5 Things Parents of Teens Need to Know with guest Kim Duckworth

About this Episode

Wondering what you need to know to be a successful parent of a teenager? On this episode of Brainy Moms, Dr. Amy and Teri  interview Kim Duckworth, author of the bestselling book, Parents, Are You Ready? The Practical Guide to Launching a Successful High School Student.

Kim shares 5 things that successful parents of teens should know including how to help your teen find their superpower—or their uniqueness. Kim’s an expert in college readiness and admissions and her tips are just what parents of teens—like we are—need to hear! 

About Kim

Kim Duckworth is the author of the bestselling book, Parents, Are You Ready? The Practical Guide to Launching a Successful High School Student. She is the owner of Bridge Education
Center in Scottsdale, AZ.  As a graduate of Stanford University where she received her B.A. in Communications-Journalism, Kim was the first woman in her family to attend college and now dedicates her professional life to college prep and admissions work. She is an independent college admissions coach and member of the National Association for College Admission Counseling. She personally consulted with over 7,500 high school families as the co-owner of Scottsdale Education Center (a college preparatory center) for over 12 years. She’s been married 35 years, has three daughters and three grandchildren. Kim enjoys hiking, Labrador retrievers, travel, and Telluride, Colorado

Connect with Carrie

CONNECT WITH KIM
Website: http://www.parentsareyouready.com/ 
Facebook: @parentsareyouready
Twitter: @KimDuckworth12
LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/kim-duckworth-048aa152


Mentioned in this Episode

Get Kim’s book

Parents, Are You Ready? The Practical Guide to Launching a Successful High School Student

Free stuff

Link to Kim’s free student resume and goals builder: https://parentsareyouready.com/

About our sponsor
LearningRx is a worldwide network of brain training centers offering cognitive, reading, and math remediation and enhancement for all ages. LearningRx has worked with more than 100,000 clients who have learning struggles and disabilities, ADHD, traumatic brain injury, autism, and age-related cognitive decline. Visit www.LearningRx.com or call 1-866-BRAIN-01 to learn more. 

Listen or Subscribe to our Podcast

Watch us on YouTube

Connect with Us

Website: www.BrainyMoms.co
Email: Info@BrainyMoms.co
Instagram: @TheBrainyMoms, @Dr_AmyMoore, @TerissaMiller
Facebook: @TheBrainyMoms, @AmyLawsonMoore, @TerissaMiller
Twitter: @TheBrainyMoms, @Dr_AmyMoore, @TerissaMiller
YouTube: Brainy Moms
TikTok: TheBrainyMoms
Pinterest: @TheBrainyMoms
Dr. Amy’s website: www.AmyMoorePhD.com

Connect with our Sponsor

Website: www.LearningRx.com
Facebook: @LearningRxBrainTraining
Instagram: @learningrx_brain_training

Read the transcript for this episode:

Dr. Amy Moore:

Hi, and welcome to this episode of Brainy Moms, brought to you today by LearningRx Brain Training Centers. I’m. Dr. Amy Moore, your host, here with my lovely cohost, Teri Miller. I’m actually in Colorado today and Teri is in Sarasota, Florida visiting with her in-laws and her son, who isn’t doing very well. He’s in the hospital today, so-

Teri Miller:

He’s having a better day today, so I’m able to do this podcast. So I’m glad I can work and be with family when they need me. It’s a great gift.

Dr. Amy Moore:

Yeah, and for those of you who are actually watching us on YouTube, I have office studio envy right now. Teri is in her father-in-law’s office and podcasting studio and it is absolutely beautiful. So if you want to see it, head over to our YouTube channel.

Teri Miller:

Yeah. His office space is gorgeous, and his whole podcasting setup, it’s really nice.

Dr. Amy Moore:

Yeah, for sure. So we are really excited to introduce our guest today, Kim Duckworth. Kim is the author of the bestselling book, Parents, Are You Ready? The Practical Guide to Launching a Successful High School Student. She’s the owner of Bridge Education Center, has been an independent college admissions coach for the last 15 years, is a member of the National Association of College Admissions Counseling, and has a BA in communications from Stanford University.

Teri Miller:

Wow.

Dr. Amy Moore:

She was the co-owner of Scottsdale Education Center, a college preparatory center, for over 12 years, where she personally consulted with over 7,500 high school families. She’s been married for 35 years, has three daughters, three grandchildren, enjoys hiking, Labrador Retrievers, travel, and Telluride, Colorado.

Teri Miller:

Which we love. We’re Colorado girls, too, so it’s awesome. We’re so glad to have you here, Kim. Thank you for being with us.

Kim Duckworth:

Well, thank you so much for having me on today. This is really a treat. Thank you.

Teri Miller:

Good. Before we dig in to the great information that you’ve got for our listeners today, tell us about your background, your story. What brought you to where you are today with this focus of college planning being your passion?

Kim Duckworth:

That’s a really great question. I think I’m going to go way back, if you don’t mind, for a quick second. Just education has always been very important to me. I’m the first woman in my family to actually graduate from high school …

Teri Miller:

Wow.

Kim Duckworth:

… let alone to go to college or to graduate from college. And for me, it was certainly a way to help just give my life a little bigger ceiling. I must just briefly speak of my one grandmother. She actually came to the United States when she was 16 years old and came as basically an indentured servant. So she came with a five-year contract to live and work for a family. She did not speak a word of English and did not have a penny to her name. She had a contract. She was from Finland, and she taught me a word, the word sisu, S-I-S-U, which means “guts.” And I think that combination of … She did not graduate from high school. One of the things she was most proud of, though, was her US citizenship. She never really spoke English very well, but she liked the idea of working hard for things, and that was something that was then passed down through my father to my brother and I.

Kim Duckworth:

So I ended up … took kind of a circuitous route to get there, but ended up … I worked for IBM for many years as well in the Bay Area, but ended up following my heart to something that I thought was really important that I wanted to pass on to my children, and that’s the idea that education is important. Thus, my husband and I ended up owning Scottsdale Education Center.

Teri Miller:

Okay. I think it’s so interesting … This is not related to your topic, but I think it’s so interesting that your background, your family history comes from Finland, and that Finland is known as this fantastic, fantastic place for education, that it’s done very differently than it is in America. There’s much more balance, shorted education days, shorter education week, no homework. Kids are encouraged to explore and be more balanced, and it has created incredible successful kids and academic educational environments. So I think that’s really cool that that’s your history, Finland.

Kim Duckworth:

It is. Yeah, they also say Finland is the happiest country. The people in Finland are the happiest people in the world. Though I also will say this. Vikings came from Finland as well, as well as other countries, but there is a strength to the people. I think you have to have that strength to get through those winters. So I think at core, there is this value of strength, and that was another thing that I definitely saw through my grandmother.

Teri Miller:

Yeah. Hard work. Guts. What’s that word again? Sisu?

Kim Duckworth:

Sisu, S-I-S-U. It means “intestinal fortitude.” I always just thought of “guts.” It means “guts.”

Teri Miller:

That’s great.

Dr. Amy Moore:

So speaking of strength, you talk about in your book the importance of helping your teen find their superpower. Why is that important, and how do you do that? Talk to us a little bit about that.

Kim Duckworth:

Well, it’s hard as parents because we’re entrusted … I think in Latin, the word parent actually means “to bring forth,” and we are challenged with a job description to bring forth these amazing energies, colors, sounds, lights, furies, intelligences to bring that forth to become the best that it can be. But we don’t have a roadmap. We’re not given even a diagram. Even with Ikea, you get a diagram. You kind of know what that thing is supposed to look like when it’s completed. You don’t get that when you’re a parent. So I think it’s, as a parent, helping your child find what it is that they have as a strength that will make them more fulfilled and will also open many more doors for them in the long run, whether that be college or a profession or whatever it is. But it’s helping them find whatever that thing is that’s their superpower.

Kim Duckworth:

I think to find it, one of the things that students do have to do or children have to do, they have to do stuff. They have to do a lot of different things to find out what it is that makes their heart fly. And certainly, it’s not just do stuff, it’s do hard stuff. They have to find out what makes their heart fly and then be able to take it to a depth, to a level of, really, intensity, and not just give up the first time it gets hard. Finish. See if it is something you really like. Sometimes in the very beginning, it, “Oh, this is frustrating. I don’t want to …” But finish. Just finish whatever that … whether it be sports or a class, finish it and figure out what it is that … They don’t know yet what makes their heart fly. They have to try things to find out.

Kim Duckworth:

I actually love … There’s a great quote from Ben Platt, who won a Tony Award for Best Actor in a Musical for Dear Evan Hansen. He in his acceptance speech for his Tony said … I’m going to paraphrase a little bit, but basically, things that make you strange are the things that make you powerful. And it’s finding what it is and then embracing it. I’ll talk sometimes with parents that want their students to get into really elite, highly selective colleges, and they’ll ask me, “Well, my student has good grades, my student is very involved in community service. What is it? What is it they need to do to get accepted?” And the one thing that’s very consistent with the students I see that do get in is that they have become … I want to say world class at something. They found it. They found what it was that made their heart fly. A lot of trial and error sometimes, but once they found it, they just dove in deep.

Kim Duckworth:

Example I’ll give. Let’s say you have a son and he loves Irish fling dancing. Very unusual thing, but if that’s where his heart is, he’s going to learn how to speak Gaelic in his spare time. He’ll have a Celtic knot bumper sticker on his car. If he had to wear a kilt to class to school because he had a competition right afterwards, he would. And if somebody stopped him in the hallways and was making fun of him because he was wearing a kilt, he’d put his books down and he’d teach them how to do the Highland Fling. It’s just this megalomaniac passion that I see these kids have that get into these very elite schools, and you can see it. You look at their resumes and you say, “Oh, I know what puts fire in this child.” You can see it. And it doesn’t matter what it is. It just has to be the thing that gets them ignited. I think that’s one of the reasons you have to help them, lead them, help them find that superpower.

Dr. Amy Moore:

Yeah. So you say, “Know how you are weird.”

Kim Duckworth:

Yes. Yes.

Dr. Amy Moore:

I love that, because we’re all weird in some way, right?

Kim Duckworth:

Right.

Dr. Amy Moore:

So talk a little bit about, especially in the middle school years, what that looks like and why that’s a unique idea to propose.

Kim Duckworth:

In middle school, everybody wants to be the same. They want to be like everybody else. They want to be liked by everybody else. They try to become, I think, part of a crowd, at least that’s what I saw in working with the kids at the Scottsdale Education Center. They were more consumed by being like others than unlike others. They wanted to be part of the in crowd. What they don’t know is that in crowd changes, and when they get to high school, those kids that were maybe very popular in middle school may not always be the popular ones. And it’s very uncomfortable if you’re trying to change and shift and figure out what the new in crowd thing is. Much easier in life just to be who you are and to know what it is that makes you happy.

Kim Duckworth:

Interestingly enough, one of the questions that’s asked on some of the college applications is the admissions counselors want to know, what is the special skill or talent or uniqueness that you will be bringing to our campus? So you have to know what that is first before you can answer that question. It can definitely start in middle school. You have to be just happy with who you are and embrace that. And as parents, we have to help them embrace whatever it is that they are really excited and passionate about. But it’s that it’s okay to not be like everybody else, and that you have to, I think, start that message in high school. It’s best just to be you.

Dr. Amy Moore:

Yeah. There’s a quote from your book that says, “In the long run, it will be how they are different, not how they are the same, that will get them ahead.” I really like that.

Kim Duckworth:

Again, that’s exactly what those college admissions directors are looking for. They’re looking to create a vibrant, unique campus environment. If everyone’s the same, you don’t get that. So they really are looking for people with different perspectives. They’re looking for people with different experiences. That’s where the growth will come, then, in college, is being exposed to all those different attitudes and things that are out there in the world. So it starts in middle school.

Kim Duckworth:

I think, too, a very important word for parents to have starting in middle school is the word “why.” Just when they were little, they asked you, “Why, Mom?” We would get that question. But when they start to go into middle school and high school, it’s a shift, and we need to be asking them, “Why? Why do you think that way? Why is that important? Why do you want to do that?” And really listening to the answer. And hopefully, they want to do it for their own reasons, not because somebody next door is doing it or that’s what the cool kids are doing. They need to be able to articulate why it is.

Teri Miller:

Yeah. And I think it’s important … What I’m hearing is that each kid is different, that sisu, intestinal fortitude, is going to be different for each kid. It’s going to be bent slightly different. They’re going to have different levels of passion or expressiveness about that thing that makes their heart fly. And I think, too, as parents, what you talked about, give them opportunities. Expose our kids to different opportunities, instead of maybe trying to peg them, instead of saying, “Okay, you’re going to play tennis, or the whole family’s going to play tennis. We’re going to all be a baseball family.” Well, what if you’ve got one kid that’s musical? Well, what if you say, “We’re all going to be a musical family,” and you’ve got one kid that’s really athletic? What I’m hearing you say is there’s this importance in letting our kids find their thing. Not their friends’ things, not the thing we want them to be, but their thing.

Kim Duckworth:

No, absolutely. I think you definitely hit the nail right on the head. I have three daughters. They were born almost exactly two years apart. And as a parent, I expected them to be more similar than dissimilar. Boy, was I wrong. All three of them are so different. I have my oldest daughter who I think she would have actually talked in numbers if it was a thing. Just super math brain, super interested in music, musical theater, dance. Middle daughter is very, very interested in biology, super athlete. Youngest daughter, very, very interested in writing. So I’ve got one that’s left side of their brain firing up this math brain, and the other one is a words brain, and they were just all so different.

Kim Duckworth:

That’s the other thing I think that’s hard as a parent, is that each child is so different. There’s no model to use. I think there’s certain basic parenting things you can do, but no, they’re all, all different, all very, very unique. I learned a lot from my children. I learned for my daughters. I was not a great musician. My oldest daughter was. I wasn’t a super swimmer athlete. My middle and youngest daughter were. And I learned a lot from them, too, just by listening to what they were showing us, my husband and I, and telling us as they were growing up. So no, I think you hit the nail right on the head.

Teri Miller:

Awesome.

Dr. Amy Moore:

All right, so let’s kind of shift gears here. You say that there are five things that all successful parents of teens need to know, so let’s talk about those.

Kim Duckworth:

It’s taken me a while to put the five things together, but these are the things I think are important. One of the most important things is just developing a student’s action versus consequence profile, or lack of action versus consequence profile, helping your child understand, really, what the consequences are for different actions. You would never give a preteen a bandsaw and say, “Here you go.” You’ve got to instruct. You’ve got to make sure they understand what happens if you’re not using that tool properly. And today, the students have lots of tools that we have to make sure they’re using properly. They’ve got cell phones, they’ve got media sites, they’ve got cars, they’ve got just things that they need to truly understand the consequence for their actions.

Kim Duckworth:

I saw several parents that would actually have contracts with their students and say, “If you do this, this is the consequence.” Good or bad, but the student knew very definitively what the consequence would be for certain actions. I think that’s a very important lesson for parents to pass on to their children. Here in Arizona, we have bevies of Gambel quail. They’re wonderful to see running all over the neighborhood. There’s always a parent in the front leading. There can be 20 chicks. I look at that and I’m exhausted, imagining having 20 children. 20 chicks, and then at the end is the other parent. The one in the back is usually kind of a compliance enforcer, making sure that wherever that first parent is leading, that the babies are following. But the idea is that parent is leading and teaching them along the way, where the rattlesnake holes are, what a coyote den looks like, where do you get the right kinds of cactus. It’s a learning/following process to keep them alive.

Kim Duckworth:

Some of those tools … cell phones, cars, the internet … they can have rough consequences. So we do need to protect them and make sure that they know what’s going on. I have one story I love to tell, action and consequence profile, and it develops, actually, until they’re kind of in their mid-20s … hopefully by the time they’re mid-20s. But by the time they’re in their mid-20s, to just fully have a rational brain to understand some of that consequence story … There was a high school near us. Two young men, best friends, had grown up together, played football together for a decade, had both gotten into a local university. They were seniors, big men on campus. They had their acceptance letter in their back pocket. They were going to be playing for the football team. They were ready to go.

Kim Duckworth:

One of them convinced the other one that they did not need to turn in their final English paper, a big English project the second semester of their senior year of English. “We’re in. We don’t need to worry about that. We’re in.” They were 18 years old, so there was limited contact from the school with the parents. So the teacher was trying to get them to turn something in. Long story short, they didn’t. They did not turn in their final senior English paper. Because of that, they failed their English class. Oh, they had that down, it was okay, they could get into their college or university with a failure in one class, which was true. They could have. Except for high school, they needed to complete four years of English, and because they failed their second semester of senior English, they had not met that bar, which meant they did not graduate from high school.

Kim Duckworth:

The teacher had said, “I’m willing to work with you. Give me something.” They turned in nothing, because they thought they were … they hadn’t really figured out the consequence. They thought they did, but they really hadn’t. They didn’t graduate from high school, which meant they lost their acceptance letter to the university, they lost their ability to play football at a university level … it was D1 football … because NCAA says you have to graduate high school in four years, and they had now become … dun, dun, dun … five-year seniors.

Dr. Amy Moore:

Fifth year seniors.

Kim Duckworth:

Yeah. And they had lost their scholarship. And the parents didn’t know until the very last minute because the school was not able to talk to the parents because the students were adults. So it was a very disastrous situation. They thought they knew. They thought they had it all figured out, and they really hadn’t. Really, I can’t blame the school. I mean, you can’t just all of a sudden say, “Oh, it’s okay to start not fulfilling our requirements.” And as I said, the teacher was willing to work with them, but they just hadn’t figured it out yet. So that’s one of those consequence action or lack of action and consequence things that can be very painful for some teenagers, and that’s why we need to be involved in that.

Kim Duckworth:

So that’s one thing. That’s the first thing I think of as parents. Protect and make sure they understand action and consequence. I think that thing that we were talking about earlier, just embracing their weirdness, we got to be okay with that. If they love doing something that’s very different than what we love doing, we need to help them follow that love. What they have in their heart is maybe different than what we have in ours, so we have to be willing to take that travel with them, take that journey with them, and let them know that that’s okay. Being different than everybody else is absolutely … not only okay, it’s great. It’s really great to have found.

Kim Duckworth:

The other thing I think is just finding that thing, is doing stuff. There’s a lot … and this is maybe where my book’s a little controversial. There are lines of thought out there that say you can do less and be more. And as parents, I understand, you have to become very efficient with your time. But as a high school student, you need to do things to find out what it is that makes your heart fly. Doing less and being more, it’s a hard equation to balance, I think, when you’re in high school. You do need to try things. Try new things to find out what it is, and do hard stuff, not just the easy stuff, not, “The minute I get into a little bit of a brick wall, I’m going to crumble.” I’ve got to learn how to go over that wall or around that wall or under that wall, or find a new route to get to where I want to go. But to have that guts, that intestinal fortitude, that drive, that resilience to just keep on going once that wall gets put up, and to just keep doing stuff, even sometimes when it gets hard, to just keep going. Another thing that I think-

Dr. Amy Moore:

Let me just say. In your book, you put those words in capital letters with multiple exclamation marks after them.

Kim Duckworth:

I do.

Dr. Amy Moore:

Do stuff.

Kim Duckworth:

Do stuff. Yes.

Dr. Amy Moore:

Do stuff.

Kim Duckworth:

Do stuff. Do hard stuff. Do stuff. And this next one, I think, not only do I put in capital letters, but I talk about many different times, and that’s just to read. I’m always really saddened when I’m working with a student, and a lot of times looking at SAT practice tests or ACT practice tests, I will know the answer to this question before I even ask them. But when I ask them, “Are you a reader?” And they say with sometimes a little bit of righteous indignation, “No, I don’t read,” and that is very saddening to me. Because not only do I know what that’s going to mean for their academic future, I also know what it’s going to just mean for their … I think the words I used earlier, life ceiling.

Kim Duckworth:

Once you get into college, you’ve got to be able to do the reading on your own. I’m sure we all know how much reading that you have to do once you hit that college campus. I’ve seen in standard track English classes in high school, juniors in high school having books read to them by their teachers. That’s not preparing them for what’s going to be coming in the next couple years. They have to be able to read and understand the implied, the inferred, the nuance without someone telling them. And that’s a skill that’s developed, I think, over many, many years, even starting in middle school. They really have to start getting that interest and fire in reading.

Kim Duckworth:

And I said read. A lot of kids today skim. They’re really good skimmers, but they’re not reading. I know personally … My family didn’t have a lot of money when we were growing up. My father was a teacher. But because of books and because of reading, I went down the Amazon with Teddy Roosevelt. I was in prerevolutionary slums in Russia. I climbed the Notre Dame cathedral’s halls. I went and explored the ruins of Venezuela with LiDAR. So it’s just it made, I know for me, a much bigger ceilinged life because of reading. I’m a voracious reader. I constantly have a book on my bookshelf, even now. And so I think reading … for parents, by being readers … they, too, need to read. They need to know what their kids are reading. They need to ask them what they’re reading, not just in school but outside of school.

Kim Duckworth:

With our family, we had a book club for our family where we each got to choose what book to read over an eight-week period and then could talk about it and discuss it. My children picked books that I normally would not have chosen, so I learned things from the books that they chose as well. But just asking them, “What are you reading?” Do you know as a parent what their favorite book is? Do they know what yours is? Do you suggest books to them? I mean, there’s so many things that can accomplished by reading. Also, something that’s interesting on a news feed, just have your child read something to you. That sounds kind of silly, but a lot of parents are really surprised when they find out the reading level that their child is actually at.

Kim Duckworth:

There’s a test that many parochial schools give. It’s just High School Placement Test, HSPT. The very first section of that test has a list of vocabulary words. There are about 60 of them, I think. And they have analogies and antonyms, synonyms. It’s a great test to give your child in kind of the eighth grade to see where they are in just vocabulary development. It also has a reading section, just to see reading development. Parents are always amazed when I’ve had students do that test and will then look at some of the questions that they’ve actually missed, and they’ll turn to their child and say, “You know what that word means, don’t you?” And the child will say, “No.” So it’s a really interesting way to see … And some of the words on that test, the vocabulary words, they’re stretch words. They’re difficult words. But it’s a good thing to see.

Kim Duckworth:

Another really interesting thing to do is to give your eighth grader just a writing prompt. Have them write about someone they really admire. Have them write about a pet if they have a pet. Really, something easy that you would expect them to be able to write about. Give them 15, 20 minutes to write, and then read what they’ve written. And again, can be a very surprising exercise for parents once they see just a student’s writing abilities. I guess what I’m saying with that, too, is just to pay attention to their reading and writing as they’re going through. The last thing I would talk about, too, is just [crosstalk 00:29:20]

Dr. Amy Moore:

Let me interrupt you for just a second …

Kim Duckworth:

For sure. Absolutely.

Dr. Amy Moore:

… because I want to put an exclamation mark, again, after reading. I was a teacher before I was a psychologist, and so, I mean, reading predicts success in multiple areas of life, not just your ability to pass a college entrance exam, but the ability to do your jobs. I mean, the ability to communicate effectively. And we know that prolific readers are also prolific writers. So I think it’s important that parents model that love of reading as well. So your kids need to see you with a book, because then they recognize, “Oh, my parents find that to be of value and important, and they’re not just telling me to do it, but obviously there’s something there that they are enjoying, too, and that they find value in.”

Dr. Amy Moore:

We told our kids when they were in middle school that we would never say no when they asked if they could get a book. Never. And so my 23-year-old son still uses our Amazon account to buy books, still. I’ll see a receipt pop up. It’s kind of fun to see what he’s into.

Kim Duckworth:

What he’s reading? Yeah.

Dr. Amy Moore:

Yeah. But we will never create a barrier to success by saying, “No, you cannot have a book.”

Kim Duckworth:

That’s-

Teri Miller:

And I want to throw in the caveat that if you are listening to this and you’re ready to just turn it off because your kid has a reading struggle, there are interventions, there are things to do that you can help your kid. And if your kid struggles with dyslexia or just any other learning problem that creates that barrier for becoming a really prolific reader, that does not have to limit your kid.

Dr. Amy Moore:

[crosstalk 00:31:08]

Teri Miller:

Don’t hear that we’re saying if your kiddo’s not a reader, they’re just not going to be successful. They’re a reader or … nothing. No. We are not saying that.

Dr. Amy Moore:

Every kid can become a reader.

Teri Miller:

Yeah. There are definitely kids that will … Just like know how you’re weird. I’ve got two of my kiddos in the mix that are not much of readers in a big reading family, and one of them actually … she kind of had a breakdown at one point and was like, “I just don’t fit with the rest of you. I just don’t love this. It’s just hard for me. I’ll read four pages and I don’t know what I’ve read.” And she really did a lot of grieving. She doesn’t have any delays or problems with reading. She does just fine in school, but it’s not her bent, and we’ve had to really … I’ve really come around to her and embraced her and said, “That is okay. You’ve got other skills and gifts. You are relational. You are a dancer. You are amazing in lots of ways. You don’t have to be a prolific reader.”

Teri Miller:

No. We’re still going to have no screen Sunday and we’re going to have time that we all get out our books, so we still do that and encourage it. But don’t feel that this is limiting if your kiddo struggles with reading. You can pursue interventions. Know that they have other skills. That might be their weirdness, and that’s okay.

Kim Duckworth:

I absolutely hear what you’re saying. My oldest daughter, that was not her favorite thing to do, either. She was the one that would have talked in numbers if she could, and actually, she works for the Jet Propulsion Lab of NASA now. It’s not her favorite thing to do, but she will do it, and she can do it. Every year Christmas gift for my girls, even as grown adults, is a book. I always give them books. I’m always sharing books. So no, it isn’t everybody’s superpower, but it is something that I think can help open doors for people.

Kim Duckworth:

The hardest class I ever took in college was actually … I was at Stanford University. It was a class in international relations. Excuse me, international economics. It was an interesting class because there was no … And some students, when I say this, they’re going to say, “Wow, that must have been the best class ever.” No homework, no tests, no midterm, no papers to write. There was a final, and we were told there was one question on the final, and we would come and have to sit and write for three hours on the one question. Tremendous amount of reading, though, that had to be done. I read every book that was assigned. I don’t know if I could say that about every college class I took, but in that class, I read every book that was assigned. The thing that was hard, though, there was no point to know if you were getting it. There was no checkpoint to say, “I’m understanding the material.” The checkpoint was the final, and it was just an expectation that you had a certain level of reading, that you knew how to take notes, that you knew how to do the highlighting.

Kim Duckworth:

So there are classes out there like that in college where the teacher’s not reading to you and that you really are expected to have gained some of those reading skills. Now, maybe some students wouldn’t be taking an international economics class. They can certainly get around that and take other classes. But it is something as a college skill that I think is very important for students to have, because there’s a lot of reading in college. There’s just a lot, a lot of reading. Not all students go to college. There are certainly other routes that you can take, too. But I do want to make sure that students know and parents know that they do have to have some level of reading skills to be successful in that next step, the step where they’re going. But I definitely hear what you’re saying, because I have a daughter, too, that that was not her … Behind a book was not her happy place as she was going through high school and college. So-

Teri Miller:

You know what, Amy? This might be a great segue to hearing a word from our sponsor?

Dr. Amy Moore:

Yeah. And then when we come back, we’ll hear the fifth step.

Kim Duckworth:

The fifth.

Dr. Amy Moore:

Yeah.

Kim Duckworth:

Great.

Teri Miller:

… segue because our sponsor is LearningRx. So if your kid’s having some reading struggles. All right.

Teri Miller: Reading sponsor ad from LearningRx Brain Training

Did you know that more than 6 million children in America have been diagnosed with ADHD? Many of them struggle in school because of their condition. What if I told you that poor attention may not be the primary cause of their struggles? In a study with more that 5,000 people with ADHD, researchers found that working memory, longterm memory, and processing speed were less efficient than their attention skills. So an intervention that only targets attention might miss the opportunity to work on those other skills we need to think and learn.

LearningRx can help you identify which skills may be keeping your child from performing their best. In fact, they’ve worked with more than 100,000 children and adults who wanted to think and perform better. They’d like to help get your child on the path to a brighter and more confident future. Give LearningRx a call at 866-BRAIN01, or visit learningrx.com. That’s learningrx.com.

Dr. Amy Moore:

And we’re back, talking to Kim Duckworth, who is an independent college admissions coach and author of Parents, Are You Ready?: The Practical Guide to Launching a Successful High School Student. So Kim is telling us the five things that all successful parents of teens need to know, so let’s go to number five.

Kim Duckworth:

Number five. Before we leave, we were talking about reading. I have to ask … I always ask adults that I’m talking to, I always ask this question, and I’ll share first. I’m reading a book right now called The Last Full Measure. It’s a book about the Civil War. Dr. Amy, what book are you reading right now? Teri, what books are you reading right now?

Dr. Amy Moore:

I’m reading What’s So Amazing About Grace? by Phillip Yancey.

Kim Duckworth:

Yep. Very good.

Teri Miller:

And I am actually reading probably two or three books right now, and I’m not going to be able to recall their specific titles, but on attachment and adoption and interventions for autism behaviors for my youngest child. So I’m really reading for learning right now to help my kiddo. There’s lots of other seasons where I just get to read books for fun or self development or whatever, but that’s where I’m at right now.

Kim Duckworth:

Very good.

Dr. Amy Moore:

Right. And I’m working on a second doctorate, and so everything that I’m reading directly relates to that as well, too. I don’t have any time for pleasure reading at the moment. But I get joy from reading for learning as well, so …

Kim Duckworth:

I think for me, too, reading is relaxing. It’s my way of just going to a different place sometimes when were I am is getting to be tough, so it’s my place to relax.

Kim Duckworth:

Okay, number five, the final thing that I would say successful parents of high school students know, and it’s having the student or the child have what I would call a high school bucket list. It’s that goal orientation. What is it that you want to have accomplished by the time you finish high school? And just even breaking it down on a semester-by-semester basis, and not just grades, other things as well. What do you want to have seen? What do you want to have heard? Really, what is it that you want to have accomplished by the time you graduate from high school? I think that goal orientation is also very, very important. If you don’t know where you’re going, you’re going to end up someplace else. It’s kind of knowing, having that path and that kind of idea defined.

Kim Duckworth:

Now, I do also believe, though … Sometimes we all know in life there’s plan A, but it’s also important that you’ve got the goals. But there could be a plan B and plan C as well. I think, in fact, plans B and C are sometimes as important as plan A. But just having multiple ideas of what it is you want to do can also be important. And there are lots of other things that I think are important as a parent. You are a P-A-R-E-N-T, not an F-R-I-E-N-D. Because being a parent carries so many more responsibilities than just being a friend, and I think as parents, we need to be able to hold those and carry those as well.

Kim Duckworth:

Also, again, that why word, always asking, “Why do you feel that way? Why? Why would you do that? Why are you thinking about doing that?” Just asking them why is very important. Another one that I love … and this comes kind of back from the 80s … but it’s the concept of trust but verify. Originally designed for nuclear detente, but it’s something that they have to earn their trust, our trust as parents. They have to earn the things that they have in life. So trust them, but verify also that they’re doing the right things kind of along the way.

Kim Duckworth:

A couple more that I’d mention is just … Dolly Parton said this recently, I think, in one of her big interviews, but it was in my book before that even. It’s the idea of believing in something bigger than yourself. See a lot of depression. Depression has just been on the rise the past two years. A lot of the students’ essays that I’ve been working with, you can just feel it in their essays. But those students that have in some way they believe in something bigger than themselves seem to get through, have gotten through these past few COVID years with maybe a little more grace. I think that’s an important thing as parents, is to help them find.

Kim Duckworth:

Another thing that I think is really important is music. In fact, I think in my book, I talk about how important it is in middle school for them to try music, to learn how to play an instrument, and also to know the music that your child is listening to. Not only what they’re reading, but what are they hearing on a daily basis, what are they being blasted with all day long. Just help them grow in that love of music and understanding of music.

Dr. Amy Moore:

Can you talk a little bit about why you think music training is important?

Kim Duckworth:

It’s a discipline, certainly, and it’s something that they can take as deep as they want to take it. Certainly, the side of the brain that processes music also processes math. Not unusual for my students that are off the charts or double advanced in their math skills or math classes to also be musicians. So it develops a skill, a part of the brain that children don’t even know it’s happening. Parents don’t even know it’s happening, but it is lighting up that part of the brain for them. And it also can expose you to so many different cultures around the world. Music is universal so it can take you in so many different directions. So I think that’s an important … that’s why I think it’s an important thing to get your child exposed to music. In fact, I think I even talk in the book about advocate for music programs in your middle school.

Kim Duckworth:

I know with my children, they got to choose the instruments they wanted to play, and some of them went through a couple different ones before they found the one that they really loved. But they did find it. Eventually, they found that instrument that really spoke to them. I can honestly say I think all of them if they were here today would say that was a very important thing to have done while they were in middle school.

Dr. Amy Moore:

And so tell us what instruments they played.

Kim Duckworth:

Oldest daughter ended up with the flute, middle daughter ended up with the cello, and youngest daughter ended up with the saxophone.

Dr. Amy Moore:

Excellent.

Kim Duckworth:

So all went different directions. My middle daughter actually wanted to play the tuba, but they didn’t have a tuba in the middle school program.

Teri Miller:

And you said, “Thank goodness.”

Kim Duckworth:

Yes. I wasn’t too sad about that. Actually, my oldest daughter with the flute, she used to actually practice the flute when we were driving. Probably wasn’t really good for her teeth. But we’d be driving in the car and she’d say, “Mom, I want to practice this right now.” So she’d whip her flute out and do it in the car. The other thing I’ll just mention. My middle daughter is a tactile learner, and it was interesting to me, the instruments that she wanted to play. But when you think about the tuba, music is just wrapped around you and you vibrate with that. She wanted that. She needed that in her musical experience. She ended up loving the cello, which was kind of the opposite, where she is wrapped around the instrument. And again, you feel that music. But she was very much a tactile learner and it was just interesting to see those choices that she made …

Dr. Amy Moore:

I love that.

Kim Duckworth:

… in choosing the instruments.

Dr. Amy Moore:

Yeah. So my youngest son is 17 and he is actually the piccolo player in the city’s youth symphony.

Kim Duckworth:

Oh, fabulous.

Dr. Amy Moore:

Yes. And he has a diagnosis of motor overflow, and so he has to constantly be moving and he has a lot of movements that he isn’t even aware of. But he’s a competitive rock climber, so he’s constantly moving, and he started with the flute, and he still plays the flute as well, but he found that the piccolo was … That challenge was really what ignited his fire, and so he is the piccolo player. But yeah, so it’s the same idea of that is an amazing kinesthetic outlet for someone who struggles with like this physical motor overflow condition.

Kim Duckworth:

Absolutely. Yeah.

Teri Miller:

Yeah. [crosstalk 00:45:54] Go ahead.

Kim Duckworth:

No, I just think music is an important part of that growth and development process.

Teri Miller:

Yeah, absolutely. I mean, even not just academically and cognitively, but it can be an anxiety soother for kids that really struggle with anxiety. My oldest son, the one that’s actually … I’m here with him in Sarasota … has had many, many, many, many surgeries and medical problems, and when he took up the guitar … Again, we did what you talked about. We exposed all of our kids. We didn’t force any of them to continue it for long, but they had to take some classes in music, try an instrument, try piano, whatever. But when, ultimately, he settled on guitar … I mean, you can watch him after he’s had a bad day. He’ll pick up that guitar and just pick at it and play and oh, it soothes his soul. I don’t know if it’s creating any math genius in him, but it is definitely doing wonders for him psychologically, emotionally, physically.

Kim Duckworth:

Absolutely. Yeah, music is good. Music is a good thing.

Kim Duckworth:

The last thing I want to mention is just that want to make sure that students … Actually, I wish my husband knew this more sometimes. But the concept that asking for help is not a sign of weakness, that it’s truly a sign of maturity. And I think sometimes, students do get in trouble and they don’t ask for help, and they need to know that it’s okay. It’s more than okay. It shows growth and development to be able to know when you’re in trouble and then ask for help. I found myself saying that frequently to students and parents when we were in sessions, just that it’s not a sign of weakness to be in here getting tutoring. It’s not a sign of weakness to need help in some aspect of your life. As adults, we know you can’t do it by yourself. You have to get help. So that would be the last thing I would just say, that successful parents are able to communicate to their children. [crosstalk 00:48:03]

Dr. Amy Moore:

Yes. And research tells us that students who can advocate for themselves are more successful. And so to be able to say, “Hey, can I come see you after class because I’m struggling with A, B, and C.”

Kim Duckworth:

Absolutely.

Teri Miller:

Such an important one that we can … I think that we really need to encourage our kids in, especially kids these days that are living in this cyber world with cell phones and social media. It’s harder for kids today to advocate for themselves face to face. I see that in my kids, that it’s really difficult for them to go and physically use their mouth and ask a question. Can they text it? Can they look it up on Google? But no, to actually go to the professor and say, “I was sick for two days. I missed these assignments.” I mean, they have to advocate for themselves because there’s not going to be some fifth grade teacher holding their hand all the way through their senior year in high school. So oh, yeah, that’s a big one to help our kids. Help our kids [crosstalk 00:49:06]

Kim Duckworth:

Yeah, absolutely. Yeah, very, very important. The other thing that I think is also very interesting, kind of in that same line, is students, they don’t even talk on the phone. They’re on their phone, but they’re not talking on the phone. So just the idea of even talking to someone … not even face to face, just on the phone. So for my generation, you pick up the phone and you call somebody if you need an answer to a question. Their generation, you need an answer to a question, you’re going to Google it or do something else.

Kim Duckworth:

But the place that I see that coming out that’s maybe not the best is in the interview process, whether that be for a job or for a scholarship, or sometimes there are interviews for college admissions. You just even ask some of the most basic questions, “Tell me about yourself,” and they just fumble. It sounds like a nice softball kind of question and they can’t talk. They don’t know who they are or they don’t know how to tell someone who they are. It’s a great question to start asking, again, that junior, senior in high school, just a really basic, “So tell me about yourself,” and see what kind of answer you get, because I think parents are often surprised.

Teri Miller:

Good advice. That’s really good.

Dr. Amy Moore:

I think that it’s important for us to clarify that while you have a focus on helping students get into colleges and even competitive. Colleges, that all of the tips that you have shared today are applicable to every middle school and high schooler, no matter what their future goals are. Am I hearing that right?

Kim Duckworth:

Absolutely. I think as parents, we want to help our child be the best that they can be, whatever that is. Just the best that they can be. And there are many different paths that you can pick after high school. The majority of students still take the path of going on to higher education, but there are absolutely many different directions that a child can go, and it just depends on who they are, what their skillset is as to what direction they decide to take.

Dr. Amy Moore:

And how they’re different.

Kim Duckworth:

And how they’re different. Absolutely. How they’re different.

Dr. Amy Moore:

So tell our listeners a little bit about how they can find you if they want to work with you. What does that look like?

Kim Duckworth:

Absolutely, and I’m going to hold this up. I do have a book, Parents, Are You Ready? Which you can certainly find on Amazon. I also have a website, parentsareyouready.com. I have a variety of services there, have some classes like interview classes, just kind of getting through high school classes. I also have services for college admissions coaching. I have also on the book you can email me at parentsareyouready.com. So those would be probably the easiest way. I’m also on Twitter, I’m also on LinkedIn. You can just email me at kim@parentsareyouready.com and I will get back to you.

Dr. Amy Moore:

And so you work virtually and long distance with parents around the country?

Kim Duckworth:

Absolutely. And it’s kind of interesting. Because of COVID this past two and a half years, I’ve been doing … Many of my sessions have been via Zoom, even the students that are here in Arizona, and it’s been very successful. It works very, very well, so it can definitely be sent out to other parts of the country. In the past, I have worked with some international students. I’ve worked with students on the East Coast. So it just depends on what help you need.

Dr. Amy Moore:

All right. Great.

Teri Miller:

Thank you so much.

Dr. Amy Moore:

Yeah. So we’re out of time-

Kim Duckworth:

Thank you again. Thank you so much for having me on today. It’s really been interesting talking to you. And Teri, good luck to your son.

Teri Miller:

Thank you. Thanks.

Dr. Amy Moore:

So we’re out of time, and we just want to thank you, Kim Duckworth, for sharing these tips for parents on getting their middle school and high schoolers ready for the next stage of their lives. If you would like more information about Kim, you can visit her website, parentsareyouready.com. You can find her on Facebook @ParentsAreYouReady. And we will put those links, her social media handles, and links to get to her book, Parents, Are You Ready? The Practical Guide to Launching a Successful High School Student, and also how to access her free resume and goals builder workbook. We’ll put all of those links in the show notes for you.

Dr. Amy Moore:

Thank you so much for listening today. If you like our podcast, we would love it if you would leave us a five-star rating or a review on Apple Podcasts. As we mentioned at the top of the show, we are also on YouTube if you would rather watch us, and you can find us on all social media platforms at The Brainy Moms. So look, until next time, we know that you’re busy moms and we’re busy moms, so we’re out.

Teri Miller:

See ya.

Kim Duckworth:

Buh-bye.