Recommended Reading

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Sparks
By Peter L. Benson, Ph.D.

This is a guide to coaching teenagers to be the best that they can be. The more that we believe in their potential greatness, the easier it will be for them to believe it as well. It requires discovering empathy, understanding, and enthusiasm that perhaps you did not realize (or forgot) you possessed.

While teenagers are children, they are also reshaping into the adult versions of themselves. This is a terrific transformation that we all make and it is best done with the guidance and support of caring parents and adults. The impact that experiences have during this time should not be underestimated.

Although this book was written with teenagers in mind, that doesn’t necessarily mean that many of the central ideas couldn’t or shouldn’t be applied to younger or older individuals.

It’s all about discovering, recognizing, and following what Benson refers to as Sparks. Often, recognizing sparks is the easy part (sometimes, though, it’s not), but learning how to activate and support those sparks is the crucial next step.  The chapters of this book follow the path of how to help a teenager identify their sparks and how to support them in following their sparks.

It includes short quizzes to help someone reflect on themselves in order to gather data and become more self-aware. Multitudes of other resources are also available for maintaining sparks.


 

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Mindset
By Carol S. Dweck, Ph.D.

A must-read!  It’s highly likely to hear the name Dweck if you attend any academic workshop or conference. Tapping into the potential of neuroplasticity, the theory provided in this book has the potential to change brains and lives.

Rather than focusing on intelligence, Dweck explains that it’s our mindset, or how we approach tasks, that can create a basis for success. More than that, she discusses how our mindset (fixed or growth) affects our accomplishments with school, work, leadership, and relationships.

The value of this idea to a young person is clear. The added benefit to a child of having parents, guardians, and teachers all using growth mindset-type language around them is just as important. It shifts conversation from “I failed this math test because I am not smart enough” to “I failed this math test because I did not fully prepare myself, but I will learn from my mistakes and do better next time.” This follows the mantra “Reward direction, not perfection” and hard work.

During a period of education that is all about “grit”, Mindset helps the reader to acknowledge their mindset, analyze their mindset, and change their mindset. All of this leads to changes in motivation, self-image, and productivity. Dweck asserts that parents should not shield their children from failure (or lie about it), but rather to honestly confront it and use it for the next challenge.

 

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