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10 Ways to Help Your Teenager Achieve Success AND Happiness.

I’m writing this blog today with a heavy heart, as another young death by suicide makes headlines. I pray for eternal peace for the former USA cyclist, Kelly Catlin and her grieving family and friends.

How can a beautiful 23-year-old, who had already accomplished so much, and had unlimited future potential, take her own life?

I am not a suicide counselor or a licensed therapist, and I don't know her story, but my heart aches that she and so many others like her were in that much emotional pain.

Let’s ask ourselves some questions:

Where does the pressure come from?

When does it begin?

What is driving their need for such early high achievement?

What are they being exposed to at such a young age that makes them feel so insignificant?

At some point over the past two decades, life became a competition. LIFE IS NOT A RACE!

No “achievement” can replace the joy and fulfillment that comes from personal growth and loving human connections. We need to make sure our kids have all of their human needs satisfied and don’t overcompensate in any one area. It’s so easy today to get caught up in the rat race, the social media comparison cycle, and the fear of missing out (FOMO).

My message today is for parents and guardians, who are trying to raise “successful”, future adults.

Don’t put the cart before the horse. Meaning, before you focus on any achievements; how smart they are, what class they get in, what team they make, etc.

Make sure they know how much they are loved and valued for just being who they are.

Make sure they know they don’t have to be anything more to be worthy of your love.

Make sure the health of your relationship with your child and their relationship with themselves is SOLID.

Make sure they are happy and thriving as they strive to achieve success.

CHECK IN on your high achievers, they may not be ok. HOWEVER, that doesn’t mean just ASK them if they are ok. KNOW that they are ok by having a such a real connection that you know them and trust your intuition.

If you aren’t sure, BE PROACTIVE! Don't wait for something to go wrong. There doesn't have to be a diagnosis or a problem for us to give our children a mental health check up.

It's a positive, uplifting, and forward-looking model that meets them where they are and helps them gain self-awareness about where they want to go.

It is much like a tutor for academics or a private lesson for athletics.

It also gives them an unbiased, trusted professional to confide in. Someone who can ask the right questions and help them interpret their competing and confusing inner dialogues.

They deserve to achieve success AND be happy and thriving in LIFE along the way!

As I think about my own three teenagers, and the families with teens that I serve, I ask myself, HOW DO I KNOW if they are ok?

Sadly, we can never really know, judge, or control what goes on inside the mind of another human being. But we can make our children’s mental health a priority by proactively and intentionally putting checks and balances in place to protect them.

This is my intention, this is my life’s work, and I am here to support parents who are uncertain and scared of getting it wrong; whose teens are withdrawing and trying to manage everything on their own.

If it serves you, I have listed below the things that I focus on when it comes to the health and wellness of my own children and the clients that I work with.

Here are TEN ways you can be proactive with your child’s mental health through their teen years:

#1 Check in with yourself: Make sure that YOU are mentally well and able to parent from a place of love and gratitude, with confidence. If you are not, start healing yourself right now.

#2 Build Trust: Start building a trusting, compassionate relationship with your child early on. If that is not the relationship you have now, it is never too late to repair and reconnect.

#3 Be Playful: Create a family culture that is playful, positive, uplifting, supportive and judgement free.

#4 Unplug: Delay/limit social media and screen time until they build their own unique character and establish a strong sense of self-worth. Lead by example, unplug and be present.

#5 Get Social: Be sure they always have at least one REAL friend that they see IN PERSON, outside of school, often. This is how they build emotional intelligence and practice social skills.

#6 Work Hard Play Hard: Encourage them to pick one thing to work hard at, while also understanding the importance of a well-rounded life, full of variety and exploration of new things and people. Everything can’t be ultra-competitive.

#7 Create Certainty: Set clear expectations and be consistent with family boundaries, rules, and consequences that focus on safety and morals. Update for age appropriateness often.

#8 Contribution: Give them responsibilities so they are contributing to the greater good, inside your home and out in the community.

#9 Be Together: Stay connected with your children through their teen years. Create inviting environments that they want to be in. Out of sight out of mind parenting is not the method you will succeed with these days.

#10 BE A ROLE MODEL: "Don't worry that children never listen to you; worry that they are always watching you." Robert Fulghum

As the last generation of parents that remember what it was like to grow up without on-demand access to the world at our fingertips, we have to bridge the gap for our children.

Times have changed, the world has changed, and the support and education we provide the next generation around mental health needs to change too.

We need to be more proactive with our children’s mental health and well-being. IT IS A MUST!​

It’s time to help them disconnect from the fake news, fake relationships and fake pressures from today’s society, and connect with who they truly ARE, what’s important, and what they NEED to enjoy their unique, personally rewarding journey to adulthood.

All while giving them the certainty of our unconditional love, stability, guidance and a safe place to fail, recover, learn and rise.


If something in this blog speaks to you and you would like to explore how I can help, ​click the link here to set up a free strategy call. We will discuss, specifically, what your family needs and whether I can help.

If you enjoyed this blog, please leave a comment and share it with your social networks at the very bottom of this page.

Wishing you and your family peace, love, and connection!


Cindy Thackston is a certified professional coach specializing in youth and family connection and overall success.

As a mother of three teens, Cindy has daily, personal experiences in the areas that she helps her clients navigate. She is no stranger to the challenges that parents and teens are facing these days and actually walks the talk! To learn more, visit her ABOUT page.

Interested in a confidential, complimentary consultation? Access her online calendar where you can find the best day/time that works with your schedule.

For more of her work and inspiration, join her community by following her on Facebook and Instagram @ratelifea10.

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