?

To Find Out, Download The Free Guide ==>

The Modern Parenting Blueprint: The 3 Elements That All Successful Modern Parents Use Religiously

The Easiest and Fastest Way to Change Your Child’s Behavior (Based on Scientific Research)

The Easiest and Fastest Way to Change Your Child’s Behavior (Based on Scientific Research)

Do you know that behavior change is a natural process? That many kids and adults undergo difficult behavior changes all the time – with no intervention at all? How do they do it?

Many teenagers are able to stop being lazy and begin hitting the books in order to get good grades all on their own – they don’t need a parent nagging them to study.

It is well documented that many adults stop drinking or doing drugs without the help of counseling or a 12-step group. These are the people that seem to “quit overnight”.

I’m sure you can think of a moment when you, or someone you know, had an “a-ha!” moment that caused you to live life differently. Many people report that near-death experiences have caused them to live their lives a whole new way after dodging an early death.

My point is that many Modern Parents that I speak to are struggling with figuring out how to get their child to change in some way – to get better grades, to be more sociable with their peers, to behave better, to stop feeling so bad about themselves, etc – but nothing they do seems to work.

This article is all about how science is beginning to show that behavior change is actually a natural process that is innate in all of our kids, and Modern Parents can either sabotage this change process or subtly encourage it to begin – and succeed.

First, I’ll point out several errors in the way that many Modern Parents think that could be harming their child’s natural tendency to change. Next, I’ll go more in-depth and explain why some kids are able to make positive changes without intense involvement by a parent, teacher, or expert. And finally, I’ll give you specific tips on what you can do to speed up and influence your child’s natural ability to make a behavior change that will positively impact their life.

My overall goal with this article is to teach you how to help your child make an important behavior change, while also encouraging a strong parent-child relationship. This article will help you stop being a nagging, overbearing parent, and, instead, will show you how to be a subtle (yet encouraging) participant in your child’s natural change process.

Errors In The Way We Currently Think About Behavior Change

There are many reasons explaining why kids decide to change their behavior that are currently accepted as fact today. Here is a sample of some common reasons that I hear all the time:

  • Kids only change when they get uncomfortable enough
  • The more you pressure kids, the more likely they will change
  • Kids just don’t understand why they need to change, so the more you lecture them, the more likely they will change because eventually they’ll “get it”
  • Kids haven’t changed yet because they haven’t suffered enough or encountered “real life” enough
  • Kids don’t change because they’ve got it too good in these modern times, so parents need to “get back to the basics”

The problem with the above statements is that they presume that change happens TO our kids, but in reality, change is something in which they MUST be an active participant.

As a child psychologist, I’ve found that the biggest mistake parents make when trying to enforce a behavior change in their child is that they think THEY are in control of their child’s change. These parents just think that if they make their child feel bad or embarrassed enough (aka the parent who destroys their child’s belongings and then posts the video on the internet), or hand out the right amount of punishment, or give their child the right lecture, then their child will finally give in and  change.

Forcing your child to change just doesn’t work – especially in the long-run.

I’ve written before about how forcing the child to change has a tendency to backfire . Research on motivation  has shown that when parents force change, kids act in either one of two destructive ways: they either become defiant or compliant. Both of these reactions have been shown to have some short-term change effects (the child will change in order to gain a reward, avoid a punishment, or go back to their desired behavior once the parent isn’t looking) – but our goal is to inspire long-term positive behavior change.

So if we’re not in control of our child’s ability to change their behavior, then what can we do? Just wait around until they change?

Absolutely not! We CAN be an active partner in our child’s natural ability to make positive, long-term changes.

New Understanding of Behavior Change

Behavior change is actually a natural process. As I said before, many people change bad or destructive behaviors without any kind of help at all.

There is even research to suggest that people who seek therapy to get help changing a destructive behavior – such as overeating or smoking – eventually improve , but not because of the therapy. There are decades and decades of studies that have investigated the effectiveness of therapy on behavior change. Study after study has shown that the same amount of people undergo behavior change whether or not they entered treatment, read self-help books, or didn’t do anything special at all.

Simply put: if people want to change, then they change.

The most interesting trend that these studies discovered, however, is that clients who sought therapy tended to have a higher rate of behavior change if their therapist displayed confidence in the client’s ability to change., These  therapists promoted change talk (as opposed to focusing on all the reasons why it would be hard or difficult to change). When clients worked with therapists who secretly predicted their clients wouldn’t actually follow through on the behavior change and/or spent a lot of time in therapy talking about the difficulties of the behavior change, then these clients tended to not follow through on the desired behavior change.

Another important trend that scientific research has identified is that kids change when they connect the reason behind the change to an internal reason, such as completing a important personal goal, making loved ones proud of them, or because they believe it’s the right thing to do.

I’ve written several in-depth articles before about the importance of intrinsic motivation and its impact on motivation, so it makes sense that this psychological ingredient is necessary for long term, positive behavior change.

Finally, research has also identified that behavior change is an interpersonal process – kids often become motivated to change (or not) through their day-to-day interaction with others.

For example, a young, shy child might want to join a dance class, and overcomes their fear to join the class when encouraged by a positive adult. On the other hand, this same child might give up on the idea of joining the dance class if influenced by a discouraging adult.

As you can see, while Modern Parents might not be in control of their child’s behavior change, they certainly can act in ways that influence their behavior change for the better or worse. But before I share specific tips with you on how to influence your child’s natural ability to change their behavior, you have to understand the important elements that must be present for behavior change to begin.

Elements of change

The three elements that I am about to share with you are all adopted from the psychological treatment model called Motivational Interviewing (MI). The MI method has been shown to be effective with helping people resolve ambivalent feelings about change in order to find the internal motivation they need to change their behavior.

According to this theory, kids need 3 elements in order to be ready for any kind of behavior change: willing, able and ready.


It should make sense that a child who is not willing to undergo the difficulty of behavior change most likely will not change.

Part of willingness is an internal understanding of the importance of the behavior change. For example, a child who doesn’t understand the long-term rewards of putting down the video game controller in order to study for a test, won’t be motivated to go through the hard work of behavior change.

As such, if your child isn’t willing to change, then they won’t change.


Let’s say that your child is willing to put the work into undergoing a behavior change – but do they have the skills and knowledge to make the behavior change? Do they believe that they are capable of being successful with the behavior change?

Self-confidence, or the belief that one is able to accomplish a goal, is important when undergoing behavior change. If your child doesn’t believe that they can carry out the steps needed to accomplish the behavior change, then they are likely to quit very quickly when things get tough.


Many kids are willing to change and have confidence in their abilities to change, but they just aren’t ready to follow through on the change. They have different priorities for their motivation and energy.

A lot of times, our kids are plagued with the idea that they have plenty of time for procrastination. They erroneously think that they can put off studying for the current test because there are lots of tests to study for in the future. Or they keep telling themselves that they’ll stop playing so many video games tomorrow, but today they’ll continue playing.

If your child does not prioritize the importance of the behavior change, then they will not be successful with changing their behavior.

So the 3 elements of change – willing, able, and ready – must be present in order for your child’s behavior change to be successful, and the Modern Parent is a big influence on encouraging these elements to develop in the child.


How To Influence Behavior Change

Create a Self-Fulfilling Prophecy

Research shows that when people believe they can change, then change is more likely to occur. Furthermore, when other people in your child’s life believe that they can change, then they have more of a tendency to be successful with behavior change.

This is called the Self-fulfilling Prophecy. To put it simply, a self-fulfilling prophecy is a prediction that directly or indirectly causes itself to become true, due to the positive feedback between belief and behavior.

For example, teacher expectations regarding student performance has long been shown to be a big predictor of student grades. The students that the teacher believes to be smart, tend to get better overall grades. These studies have also shown that teachers tend to spend more one-on-one time with students that they believe are smart, which gives these students an advantage towards getting better grades. This is the self-fulfilling prophecy in action.

You can create your own self-fulfilling prophecy with your child’s behavior change by acting in a way that communicates that you believe they will be successful in their behavior change goal. You need to be consistent with this confidence as well – even when they stumble with their goal (which is inevitable).

Communicate Your Confidence

Today’s kids are suffering from more self-esteem problems that ever before, which eats away at their confidence when they must undergo behavior change. (There are a multitude of opinions on why today’s kids are more prone to self-esteem issues, but I won’t delve into that in this article).

Most kids gain confidence as they mature, but Modern Parents can speed up a child’s confidence for behavior change by adopting a consistent attitude that communicates belief in the child’s ability to successfully change.

The key word here is consistent. As your child begins the path to behavior change, they WILL stumble. It is more important than ever for you to communicate belief in the child during these setbacks.

Communicating your confidence to your child can be done in many different ways:

  • Not overreacting when your child messes up; instead project a calm confidence in your child while they continue going down the path of behavior change
  • Avoiding the knee-jerk reaction of stepping in to “rescue” your child; it is better for your child in the long run to allow them to struggle with finding their own solution
  • By praising the small steps on the path to behavior change – success is success
  • When talking about their future behavior change, phrase the conversation as if you have no doubt they will succeed (i.e. instead of “hopefully all this extra studying will get that grade up by the end of the year,” instead say “you’ll be so happy when all this extra studying pays off with that awesome grade at the end of the year”)

Our Modern Kids are very smart and they can pick up on subtle intonations and phrases that might hint that you do or don’t believe that they’ll be successful in their behavior change. Throw yourself wholeheartedly into your belief that your child will be a success.

What’s the worst that can happen?

Focus on Arguments FOR Change

Evidence shows that that how someone talks about change heavily influences whether or not they will change.

For example, research has shown that clients who speak about their intended behavior change in therapy are more likely to make the change if they talk positively about it; conversely, clients who spend time discussing the many reasons why they shouldn’t change, generally don’t.

Therefore, when talking with your child about changing their behavior, focus on the positives of the behavior change – things like how they will feel after making the change, what positive effects will come about due to the change, etc.

It’s far too easy for kids (and parents) to get bogged down in all of the reasons why making the behavior change might not work, and doing so makes it more likely that your child will fail with the intended change.

A very powerful way of getting your child to speak positively about their intended behavior change is to challenge them to make arguments FOR the change. For example, many kids have a tendency to tell you all about the reasons why making the change will be difficult, hard, or not worth it, but, instead, have them speak about why making the change will be good for them in the long run.

The following are some helpful questions to elicit positive change talk in your child:

  • “I’ve heard lots of reasons why changing will be hard, but what are some reasons why changing would be good for you in the long run?”
  • “How would you feel about yourself if you did make the change?”
  • “If your friend wanted to make this change, what are some reasons you would give them to help them decide to change?”
  • “What’s the worst thing that could happen if you made the change? Would it be better or worse than the reward you would earn for making the change?”

There are lots of ways to encourage your child to focus on the positive aspects of making a behavior change – be creative and keep on trying. This simple change in your behavior might be all that is needed for your child to make an important change in their behavior.

The Take Home Message

One of the biggest frustrations for the Modern Parent is knowing that their child needs to make a behavior change in some way, but not knowing how to effectively help their child make this change.

Current scientific research shows us that most people can make behavior changes on their own, without intrusive interventions from parents, teachers, or other professionals. If given enough time, kids eventually will make positive behavior changes all on their own.

The question, then, is this: How do we speed up this natural tendency for change that resides in our kids?

We can do this by realizing that our kids need to be willing, ready, and able to change. These three elements MUST be addressed before change is possible.

In addition, the parent can indirectly influence their child’s willingness to change by focusing on their own communication style with their child: they must create positive self-fulfilling prophecies, communicate confidence, and focus on arguments for change.

If you accept that your child has everything they need right inside of them to change, and all you need to do as a parent is to create an encouraging environment for the change process, then your child will likely make the desired behavior change faster than you thought possible.



Are You Using The 3 Important Elements That All Successful Modern Parent Use Religiously?

To Find Out, Download The Free Guide ==>

The Modern Parenting Blueprint: The 3 Elements That All Successful Modern Parents Use Religiously

Why Your Child Craves Sweets When They’re Using Their Willpower Muscle (And What To Feed Them Instead of Sweets For Maximum Performance)

Why Your Child Craves Sweets When They’re Using Their Willpower Muscle (And What To Feed Them Instead of Sweets For Maximum Performance)

Ever notice how your child will crave sweet snacks during situations that require lots of self-control?

Maybe your child has been known to ask for a cookie during homework time or candy when trying to get through a long, boring reading assignment?

According to science, there’s something called the brain-glucose link that causes your child to crave sweets – just as they are revving up their willpower muscle into high gear.

This article will explain the connection between your child’s willpower (aka self-control, grit, perseverance) and sweet snacks. In order for your child’s willpower muscle to continue chugging along in high gear, it needs some sort of fuel, but you don’t necessarily need to give your child sweets. I’ll also update you on some healthy alternatives so your child’s willpower can function effectively AND they stay healthy.

The Brain-Glucose Link

Recently, a pair of scientists wanted to investigate the link between glucose (a simple sugar that is an important energy source in living organisms and is a component of many carbohydrates) and willpower in kids. To do this, researchers asked the children in an elementary school to skip breakfast one morning. When they came to school, half of the kids were given a healthy breakfast and half were given nothing at all to eat.

As you can probably guess, at measurement point #1, the kids that ate breakfast retained more of the information taught that morning and were rated by their teachers to have behaved better than the kids that didn’t get any breakfast.

The kids that didn’t have any breakfast that morning had denied their willpower muscle of precious nutrients, which was the reason why they didn’t have enough self-control to pay attention in class and to control their impulsive behaviors when needed.

At this point in the morning, the researchers gave all the kids a surgery snack. After a few more hours, at measurement point #2, can you guess which group performed better? Actually, both groups performed about the same – the differences noticed in the morning seemed to have disappeared entirely – simply because all the kids had enough fuel for their willpower muscles to function properly!

This is just one of many experiments conducted over the past several decades that shows a connection between glucose levels and willpower. Todd Heatherton, a noted social neuroscientist, explains the biological activity that goes on in the brain during the glucose-willpower situation:

“Apparently ego depletion shifts activity from one part of the brain to the other. Your brain does not stop working when glucose is low. It stops doing some things and starts doing others. That may help explain why depleted people feel things more intensely than normal: Certain parts of the brain go into high gear just as others taper off.

As the body uses glucose during self-control, it starts to crave sweet things to eat – which is bad news for people hoping to use their self-control to avoid sweets. When people have more demands for self-control in their daily lives, their hunger for sweets increases. It’s not a simple matter of wanting food more – they seem to be specifically hungry for sweets.”

Our bodies tend to crave sugary sweets when glucose levels are low because this is the fastest source to raising glucose levels. In research labs, it’s very common for researchers looking to quickly increase glucose levels to give their participants surgery drinks.

Willpower researchers are fond of giving sweet treats to participants because it meets the goal of the experiment, but what is the best way to increase glucose on an everyday basis for our kids?

Sugar Works In The Lab – Not In Your Child’s Diet

Not only have experiments shown that sugar provides a quick glucose hit that serves to increase willpower rapidly in the lab, but these experiments have also demonstrated that this sugar high is very fleeting.

A soda or candy bar might give your child the needed boost required to get through the last 15 minutes of writing a book report or piano practice, but they’ll quickly experience a willpower “crash” as soon as the glucose gets depleted again.

The best way to keep your child’s willpower muscle functioning at peak performance long-term is to keep your child’s glucose levels at a steady level throughout the day using healthy foods, not sugar.

The body converts just about all sorts of food into glucose – but at different rates. Foods that are converted quickly are said to have a high glycemic index. These types of foods include starchy carbohydrates like white bread, potatoes, white rice – basically, just about every easy-to-grab snack item.

On the other hand, foods with a lower glycemic index help maintain steady glucose levels – and steady willpower functioning. Fruits, vegetables, nuts, cheese, fish, meat, olive oil, and other “good fats” are foods that associated with a lower glycemic index and are better for your kids in the long run.

Getting your child into the habit of eating healthy meals and snacks at regular intervals throughout the day enables them to take control of their willpower – and talk to them about the important connection between what they’re eating and their willpower muscle. Teach them that if they want to play their best during their baseball game or perform at peak performance during the marching band competition, then they will need to pay attention to refueling their willpower muscle with healthy foods.

Note: There might be times you want to quickly boost your child’s willpower using sugar, but this tactic should be used only for emergencies. For example, providing a quick boost of energy before an important math test or track meet might be the exception to the rule.

Take Home Message

Part of teaching your child to be autonomous – or to take control of their own decision-making – is to teach them that they are also in control of their own willpower.

We want our kids to dream big and make big goals for themselves, and the only way they will achieve these goals is by maintaining their willpower muscle. Their goals are attainable by achieving small steps along the way, and the only way they will have the self-control needed to focus on these small goals is by using their willpower muscle appropriately.



Are You Using The 3 Important Elements That All Successful Modern Parent Use Religiously?

To Find Out, Download The Free Guide ==>

The Modern Parenting Blueprint: The 3 Elements That All Successful Modern Parents Use Religiously

All You Need To Know About Willpower (And It’s Enemy, Resistance)

All You Need To Know About Willpower (And It’s Enemy, Resistance)

Click here to subscribe

Willpower. Self-control. Grit. Perseverance.

These concepts all pretty much mean the same thing. They all refer to the skill that our kids need to rely on when they need to complete an unfavorable task in the present in order to gain a big reward in their future.

Our kids need willpower (or self-control, or grit, or persistence – I’m going to refer to this global concept simply as willpower throughout this article) to help them complete a variety of tasks. Willpower is what allows them to study when they would rather play video games.

It’s the skill that enables them to master extra curricular activities such as instruments, sports, and the arts when they get frustrated and want to give up.

Willpower is the engine that drives our kids to complete household chores even though they don’t understand now that learning these important life skills makes them a more competent young adult later.

Our kids are also going to need willpower skills for important adults responsibilities too. It takes willpower to put in the time and effort needed to grow a career. Willpower is also an important element needed to remain in romantic and peer relationships when they become difficult.

Willpower is a skill that not a lot of our kids are born with, but I want to reassure you that it’s a skill that can be TAUGHT. Your child can learn to stick with an unpleasant task like homework, chores, or extracurricular activities long enough to make a positive impact to their future.

There is an abundance of scientific research conducted over the past several decades that shows us that willpower acts less like a finite skill (you have it at birth, or you don’t) and more like a psychological muscle that can be strengthened with practice.

The Science Behind Willpower as a Muscle – The Marshmallow Experiment

First of all, science tells us that willpower predicts academic performance WAY more robustly than IQ. For example, a very popular study conducted by the University of Pennsylvania analyzed 164 eighth-grade students. This study measured their IQs and other factors, including how much willpower the students demonstrated (as measured by tests of their self-discipline).

This study found that the students with high levels of willpower were more likely to earn higher grades in their classes, gain admission into more selective schools, earn fewer absences during the year, and they spent less time watching television and more time on homework. In addition, willpower predicted which students would improve their grades over the course of the year as well. This study concluded that, “Highly self-disciplined adolescents outperformed their more impulsive peers on every academic-performance variable.”

What’s even more surprising is that academic performance in high school can be predicted when a child is only 4 years old – just by measuring their willpower!

In a very famous experiment conducted in the 1960s by Stanford psychologist Walter Mischel, the willpower of children ages 4 through 6 was tested. You might have heard of this experiment before. Many people call it “The Marshmallow Experiment” because it involved leaving these young kids alone in a room with a plate that had a big, fluffy marshmallow on it. The researchers attempted to tap into the children’s willpower by instructing them that if they did not eat the marshmallow while the researcher was gone, then they could have two marshmallows when the researcher returned.

Guess how many kids gave in to temptation and ate the marshmallow? A shocking two thirds of them didn’t have enough willpower needed to resist the treat!

But the researchers were interested in the one third of the kids that didn’t give in – what was so different about them?

It was noted that the kids who practiced willpower during this experiment used specific strategies to resist the tempting marshmallows. Some of them put their hands over their eyes so they couldn’t look at the treats. Others hummed or sang to distract themselves. A few determined kids even sat on their hands in order to control their impulses!

The researchers kept in touch with all of the kids from the experiment and they checked back in with them as they were getting ready to graduate from high school. They found that the kids who displayed willpower during the experiment ended up with better overall grades in high school and they scored 210 points higher (on average) on the SAT than the kids from the experiment who gave in to temptation. In addition, it was also noted that the willpower kids were rated as being more popular in high school than the other kids from the experiment.

One last thing about this experiment. A few years after the original experiment, a different set of researchers decided to try to see if they could increase a child’s willpower by teaching them specific strategies to use when they encountered temptation. They repeated the marshmallow experiment and found that the majority of kids were able to use their willpower to resist the temptation by using the distraction strategies that were taught by the researchers.

This is some powerful evidence that not only is willpower an important skill that all of our kids needs to master before they become adults, but that this skill can be strengthened.

Any child can learn this skill and use it successfully by the time the become young adults!

Resistance: The Enemy of Willpower

So why is willpower so difficult for our kids? One word: resistance.

I first heard of the concept of resistance while reading Steven Pressfield’s book, The War of Art. This nonfiction book teaches readers who want to find success in areas such as writing, business, sports, and advertising what it takes to succeed in these competitive fields. Pressfield asks the reader, “What keeps so many of us from doing the work we love?” His answer: resistance.

Resistance is a psychological concept that does everything in its power to keep everything the same. Resistance keeps our kids from turning off the tv to do their homework. Resistance is that feeling of being “too tired” to practice 10 minutes more on the piano. Resistance whispers excuses into our kids’ ears such as, “Do it tomorrow” or “No one will notice” when they feel like giving up on an important task.

Resistance is the force that tempted the kids in the marshmallow experiment to eat the marshmallow before the researcher returned. In this case, the kids experienced resistance when they remembered how yummy marshmallows tasted. Resistance gave them the excuses they needed to justify eating the marshmallow before the researcher returned, instead of waiting and eating 2 marshmallows later.

Click here to subscribe

Resistance is a powerful force, and teaching our kids how to handle resistance when they encounter it is how their willpower muscle gets stronger.

Strategies to Decrease Resistance and Increase Willpower

The first thing to know about your child’s willpower muscle is that, just like our physical muscles, it can get so tired that it can become less effective as your child uses it.

We know that our physical muscles can only get pushed so much before they become useless. For example, when we help a friend move into a new home, we can carry way more heavy boxes and furniture into the new home in the morning than we can later in the day. Our arm and leg muscles get tired and slow down.

This is very much like our willpower muscle – it also gets tired the more it is in use.

To illustrate this concept, let me share with you another experiment on willpower. Roy Baumeister, a very accomplished psychologist who has conducted decades of research on willpower and wrote the popular book called Willpower, conducted an experiment with college students in his lab in the 1990s. The students entered a room with a table, a chair, and two plates – one plate held cookies and the other plate held raw radishes.

Baumeister separated the students into three groups: One group of students were told to eat the cookies, the second group were not allowed to eat either the cookies or the radishes, and the last group – the unlucky group in my opinion – had to eat the radishes while gazing longingly at the cookies. While observing the students who ate the radishes, the scientists noted a lot of unhappy grimaces and groans. It was WORK to eat those raw radishes while looking longingly at the yummy cookies. All three groups of students were then given a geometry puzzle to work on.

The trick here is that he puzzles were unsolvable, and the experiment was to see which group would work longer on the puzzle before giving up. This is a pretty common way researchers measure willpower.

The group of students who ate the cookies and the group who didn’t eat anything at all worked on the puzzle for about 20 minutes before eventually giving up. The radish students, though, gave up after only 8 minutes.

Twenty minutes versus eight minutes is a HUGE difference – and the only thing to explain it is that the radish group appeared to use most of their willpower to power through eating the unappetizing raw radishes. They just didn’t have enough willpower left once they got to the puzzle task.

So, willpower strategy #1 is to ensure your child doesn’t “use up” their willpower unnecessarily on unimportant tasks.

One way to help your child conserve their willpower muscle strength is to reduce the number of decisions they have to make throughout the day. Decision fatigue – or the mental exhaustion from making many decisions – has been shown to reduce willpower.

Roy Baumeister conducted many experiments showing how decision fatigue affects many different people and situations – from CEOs making decision for their companies to tired judges who hand out harsher sentences at the end of the court day to college students who decide to play video games instead of study. Making lots of decisions tends to open us up to resistance when we need our willpower for more important tasks.

The solution to decision fatigue is to create a family schedule so that many of your child’s decisions are made for them. If they know that they eat an after school snack at 3:00, start homework right after that, eat dinner at 6:00, and go to bed at 8:00, then they don’t have to waste energy on making those decisions for themselves.

You can learn about habit routines further by clicking HERE.

Willpower Strategy #2 is to address any physical triggers that might invite resistance. I have always taught my private clients to the acronym HALTS when assessing their child for physical discomforts. This stands for (H)ungry, (A)ngry, (L)onely, (T)ired, and (S)tressed.

Most of us have difficulty completing an intense task if our bodies are hungry. I know that I’m not my best when I’m tired. It’s the same thing for our kids – if they are suffering from any of the HALTS discomforts, then they are using their willpower muscle to contain their discomfort instead of using it on the task.

If your child is hungry, then give them a snack. If they’re tired, make sure they’re getting to bed on time. If they’re stressed, help them talk about their worry and teach them some stress-reducing techniques.

There is an overwhelming body of evidence that tells us that the HALTS discomforts negatively affect willpower. I’ve already described many scientific studies already, and I don’t want this article to become a book, but, believe me, science says of the easiest ways to increase willpower is to address the HALTS discomforts.

Finally, willpower strategy #3 is to have a plan for resistance.

Resistance seeks out weakness, which is why the HALTS discomforts make it so easy for resistance to affect us; however, many of us have unique triggers to resistance too.

Some kids experience resistance when working on something difficult. Others invite resistance when they feel a lack of self-confidence to complete a task well. Still others are triggered by a loud or chaotic work environment.

Take the time to observe your child to see what tends to trigger resistance for them. Have your child explain to you (so they can learn for themselves) what resistance feels like. This way, they’ll be able to identify it when it occurs. Once they know resistance is happening, then develop a plan to overcome it.

For example, let’s say your child experiences resistance when their sibling gets done with their homework first, causing them to feel like a failure. Have your child explain to you what it feels like to them right before they give up. Maybe they have a self-defeating script in their head that tells them that they’re just not good enough. Next, create a resistance plan. This plan might be to repeat a positive script like, “I can do this and I’ll get done soon -it doesn’t matter if my sibling got done with their homework first.” The plan might also include to take a 15 minute break and then start working again.

Be creative with the plan. Make it individual to your child’s unique quirks and strengths. The important thing is that is has to be effective for your child (this means that you might have to “tweak” the plan several times before it really works).

Having a resistance plan also serves to reduce decision fatigue (which works against willpower). Identifying resistance and having a plan to overcome it is a lifelong skill that will benefit your child even when they’re adults.

Take Home Message

If you follow the willpower strategies that I described above, I guarantee that, over time, you will see some BIG changes in your child’s ability to stick with important tasks.

By the way, these strategies also work for adults. Reading Baumeister’s book on willpower made me re-evaluate some of my own willpower behaviors.

The important thing to remember when implementing any new strategy is to be consistent and give it lots of time to work. You will be happy that you spent the time working with your child on this important life skill.



Are You Using The 3 Important Elements That All Successful Modern Parent Use Religiously?

To Find Out, Download The Free Guide ==>

The Modern Parenting Blueprint: The 3 Elements That All Successful Modern Parents Use Religiously

Fundamentals of Achieving Mastery

Fundamentals of Achieving Mastery

What exactly is mastery, and why is this concept important for the Modern Kid’s successful future academic life, career, and overall emotional health?

Psychological researchers define mastery as the drive to achieve and improve upon one’s skills until a standard of excellence is achieved through repetition and practice, despite the absence of physical rewards. Essentially, mastery should be the reward itself.

When most of us think of mastery, remarkable people such as Albert Einstein, Steve Jobs, and Tiger Woods come to mind. They’ve obviously mastered their areas of science, business, and sports, right?

But even the most average person needs to experience mastery in their everyday lives if they are to experience happiness in learning, work, and life. Unfortunately, well-meaning parents of decades past have forgotten about allowing kids to experience mastery, and, instead, skipped directly to the step of forcing the (often unearned) feeling of achievement on our kids through participation trophies and no-score baseball games.

I’m not harshly judging these parents of the prior generation – it seems we needed to try out that concept to see that it didn’t work – but now that Modern Parents know that artificially-created achievement DECREASES self-esteem instead of INCREASING it, we need to iterate and improve on what we have learned.

This iteration is a focus on encouraging our kids to develop mastery.

What Mastery Is – And What It Isn’t

Now, I’m not telling you that the Modern Parent should set out to create uber-performing robot children. Encouraging a sense of mastery in kids is a parenting technique that encourages kids to  pursue interesting passions and talents in a way that that allows them to practice self-motivation, perseverance, and self-discipline.

Mastery ISN’T:

  • A focus on perfectionism
  • An expectation that kids need to be perfect
  • An expectation that the child needs to be the best at every activity
  • An expectation that the child will become an expert at something overnight.

Instead, mastery IS:

  • A process of lifelong discovery and practice
  • A way to challenge oneself to get incrementally better at a task over time
  • The process of learning how to persevere even when a task gets hard
  • The acceptance that mastery isn’t an end goal, but a process
  • It’s a way of thinking and approaching goals rather than achieving the goal itself
  • Acknowledgement that each step must be mastered before moving on to the next step – each achievement and experience adds to the continuing journey.

As you can see, a Modern Parent who encourages mastery mindset in their child understands that this is an important life skill that is developed over many years. Mastery is about the PROCESS of undertaking a task, not the outcome of the task. This is because when the focus is on mastering a task, a positive outcome is naturally achieved.

The Benefits of Practicing a Mastery Mindset

Science has shown that when kids experience a sense of mastery over life tasks (knowing how to get ready for school in the morning, doing household chores correctly, understanding the steps needed to complete a school project, etc.) and personal interests and passions (hobbies, sports, extracurricular activities) they also experience an INCREASE in:

  • Self-motivation: Kids learn to enjoy the feeling of mastery and this feeling gives them the internal motivation to keep going on tasks
  • Self-esteem: Even the tiniest successes enable the child to feel competent, which allows them to feel a sense of pride in themselves
  • Self-reliance: Kids learn that they not only can perform certain tasks, but that they can problem-solve on their own when difficulties arise
  • Social skills: Kids who feel competent are less anxious to meet new peers and to continue to maintain these friendships if disagreements occur

As a child psychologist, I have also witnessed first-hand the DECREASE in negative psychological symptoms when kids learn to practice a mastery mindset:

  • Anxiety: As a child’s confidence in their own competence increases, there is a decrease in their self-reported anxious symptoms
  • Depression: When kids find areas where they can practice personal strengths or interests, they isolate less, participate in activities more, and envision a positive future, which contributes to a decreases in their self-reported depression

A mastery mindset can mean way more than just raising kids who become successful adults – it can have cursory positive effects in many others areas of their life as well! Motivation researcher Edward Deci found in his work with mastery that when kids experienced a positive effect in one area of their life, then other areas also saw a positive effect.

So now that you might be convinced you need to practice a mastery mindset as a Modern Parent, how do you go about beginning this mindshift? The rest of this article will now discuss the nuts and bolts of mastery – the fundamentals of mastery, the important elements that must be present, and expert tips to become a pro at encouraging mastery in your child.

The Fundamentals of Mastery

Here is the roadmap to effectively implementing a mastery mindset in your household:

Start Small >> Work Your Way Up >> Provide Meaningful, Positive Feedback

Start Small. Psychologists investigating the science of expertise and motivation, such as Anders Ericcson and Edward Deci, have found through their experiments that in order for kids to develop a sense of mastery in a task, they must start small.

For example, just look at how toddlers master the task of learning to walk. There is a definite path to mastery of walking. First, the child must get on all fours, then “creep”, crawl, “cruise” the furniture, and then finally walk unaided. Even though your cousin might tell you that their child “walked over night,” research has shown that all toddlers go through each stage in order – even if one or two stages were very brief.

Therefore, in order for your child to fully grasp a task in its entirety, they MUST start at the beginning and progress through each step. This is true for life skills such as learning to properly clean to the bathroom to academic skills such as learning how to study for a test to extra curricular activities such as mastering the game of tennis.

It’s also important to acknowledge that all kids progress at different speeds; as such, you must be patient as your child works though each step – the steps cannot be rushed!

Work Your Way Up. Once your child has mastered a step on their path to mastering a task, they are ready to move up to the next step.

For academic tasks, this progression schedule is created for the child in the form of the lesson plan. Teachers must design a lesson plan that fits the “average student,” and while this meets the need of many students, it doesn’t always accommodate the slow learner. If this is the case with your child, then hiring a tutor to help your child progress to the next step on the school’s timeline might be needed.

Progressing to the next step in extracurricular tasks often times means the presence of a coach, mentor, or teacher. Talented sports coaches, music teachers, etc. are able to work with each individual child to help them master a step and then to challenge them once that current step is mastered. Working with this kind of mentor during childhood is a great opportunity for your child to learn how to work with someone more knowledgeable in order to gain mastery in a task. It is a good life skill to learn.

Self-monitoring mastery with casual hobbies and interests is also a good life skill for your child to learn and one in which you can become an unofficial mentor. For example, if your child has a natural interest in art, then purchasing art supplies and providing an area in the home for the child to draw or paint encourages the child to spend time on this interest. If you see your child struggling to progress to the next stage in their artwork, then you can casually suggest an art class, book, or youtube video to help your child learn the new art technique.

Provide Meaningful, Positive Feedback. I really hate to criticize previous generations of parents, but the “trophy for all” generation of parents certainly showed us that not all positive feedback is helpful for the child. Recent studies on positive rewards for kids has overwhelmingly shown that when we provide feedback to our kids, it needs to be positive, specific, and instructive. It needs to be meaningful to the child.

So what is meaningful feedback?

Psychologist Anders Ericsson, who wrote the book Peak: Secrets From The New Science of Expertise, has found through his decades of research that a simple “Good job!” isn’t enough to inspire people to continue pursuing a task; this feedback needs to connect the learner to the pursuit of figuring out how to get to the next step in the task.

Researcher James Pennebaker from the University of Texas at Austin has spent years working with kids in the classroom, and he has uncovered 5 aspects of feedback that must be present in order for the feedback to be meaningful to the child:

  • Be as specific as possible. Saying “good job” as opposed to “I really liked the combination of colors you used” regarding your child’s newest painting communicates two entirely different messages. The former seems to say “I’ll like anything you make – you don’t even need to try hard” while the latter gives your child useful information about how to proceed on their next art project. I’ve written before about being specific with feedback. You can read that post HERE.


  • The sooner the better. Numerous studies indicate that feedback is most effective when it is given immediately, rather than a few days, weeks, or months down the line. If the goal of our feedback is to help the child connect what we’ve said to figuring out how to progress to the next step in the task, then the sooner they receive feedback from us, the more likely they will be able to use that information to progress to the next step.
  • Address the child’s advancement toward a goal. “That’s nice” is less effective than “You played that piece with only two mistakes this time – you’ll be playing it without any mistakes before the recital this weekend.” In our example, the goal was to perform the piano piece without any mistakes for the recital. By specifically noting how your child improved on making fewer mistakes, the child becomes focused on the overall goal – which is playing the piece for the recital without any mistakes.
  • Present feedback carefully. The way feedback is presented can have an impact on how it is received, which means that sometimes even the most well-meaning feedback can come across the wrong way and reduce a learner’s motivation. I’ve written several articles discussing the science behind effective positive reinforcement and I give tips to parents on how to do this correctly. To get a more depth understanding of this, you can read those articles HERE and HERE.
  • Involve the child in the process. It’s imperative that kids have autonomy when they are involved in tasks that involved mastery. Researcher James Pennebaker says that kids, “must be given access to information about their performance…. At the broadest level, [they] need to know if they actually have mastered the material or not. Giving them information about the ways they are studying, reading, searching for information, or answering questions can be invaluable.” Don’t be afraid of giving your child some constructive feedback – it’s good for them AND they want this information.


If you include all of the fundamentals of mastery – start small, work your way up, and meaningful feedback – then you are setting your child up for a positive mastery experience.

Important Elements of The Mastery Journey

Now that you know the fundamentals of providing a positive mastery experience for your child, you should be aware of some of the important elements of this lifelog journey. My goal here is to make you aware of these elements, so you know that they are normal and that your child can overcome them when they come up.

The mastery journey is characterized by lots and lots of practice, which means that the following elements will more than likely come up for your child:

Takes lots of time. Mastery takes time – lots of it. Malcolm Gladwell, in his super informative book, Outliers, states that it takes 10,000 hours of deliberate practice to achieve mastery. He sites multiple examples of real-life experts who started working on their 10,000 hours of practice before becoming famous.

For example, Gladwell tells the story of how Bill Gates started on his 10,000 hours of becoming a computer industry expert in 1968, when, as a young child, his mother raised money for a little-known hobby for his elementary school: computer science. When he outgrew his elementary school lab, he figured out how to use the University of Washington’s computer lab. Bill Gates was well into his 10,000 hours of computer experience by the time he was 20 years old – when many people are just beginning their computer programming experience!

(Note: there have been several current scientific studies that have disputed this 10,000 hour rule, so while the 10,000 number cannot be taken literally, it definitely provides a figurative example that mastery involves lots and lots of practice.)

Modern Parents need to have an attitude that mastery is a lifelong experience. This communicates to the child that they begin their journey of mastery with their parents’ help, but it is a lifelong journey that they will need to continue as adults.

Boring. Practicing the same thing over and over will be boring. Getting in that 10,000 hours of practice isn’t always fun.

Just because your child gets bored practicing the same dance routine over and over or doing the same soccer drill for weeks on end doesn’t mean that something is wrong. Part of our jobs as parents is to help our kids find strategies to overcome this boredom and continue with the activity.

Consistent and repetitive. It’s a plain and simple fact that in order to master any activity, there has to be hours and hours of practice involved. Even world-renowned experts didn’t wake up extremely talented. Their “secret” is that they put in a lot of practice BEFORE they became famous.

For example, Tiger Woods, one of the best golf players of all time, is pretty vocal that he got where he is by many hours of practice.  He stated, “People don’t understand that when I grew up, I was never the most talented. I was never the biggest. I was never the fastest. I certainly was never the strongest. The only thing I had was my work ethic, and that’s been what has gotten me this far.”

Research tells us that mastery involves repetitive practice so that our brains encode what needs to be done in our long term memory banks. We develop mastery when we get to the point where we perform an activity almost without thinking about it. Recent advances in neuroscience has shown that our brains actually change – nerve connections get stronger, nerves become more encoded with insulation, etc. – when we perform an activity over and over again consistently. These changes in our brains enable us to perform the chosen task more efficiently.

Purposeful practice is more effective than mindless practice. Finally, recent research is showing us that any kind of practice helps, but focused, purposeful practice provides the most bang for our buck.

What is purposeful practice? Expertise researcher Anders Ericsson developed the concept of purposeful practice in the late 1990’s after investigating the elements of successful people. He found that very successful people practiced with an intentional focus on results versus mindless, naive practice.

In his book, Peak: Secrets From The New Science of Expertise, Anders Ericsson found the following particular characteristics of purposeful practice:

    • Purposeful practice has well-defined, specific goals. He stated that, “purposeful practice is all about putting a bunch of baby steps together to reach a longer-term goal.” Without an overall goal (i.e. a small goal from the current step of a task), practice just isn’t as effective.


  • Purposeful practice is focused. Practicing soccer drills while gossiping with friends will not provide the same results as practicing the drills with full attention. If we want to our kids to get the most out of practice, then we need to provide an environment that is free from distraction for them.
  • Purposeful practice involves feedback. Since we discussed feedback in the above section, I won’t go into it much here but to point out that your child CAN take constructive feedback. I encourage you to read THIS ARTICLE about how to provide effective positive feedback.
  • Purposeful practice involves getting out of one’s comfort zone. Mastery is a journey of lifelong progression. Practice should always be just a little bit hard and challenging. Edward Deci’s experiments on motivation has shown that people remain motivated when the task they are practicing is just a little above their current level of functioning. On the other hand, too much of a challenge can actually have the opposite effect, so if it seems like your child is struggling too much, consider making the task less challenging for them.


Knowing these important elements of mastery – that it takes lots of time, it can be boring, it’s consistent and repetitive, and it involves purposeful practice – allows Modern Parents to make the mastery journey a positive one for their child.

Take Home Message

It’s important to note that there WILL come a time when your child will want to give up on a task when it becomes difficult. Most people quit at this stage and blame the difficulty on things that they think they can’t change – like genes or talent. Truly remarkable people figure out how to get over this obstacle and continue to succeed. Our jobs as Modern Parents is to work with our kids to develop strategies to overcome these difficult times and progress to that next level of the task.

As Albert Einstein once said about perseverance: “It’s not that I’m so smart, it’s just that I stay with problems longer.”



Are You Using The 3 Important Elements That All Successful Modern Parent Use Religiously?

To Find Out, Download The Free Guide ==>

The Modern Parenting Blueprint: The 3 Elements That All Successful Modern Parents Use Religiously

Four Signs Your Teen Is Avoiding Adulthood

Four Signs Your Teen Is Avoiding Adulthood

A recent scientific analysis of seven large surveys identified what Modern Parents have suspected for a long time now – that Modern Kids are putting off adulthood for as long as they can.

There are pros and cons to what the author of this large-scale analysis, Dr. Jean Twenge, calls a “slow life strategy.”

The pros are that Modern Parents can worry less about their kids engaging in risky behaviors such as having sex, drinking, and smoking.

According to the Modern Kids surveyed, they actually preferred spending time hanging out at home with their parents instead of socializing outside of the home with their peers. As such, they aren’t putting themselves in situations where previous generations of teens might have engaged in risky behaviors.

As you might have guessed, though, the downside to a “slow life strategy” is the postponement of positive teenage milestones that serve to prepare kids in becoming successful adults.

Twenge’s study also found that the average teen is putting off getting their driver’s license and getting their first job by several years.This means that when our kids come of age and are expected to be independent young adults, they are often sorely unprepared; thus, they retreat to their “comfort zone” of the family home.It seems, then, that there are pros and cons to this new phenomenon of extending the Modern Kid’s childhood.

While it’s great that Modern Parents are plugging in and creating a positive and nurturing environment that inspires Modern Kids to enjoy their fleeting childhoods, it’s also encouraging a generation of kids to become complacent with staying in the nest.Many well-meaning parents (myself included!) enjoy parenting and all the little daily interactions with our kids that show how much we love them.

I like spoiling my kids by making them dinner and cleaning up the kitchen afterward – instead of requiring them to “do their part” by cleaning up the dishes afterward. It’s always fun to chat with them in the kitchen while I cook or clean up.

I like driving them to and from school or activities. We have the best conversations in the car. (Keep in mind that my son wasn’t interested in getting his driver’s license until he was 19.)I didn’t mind looking the other way when my kids were younger and the house was messy – if it meant that they both agreed to snuggle on the couch with me and watch Harry Potter for the umpteenth time.

Recently, I wrote an article for the Huffington Post on how to balance creating a close bond with today’s teenagers while still encouraging their independence. If you’re looking for some guidance on how to ensure that your child continues to hit those important young adult milestones, then I highly suggest reading that article.In today’s article, though, I want to explore some warning signs that might indicate that your teenager might be actively avoiding growing up.

Identifying these early warning signs before your child hits young adulthood is key in helping them be prepared when the time comes to grow up and become independent. 


Sign #1: They don’t seem comfortable making their own decisions

Does your child often defer to you on where to go for dinner, what to watch during family TV time, or even how to spend their free time?On the surface, it might seem like that your child trusts you to make good decisions for them (and this could feel really good for you as the parent), but the reality could also mean that your child just doesn’t trust themselves to make their own decisions.

Part of being an adult is having to make choices that have consequences – either good ones or bad ones – and many teens who are nervous about growing up are also nervous about making “bad” decisions.

One solution to this problem is to intentionally let your child make decisions. Start off slow – maybe insist they choose what movie to see on Friday night – and work up to more important decisions.It’s also important that you help them get over their fear of making a wrong choice. Let them make some not great choices so you can also teach them that how to make up for bad choices.

For a great article on how to encourage your child to take smart risks, click HERE for an article that I wrote about this in the past (it comes with a free downloadable PDF parenting resource too!). 


Sign #2: They avoid talking about what they want to do after graduating high school

Many kids are stuck because they can’t imagine themselves as adults.

When asked about what they want to do when they grow up or where they want to go to college, these kids never have an answer. The thought of being independent, working at a job, or even living in their own house or apartment is extremely foreign to some kids.

These kids avoid any kind of discussion about growing up like the plague.

If this sounds like your child, help them overcome this fear of independence by talking about their future. As always, you’ll want to start off slow and non threatening, and do it in a natural (not forced) way.

Expose your child to adult experiences such as college campuses and places of employment. Get together with successful young adults that you might know. Let your child hear about the rewarding experiences this young adult is having with their independence.

The goal here is to help your child start imagining themselves as a successful adult in the future. Get them excited about growing up!

Sign #3: They don’t have interests or hobbies of their own

When your child’s only interest is accompanying you on whatever your hobby happens to be, then they are cheated from exploring their own unique talents and passions.

Now, I’m not saying that spending time with your child while participating in an activity that is fun for you is a bad thing – far from it!

What’s important is that your child is always encouraged to discover their own unique passions, values, and beliefs that might be different from yours.

Independence is about your child discovering who he or she is as a person and how they fit into this world. They need to start this journey of discovery while they are teenagers so that are somewhat comfortable with themselves when they become young adults (this is important because, as we all know, figuring out who we are is a lifelong process).

Encourage your child to explore interests and passions. They might not always stick with a hobby once they’ve started one, but it’s so important that you encourage their search! Once they’ve found a hobby that interests them, then growing up to further explore it seems fun and exciting. 

The goal here is to allow your child to find an interest that they are excited about participating in independently. This makes growing up and participating in this hobby less scary.

Sign #4: They don’t have many face-to-face friends

Let’s face it, in order for our kids to successfully navigate the adult world, they must be able to have good relationships with the people around them.

They’ll need to have a good relationship with their boss to stay employed.

They’ll need to understand how to have positive romantic relationships if they are to remain in a relationship with a romantic partner.

Being a happy adult means engaging in social relationships of all kinds – with friends, Church members, work peers, etc. If our kids don’t know how to navigate these face-to-face social contacts, then no wonder becoming an adult seems like too much work!

Encourage your child to have face-to-face relationships with peers by allowing your child to have friends over to your house for movie nights or sleepovers. Sign your child up for social extracurricular activities such as Boy Scouts or Girl Scouts. Put them into contact with their peers as much as possible.

Now, many kids do have ample opportunity to socialize face-to-face with peers and they still have difficulty maintaining long-term friendships. If this is the case with your child, then taking them to a mental health professional for an evaluation might be a good idea. Lots of times, mental health professionals can help kids learn special skills to help them if they have any social difficulties.

Take Home Message

I think Twenge’s analysis of surveyed teens is a huge eye-opener. We don’t have to look at her work and conclude that this generation of kids is doomed.

Rather, Modern Parents can use this new information to better inform their parenting.It’s ok if we allow our kids to have a “slow paced life,” but we still need to ensure that they are ready for adult responsibilities when the time comes.

The trick is finding that sweet spot of allowing our kids to take certain aspects of life slowly, while acknowledging that they are still consistently going down that path of adulthood.Is your child stuck in childhood? You’re not a bad parent if this article opened your eyes to that fact; however, now you need to do something with that information.

It’s never too late to work with your child to encourage their budding independence.



Are You Using The 3 Important Elements That All Successful Modern Parent Use Religiously?

To Find Out, Download The Free Guide ==>

The Modern Parenting Blueprint: The 3 Elements That All Successful Modern Parents Use Religiously