My wife and I understand the importance of chores. They teach responsibility, accountability, discipline, pre-planning, and the value of money.
Our four children, apparently, never got the memo.
We have tried many times, unsuccessfully, to create a chore system that works. Each attempt has gotten progressively more serious.
The length of this email is reflective of the months it took us to get it right. If you value chores - but haven't quite cracked the code - it may be worth the read.
In military terms, we have now reached DEFCON 2 (Defense Condition 2: one step before maximum readiness for nuclear war).
Here is our journey to the brink of a nuclear chore war:
DEFCON 5 (lowest state of readiness): Just Tell Them
At first, we just told our kids what their chores were and expected them to do them. What a rookie mistake. Who were we kidding? It was a disaster. They claimed they didn't know what to do, wondered why they had to do X when their brother could do Y, insisted they...
In case you haven't heard, the NCAA just passed a proposal that would eliminate recruiting in high school lacrosse until September 1 of a student's junior year. The proposal hasn't been officially adopted yet, but most people say it will pass.
Yes, feel free to take a long, drawn-out, sigh of relief. You deserve it!
For those who don't appreciate this development, here's what's been going on:
Top college lacrosse programs have increasingly been making verbal "offers" to kids while they are still in 8th grade. I won't get into how messy this has made the recruiting process for all involved. I'm sure you can imagine the pressure, anxiety, and craziness that this has wrought for coaches, parents, and students.
Assuming the proposal passes, here's how things will likely change:
This is a big bonus for them. They didn't like this process either. They didn't enjoy having to keep track of middle school prospects. It was like a lottery, where coaches had to...
Role-playing can be a great way to teach kids how to deal with uncomfortable (and sometimes dangerous) situations.
For instance, consider the conditions surrounding a teenager when it comes to drinking alcohol for the first time.
Typically, this scenario plays out at a friend's house with a small group of friends or teammates. One of the kids has access to alcohol and suggests that they "try it".
If your son or daughter is part of the group, the pressure to conform can be daunting.
To prepare my kids for this scenario, I role-play with them.
Scenario #1: Sneaking alcohol
Teammate: "Hey, wanna try some beer? I took some from the garage. My parents have no clue."
Your child (reluctantly): "I'm not sure. I haven't ever tried it."
Teammate: "Dude, so what. Everyone has to start sometime. Try it..."
Your child: "Nah, no thanks."
Teammate: "Dude, what's the big deal? Just take a sip. It's not going to kill you. I do it all the time."
Your child: "I don't want to barf, man."
In addition to last week's question regarding How do I build a list of colleges? the next biggest challenge I hear from parents (and kids) seems to be:
"What should my child do this summer?"
Of course, the standard, generic advice is:
I like to provide more unconventional advice to my PrepWellers.
Cast a Wide Summer Shadow
If your child wants a unique summer experience, encourage them to "shadow" as many people in as many careers as possible.
These days, kids have no clue what people do at their jobs.
They see people rush into buildings, shuffle around the streets with their Starbucks coffee, and sit in bumper-to-bumper traffic on the freeway.
What happens the other 97% of the time?
My 8th-grade son is obsessed with the question:
"Dad, what do people do all day at work?"
He is fascinated by the whole concept.
Unfortunately, I haven't the foggiest idea what to tell him.
I haven't had a conventional job for many years so I find it difficult to...
By the time your child gets to high school, they should be completely self-sufficient when it comes to homework.
This skill comes more naturally to some children than to others (first-born children seem to "get-it" a little sooner than second or third, for instance).
As parents, it's our responsibility to ensure they have this skill mastered by the time they reach 9th grade.
Consider these factors when helping your child build this important habit:
Same time: Establish a specific time to complete homework and stick to it. Ideally, this would be right after school and prior to sports, social activities, and entertainment. My favorite quote is "Do the hard stuff first".
Same place: Identify a place for homework and make it the same spot every time. (e.g. kitchen table, bedroom, home office, Starbucks, etc.)
Clutter free: Clear the workspace of non-homework related items - even if it means moving items into a different room temporarily during homework time. The fewer things on the desk...
If your son or daughter is taking the SAT or ACT in the coming weeks, here are some tips to help them maximize their score:
Take practice tests under real test-taking conditions - over and over again!
Let me elaborate. Many students spend a lot of time looking for hacks, tricks, and shortcuts to improve their test scores. They also normally study in "short bursts" (e.g. Study Math for 40 minutes every M, W, F) - when they really should be spending a lot more time and effort simply taking more full-length tests.
In my opinion, a large component of how well you perform on the test will be based on how much mental endurance you have built up by test day.
Most high school students aren't...
I talk to parents and students every day about college prep, class choices, SAT or ACT, summer jobs, etc. I love it!
Parents and students are very receptive and appreciative of the information.
There is one topic, however, that strikes fear into most people.
The question is,
"How do I build my initial list of colleges"
After all, there are over 4,000 colleges to choose from. How do I shrink that number to 20?
It's a very daunting task that begs to be put on the back burner...until now!
The video below provides a 4-step method that will help you get the ball rolling. I can't claim that this method will build the perfect list on Day 1, but it can get you close.
This is just a small example of how PrepWell Academy breaks down complex issues into small, digestible, and actionable tasks.
Technically, this Lesson gets introduced to enrolled PrepWellers in 11th grade, but it is certainly something that parents of 9th & 10th graders should be aware of as well.
I just got back from a mastermind weekend with a few business associates where we exchanged ideas about our business prospects, challenges, and best practices.
I had a chance to introduce PrepWell Academy to the group. Needless to say, they were very excited, as many of them have children in 6th - 11th grade.
One particular participant, however, took me by surprise.
He told me he had a 9th-grade son who would be thrilled to do any one of the things I've done in my life.
This guy absolutely loved the idea of PrepWell and having me as a role model for his son; however, he wanted more. He wanted me to be his son's full-time college coach.
"I'll pay you $25,000 to coach him over the next 3 years," he told me.
Wow! I wasn't expecting that.
We spent the next 15 minutes chatting about his son, his $25,000 offer, and what type of coaching I thought would be most useful to him and his son.
By the end of the conversation, I had talked him out of spending $25,000 and into enrolling in PrepWell...
In this post, I share our personal experience introducing smartphones to our 14-year old twin sons for the first time. If you're grappling with how to deal with this issue, maybe it will give you some food for thought.
Admittedly, our 8th-graders were behind the power curve when it came to smartphones. Until two weeks ago (on Christmas Day), our twins had been using slider phones with no data. This was atypical for their peer group and they had to find ways to deal with the blowback (e.g. Dude, what's with the slider? That thing's ancient).
We knew we were treading on thin ice. Teenagers are more concerned about impressing their friends than their parents - and our sons were on the wrong side of that trade.
We struck a deal with them a few years ago. If they could demonstrate maturity, responsibility, and patience with their slider phones, we would consider upgrading someday.
That someday had finally come. We couldn't justify leaving them in the Stone Age for...
7 Essential Skills for Teens
I believe professional success is directly related to how well we master 7 essential skills. If we master these skills, it won't matter if we go to Princeton University, Wichita State, or East Lansing Community College.
It won't matter if we ultimately enter the private sector, public sector, or outer space - we will succeed in life.
I deployed (and re-deployed) these 7 skills hundreds (if not thousands) of times during my 30-year journey from Yale University, to Investment Banking, to the Navy SEALs, to Harvard Business School, to Firefighting, to Entrepreneurship, to Shark Tank, to PrepWell Academy.
The daily roles and responsibilities in each of these fields were dramatically different. The skills required to get into each of these fields were dramatically similar. And that's the point.
The reason these skills are so "essential" is because they are so "repeatable".
Learning these repeatable skills will allow you to adjust, change, regroup, and...