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Tips from The Parents' Coach » teenage boys

Posts Tagged ‘teenage boys’

Announcing The Parents of Teens Free, Monthly Tele-Roundtable

Posted on March 1st, 2010 by Jason Wittman  |  No Comments »

I have started a free, monthly Tele-Roundtable discussion for Parents of Teens and Young Adults. It meets on a free (other than a long distance call to Idaho), telephone conference line.

Please join me and other concerned parents like yourself the first TUESDAY of the month at 11:15 AM Pacific Coast Time for a free, lively hour of discussion, on the telephone, around topics of concern to parents of teens. I introduce a topic for about the first 10-15 minutes and we spend the rest of the hour discussing it or anything that is of pressing concern to the participants.

New Daytime Hours!

Interested? Here is how you can join the call: Click on this link which will take you to the were you can pre-register for the Roundtable. Complete the form and press enter and you will get a call-in number and a pin code that you will use when you call into the Roundtable call.

The call will last an hour. I will spend the first ten minutes or so introducing a topic or skill set that I believe would be of interest to parents of teens and then the rest of the call will be a moderated discussion on the topic or any other issue of importance. I will also do short laser coaching with participants concerning a current problem, when asked.

I am looking forward to your participation on the Roundtable.

Coach Jason

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Parenting By Permission

Posted on September 15th, 2007 by Jason Wittman  |  No Comments »

Effective parenting of older teens and young adults requires a rethink of the whole parenting process.  Parenting children, pre-teens, and early teens is all about teaching the fundamentals of life. At birth children have no knowledge other than how to cry and scream. In the next twelve to fourteen years parents are the primary teacher of everything from speech to manners. Someplace around early to middle teens, there is a shift in the thinking of the teenage mind from “parents, teach me all you know. I will follow you anywhere, lead me, please,” to an urge, a drive, to become their own person, a free agent, an adult.

The problem in parenting is that most parents do not recognize that, for them to remain effective parents, they need to make an equally huge shift in their approach to parenting. Most pre-teen parenting is from the top down. Parents lead and children follow. Parents dictate the agenda and their kids are made to obey. With older teens, this kind of parenting becomes less and less effective. Most problems parents have with older teens boils down to a power struggle. It becomes a war where parents might win a battle or two, but they will ultimately lose the war and possibly any influence they might have in their kids lives, as well. With a shift in thinking and parenting techniques this warfare would disappear.

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Parenting Manifesto

Posted on September 14th, 2007 by Jason Wittman  |  No Comments »

When parents chose to become parents, they make an inviolate covenant with God to be the best parents they can be, through thick and thin until the job is done. Upon making that decision to become parents, either by birthing their child or adopting one, they become what I call God’s designated hitter. At that moment they are tapped on their shoulders by God and from that moment on, that child is their responsibility. There is no giving that responsibility away or abandoning it. There might be times when the needs of the child exceed the abilities of the parents. Even at those times when the services of outside experts are needed, the parents still have overall responsibility. There are times when it seems that they have done all that they can possibly do for their child. It is absolutely part of their agreement with God to ask for other designated hitters to be assigned to provide what the parents are unable to provide. Even when God assigns those tasks to others and the teen is not under the direct care of the parents,  such as if the teen was put in a detention facility or went off to college (hopefully the latter), the parents’ covenant with God to be the teens parents for the duration, is not terminated. Parents still need to be prepared to assume their role when they are once again called on to do so.

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Being Proud vs. Having Respect

Posted on July 27th, 2007 by Jason Wittman  |  No Comments »

Diana Sterling, the author of "Parent As Coach" the text that I use when I teach my parenting course, once mentioned that it is way more effective when offering a teen a complement to use, "I really respect you for …X…" rather than the usual, "I am very proud of you." Because I trust her advice, I used it the next time my son did something I wanted to praise. The reaction I got was subtle but profound. I got a quiet thank you and a little later an, out-of-nowhere hug. I have been using it ever since.

It amazes me that ever though both of those phrases have the same intention behind them, they have such a different effect on the listener. The difference seems to stem from the implication of each phrase. "You make me so proud," is about how the listener’s behavior or accomplishment effects the speaker’s feelings. How it shines well on the speaker and his accomplishment of being a great parent. Other than any good feelings tor doing some thing to give the speaker good feelings, there is little in that statement for the listener.

"I respect you for …." on the other hand, is all about the listener. It is saying, "I truly acknowledge you and what you did or accomplished." Now that is something to really feel good about!

About the Author:

Jason Wittman, MPS has a private practice as a Life Coach specializing in working with parents of teenage boys and young adults ( ) He can be reached at

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Perserverence and Endurance are the Keys to Winning The Parents Game

Posted on July 8th, 2007 by Jason Wittman  |  No Comments »

I recently read a very short yet very important book , "The Dip" by Seth Goden. Although it is written mainly for business people, the concept totally applies to parenting of teenagers. Seth postulates that in most enterprises there is a period of time before winning or success happens when it seems like nothing is happening and that future effort to achieve success would be in vain. He labels that period, "the dip." He contrasts that with other similar feeling situations, "The Cliff," where the enterprise is about to crash and burn and "The Cul-de-Sac," a dead-end situation that no additional effort will ever produce results. He explains that in the latter two conditions, quitting is the appropriate action to take because it frees people to then go and find a winnable game to play. In contrast, for truly winnable games in business and life, there is a period where we do the footwork and pay the dues until success and winning happens. That period can be lengthy.

Since all three of the situations feel the same when we are in them, the skill comes in being able to determine which is which. When it is determined that we are truly in a Dip, that’s when perseverance and endurance becomes the critical skills to prevent quitting before the miracle. He quotes a famous marathon runner who sets in his mind the conditions that must happen before he will quit a race. The runner does this because otherwise by the 23rd mile, all the regularly occurring things like thirst, fatigue, muscle aches and the like will be used by his mind to manufacture a plausible reason to quit. Using that as an example, the author says that conditions where quitting ought to be the option of choice need to be set before the endeavour starts. If and when it is time to quit, the quit need to be premeditated and planned out. Quitting should never happen at times of high emotion because rational courses of action are never made well at those times.

Although Mr. Godin did not have parenting of teenagers in mind, his theory totally applies to this very serious enterprise or game, as I like to call it, of raising teenagers.

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She Was Having Fun, Fun, Fun and the Judge Took Her Bentley Away

Posted on June 9th, 2007 by Jason Wittman  |  No Comments »

Yesterday morning I was awakened to the sound of many hovering helicopters. They were press copters and they were staked out in the sky over Paris Hilton’s house, which unfortunately, is way too close to mine. They were there to get a glimpse of the Sheriffs taking her away in handcuffs and back into court. As the day’s drama unfolded, I realized that she is the perfect example of how not to raise teenagers.


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When do they stop being teens?

Posted on June 7th, 2007 by Jason Wittman  |  No Comments »

I am regularly asked by parents of teens to give them an estimate of when their kids will brow out of being teenagers and become responsible adults. The basic question is" When is this over?" The answer is not very clear these days. It is a bad news, good news and it depends, kind of answer. I am convinced by my observing this process throughout my many years and from my observing how fast this process can happen in other cultures, that a teen’s environment plays a very important role in determining just how fast this process happens.

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The Two “Musts” of Parenting

Posted on June 2nd, 2007 by Jason Wittman  |  No Comments »

There are only two "musts" when parenting teens. I say "musts" because they provide the foundation for everything else. These two principles build on each other and will greatly influence the value structure that your teen will develop and will let them know you are a reliable source of guidance.

The first principle is that when asked, either directly or indirectly, always label irresponsibility as irresponsibility. If you think that what your teen has done is not in his or the world he lives in’s best interests, he needs you to tell him what you think.

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“A Common Sense Proposal for Preventing ‘Pay-Back Time’ & Revenge School Shootings”

Posted on April 16th, 2007 by Jason Wittman  |  No Comments »

A Common Sense Proposal for Preventing ‘Pay-Back Time’ & Revenge School Shootings

~Comments on the shootings at Santana High School in Santee, CA and Columbine High School and a call for zero tolerance for Teasing, Taunting, Ridicule and Bullying (TTRB) and the teaching of self-esteem~

I originally wrote this article, just after the Santana High School shooting in Santee, CA in March 2001. I thought then and still do that the press concentrating on “guns in schools” and “bullying” stories are talking about symptoms (guns) and only part of the problem (bullying). We are now on another anniversary of the shootings at Columbine High School and today, over 230 school shootings later, here we are, still at go.  From the press reports and the statements of school officials and concerned citizens after each one of these massacres, it doesn’t seem like much has changed to change the chances of future catastrophes. It is the same old speculative explanations and remedies that have not worked to date. Once again, I offer my suggestions that are based on a lifetime of successfully working with marginalized kids. Please take note!

When 15-year-old Andy Williams opened fire on the students of Santana High School in Santee, CA, on Monday, March 6th, he fulfilled the hidden desires and became an instant hero to millions of school kids across the country, as did Eric and Dylan, the Columbine High shooters, before him. If this statement horrifies you, please read on.

By all the newspaper and TV accounts, Andy was a marginal, ridiculed, picked on, quite passive, “disaffected and unhappy boy, frequently taunted by his peers.” He was called “country boy” and the king of all taunts, “gay.” His classmates described him as “a twerp, skinny, and very quiet.” He laughed off verbal and even physical abuse and never fought back. He was beginning to drink and use drugs to fit in with the crowd. This is much the same profile as the other kids who shot up their schools. It is also the profile of millions of other school kids. Sure, most of them would never do what he did. Fear of the consequences and moral, religious and ethical convictions would have mitigated such a solution. They would just continue to suffer in silence. But to most of them, even to their own horror, the thought, accompanied by a slight smile, of “Pay-back Time!” might have crossed their minds.

In the Columbine High shootings, the press reported at the time that student said the shooters, Eric and Dylan, were continually harassed because of the perception that they were gay. They were regularly called “faggots.” I was able to confirm that they were, in fact, under continual pressure for being gay in a conversation with a gay youth in Denver who knew them.

Today, as for the last 35+ years, I work with teens and young adults, many of whom fit this profile. Probably why I relate so well with them is that at their age I, too, fit that profile. I was a scrawny, twerp, teased about big ears, large feet and being too smart. I would have probably been labeled “gay” if the word had been in use then. I laughed off their taunts and never fought back, per my Mother’s instructions. Fortunately, I found the protective shelter of the high school drama club and its caring teacher/advisor and by spending lots of time with adults.

The part of my high school experience and how I coped with it, that is most germane to this discussion is that, on many a night, I can remember going to sleep while fantasizing the torture and destruction of my tormentors. Fortunate for me and them, the social controls on a kid growing up in the late 1950s, the total lack of support and role models for such action, no guns in our household and my own lack of confidence to even pull off a decent suicide made turning that fantasy into a reality an impossibility. Today, though, kids with these feelings and fantasies have the means, the role models, the support from some of the darker parts of pop culture, and either active or tacit support of their peers. This is why an immediate preventative action plan is needed.

After these random school shootings, the question is always why did the shooters kill innocent bystanders, people that were not their tormentors? The reason is that after years of being the recipients of teasing, taunting, ridicule and bullying (TTRB) the “Johnny, Billy ….and Coach Williams won’t ever leave me alone” turns into “They won’t ever leave me alone!” At that point, everyone becomes the target of retribution.

Addressing bullying is not enough. Bullying’s three cousins in harassment; Teasing, Taunting, and Ridicule, are different enough and just as much of a problem to the victims to be worthy of addressing on their own right. Ridicule, incidentally, is what teachers do. When I was in high school, it was usually the gym teachers. When teachers ridicule students it presents a negative role model and gives tacit permission for students to engage in TTRB themselves.

Since the shootings in Santee, the usual suggestions for preventing another such tragedy have been offered in the media. As usual, they miss the mark now as they have in the past. The Santee school system had in place all of the most up to date solutions, they had an anti-violence program, adult monitors, all sorts of contingency plans, the works. Obviously, it wasn’t enough. So what will work? I have two suggestions based on over 35 years of working with teenagers. The first one is easy to implement. The second is a long-term solution that will not only deal with this issue but will most probably greatly reduce teen use of alcohol and drugs.

Suggestion #1 is to institute in every school, starting with pre-school, a policy of zero tolerance for teasing, taunting, ridicule and bullying (TTRB). In the workplace, today, a slightly off-color or sexual remark can legally be the subject of a sexual harassment lawsuit. However, on school campuses teasing is dealt with, if it is dealt with at all, by attempts at fortifying the coping skills of the victim. I have no quarrel with those efforts and my second suggestion is probably the most effective way to do that, but they are secondary to stopping the aggression, period! “Boys will be boys” will no longer do. Kids can get kicked out of school under the zero gun policy just for pointing their finger like it is a gun at another student. Schools need to be at least as strict in dealing with those who verbally assault their fellow students. Principals, school officials, teachers, other responsible adults and fellow students that tolerate any degree of teasing, taunting and harassment or who join in or initiate the ridicule of a student must be held accountable. Zero tolerance for teasing, ridicule, taunting and bullying AND the failure to report or stop such activities, must become the enforced norm in all schools.

The Newport-Mesa Unified School District in Orange County, Calif. has become the first school system to modify its zero-tolerance policy to include, “any gestures, comments, threats or actions…which cause or threaten to cause…bodily harm or personal degradation.” Strict adoption of this kind of policy, nationwide, will go a long way to eliminating most campus violence including playground fistfights.

Suggestion #2 is to teach self-esteem and self-love to all students starting in pre-school. My experience working with teenagers over the years has lead me to believe that lack of self-esteem and love is the root cause of most, if not all, of student problems including, under-achieving, substance abuse and addictions, acting out behaviors and especially campus violence. The bully, taunter and teaser does so in an effort to compensate for and to fix an emptiness inside by putting someone else down. People who love themselves have no need to oppress others. Kids, who do love themselves, have more resilience to the negativity of their peers. They also are less likely to get caught up in abusive relationships and will be more likely to seek out as partners, those who also have an excess of self-love to share.

How to teach self-esteem and love is the subject of many books, including a future one from me. There is, though, a very effective, ultra-simple and best of all, no-cost solution for teaching self-esteem and self-love. Everyone that I have ever taught this to, from pre-schoolers to adults, has experienced huge improvements. This is one thing that assisted me the most build my self-esteem and love. Here is the description of how to teach it, followed by why I believe it is so effective:

“From now on, every time you see your reflection in a mirror, you MUST smile AND say one nice thing about yourself. This nice thing is something you already know that is good about you. It can be a physical thing, but even better if it is an internal goodness, like being considerate or sharp-witted. It is not an affirmation, which is something you would like to believe about yourself and say repetitiously until, hopefully, it sinks in. The other part of this exercise is that if you use the mirror to beat yourself up, you must say two nice things for every nasty one!

This exercise works because it develops a new habit of saying nice things to oneself, which automatically leads to self-love. Most people with low self-love and esteem have a well-developed habit of beating themselves up verbally (and sometimes physically). Perfectionists are the masters of this since they will always perform below their expectations. When this new habit of smiling and saying nice things to oneself replaces the old self-deprecating one, a new person emerges. A side benefit is that one can’t smile and feel down at the same time, so these periodic, face-induced smiles can help break a downward emotional slide.

An important side benefit of the zero-tolerance policy for teasing, taunting, ridicule and bullying is a climate that is conducive for building self-esteem and self-love. This will be especially true if the policy includes the school staff. Public ridicule from teachers both sets a bad example and destroys self-esteem.

Now is one of those windows of opportunities when school districts can really do something that will positively affect the quality of life on their school campuses. Immediately adopting my zero tolerance suggestion will so drastically change the campus atmosphere that the need for the picked-upons to engage in any form of retribution or “Pay-Back Time” will be virtually eliminated. Quick implementation of these suggestions will ensure that no more lives are needlessly lost.

©2001, rev. 2007, 2019, Jason Wittman, MPS

[Would you like to reprint this article? You can, as long as you publish the entire article and include this complete blurb with it:]

About the Author:

Jason Wittman, MPS, LAADC, CATC-IV (aka Successful People’s Secret Weapon) is the former Executive Director of Los Angeles Youth Supportive Services, Inc. ( ) and has had a private practice as a Life Coach specializing in working with parents of teenage boys and young adults ( ) He’s been in private practice as a Counselor and Coach for over 40 years. His practice, focuses on coaching and advising business and professional clients, who are recovering from alcoholism and addictions, to work and live at their exquisite best. He has his master’s degree from Cornell University in counseling-psychology and is certified as a drug & alcohol counselor, a clinical hypnotherapist and a practitioner of Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP). He can be contacted at or 213-804-4408

New Parenting Rules When Runaway Children Return Home

Posted on April 9th, 2007 by Jason Wittman  |  No Comments »

The real reason why kids comply with the rules and edicts of their parents is that they think that they have no other option. They understand that their parents are the source of all comforts and necessities of life and from their prospective, there are no alternatives. If something happens to occasion their running away from home, such as a reaction to some perceived parental injustice, and they stay out over night, they will not be the same kids upon their return.

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