Help! My Kid is an Alien Pot-Smoking Teen!

So there you are with all of your University friends relaxing around a lovely coffee table with your Mocha Frappuccinos. Each of them regaling the others about their little Einsteins:
“My Timmy founded a dot com company that’s going public!”
“My Nora just made CEO of that famous social thing, you know the one.”
“Bobby found a cure for cancer! But the tobacco companies bought it from him and shelved it. The money’s good though…”And through your gritted teeth, and about-to-crack-your-face smile, you finally scream out: “My kid is an alien pot-smoking teenager!” Heeeeeeeeeeeelp!!!!

Well, in your head anyways.

Out loud you say: “Isn’t that special! You must be so proud” and then suddenly remember the imaginary pot roast you left unattended at home.

You are not alone. Thousands of parents are sitting around similar real or imagined coffee tables picturing the same scenario. You have joined the panoply of parents of Alien Pot-Smoking Teenagers (APST).

It’s seems odd because you remember the times when you look at your child and all of your fond memories come flooding back. The first time they looked you in the eyes, their first smile (that wasn’t gas), the first time they grabbed your finger with their little fingers curled around you, and your child’s first step. Little did you know that that first step would lead them on a downward spiral towards becoming the alien pot-smoking teenager they are today! (Insert mental picture of the Creature from the Black Lagoon holding a bong here).

Why Alien? Do you really need to ask? Does anything they say or do sound like something someone from planet Earth would really do or say? What about those bizarre thought processes or lack thereof?

Pot-smoking…
OK, not really pot-smoking as much genuflecting at the “Altar of Kush” (their words not mine). The procuring ritual, the prep ritual, the setting alight the object of their desire, the devouring of ho-ho’s and ding-dongs (oops, Cheech and Chong flashback there)… you get the picture.

What happened? How did we get here from there and where do go now?

It all began…

The early school years were the place where parents told kids how “magic” they were. Their crayon drawings should be in a museum, being chauffeured to their friends video game get-togethers, and every sport participant getting a prize. For most of these kids, minimal effort brought marks that they were OK with and tons of prizes.

Then, one day, maybe grade 10, maybe first year University, they discover that they aren’t “magic” anymore. For the 12 kids who said: “Gosh, I’m not magic anymore. Maybe I should look into proper study habits and pull myself up by my bootstraps”, this article isn’t for them.

But for all the other kids, their false epiphany to “Gosh, I’m not magic anymore” was to decide the world is not safe. “So, if I choose to fail and I do, then I’ve won”. So begins the slippery slope to self-sabotage.

So many troubled teens seem 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 then missing school. For quite a few, these behaviors are accompanied by excessive video gaming and / or substance abuse… aka the Wonderful World of Weed.

The most frustrating part of this is that these same people are often very gifted in some ways and yet here they are ….. stuck.

There always seem to be plenty of blame to throw around; the kids, the video gaming industry, Dave Chapelle, parents and yes, we occasionally blame the educational system as well.

So many teachers are doing such good work in school these days and those special teachers really can make a difference. Teachers have made great strides in helping students with all sorts of learning challenges and mental health issues, but how can teachers know how to work with people who don’t submit papers, don’t show up to class and believe that a day (week?) never speaking to a teacher is time well spent.

Many teachers believe that intervention, therapies, or counseling teens will do the trick and for some it does.

But for a growing group of troubled teens, traditional counseling methods do not work.

In my years of mentoring troubled teens and training others to mentor teens, it has become clear to me that the keys to success with these teens where other methods have failed are methods that have worked for thousands of years; mentoring young adults.

This is also true about your APST (alien pot-smoking teenager). Given a chance to find their best and shown a method that works for them, 95% of these teens we mentor grab onto it and soar!

Here is the interesting part: In the 16 years that I have been mentoring young adults, I have never told a client to stop smoking weed and yet the majority of them quit smoking completely, with a portion of them becoming “weekend warriors”.

This is the process that led them there:

The Five Stages for Mentoring Young Adults:

1. Tribe – Having other adults to speak with and get feedback from.
2. Tasks – Encouraging the young adult to choose their goals
3. Ritual – Learning the power of daily routines that are meaningful
4. Reflection – Non-judgmental self-discovery
5. Right of Passage – The transformation from child to adult.

In my next blog, I will go into the details of the five stages, how they can work for your APST and how to choose the ideal Mentor.

Stay tuned!
Oh and please don’t bogart this article. Share it with friends, family, and Chapelle too!

Know a Millennial in need of mentoring? Check out www.MentoringYoungAdults.com

Interested in mentoring Millennials? Check out www.MentorsProfessionalWorkshop.com

Why Some Kids Derail Themselves

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, behavioral 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 troubled teen or young adult goes beyond their regular world filled with all the trappings that keep him/her where they are and finds a support system with a mentor / life- coach who is non-judgmental, 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 a troubled teen or young adult.
1. Find a mentor to work with your child, someone not from the immediate family, preferably through Skype. Skype sessions allow the client to learn positive new habits at the place where they usually get in trouble: their computers.
Have the mentor ask the student these pertinent questions:
a) Name three goals you would like to work on.
b) What are the challenges to those goals?
c) What would be the first sign-posts of success?

2. The mentor and the student can put together a daily routine based on the student’s goals and interests (e.g. meditation, yoga, tai chi, weight lifting, biking, jogging, playing an instrument, singing and reading) –basically all the things we were told that have no real financial benefit. Start with two 5 – 15 minute routines to be attempted five to six days a week, slowly building up to as many routines that the client 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-judgmental way. Therapy works well in once-a-week sessions but mentoring / life coaching a young adult requires the two times a week. We are building whole new structures to succeed and they require six to nine months of twice-a-week support until the client has internalized the habits.

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 “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 proven system for mentoring young adults, an important goal is to help these newly empowered youth 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 their inspiration and get on track for a successful life!

Know a teen or young adult in need of mentoring? Check out www.MentoringYoungAdults.com

Interested in Mentoring Millennials? Check out www.MentorsProfessionalWorkshop.com

Millennials, School Failures and Depression – Mentoring Young Adults with Depression

One of the things I hear more often than anything else as a mentor for young adults is parents asking for help with their child’s school failures, depression, low self-esteem and video game (and/or pot) addiction.

Often the depression seems most prevalent on both the parent’s and the potential client’s (the young adult in question) mind. What I often say to this is: “Most of us tend to see things in reverse order”.

Reverse Memory Syndrome:

When a client has a “discussion” with his or her parent for the bazillionth time about why they stay up so late, the parents tell the young person why they are doing it and why it’s wrong. The client tries to explain what is really going on. Neither side listens. Voices raise and finally the client tells the parents to do something that is anatomically impossible. That’s when the parents say: “We just tell you how you need to be more responsible about going to sleep at a good time and all you do is shout and scream and curse at us”. That is reverse memory syndrome. The escalation and the accusing gets lost as a factor in the final result.

Reverse memory syndrome is often the reason why the depression is foremost on the minds of the people who contact me with the issues stated above. Let’s deconstruct the actual order of events for these clients and parents contacting me.

When Millennials were magic.

This generation is the first one that was told that actually everything they did was perfect. They were the best crayoners; the best howlers; the best poopers; and everybody got a medal when they “competed”… (you wonder why they think they’re magic).

For this particular group, they were able to pull off acceptable or really good marks out of their butts at the last minute at school and of course, Mumzy and Dadzy told them “they were magic”!!

Until they weren’t magic anymore.

Fast forward to the time when pulling marks out your butt (beside being non-hygienic) no longer works for our magic client. What comes next? False epiphanies.

Most of the people I meet have at some time come up to “issues” that blocked them in their lives. When natural talent wasn’t enough anymore. At that point, if they come up with “gee, I better learn some new study habits and work harder” I never get to see them. However, if they go for the false epiphanies: “My magic is gone”, “I am stupid”, “The world is not safe” or “If I choose to fail and I do… then I’ve won”, that’s when they are getting into choosing bad coping mechanisms.

What are those coping mechanisms? Self-medication (Video games or pot), anxiety, negative self-speak (low self-esteem) or depression.

Being careful with issues such as depression.

There are thee kinds of depression that one comes across as a mentor for young adults.

1) Situation-based depression where the client’s constant failures and inability to find a way out lead to depression.

2) Negative self-speak depression. Where the mind has stopped being a motivational force and has become the worst in-your-head parent constantly leading to you towards self-defeat. This requires learning to retrain the mind through mindfulness-based exercises (meditation, visualization or things like yoga).

3) True clinical depression; a chemical imbalance requiring mental health professionals to do what they do best and help find the best way to get back that proper balance.

When it comes to clinical depression, a Mentor’s job is make sure that a good mental health specialist is onboard, chosen by the family and that we help make sure that this label is not all that the client becomes but is a new starting point to help that client find their personal powers.

For situation-based and negative self-speak based depression, we begin with choosing goals, the challenges to those goals and the first indicators of success, creating micro-successes through daily routines chosen by the client and with the client in charge. The Mentor’s job is to let the client walk every step of that journey and simply help them out of dead ends in a way that speaks to the client.

We teach the client organization skills that makes sense to them in incremental stages. We help them learn how to pick the best times to succeed in adding studying into their lives when it seemed impossible before and we teach them how to advocate for themselves with teachers, school staff and parents (seeing both sides of the equation).

We work on finding the mindfulness-bases system that best works for them and start with five or ten minute increments expecting them to do the work first with their mentors and slowly be able to do it on their own over time. This is the beginning of self-motivated empowerment.

The big take away.

Everyone tends to see things in reverse. Become a detective, free of judgment and go back and look for false epiphanies, coping mechanisms and most importantly, seek out people outside the family to help Mentor the child and the family to find that person’s true magic. It is there, waiting to be found.

Interested in mentoring Millennials? Check out www.MentorsProfessionalWorkshop.com

Know a Millennial in need of mentoring? Check out www.MentoringYoungAdults.com

Helping Parents & Teens Communicate Free of Fighting

As someone who trains Boomers and Gen X’ers to life coach teens and young adults, I often find that the best examples to explain my work to those wanting to know the secrets of working with Millennials, comes from my own personal practice life coaching teens and young adults. Today’s topic is: Parents and Millennials -from Miscommunication to Co-creation or How to I Learned to Stop Screaming.

Although most people seeking help in life coaching for troubled teens and young adults are usually dealing with school failures, social anxiety, depression, pot or video game addiction (or both), it doesn’t take long until the other shoe drops. Parents and young adults with an equal and well earned disdain for each other. Its not that they don’t love each other, there are just too many war wounds to be ignored. What do we end up with? Each side shouting their “truths” across the room while neither side truly hears the other.

Want to get your child to not do something?
Tell them you think it’s important!
Want to get a parent to nix an idea?
Have their child tell them that they think it’s a great idea!

How did it come to this?
How do we change it?
(You know what I am going to say… don’t you?)
Change comes from outside the family unit… through a professional Mentor/Life Coach.

Here are the tried and true steps I use on a regular basis and that the Mentors I train find immensely helpful (as do the families).

The 7 Steps to Transforming Miscommunication into Co-creation.

Step 1: Parent identifies issues: school issues, home issues, personal mental health issues (anxiety included). This is our first consultation either by phone or Skype.

Step 2: Mentor meets with client (the client is the young adult) and establishes goals, the challenges to those goals and the first sign-posts of success. This usually occurs in the first one hour Skype session, the only time it doesn’t is when clients come to me as the sky is falling (read that as massive school failures that can no longer be ignored). We deal with putting out fires first and the on to the Goals; Challenges and Sign-Posts of Success. Skype is the best way to reach Millennials (vs in person therapy) as you are doing positive, healthy work with them in the place they tend to get messed up the most; their internet portal.

Step 3: Parents are freed from having to play “cop”. You get to let go of the head-butting, enjoy each other and email your Mentor the “issues” that keep coming up. Mentor and client look at each issue, and learn how to put them in perspective, how to communicate and advocate for themselves and how to understand the “other’s” perspective.

Step 4: Poop hits the fan. Both sides knew the calm would be short-lived. Something happens. The parents blame their child. The client isn’t responding to what they are saying but just yells back at the same decibel level: “Call Ken! Call Ken!” That p**ses off the parent even more (really not how I suggested to use the Mentor-in-the-middle get-out-of-jail-free card at all). The Mentor gets the client to hear the parents. The parents get to not want everything that has never been done to be done RIGHT NOW!!!! We all agree on a reasonable incremental way forward that makes sure everyone is heard. Fan de-pooped.

Step 5: The parent confession: This is where I usually get a call or email from one parent thanking me and then calling themselves an awful parent. This is where I tell them the real truth: “You are a great parent! An awful parent gives up, doesn’t care or doesn’t notice. You are a parent who needs support from a Mentor to help you with a child who doesn’t respond to whatever worked when you were parented by your parent. That to me is not only a good parent but a wise parent.

Step 6: The client confession: The Mentors that are now working with clients through us are always amazed that our clients often share their truths about their short-comings and their frustrations in now knowing how to get out of those problems. That is why the system is based on empowering young people and not focusing on the failures. Next.. Client and Mentor go back to work. Parents send emails and the Client/Mentor team incorporate their home issues with the goals the client wanted to focus on. It works. Things get better. The client starts to succeed at school, at their personal issues, and at communicating.

Step 7: A new way of communication is created for clients and parents. “Open Listening”. First the Mentor trains the client in the system. We practice on friends or family members willing to try new things. Finally we show the family how to use it during confrontations. Would you like to know how open listening works? Stay tuned or put a comment here and Ken will answer.

What is co-creation? It’s where both sides share their concerns, each side listens with an open heart to the other and together the create a new way forward. As missteps happen, both sides communicate, evaluate and recalibrate.

Interested in mentoring Millennials? Check out www.MentorsProfessionalWorkshop.com

Know a Millennial in need of mentoring? Check out www.MentoringYoungAdults.com

Mentoring Autistic Teens – Path to Greatness

As a Mentor for teens with Autism and their families, I am struck with the level of trust, humility and indomitable spirit that I see in these families weekly on their paths to rising above others limitations of them.

I would like to share one story with you from one of my clients and his mom’s perspective:

Mom’s Story:
I knew my son had a brilliance inside of him that was just waiting to come out … if we could just get past this “autism thing”. At 3 ½ years of age, Stephen was working with a speech pathologist to work on his receptive language skills. There was a set of blocks and a Winnie the Pooh figurine sitting side-by-side on the table.

Pathologist: “Okay Stephen, I want you to put the blocks in front of Winnie the Pooh”

Stephen turned Winnie a quarter turn, so that Winnie was no longer facing forward, but rather facing the blocks. From the sideways angle, the blocks were now in front of Winnie the Pooh on the table.

Wow!

Stephen:
I was seven years old when I got the diagnosis for autism and ADHD. At first I felt very angry at the person who made this diagnosis, because I thought they were saying something was wrong with me. We eventually learned to deal with the fact that I had Autism, and that I did have some problems.

The situation was looking very grim. That same year in late second grade, we used some ADHD medication to try to have me pay attention in class. The medication worked as intended, and I was able to pay attention to class, but the side effects were painful to my quality of life.

Mom:
Some teachers “got” Stephen and some didn’t. The ones who “got” him had their hearts stolen by a little guy who filled their hearts with joy. We are truly grateful for the way that they connected with Stephen.

Stephen:
The medication made it so that I would no longer feel hungry at the normal times when I should have a meal, and I began to get skinnier and skinnier until my ribs would show entirely, and I felt a significant lack of energy. Eventually the ADHD medication was dropped in favor of supplements as an alternative as I moved into the fourth grade. My body slowly but surely returned to its normal shape, and I was able to pay attention in class because of the supplements, which had a similar effect (such as the fish oil).

With all of these supplements, my academic level went up at almost at a superhuman rate. I was then able to move schools gradually until I got to where I am now.

Mom:
A diagnosis is truly a double-edged sword. I tried, in the first few years to keep it a secret. But what I have learned is: don’t share this burden alone. Give others a chance to step up and help you lighten the load. Some won’t step up … they just don’t get it. But you would be amazed at how others do … including children.

Stephen:
I am in a fairly mainstream school now. Most qualities of life that you would expect from perhaps an above average life have been fulfilled. I now have unlocked a higher piece of myself allowing me to write these articles that I share with others such as you.

Ken: Although I hadn’t known it at the time, a standard test that Stephen would give potential mentor/therapists for Autistic kids was to talk about his complete feeling of betrayal by grownups and how they manipulated a basketball game with his fellow Asperger students vs. the local highest winning basketball team to let his team win.
Previous Mentors had told him to “get over it” whereas my response was “hey, let’s write an article about your feelings, shape them into a learning moment and see if HuffPo would publish it! They did ☺. This was a defining moment in Stephen believing his voice could and should be heard. To check out the article: click here.

Stephen:
The struggle with Autism has been quite the battle. Many tears were shed, many issues were fought, many goals were achieved, many hearts opened, many friends made and many lives changed.

Mom:
I felt that it was always important to share how much he had grown with Stephen … especially on days when things weren’t going so well or when he was down on himself.

Here are some things that I would like to tell parents of children on the spectrum:

Try to not be totally devastated by the diagnosis. They are still the same lovable, adorable child that you had before and you can have the same dreams for them.

Don’t ever let other people put limits or ceilings on what your child can do. Trust your gut. Trust that inner brilliance that you see and work like hell to find people to help you pull it out. You can teach your child to behave in a neurotypical way.

Embrace your child’s differences and let yourself dream of the way that he or she might change the world.

Ken: Who better to share their thoughts then people who are living it? I leave the last words of wisdom to my awesome client Stephen:

Stephen:
So what is the moral of the story? I am talking to kids like me who have been given a diagnosis of Autism: I guess you could say that where you are now is not necessarily where you will always be. I personally believe that nobody is only destined to one path.

I believe that the force of will is what determines success or failure, not fate, destiny or diagnosis. I believe that most people on the autistic scale can reach the level that I have and perhaps even greater. They just need the right parenting, the right mentors, the right people in their lives and most importantly… persistence.

How To Be Heard By Your Child – Introduction

The goal of these articles is to change your life for the better: How you perceive your children, how they interact with you and how you learn to be your best in the world in the very place where it is most difficult… amongst the people you love. All of that will change for the better!

When parents contact me to help them help their teen or young adult find their way, the whole family often seems lost and without hope. Once they hear how this system works they often say something like: “this is the first time in a long time when I have felt some hope”.

The system I work from is based on my first book “The Slacker’s Guide to Success – 13 steps to Personal Success in the New Millennium”. It works for almost anyone. Most young people really do want to succeed and do good work while gaining a sense of self-worth (this may sometimes be hard to believe for those who know these young people but not by me). Given the proper tools these teens and young adults find their way to success.

Something very interesting happens as they progress and the parents see the impossible occur. It becomes very clear that the old ways of communication between parents and their children also need a new way to evolve to a richer and healthier way.

This book shall give you the tools to discover your child as the new person they are becoming and they are a new person. Not because of their Mentor. Not because of surmounting their challenges (although both of those things help). They are a new person because that is the evolutionary truth of people. The baby you held in your arms is not the same person that the toddler became. The toddler is not the same person the teen became. The young adult is again completely different again. In fact, look at your own life. Investigate the things you have done at different ages and think about how you would have felt being judged at these different stages by the things that challenged you as a child.

Here is the greatest part of the new skills you will gain: You will meet a whole, happy, healthy person who has been the object of your life since you first laid eyes on them. This new person will bring to your new relationship, new thoughts, new things to share and their own wisdom to enhance both your lives.

Isn’t that worth the price of changing your own habits of being heard and listening in a new way? Yes. That’s right. The title of this book is “How to Be Heard” but (and you can quote me): “If you want to get something… give it”!

The best way to be heard is to learn a new way to listen. That’s what this book will help you do. Give you a great way to be heard by you taking the time to learn to listen. This is the work I do with the parents willing to try something new as they see how well their child and I communicate and how I am able to get their children to do things that they have been hounding those kids to do for what seems like an eternity. Actually, I never get anyone to do anything. I show people things what “others” want them to do. We investigate. We analyze and I listen to the client’s (the young person’s) thoughts and we go from there. To the parents, it seems like I “got” their kids to do what they had always known their child should do but never would do. In fact, I simply laid out options and let the client choose. The difference might seem arbitrary to some but I hope that when you have finished practicing what this book preaches, you will know the difference and it is a country mile apart.

First, I shall share with you the secrets of what your child really means when they say things. Are you ready?

Learning to Speak Millennial

“Fine”.
The ultimate passive-aggressive diss.
Fine stands for f***ed up, insecure, neurotic and emotional.
When a child gives up to your repeated requests and says “fine” what they are really saying is “it is so not worth arguing with you. I shall give you this agreement, which is not really an agreement but my disdain for you, your clothes and the high horse you rode in on”. (Caution: Millennials don’t actually speak that way. This is my translation of them in a way that you can relate to ☺

“I’ve already done it”!
(Translation) “I know and you know I haven’t done it and we both know that if I say I haven’t done it you will yell at me and then I will yell back so, in effect, I have vowed to get this done after I play endless amount of video games… unless I forget… which doesn’t count because I intended to…”

“Yes I will”!!
“My friends are waiting for me online to keep playing the game. You are merely an annoyance and so whatever I tell you now is my nice way of not telling you to f*** off because I want to play. You should appreciate that. Promises void where prohibited by my doing you a favor”.

“I promise”!!!
“Oh my G-d!! Did you not understand what I meant when I said “Yes I will”?!? Read the above translation. Trust me. I am doing you a favor. YOU CAN’T HANDLE THE TRUTH!”

The real promise:
“I really intend to do whatever it is you have asked of me if I happen to remember it (which is not likely based on past experience) and I do believe that my intention should be all that is truly required of me. The resentment I feel from you reminding me over and over that I NEVER do these things just makes me want to do these things even less. That is all”.

I’m sure you know what we call the act of doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different outcome:.. Parenting.

Here is my promise to you; learn the steps in this book and work on them with your child and others and you will not need those conversations ever again. They will be replaced by communication; cooperation and mutual respect.

How to Use This Book

This book has a companion book written for your child. Please, for the love of Crisco, don’t read theirs’. There’s nothing secret in it but it says soooo much about you if you do read it and so much more about you if you don’t.

The best way to use this book is to do a quick read of it once all the way through and highlight the parts that are most meaningful to you. Then take each chapter and work on your parts on your own, and with your child when it calls for it, for a month. The whole book will take one full year to go through. (Hello? Hello? Still there?)

Yes. In this world of “three easy things to make your child do whatever you want” (good luck with that), I am saying that the true meaningful way to communicate with your child will take time, patience and determination. Only constant, steady work in small regular doses on your part and letting them work on their part will bear the fruit you seek: To truly be heard.

The Three Stages

The three stages you will experience are:
1) Unlearning
2) Reframing and
3) A new beginning.
There are explanations for each of these at the beginning of each stage.

Every stage is a complete separate entity with four steps to guide you towards completion. The 13th step is about taking what you have learned into all future chapters of your life and acknowledging and honoring yourself for the journey you have taken in being heard and more importantly; learning a new way to listen.

Sometimes we do great things but don’t take the time to acknowledge what we have accomplished. To climb that mountain and not take the time to take in the view from the summit is not have taken the journey in our hearts. Our hearts needs the time to reach whatever physical summits we achieve in life. Always take the moment to let all of you; your physical, mental and spiritual/emotional sides witness the great things in life.

May your journey be filled with challenges. May you overcome each challenge with inner-faith, kind self-speak, grace and humor and may the creative force of life guide your path with a sense of adventure and wonder.

Enjoy!

Ken Rabow

Life Coaching Young Adults to Succeed at University

This is the time of year where old habits get in the way of troubled teens and young adults in school. The Just-in-Time habits from high school have not helped in mentoring young adults to succeed in college/university. This is where life coaching young adults in new ways to succeed is desperately needed.

In fact, these just-in-time habits have raised a lot of university student’s anxiety levels about whether they will or will not succeed to the point of the inevitability of failure in their minds. Most young people’s response: Ignore it and maybe it will go away… it doesn’t.

I have good news and bad news.

Bad news: The likelihood of them sharing these troubles with their parents is between zero and not-a-chance-in-hell. Not because they don’t care. Because they often care too much and don’t want to disappoint and unfortunately, the internet has trained them to one great Millennial truth: if life is overwhelming there are unlimited ways to get quick gratification through gaming; facebooking; youtubing and many other wonderful diversions.

Good news: Chances are your Millennials really does care and just doesn’t know how to move forward. Let us share with you some tips that really help the young adults we life coach.

Here are five simple steps to help your Millennial master decent marks in university:

1) Your calendar is your friend. Write down in your calendar all of your classes (one color) all of your tutorials (another color) papers (a third color) and exams (you guessed it). Put in reminders for the first class of the day and any classes that are after more than a one-hour break.
2) Pick your reading times in each day. Once you have your outline of the stuff you have to show up for, it is easier to figure out what days and times are best to do the required readings.
3) Reading requirements: Go through all reading requirements and keep notes about when you do what and how you are required to do it.
4) Gravitate to the kids-who-care. There is usually an area in classes where students are who actually care about their work. Get in that area. Make connections with the ones that seem like they might be good to create study groups with.
5) Your teachers and T.A’s are your best resource. When s**t hits the fan and you are having problems, teachers and T.A’s are a great resource to get on track.

Parents: To get these things working requires an outside person; a Mentor. Someone who does not have all the history of issues in the past. Someone who can say things you may have suggested in a way that your child will actually do! That is why it is so helpful to seek out life coaching for young adults.

I train Life Coaches and Mentors to work with troubled teens and young adults struggling with these issues and what we find is that families the invest in a Mentor for the children are helping the whole family succeed.

Success in school: success in family communication; success in organization and so much more. Consider getting a Life Coach / Mentor for young adults as one of the best investments you could ever choose!

Good luck and let me know if you have any questions!

Ken

A Life Coach’s Take on Nicole Arbour, Fat-Shaming and Bullying

Hello Nicole,

You are not alone. There are lots of people who look like you. Lots of people. When they see someone like me who is overweight, they make judgments. When I am at my present weight (I have gained and lost Arnold Schwarzenegger’s body weight several times over during my 50 odd years) and go into a swanky coffee shop and order a low-fat chocolate, they always ask me, “Do you want whipped cream with that?”

When I lose 20 more pounds, go to a coffee shop and ask for low-fat hot chocolate, they say, “You don’t want whipped cream with that?”

When I am at my perfect body weight (for me) they never ask me for whipped cream.
What do we learn from this? Nicole, you can’t begin to understand what it means to be someone who needs to protect themselves with a layer of fat to feel safe, or the joy comes from the forbidden fruit that is the cocoa bean, the white bread rush, or the sugar buzz.

For whatever reason, your clan chose to find solace in belittling others as a form of comfort. I did notice that you had $300 worth of cosmetic paint on your face. You seem to thing that artifice is art.
Here’s what I have to say to all those with a bad body image: look for real beauty.

It is not in your body, which shall betray the best of us with time. Look for self love first, because a loving man or woman is always kind and inspires instead of ridicules. Seek out those who are kind and help inspire you to be your best, who challenge you in those moments of weakness when you feel the need to get the buzz that bad food gives you, and to forgive the skinny people who don’t understand. There are people out there who are in great shape who have kindness, who admit their struggles and don’t need to sensationalize by shaming others.

And to Nicole: yes, you seem smart. You have good comedic timing, but shame on you. Yes. You got fame (for a second). You got notoriety. But you have proven the thing that I try so hard to teach the Millennials I work with who feel there’s no point in working hard at school when you can get more famous being mean, stupid, or embarrassing in this world: that being a good person and living in the non-digital moment is what life is about. You have shown how bullying can travel. Look. I’m writing about you. Now, goodbye. Learn from Elwood P. Dowd, the character in Harvey. (It’s a black and white film… give it a try).

“Years ago, my mother used to say to me, she’d say, ‘In this world, Elwood, you must be.’ — She always called me Elwood — ‘In this world, Elwood, you must be oh so smart, or oh so pleasant.’ Well, for years I was smart. I recommend pleasant. You may quote me.”

This article was published at Huffington Post on Sep 8, 2015

Mentoring Millennials – The Difference Between Heaven and Hell

How do we Mentor Millennials and get them where they need to go? Start with where you are… So here we are. A new year has begun. Your Millennial is back in university and you are hoping that last year’s effort (best described as crap-tabulous) will not be repeated. Horrible marks. Terrible self-talk/self-image. Massive anxiety.
Here’s the worst part… who can you talk to about your child? Especially if you believe (as so many of the parents who talk to me about this feel) that every other person’s child is doing fine and it is just your child who cannot cope.

I will give you the answer to the parent/Mentor issue at the end of this article but let’s start first with helping your Millennial:

The Three Challenges

1. Just-in-Timers. for lots of students, it was easy in High School to wait to the last minute, binge study and pull off some nifty grades. The harsh reality is that this doesn’t work in University/College and the student does not have the resources or experience to try another way.

2. The Deliciousness of Indulgence. Being away from home and having no external controls, mixed with a massive amount of booze, weed and fellow video-gamers with unlimited internet access is a recipe for badness. The uninformed will say “just say no”… good luck with that.

3. The Scourge of Social Anxiety.
This is at epidemic proportions in North America. This anxiety can make it practically impossible to reach out for help in school. Making it difficult to get back on track when they fall behind, it can push them to make self-destructive choices when the inevitability of their situation is shoved in their face by mid-terms.
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/arianna-huffington/millennials-stress_b_2718986.html

The Three Solutions


1. Just-in-timers meet the Daily Routine.
By starting with the simplest tasks inserted in one’s day-to-day life, the Millennial learns to use a scheduler (why does this generation prefer to keep notes on loose slips of paper?!?) to take control of their daily lives. It may seem like a small step but simply being able to do one five minute task a day instills in them what they didn’t get by obligation or just-in-timing High School

2. Indulgence meet Observation: Remember what I said about “just say no”? Well double that on this one. We are not talking about people doing serious stuff in a way that is self-endangering. Those people need immediate action but for those indulging just enough to keep them from doing anything in life; here is the solution; observe it. Yes. Notice when you are doing your indulgence. Think about why you are doing it. Is it to self-medicate (i.e. deal with your anxiety)? Is it to alleviate boredom? Is it for social sharing? Is it ‘just ‘cuz? This may seems nuts but all of those are valid. The trick is to figure out which one, when, offer better things to do that you would enjoy more for some and leave the others (at the beginning). This is the start of conscious use and helps make different choices in the future.

3. Calming Social Anxiety. This can seem so formidable. It requires a Mentor who conveys non-judgmental trust. It requires the Mentee/Millennial looking at their challenge with kindness instead of harsh self-judgment and then to implement the following over six months; deep breathing (versus shallow breathing); visualization/meditation; learning positive self-talk; patience and relaxation.

Why Mentoring Millennials May Not Work (at first)

OK. It will work. (Deep breaths please). The three solutions I mention above work for 90% of the Millenials I encounter, just please don’t try this at home folks at least until you finish this article: Let’s start with a story:

The Long Spoons.

So… true story. I wanted to understand Heaven and Hell. So first, I travelled to Hell (Insert Donald Trump joke here…)
There were rows of tables piled high with platters of the most delicious food. Each platter was more aromatic and more beautiful to behold than the last. Every person held a full spoon but both arms were splinted with wooden slats making it impossible to bend their elbows to bring the food to their mouths. The people were emaciated, suffering and bereft of hope.

So I went to Heaven (Insert Wayne Dyer tribute here…)
Everything was the same. Same tables, same platters of food, same splints on the arms making it impossible to bend elbows but the people were satiated, happy and fulfilled. The big difference: In Heaven as a person picked up their spoon and dug into the nourishment availed to them, they stretched across the table and fed the person across from them. That person thanked them and then leaned across the table to feed their neighbor.

What’s This Got to Do with Me?!?

Chances are there is nothing wrong with your mentoring skills (if you have been working on them) but imagine the mentor is the person with the spoon, the wisdom is the food and the person starving is your child. You cannot mentor your own child, the whole concept of tribe was designed to have you mentor your neighbor’s child and them mentor yours’.

This is why people come to Professional Mentors/Life Coaches like myself and the Mentors I train. This is why you should become a mentor but get a distant relative or friend from another city to study mentoring with you. Then, you mentor their child and they should mentor yours’.

Let’s start a movement and use the long spoons the way the were meant to be used. I believe the Millennials have the potential to be the greatest generation since the 1940’s but they need new mentoring paradigms.

Find someone you trust and believe in to train you and your mentoring partner and begin a tiny revolution! It shall grow.

Finding Meaningful Work After University

You studied hard, you learned so much, you earned your degree – and now what? In years past, a B.A. was the key to finding a good job. However, in today’s complex job market, your hard-earned degree may not open many doors. In fact, many university graduates find themselves serving coffee at Starbucks or working at other jobs with little scope just to survive. Finding meaningful work after your university graduation can seem nearly impossible, particularly if your degree is in one of the liberal arts such as psychology, English, history or philosophy. But recent university grads are particularly suited to the field of life coaching for teens and young adults – and helping young people find their way to success is a significant way to contribute to your community, to Canadian society and to the world.

Why Be a Life Coach?
A life coach for young people helps clients change undesirable behaviours and get on the right track for success. As a recent university graduate, you are acutely aware of the types of stresses that young people are facing today. As someone who has faced obstacles and overcome them, you are uniquely qualified to help another young person who may have lost his or her way.

Many teens, when faced with obstacles such as learning problems, bullying or social anxiety, choose the wrong way to cope with them. They may become disengaged from the world, adopting a “why bother?” attitude. They may become dependent on marijuana or obsessed with video games. They may suffer from low self-esteem or anxiety and lose hope. They may develop anger issues or refuse to talk about their problems with the adults in their lives.

A life coach can often get through to a young person when their parents and others cannot. Because certified life coaches are trained to help others discover their strengths, they can guide clients toward finding their own strategies for success.

Training Certification
Do your friends often come to you for advice? Do you enjoy helping people solve problems? You may be a natural! Being a life coach or mentor pays well and the training process can be both exciting and rewarding. The best type of training follows the established medical model: Learn one, do one, teach one.

Ken Rabow, a well-known mentor to teens and young adults who need help getting back on track, runs Real Life Coaching, a resource for young people and their parents. A regular contributor to The Huffington Post, Rabow also trains people like yourself to become a professional certified life coache for troubled teens and young adults.
Real Life Coaching’s program progresses through three separate levels, which range from working with clients facing mild challenges to working with those who may be dealing with mental illness or addictions. You can earn from $35/hour to $100/hour, depending on the level of service required. One of the hallmarks of Rabow’s program is its emphasis on a 12-week hands-on practicum. Combined with intensive training, these practicums help to fully prepare you to become a professional life coach/mentor.

If you want to make your work count, become an agent of change in the life of a young person. Become a Real Life Coaching life coach!

The Mentor’s Workbook: Introduction Part I – Becoming the Perfect Mentor

Hello. My name is Ken Rabow. I am a life empowerment coach helping teens, young adults and their families find success is school, work, relationships and life in general.

There have been countless young people who have made great changes for the better in their lives through mentoring. Changes where these young people were responsible for the successful outcome. These successes are now part of who they are and how they see themselves and shall help guide them in whatever endeavors they take on in life.

The goal of this Workbook is to help you become such a mentor to young people. If you embark on this process you will find yourself helping young people to find their personal greatness. I cannot think of a nobler task or one that I consider to be more honorable to be part of.

Most systems of “repair” seem to be focused on the symptoms. They use the deficiencies to define the whole of the person. Statements such as: “I’m ADHD”. Hello, my name is Skeeter and I’m an alcoholic.” “I’m such a (fill in the blank)” ring throughout the land.

To those who spend so much time on their symptoms, I would suggest you think of the following: we amplify what we focus on, in word, thought and action. The more frequently we are defining ourselves by what we lack, the more we allow our inner thoughts to validate our beliefs in our million micro-decisions of the day.

Having said that, let me add: we cannot underestimate the amount of people who are in denial about their personal foibles. I am not suggesting self-delusion as a the road to success. I encourage you to (and by extension those you mentor) to “own” their challenges as well as their strengths, but please do not let yourself be defined by them.

Let me share with you what one can learn through mentoring:

Every young person has the ability to be successful in every way of their lives. That may seem like a bold statement but the truth is, evolutionarily speaking, if you are alive, then you are doing something right. You must also come from a line of people who were able to thrive. The DNA of success is built into you. It just may present itself in a way that doesn’t fit into a standard mold. What may seem like the opposite of success may simply be indicators that you need to look for another way. To find your own personal way to succeed.

The Slacker’s Guide to Success is once such way. It works by building up a person’s belief in themselves in quiet daily tasks that help build character. It is in the small daily tasks one does away from public view that we build up our own faith in ourselves and it is these same small tasks that have been taken away from this generation.

Shining shoes? – Velcro!
Tying your shoe laces – More Velcro!
Cutting the lawn? – no more lawns – robot lawn mowers – or paid help.
Washing the dishes? Dishwashers!
Vacuuming – Roomba!
Getting the mail (what’s mail? Oh! That stuff before texting!)
Spelling (duh … spellcheck!)
Multiplication tables (do calculators have those?)
Walking the dog (did kids ever really walk the dog?)
Homework (isn’t that what tutors are for?)

I won’t go on. It’s too depressing 🙁

What daily tasks will inspire young people to learn self-discipline, build character and belief in oneself?

Since the “old ones” are gone. They need to be replaced with new ones. (Not that new).

1. Self-reflection. 2. Exercise. 3. Creativity 4. Generativity.
Step One will delve into these in great detail.

Although each person has the potential for success and this system has proven to be highly effective, it does not mean that each person who dabbles with it will invest in it or that they will all stay the course and succeed using this system.

It means that each one has in them the seeds for success and the challenge is to find the proper system for that particular person. Often, when someone has used this system and has risen above their addictions and gone back to school and succeeded well (very often for the first time) they will whole-heartedly recommend this system for their close friends in need of guidance (in between video games levels). The chance of this particular system being right for that friend at that particular time is 50/50. The determining factor is; are they ready?

Now, let’s talk about you. What you need to bring to this system and how you can determine when your “client” is ready for your mentoring.

Who knows your child better than you do? They do! They may not know it or share all of it with you but your understanding of your child is based on history. More than likely, theirs is about right now and tomorrow. The past is often the same place where broken toys reside. Rich and meaningful at one time, but now it is mainly of use for stubbing toes and tripping us up.

It is in the future and the now that you must re-learn about your child.

Stay tuned for more!

Why We Should Mentor Millennials Suffering From Mental Illness

Do you know where you were when you heard that Robin Williams had died? I do. I felt like I had lost a family friend. Back in the day when TV meant something, Robin was a breath of fresh air, even on Happy Days.

He even made the Fonz look cooler. Then there was Mork and Mindy. His Johnny Carson appearances, including being one of the last two guests to be on Carson’s show.
Robin’s love of Jonathan Winters helped a whole new generation learn about a brilliant, improvisational comedian who had a great influence on Robin. From The World According to Garp, The Fisher King, Good Morning Vietnam to Aladdin, Robin grew and brought us along with him with kindness, humility and a never-ending well of creativity.

Then one of my troubled teen’s parents said to me: “You know, Robin seemed a lot like your clients” and it hit me. He did seem a lot like my clients. Creative people. Sensitive people. People struggling with life. Some with Aspergers. Some with Bipolar or other mental health issues but they had one advantage that Robin did not (I really wasn’t going to say me, please)… they had not learned how to succeed in life. They were stuck and nothing before our work had worked. The work which did help them was being mentored to use their talents to rise above their challenges. To have a mentor that could discuss their private fears free of the “real world”, friends and family.

Of course, this made me happy and hopeful for my clients but very, very sad for my lost family friend. Robin. Through his successes, his genius, his drive to push himself into new territories, Robing played the old magician’s trick of misdirection. We were looking at the wrong hand while the other was suffering.

There are three things I will take away from this.

1) Those who can should decide right now to mentor our troubled Millenials. Millenials with addictions, those with anxiety, those with mental illness and those with learning challenges.

2) We must be ever-vigilant to also mentor the Millenials who seem to be successful but underneath the surface are also suffering. Those with the same issues and more who are good at misdirection

3) In a world filled with divisions, hatred, war, gatherings of people wishing to cut off the head of democracy, we must counter that with love for all people, find those Millenials who might fall under the thrall of hatred and calls to war and help these Millenials to find how to be great from their powers of kindness, grace and charity.

Here is what I promise to do. I intend to train 1000 mentors by the year 2020, to help young people, focusing on Millenials in inner cities and underdeveloped nations to offer the three things I have just mentioned. This I so vow.

If you know someone who would be great at becoming a professional Mentor for teens and young adults please email us at mentor@RealLifeCoaching.ca

Millennials, Do This To Get the Most From Your Mentors

So here we are. A new school year. New clothes. New books. New gadgets, but most kids are walking in with exactly the same old labels. No. Not Calvin K. I’m talking about: ADHD; Depression; Anxiety, Slacker, Stoner etc. As a Mentor’s Mentor of Millenials I have a few suggestions to transform this year but…

First, let’s start with a quick pair of definitions:

Mentor; one who guides his/her charge.
Telemachus: one who seeks the help of a Mentor to make their way “out there”.

I have worked with countless young people who have made great changes for the better in their lives. Changes where they were responsible for their successful outcome. These successes are now part of who they are and how they see themselves and shall help guide them in whatever endeavors they take on in life. This is the most rewarding work I have ever done in my life and I consider it an honor to work with these people, following their leads, turning them out of the occasional dead ends and sharing in their joys, their quiet accomplishments and the lessons they learn from their failures.

Most systems of “repair” seem to be focused on the symptoms. They use the deficiencies to define the whole of the person. Statements such as: “I’m ADHD”. Hello, my name is Skeeter and I’m a stoner.” “I’m such a (fill in the blank)” ring throughout the school hallways.

To those who spend so much time on their symptoms, I would suggest you reflect on the following: We amplify what we focus on, in word, thought and action. The more frequently we are defining ourselves by what we lack, the more we allow our inner thoughts to validate those beliefs in our million micro-decisions of the day.

We cannot underestimate the amount of people who are in denial about their personal foibles. I am not suggesting self-delusion as a the road to success. I encourage you to (and by extension those you mentor) to “own” their challenges as well as their strengths, but please do not let yourself be defined by them.

Every young person I have ever met has the ability to be successful in every aspect of their lives, even school ☺ That may seem like a bold statement but the truth is, evolutionarily speaking, if you are alive, then you are doing something right. But to move forward, the Telemachus must find their own personal way towards success.

Mentors; know this! Each Telemachus has in them the seeds for success and the challenge is to find the proper system for that particular person. What you need to bring to this system and how you can determine when your “Telemachus” is ready for your mentoring.

A questions to all parents: Who knows your child better than you do? They do. They may not “know” it or share all of it with you but your understanding of your child is based on history. More than likely, theirs is about right now and tomorrow. The past is often the same place where broken toys reside. Rich and meaningful at one time, but now it is mainly of use for stubbing toes and tripping us up.

Secondly, to the Mentor:
It is in the future and the now that one must re-learn about your Telemachus.
You, the Mentor must bring an open mind, humility and the presence of mind to NOT JUDGE.

Finally: To the Telemachus. You are not your label(s). Not the ones your parents gave you, the ones “professionals” gave you, the ones teachers or peers gave you nor the ones you give yourself when you feel lost.

Live each moment as a new creation. Learn from the past and set a course for a new future. This is the job your Mentor should join you in but remember, it is YOU who must be in command. Use your courage to venture forth, your wisdom to assess, your determination to soldier on in the face of setbacks and your faith to learn from those around you.

Now go out there and kick some butt!

Skype – The Best Place for Life Coaching Young Adults

The best place for life coaching young adults is the same place they spend most of their time watching videos, playing games, facebooking,and sometimes for a few moments studying. Yes. Their computer screens in their special lair; their bedrooms.

The advantage is that once they start their life coaching sessions, they will have two hours a week where the same place that is the cause of their running away from life becomes the place they go to to be heard by someone who connects with them and gives them a place to do personal reflection, free of judgment.

That is what Skype sessions have done for Ken Rabow with his clients all over North America for the past 8 years. Before that, it was done primarily in Ken’s Toronto studio and the difference was so pronounced that now, his Toronto clients prefer to Skype, as does Ken.

Troubled Teens and Extra-Curricular Activities

Meet Three Clients who were Troubled Teens: Tim, Julie and Doug (not their real names).

Tim, 13 years old, is practically never at home. Hockey practice, scouts, hockey games, religious class and pre-planned get-togethers with friends, shuttled by his parents take up every non-school moment. A great kid but he seems to have trouble focusing on one thing for any length of time. Basically he is a troubled teen with anxiety.

Doug is a talented, clever man in his early 20’s who can charm any person he meets. He has also failed in his first terms at two universities and could usually be found in his room 24/7, smoking pot, playing video games or in the basement playing drums to his iPod. The epitome of depression in young adults.

Julie is now in university and has a part time job in sales. She was constantly bullied from grades 1 to grades 8 by the cliques for not dressing the way they did. “I did my own thing, I didn’t like to conform and I would get harassed daily”. The poster child for pot addiction in young adults.

Since turning thirteen, Tim, has been oppositional, scattered and disinterested in his school, studies and after-school activities. He has also started talking back to his parents.

Doug has been to every type of therapist and a few “camps” but nothing seemed to stick. “Eventually, I would get them to say to me; I really want to be your friend .. and that’s when I knew I had them”. Doug would always end up back in his room, playing video games and smoking pot.

Julie would often go to the principal after being bullied. The principal would then bring the girls in to her office and the girls would say they were sorry, that they didn’t mean it and wouldn’t do it again. The girls would leave, the principal would say “everything’s OK now!” and the bullying would continue during class, at recess and after school.

And now for something completely different:
The pre-frontal cortex, the area in the brain responsible for things such as judgment, executive control and emotional regulation continues to develop well into the mid 20’s. During this time, the brain is highly adaptable and influenced by external forces. There have been many studies that support the idea that multi-tasking and over stimulation during these formative years can lead to attention deficit disorders.

Where are they now?
Julie found that her competitive Irish dance classes and sax classes helped her build her self-confidence and to realize that if one group of people don’t like you, there are others who will.

Doug has begun a daily routine of meditation, music lessons, playing in a band and reading seminal books on psychology. He is preparing to go back to school – smoke free.

Tim has continued his over-programmed life and has attention issues.

I’ll leave the final words to them:

Julie: Head high, eyes open, heart strong. Keep fighting for yourself and don’t give in.
Doug: Find the things that you love doing and go do it.
Don’t worry what other people think, just do your best and if you mess up, get up and do it again.

Tim:……… Tim? ……… Tim’s not listening.

4 Steps to a Successful School Year

The new school year is upon us and like Ebenezer Scrooge, we are not sure if it is the ghosts of past, present or future school years that shall be visited upon us. Here are four steps to guarantee a successful school year (guarantee void where prohibited by over-achieving siblings who make us look bad no-matter-what).

We are rarely taught how to succeed in life. Some people “have it” while for others, success seems elusive. Many of us have some things we do well but don’t always know how to transfer those successes to the things in our life that challenge us.

Here are some steps that will help you have a successful school year.
It can however be used for anything you choose to excel in.
P.L.A.Y Prepare, Listen, Assess, Your Rewards

1. Prepare.
Space. The final frontier…. either it helps you take care of business or makes a mushy brain.
a) Workspace:
Where do you do your reading and writing for school?
Is it at your computer work-desk or do you have a separate area for schoolwork.
(on or near the floor of your bed does not count) Wherever it is:
Decide to make this area clutter-free.
You don’t need to do it all at once unless you have a desire to.
Simply do five minutes of organizing every time you go to this area.
Within a week most of it will be done.
A proper workspace free of clutter frees the mind of a subtle constant stress.
b) Reference Finding your stuff when you need it is half the battle.
Set up proper shelving for any books or binders that will be required for your classes.
Make sure that the materials will be easily seen and accessible when you need it.
Organize some drawers for “stuff” that usually clutters your workspace.
c) Feng Sh-who?
Look at the images you have on your walls.
Make sure that they are ones that inspire you to success.
d) Time.
Once you know your schedule for the next term, write down your class, travel, homework, clean-up and kicking-around times into a weekly schedule.
Add to the last day of the week time to reorganize your work area throughout the school year. Consider it a weekly reset to being organized.
If you use a smartphone – start using either Google Calendar or iCal for writing in your weekly schedule. Use it on your computer as well. Your scheduler should always be up to date. If there is a change to one scheduled event do the change right away. Make it so that whatever is written in your schedule is always dependable. Being organized and showing up where you are supposed to be when you are supposed to be there is empowering.

2. Listen. Concentrate. Read. Engage!
Notes.
Note taking in class is an art. You have to figure out what is important and where to focus your work. Also, figure out the standard duration of the classes you are taking and do a concentration exercise at home (meditation is a great one) that is 5 minutes more than your standard class. If you can train yourself to focus for a whole class, you can make sure you are ready for whatever important notes need to be taken.
Do the reading! Then try to ask the occasional informed question. This helps you make sure that you are on track and it creates a good connection with the teacher. They really are there to help you.
Know yourself! If you are going to waste time if you have a computer in class, do hand written notes and then transcribe them at home. Don’t put stumbling blocks in your way.

3. Assess and Re-assess Projects, Tests. Re-tests?
Remember the kid who always did their book reports the day after they were given? They were on to something. Without being overzealous, try to get reports finished by the half-way mark from the day they are given to the day they are due. This is only good if you have all the information, of course.
Tests. Most first tests are there to help the teacher assess you and help you assess your strengths and challenges in a class. If one part or many parts are off the mark that you were shooting for, make an appointment to see the teacher and ask the teacher how you can prepare to get the marks you want. If you failed, see if there is something you can do as a make-up to improve that mark and still ask how you can study more efficiently for the class. Once more; teachers really do like to see people do well and are usually pleasant when you see them off-hours to improve. (Major note – take responsibility for your “mess-up” instead of making excuses. They will respect you for that)

4. Your Rewards. Enjoy life! Give yourself treats!
If you know where you are going with your future career, find out what marks are needed (and what courses are needed) and shoot for that grade point average. If you are not sure, you can never go wrong with low 80’s.
Working successfully means having a complete life. Do your work and then reward yourself with some video game play or anything that won’t affect you waking up clear for the next day (watching the ring trilogy at two in the morning is not recomended).
When you are making changes, let your parents know your plans.
Everyone benefits from good lines of communication.

There you have it. The four steps to a successful school year.
The whole world is a P.L.A.Y. Get out there and remember:
it is only through failures that we learn to succeed…

How to Con Your Parents Into Listening to You

Okay. Lock the door. Pull down the shades (do you have shades?) and cozy up to a truth every teen knows: Parents never really listen! You know that, your friends know that, that guy with the crazy hair down the street says his parents listen but he’s home schooled. So here’s the big question: How can teens teach their parents how to listen?

But first, let’s look at some of the complaints teens have about their oblivious parents:

Teen: Mom, I’m taking the bus to school today.
Actual meaning: I made a huge dent in the side of the car last night.
Parent: That’s okay, dear; I could use the car for shopping this morning, anyway.
Complaint: Like, didn’t she get it? Oh, she will. She will.

Teen: Dad, can I stay at my friend’s house and play more video games?
Actual meaning: We’re too bloated on cheese doodles to move.
Parent: Well, as long as your friend’s parents are okay with it, I guess so.
Complaint: Like, I guess if his parents don’t know we’re pigging out, we’re fine. So, why does Dad mind I’m covered with cheese doodle paste… and so are the sofa cushions… and the carpet… and the dog ….

The thing is, most of the time teens are fine with not being listened to by their parents. But here’s the problem: What happens when you really need them to? You see, all your training in getting them to ignore you isn’t going to come in handy. You’re, like, the kid who yelled woof! Or barked, or something.

So, how do you get your parents to listen when you need them to?
Well, here’s the bad news. You can’t. They’re too old to change their ways and they only get smart again when you’re around 25. But here’s good news!. If you start to listen to them, they will start listening to you! I know, I know, it’s a lot of work, but let me tell you: it’s worth it.

Try this at home folks! Next time your parents are blathering on about something, pretend that it’s important.

Take mental notes of what they’re saying and see if you can make sense of it in your superior teen mind. Then say it back to them, to make sure you understood what they said, but in your own words. If they tell you that was exactly what they meant, then act like you care. Tell them how it would make you feel if that had happened to you. Try to imagine what it would be like.

Tell them it makes sense to feel the way they do (All the things you never hear). But now, get ready for the sick part: It actually feels really good to do this sort of listening. Only a teen could do it so well. But you never know, sometimes parents can learn new things before you are 25.

Also, if you try this listening thing out on friends, they actually start listening back. Whoah! Before you know it, you may find this stuff is habit forming. Listening and being listened to. It doesn’t suck!

My Child is Failing! What Did I Do Wrong?

Hello. I’m Ken Rabow. I am a life coach for troubled teens, unmotivated young adults and their families. A great deal of my work is with students in jeopardy of completely failing their school year or Millenials now living at home, playing video games all day, who have dropped out. So maybe it’s best to say that I am a turn-your-life-around coach.

Each time I meet with their parents, the title of this article is the unspoken question in each of their minds, followed by what I imagine is even harsher versions of inner self-flagellation.

So, I am here to tell you parents that these particular types of students are simply highly gifted people whose talents do not catch on fire from the standard models. No therapy; micro-managing; freedom or meditative chanting: “go do your work!… go do your work!! …. go do your work!!!” will help.

In fact, what these young adults really need is someone outside their circle of friends and family to create a safe space for them to stop their whole world twice a week, help them take a deep breath, exhale their fears and self-doubts and look at where they are in their lives. Asking themselves if they are truly ready to make meaningful changes in their lives. It really isn’t supposed to work with someone too close to him or her. Think of all the people we have always had around us in tribes and families throughout all of time.

It is proved over and over without a shadow of a doubt that the parents have done great parenting when these young people show that they are now ready to consider empowering themselves in some positive, but alternative way. Just by considering it, their lives are put on a better path.

You have done your work. Loved them, nurtured them and allowed them the space to find their own path and guess what? Many of our most inspirational leaders were exactly these kinds of people; Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Edison, Albert Einstein and many more. I wonder how their parents felt in the rocky school years.

The psychologist Rollo May explained that there were certain stages of development:
Innocence: the pre-self-conscious stage of the infant.
Rebellion: wanting freedom without understanding the ramifications that go along with it.
Decision: Deciding what to do with their lives and fulfilling the rebellion stage’s needs.
Ordinary: Conformity and traditional values (What? Your kid missed this one?)
Creative: Self-actualized, authentic and caring.

Not everything is supposed to be done inside the family unit. Its OK.
I shall leave you with a Rollo May quote:
Tell the child,
Look, I love you, I believe in you.
I know you are going through a lot of upset the only thing that counts
is that in the long run, you find out who you are and you live it
.”

Basketball, Autism ……… and Deception

As a life coach for teens and young adults, I work with all sorts of people in their teens and twenties. I learn from all of them. One of my most powerful learning lessons came from a 13 year old client with Autism, who allowed me to see the dangers of people in power trying to “do the right thing”. I am pleased to share with you now the inner workings of one the most interesting minds I have ever met.

My name is Stephen. I am a creative, charismatic, wise, 13 year old who gets good grades and I’m autistic. Yeah, I said that. No, I’m not some dysfunctional shmoe sitting on a couch with my coach translating all my words. I’m a guy who has something to say, who happens to be autistic.

Let me tell you a story.
It’s a real story about truth, deception and the school I used to go to (you know who you are). One day last March we had an assembly telling us about the “special” basketball game that was going to happen one week from then.

Our principal told us that we would be facing a “pro” basketball team made up of grade sevens, eights and high school kids and that it was supposed to be just for fun.

Our team was mostly grade sixes. Pretty young. Not very experienced. Kind of noobs and it was a fairly small basketball team made up of kids with different levels of Autism. I hadn’t signed up that year because I thought I had enough to do with karate and had done basketball and soccer the year before. The last year we hadn’t faced another school, though.

The team started practicing and my friend found out who the other basketball team was and he was pretty confident that we were going to get demolished. I thought they were going to get demolished too, but as it turns out what happened was even worse!

On the day of the basketball game
, we walked into the school. It had massive hallways with lockers on both sides. At least it was massive compared to what I was used to.
We walked down a few flights of stairs and went to one of the three gyms in the school.
This gym was gigantic. The basketball nets were very high with a score board up top and bleachers for us to sit in .

I went to sit down on one of the middle bleachers only to find out that the opposing school basketball team was even bigger than I expected – high schoolers galore and even huge grade sevens and eights.

They started by introducing the teams and all the players.
The teams set up and we began the first quarter. On the very first play our team got the ball and went to the other team’s net. They were just standing all around shooting the ball over and over. They kept missing and then trying again to the point that it became ridiculous. Me and the teacher beside me made a joke that our team was camping and roasting marshmallows. Game-related chuckles ☺

After that our team eventually scored and the game continued. The same thing kept happening. We scored most of the goals while the opposing team would score the occasional points. It was in the third quarter that I realized what was really happening.

One of their players passed the ball to our player. That was when I got it. I knew why our team wasn’t being demolished. When our players were “camping” the other team wasn’t fighting back because the other team was being easy on us. We were lied to. Deceived. It was then I realized the truth. This wasn’t just for fun. It was to deceive us to make us feel good about ourselves.

It made me feel angry. It made me think I was lied to probably every other time we had played. It made me doubt all the victories I had achieved in the past. It made me feel that it was all for nothing.

I asked the teacher next to me: “why is the other team being easy on us?” The teacher said “I’ll talk to you about this afterwards” and the way he said it to me made me feel that he wanted it to be secret. That he didn’t want it to ever be known.

Now many teachers at my old school may argue that they weren’t “technically lying”,
but it doesn’t even matter. They used a form of deception on students that they knew would never figure it out. As one of those students who did figure it out, I can tell you: I’d rather be told I’m weak in something than to find out later that I had been lied to about it.

The Moral of the Story;
You can have compassion for people without deceiving them.

Try to find teams that are balanced and equal to each other and if that’s not possible, then switch the teams around, put some of the monster players on our team and some of the autistic players on their team. Then all the players would learn to cooperate with people that they aren’t quite used to working with.

Honest and realistic compliments and criticism would be much more effective and tolerable by people like me.

Afterward by Ken.
I was probably the fifth person that Stephen had shared this story with and the typical response Stephen had heard was that he should just let it go. My response was; “let’s write it down, figure out a moral and share it with everyone”! Now I’m asking you to please share this with parents, teachers, schools and every person who truly wants to help people in need, using respect and honor as their guidelines.

Please share with us your own inspirations and I’ll get Stephen to write back ☺

To join Ken’s mailing list click here. To join Ken’s Facebook page click here

50 Easy Exercises for A Happier Life

Hey parents! Stop for a minute. Take a deep breath and realize that in most cases your kids will end up fine despite your worst fears and worries. Yes, there are cautionary tales out there but if you are reading this, you are one of those parents who really care and spend the time searching for different sources to learn from to improve yourself and your family. Here now is the best piece of advice I can give you. It helped a brilliant but not-so-mainstream artist to “make it big” Don’t worry be happy! (Thank you Bobby McFerrin)

Easier said then done but here are ten really great things you can do to make sure that your life is on the road to happiness.

Wake up and be thankful. That’s right. Every day is a new day. A chance for new opportunities so when you wake up, think about how lucky you are to have another chance to do something good in the world.

Look in the mirror and stare into your eyes. Marvel at the fact that you can see. Think about all the things in your body that have to work just so for you to walk, eat, breath and rid yourself of toxins.

When taking your shower today feel the water as it cascades over your body. Revel in the feel of water. Enjoy the idea of cleaning away yesterday’s dirt and beginning a new day clean and fresh.

Appreciate the people in your home. The wonder of their creation. The image of when you first laid eyes on them and the feeling you first felt in your heart about them that made you feel happy to have them in your life.

Investigate the first food you are about to eat. See the shapes, textures and colors. Smell it. Sample the taste of it and then enjoy the feeling that it unfolds as you slowly chew on it.

As you go out into the world take in all the aspects of nature that surround you. The weather. The sky in all its variations. Trees. Animals. Birds. Listen to the sounds of nature. They are there no matter where you are. Watch the tiniest insect for a moment and be amazed at what they can do.

Find people at work with a positive mental attitude. Make it your goal to be around those people as much as you can and when you are with others, who tend to focus on the negative, try to avoid those conversations and steer the talks to something good.

Choose a moment in the day to take a break. It may be for five minutes or it may be for 30 seconds. Reflect on something that you are striving for (or will start striving for) that will enrich your life and the lives of those you care about. It could be a vacation, a home improvement project, a creative family endeavor or anything else that is out of the ordinary and get everyone away from their routines and “in the moment”.

Take some time to listen at the end of the day to each family member and have them tell you something inspiring that happened that day. They can follow with why that makes them feel thankful.

Write down in a journal three things that you are grateful for that happened today. Make sure that at least one of them is something completely new or at the very least rare.
There you have it! The secret to happiness is focusing the mind away from worry, away from judgment and onto the beauty of the world. It is so easy to let ourselves get lost in the detritus of this existence but remember that there is beauty all around us. Love yourself and your place in the world and be aware of how that can make you feel and how you make others feel by extension.

Be happy. Be thankful. Be giving. Be loving. It’s not easy but it’s that simple.

Wait a minute! Where’s the others?!?

The first 10 Easy Exercises are things to do every day.
The Following are exercises to do once a month.
They follow the same patterns as the One Minute Meditations
And the 365 Mentoring moments.
Those are quick ideas to inspire and keep with you during the day.
The following are actual exercises to try for about 5 minutes a day.

The Daily Themes:
Friday: Observe Something Special
Saturday: Rest
Sunday: Share A Meal
Monday: Communication – You Listen
Tuesday: Generativity (adding something meaningful to your day)
Wednesday: Communication – You Share
Thursday: Free For All! (Whatever floats your boat – spiritually 🙂

This Week’s Theme: Giving Children Their Space

Friday: The best leaders are the best followers Teach your child to lead by letting them have a leadership excursion. Make it appropriate to their age and abilities and let them organize it, lead it and deal with the mess-ups that may occur. Avoid micro-managing, judging or complaining. You will be surprised at who learns the most from this.

Saturday: Walk for adventure. : Let your feet guide you. Your sense feed you. Your heart inspire you. Leave your worries, your planning, your electronics at home. Do this for as little as 10 or as much as 60 minutes. All the great thinkers of times past used one hour walks for inspiration.

Sunday: You are what you eat. Take time to plan your meal tonight. Make something just for yourself that is nourishing to the senses and to the soul. Make sure it also is healthy, colorful and ethically made. Think of those who make all the different parts and give thanks to them before consuming it.

Monday: We learn from listening. Decide today that you will pretend that you don’t know the best answer, the proper quip or the smartest piece of information. Think of yourself today as a miner of the gold in the thoughts of others. You mine gold by sifting through all the crud to the rich nuggets.

Tuesday: The three most important rules for mentoring a child 1) Be Kind. 2) Be Kind. 3) Be Kind. How do you do that? Let go of judgments. Give your child a safe place to go “out there” and try things. Let them learn from their mistakes. Be there as a sounding board.

Wednesday: We are either succeeding or we are learning Help show your child examples of great people (or ones you know) learning and doing something outstanding by not being stopped and sometimes changing direction through failures.
The easy example: Edison and the Light Bulb.

Thursday: Be Fletcher Reede The character from the film Liar Liar was cursed into being forced to say the truth. Try the same thing but filter it with kindness, wisdom and only that which will inspire others. A truth told before its time is worse than a lie.

Stay tuned for more!

The Slacker’s Guide To Success – Step 7 – Follow Your Bliss!!!

The Slacker’s Guide to Success is Ken Rabow’s method based on his work with Troubled Teens and Millenials over the past 13 years. Here is an excerpt. Enjoy!

What if you could do anything you wanted to with your life?
What would you do? How would you be? How would you go about it? Who would you seek out? What if it wasn’t what you thought it would be? How would you know when you’d arrived?

Be careful what you wish for. I am going to give you the keys to make whatever you want happen as long as it is for the benefit of all who are touched by your choices. These ideas have been stated many times in many ways by many people, but this one is written for you.

Pick your target: What is it that makes you happy when you are doing it but also contributes to the human collective? If this is something you would be happy doing for the next 10 years, choose this as your target.

Be the arrow: The only thing stopping us is our fears and limiting beliefs. When we eliminate those, anything is possible. If you have reached this stage in the steps to success, you are ready to go after your dreams. Don’t let anyone tell you it’s impractical. Don’t let anyone tell you, you can’t do it. The people who have achieved greatness had everything you and I have, they just followed their bliss.

The Bliss Process
Target– Think of your target. Make this your focus for everything you do from now on. As you get closer to your target, you will receive tempting offers to do other things. If it is not “on target” …. let it go! You will be richly rewarded for staying on your passions.
Aim – Your short term ways of hitting your target require aim. Focus on what you need to hit your target and make this your daily work.
Adjust – Nothing comes easy (unless you truly believe it can). When you aim and miss, be ok with missing and simply adjust, re-aim and do it again. Someone once said; “I’m either getting it right or I’m learning”.

Seek out those of like minds. If you are the smartest and anything-est in your group, find another group. Your life skills are affected by those who you spend time with. If they are successful and happy, you will learn subtle skills and positive subconscious self-speak that will help you succeed and bring you joy and happiness through osmosis.

Reboot the arrow: People never die regretting what they did. They regret what they didn’t do. Having said that, sometimes you dive into something, embrace it with all of your heart only to discover it wasn’t for you. You now have two camps: a) those who say “you started it, you finish it or you’re a quitter” b) those who say “life is a series of experiences bumping into accidents on the way to your bliss”. It’s not what you do but what you learn from the experience that counts.

Pierce the target: Guess what, we almost never arrive. New targets will come, new adventures will unfold themselves to you if you are on your true path. It is only in trying to make the world a bit better, that we leave a legacy of love that resonates beyond the ages. Nothing resonates as much as loving your fellow human being. So many people spend their lives looking at what is wrong with the world. Look for what is right. It’s easier and more fun.

What did you do as a child that created timelessness, that made you forget time. Therein lies the myth to live by”… Joseph Campbell

The Slacker’s Guide to Success – Step 12 – A Full Life

Helping Millenials Have A Full Life
Just imagine… A happy, successful, life where play-time is as fulfilling as work-time and learning-time. Relationships become opportunities for joy, sharing and lots of close, meaningful contact that is mutually satisfying.

But seriously, we’re talking about a full life for teens and young adults. Let’s face it, the teenage years are not easy and they’re not drama-free. Basically there’s lots in them that sucks.

Tell yourself: “You can have a full life that still sucks from time to time. You can have meltdowns and do some really dumb stuff. The difference is, unlike Bart with Rock Paper Scissors, you can learn from it all, if you choose to”.

To the parents: The best way to teach is by example. Try the following exercises and share the experience with your child. Wait for them to ask to try some of it on their own and if they don’t, find a challenging moment for them and when the dust settles, ask how mindfulness might have changed how they would have dealt with the situation.

Being mindful.
We all have moments when we are at our best and nothing can throw us off. Sometimes it can feel like we are outside of ourselves watching the events take place and just knowing what the wise and just responses for anything that comes our way would be. That is being mindful. Then there are the times that we aren’t so mindful. Times when our antics get the ‘rents to ask us: whose kid are you anyways?!?

What follows is a way to get yourself to be present and aware in all circumstances so that on your worst day, you are making conscious choices that can lead to great moments of clarity. I have been teaching this to young adults for the past eleven years and it always has met with success. Just know that sometimes it takes a bit more time to take hold. Don’t give up. It really is worth it and if it was easy, everyone would do it.

It starts with quieting your mind at the beginning of a new day.
Take a few moments upon arising to breath in slowly and deeply, then let out the breath even more slowly. Try to focus, if you can, on the flow of your breath. Imagine letting go of any stress, tension or worries and breath in qualities such as calm, peacefulness or good health. Do this for a few minutes every day.
Taking a few moments to empty your mind of word “noise” can help you throughout the day perceive what is happening around you without your emotional filters getting in the way.

Repeat a meaningful phrase to yourself of something you wish to accomplish that day: i.e.
a) Today, I will focus on being present for all conversations that are important to me and I will be great at it!
b) Today, I am calm, centered and open to being my best.
c) Today, I will share my thoughts deeply, honestly and with kindness.
d) Today, I will be a team player, thinking about what will help us succeed.
e) Make up your own here _______________________________________

Now we shall bring this concept into our learning, work, play and relationships.

Being mindful in learning: It doesn’t matter if your are learning for school, work or a hobby. This is about seeing what learning style you are best at and how you learn. Use this awareness of your strengths to make your own successful learning methods.
a) Take a moment and look at what you need to accomplish today in your learning.
b) Break it down into sections and make a rough estimate of how much time is need for each part.
c) Figure out how much time is reasonable for you to prepare today, taking into account the best amount of time at one sitting for you to work and how much break time is reasonable.
d) Determine how you learn best. Are you visual (V), auditory (A) or kinesthetic (K). Figure out which is first, which is second and which is third. Adjust your learning so that you incorporate at least your two major learning styles in your work. For example if you are VAK, you might read the material, then repeat it aloud. If you are VKA, you might read it then write it in your own words (probably hand written would be best).
e) When you are engaged in learning something, be aware of where your attention is and when it drifts, gently return it to the subject at hand.

Being mindful in work:
There are constant opportunities at work to give more than what is requested of you. Each time you give a little more than what is asked of you from a caring, humble place, you set the forces of the laws of return in motion. The law of return states that: for every action, there is an equal or greater reaction. When you plant a seed and tend to it, you receive not just one seed back but a whole crop of whatever it was that you planted. If you are not rewarded when you have proven yourself, ask for that reward, if it is still not forthcoming, find some other employer who will appreciate your extra effort. Always give more than what is asked of you. You will get noticed for this and rewarded over time.

Being mindful in play.
There are so many aspects to being mindful at play. Not just in the details of the game but also in relating to the other players in the game. How do they present themselves? Will they be assets or liabilities? How are they when they win? How are they when they lose? How are they when something unexpected throws them off? More importantly, how are you in all those circumstances? This tells you so much more than just skill level can. Mindfulness in play is about being aware of the game, the people and a sense of proportion while seeing the metaphors for how to be in life in the act of play.

Being mindful in relationships.
There are those who are always in some sort of a “relationship” and those who have never been in a relationship.
If you are in a relationship, the two most important tools are
1) learning to listen and 2) knowing how to argue well.
Learning to listen requires putting aside what you think is right and understand things from your partner’s perspective. Knowing how to argue well means focusing on what is annoying you at the time, without bringing in the past, judging the person or blaming the person.
If you have not been in a relationship, one thing is for sure. Nothing will get you to grow more than a serious relationship. It challenges all your comfort zones, takes away time from serious vegging yet has so much to offer.
Think of the type of partner you would want in your life. Their qualities, their demeanor and then imagine the type of person you want to be to attract that person. This is still about being you but also growing in relationship maturity to get a mature relationship.

All of these different parts of being mindful make for a full life.

When you are mindful in these parts of your daily life, your life is one of being there. Of really living and not just killing time to go virtual. Learning to care and to matter may be one of the greatest commodities in the coming age of ideas because then your work, play, study and relationship times become places to experience, feel, think and grow.

Live each day like it was the only one you have. Care about people and learn from everything. Most importantly; write, blog, tell stories, share stories and listen to stories because all we have after we’re gone are the stories we leave behind. Leave a good one. Leave stories of a life lived on purpose that was well-lived and touched others in a meaningful way. That is a full life.

When parents embrace the idea that by living a full life we can have a greater impact than all the words, all the images and all the sounds running through a young person’s life today, we can truly change the world for the better.

365 Mentoring Moments

As a Life Empowerment Coach/Mentor, my job is to help young people find their personal success when they have only had people focus on what was “wrong” with them in the past. 365 Mentoring moments is a companion daily exercise to the 1 Minute Meditations, based on the same weekly form and connected to my different articles that ultimately work with my 13 Chapter Book “The Slacker’s Guide to Success”.

Try them! They really change the dynamic in a family and they’re direct from whatever it is that inspires me… Ken

The Daily Themes:
Friday: Observe Something Special
Saturday: Rest
Sunday: Share A Meal
Monday: Communication – You Listen
Tuesday: Generativity (adding something meaningful to your day)
Wednesday: Communication – You Share
Thursday: Free For All! (Whatever floats your boat – spiritually 🙂

This week’s Mentoring Moments:

Week 3 – Picking new things to do:

Friday: Do something together like painting, or making models or something with play-dough
Saturday See how long you can both keep silent with nothing on. Just looking at each other.
Sunday: Try a new game with your child that involves music
Monday: Let you child teach you about one of their favorite foods and you do the same.
Tuesday: Ask you child to talk about one interesting thing they witnessed today. Be patient while they try to find it.
Wednesday: Let you child know which strangers are ok to be friendly with.
Thursday: Ask your child to tell you something special about someone in your family.

Week 1 – Investigation

Friday: Catch your child doing something right.
Saturday: Let go of criticizing, commenting, judging and just look for the good in your child
Sunday: Let your child teach you a recipe and have them guide you. Follow their direction as though you were the student and they were the teacher.
Monday: Listen for anything your child says that is positive and comment on how it makes you feel.
Tuesday: Be generative by adding one thing in your day that isn’t what you “have” to do but what makes life better.
Wednesday: Share your thoughts on a world event and how it can make the world a better place.
Thursday: Watch something your child loves that you couldn’t be paid to watch and see it through their eyes.

Week 2: Judging and Judgment-Free

Friday,Observe something special in nature today and share it with your child.

Sat:Let your child do stuff for themselves today and comment on what parts of it showed intention.

Sun:Share a favorite food of your child’s and invite them to explain what they like about it. Be OK with “Idunno”.

Mon: Listen for what makes your child laugh. Appreciate their humour.

Tue: Be generative today by nurturing something that grows. A pet. A plant or just really hug a tree. (blame me if someone sees you ☺ Tell your child what you did and how it felt.

Wed: Share a moving time from your childhood that you have never told your child before.

Thur: Sing a song! Loud. With all your heart. With all your soul and if someone disses your singing just tell them that they missed the point.

More to come!

1 Minute Meditations

Life is hectic (big shock, I know)
If we can stop for even one moment a day and focus on something greater than our “to-do” list, we can start to let our best nature have a chance to flow into every aspect of our lives.

One minute meditations are based on a weekly plan. Each day has a theme. The meditations can take as little as one minute and can be repeated throughout the day. To make them more profound, share a thought with us on which one touched you and how you used it.

I use these with some of my clients as a springboard for meditation and to get my clients “out of their heads and into their hearts”.

The Daily Themes:
Friday: Observe Something Special
Saturday: Rest
Sunday: Share A Meal
Monday: Communication – You Listen
Tuesday: Generativity (adding something meaningful to your day)
Wednesday: Communication – You Share
Thursday: Free For All! (Whatever floats your boat – spiritually 🙂

One Minute Meditations

Week 1 – Investigation
Friday: Pay attention to how often you use the word “no” during the day and replace it when you can with “yes”!
Saturday: Want to change your life? Take five minutes – empty your mind and …wait
Sunday: At meal time share something you’ve done this week that was positive.
Monday: Stop! Look them in the eyes and let them finish what they are saying. They will feel really heard.
Tuesday: The first step in changing your life is doing something good for yourself daily and keeping track of it
Wednesday: Eliminate one fear by letting someone know one of your strengths and one of your weaknesses
Thursday: You can be great at almost anything once you get past perfectionism

Week 2 – Judging and Judgment-Free

Friday: Catch your child doing something right
Saturday: Change starts by doing 5 minutes a day of good stuff and building on it
Sunday: Let your child cook tonight. Be their sous-chef
Monday: Just for today, when your child speaks take in their words history-free
Tuesday: Start a change jar to give to some coins to charity. Put some in whenever you feel thankful
Wednesday: Do a random act of kindness and share it with your family.
Thursday: Don’t just read stuff on the internet – do something in real life! Now!

Secret S**t Your Kids Won’t Tell You

There are so many things that teens and Millenials think that are simply not being heard by their parents. How do I get to hear it? As a life coach for troubled teens and unmotivated millenials, I ask the simple, slightly obvious questions that it seems no one asks them or takes seriously.

What is weird is that once you hear the answers they seem obvious and they actually work!
This will be series of short facts and solutions.
If you like them or if you have one you want us to look at please comment at the bottom of this blog.

The following are in no apparent order. Just when they are shared by my clients.

Case Study #3 – Why I Have So Much Anxiety Reason # 12

Kid’s Statement: I never know what will trigger it but when the anxiety comes I lose all control and feel lost. I get these attacks 4 – 6 times a day.
Fact: Most anxieties have specific triggers.
Question: How many attacks to you get?
Response: I’m always anxious. I get many attacks a day. I can have between four and six in a single class.
Ken: Are their times you can control them?
Client: Yes.
Ken: When and how.
Client: When they are not taking over. I can just calm myself down.
Ken: What is the range for your anxiety?
Client: My panic scale goes from 1 – 20. Up to six I can calm myself down. At 10, I’d stay home. 10 – 15 is a no man’s land. I’m a crying mess. At 20 I won’t remember saying or doing things. Over 10 I’m sort of out of control. Between 6 and 10 grounding exercises will help me snap back out of it.

Ken: What if I could show you a way to be anxiety free for one day a week?
Client: I would get anxiety without my anxiety.
Ken: That makes sense. Let’s find something that you would be OK having instead of anxiety. That let’s you feel safe. In command. And that you might prefer.

Result: Client now has two anxiety-free days a week and averages two to three panic attacks on other days. Client goes above 10 only once every one or two weeks and the over-all scale is reducing in intensity. Client is also finding that they can enjoy the healthy feelings they are choosing on the anxiety free day and has begun writing brilliant poetry.

Ken’s Comment: There is no way that this sort of issue that presents itself in this way can be dealt with by close family members. It requires an outside coach. My concern is that certain people would be too quick to medicate such a client. Although I am in favor of medication when self-harm is apparent, I do not feel that such a client, in this case required it and in fact, they didn’t.
Sometimes the triggers are not the first place to go. If the client already has some coping mechanisms, I want to get those “solid” before going back to the triggers. Everything is based on what the client’s strengths are. Rules are made to be broken 🙂

TIP #! Daily Showering (or the lack thereof)
Statement: “I only shower when I need to or if I have worked out or if I’m going out somewhere special”.
Fact: They sometimes smell like a homeless person.
Question: “Why don’t you wash more often?”
Response: “It dries out my skin”.
Ken: “What do you wash yourself with”.
Client: “(A commonwealth country) spring”.
Ken: You know, its close to impossible to really tell if you smell ok or nasty at least 1/2 the time. If I got you a quality shower soap, that didn’t have toxic crap in it, had moisturizers and didn’t have you smelling like a tart. would you try it?
Client: Sure!

Client now washes (almost) every day.
Ken’s comment. Up until now the discussion between parent and child stopped at you smell like a homeless person.

TIP #2 Reasons NOT to study – Reason #372

Kid’s Statement: I always intend to study and the day just slips away from me. Before I know it, the day’s done.
Fact: You know you’re not going to study and we know you’re not going to study.
Question: Why aren’t you studying?
Response: I just can’t seem to get organized.
Ken: If you started doing three 5 – 15 minute sessions of study a day, do you think you could handle that?
Client: I think that is do-able.
Ken: Let’s just start with that and figure out in each day the best time to get those sessions in and see what happens. Tick them off in a chart so we can figure out your best patterns.
Client: I can handle that.
Result: Within one month, client is doing three 15 – 25 minute sessions and learning how to take brakes (and what kind to take) and get back to studying.
Ken’s Comment: Parents pointing out the problem or telling them to “just do it” only reinforces the child’s self-condemnation. It’s kind of like the Chinese finger puzzle.

Stay tuned for more Secrets!

Finding The Confidence ……. To Find Love

As a life coach for troubled teens and unmotivated Millenials, I work with a lot of people with mental health issues ranging from anxiety to schizophrenia. What is really a great honor is to have people in their teens and 20’s trust me enough to share their deepest thoughts about their lives with me.

Sometimes, these thoughts need to be shared. I am doing so now with permission.

Meet Reginald (Really? You think that there is a twenty-something schizophrenic living in Toronto in the 21st century named Reginald?!?). No, it’s not his real name. He is on a fair bit of medication which he takes consistently since we have been working together. Reginald has gone back to university and is following my regimen of taking one course in semester one, two in 2nd semester, all the way up to five once he has learned how to study efficiently, prepare to write papers (not in the 24 hours before its due) and work with T.A’s and teachers when something doesn’t make sense.

Regg is doing famously. He is also in a wheelchair, more round than tall and although when I met him he radiated “I know more than you” (which he often did) he now radiates the warmth, the grace, the brilliant humour which is how I know Reginald to be.

So here we are. Doing great at school (low 80’s), contributing really well in class and what should come along? Valentine’s day! And who is sitting next to him in class but a warm, sensitive woman who seems to “get” Regg’s humour and he senses there is something there. Now remember, this is Reginald 2.0. Through the work we’ve done he has found new faith in himself and his self-worth has grown with every task we have set upon doing and succeeding or figuring out how to rise above.

They go for coffee. They share thoughts. They share fears. Esmeralda shares the fact that she used to be a cutter and then Reginald tells her that he was diagnosed with schizophrenia. Esmeralda’s starts shifting uncomfortably in her seat, not making eye contact and shortly afterwards excuses herself due to a very bad headache. She also doesn’t sit on the same side of class anymore.

I see Regg twice a week, which I do with all my clients, better to reinforce good habits and less time to acquire bad ones. We meet the next day and he shares the Esmarelda incident with me.

What do you say to someone who is the most thoughtful, astute, wise and sensitive guy you could know who has just had all his self-worth shattered. His greatest fears realized. “No one will ever love me for who I am”.

This is not just the cry of all the Reginalds in the world. It is the call of a great many people out there who feel less than worthy.

I told Regg the simple truth: “Regg, you are special. There is no one like you and I feel honored to work with you, laugh with you and learn from you. There is no question that there are other people out there like me who will see you for who you are and women who will not care about any labels you may have. They will fall in love with you”.

You can’t just give up because you haven’t found love or met people who live their lives based on appearances or fear. You know that. Tell yourself: “I deserve to be loved. I deserve happiness and I will be patient and relentless in my pursuit of both”. Say it again.
Say it everyday into the mirror while looking into your deepest self.

To all the Reginalds and the Esmeraldas out there: Keep your eyes sharp, your hearts open, your faith strong and your resolve everlasting and Happy Valentines Day to those who are loved and those waiting to know that there is a lover out there who will love them as they are.

Check out more of Ken’s articles on Huffington Post by clicking here

Valentine’s Day, Romance and Millenials

From Romeo and Juliet to Pyramus and Thisbe and beyond, Millenials having been teeing off parents in their romantic choices for thousands of year. If this has been going on that long, what chance do we have in getting today’s Millenials to do any better?

Let’s imagine the following to be true for a moment:
1) It is in a Millenial’s DNA to want to experience romantic love. (remember, people didn’t live that much past their 30’s for most of recorded history, so families were being made right after puberty)
2) It is also deeply ingrained in Millenials to challenge authority. (This would come in handy when caveman “b” didn’t want cave-Millenial “c” to rub those sticks together and make that fire thing because that wasn’t what grand-cave-pa “a” did).
3) It is very much part of every Millenial to want to be part of a collective. (Back to our cave … more people together, less likely that you are the saber-tooth’s happy meal)

So how does this play out for today’s Millenials if it is in their DNA to want the above three things which puts them at odds with their families? Throughout history, we have had many elders that the upcoming generation could go to and learn from in different ways of being. It was through ritual, tribe and faith (with a special nod to fear) that the clans survived.

So, to transpose that into today’s world: we have supplanted romantic love with inhuman cosmetic ads and reality TV shows with medically altered contestants.
We have replaced the authority of family with scientists (9 out of 10 doctors proscribe bland-ex) and our predilection for tribes shows up for the best and worst in flash-mobs and social media.

Can you blame a kid for feeling messed up about romance?
How do we model romance in a world where companies spend billions of dollars a year convincing us to consume stuff to compensate for the inadequacies that they convinced us we had?

Facts about romantic love:
The best thing a father can do for his daughter is love his wife.
The best thing a mother can do for her son is love her husband.
Taking the time for each other as parents and showing one’s affection for each other creates a great model for romantic love.
Arguing with each other using healthy conflict-resolution skills will help your children in many future situations.
Taking quality time with your children from reading to them in bed, to letting them teach you what they have learned or about their hobbies empowers them and allows them to seek out similar people who want to embrace the best in life.

So when your young adult comes to you in puppy-love wanting to give or get some flowers from someone you are not sure you want in your house, smile and make sure they remember the following:
Romance, rising above your parents and finding like-minded people can become the passing of the torch to Millenials in the very best of ways when we commit to loving, healthy relationships and bring these qualities into our daily family lives.
And for those who can’t…. there’s always bland-ex! 🙂

What’s the Point of Doing This?… The Teenage Mantra

So, you’ve asked your teen for the 400th time to do whatever.
You scream in front of their “friends”. Your yelled back at. Doors are sent slamming and just as the door is about to close you hear the words: “What’s the point of doing this anyways!!!”

I was just Skyping with one of my younger clients who seemed to have the nervous habit of tapping continuously at his keyboard while we Skyped. When I occasionally asked why he was doing this, he responded; “I’m not doing anything! I just like to tap.”

One day, he tapped the wrong button on his laptop and the sound of a snorting beast being zapped by a space ray filled the room. So there you have it, the “moment of truth”.

(First, confirmation)
Me: So, you’ve been playing this game for the last six sessions while we’ve been Skyping?
Skeeter: Well, not all the time.
Me: Most of the time?
Skeeter: Yeah. Pretty much. It’s so addictive!
Me: I can understand that. But, you’ve been telling me that you weren’t doing anything, right?
Skeeter: Yeah.
Me: Can you see where I’d have a problem with that?
Skeeter: I guess.
Me: What do you think the problem with that is?
Skeeter: ‘Cause I was lying?
Me: And what’s wrong with lying?
Skeeter: It’s …. Bad?
Me: Why is it bad?
Skeeter: I dunno.

(Time for left field)
Me: What do you know about Abraham Lincoln?
Skeeter: He looked weird, he became president. He got shot.
Me: True. Do you know anything about his life?
Skeeter: Nuh-uh.
Me: When Lincoln ran for president, he was an unknown and considered a “hick”. He was running against three of the greatest hopes for the presidency yet it was he who won. One of those men, Stanton, wrote about the new President’s choices as “the painful imbecility of Lincoln.” Yet, Lincoln saw a greatness in Stanton that would help the country and brought him into Cabinet.

When Lincoln was assassinated it was Stanton who said: “There lies the most perfect ruler of men the world has ever seen. Now he belongs to the ages”.
Lincoln was a man of great character that even his detractors could recognize.

(The Point?)

I’m not going to ask you every time if you are still playing that game anymore.
I’m just going to ask you one thing.
Skeeter: What’s that?
Me: Do I have your word of honor that you won’t play the game while we work?
Skeeter: Yes.
Me: Longer, please.
Skeeter: Yes, I give you my word of honor.
Me: That’s all I need. I know I don’t have to worry about that again
(And Skeeter never did play that game during our Skype sessions again).

So, why do I tell you this story?
Because there is no answer to “why should I bother!”
There is only the opportunity to find some way to challenge a young person to want to be a person of good character.
I don’t know why we don’t champion that in daily life anymore but let’s start.
Share with me an example of how you inspired you child to be a person of good character.

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Top 10 Tips for Successful Homework Habits

Why bother? I won’t need it in “real life”. This is the question heard over and over again in bedrooms, school hallways and principals waiting rooms for as long as there has been chalk.

No one can tell you what will help you subject-wise in the future but the one thing I can guarantee you is that if you can master self-discipline in learning new things and being able to talk intelligently on the subject afterwards, you will do well in whatever you do.

It’s the process – not the subject

The tips below have been worked on by many of my students who have gone from average or failing grades to 80’s and higher. More importantly, the skills will be helpful in growing in this every-changing world.

Successful homework tips:

1. Those who do not learn from it are doomed to repeat it; they were talking about history but it could be pretty much anything. There is a big difference between beating yourself up about past mistakes and learning from them and moving on. There’s a whole other way to go and that’s denial. Don’t go there. It may feel good at the time but it doesn’t help. Learn from your mistakes and move on. We only get better by embracing our failures, dusting ourselves off and getting back on that exam bronco.

2. Sleep helps. Guarantee yourself an easier time to succeed (isn’t this what it’s all about?) by making sure you are well rested on school days. I know you’ve heard it before but make it be something that you choose to do for yourself. You’ll feel empowered.

3. Divide and conquer. It’s all about the notes. Good notes depend on how much of the important notes are in handouts, how much is in the texts and how much is in the class notes. Getting someone who has taken the class to give you the right blend of the three will go along way to having the right notes.

4. Keep your eyes on the prize. Your job is to figure out how to take good notes and to make sure that you can stay focused for the length of any given class. Too many smart students received less marks then they should have because they would tune out 30 minutes into the class. If your class is 45 minutes, find some interesting extra-curricular hobby that gets you to focus for that amount of time; meditation, martial art, discussion groups, debate clubs, chess… anything that gets you to push your concentration once or twice a week to the length of your regular school class. You’ll be amazed at how much better your note taking will be.

5. Teachers can help! The vast majority of teachers really want you to do well. Booking a time to meet with them and to understand what is important to them about their class will save you tons of guess-work and let you focus on what is really important in the class.

6. HTWFAIP – Anyone who knows me knows I rave about this book and for good reason. How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie is a fantastic book that helps you understand how to appreciate people and benefit in your dealings with them. This may sound weird as a homework tip but there are times when stuff doesn’t go right. If you use the principles in that book when meeting with your teacher, you will find the best ways to succeed in any sticky situation. Remember, your parents will gladly stick up for you but you learn the most (for your entire life) by representing yourself.

7. Timing is everything:
Paper training. How often have you waited to just before the deadline of one or more projects, only to realize that you also had to start getting ready for your exams.

Simple solution:
a) Take the date you receive your project and the end date,
b) Divide those date in half and make that your new due-date.
c) Organize the time from your start date to your new due-date by dividing the tasks that have to happen (research, notes, first drafts, editing, etc.,). This gives you more time to organize your exams.

8. Exam prep.
If you have followed tips one to six, you have the basic prep for a successful exam schedule. Remember, we want you walking out of each of those exams knowing you kicked butt! If it is the only exam in that time period, give yourself three to five days to review and test yourself.

If it is one of a series of tests, do the following:

1) Look over all the exams you have to take,
2) Rate them on difficulty and amount of study time needed,
3) Make a time chart of when you need to focus on the upcoming exam and how much time you need to keep prepping for the tougher exams.

Burnt Brains may be a delicacy in some Indiana Jones flick but they have no place in your weekly note-taking world. If you are fuzzy, you cannot study. Save it for a time that won’t compromise learning: Friday nights, Saturday nights and summers. You may get to the point that many of my students get to that realize it really is never worth not “being there”.

9. Reward yourself!
Pick something you really like; a video game, a movie, a great album – and give yourself a 50/50 treat. X minutes of homework gives you x minutes of your treat. Guess what! I’m using that system right now to write this article.

10. Don’t Panic! The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy had it right. Of course they were talking about the Earth being made into an intergalactic parking lot and we are talking about your exams. They’re pretty close… except for the end of the world part.

The biggest enemies to good grades are bad prep and needless fears

Go back in your mind to a great exam that you felt good in and remember how you thought and felt. Let’s call this your “success place”. Whenever you are studying or going into and exam and fears come, recall your “success place”. Especially how it felt.

You are tying your future successes to positive feelings. It works for golfers, boxers, musicians and it will work for you.

There you have it. The keys are in your hands. It has helped many of my students to succeed at their very best. Remember, reward yourself for the good stuff and don’t get too hung up on the bumps along the way.

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The Slacker’s Guide to Success – Introduction

The Slacker’s Guide to Success is Ken Rabow’s method based on his work with Troubled Teens and Millenials over the past 13 years. Here is an excerpt. Enjoy!

An Introduction to The Slackers Guide to Success By Ken Rabow
So, you know you’re brilliant. Your parents know you’re brilliant. Your dog thinks you’re amazing, then why are so many things not working out in your life?

Hi, My name is Ken Rabow and I work with young adults struggling to find their place in the world. The ones I take on as clients are those who really want to make changes in their lives. Many of the clients I work with come to me when they have…
a) Been stuck in part-time jobs without a future
b) Become addicted to video games; or pot; or magic cards or something else.
c) Failed a course, a term or a whole school year
d) Major sleep or anger “issues”
e) All of the above.
Don’t you just love multiple choice?!?

As one of my clients once said to me:
“I really like staying at home, playing video games all day in my bathrobe…..
but I’m beginning to think that it’s not a great long-term plan”.
Let us call that client Skeeter. At the writing of this blog Skeeter is back in school working on a science degree. In his first semester, he caught the attention of an amazing professor doing ground-breaking research who has hired Skeeter in the lab.
So how did Skeeter go from being a stay-in-his room slacker to an up-and-coming science guy? And why should you care if you are into something else or don’t even want to go to school but have dreams of starting your own business or killer app?
Because! 🙂

Okay, that’s a parent-y answer. The real answer is that what worked for Skeeter can work for you in any field, in any format, in any situation. Your success will come from:
• finding your power
• learning to believe in yourself
• determining how to build habits that guarantee success and
• discovering the secret to success through messing up.

Yes, I’m here to tell you that you can’t really be great at anything until you can get past…. perfectionism.
That’s what this system is all about and it works! Each time. Every time.
I’ve seen so many young people change their lives around. There are a lot of people out there who deserve to learn how to be their very best and do great things in their lives.
I’ve written these articles so you can benefit from this “out of the box” approach that I have refined in my private practice over the years. This process that will enable you to succeed on your own terms. If you follow this method, you will find yourself growing in character and soon enough you will discover yourself achieving successes you didn’t dare dream of. You will find that it’s great to get out of bed every morning, feeling good about
An Introduction to The Slackers Guide to Success By Ken Rabow
doing things that earns people’s respect. More importantly, you will feel good about yourself for your personal achievements
.
You will need to do these exercises with a coach/mentor, preferably someone who is not a close relative or who sees you on a day-to-day basis. You need someone you can talk to, someone who will keep your secrets, someone who will respect you and let you grow at your own pace.
There are three sections in these articles and each section is one full stage of development. The first stage is personal development, the second stage, professional develpment is bringing your personal development out into the world with your new strengths and the third stage, inner development is giving back to the world and growing as a person.
Here is a brief outline of the 13 steps in three stages. Enjoy!
Stage One – Personal Development
1) Investigation: Looking at our strengths; challenges, past patterns; coping strategies and choosing role models and events or ideas as inspirations.
2) Opportunity: Searching for a mentor. Choosing three goals, defining the challenges to those goals and indicators of success
3) Mindsets: Abundance, Poverty Mentality and False Epiphanies.
4) Generativity: Creating your daily routine of a personal meaningful practice.
Finding the blocks that stop you from succeeding and creating remedies.
5) Out Into The World (and back again) Bringing your new skills in to practice in the outside world in a safe and limited way.
6) Setting limits: Learning to set limits gracefully on the time-stealers in your life.
7) Direction. (Following your bliss) Creating the groundwork for a successful, enjoyable life.
Stage Two – Professional Development
8) Out into the world: Putting into practice stage one in a more extended fashion and transforming all you have learned into new situations.
9) Forming new boxes of safety: Using mindfulness and success consciousness out there and seeing how they work in new situations while learning to feel safe.
10) Creating new generative structures. Schedules, coping and new friends.
11) Making your addictions work for you. Using your urges to indulge your addictions as a reward for doing the work you need to get done.
Stage Three – Inner Development
12) A complete life. Learning a sustainable daily practice of being mindful in
learning, work, relationships and even play.
13) Pay it forward: Once you’ve reached this point, your life is richer, you are happier and you will truly want to help others grow in their own way. This step will teach you how to do that.

Get the book; paperback or Kindle! Click here

Transforming Self-Sabotaging Troubled Teens Towards Success

There is a group of roughly 20% of our youth who are doing great in school, in relationships and in their lifestyles but for the majority of the young people today, self-sabotage is the daily practice.

So many parents and teachers are finding more and more kids who are non-compliant to the point of failing to thrive, either educationally, emotionally or nutritionally. There have always been problems with getting teens and young adults to “get things going” but it seems that this generation is having more difficulty than we remember through the rose-colored memory glasses of our youth.

What are the stumbling blocks that have some many young people today choosing to derail everything that they are given instead of testing their mettle and what are the remedies?
It comes down to three things:
1) Lack of Inspiration
2) Perfectionism
3) Instant gratification

Inspiration
Challenge

For most teenagers, school, sports, music or other traditional organized interests offers a chance for them to see adult role models and pick what they want to incorporate into their own lives, but for teenagers who did not make those mainstream connections, there is no adult role model physically present for inspiration.

Remedy:
Let them embrace whatever they are passionate about and find groups who get together to work on perfecting their craft. It is in the day to day work of things that they love that they shall find the resolve to rise above their personal challenges. There is another way: Find a mentor outside their regular circle of friends and family to help them find their positive power and release their fears.

Procrastination:
Challenge:

Most people blame this generation’s chronic habit of putting off everything to laziness. In my experience, procrastination occurs from these young adults caring too much about succeeding.
When getting a 70% is not good enough, or any interest in a new hobby is met with pointing out the flaws, the child determines that it is better not to try anything new past the infatuation stage and as for school; if they wait until the last moment to study, they can always live with: “60%?!? What would have happened if you had only studied sooner?” knowing they don’t have to ever worry about it as they have the perfect excuse – “meh, I’m just lazy!”

Remedy:
Minimize focusing on natural raw talent. Let your child know that it’s ok to fail as long as you learn from your mistakes and change and grow from your experiences. In fact, that is where most greatness comes from. It’s too late to undo the desire for Baby Mozart factory-made geniuses but it’s not too late for their genius to flower by learning from mistakes and creating their own structures for success from them. The best way is let them see your mistakes. Own them and show them how you learn from them. It’s all in the process not the potential.

Instant Gratification:
Challenge:

Young people today will not wait more than 10 seconds for a website to load before moving on. Their average conversations are texted and their group-speak is on Twitter or Facebook. Food is only food if it can be eaten several moments after being chosen. A pot or pan is only an obstruction to getting the “good food” they want.

Remedy:
Make the time for slow stuff in your life. Cook from scratch at least twice a week. It could be chicken breasts in a nice spice with some steamed veggies, or a chili prepared in the morning and slow-cooking until you get home at dinner. Grow something in the garden and take a few moments each day to tend to it. Knit or paint or something else that is slow to unfold. If you are saying that you just don’t have the time – you are back to the challenge. Teach by example and then invite them to show you how they would do it differently and embrace their ideas. Use those ideas and learn together from them, free of judgment. They will learn the magic of the process of creation.

The phrase I often hear from my young clients at some point or another is “if I choose to fail and I do … then I’ve won!” This system that they have perfected over most of their lifetime encompasses every aspect of their lives; from school to hobbies foisted upon them, from therapists that they have learned to toy with so well, to the addictions that give them a false sense of empowerment; their coping strategies are the only ones they have learned to count on to keep themselves safe.

It is the simple things in life from where we obtain our deepest lessons. Embrace them into your life and see the effect it has on your children.

The work I do with young adults is about helping them find their personal, positive power. I let them know that they will be in charge, making all the decisions, with me being their guide. I may turn them around from a dead end but they walk each step so that they own every victory and defeat, growing from each.

Once they choose to look for a different way and start a daily routine of simple effective steps to find their own positive power, these young adults embrace these new possibilities, showing amazing amounts of courage and fortitude. The best work in guiding young adults is done in team work. They really do possess all the answers.

Passion, process, patience are the keys. When in doubt, find an outside mentor.

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Want more Ken Rabow articles? Click Real Life Coaching Blogs
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Ten Tips For Fostering Creativity In Your Children

If you are a parent today in the western world, you have joined a very special club. A club of parents cast adrift, drowning in self-doubt while dodging waves of pyscho-babble lurching at them from every direction. It’s easy to throw blame around but what is the main question we all want the answer? “How do I help my child unfold to be their very best in today’s world?”

10 Tips to Foster Creativity in Your Children

Encourage your kids to sign up and embrace something that they love. Whether it’s drumming, hip-hop or clown school — give them opportunities to go out, sign up, and then make sure to give them the time and space to choose to do the work required at home.This is a recipe for self-discovery and building self-esteem.

1) Comedy: Join a comedy troupe. Then when someone asks: “What are you? A comedian?”, they can answer: “Yes!”

2) Start a Business: Dog walking. Cat sitting. Lawn mowing. Make something cool that people need like funky knitted hats. Find ways to get customers and learn how to keep them as well.

3) Write a Family History: It could be a book, a video, or it could be a blog. When you combine personal history with storytelling, you end up with a powerful creative skill.

4) Make Some Protest Songs: If you play an instrument you could write songs using your guitar or piano. If not, there are great music-creating software programs out there. Go out and sing those songs wherever and whenever you can.

5) Create Your Own Muppets: Find a character. Do parties. Go to hospital wards and have your new creation meet and greet. (That’s how Elmo started)

6) Knitting or Crocheting: This is huge these days with kids in their teens and twenties. There are knitting raves and flashmob knitting — it’s just a great thing that’s being re-invented. Yarn-bombing around telephone poles. Knitting cellphone covers, wine bottle covers, dog coats and more. This ain’t your Granny’s knitting!

7) Claymation: It’s slow — painstakingly so — but amazing. If you are willing to put in the time, you can create new universes and have them do what you want to do and say what you want them to say.

8) Filmmaking: This is how the great directors started: just doing it on their own on zero or minimal budgets. Sometimes, we can tell the very best story when we are limited in the way we can tell that story. Filmmaking on a budget can do that.

9) Cooking: Some film directors have likened making a film to cooking a meal: choosing your meal and getting the recipes is like the script. Shopping for the perfect ingredients is like shooting the film. Cooking the meal is like editing and the place setting and the food placement is like the theatrical opening of the show. See food that way and open up to a whole new experience in dining.

10) Write and Perform: Make your own musical on a theme that means something to you. This gets you to do some acting, singing, script-writing, set and costume design, marketing and build your organizational skills (when you get others involved).

It’s not important what creative outlet your child chooses, how they do it, or what they can do with it. It really is the process that enriches their lives. It teaches so many skills like patience, perseverance, faith in themselves and most important of all, it teaches them to marvel at the creative process from chaos to completion. A skill that many have lost appreciation for.

One last thing: If you are reading this, you are a parent who cares. Sometimes that may be all you need but never underestimate your child as a resource to guide you in what to do as a parent. Ask them. You may be surprised by their answers. Share in their creative endeavors as an impassioned spectator. Join in their communities and honour their mentors who earn your trust.

Empowering this new generation will give them something that stays with them their whole life. One of the most powerful forces for change is creativity. Nurture this in your children and you will open a place for self-worth to grow. A fantastic opportunity to believe in themselves. You have that power. That may be one of the greatest creative acts in a lifetime. Make it so!

Boomers! Millenials! Do These 7 Things to Survive Each Other

Baby-boomers. You thought you had it all together, man! Like, you were totally prepared! The right retirement savings plan, paid off the house early, avoided Bernie Madoff and even had time to live a healthy enough lifestyle to enjoy your retirement but…

The one thing you could never have planed for,
the one thing that makes Madoff look like a shmear at Carnegie deli reared it’s uncoiffed head… Millenials! If we were prone to metaphors, we might liken them to hurricanes on cyprolex… wiping out people’s savings, destroying homes (at least making them very messy), going into a rages or depressions without warning and sleeping really late while texting… so much for the metaphors.

Now here you are having to continue to work to pay for a 2nd or 3rd university education to prepare your 20-something to work as a Barista (not that there’s anything wrong with that).

Millenials: You thought you had it all together, bro.
You had it totally planned. If by planned you mean buying into the ‘rents song and dance about education, hockey and
showing up for Christmas (and actually talking), avoiding the great recession by … oh wait… you didn’t ☹

The one thing you never planned for
, the one thing that makes the great recession look like a bad socio-economic hair day is the dreaded… Boomers! If we were prone to metaphors… OK, so I like metaphors, get over it! It would be like a big needy Kangaroo on Prozac, sucking up all the fun in life and sitting it’s big ass down on that place in line called “the gravy train”. Sucking up all that gravy, while letting some of it drop onto it’s gravy-stained golf shirt. Slowly, it turns back to the millennial stuck behind them in the next Kangaroo pouch and says “suck it up princess, its your fault I have to keep working”.

But wait! There is a way out of being stuck in the gravy-train line to nowhere-ville.
Here are the seven things Millenials and Boomers can do to survive each other.


1. Avoid really talking to each other!
Talking is vastly over-rated. All it does it force you to actually hear the other’s side of things and that can only lead to understanding. which makes resentment much more difficult.
2. Eschew finding things you have in common. It’s soo hard to mock someone when you have common ground. Stuff you both like can really challenge the best reasons why everything is the other person’s fault.
3. Circumvent occasions for pleasantries. Nothing good comes from giving the other person the benefit of the doubt. They have a better opportunity for “winning” and you have missed the best opportunity for a cheap shot.
4. Sidestep teaching moments. Your job is not to teach by example, your job is complain why they aren’t doing what they should be doing.
5. Circumnavigate the cesspool of “sentiments”. Hey if showing your vulnerabilities would help, Oprah would be a multi-millionaire by now.
And exactly how could showing your vulnerabilities ever help the other side to do anything but take advantage of you. Better to be a dork with a cork then take the chance of sharing your deepest feelings.
6. Duck danger with disbelief. Believing in them? What is this, the land of the lost boys? Nine out of ten scientists have proven that showing lack of faith for each other is a great way to enjoy the day… of course they also said that about cigarettes in the 50’s.
7. Unconditional Love? We don’t need no stinkin’ unconditional love! It’s so messy. It makes you feel things and let’s face it, most of the times in the past when you opened up your heart to them, they didn’t just step on it, they ground their heel in it, through in some chipotle mix, a can of refired beans and then made a meal out of it. Why would anyone take the chance of unconditionally loving someone when things have gone wrong in the past?

There you have it. The secrets to surviving each other in a challenging time.
Let me know how it worked for you. Did I mention I have some swampland for sale?

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Go to the Home Page of Ken’s website for helping Troubled Teens and UnMotivated Millenials, RealLifeCoaching.ca
Want more Ken Rabow articles? Click Real Life Coaching Blogs
To contact Ken for a Free 15 Minute Consultation Click Contact Ken
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Lack of Motivation in Troubled Teens and Unmotivated Young Adults

For teens with anxiety, millennials dealing with self doubt, the slackers and the stoners; there is one mantra they all share: “If I choose to fail and do… then I win”!

Let me repeat this for the high achieving, hard-working parents out there: Your child’s mantra just may be
” if I choose to fail and I do, I win”. Sends a shiver down your spine, doesn’t it? It should! It’s hard to know what is scarier. The fact that they think this or the fact that they would never tell you this. Yet, this is something I hear from new clients on a regular basis. y

Here’s the good News: They really do want to win. They just don’t have a single clue on how to do it. Let me share with you an example:

Take “Skeeter”.
A pot smoking stoner
who has made the skill of ignoring the outcome of his lack of effort in school, hygiene and relationships into and art.

What is odd is that when you get past all the negative situations that Skeeter has been through and really talk and listen to him, he really wants to succeed but he just doesn’t have a clue how to do that, so he channels all of his desires into self-sabotage. This goes on for so long that it is almost impossible for Skeeter to remember that this was a coping mechanism and not his true nature.

Given the opportunity, most people really will choose to succeed.

So what is the secret recipe. How do I get the self-sabotageurs to get “back on track”.
There are as many answers as there are clients. No two people have exactly the same road to travel but there are some common threads.

The first step is to believe that they really do want to succeed and that it is up to the Mentor to help them find “micro-successes”. Before I explain micro-successes, let me point out that what they have been learning up until now is that no matter what they are told, whatever they try will end up in failure, hurt feelings and self-loathing.

This is what I have to work with when they come to me. So why do they take a chance on my out of the box system? Because I listen. I take whatever they say seriously and I help them unpack their regular chants of “it won’t work”, “i’m just lazy” or (fill in the blank) and find their coping mechanism.

Now for the micro-successes: They are so powerfully conditioned to expect to fail that I must find the smallest little daily successes that they can see, feel, experience and start to consider that their might be the tiniest possibility that things don’t have to end badly.

That is all I ask for at the beginning.

And when things fall to poop (which they will), if we have built up enough trust and some micro-succeses, the will learn how to deal, how to assess, how to learn and finally how to grow.

It works. I feel honored every time I watch the transition and they are always in charge of what we do.

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To check out Ken’s website for helping troubled teens and unmotivated millenials, click RealLifeCoaching.ca
Want more Ken Rabow articles? Click Real Life Coaching Blogs
To contact Ken for a Free 15 Minute Consultation Click Contact Ken
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Millenials, Save Yourselves With These Do’s and Don’ts

So, everything you were told was a lie.

You are not brilliant because you could play three strings on a guitar when you first picked it up. Your artwork really was just pieces of pasta, glue and paint… it wasn’t “just like Van Gogh”. It wasn’t the cutest thing when you first passed gas (or the last time in front of Grammie) and most importantly; doing what we did to get a job in 90’s now, will get you S.F.A unless being a barista and living in your parent’s basement is your idea of success. (Yes, I’m talking to you Bachelor in Social Anthropology)

Don’t you feel better now that all that is out of the way? And they wonder why you feel entitled, moody, depressed and full of anxiety.

I have some good news and some bad news

A lot of the Millenials really do act entitled and the amount of people in their 20’s who are barely coping with anxiety is friggin’ scary!

People in their 20’s tend to be “out of the box” thinkers. That means anything is possible if you look at life in different ways. Here are a list of 10 things that you should avoid and 10 things you should embrace. May the force be with you (I mean the Episode VII version, of course).

Don’t Do

10. Don’t settle for a job, waiting for your 76k a year position to fall in your lap… you’re not fooling anybody.
9. Don’t live with your parents. It’s soooo much easier but unless you are doing something to create your own future, you might as well make your own Spock ears and learn Klingon.
8. Don’t buy a crazy red BMW while living in said basement. You will have to bring whomever you pick up and date more than once to your basement, so unless you’ve done in your parents or they are working for Greenpeace with a long Russian layover, the car’s not fooling anybody.
7. Don’t sleep with everything that moves
. It really doesn’t help. Look at the Kardashians.
6. Don’t try to win friends and influence people by your bong-toking prowess
5. Don’t twerk. Just don’t.
4. Don’t measure yourself but how your successful friends live. They are doing the same thing and resenting the hell out of not being Justin Beiber. But seriously…
3. Don’t focus on your flaws. That’s your parent’s job.
2. Don’t make excuses. That’s Rob Ford’s job. (Remember him?)
1. Don’t give up, give in or run away.

Do do (Heh, I said “do do”.)

10. Do embrace your craziest inner passions. The things that you create that make you forget time when you are engaged in them. Yes, everyone will tell you that there is no money in it but money comes after all-consuming passion and mastery.
9. Do live with your parents! If you have a plan. If you do odd jobs to get the money to make your dreams come true. Just remember to act like a guest. Don’t make messes and show appreciation.
8. Do go after a crazy dream. Invest your time, your money and your heart in the thing you believe in with all of your heart and keep it to yourself until it is a done deal.
7. Do love everyone you meet. That’s easy if they are cool. But I also mean the loud ones, the rude ones, the annoying ones. Send them love (but keep a wide berth).
6. Do win friends and influence people. (Read the book)
5. Do not twerk. OK. I cheated, but it’s for your own good.
4. Do measure yourself in moment by moment micro-successes. Reading that extra article. Finishing that piece of music. Avoiding the extra treat. Cleaning one square foot of the floor in your room.
3. Do focus on your strengths. The ones you earn vs. your God-given talents.
2. Do own your mistakes. Admit them. Accept them. Embrace them. Frank Zappa and Miles Davis were geniuses partly because they weren’t afraid to mess up big.
1. Do not let your fears stop you. Take your passions, your talents, your earned accomplishments and make your dreams come true. Make them big. Make them crazy and don’t stop no matter what.

You are brilliant.
You are your own work of art.
But you must practice it.
Live it!
Be it!

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To check out Ken’s website for helping troubled teens and unmotivated millenials, click RealLifeCoaching.ca
Want more Ken Rabow articles? Click Real Life Coaching Blogs
To contact Ken for a Free 15 Minute Consultation Click Contact Ken
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Seven Ways to Turn Around A Bad School Year

We always have the best of intentions when we start a new school year. The past is left in the past. New books. New teachers. New attitude (not really). And then the first inklings arrive that things are not going as we hoped they might. This is a situation Ken deals with on a regular basis with his new clients. Learn the secrets to turning around a bad school year and starting to create success year-round! Just click below.

Communication, Millenials and The Curse of Social Media

So, my iPhone 5 went on the fritz. 🙁
I called AppleCare and got a really professional, organized, thoughtful millennial who helped me. We did a diagnostic on the phone and it was clear it was fried 🙁 🙁 🙁

He was so helpful that towards end I told him about what I do for living. It was clear from the way he responded that something was bothering him. Considering the stellar service he had just given me, I said he could ask me any one question and that I would try to answer it for him.

He said: “I really wonder about my overuse and my friends overuse of social media. I feel like we don’t communicate anymore except through Facebook, texting, Etc.. Friendships have been ruined. I find it’s hard to keep friends and if I wanted to approach someone, Truthfully, I locked the confidence to do so.

I’m really not sure how we should approach one another. Especially if you want to go on a date. I’m not sure how I should ask her out. Text her? Facebook? (I notice he didn’t consider phoning her). I really believe that relationships are being ruined by social media and I’m not sure what to do about it. What should I do?”

So many people these days are commenting on the fact that teens and millennials really are losing the ability to know how to communicate in person with each other. What is more alarming is that when you going to a restaurant people of every age are sharing a meal while spending most of the time communicating with people that are not in the room.

I paused for a moment… and then I said to this vexed young man from AppleCare:
“you represent a great quality in millennials these days. You were searching and not accepting the status quo. I think social media is a great tool. But as with everything, things must be in moderation.

Before I talk about some things you could do to deal with the communication, I would suggest we talk about how to deal with the overuse of social media. I would recommend “micro-Sabbaths”, “mini-Sabbaths” and “major-Sabbaths” as a great starting point.

In my definition of “sabbath”, I am referring to the idea of break from everything electronic. No phones, no computers, no means electronic communications or electronic games.
A “micro-Sabbath” would be A 30 minute up to two hours a day of electronics free time.
A “mini-Sabbath” would be a 2 to 4 hour time period on a given day free of electronics.
A “major-Sabbath” would be A full day from waking up to sleep of electronic free time.

The next question is what to do with this time.

You could use it to read (I think they still make books).
You could use it to go for walks.
Paint. Play music. Sing. Dance.

… or you could practice an ancient ritual called…
communication.

Communicating with family, friends, business people and loved ones.
Communication is an art. The goal is to learn about someone’s passions, someone’s pleasures and someone’s peccadilloes. In short, Great communication should be about sharing one’s heart.

How do we do that?
Ask them a question about something that is important and meaningful to yourself.
Really listen to their answer. Try to understand their response from their perspective and share how that makes you feel.”

The gentleman from AppleCare and I were expected to converse on the simple and rudimentary level but upon seeing A fellow human being who cares and is searching I took the opportunity to communicate.

Here is my challenge to you.

Take one of these Micro sabbaths and tweet me how you used that time and I will share it with everyone I know and ask them to do the same.

Let’s see what happens.

University – What NOT to Do

All right. Check out the pic. Don’t you feel left out?
Isn’t this what your secret dreams were of being on your own and making your own choices in University?

Let’s go over imagining what these people are about and how they are doing. (fictionally, of course… I don’t really know any of them). Now, I’m really against making snap judgments but… it’s soooo much fun… and educational too! 🙂

Toga guy. Misses a few classes … like September to November. Got some great old exams for the classes he was taking the day before exams. Passed out reading them the night before exams. Exams? Oops. Is it too late to drop the classes?

Miss Queen in Green. Always did well in school… before. Anxiety? A thing of the past… except she’s wondering if Toga guy is really gonna call and she may just sit by the phone for a week or two…

Peace sign guy. Quiet student. Always went to class. Did really well. Straight A’s in high school (where he was watched over day and night). Some part of him believes that by getting waisted every night and going to parties, he will end up having many, many conquests. So far, 15 trips to the infirmary for throat infections (too much deep kissing) and a solid “D” average.

Most of the people in this picture were probably doing fairly well in high school and are destined to mess up their first year of school something fierce. Some will have tried every thing they can think of to get back on track (until the next evening’s party) and start to feel “What’s the point? Nothing works.”

Others will try the following:

Organizational Skills:
It sounds simple and it is. But doing it when the proverbial poop has already hit the fan is much more challenging than starting these skills in high school. Having said that, I’ve seen many people who have had a troubling start in University turn their academic lives around by following a few simple rules.

1. Use a scheduler! It can be on your iPhone, Google calendar, a bunch of pieces of papers together by an alligator clip, or one of those old style spiral bound appointment books.
Once you write down what you were going to do each day (and I would start with just your courses, study periods, and anything else that you must go to) you can add realistic study times and make notes about when exams are and when papers are due.

2. Choose your party time wisely! There’s no one to impress now and no one to bargain with. It’s really up to you to figure out what are the good days to “let yourself go” and how much you should indulge, based on what is expected of you and the following days requirements. 


3. Learn from your mess ups and don’t give up! Even when you know what you’re supposed to do, you’re id is going to mess you up, just to see if you’ll give up and say “what’s the point, I’ll never get it right anyway”. Ignore that voice and just allow yourself the opportunity to learn and make mistakes determined that the next time you’ll get it right. If not then, then the time after that 🙂

The work I do with my clients is based on these ideas but goes into a lot more in depth. Whether it is me or someone else, the idea of a mentor who is based on action and not just talk therapy is the way to find your place and your power in the world.

Make it so!

Forget the great start… just finish it.

There you are. At the starting line. The starter pistol cracks. All the others rush off and there you are… dead last. Starting slow, unsure of yourself and you don’t know if you’ll even make it. To make matters worse, you see all the other doing well and you ask yourself: “why?”.

There is something to be said for just finishing the race. Start there. Walk. Run when you can. Ask for help only when you need it and be ok with falling or stumbling. Just get back up and keep going.

I work with teens and young adults that many have given up on or have dismissed. Each and every one of them has the potential for greatness. It may be in a small way or in a very big way. it is not for us to decide. It is for them to decide. My work and our work (their work with me for they are eventually in control of the process) is to keep them in the race and let them find their own footing.

Have faith. A good pillow to scream into and find someone who believes in you, will make you really work, call you on your bulls**t, and champion you when you earn it. Don’t let statistics throw  you off. Don’t let labels make you conform. Find someone who sees your child for what they can become and encourages them to strive to be their best.

The people I work with who are labeled with learning challenges have soared, once they have learned to focus on their strengths and create coping systems to rise above their challenges.

Anyone can succeed with some patience, determination and the right mentor.

Mental Health Issues in Teens and Young Adults

Facts About Mental Health In Our Youth
According to the mental health commission of Canada, in any given year, one in five people in Canada experiences a mental health problem or illness. Only one in four children or youth who experience a mental health problem or illness report that they have sought and received services and treatment.

The Big Question(s) for Parents
The world today is label-happy. Go see a specialist with a troubled child and end up with a fixed diagnosis that may or may not be helpful. It can be the start of true healing or it can become a self-fulfilling label that limits the child’s beliefs and capabilities by thinking that this is all that they are. How do we help our children when they are suffering from what seems to be a mental health problem without stigmatizing them, getting them the help they need and the support they deserve?

There is Too Much Misinformation Out There.
The biggest danger is false or partial information. There are a lot of misconceptions and stigmas about mental health issues. They include but are not limited to:
1) understanding the illness in terms of the impact on the child and the family
2) medications – side effects, benefits and long term use
3) available treatments
4) advocating for your child
5) helping the patient gain insight on their illness
6) helping the patient be part of the healing process
7) how psychiatric forms work (should they be necessary).

The Big Answer for Parents
The big answer is that there are no big answers. We have to look at each individual client as their own person, free of the labels that some professionals would like to box them into. By looking at the total individual, we can come to an out-of-the-box way of seeing them and choosing the proper methods of creating a good mental health strategy. Starting them on a road towards their own successful lives, aware of but not limited by their conditions. With our life empowerment coaching added, you will also have ongoing support on this journey.

Contact us now for a free consultation!

Lack of self-Esteem – The Two Sides

I have met with many young people who limit themselves on a daily basis by repeating certain mantras:
“I don’t know”
“I’m so stupid”
“I’ll never be able to do that”
“I can’t do x”
“It’s not my fault”
“I don’t care”

Each and every one of these are coping mechanisms designed to allow a person to avoid being judged. That may seem counter-intuitive as the speakers of these and other similar self-limiting phrases are often harshly judged by their audiences yet, in some way, because it is “just something I always say”, they feel that they are cushioned from the very thing they fear… failure.

Before we look at a solution, I would like to give you to very different types of clients that I see who tend to say these sorts of things:

1. The Self-Abusers.
These people tend to have taken the worst of things that they have heard in their younger years and immortalized it their mind’s ear on an infinite playing loop.

2. The Harsh Critics

Although this second group appears the same as the first group, they differ in that if you were to get to the bottom of their thought process, you would find that they are trying to tell the listener that they know they messed up and that they care. (Strange but true).

In both cases, I recommend that they go to a on-line video site of their choosing and check out their favorite products’ commercials. We analyze a few of them (that I feel gets the point across) and learn that the most effective way to cement or change a belief is by repeating it over and over.

If this works in the negative, then maybe it can work for positive.
We then take one thing that they can sort-of agree is a good thing about themselves and come up with a phrase. They then try repeating it over and over. After that, we look for a time in their lives when they felt strong, or powerful and we create an inventory of feelings, sounds, smells and sights that accompany this wonderful moment. We finally mix those feelings with the original positive phrase and within three weeks… the first level of changes begin.

Is it quick? No.
Is it easy? Not really.
Does it work? When done correctly… every time.

Procrastination = perfectionism?

There are so many things that get in the way of a young person succeeding these days. But the last thing that they need to have get in their ways… is themselves. And get… That is exactly what so many people do. They stop themselves from succeeding before they get out of the gate… by procrastinating.

They have a lot of good reasons.
They range from
“I’m lazy!” to
“I don’t have a good system” to
“I’ll get to it soon” as well as the classic
“It’s not my fault”.

For a great many of these people, the real problem is they are afraid of failing. Even more so, they are afraid of not reaching their very high standards of perfectionism.

It’s not that they don’t care, it’s that they care too much and it cripples them.

Now that I know that, what do I do?

First, just decide to do five minutes a day of something that you need to do before you start video gaming or watching your shows or whatever you spend a great deal of your time on.

Tick it off on a daily chart so that you can see the days that you do this and slowly add a few more minutes every few days of success until you’re doing 30 to 45 minutes a day at that particular time.

Get into the habit of not judging what you were writing but understanding that: “there is no such thing as writing, only rewriting”. That means you’re not supposed to get it perfect the first, second, or even the third time. I have probably rewritten this simple article about 10 times before you get to see it.

The people I work with learn the whole process over a period of six months to free themselves from perfectionism. Even the very best of them have times when things throw them off and they go back to procrastinating (I have days like that too) but once you but once you have the system built in and you know it works, you can always make it work again and again. And it will always work.

How Do I Deal With My ANGER!

Anger in troubled teens and young adults is a huge issue these days. Is it more than other generations? That’s really not the issue if you are someone who has major anger issues. The real question is “how do I feel with not being heard!!!”

As in most things, anger issues are multi-factorial.
Any one, two or three things may push it up the heat thermometer, but it is the aggregate of 7’s, 8’s and more that bring you into the sphere of danger.

So how do we go from: “No! You’re not listening to me!!!” (for the one hundredth time) to smashed walls, kicked-in TV’s and worse? It is all about communication. If neither side feels like they are getting their message across and both sides feels they know what the other is going to say and you’ve heard it all before, then you are in a mobius loop of miserable mood.

Some suggestions for changing the dynamics and having a (sometimes) harmonious home:

Take turns being the listener or the speaker. Whichever you begin with, do the whole process before changing sides.

1) Listen without interruption. Listen with intention. Avoid any non-verbal cues that are anything but supportive. Your goal is to hear the speaker as if you have never heard them before or know their history. 


2) Repeat back what you have heard in your own words. Do not add commentary. Ask if what you heard is correct and let the speaker correct or change as they choose and repeat back again their changes.


3) Empathize on how they feel. This is not about right or wrong. This is about hearing them and their point of view. The truth is, the gap between parents and children has never been greater thanks to the breakneck pace of change the world has entered. 


4) Validate. Let them know how it makes sense how they would feel like they do coming from their state of mind.


This process should take place in an unregular place (like a basement couch, some chairs in the hallway; some place that you guys have never, ever yelled in.
This process should  be tried in calmer times, not when the proverbial poop hits the fan.
Expect it to take around 12 weeks to build the mutual listening skills.
Once it has taken hold, you can try a time out in a heated moment to try the system and if at first it doesn’t succeed, keep trying.

One final note (in case you hadn’t guessed)… in regards to this column’s title: you can control your anger. Start by learning to communicate with others. Start by making situations occur that allow you and the ones who you sometimes feel angry at to both get the chance to listen and be heard.

Want something? Give it. Want to be heard?

Listen.

A Bully’s Inner World of Contempt

I remember when I first met Ricky (not his real name). He was a Grade 4 student in the school yard pushing and yelling with an aura of glee emanating from his face as the two Grade 5 kids (who were actually much larger than him) cowered, looking for a way to get out of Ricky’s sphere of influence.

I was the music specialist for grades 5 to 8 but was nonetheless required to do “yard duty” several times a week. I actually enjoyed seeing the kids interacting without the shackles of class rules and regulations to inhibit them. Usually this was a good thing. Today, I would be the “yard duty police.”

In my most resonant Alpha voice I said, “Ricky, what is going on here?” The question was innocent enough but the tone implied my judgment based on what I thought were clear and obvious facts. Ricky turned toward me, his victims took the opportunity to slip away and suddeny Ricky started weeping.

I tried to help him calm down and asked to him explain what was going on, but he was incapable of doing so at the time. It was only later I found out that Ricky had a series of sweeping emotional challenges. A bright kid who had control issues and major impulse problems.

Another Grade 4 student, Dominic (again not his real name), the Goliath of his group, had a tendency to physically bully anyone outside his circle of friends whenever the teachers were out of view. This was his group’s daily lunch activity (alongside basketball).

Dominic was always polite and respectful to me, yet, I wondered what his thoughts were as he said what was expected of him.

Both students’ parents had similarities as well as great differences. Ricky’s parents were caring, possibly overprotective and always searching for help from the teachers, yet seemed afraid to be rejected for asking of that help. Dominic’s parents (behemoths themselves) seemed to have an air of entitlement about them, yet cared deeply about their child.

I was new at recess duty and left the handling of discipline to others, but one thing was clear: calling attention to aggressive behaviour without judgement worked. Aggressing the aggressor (punishments, berating, etc.) would only bring more waves of aggression building up. I began to see this angst as a physical wave. When I would see either of these kids starting that wave (before it became actual aggression), I would ask them a few questions and have them help me understand a little about my upcoming students (they would be in my class the following year); their interests, their hobbies, etc. As luck would have it, Dominic played drums (as did I) and Ricky was a sophisticated fan of classic comedy (as am I).

I would take these moments to have them share and teach me their thoughts on these subjects and truthfully, I learned a great deal from their different perspectives. I also noticed that the cycle of those waves tended to not only reduce, but the whole yard seemed to have less waves growing.

In my work with troubled teens and young adults, it has become very clear that there is a strong theme of feeling disempowered. A great deal of my articles cover the various reasons, but I would suggest to parents and teachers that they start watching the waves of people acting out. Those waves are their inner worlds of contempt for themselves projected onto others. If you can catch the wave early enough, deflect them and encourage those kids to share their positive passions from a place of strength (letting them do the teaching), we may prevent those waves of angst from crashing down upon others.

As a side note, Ricky would turn out to be a fantastic student and would end up playing well at recess and Dominic is an amazing musician and became a defender of those being picked upon.

Rule #1 If you see bullying, do not confront. Simply ask: what is going on here?

Rule #2 If you have the option — engage young people prone to aggressive outbursts in positive uses of their energies before the wave crashes.

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The Teenage Mantra: What’s the Point of Doing This?

So, you’ve asked your teen for the 400th time to do whatever.

(It’s not like he/she’s actually heard what you said — your voice blends in with the background noise, mixing with the sound of text message alerts, video game soundtracks with the slurping sounds of friends drinking Big Gulps while armchair directing W.O.W.)

You scream in front of their “friends.” You’re yelled back at. Doors are slammed and just as the door is about to close, you hear the words: “What’s the point of doing this anyway?!”

The immortal call of the teen. Having been birthed in one of the James Dean movies (how did that turn out for him, again?) it is the modern cry of teenage angst. I guess a bigger question is: when did we become the old, crotchety guy in the cardigan saying, “What’s all this hoopla ’bout slicken yer hair back and yellin’ 23 skidoo?”

I seem to have mixed up my generational angsts.

Back to the 21st century: I was just Skyping with one of my younger clients, a bright, dynamic young lad of 14 who seemed to have the nervous habit of tapping continuously at his keyboard while we Skyped. When I occasionally asked why he was doing this, he responded; “I’m not doing anything! I just like to tap.”

This particular day, I must have said something that caught him off guard as he pressed the wrong button on his laptop and the sound of a snorting beast being zapped by a space ray filled the room. So there you have it, the moment of truth. There were so many ways this could go. I chose (as I usually do) left field.

(First, confirmation)
Me: So, you’ve been playing this game for the last six sessions while we’ve been Skyping?
Skeeter: Well, not all the time.
Me: Most of the time?
Skeeter: Yeah. Pretty much. It’s so addictive!
Me: I can understand that. But, you’ve been telling me that you weren’t doing anything, right?
Skeeter: Yeah.
Me: Can you see where I’d have a problem with that?
Skeeter: I guess.
Me: What do you think the problem with that is?
Skeeter: ‘Cause I was lying?
Me: And what’s wrong with lying?
Skeeter: It’s… Bad?
Me: Why is it bad?
Skeeter: I dunno.

(Time for left field)
Me: What do you know about Abraham Lincoln?
Skeeter: He looked weird, he became president. He got shot.
Me: True. Do you know anything about his life?
Skeeter: He looked weird, he became president. He got shot.
(Sigh)
Me: When Lincoln ran for president, he was an unknown and considered a “hick.” He was running against three of the greatest hopes for the presidency, yet it was he who prevailed.

One of the most powerful legal minds of the time, Edwin M.Stanton, wrote about the new president Lincoln’s governings as “the painful imbecility of Lincoln.”

Lincoln saw a greatness in Stanton that would help the country and brought him into Cabinet in January 1862, defending Stanton against all sorts of assaults by people who wanted him fired. Stanton was often difficult, but Lincoln took it all in stride. When Lincoln was assassinated, it was Stanton who said: “There lies the most perfect ruler of men the world has ever seen… Now he belongs to the ages.”

Lincoln was a man of great character that even his detractors could recognize.

(The Point?)

I’m not going to ask you every time if you are still playing that game anymore. I’m just going to ask you one thing.
Skeeter: What’s that?
Me: Do I have your word of honour that you won’t play the game while we work?
Skeeter: Yes.
Me: Longer, please.
Skeeter: Yes, I give you my word of honour.
Me: That’s all I need. I know I don’t have to worry about that again.
(And Skeeter never did play that game during our Skype sessions again).

So, why do I tell you this story?

Because there is no answer to “What’s the point of doing this?”

There is only the opportunity to find some way to challenge a young person to want to be a person of good character.

I don’t know why we almost never see that in the movies anymore.

I don’t know why we don’t champion that in daily life anymore.

But gosh darn it (he said, bringing the pipe to his mouth while dusting off the simulation tobacco from his cardigan) maybe it’s time we brought it back!

See you in the funny papers!

Substance Abuse – Pot Addiction

65% of the young clients I treat have “issues” with marijuana when I meet them. There may be others out there who do fine with marijuana but they don’t come to see me. The ones that I see have some or all of these factors playing on them at once:

Procrastination problem
Organizational issues
Lack of communication
Tendencies to self sabotage
Difficulties facing “the truth”
(add your own here)

When you put these together with a daily use of marijuana, you have a recipe for failure; drama; and a cycle of hopelessness.

So how do you get them to see “the light”?
It begins by having faith in these individuals, that by letting them discover the roadblocks, free of judgment, that they are putting in front of themselves and offering them a simple, effective way to start succeeding at things that they enjoy in their lives, they will seek creative and original ways to self-limit their addictions in a way that make sense to them.

The problem is that all the mainstream ways that people have demanded of them have not worked, so they may have given up on thinking that there is a solution. But once they are inspired to look for a new solution, and to realize through simple concrete examples that they can succeed, they choose to succeed.

I have seen this system work over and over again.

Help! My Child is Glued to the Video Game Console!

Well, if they really are glued to the console, their sibling probably got crazy glue for the holidays. But, more than likely, they just disappeared into their rooms, coming out only occasionally, bleary-eyed, to grab some food and then return back to their cave.

How bad is incessant video gaming?
I think it’s all about duration and intensity. When combined with multi-tasking (texting, BBMing, Facebooking, or watching a movie at the same time), I believe your child’s noggin is being trained to be three miles wide and one inch deep.

What do we do about it?
One of my clients calls it the cereal factor. He has noticed that during school time, his brain is crispy like new cereal that is ready to eat (mmmm, cereal). But when break time comes, the brain ends up looking and acting like cereal that has been in the milk or soy-based substitute way too long. We get mushy brain.

The holidays are one thing, now it’s school time!
In a previous article, I did make some suggestions on how to get your kids through the holidays mush-free (click here to see it), but now they are back in school and every moment that they are not at school, they are at their video games.
How do you approach this?

Find a mentor!
It could be a music teacher, it could be a neighbour, it could be a professional coach (that’s what I do most of the week), but it should not be a parent. Insight rarely comes easily from someone too close.

Seven steps for coming unglued.
1) Have the mentor help your teen look at their weekly schedule of classes.
2) Break it down with a scheduler (iCal or Google Calendar are good) and write out their whole week, including start and stop times for classes, transportation time, outside commitments (hockey, music lessons, etc.) and social time.
3) Include the amount of time (including start and stop times) presently spent doing homework.
4) Ask your teen to estimate the amount of time required for home study on each subject. Then ask what the teacher’s recommendation is and take both and meet them halfway.
5) Look at sleep prep time, sleep time (approximate) and waking time and include this as part of the schedule.
6) Take a look at the free time available for gaming. (It’s never enough, is it?)
7) The tricky part: help determine how much increased time will be spent on school work and have the teen commit to it. This can be done one of three ways:
a) A weekly report in a chart where the student writes the daily work and the duration of practice.
b) A daily email to the mentor giving the same details
c) Texts after each section in a day is completed. E.g.: jst did 40 min math — my brain hurts ☹

The Result:
If your teen really wants to do well, this should be enough to help them start to take control of the scheduling and get back on track. If not, when the first tests come in, go over the whole system and ask the teen to figure out where they could have done more work or study more efficiently. Then implement step seven in reverse; going from c to b to a when appropriate.

The allure:
Video games have a magical quality to them. There is some good in them, no matter what you read about them and it probably will become a big part of most people’s future. We do want to live in the real world, however. Having gentle limits that are guided, but ultimately come from the teen, are the ones that will help them when they are out on their own.

A recent study found that older men were actually playing more video games then their younger counterparts.
Moderation and self-limits, these are the keys.
Now where’s my Angry Birds app?

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Kids Failing at School? The 7 Steps To Turning Around A Bad School Year

It arrives. The phone call you’ve been dreading. It’s your child’s (pick a subject) teacher, or the vice-principal and they’re calling to tell you that your child sucks and that you are a bad parent. It’s all your fault, not theirs, and what are you going to do about it?

They don’t actually say that, but isn’t that what you’re hearing in your head when you get the call? If you got that call or note, you are in very good company. There are so many people in the exact same situation that it is scary. It’s not about you. It’s not about your child. It’s not about the school. It’s about finding a new way because the old way obviously isn’t working.

Now there are a few anomalies where what wasn’t working may still work, but something extraordinary has to happen (abducted by aliens, a shining light speaking to you, you go into a cave and see Darth Vader), but for most situations, that scary voice of your vice-principal in your head is on the right track… just the wrong solution.

Here are the 7 steps to bring long-term results.

Step 1: Let go of expectations. Telling your child that they have to start working 73 hours a day may seem like commons sense to you, but if it worked they would have done it already.

Step 2: Divide and conquer. Have your child look at all their coming exams, write out the dates and times and include what will be covered on the test and highlight all the problem parts. Write down the number of how many days are left until that exam.

Step 3: Pick a number. Ask them realistically how much time they are willing to study on a daily basis. Anything from one and a half hours to two hours a day is a great starting point. Tell them they can choose one day of the week to not study at all and suggest that they really think about which day would be best as their break day.

Step 4: Less is more-or-less OK. This is not about studying for the right amount of time. This is about giving up on thinking it’s hopeless and starting to take control of a daily schedule and “owning it” for them. If they do 15-20 minutes of each subject and that is 15 minutes more then they would have done, they are off to a really good start.

Step 5: Be their cheerleader, not their jailer. Ask them what they have done in their studies for the past few days, if they are willing to share it. If they missed something, do not react! Just ask if they have figured out how to deal with the lost time or was it just a way to learn to do better from now on. Let them be in charge. The idea here is to let them see what a bit of regular daily self-discipline can do and learn from the outcome.

Step 6: Lather, rinse, repeat. At the end of the first week, suggest that you both sit down and look at the results of the past week’s study program. Ask them if they would like to share how they are feeling about what they have accomplished. Suggest that they increase their study time by a small factor and see how that feels. Let them write out the new schedule and let them go at it.

Step 7: Review. If it is too late for this year, suggest that the next time they do the same process, they begin earlier and include a two week review time. If there is time this year for even one day of review, have them plan to get through all the work with one day of review, even if it is just for one course, and see what it brings them. When kids are asked to offer their opinion in a genuine way, two things happen: they feel empowered and they usually rise up to the opportunity, and you may learn something really good about your child that you never knew before.

What you are building in them is the faith to put down their toys (whatever they may be) for a bit of time each day and build a steady practice of self-growth with the idea that it may serve them well. This is difficult for some people and if you got that phone call or note, your child is probably part of that very large club.

It isn’t really about the marks or the tests, it’s about building character and belief in one’s self through a daily practice. This work, when mirrored back as being worthwhile, will last a lifetime and continue to grow. Focus on the accomplishments even if the outcome sucks and you will have turned a struggling student into someone who can consider taking a chance on success.
May the non-nagging force be with you

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Go to the Home Page of Ken’s website for helping Troubled Teens and UnMotivated Millenials, RealLifeCoaching.ca
Want more Ken Rabow articles? Click Real Life Coaching Blogs
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Are We Killing Our Kids With Kindness?

If the best way to kill off someone talented is give them everything they want, then why are we doing this every day, in every way with our kids? Think about the over-givers, over-praisers and over-reachers.

Over-givers: A child given every game, electronic gadget, article of “cool” clothing and every form of chauffeuring has no reason to strive; they have it all now. They are living the lives of the rich and famous without having to do anything. “What’s be the point of trying and striving, or (heaven forbid!) failing at something! I’ve got it all now!”

Over-praisers: When a naturally gifted child is praised for the smallest of their natural abilities, they learns that it’s better to flit from one thing to another, showing off their “natural talent,” rather than striving to find what is beyond that gift in the realm of hard-earned mastery.

Over-reachers: Really, does your child have to be the best at everything? What happened to “normal”? (It’s very Zen, you know.) If every child had to be the best at everything, we would end up living in the Village of the Damned (the original, of course, not the remake). Do you want that? I would think not!

So, we know which group we fit into — oops, make that which group our neighbours fit into. Now the question remains: what do we do to avoid this trap?

10 Tips to Nurturing a Self-Reliant Student

1. Feel OK to say no! If children learn healthy limitations, they appreciate what they do get that much more. Sometimes creating something instead of getting something is the best gift of all. They learn to be self-limiting, yet open to infinite creative possibilities.
2. Be consistent. Learning the rules and understanding that they will always be enforced gives a person a sense of safety. Knowing that we do what we say is invaluable.
3. Be accepting. Their choices are supposed to shake you up sometimes. Revel in their individuality! You are here to teach them how to negotiate the world. They are here to teach you about your challenges and the infinite possibilities of love.
4. Admit your own faults and show them how you try to improve on your own imperfections. This will foster in them the idea that it is OK to try things and possibly fail.
5. Give them time to themselves. Walking or going on a city bus to school is a great way to learn independence. Most importantly, playtime without being electronically spoon-fed is quality playtime.
6. A pet that suites their age, maturity and nature (with your help) is a great way to learn self reliance, compassion and unconditional love. Avoid pet stores that buy from puppy mills.
7. Travel! Locally, nationally, internationally; seeing how other people live, eat and socialize teaches young people that there are many ways of doing things and many ideas of how life should be lived.
8. Let them choose their own hobbies — let your child choose what adventures and learning they wish to pursue, but make sure that that prep time, practice time and learning time allows for a healthy, well-rounded childhood. If the other parents are unkind, find a new hobby.
9. Let them direct one or two things a week; make or design dinner or a game. The best way to learn to follow is to learn to lead.
10. Benign neglect. Give them time to find their own way, choose their own goals, make decisions, learn from their experiences and move on. Let them know that you accept their choices and that your advice is there for them whenever they ask for it.

Our actions almost always come from love for our children… yet… we have to learn to mix our wanting to give with reasonable limits. Plant firmly the seeds in your heart of what you believe your children can achieve without attachment, and let them know that you believe in them. Show them what you see in them and teach by example that making mistakes is the better part of learning.

We are either succeeding or we are learning. Trusting in them to learn and grow is the best gift of all, and it never goes out of style.

Using Our Child’s Strengths and Challenges To Succeed

We can change our lives for the better right now!
It starts with looking at the strengths and challenges in our daily life. Through our challenges, we can understand the patterns that keep repeating and the self-limiting tapes running in our sub-conscious. Our strengths can inspire us to rise over these repeating patterns and tapes, leading us to a richer life. I invite you to try these exercises:

Exercise One: C.O.S.
A) Challenges – Write down three things that are challenges in your daily life.
B) Obstacles – Think about what stops you from getting beyond each of these challenges.
C) Success – Choose something that would show you that had been successful in rising above that challenge.

Exercise Two – Strengths:
A) Talent – Write down something that you are good at.
It may be what you know you do well or it may be something that comes easily to you but dismiss because “anyone can do that”. They are both strengths.
B) Inspiration – Think of a person, past or present, who you find inspiring.
When you find yourself in a frustrating situation, ask yourself:
“What would they do?”
C) Power Place – Imagine a situation that makes you feel powerful.
It could be something you’ve seen or heard about.

It could be something you hope will one day happen.

Try to make it feel real through your strongest senses.
Imagine what it would feel like to be experiencing that right now.
Something very powerful happens when you write down your challenges and strengths.

By choosing an indicator for success, you are allowing your mind to consider success.

As you move forward in the 13 steps to success for young adults,
you may find that you end up modifying what you have written down in these first exercises. That is to be expected.

A great film director was once asked what the most important quality for a leader was.

He responded that it was the ability to make an immediate decision.
It didn’t matter if it was right or wrong, that could be corrected, but once the crew sensed that decisiveness, they could relax into their jobs, knowing there was direction.

The same is true of our sub-conscious.
It is that crew waiting to be led and our will becomes the director.

What will these exercises do for you? They will create a direction.

Will your answers change? Probably.
Are they the perfect choices? Time will tell but they are a great start.

Here are some things you can do starting today with these exercises:

Daily Practice:
1) Choose the challenge that you wish to work on first.
Reflect on the obstacle that is in your way.
Choose three things you can do to “soften” the obstacle.
Decide to work on one aspect of this a day until you begin to see your indicator for success emerging.

Then move on to the next challenge.
It sometimes help to have an outside person work on this with you.
A mentor can often be very helpful.

2) Each night just before falling asleep, imagine your power place.
Live it as if it was happening to you right now.
Take in every feeling of it.
Decide to let yourself be open to things that happen during your day which bring you closer to making your power place a reality.

3) When you wake up, take a moment to reflect on one quality that your inspirational person has.

It could be one you have used before or a new one. Decide to implement that quality today.

4) Keep a journal.

The longest journey begins with a single step ……Lao-tzu

Delayed Gratification in the Entitlement Generation

Being a teenager is about living in the now. This is a double-edged sword.
We spend our whole lives trying to live in the now and give our teens grief for doing it way too much.
The main difference is that we have the experience and they have the conviction.

In the late 1960’s, a psychologist named Walter Mischel invented the “marshmallow task”. A four year old child would be asked to pick between a treat of marshmallows, cookies, or pretzel sticks. They were told that they could either eat one treat right away or, they could have two treats after the researcher returned in a few minutes. If they felt they couldn’t wait, they could eat one treat but would lose the bonus treat. Then the examiner left the room.

kid and marshmallow ourkids.netSome kids ate the treat the moment the researcher closed the door, others struggled to resist and ended up eating it within three minutes and about a third of them successfully delayed gratification until the researcher returned 15 minutes later. They found a way to resist temptation.

Revisiting with these subjects a decade later, time had shown that the low delayers (who ate the marshmallow immediately) tended to have all sorts of problems, from behavioral, social to lower S.A.T scores, while those who waited did better across the board.

It was not “will power” but the “strategic allocation of attention” that made all the difference. Mischel commented: “The patient children distracted themselves by covering their eyes, pretending to play hide-and-seek, or singing songs to themselves.” Their desire wasn’t defeated—it was merely forgotten. “If you’re thinking about the marshmallow and how delicious it is, then you’re going to eat it,” Mischel says. “The key is to avoid thinking about it in the first place. If you can deal with hot emotions, then you can study for the S.A.T. instead of watching television, and you can save more money for retirement. It’s not just about marshmallows.”

Studying people in grade 8, researchers found that the ability to delay gratification was a far better predictor of academic performance than I.Q. test. The study showed that “intelligence is really important, but it’s still not as important as self-control.”

Character matters for success. In the early years, parents should create rituals that help their children to delay on a daily basis. Encourage your child to wait and make waiting worthwhile. According to Mischel, even the simplest childhood routines such as not snacking before dinner, or saving up your allowance, or holding out until Christmas morning—are exercises in cognitive training: we’re teaching ourselves how to think so that we can outsmart our desires.

For teenagers, I have found that creating a daily routine which includes the following can be truly life-changing:

a) quieting the mind (meditation)

b) exercising (walking, yoga or playing a sport)

c) some sort of creative outlet (music, writing, dance, painting, etc.,)

d) keeping your workspace organized

Using these daily tasks as ways to give yourself rewards (video game time, texting with friends, some new internet site that has become the rage while I was writing this article) builds character. I have a client, let’s call him Ishmael and he has a dilemma. Ishmael, has an amazing new role playing video game (RPG) that will be coming out in December, during his end of term exams.

“The problem”, says Ishmael, “with an RPG is that it becomes difficult to take yourself back into the real world. It is good to have something immersive in your life but only if it’s done appropriately.

“I have some tools now that I put into place in my previous school term that I can call upon; (reward system vs procrastination) so I intend to do my schoolwork first and then get my video game reward breaks. To get to sleep at a reasonable time – I have a cut-off time”. There was a time when cut-off times were a hypothetical idea rather than a reality but now… Ishmael is able to honor his cut-off time by putting school “as my first priority”.

“You have to keep things in moderation. It’s ok for your thoughts to be of video games or magic cards as long as it doesn’t interfere with your daily stuff. You have to believe that finishing school is more important than finishing the game. I choose to find the middle path”.

I’ll leave you with Ishmael’s final thought which transcends the use of delayed gratification:
“Moderation in all things”. How very Zen!

Stress – A Good Thing or …Not?

What? Stress? A good thing?
I’m here to tell you… Stress is good!
It’s what you don’t do with it, that makes it bad.

As a very dear friend of mine often says:
“Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional”

It’s easy to say, “well, they don’t know My stress”!
Whatever stress you are going through can be true major stress but how you go through it and whether it gives you any equivalent benefit, depends on what coping mechanisms you have been taught. But, of course, your were taught to deal with stress in school, weren’t you? 🙁

There is so much that I would love for people to be taught in school. How to deal with stress is a really big one. Here is some stripped down versions of things I teach my clients in our classes. It can also be found in my book “The Slacker’s Guide To Success”.

There are two secrets to dealing with stress.

Breathing and 2. Mindfulness.

Let’s start with breathing.
Next time you’re walking down a busy street, look at people’s heart/lung meridians. It’s the area between the shoulders (in front) above the nipples and below the neck.

When someone is really stressed you can see it as they walk down the street. They breathe shallowly. Which means all of their breath is happening in that heart/lung meridian area.

This is called distressed breath and it alerts your system to kick into fight or flight mode. Your adrenaline will increase. Your nostrils may flare. And “being chill” is not an option at this point.

Now, if you are in a quiet place, lie down, put your right hand just below your belly button and your left hand on your heart/lung meridian. Try taking a few deep breaths into your right hand (below your belly) without having your left hand (H/L Meridian) move.

This is deep breathing or diaphragmatic breathing and gives your body the all-clear from danger. Allowing your system to begin to relax and work more efficiently.

2. Mindfulness. 
As you find yourself becoming stressed, notice where the stress is in your body. Be aware of your breath. Pay attention to the words you use to yourself.
Now choose to relax the breath. Try to relax the stress points and finally use words that are meaningful to yourself in calming yourself down. Getting this to work takes a Mentor but you can do a great deal of it on your own.

So how can stress be a great thing. It is a motivator to action. it is a power within ourselves to push beyond our comfort zone. Once you can control this power, with breath and mindfulness, it will become an ally in many situations: public speaking; pushing beyond what is comfortable in projects; and so much more.

How weird is it that the thing that seems to be our greatest foe holds the seeds to our greatest powers?

Anxiety – The Quiet Demon

4:00 p.m. on a Sunday afternoon. My day off. I hear my cellphone (that I forgot to turn off during our family nap) make the sound it does when someone has left me a Skype text.

It’s Victor (not his real name). An amazing guy. Brilliant. Funny. Some coping issues and he is texting through Skype if he can talk to me. “Ken can I talk to you for a little later in the evening if you can I want to talk to someone about a fear and your the best person”.

I have worked on these sorts of things many times before but each time is unique. Every person’s anxiety is different. I pick up the phone and we talk.

Since he has been very young he has had this recurring fear. A fear that comes back several times each year. Sometimes an event can trigger it. Sometimes it just seems to happen. On those terror-filled days and sleepless nights, his parents are helpless to release their child from his terrors. They keep trying but nothing works.

We spent close to an hour on the phone. We had worked on breathing exercises in the past. We had also done some visualization exercises to help Victor focus his mind towards positive thoughts. We mixed those up with some simple talk about his fears. His concerns and how they felt in his body when they would begin to appear.

Speaking with someone new on this subject seemed to help him a bit and he asked if he could come in with his mom the next day and work on the issue.

On the next day I met with Victor one on one first. We worked on a breathing technique where he put one hand on his belly and another on his chest. I had him focus on having his belly move on the breath without having the chest move and to breath in on a count of five, hold the breath for a three count and then breath out on a count of five.

This had an immediate effect of letting him focus on something new. (There is more to the intake as to why I knew that diverting his attention would work).
We then added EFT (Emotional freedom technique). I don’t use this on a regular basis, but I really like the idea of having Victor doing tapping, focusing on breathing, and stating affirmations based on what he really wanted to focus on and had been avoiding.

All this brought him to a more relaxed state. At this point we brought in his mom and we determined that Victor should offer three things that his parents could do when he was anxious at night that would be helpful.

This avoided all the frustration on the parents part of trying different things that didn’t seem to work. It also avoided the frustration on victors part of feeling that his parents were diminishing his concerns.

We now have a short-term and long-term method of dealing with this and so far things are improving.

None of what I am saying in this article is meant to be anything other than a case study and to show parents and young adults going through anxiety that there are many ways to deal with these things.

New choices must be based on what works for the client. The big question is; are they visual, auditory, or kinesthetic. I find that a great deal of these people are kinesthetic and that is why something that they feel has to be used versus talk therapy to get them to change their “reality”.

I just want you to know that there are alternatives.

Getting Your Child Organized – 10 Tips to Tame Homework

Why bother? I won’t need it in “real life”. This is the question heard over and over again in bedrooms, school hallways and principals waiting rooms for as long as there has been chalk.

No one can tell you what will help you subject-wise in the future but the one thing I can guarantee you is that if you can master self-discipline in learning new things and being able to talk intelligently on the subject afterwards, you will do well in whatever you do.

It’s the process – not the subject.
The tips below how been worked on by many of my clients who have gone from average or failing grades to 80’s and higher. More importantly, the skills will be helpful in growing in this every-changing world so when the world doesn’t need any more doctors because all illnesses are cured but nano-mechanical motor technicians are in huge demand, these skills will come in handy. Live long and prosper.

1. Those who do not learn from it are doomed to repeat it; they were talking about history but it could be pretty much anything. There is a big difference between beating yourself up about past mistakes and learning from them and moving on. There’s a whole other way to go and that’s denial. Don’t go there. It may feel good at the time but it doesn’t help. Learn from your mistakes and move on. We only get better by embracing our failures, dusting ourselves off and getting back on that exam bronco.

2. Sleep helps. Guarantee yourself an easier time to succeed (isn’t this what it’s all about?) by making sure you are well rested on school days. I know you’ve heard it before but make it be something that you choose to do for yourself. You’ll feel empowered.

3. Divide and Conquer. It’s all about the notes. Good notes depend on how much of the important notes are in handouts, how much is in the texts and how much is in the class notes. Getting someone who has taken the class to give you the right blend of the three will go along way to having the right notes.

4. Keep Your Eyes on the Prize. Your job is to figure out how to take good notes and to make sure that you can stay focused for the length of any given class. Too many smart students received less marks then they should have because they would veg out 30 minutes into the class. If your class is 45 minutes, find some interesting extra-curricular hobby that gets you to focus for that amount of time; meditation, martial art, discussion groups, debate clubs, chess, magic card tournaments …. anything that gets you to push your concentration once or twice a week to the length of your regular school class. You’ll be amazed at how much better your note taking will be.

5. Teachers Can Help! The vast majority of teachers really want you to do well. Booking a time to meet with them and to understand what is important to them about their class will save you tons of guess-work and let you focus on what is really important in the class.

6. HTWFAIP – Anyone who knows me knows I rave about this book and for good reason. How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie is a fantastic book that helps you understand how to appreciate people and benefit in your dealings with them. This may sound weird as a homework tip but there are times when stuff doesn’t go right. If you use the principles in that book when meeting with your teacher, you will find the best ways to succeed in any sticky situation. Remember, your parents will gladly stick up for you but you learn the most (for your entire life) by representing yourself.

7. Timing is Everything:
A) Paper Training. How often have you waited to just before the deadline of one or more projects, only to realize that you also had to start getting ready for your exams. Simple solution:
i) Take the date you receive your project and the end date,
ii) divide those date in half and make that your new due-date.
iii) Organize the time from your start date to your new due-date by
dividing the tasks that have to happen (research, notes, first drafts, editing, etc.,)
This gives you more time to organize your exams.

B) Exam Prep. If you have followed tips one to six, you have the basic prep for a successful exam schedule. Remember, we want you walking out of each of those exams knowing you kicked butt! If it is the only exam in that time period, give yourself three to five days to review and test yourself. If it is one of a series of tests, do the following:
i) look over all the exams you have to take,
ii) rate them on difficulty and amount of study time needed,
iii) make a time chart of when you need to focus on the upcoming exam and how much time you need to keep prepping for the tougher exams.

8. Burnt Brains may be a delicacy in some Indians Jones flick but they have no place in your weekly note-taking world. If you are fuzzy, you cannot study. Save it for a time that won’t compromise learning; Friday nights, Saturday nights and summers. You may get to the point that many of my clients get to that realize it really is never worth not “being there”.

9. Reward yourself! Pick something you really like; a video game, a movie, a great album – and give yourself a 50/50 treat. X minutes of homework gives you x minutes of your treat. Guess what! I’m using that system right now to write this article.

10. Don’t Panic! The hitchhiker’s guide to the galaxy had it right. Of course they were talking about the Earth being made into intergalactic parking lot and we are talking about your exams. They’re pretty close… except for the end of the world part.
The biggest enemies to good grades are bad prep and needless fears.
Go back in your mind to a great exam that you felt good in and remember how you thought and felt. Let’s call this your “success place”.
Whenever you are studying or going into and exam and fears come,
recall your “success place”. Especially how it felt.
You are tying your future successes to positive feelings.
It works for golfers, boxers, musicians and it will work for you.

There you have it. The keys are in your hands.
It has helped many of my clients to succeed at their very best.
Remember:
Reward yourself for the good stuff and don’t get to hung up on the bumps along the way.
They are both for the best.

Mental Health Issues in Teens and Young Adults

Facts About Mental Health In Our Youth
According to the mental health commission of Canada, in any given year, one in five people in Canada experiences a mental health problem or illness. Only one in four children or youth who experience a mental health problem or illness report that they have sought and received services and treatment.

The Big Question(s) for Parents
The world today is label-happy. Go see a specialist with a troubled child and end up with a fixed diagnosis that may or may not be helpful. It can be the start of true healing or it can become a self-fulfilling label that limits the child’s beliefs and capabilities by thinking that this is all that they are. How do we help our children when they are suffering from what seems to be a mental health problem without stigmatizing them, getting them the help they need and the support they deserve?

There is Too Much Misinformation Out There.
The biggest danger is false or partial information. There are a lot of misconceptions and stigmas about mental health issues. They include but are not limited to:
1) understanding the illness in terms of the impact on the child and the family
2) medications – side effects, benefits and long term use
3) available treatments
4) advocating for your child
5) helping the patient gain insight on their illness
6) helping the patient be part of the healing process
7) how psychiatric forms work (should they be necessary).

The Big Answer for Parents
The big answer is that there are no big answers. We have to look at each individual client as their own person, free of the labels that some professionals would like to box them into. By looking at the total individual, we can come to an out-of-the-box way of seeing them and choosing the proper methods of creating a good mental health strategy. Starting them on a road towards their own successful lives, aware of but not limited by their conditions. With our life empowerment coaching added, you will also have ongoing support on this journey.

Contact us now for a free consultation!

Help! My Teen Won’t Get Up Before 3 pm!

Help! A parent contacted me the other day concerning her recurring summer problem with her teenager. “I practically never see my teenager from June to September! They refuse to come to dinner, never speaks to us and they have wasted every summer since turning 13 with their friends; playing video games (doing who knows what else) and going to sleep when I am getting ready to go to work at seven in the morning! No amount of discussion will get them to change their ways”.

Just the facts, Ma’am: Researchers have recently discovered that while most adult’s melatonin levels (which help us fall asleep) start to be produced at 10 p.m., teenagers tend to begin producing the hormone at around 1 a.m. How much of this time difference is due to changing hormones and how much is due to the disruptive effect from the lights of computer monitors and TVs over-stimulating their minds? While the melatonin issue makes a good case for later start times in high school classes, it does not justify going to bed at seven in the morning.

Crisp or Mooshy. A teenage client of mine calls it the cereal effect. The less he would do during the summer, the more soggy his brain became making his September brain mooshy. The more he engaged in stimulating summer activities the more “crisp” his brain was when he hit the school season.

10 ways to a crisp brain for the new school term:

1. Three days a week (at around noon) some sports; weights, tai chi, ball hockey etc.
2. One day a week – (same time) a creative class; music; comedy class; writing; etc. (plus 15 minutes a day of unmonitored practice).
3. One day a week – personal power class; public speaking; sales technique etc;
4. One dinner a week – The teenager is in charge. They choose the meal and cook it as well. Help is welcomed but the teen is in charge. Same evening each week.
5. One topic a week – The teenager chooses the dinner-time discussion; any world event, idea or philosophy that interests them.
6. Weekends off! No time constraints from Friday night to Monday morning.
7. Space is the final frontier. Give them some.
8. Trips – they’re great! But give them one day off for every 3 days spent as a family.
9. Rethink the pod. Have them choose ways to change the look of their room that reflects the best of their positive interests.
10. 10 minutes a day – 5 days a week – some sort of mindful meditation.

You will end up with a teenager walking up around 11:00 am, five days a week, which, as most of you know, is pretty good for the summer.

One More Thing: 
Giving people the time to discover their own interests and to pursue them for self-growth is an opportunity that few people take the time to do “until they retire”. The best inspiration you can be to your teenager is to go after something that is personally rewarding for yourself. The more challenging, the better…… and let them see you sweat.

Time-Stealers: The Enemy of New Year’s Resolutions

The perfect New Year’s resolution — You found it! You made it! What could stop your desire to make it happen? What could challenge your resolve?

Now meet your greatest challenge. The time-stealer. He (or she) is fun, charming, great to be with, someone you are happy to do things with, gets all your jokes, just all around great to kill time with. Yes, the time-stealer is a time-killer. You never get it back and yet you value the time spent with them.

What is their name?

To read more, click here

Why Do Some Teens Never Seem To Achieve Their Goals?

Have you ever heard someone say this? “Stop crying, it’s nothing!” or “Don’t worry, it isn’t a big deal that you (fill in the blank).” Or “What are you upset about? It isn’t as if you (fill in the blank).”

What do these sayings, said over and over by well-meaning guardians, have to do with never achieving one’s goals? In trying to protect the youngest of people, we often diminish what they perceive as powerful moments. By telling them their emotions are meaningless, we create false epiphanies in them: “Well, if it’s nothing then I’ll show them! I’ll never succeed and they’ll be sorry.” These things are rarely said aloud except in moments of extreme angst, but they are often repeated over and over in our subconscious mind.

So, flash forward 12 years… Now that teen has these false epiphanies firmly ensconced in their noggin. What can they do?

To read more, go the Huffington Post article by clicking here

Sharing Your Old-Fashioned Passions With Your New-Aged Kids

 

What if you could future-proof your child?
Get him or her ready for a time when everything we know will have changed. Where practically all the jobs we now know of will be gone and will be replaced with jobs in fields we cannot even conceive of in today’s world. And what if I told you that this scenario may come to pass in the next 10 years?

Ever heard of nanotechnology?
How about molecular manufacturing, singularity in the 21st century or tipping points in the biosphere? They are real ideas right now. Some will become what they promise to become and others will fade away. You can be sure that something from left field will change the course of everything we know again… and again with regularity and greater frequency.

How do we inspire our children in such an ever changing, unknown world?

To read more click here

Ten Tips For Fostering Creativity In Your Children

If you are a parent today in the western world, you have joined a very special club. A club of parents cast adrift, drowning in self-doubt while dodging waves of pyscho-babble lurching at them from every direction. It’s easy to throw blame around but what is the main question we all want the answer? “How do I help my child unfold to be their very best in today’s world?”

10 Tips to Foster Creativity in Your Children

Encourage your kids to sign up and embrace something that they love. Whether it’s drumming, hip-hop or clown school — give them opportunities to go out, sign up, and then make sure to give them the time and space to choose to do the work required at home.

To read more click here

The Two Sides Of Low Self-Esteem

I have met with many young people who limit themselves on a daily basis by repeating certain mantras:
“I don’t know”
“I’m so stupid”
“I’ll never be able to do that”
“I can’t do x”
“It’s not my fault”
“I don’t care”

Each and every one of these are coping mechanisms designed to allow a person to avoid being judged. That may seem counter-intuitive as the speakers of these and other similar self-limiting phrases are often harshly judged by their audiences yet, in some way, because it is “just something I always say”, they feel that they are cushioned from the very thing they fear… failure.

Before we look at a solution, I would like to give you to very different types of clients that I see who tend to say these sorts of things:

1. The Self-Abusers.
These people tend to have taken the worst of things that they have heard in their younger years and immortalized it their mind’s ear on an infinite playing loop.

2. The Harsh Critics
Although this second group appears the same as the first group, they differ in that if you were to get to the bottom of their thought process, you would find that they are trying to tell the listener that they know they messed up and that they care. (Strange but true).

In both cases, I recommend that they go to a on-line video site of their choosing and check out their favorite products’ commercials. We analyze a few of them (that I feel gets the point across) and learn that the most effective way to cement or change a belief is by repeating it over and over.

If this works in the negative, then maybe it can work for positive.
We then take one thing that they can sort-of agree is a good thing about themselves and come up with a phrase. They then try repeating it over and over. After that, we look for a time in their lives when they felt strong, or powerful and we create an inventory of feelings, sounds, smells and sights that accompany this wonderful moment. We finally mix those feelings with the original positive phrase and within three weeks… the first level of changes begin.

Is it quick? No.
Is it easy? Not really.
Does it work? When done correctly… every time!

The Slacker’s Guide To Success Podcast – Introduction

So, you know you’re brilliant, your parents know you’re brilliant and your dog thinks you’re amazing! Why then are so many things not working in your life? The opening lines of Ken Rabow’s book: “The Slacker’s Guide to Success”. If you want to know the system of real life coaching, get the book!
But first… listen to Ken read the introduction right below.

The Mentor’s Workbook: Introduction Part II – The Entitlement Generation

It is in the future and the now that you must re-learn about your own children.
This is the key to finding their way to success.

To find that future we must first look at what makes this generation different.

First we must ask ourselves: “Is it really different?”
Didn’t every generation talk about how much better they were to their elders then the present generation (it’s funny how much better we are as kids in retrospect) and is it not a common complaint?

Yes! It is the eternal complaint about each generation.
Having said that, there are reasons why this generation is truly different than most of the others that preceded them. I say most because the entitlement generation has some common links with the generations that fought in the two “great wars”, as well as a few very big differences.

Those two great generations saw their entire world change in the span of a few short years.
All the things they knew for certain, all the truths they took as being the way of the world were changed forever and you really couldn’t keep ‘em down on the farm after that.

Like those two generations, today’s generation of teens and young adults experience world shaking changes on a regular basis in everything they know:
how they consume their music, from physical cd’s to proprietary mp3’s on their computer to the cloud; How they communicate; from home phones, to cell phones, to emails, to texting, to face-booking; how the world works – constant advances in computational computing guarantee that many “indispensable” jobs of middle and upper middle management will soon be gone alongside the disappearing industrial jobs.

Children today are bombarded by people gaining instant world-wide fame for the bizarre to the infamous. How can they ever compete in making their mark?
The reality television’s ravenous appetite for championing people who crave their 24 episodes of world fame at any cost is smothering the dreams of the average child. Perfection attacks them from every media.

When every voice is modified and every picture photo-shopped to create perfection how can children compete? What should they aspire to?
Perfectionism is causing many kids to not bother trying. When every desire is catered to by every means, what benefit is there to “striking out on your own”?
Better to act entitled than to try for small personal successes. And there you have it.

So what is the future?
The future lies not in the vertical thought processes, nor the linear assembly lines, it lies in the lateral thinkers in the age of ideas.
The future belongs to this generation and it is through ideas based on their personal goals and beliefs, nourished by a daily routine of personal development that this will become the greatest generation ever.

I believe in this generation because I see it in my clients.
Young people who come to me stuck. Unable to succeed, who, with a few simple steps towards self-actualization, take to it like a duck to water and soar.

Now we must look at the raw deal parents in this generation have been given and how to give them back their rightful place as the shapers of this great generation:

Stay tuned for part III.

Schizophrenia in Teens and Young Adults

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Aspergers Syndrom in Teens and Young Adults – Dealing with Rage and Anxiety

So, it was time for my Skype session with Stephen. Stephen prefers to call himself Autistic and before the DSMV, he would have been labeled Asperger’s Syndrome but if he was happy, I was happy. But right now, Stephen was not happy.

You would have thought he would have been. Instead of a Florida vacation, as a reward for doing great in school in marks, class participation and interactions, his mom had given him the dream vacation of his choice. 8 hours a day of D&D.

Unbeknownst to Stephen’s mom, there was a kid in his group that Stephen called and “ass-hat” who constantly annoyed Stephen and another kid from the moment they got their until the moment they left. Furthermore, instead of the nice drive in Mom’s Audi, they were going home by subway. (Wait it gets better). The subway cars were stopped and everyone had to leave due to a jumper on the tracks. (Wait it gets better).

Now after waiting for the bus or the streetcar for 30 minutes, both come at the same time and they are full of p—–off people, lots of sounds, smells etc., Stephen and Mom get home one minute before the Skype session with me is about to start….

Skype does its little Skyp-ee tune. Stephen is not on the screen. It is Stephen’s mom. Behind her is Stephen screaming: “I don’t want to do it! I’m f***ing fed up” (etc). (I have not heard what had gone on at this point.) Stephen’s mom says the we shouldn’t have the Skype session because Stephen is in his ‘out of control fit” phase.

(guess how it turned out)
to be continued soon!

Have questions? Contact Ken.

While you are waiting, Stephen and I put together an article which ended up in the Huffington Post about his issues with people trying to “make things easy” on people with Autism. Its a great read and got great response. You can read it by clicking here. If you like it please click “like” and share it.

ADD/ADHD in Teens and Young Adults – The Easy Diagnosis

Why is it that’s diagnoses for ADHD have gone up by multiples of a 100 in the past two generations?
There’s no question that it is easier to medicate a problem then it is to change a way of thinking.

Before I go on to share an alternative treatment that I’ve used with great success on a lot of teens and young adults who have been told that they have ADHD, let me say that for a certain percentage of people, medication can have a profoundly transformative effect.

Here’s the odd thing; 9 out of 10 people who come to me, claim to have some form of ADHD. What I often find are creative, inquisitive, multi-tasking minds, bereft of discipline.

How do we help young people who have been trained through the use of Internet, online chatting, texting, video walk watching, done all at the same time while gaming to not focus and supposedly “Multitask” to learn to focus?

We first have to understand is that the human mind is incapable of multitasking. What we do is, in effect, jump back-and-forth from one area of interest to the other virtually training our minds to be deficient in a linear attention span.

We have a natural ability to focus on things that grab our attention. But there is a natural ebb and flow to that ability. Filmmakers have used this ability and played with it through the use of tension and resolution. Just watch an Indiana Jones film for the brilliant use of tension and resolution (the calming scenes and the high-energy scenes) for how the push between these two forces to keep our interest.

In this art is the key to our own ability to enhance our attention to anything for longer and longer periods.

A Case Study

First Contact Email:

Ken: hi there. I am (name withheld)’s partner and we spoke back in the summer about my son “J”. “J” is still struggling and he has said that he would meet with you. Unfortunately, he will only be home from late today until the morning of the 27th. Is there a day you could meet with him before Christmas and then if that works, continue with Skype sessions when he returns to Queen’s?

“J” did very well in high school, getting straight A’s but always had attention problems. When he reached grade 10 he started smoking pot and his marks went downhill from there. He suffers from low self-esteem and never seems to finish what he starts. He takes on too many projects and then gives up when the going gets tough.

Now in University, he keeps having to let go of courses to not fail them. He started with five courses and is now left with two, of which he is getting a C- average.

First Session:

“J” and I met and there was a good connection. I noticed that as long as I changed gears (in ideas and themes) every six to ten minutes, “J” was focused and completely “there” for every part of the discussion. When I showed this to “J” he was extremely pleased with himself as he had completely bought into his inability to keep his attention on any one thing.

We created a study regimen in three 5 to 15 minute sessions with 15 minute breaks in-between.

Six weeks (12 sessions) later
The study regimen is at four 5-30 minute sessions with 5-15 minute breaks in-between.
“J” is generally keeping to 25 minutes of solid focus and his tests are coming back in the high 70’s, low 80’s and one 87.5!

We have also used visualization exercises as a way of getting control of his thinking process. Staring with a seven minute mp3 used 4 times a week and progressing to 12 minutes a day.

Finally, “J” has minimized his coffee intake and his chocolate intake (of his own choosing). In his particular case, this has seemed to have a very positive effect.

Tips for Teens with Bad Study Habits

For the students:
So, you’ve been hoping and buying into “the dream” that somehow, by keeping your science book under your pillow, it will all seep in. Or maybe, they will have some information on the Peloponnesian wars on the Family Guy marathon. How about, “I study best under pressure”? Or that tried and true classic “French is easy! All you have to do is sound like Inspector Clouseau when you say “duz yor dogue bat“? (“He’s not mah dogue“).

Well, we know how this ends up. You’ve received your mid-term marks, some of them squeaked by and some of them looked like you had a chimp take the exam (and not that clever one from Rise of the Planet of the Apes).

You have two choices:
Plan A: Continue to see your school future flushing down the proverbial toilet and say (to whomever you choose to blame) “well, if you believed in me more I’d do better,” or make a new plan. Let’s try Plan B, shall we?

Plan B is about knowing your strengths, knowing your limitations and building on micro-successes. Successes so small most people won’t notice, and you will get the time you need to believe in yourself without being overwhelmed.

Let’s face it, if you’re in this pickle, your study habits are probably non-existent and your parents’ expectations are something like: since you have so little time left you should be spending every waking and sleeping moment studying till you can’t stand it, then sit and study some more.

But you know and I know that faced with that option you’re sure that your head will actually explode (like that guy in Scanners) and if you could have done that (minus the exploding head part) you would have already done that. So, that ain’t happening.

Here is how to build a last-ditch effort to save your exams and create better possibilities for the following terms.

Five simple steps to change your exam destiny:

1) Do something you can hold yourself to.
You may catch yourself saying things out loud that you know you will never do (“OK, I won’t work today but tomorrow I’ll do twice as much!”) Try figuring out what you can actually do; Maybe two one-hour sessions with a 10 or 15 minute break in between. When you are working on something and you start to be really annoyed by it, go do something else for a while and come back to the offending subject later. It will seem less annoying.

2) Push it.
It is important to come back to it. You are teaching your inner-self that you can go further without the head exploding type of incident. Try adding 10 per cent more time each day until you get to a study time that is just too much. Then go back to the previous day’s study time. (Basically 10 per cent less.)

3) Poke into your “comfy time.”
At this point, you have figured out when you will do your study time each day and I’m guessing the rest of your home time is made up of all the stuff that drives your parents nuts. (Because you aren’t spending every moment studying.) Let’s call this time your “comfy time.”

Somewhere in the middle of that time, go back and work on one task, taking up either five minutes of time or one problem. Then you can go back to comfy time. This may not seem like much to an outsider, but it has so many benefits for you. First of all, if you can do this (tell yourself that it really will take just a little time and don’t let your inner id-self take over) you are beginning to take control of your future higher-character traits. Second, some part of your brain will believe that it has to stay on guard brain-wise, and will keep all the new info in your noggin’ with a bit more clarity. Third, there are benefits that no one can explain to you until you have done it — but it really helps.

4) Push some more.
On a given day, ask yourself the following: will an extra half-hour of gaming change my life? Because an extra half-hour of studying can.

5) Do it for yourself.
You are the main one who will benefit from this process. Do it to feel better about you.

Now, for the parents, here’s the hard part for you: it is so easy, as you see the exams coming around again and seeing your child about to make the same mistakes as last time, to freak out and try to strong-arm them into study submission. This never works. Never!

It might work one time but there can be no follow-through, and what will happen when you aren’t there anymore to strong-arm them? Show them these five steps and then (here’s the hard part) let them make their choices. Right here, they have the keys to make differences that won’t be stellar, but will be incremental, self-empowering and permanent.

One last thing to the students:
Your job in life is to rise above the people that came before you. It’s OK to do that. The best way is by challenging yourself and the easiest way to do that is in micro-movements of success. Pretty soon, it will be your standard equipment.

You can do it!

Communication: How to Con Your Parents into Listening to You

Okay. Lock the door. Pull down the shades (do you have shades?) and cozy up to a truth every teen knows: Parents never really listen! You know that, your friends know that, that guy with the crazy hair down the street says his parents listen but he’s home schooled. So here’s the big question: How can teens teach their parents how to listen?

But first, let’s look at some of the complaints teens have about their oblivious parents:

Teen: Mom, I’m taking the bus to school today.
Actual meaning: I made a huge dent in the side of the car last night.
Parent: That’s okay, dear; I could use the car for shopping this morning, anyway.
Complaint: Like, didn’t she get it? Oh, she will. She will.

Teen: Dad, can I stay at my friend’s house and play more video games?
Actual meaning: We’re too bloated on cheese doodles to move.
Parent: Well, as long as your friend’s parents are okay with it, I guess so.
Complaint: Like, I guess if his parents don’t know we’re pigging out, we’re fine. So, why does Dad mind I’m covered with cheese doodle paste… and so are the sofa cushions… and the carpet… and the dog ….

The thing is, most of the time teens are fine with not being listened to by their parents. But here’s the problem: What happens when you really need them to? You see, all your training in getting them to ignore you isn’t going to come in handy. You’re, like, the kid who yelled woof! Or barked, or something.

So, how do you get your parents to listen when you need them to?
Well, here’s the bad news. You can’t. They’re too old to change their ways and they only get smart again when you’re around 25. But here’s good news!. If you start to listen to them, they will start listening to you! I know, I know, it’s a lot of work, but let me tell you: it’s worth it.

Try this at home folks! Next time your parents are blathering on about something, pretend that it’s important.

Take mental notes of what they’re saying and see if you can make sense of it in your superior teen mind. Then say it back to them, to make sure you understood what they said, but in your own words. If they tell you that was exactly what they meant, then act like you care. Tell them how it would make you feel if that had happened to you. Try to imagine what it would be like.

Tell them it makes sense to feel the way they do (All the things you never hear). But now, get ready for the sick part: It actually feels really good to do this sort of listening. Only a teen could do it so well. But you never know, sometimes parents can learn new things before you are 25.

Also, if you try this listening thing out on friends, they actually start listening back. Whoah! Before you know it, you may find this stuff is habit forming. Listening and being listened to. It doesn’t suck!

Learning Challenges: Where Is Your Child in the Race?

There they are. At the starting line. The starting pistol cracks. All the children rush off and your child is last. Starting slow, unsure of him/herself and you don’t know if they will even make it. To make matters worse, you see all the other kids doing well and you ask: “why?”.

There is something to be said for just finishing the race. Start there. Walk along side of them. Cheer them on. Help only when you should and let them fall, stumble, get back up and keep going.

I work with teens and young adults that many have given up on or have dismissed. Each and every one of them has the potential for greatness. It may be in a small way or in a very big way. it is not for us to decide. It is for them to decide. My work and our work is keep them in the race and let them find their own footing.

Have faith. A good pillow to scream into. And find someone who believes in them, will make them work, call them on their bulls**t, and champion them. Someone outside the people they see on a daily basis. Don’t let statistics throw you off. Don’t let labels make you conform. Find someone who sees your child for what they can become and encourages them to strive to be their best.

The people I work with who are labeled with learning challenges have soared, once they have learned to focus on their strengths and create coping systems to rise above their challenges.

Anyone can succeed with some patience, determination and the right mentor.
You are not meant to have to do it all alone.
Find someone who helps you create a support team for both you and your child.
You both deserve it!

Phobias – Fear of Fear Itself

So many young people come to me these days with different levels of fears. The effect of these fears range from stopping them from succeeding all the way up to almost complete debilitation.

These are some of the fears I come across in trouble teens and young adults on a regular basis:

Fear of failure;
Fear of humiliation;
Fear of large crowds;
Fear of sleeping alone;
Fear of learning to drive;
Fear of life itself and basically fear of seeking new adventures.

The clients who come to me have tried all sorts of things to overcome these fears: talk therapy, medication, CBT, hypnosis and all traditional and some non-traditional modalities.

My success rate in overcoming these fears is between 90 and 95%. It has very little to do with me or my process but it has everything to do with tapping into the inmate positive powers that rests within each and every person.

I cannot deny that teaching some breathing techniques, some grounding techniques and some visualizations to create a “safe place” no matter where they are or what is happening is of great benefit, but the real transformation comes from taking whatever talents/strengths they have and starting a daily routine that involves doing the things that they have a connection to: (Writing, playing an instrument, dance, photography, Etc.).

Using something that they feel a connection to, we create a daily routine that helps them focus on the strength and power of doing something on a daily basis, rather than focusing on their fears. Each challenge is seen through the lens of how can we get back to their daily routine, free of judgment.

After a while, the client learns how to take any situation, analyze it and figure out a way through the challenges.

We then incorporate the strengths of current success to approach medium to minor fears, slowly building up the skills of: solid foundation, belief in oneself, good communication skills (Within and without), and “true grit”.

By focusing on what works, we teach these young people that you amplify what you focus on. The fears are approached from every angle possible in their newfound confidence helps dissolve those fears.

If you have any questions on the subject please feel free to send me an e-mail and I will get back to you on your questions within 24 hours. Click here

Seven Steps To Turning Around A Bad School Year

It arrives. The phone call you’ve been dreading. It’s your child’s (pick a subject) teacher, or the vice-principal and they’re calling to tell you that your child sucks and that you are a bad parent. It’s all your fault, not theirs, and what are you going to do about it?

They don’t actually say that, but isn’t that what you’re hearing in your head when you get the call?
If you got that call or note, you are in very good company. There are so many people in the exact same situation that it is scary. It’s not about you. It’s not about your child. It’s not about the school. It’s about finding a new way because the old way obviously isn’t working.

Now there are a few anomalies where what wasn’t working may still work, but something extraordinary has to happen (abducted by aliens, a shining light speaking to you, you go into a cave and see Darth Vader), but for most situations, that scary voice of your vice-principal in your head is on the right track… just the wrong solution.

Here are the seven steps to bring long-term results.
Step 1: Let go of expectations.
Telling your child that they have to start working 73 hours a day may seem like commons sense to you, but if it worked they would have done it already.

Step 2: Divide and conquer.
Have your child look at all their coming exams, write out the dates and times and include what will be covered on the test and highlight all the problem parts. Write down the number of how many days are left until that exam.

Step 3: Pick a number.
Ask them realistically how much time they are willing to study on a daily basis. Anything from one and a half hours to two hours a day is a great starting point. Tell them they can choose one day of the week to not study at all and suggest that they really think about which day would be best as their break day.

Step 4: Less is more-or-less
OK. This is not about studying for the right amount of time. This is about giving up on thinking it’s hopeless and starting to take control of a daily schedule and “owning it” for them. If they do 15-20 minutes of each subject and that is 15 minutes more then they would have done, they are off to a really good start.

Step 5: Be their cheerleader, not their jailer.
Ask them what they have done in their studies for the past few days, if they are willing to share it. If they missed something, do not react! Just ask if they have figured out how to deal with the lost time or was it just a way to learn to do better from now on. Let them be in charge. The idea here is to let them see what a bit of regular daily self-discipline can do and learn from the outcome.

Step 6: Lather, rinse, repeat.
At the end of the first week, suggest that you both sit down and look at the results of the past week’s study program. Ask them if they would like to share how they are feeling about what they have accomplished. Suggest that they increase their study time by a small factor and see how that feels. Let them write out the new schedule and let them go at it.

Step 7: Review.
If it is too late for this year, suggest that the next time they do the same process, they begin earlier and include a two week review time. If there is time this year for even one day of review, have them plan to get through all the work with one day of review, even if it is just for one course, and see what it brings them. When kids are asked to offer their opinion in a genuine way, two things happen: they feel empowered and they usually rise up to the opportunity, and you may learn something really good about your child that you never knew before.

What you are building in them is the faith to put down their toys (whatever they may be) for a bit of time each day and build a steady practice of self-growth with the idea that it may serve them well. This is difficult for some people and if you got that phone call or note, your child is probably part of that very large club.

It isn’t really about the marks or the tests, it’s about building character and belief in one’s self through a daily practice. This work, when mirrored back as being worthwhile, will last a lifetime and continue to grow. Focus on the accomplishments even if the outcome sucks and you will have turned a struggling student into someone who can consider taking a chance on success.

May the non-nagging force be with you.

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Go to the Home Page of Ken’s website for helping Troubled Teens and UnMotivated Millenials, RealLifeCoaching.ca
Want more Ken Rabow articles? Click Real Life Coaching Blogs
To contact Ken for a Free 15 Minute Consultation Click Contact Ken
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The Mentor’s Credo

The Mentor’s Workbook is a complete program to help young people find their success in today’s world. The work is based on the mentoring I have done with young clients since 2001, helping people who felt unable to succeed find their personal power. To start the mentor’s workbook, I recommend beginning with the information below. You can delve further into the subject(s) at the links at the bottom of this page. Enjoy! Ken

What is a “Mentor”?
Mentor was a character in the Homer’s mythic poem the Odyssey. Mentor, the son of Heracles and Asopis, was a friend of Odysseus who put Mentor charge of his son Telemachus. Later on Athena visited Telemachus disguised as Mentor and helped encourage him to go on his hero’s quest. So, the father had sent for Mentor to help Telemachus and Athena acted as Mentor, both to help the young man find himself.

As Mentors, we take on the task set out by Odysseus, the parent, to guide, help and encourage our Telemachus, our mentee, towards their hero’s journey.

To this end, I have created a Mentor’s Credo: The values that will guide our process of mentoring.

    The Mentor’s Credo

1. Mentors serve the client/protégé/Telemachus/mentee
2. Never leave a stumbling block before the blind
3. A truth told before its time is worse than a lie
4. A Mentors goal is to witness the Telemachus’ greatness and guide them on their path towards it.
5. The only gifts of value are those earned
6. Earned gifts are equal whether they are small or great
7. When in doubt, honor the small gifts earned
8. Be humble
9. Enter the Telemachus’ world as a curious bystander
10. You are not their friend. You are their Mentor
11. Mentoring is best done at a distance.
You have succeeded when they leave.

Want to read about The Slacker’s Guide to Success? click here

Creating The Perfect Job and Being Richly Rewarded For It

Don’t let the picture fool you. It don’t grow on trees. But great ideas do. Throw out all the things you were told about what is practical. Get rid of all the doubts you have about messing up. It’s in the messing up, trying things out and “going for it” that you will find your perfect job.

You may end up working for someone but don’t rule out creating a whole new way to make money. How do you do that?
By not caring about the money.

This is what Apple CEO, Tim Cook had to say about the whole idea of being driven by passion versus “making the bucks”.

As a part of the question-and-answer period during Apple’s third quarter earnings call, Tim Cook was asked by Steve Milunovich of UBS about whether the company takes Wall Street into account when creating new products, or if Apple ignores fiscal metrics when creating things.
Cook challenged the idea of a dichotomy between focusing on products and focusing on revenues. His philosophy is that creating a strong product leads to fiscal growth, and that focusing on hitting financial targets rather than creating a solid product can end up backfiring.
“We start at the product because we believe that the most important thing is that the customers love the product and want them,” Cook said. Otherwise, you end up creating a product that the customer doesn’t want, and won’t sell well as a consequence.

How does this translate to you? Start with something you would love to see available in the world. A product, a service; an app etc., Make something that the person buying it would love and desire and the money will come.

Passion. Fearlessness. Commitment.
These are good things. Embrace them. Make that your job.

Why Some Kids Derail Themselves and What We Can Do To Prevent It

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 teachers are doing great work in classrooms, helping all sorts of `different learning styles but how can teachers know how to work with people who don’t show up to class, don’t submit their work completed and don’t seem to care?

Could it be, that the keys to these young people’s success are the same ones that have allowed mankind to thrive for millions of years? Through evolution, we have been hard-wired to work as social tribes, offering our children the opportunity to learn from a wide range of elders.

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

You’ve tried it all; traditional therapy, behavioral 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 mentor who is non-judgmental, on their side and open to thinking “outside the box”, that child will become motivated to start the process of getting back on track.

Tips for creating success for your child

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 put together a daily routine based on the student’s interests i.e. Meditation; Yoga; Tai Chi; Weight Lifting; Biking; Jogging; Playing an Instrument (or singing); Reading; basically all the things we were told that have no real financial benefit. Start with two -twenty minute routines to be attempted 5 to 6 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 it to empower the student, these exercises are self-motivated without help from the family.

3) Bi-weekly meetings discussing progress, looking at existing obstacles and exploring solutions to these obstacles in a non-judgmental 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 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 to bring his “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 powerful people create the tools they need to feel safe going out into the world succesfully. Creating 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 their inspiration and get on track for a successful life.

Help! My Child is Glued to the Video Game Console!

Well, if they really are glued to the console, their sibling probably got crazy glue for the holidays. But, more than likely, they just disappeared into their rooms, coming out only occasionally, bleary-eyed, to grab some food and then return back to their cave.

How bad is incessant video gaming?
I think it’s all about duration and intensity. When combined with multi-tasking (texting, BBMing, Facebooking, or watching a movie at the same time), I believe your child’s noggin is being trained to be three miles wide and one inch deep.

What do we do about it?
One of my clients calls it the cereal factor. He has noticed that during school time, his brain is crispy like new cereal that is ready to eat (mmmm, cereal). But when break time comes, the brain ends up looking and acting like cereal that has been in the milk or soy-based substitute way too long. We get mushy brain.

The holidays are one thing, now it’s school time!
In a previous article, I did make some suggestions on how to get your kids through the holidays mush-free (click here to see it), but now they are back in school and every moment that they are not at school, they are at their video games.

How do you approach this?
Find a mentor!
It could be a music teacher, it could be a neighbour, it could be a professional coach (that’s what I do most of the week), but it should not be a parent. Insight rarely comes easily from someone too close.

Seven steps for coming unglued.

1) Have the mentor help your teen look at their weekly schedule of classes.
2) Break it down with a scheduler (iCal or Google Calendar are good) and write out their whole week, including start and stop times for classes, transportation time, outside commitments (hockey, music lessons, etc.) and social time.
3) Include the amount of time (including start and stop times) presently spent doing homework.
4) Ask your teen to estimate the amount of time required for home study on each subject. Then ask what the teacher’s recommendation is and take both and meet them halfway.
5) Look at sleep prep time, sleep time (approximate) and waking time and include this as part of the schedule.
6) Take a look at the free time available for gaming. (It’s never enough, is it?)
7) The tricky part: help determine how much increased time will be spent on school work and have the teen commit to it. This can be done one of three ways:
a) A weekly report in a chart where the student writes the daily work and the duration of practice.
b) A daily email to the mentor giving the same details
c) Texts after each section in a day is completed. E.g.: jst did 40 min math — my brain hurts ☹

The Result:
If your teen really wants to do well, this should be enough to help them start to take control of the scheduling and get back on track. If not, when the first tests come in, go over the whole system and ask the teen to figure out where they could have done more work or study more efficiently. Then implement step seven in reverse; going from c to b to a when appropriate.

The allure:
Video games have a magical quality to them. There is some good in them, no matter what you read about them and it probably will become a big part of most people’s future. We do want to live in the real world, however. Having gentle limits that are guided, but ultimately come from the teen, are the ones that will help them when they are out on their own.
A recent study found that older men were actually playing more video games then their younger counterparts.
Moderation and self-limits, these are the keys.

Now where’s my Angry Birds app?

Marijuana Addiction – Finding A System That Works

65% of the young clients I treat have “issues” with marijuana when I meet them. There may be others out there who do fine with marijuana but they don’t come to see me. The ones that I see have some or all of these factors playing on them at once:
1) Procrastination problem
2) Organizational issues
3) Lack of communication
4) Tendencies to self sabotage
5) Difficulties facing “the truth”
6) (add your own here)
When you put these together with a daily use of marijuana, you have a recipe for failure; drama; and a cycle of hopelessness.

So how do you get them to see “the light”?
It begins by having faith in these individuals, that by letting them discover the roadblocks, free of judgment, that they are putting in front of themselves and offering them a simple, effective way to start succeeding at things that they enjoy in their lives, they will seek creative and original ways to self-limit their addictions in a way that make sense to them.

The problem is that all the mainstream ways that people have demanded of them have not worked, so they may have given up on thinking that there is a solution. But once they are inspired to look for a new solution, and to realize through simple concrete examples that they can succeed, they choose to succeed.

I have seen the system work over and over again.

My Kid is So Smart… Why Isn’t He/She Doing Anything With It?

How many incredibly talented young people have we known who never seemed to get out of the starting gate or who start new things brilliantly but never “go the distance”?

These people are a majority of the clients I work with on a weekly basis. They are clever, well spoken, considerate and fun to be around. They also really know how to play any system put in front of them and yet, here they are in my office, wanting to find a new way. This is a great starting point in their self-growth. At this point, I tell them they have a condition. Their ears practically perk up in alarm. I tell them they have “Norman Jean Syndrome”.

When people reflect on one of the 20th century’s most electric movie stars, Marilyn Monroe, most focus on all of the things she had. She had fame, money, public adoration, success in the movie business, as well as people who cared for her. Yet each time she would have to leave her trailer to film another scene she would be paralyzed with fear.

She worked hard to be where she was but what she was most admired for was her looks and the way she “sparkled”. To her, these were things that had come easily. Things that come easy are often discounted by us as being without value. When people praise these easily obtained things, we end up feeling like imposters because no real work was done to achieve that praise.

But that praise is addictive. We end up lapping up the easily won praise, shunning the hard work that would have to follow. Going from one project to the next, from one mentor to the next, drinking from the cup of quick praise and then running from the bitter taste of  “going the distance”. This becomes a way of being.
And so it was for Norman Jean, Marilyn Monroe’s real name and probably the person hiding in Marilyn’s trailer.

Norma Jean Syndrome is essentially the feeling many naturally talented people have when they are praised for their facility at doing new things. It feels so good that they end up staying in that “start-up state”. The fear of having to prove themselves and of being an impostor begins to rule their decisions. They end up living their lives in their own version of a trailer; their room, their home or their addictions.
At some point, these people must seek out someone who understands this phenomenon and can give them what they need to rise above the formidable walls of their trailers of safety.

It is the simplest of tasks to begin.
Start with a daily set of exercises that are generative, something that adds to the quality of your life. It could be meditation, reading inspiring stories, walking, painting, music, sculpting or anything that would enrich your life. I suggest starting with three different daily tasks and working your way to five.

By working on these exercises daily and seeing what obstacles stop you from working on them, you will find ways to carry on. Then you will begin to have control of a part of your life that is there just for you, free from outside feedback. You will have gone through a side wall in that trailer and out to a less threatening world, free of fear.

It is these exercises that will liberate you.
Warning! Be on guard. A million “reasons” why you shouldn’t do them will come to you: “What’s the point?” “I want to be doing my life’s work now!” “This isn’t the real world!”  “What! Futurama’s on?” Your job is to put aside these reasons and do your daily work and slowly over a matter of weeks you will find your power. Within a matter of months, you will find your path and within a year you will begin your success.
Should you end up running away, remember, you can always start again.

No one ever said it would be easy but you will slowly get what you wanted and it will work out.

How Do I Control My Child’s Anger?

Well, if you read my articles on a regular basis, you know that the give-away is in the title. If you don’t read my articles… boy am I p***ed off! But seriously. Anger is a huge issue these days. Is it more than other generations? That’s really not the issue if you are around a child who has major anger issues.

As in most things, anger issues are multi-factorial.
Any one, two or three things may push it up the heat thermometer, but it is the aggregate of 7’s, 8’s and more that bring you into the sphere of danger.

So how do we go from: “No! You’re not listening to me!!!” (for the one hundredth time) to smashed walls, tv’s a.d worse? It is all about communication. If neither side feels like they are getting their message across and both sides feels they know what the other is going to say and you’ve heard it all before, then you are in a mobius loop of mood.

Four Steps for changing the dynamics and having a (sometimes) harmonious home:

Take turns being the listener or the speaker. Whichever you begin with, do the whole process before changing sides.

1) Listen without interruption. Listen with intention. Avoid any non-verbal cues that are anything but supportive. Your goal is to hear the speaker as if you have never heard them before or know their history.

2) Repeat back what you have heard in your own words. Do not add commentary. Ask if what you heard is correct and let the speaker correct or change as they choose and repeat back again their changes.

3) Empathize on how they feel. This is not about right or wrong. This is about hearing them and their point of view. The truth is, the gap between parents and children has never been greater thanks to the breakneck pace of change the world has entered.

4) Validate. Let them know how it makes sense how they would feel like they do coming from their state of mind.

This process should take place in an unregular place (like a basement couch, some chairs in the hallway; some place that you guys have never, ever yelled in.
This process should be tried in calmer times, not when the proverbial poop hits the fan.
Expect it to take around 12 weeks to build the mutual listening skills.
Once it has taken hold, you can try a time out in a heated moment to try the system and if at first it doesn’t succeed, keep trying.

One final note (in case you hadn’t guessed)… in regards to this column’s title: you can’t control your teens anything but you can inspire them to communicate by letting both sides be open to listening.

A Child’s Anxiety – A Parent’s Nightmare

Case Study #3 – Why I Have So Much Anxiety Reason # 12

Kid’s Statement: I never know what will trigger it but when the anxiety comes I lose all control and feel lost.
Fact: Most anxieties have specific triggers.
Question: How many attacks to you get?
Response: I’m always anxious. I get many attacks a day. I can have between four and six in a single class.
Ken: Are their times you can control them?
Client: Yes.
Ken: When and how.
Client: When they are not taking over. I can just calm myself down.
Ken: What is the range for your anxiety?
Client: My panic scale goes from 1 – 20. Up to six I can calm myself down. At 10, I’d stay home. 10 – 15 is a no man’s land. I’m a crying mess. At 20 I won’t remember saying or doing things. Over 10 I’m sort of out of control. Between 6 and 10 grounding exercises will help me snap back out of it.

Ken: What if I could show you a way to be anxiety free for one day a week?
Client: I would get anxiety without my anxiety.
Ken: That makes sense. Let’s find something that you would be OK having instead of anxiety. That let’s you feel safe. In command. And that you might prefer.

Result: Client now has two anxiety-free days a week and averages two to three panic attacks on other days. Client goes above 10 only once every one or two weeks and the over-all scale is reducing in intensity. Client is also finding that they can enjoy the healthy feelings they are choosing on the anxiety free day and has begun writing brilliant poetry.

Ken’s Comment: There is no way that this sort of issue that presents itself in this way can be dealt with by close family members. It requires an outside coach. My concern is that certain people would be too quick to medicate such a client. Although I am in favor of medication when self-harm is apparent, I do not feel that such a client, in this case required it and in fact, they didn’t.

Case Study #5 – 11 Yr Old Client. Anxiety – 2 – 3 times per week.

4:00 p.m. on a Sunday afternoon. My day off. I hear my cellphone (that I forgot to turn off during our family nap) make the sound it does when someone has left me a Skype text.

It’s Victor (not his real name). An amazing kid. 11 years old. Brilliant. Funny. Some coping issues and he is asking if he can talk to me. “Ken can I talk to you for a little later in the evening if you can I want to talk to someone about a fear and your the best person”. I have worked on these sorts of things many times before with older clients but never someone of this age. I pick up the phone and we talk.

Since he has been very young he has had this recurring fear. A fear that comes back several times each year. Sometimes an event can trigger it. Sometimes it just seems to happen. On those terror-filled days and sleepless nights, his parents are helpless to release their child from his terrors. They keep building and nothing works.

We spent close to an hour on the phone. We had worked on breathing exercises in the past. We had also done some visualization exercises to help Victor focus his mind towards positive thoughts. We mixed those up with some simple talk about his fears. His concerns and how they felt in his body when they would begin to appear.

Speaking with someone new on this subject seemed to help him a bit and he asked if he could come in with his mom the next day and work on the issue.

On the next day I met with Victor one on one first. We worked on a breathing technique where he put one hand on his belly and another on his chest. I had him focus on having his belly move on the breath without having the chest move and to breath in on a count of five, hold the breath for a three count and then breath out on a count of five.

This had an immediate effect of letting him focus on something new. (There is more to the intake as to why I knew that diverting his attention would work).
We then added EFT (Emotional freedom technique). I don’t use this on a regular basis, but I really like the idea of having Victor doing tapping, focusing on breathing, and stating affirmations based on what he really wanted to focus on and had been avoiding.

All this brought him to a more relaxed state. At this point we brought in his mom and we determined that Victor should offer three things that his parents could do when he was anxious at night that would be helpful.

This avoided all the frustration on the parents part of trying different things that didn’t seem to work. It also avoided the frustration on victors part of feeling that his parents were diminishing his concerns.

We now have a short-term and long-term method of dealing with this and so far things are improving.

None of what I am saying in this article is meant to be anything other than a case study and to show parents and young adults going through anxiety that there are many ways to deal with these things.

New choices must be based on what works for the client. The big question is; are they visual, auditory, or kinesthetic. I find that a great deal of these people are kinesthetic and that is why something that they feel has to be used versus talk therapy to get them to change their “reality”.

I just want you to know that there are alternatives.

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Wondering “Why Bother?” or How can this system help me?

Although there’s a chance that you are here at this site because one of your friends told you about it, the safer bet is that your parents suggested you check it out.
Either way is OK with me.
I have something to share with you.
I have seen for myself with countless clients, that no matter how messed up your life has been, no matter how many “issues” issues you may have had, you can change your life for the better starting right now.
(sounds like one of those detergent commercials on TV, eh?)

I think it’s the people who don’t quite “fit in” who have the best chance of starting new and really making it work, once they find a system that is made just for them.

The problem with a lot of systems is that they are forced upon people, they work for people who are “straight ahead”, but if you are at all a bit ”out there”, those systems may not really speak to you.

So, how does the system work?
The system is fairly simple, in itself, and I will explain in a minute, but what makes it special is what we bring along with it, or really, what we don’t bring along with it.

We don’t bring along your “history”. We don’t bring along your mess ups. I had one parent spend an hour telling me all the things that her kid did wrong. When I finally found a space to speak, I asked the parent “what are the things your child does well?”

The parent was very happy to go onto this entirely new tangent of all the really cool things that her child did. They were awesome things and I knew that I could work with that.
If you have even one thing that’s cool; you love music; you love animals or little kids; you’re funny; you love the arts; (fill in your cool thing here); then I can work with you and we can do something great!

So now, back to how the system works 🙂

You pick three things that you would like to do in a day and maybe two things that you really think you ought to do.
Feel free to make up your own that make more sense to you but for the moment:
Let’s use one from one of my most recent clients;

Client: Skeeter Peterson
Things you like:
Go for a walk for 15 minutes a day (away from everybody and everything)
Read one chapter a day of fiction.
Work on a grounding exercise for five minutes a day to help minimize anxiety

Things you ought to do:
Shower
Brush your teeth

You might find Skeeter’s choices a little weird, or they make make complete sense to you. Your choices would be based on you.

Once we’ve made those choices, we created a daily routine sheet and you tick off each day the things you do, when you do them and you don’t tick off when you don’t do them.

What you find out is, I don’t really care whether you do them or not. I do care about figuring out why you did it one day and not the next. If we can figure out what inspires you (it could be the weirdest things that might not make sense to anyone else but you), then you learn how you best work and how to inspire yourself with things that will make sense to you.

So now, back to the first question; why bother?
Cuz 🙂

But seriously, if you tried everything else and you’re not happy with how your life is, you really have nothing to lose. So why not bother. Or just say “bleep it”. Try it and see what happens. No expectations. No pressure. But a chance that this may be the thing for you.

There you have it. It’s a little different. But it really works.
Please feel free to email me any questions you may have.

Thanks for reading!

Transforming Low Self-Esteem In Teens and Young Adults

So many young people limit themselves these days on a daily basis by repeating certain mantras: “I’ll never be able to do that”
“I don’t know”
“I’m so stupid”
“I can’t do x”
“It’s not my fault”
“I don’t care”

Each and every one of these are coping mechanisms designed to allow a person to avoid being judged. That may seem counter-intuitive as the speakers of these and other similar self-limiting phrases are often harshly judged by their audiences yet, in some way, because it is “just something I always say”, they feel that they are cushioned from the very thing they fear… failure.

Before we look at a solution, I would like to give you to very different types of clients that I see who tend to say these sorts of things:

1. The Self-Abusers:
These people tend to have taken the worst of things that they have heard in their younger years and immortalized it their mind’s ear on an infinite playing loop.

2. The Harsh Critics:
Although this second group appears the same as the first group, they differ in that if you were to get to the bottom of their thought process, you would find that they are trying to tell the listener that they know they messed up and that they care. (Strange but true).

In both cases, I recommend that they go to a on-line video site of their choosing and check out their favorite products’ commercials. We analyze a few of them (that I feel gets the point across) and learn that the most effective way to cement or change a belief is by repeating it over and over.

If this works in the negative, then maybe it can work for positive.
We then take one thing that they can sort-of agree is a good thing about themselves and come up with a phrase. They then try repeating it over and over. After that, we look for a time in their lives when they felt strong, or powerful and we create an inventory of feelings, sounds, smells and sights that accompany this wonderful moment. We finally mix those feelings with the original positive phrase and within three weeks… the first level of changes begin.

Is it quick? No.
Is it easy? Not really.
Does it work? When done correctly… every time.

Help Your Teen/Young Adult Rise Above Their Challenges

Here you are. At your wit’s end. Not knowing how to get your child to succeed. You know they have potential but they seemed hell-bound to self-sabotage. More interested in self-gratification or wallowing in self-pity to do something with their lives. What if there was a way to help them find their success in life. To leave all their “shtick” behind them. There is! Real Life Coaching is a system that helps young adults from the ages of 12 to 28 create a new life of success for themselves.

Why Real Life Coaching Is The Help Your Child Needs

There are so many parents of troubled teens who are at their wits end, not knowing how to deal with their children. Communication is an issue. Hygiene is an issue. Sleep is an issue. Video gaming and overuse of the Internet is an issue. Let’s face it, there’s a lot more of issues than anything else!

Finding Success through Life Coaching
People seek a life coach for teens and young adults when they come to the realization that it’s okay to have an outside party be there to create something more than medication or talk therapy will achieve. That something is a slow and steady concrete process that will give back the value to your child of earning their own belief in themselves. To be successful. To rise above challenges and failures. To learn that failures and mistakes are the route to their greatness. Most importantly, to learn the value in day-to-day simple disciplines, based on things that they would enjoy doing, bringing a rightly earned self-confidence to them.

The Proven Method

My book “The Slacker’s Guide To Success” chronicles the entire 13 step process, but to put it in a nutshell: a young person needs to seek out a life coach that they are willing to trust and be open to trying new things with. They must then be willing to look at their goals and their challenges to succeeding and finally to start a daily chart of the small successes that will instill in them a sense of the possibility of succeeding in the real world.

How Some People Limit Struggling Teens and Young Adults

I meet so many young people that so many have said of them that they will never be able to succeed. Often, all the family and relatives were hoping for was for things to not get worse and yet these young people have soared and have found their greatness.

The ones who did not succeed, did not succeed because the expectations from their family and friends were for an immediate fix. The kind of profound inner changes I am speaking about in this article are slow and steady. But if all those concerned take the time, have the patience, determination and certitude to see this through, the rewards will be immeasurable.

Remember This:

Do not give up hope. Do not think that you are alone. Reach out for someone to help you and the changes will come. They may be slow but they will be astounding…  Ken Rabow

Tooth Brushing, Showers and Teens. Oh, My!

Once parents begin to see real changes in their teens, they take me aside and in a hushed voice they ask: “Do you think you could get him/her… to brush?”

Brushing and showering are often the most daunting things to get young people to buy into on a regular basis these days. (Less so, once they start having a regular dating partner)
I have found a simple way to get young adults to bring showering and tooth brushing into their daily routines.
I will share it with you but first you must let go of three things:


Three things you must relinquish:
1) Stop thinking that they are disgusting aliens for not doing what you think is common sense.. It is not common sense to them. It is, in fact, equally alien to do it.
2) Let go of any guilt you may have about this “issue”. It really isn’t about you. It really is about them.
3) Free yourself from judging, checking, testing etc. If it hasn’t worked by now, it will not only not work, it will make them equate doing these things with “giving in”.

The Magic Hygiene Formula:
Errr. There is no magic formula. Sorry 🙁
But wait! There is good news! I really do get all my clients to brush and bathe but it is a slow process.

The basics of Real Life Coaching is using some self-chosen tasks and a daily scheduler to help young people get things done that are external i.e. not what they feel like doing at the moment but things they had determined in advance that they would like to be able to do.
Once we have this system working (it takes about 12 weeks) we can add personal hygiene items and these issues slowly resolve themselves with very little effort.
The trick is having them decide that it makes sense in a rational time (our sessions) and then go about deciding what a good starting point might be.

For those who never brush, it might be brushing five times a week. Now, I’m sure a lot of people reading this would say that this isn’t good hygiene and won’t prevent their teeth from rotting.
But once you can instill a habit in somebody, it is not that more difficult to get them to brush six days out of seven. Then to brush twice a day and eventually, it becomes a habit that is automatic.

What we consider “obvious” is not to them. It therefore requires the patient steady training and the explanation of the advantage of daily habits. It works and it works without having to nag!

So what about showering? Follow the same formula. If they rarely do it, find a few days a week that might be good practice targets for showering. It has to fit into a routine and you have to make sure that it makes sense to mix into their habits.

Do you have a story about hygiene? Let us know and we’ll share it!