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How to be a good parent of your teenager - from their teacher

Everyone wants to be a good parent. And honestly, like any profession or even any hobby in the world, the greatest parents are the ones who are constantly seeking to improve the way they do things. So thank you so much for being a good parent and looking up this topic to begin with! I don't want it to be harsh, but I do want to come across as direct and true because there are some realities that not all good parents want to face when it comes to raising their teenagers.

1. Don't baby them. In all of my years of teaching I have been lucky in that I have only had a few conversations with parents like this; they come to the conferences to give excuses for why their students are the way they are. The truth is this: they are the way you are because you raised them to be that way. Good or bad, it doesn't matter to me. My job now is to help mold them into the best possible human beings they can be. So don't make excuses for them, look at their strengths and weaknesses and ask me how you can help them do better.

2. Teach them to get up on their own. I once spoke to an Olympic athlete and asked him what it took to be in his position. He said "It is all a mental game that has nothing to do with what you choose to be successful at. If you can't even get yourself out of bed in the morning, you've already lost." The same goes for being successful at school; they have to get up on their own.

3. Let them have something to be excited about. If your kid has poor grades, doesn't like school, and isn't involved in any other activities besides going to classes and then going home to play video games, I'm going to push your kid to get involved. There are sports, clubs, teams, and all kinds of activities that your student can do - and he or she needs to find something that he or she enjoys to be motivation to keep on going.

4. Realize that I'm here to help. I know it's sad to say that there are some teachers in the world who aren't terribly interested in whether your kid succeeds or fails. There are teachers who don't care about teaching at all, but what do you expect in such an overworked and underpaid profession? Figure out how to recognize the teachers who ARE interested in your child and who are doing things not only to improve your kid's education but to improve themselves as educators. Simple clues like seeing them admit that they've made a mistake on something like a grade book, or even the fact that they are entertaining a conversation with you about your child, those are good clues into what your teacher is like.

5. Make sure they have responsibilities at home. This can be tough to balance, but students need to realize that they should contribute at home in addition to keeping up their grades and being involved at school. If they don't have home chores they tend to grow up to be workaholics, not caring so much in the running of the household and instead focusing too much on other things like work, social life, and anything other activities outside the home.

These are five things I've noticed are consistent in the most successful students I've had in my classes! Not every single A-student has all five attributes in their parents, but the more of these five they have, the better chance they have of being successful. There may be others who disagree with these five, but these are the points that I've seen in the last ten years of teaching in the areas that I've been in (mostly southern Missouri). If you have noticed other points as a teacher, or if you think any of these should be expanded upon as a parent, please leave them in the comment section! I'm sure more inquiring parents will want to know, and it would be great for other teachers to share!

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