Teen Life Coach Returns From Vacation; Learns Her Clients Don’t Need Her Anymore

Academic coaching in six simple steps


Photo by Jakob Owens on Unsplash

While I was out of town for a few weeks, my teen life coach clients went back to school and started kicking ass. All of them. Every one.

I wish you could be a fly on the wall for these sessions, to hear their descriptions of the ass-kicking.

There’s the listing of each class, followed by the kid’s current grade: “ELA, A+. Spanish, A. Phys Ed, A. Math, which can drown in a thousand toilets, A-.”

There’s the hair-splitting analysis of the percentage of work not completed: “I’ve turned in all of my assignments but .01 of a percent, and those are the ones that are worth .001 percent of my final grade.”

There’s the rare, quick admission of pride: from the 7th grader, wrapped in a squeal, “I feel great!” to the college kid, hedging his bets, “It’s good, as long as I can keep it going.”

“You can, kid,” I told him. “Here’s how: keep doing, for yourself, what I’ve done in our academic coaching sessions.”

What did I do? I listened to them, instead of telling them to listen to me. Boiled down, that’s what a well-trained teen life coach does.

Time for a short psychology lesson. The developing adolescent brain has a primary drive: seek autonomy. Teens are transitioning from the dependent role of a child to the independent one of an adult. Their brain is desperately seeking opportunities to do things for themself. It’s practice for their future, when they will make their own decisions, cook their own meals, pay their own bills.

But most teens experience the opposite. They’re surrounded by well-meaning adults in the form of parents, teachers, bosses, athletic coaches, who tell, suggest, and enforce. “Do your homework. Make your bed. Run five laps. Work on your college applications.” When a teen pushes back against all of this guidance, it’s not because they’re disrespectful. It’s because they’re a teen, with a teen brain, demanding that they get practice making their own decisions.

That’s why kids fall in love with academic coaching. It’s 100% driven by them. By focusing on each kid’s own point of view, I usher my…



Cyndy Etler | Teen Coach | Author

Locked up & homeless as a teen. Now teaching resiliency & hope with my YA memoirs & teen coaching. Seen on CNN, HuffPost, NPR, CBS, ABC. www.cyndyetler.com