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One word that can change your teen's perspective

A teenager's life can be fraught with thoughts about the future, and not just 5 or 10 years into the future, but the immediate future, like this afternoon's test, the party next Saturday, getting braces fixed, the Business Studies presentation on Tuesday...

Add these to the usual questions teens are constantly having to ask themselves - What subjects should I choose? What grades will I get? What should I do in my gap year? Will I go to Uni? What job will I do? - and, unless your teenager has a strategy, the pressure of being constantly future-focused can be overwhelming.

So, what's the antidote?

For many of my clients, it's one simple word:


We often underestimate the power of now, and forget to ask ourselves questions that bring us back to the present. It's a trick we can encourage our teens to use whenever they're feeling stuck, trapped in a social media vortex or overwhelmed by thoughts about tomorrow:

  • What action can I take now to avoid the thing I'm worried about?

  • Am I really enjoying what I'm doing right now?

  • Am I making the most of the time I have now?

  • Is what I'm doing right now helping me get to where I genuinely want to be?

  • What am I not doing now that I could be?

By asking a 'now' question, your teenager rediscovers their sense of responsibility and agency, realising more often than not, that there is something in their power that they can do now to manage an experience more happily.

But, as my clients have discovered, there's so much more to the 'now' questions. They can encourage teenagers to focus on the moment, rather than worry about what they might be missing out on, or help them check in with themselves about the quality of the moment they're in - out of choice or not. For example, there will possibly be subjects they enjoy less than others, and over time will develop negative beliefs about it, meaning they'll go into those classes with a less than productive attitude; or a family obligation they feel they've been 'roped into' that they'd (too obviously) rather not attend.

The 'thing' itself can't be changed or avoided, but your teenager's perspective on it can, and this makes all the difference.

By being curious, and asking 'now' questions, they move away from the unhelpful and agonising 'If only...' or 'If I can just get through this then I'll...' and focus more on what they are able to do.

  • What can I do now to make this more bearable?

  • What could I ask this person now?

  • What could I choose to do now to make this better?

It usually only takes one small action (action creates clarity) to shift from boredom or awkwardness to engagement, presence and interest, and that small action - asking a question, writing a revision plan, taking photos, doing focused research, telling a joke...might ignite an idea, start an interesting conversation, bring a subject to life or quite simply distract your teenager from an unhelpful perspective.

Questions lead to action, action creates clarity, and clarity brings peace of mind (to your teenager and to you).

Thank you for reading this post right to the end; I hope it makes a difference to moments in your son or daughter's life. But as they say, knowledge is nothing if not applied; so my question to you now is what do you think you can you do now to empower your teenager not only to appreciate the present moment but also to consider their future with calm and confidence?

What situations is your teenager facing that might be alleviated by asking 'now' questions?

Good luck; please let me know how it goes - I'd love to hear your stories of 'the power of now'!

If you are looking for more support for your son or daughter and would like to find out more about my bespoke 1:1 Academic and Personal Development Coaching Programme for young people, please get in touch; I'd be delighted to speak to you. Please contact me via my 'More' and 'Contacts' page on the link at the top of the page or anywhere on my website pages.

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