Teaching Teens to Reflect to Achieve their Goals

Life Coaching for Teens

ISelfies am the WORST selfie taker of all time. I can’t hold the phone at the right angle AND push the button to take the picture. I have to do the “two-handed selfie” which is a universal embarrassment to teenagers all over the world. I look at the wrong place on the phone, so my eyes look crossed when I take the picture. I inevitably end up with a double chin and a finger in the picture. I am so bad that most of the time, some kind stranger offers to take the picture for me.

I am not sure when kids learn to take selfies but they seem to have it down by the time they are a “tween” for sure. It must be a class in elementary school that I don’t know about!

With all the self-portraits and social media pictures our kids post, you would think they would know about reflections. A selfie is just a snapshot reflection of themselves. Don’t get me started on how damaging social media can be to teens (and even us as parents) because of the false image everyone (including us) posts. None of us are really as together and perfect as we post. However, that topic is for another day. Back to reflections.

One of the BIGGEST if not the BIGGEST keys to success is reflecting on where you are, where you want to be and how you can make it happen. I posted on setting goals last week. I believe that we as parents have a responsibility to help our kids set goals and help them achieve their goals. Check out my goal setting sheet if you need some help with this. Once we have helped our kids set goals, we need to help them achieve those goals. The BEST thing we can do is help our kids know how to reflect on those goals and see what they are doing right and wrong and make changes. Kids tend to find the path of least resistance. They want to fit in and be normal. This is the enemy of greatness. Here are some ways we can help our tween and teen (and even young adult) learn to reflect:

  1. Write out their goals. I suggest 4 goals. Spiritual, Personal, Relational and Vocational (School). I also like to break the goals into quarters. For example, if they want to run a marathon as their personal goal, they will need to set quarterly mileage goals. This helps them have a plan and see short term success right away as they meet the smaller quarterly goals.
  2. Go over their goals EVERY day. I have my boys do their devotions and then read over their goals each morning. Good morning habits will help your child succeed faster than any other thing you can teach them. I know that teenagers like to stay up late and sleep until noon. Once in a while this is fine, but start teaching them early on that morning hours are worth more than any other hours in their day.
  3. Teach them to ask the right questions. When they read over their goals, they need to be asking the right questions so they can determine if they are making progress. You would be surprised how many kids don’t know how to self-evaluate. That is why when they mess up and you ask them “what were you thinking” they really don’t know! Here are a few questions to get you started. You know your kids better than anyone else so you will be able to tweak this list and really help your kids. Download a copy of more reflection questions.
    • What went right yesterday? (Example: I made a great grade on my Spanish test.)
    • Why did that go right? (Example: I read over my Spanish notes every day before I did my homework)
    • How did this make me feel? (Example: I felt great. I felt proud and happy and not worried about having to tell my mom about a bad grade. I felt smart.)
    • How can I do the same thing in other areas? (Example: I should read over my notes in all my classes and I would score better and not have to study so much.)
    • What went wrong yesterday? (Example: I was late to first period.)
    • How did I handle things when they went wrong? (Example: I was rude to the student service lady and ended up in a bad mood all day long.)
    • What was the first thing that happened that started the chain that caused things to go wrong. (Example: I didn’t check my planner the night before and set my alarm. Because I didn’t set my alarm, I didn’t get up on time and only had a few minutes to get ready.)
    • How did this make me feel? (Example: I felt cranky and bad all day. My friends noticed something was wrong. I had a very bad hair day and I wasn’t happy.)
    • What can I do to make sure this doesn’t happen again? (Example: I should go over my planner and make sure to set my alarm so I have plenty of time to get ready for school.)
  4. Help them answer the questions so that they learn to reflect on their own. Go over and work with them on these questions. Kids are not born with the ability to think critically and analytically. Their brains don’t fully develop until they are around 25! LORD SAVE US! You can’t expect them to know how to reflect. You HAVE to teach them! As critical as it was to potty train them, it is MORE critical to teach them to reflect so that they don’t make the same mistakes over and over.

Reflecting on our goals and CHANGING what we do based on that reflection is the biggest key to success. Do you want your kids to live lives of purpose and joy? Do you want them to succeed? Teach them to reflect! I have found that during the process of teaching, I learn more than the students. This process of reflection will help you begin to reflect more on your own goals if you don’t do this already and it will help you understand your teen more. We could all benefit from being able to understand our teens! LOL!