3 Books Every Parent of Teenagers Should Read
To celebrate World Book Day this week I thought I'd share three books with you that I think every parent of teenagers should read so that they can better understand and support their children through the teen and exam years.
3 Books I'd Recommend to Every Parent of Teenagers
1. Mindset by Carol Dweck
I've mentioned this book many times before on my blog (like this one on Constructive Praise), and I even wrote a blog featuring the author, Carol Dweck's TEDx Talk. And, it's one of the two books that I recommend to the parent members of The Extraordinaries Club.
Why have I written about it so many times and why is it one of the few books I recommend to my clients?
It's because this book, and the science behind it, is so pivotal to success for everyone in all walks of life, and not just academic work.
Through her research as a psychologist at Stanford University in the USA, Dweck has discovered that there are two distinct ‘mindsets' or attitudes. The first, a growth mindset, leads to curiosity, hard work, determination, continuous improvement and success. The other leads to negative thoughts, resignation to staying as you are forever, a disinclination to work because you don't believe it will improve the results you get and, therefore, pretty mediocre results.
I know which I aim for everyday!
I recommend you get hold of Dweck's book and read the chapters to do with relationships, studying and family life at the very least. There are also chapters on sports and business performance, amongst other things, but you don't need to read the whole thing if you don't want to in order to get what you need to help your teenagers succeed in their exams.
Here's one of my favourite quotations from the book:
“If parents want to give their children a gift, the best thing they can do is to teach their children to love challenges, be intrigued by mistakes, enjoy effort, and keep on learning. That way, their children don’t have to be slaves of praise. They will have a lifelong way to build and repair their own confidence.”
2. The Chimp Paradox
This book explains how the human brain works in a fun and simple way using lots of sketches and cartoons. It helps you to understand why, even when you've resolved to be infinitely patient with your teen, you do still get angry and say things you wish you hadn't afterwards.
The book is summed up in this quotation:
“The Psychological Mind is made up of three separate brains: Human, Chimp and Computer. You are the Human. Your Chimp is an emotional thinking machine. Your Computer is a storage area and automatic functioning machine. Any one of them can take complete control but usually they work together.”
The essence of the book is why your emotional brain (chimp) takes over and how to train your brain to stay in the rational, controlled part (computer) so that you don't have those blow-ups at your children that you regret, and you can help your teens understand why they react to situations in such an emotional, and seemingly irrational way.
This is one of my favourite quotes from the book because it rings so true for what it really means to achieve anything significant in life:
“When you decide to do something, remind yourself that it is commitment not motivation that matters.”
He has also written a version for children (unfortunately not for teens) which you can find here. I have both. I read The Chimp Paradox myself, and then read the children's version with my children and we talk about our Chimps a lot. We have even named them!
3. The 4 Pillar Plan
I was recommended Dr Rangan Chatterjee's second book, The Stress Solution, just before Christmas. I devoured it and I can honestly say it's changed my life for the better. I have just finished reading his first book, The 4 Pillar Plan and his podcast, Feel Better, Live More, is my new favourite podcast (I recommended you listen to an episode about depression in this blog post on teen mental health).
Dr Rangan is a GP. His professional ideal is to be an ‘expert generalist'. He did qualify as a specialist, working with kidney patients, but he realised that it was misguided to isolate individual organs or systems in the body because they all work in harmony with each other. As a GP he has had significant success with encouraging his patients to make simple lifestyle changes which have cured conditions like insomnia, chronic fatigue, depression, anxiety and type 2 diabetes without the use of drugs.
I think literally everyone should read his books. I'm yet to read his third book, Feel Better in 5, but I think, if you're looking to help members of your family live their healthiest life, you can't go far wrong with The 4 Pillar Plan. It's beautifully written and illustrated, very digestible and gives suggestions for simple lifestyle changes, that have been proven scientifically to work, that will improve your family's health. If members of your family are already struggling with stress or anxiety, I'd recommend starting with The Stress Solution, though.
This quotation sums up Dr Chatterjee's philosophy:
“We’re all familiar with the idea that lifestyle can be the cause of disease. What’s not common knowledge is that a change in lifestyle can also be the treatment and prevent us from getting sick in the first place.”
Which book are you going to try first?
Choose the book which you think will help your family the most at this point in time. And let me know in the comments which one you're going for!
And, remember, if you're looking for a proven plan to help your child achieve their academic potential in their exams, my book, The Ten Step Guide to Acing Every Exam You Ever Take is the book to get. Click on the link to get your copy from Amazon. One reviewer said that it's, “Packed full of useful strategies and sensible advice for parents and students.”