Advice Column, Tween & Teen

A Teacher Breaks Through to Tough Teens

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  • Category Advice Column, Tween & Teen

On a recent episode of my public access television show, I interviewed Mr. Dan Blanchard, an author and speaker on motivating teens. He’s also a school teacher in one Connecticut’s largest inner-city high schools. Mr. Blanchard is the author of’ the book, “Granddaddy’s Secrets,” a teen leadership book series that defines the importance of one generation passing wisdom to the next.

During my interview with Dan Blanchard, I asked him for some advice for parents who are having a tough time getting through to their own teenagers. Here is what he said:

“There’s no one easy way to do it. I’ve had parents come to me in parent teacher conferences or pull me to the side to talk. I’ve seen the frustration in their faces for years and years. They say things like, “My kid won’t listen to me. I tell my kid something and he does the opposite. It goes in one ear and comes out the other.” So one of the things I try to tell them is to just relax. I tell them that believe it or not, they’re getting it. They’re hearing you; their just acting like they’re not hearing you.”

“Therefore, the worst thing the parent could do is to give up and worse, go into a combat mode. You can’t go into ‘combative mode’ with your teen; you have to stay in the ‘love mode.’ You have to just keep giving them your messages over and over again, calmly, even though maybe it feels like it’s been a million times that you’ve given them that same message. Do your best to keep giving it to them with warmth and love and know that at some point, they’re going to say, “Remember when you said ‘such and such’?” I can’t count how many times I’ve been a witness to that.”

To summarize all of what Mr. Blanchard’s had to say, I listed his point here as a summary:

  • Pass wisdom on to your kids and teens through storytelling.
  • Your teens must reject you as part of their normal development; don’t take it personal.
  • Continue conveying your messages to your teen, even if they don’t seem to be listening.
  • Convey those messages with calmness and love; avoid getting combative with them.
  • Establish a nonnegotiable homework time each day, Sunday – Thursday PM.
  • Be ready to give them homework if they rarely seem to come home with any; have them read a book or magazine article and write a review.
  • Parents should remove distractions (such as the Internet) during homework time.
  • Use kindness and encouragement with tough teens. Write them encouraging notes.
  • Teens need to know how much you care, even though they act like they don’t.

Dan Blanchard has done his homework. He’s been an inner-city school teacher and athletic coach for 20 years and has a passion for teaching, inspiring, and working with teens. As an award winning author, speaker, and educator, Dan shares real-life lessons and inspiring stories with audiences of teens, adults, educators, and sometimes a mixture of all three. His goal is to positively influence the way we think about what is possible, regardless of how old we are. Visit his website:

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