Tips for Teens:  Three Things to Do Now

I have three goals for you right now.  Let’s see how you would respond to these thoughts:

  1. Be able to stand up for yourself
  2. Be prepared to make reliable decisions
  3. Learn to choose good friends

Do you know your beliefs?  When put to the test in a situation of choice, can you act based on your beliefs?  We often answer yes to these questions, assuming that we will be able to choose wisely, but we do not know until we are in difficult situations of choice.  In my book, Making Sense of Life: A Guidebook for Teens and Parents, I wrote extensively about developing and understanding your beliefs.  I have tips for both parents and teens to help establish a solid foundation from which kids can operate.  Sticking up for your thoughts requires assertiveness, the ability to stand up for yourself.  By improving your ideas and reciting them, you commit them to memory and automatic recall when you need them.  By preparing yourself for various encounters, you will be ready when they arise.  Role-play situations with other adults and develop a “come back” line that you can use.  I like to use, “no thanks, I’m going to vote with my feet and get out of here.”  Then walk away and let them say whatever they wish as you only do things that will benefit your soul, not those things that will harm it.

The second tip is being able to make reliable decisions.  I want to encourage kids and parents to allow kids to make some decisions as they grow older.  Parents would often jump in quickly when in my office as a school administrator, and I would stop them and encourage them to allow their young person to respond.  Making decisions takes practice and also requires some poor choices or even outright mistakes.  One guideline that I use for myself is that when I need to make a decision and it worries me or weighs on my mind, I use that as a signal to include others in the decision-making, i.e., your parents.  Remember, they have lived life and likely have run into most situations that you are facing now in your life.

The third tip is to learn to choose good friends.  In my book, Making Sense of Life: A Guidebook for Teens and Parents, available on my website,, or from or your favorite bookseller, I speak about reaching up a notch.  I like to encourage kids when making friends reach up a notch to someone who is a better student than you or seems to function at just a trim higher level.  If you are struggling in a class, say mathematics, who seems to do well on tests, you could befriend.  Learn to have conversations with individuals that you do not know.  Sometimes just smiling and saying Hi, will do the trick to making friends.  Choose different kinds of people, as well.  Different ages, races, religions, ethnic backgrounds, and genders to help yourself eliminate bias and prejudice.

I have a blog posting on Making Friends which can be found here Friendship-Making Skills – Dr. Rich Patterson (

The Mayo Clinic as a wonderful posting on how Friendships Enrich your life here Friendships: Enrich your life and improve your health – Mayo Clinic


I challenge teens to take each of these three, one a week for the next three weeks, and make them come to life in your life one at a time.  You’ll be glad that you developed these lifelong skills now.

Yours for a Better Life,