Parent Education Materials

Parents and Teens

These modules will help parents explore methods and activities to help their children become career equipped, socially and emotionally engaged, lifelong learners. 

Overview: Teaching Your Teen the Skills That Matter

Why do some high school graduates do well in college or the workplace while others do not? As families, how can we help our teens succeed? Education and business leaders are saying that intrapersonal (internal), interpersonal (social), and cognitive (academic) skills are all equally important for success in school and in life. To experience success, our teens need to develop all three types of these skills or competencies. 

Video Title Description Resources
Clip 1: (4.41) Empowering Youth to Become Socially and Emotionally Engaged, Career Equipped, Lifelong Learners We want our children to be successful. Listen as Dr. Amy Gaumer Erickson, Associate Research Professor at the University of Kansas, discusses how we can help our children become career equipped, socially and emotionally engaged, lifelong learners.

College and Career Competency Wheel

10 Ways to Prepare Your Teen for College and Work: A Guide for Families

10 Ways to Build Intrapersonal Competencies With Your Teen

10 Ways to Build Interpersonal Competencies With Your Teen

Clip 2: (2:07) The College and Career Competency (CCC) Framework The 26 competencies on the wheel are skills people use daily to reach their goals, complete tasks, and interact with each other. Which competencies have been most important for you? It's likely that your use of these skills has led to success at work and in your personal relationships.
Clip 3: (2:37) Foundational Competencies As a parent, you may be wondering how to support social-emotional learning (SEL) at home. These six competencies provide a good place to start. 

To develop college and career competencies, teens need to practice these skills at home. The following are example strategies can be practiced at home to develop college and career competencies in your teen:

  1. Attach a copy of the competency wheel to your fridge and as you see your teen demonstrate an intra or interpersonal competency, give positive feedback by saying something like, "all the concepts on this wheel are skills that you will use in college or in a career - you just demonstrated this competency!" Give specific examples about how your teen's behavior illustrated the competency.
  2. Ask your teen to predict his or her grade on several exams. Then discuss with your teen the actual grade versus the predicted grade. Discuss why the prediction was successful or not successful. If your teen predicts a bad grade (such as "I'll be lucky if I get a C on..."), ask why he or she thinks that. For an upcoming project or test, ask your teen what success would look like. This helps build self-awareness and self-efficacy (the belief in your ability to achieve goals and meet expectations). 
  3. When your teen needs your help with issues like a broken phone, car repair, or navigating a purchase, let him or her take the lead and attempt to solve issues with as little support from you as possible. Encourage your teen to research issues online, ask for help, use active listening skills, and express questions and concerns throughout the process. Provide feedback to your teen on observed strengths and let him or her make mistakes as he or she attempts to solve the issue. This builds problem solving and assertiveness.
Teaching Your Teen to Self-Regulate

We want our children to become independent, lifelong learners who can set goals for themselves and complete important tasks. When children struggle with meeting deadlines, reaching goals, and taking ownership of their learning, they lack self-regulation. Self-regulation is a proactive, self-directed process for attaining goals, learning skills, managing emotional reactions, and accomplishing tasks. We can teach teens specific skills to support their ability to self-regulate.

Video Title  Description Resources
Clip 1: (5:47)  Overview  This video introduces the concept of self-regulation, clarifies the definition, and provides examples of self-regulation at home and at school.  
Clip 2: (11:11) Impacts of Self-Regulation Instruction Teens can apply self-regulation both in and out of school. As parents, we support self-regulation by talking to our teens about their goals and how they are going to progress toward them, helping them work through homework challenges, and talking with them about how to manage their emotional reactions. Listen as Dr. Amy Gaumer Erickson, Associate Research Professor at the University of Kansas, discusses some of the impacts of self-regulation, breaks down the definition, and shares the components necessary to successfully self-regulate.
Clip 3: (2:19) Izzy Makes a Plan Our goal is to have our children direct their own success. Let's explore the self-regulation process. In this video, you will hear from Izzy, a high school senior. She talks about how she created a plan to complete her online Physics homework.
Clip 4: (1:30) Izzy Monitors and Adjusts Her Plan Izzy's plan included time management, organization of her assignments, and consideration of distractions that might derail her plan. Let's take another look as Izzy explains the difference between monitoring progress and monitoring actions.
Clip 5: (4:29) Monitoring, Adjusting, and Reflecting for Academic Success

Izzy uses a checklist to monitor her assignment completion. She also reflected on her choices for breaks and adjusted her plan to include exercise as a break instead of snacking as she noticed it helped her be more productive. 

Izzy showed us one way to self-regulate homework completion. Dr. Gaumer Erickson shares another example of a checklist for self-regulating homework assignments.

Clip 6: (14.19) What Can I Do If I Encounter Obstacles? As adults, we often encounter situations where things don't go as planned. When teens encounter setbacks to their plan, they find it difficult to persist. Dr. Gaumer Erickson describes three strategies to help your child overcome obstacles; mental contrasting, analyzing options, and implementation intentions.  Self-Regulations Strategies
Next Steps  

We want to support our children by coaching them rather than directing them. What questions would you ask your children to encourage them to proactively make detailed plans for success? What actions could they use to monitor their plans and determine if their plans are successful? Are your children able to anticipate what things might interrupt their plans? How could you make time to reflect with your teen? 

To get started, choose something to help your teen practice self-regulation. Here are a few ideas

  • Time on electronics
  • Responding calmly when feeling frustrated
  • Independent reading
  • Getting up for school on time
  • Getting homework done
  • Washing clothes for sport or job
  • Saving money to buy something

Remember that self-regulation is self-directed, so while you might ask questions and give advice, your child should create and work on the plan. Make time to ask about how the plan is going and whether adjustments have been needed. Help your teen reflect on what is going well and what isn't throughout the process of self-regulation.

Improving Your Teen's Confidence and Perseverance: Building Self-Efficacy

“I’m just no good at this.” That’s probably a statement you’ve heard your teen say at least once, if not several times. It may have happened while solving word problems for math, while reading a complicated passage of text, or even while struggling to beat a level in a video game. Children sometimes doubt their ability to perform hard tasks. In those moments, they lack self-efficacy, which is an individual’s perceptions about his or her capabilities to perform at an expected level, achieve goals, and complete moderately challenging tasks. There are things we can do to help our children increase their self-efficacy.

Video Title Description Resources
Introduction (3:45) Self-Efficacy This video introduces the concept of self-efficacy, its definition, and some examples of how to support your teen’s self-efficacy.  
Application (3:52) SE Family Module

When teens give up easily and don’t stick with things, it is probably because they lack self-efficacy in that situation. As parents, we want to help our children believe in their abilities and increase their self-confidence. Listen as Dr. Pattie Noonan, Associate Research Professor at the University of Kansas, explains self-efficacy, clarifies its definition, reviews the components, and discusses how we can apply these components at home.

Clip 1 (3:04) McKenzie Defines Self-Efficacy

Children who develop their self-efficacy reap many benefits. They have more confidence in their abilities, increased willingness to take on and persist in challenging tasks, and the ability to see mistakes and constructive criticism as opportunities to learn.

McKenzie, a high school senior, worked on raising her self-efficacy in several areas of her life, including academics, sports, and employment opportunities. Listen as she defines self-efficacy and explains the two components. Consider showing your teen this video and discussing the concepts.

Self-Efficacy Poster
Clip 2 (3:04) Izzy Explains the Four Sources of Self-Efficacy

There are specific ways your child can increase his or her confidence when it’s lacking. Listen as Izzy, another high school senior, explains the four sources of self-efficacy (also known as four ways to increase your confidence).

Khan Academy Video (3:04) Growing Your Mind

Izzy did a thorough job explaining the four sources of self-efficacy and giving specific examples of how she has used them to grow her confidence in things like managing her emotional reactions and improving her writing and swimming efforts. You might view this video with your teen and then discuss the concepts.  Later, remind them of the ways they can grow their confidence.

As a parent, it’s important to frame mistakes in a positive way, whether you or your children make them. We can help change mindsets about making mistakes and not understanding information right away by modeling positive reactions to mistakes. The following video explains the concept of neuroplasticity and how making mistakes helps to grow our brains. When you see your teen struggling with learning something new, refer to the content in this video.

Clip 3 (1:25) Ability Grows with Effort

We can create an environment in our homes that supports and reinforces the belief that ability grows with effort. Dr. Noonan explains how to support your child in understanding the concept that ability grows with effort through a list of expectations you might adopt and refer to regularly.

Clip 4 (1:49) The Power of "Yet"

Another way to focus on our effort and progress is to harness the power of the word, “yet.”  Watch as Dr. Noonan explains this powerful strategy for perseverance.

Clip 5 (2:49) Mastery Log

When we examine the component, focus on your effort, progress, and learning, several key points might be highlighted. The first is to focus on your effort. Many times, we look at others and see their success and think they must just be inherently “smart;” however, we need to remember that success comes with effort. Additionally, reminding ourselves of past accomplishments can increase our confidence in our abilities. Students can benefit from reflecting on accomplishments and the effort and progress involved in those accomplishments. Listen as Dr. Noonan explains how you might use a Mastery Log to help your teen focus on how effort and progress leads to learning. 

Clip 6 (2:53) Izzy Explains Mastery Log and Effort and Progress Tracker

Now let’s get Izzy’s ideas on how she uses the Mastery Log and how she focuses on effort and progress to help keep her self-efficacy high. Show this video to your teen and discuss the key concepts.

Clip 7 (2:47) Praise Research

All of us appreciate praise when we accomplish something that was difficult. However, listen as Dr. Noonan discusses some important things to keep in mind when praising your child’s effort and progress.

Next Steps  

Now that you have learned about self-efficacy and how it can increase your child’s ability to persist through challenges, consider using the following steps to support your teen in understanding and developing self-efficacy.

1. Show the student videos explaining self-efficacy, the four sources, and the mastery log to your child and discuss the concepts. Refer to these concepts as the topics arise naturally. Share situations when your self-efficacy was low and how you worked to increase your self-efficacy through focusing on your effort and progress.

2. Use the Growth vs Fixed Mindset chart to explain to your child that intelligence is not fixed, but can be grown with effort. When your child tells you that he or she can’t do something or isn’t good at it, ask why they think that. Focus on your child’s past learning, and add the word “yet” to your child’s fixed mindset statements (for example, “I can’t do this—yet”).

3. Talk about the brain as a muscle that grows stronger with exercise. Statements like, “I know, I was never good at math,” or “Our family is good at a lot of things, but math isn’t one of them,” reinforce negative, fixed mindsets. However, reinforcing the concept that ability can grow builds self-efficacy, which helps your child take on and master challenges.

4. Show the Fixed Versus Growth Mindset video and discuss how mistakes help us learn and improve. Encourage your child to consider why mistakes are an important part of learning; ask them to think about specific challenges they are facing and discuss how a growth mindset could help.


Other resources for home learning are available when you download the Self-Efficacy Resources for Home Learning from the website.