For teenagers life can often feel like finding their path through a jungle.  And it’s no walk in the park for the parents of teenagers either.

In his book, ‘The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Teens’, author Sean Covey attempts to provide “a compass to help teens and their parents navigate the problems they encounter daily.”

How to handle peer pressure? Maintain motivation?  Deal with success and failure? The life of a teenager is full of tough issues and life-changing decisions. As a parent, you want to help them learn the habits, principles and ethics that will help them attain their goals and live a happy, successful life.

Covey says that while its natural to want to tell your kids how to live their lives, “teens watch what you do more than they listen to what you say” and therefore practicing what you preach is the best way to have a beneficial influence.

The writer himself has done well by following parental example. His father, Stephen Covey, wrote the book ‘The Seven Habits of Highly Successful People’, which sold over 15 million copies. Sean Covey seems to be a chip off the old block, and his own book has clocked up a more than respectable 2 million copies sold. Here are his seven habits, and some ideas for helping your teen understand and apply them:

Be Proactive

Being proactive is the key to unlocking the other habits. Help your teen take control and responsibility for her life. Proactive people understand that they are responsible for their own happiness or unhappiness. They don’t blame others for their own actions or feelings.

Begin With the End in Mind

If teens aren’t clear about where they want to end up in life, about their values, goals, and what they stand for, they will wander, waste time, and be tossed to and fro by the opinions of others. Help your teen create a personal mission statement which will act as a road map and direct and guide his decision-making process.

Put First Things First

This habit helps your child prioritize and manage their time so that they focus on and complete the most important things in their lives. Putting first things first also means learning to overcome fears and being strong during difficult times. It’s living life according to what matters most.

Think Win-Win

Teenagers should learn to develop the attitude that it is possible to create an atmosphere of win-win in every relationship. This habit encourages the idea that in any given discussion or situation both parties can arrive at a mutually beneficial solution. Your child will learn to celebrate the accomplishments of others instead of being threatened by them.

Seek First to Understand, Then to be Understood

Because most people don’t listen very well, one of the great frustrations in life is that many don’t feel understood. This habit will ensure your teen learns the most important communication skill there is: active listening.


Synergy is achieved when two or more people work together to create something better than either could alone. Through this habit, teens learn it doesn’t have to be “your way” or “my way” but rather a better way. Synergy allows teens to value differences and better appreciate others.

Sharpen the Saw

Teens should never get too busy living to take time to renew themselves. When a teen “sharpens the saw” she is keeping her personal self sharp so that she can better deal with life. It means regularly renewing and strengthening the four key dimensions of life – body, brain, heart, and soul.

Why bring this to my Attention?

Self help books are two a penny and are often a big turn off but when I stumbled across this advice it struck me as actually helpful.  The first three have obvious connection with career development issues.  The next three are more about working with and relating to others in work situations or outside of work but are indirectly linked to career progress when you think about the kinds of problem solving and people skills that employers say they value highly.