The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teenagers – Final Part

7 habits

In the previous issue we discussed your personal bank account (PBA) of deeds and how three different types of small deposits can eventually enrich you in the long run. Now we will discuss the remaining three ways of meaningful deposits to build your (PBA). Similarly an opposite action would end up in withdrawal from your (PBA).

PBA Deposits

  • Keep promises made to yourself
  • Initiate little acts of kindness for others
  • Handle yourself gently
  • Be honest with yourself and others
  • Renew yourself
  • Let your talents bloom

PBA Withdrawals

  • Break personal promises
  • Be a loner and keep to yourself
  • Beat yourself up
  • Be dishonest with yourself and others
  • Wear yourself out
  • Neglect your talents

Be honest with yourself and others

Honesty begins with self. When ever we lie or cheat it makes us unsure of ourselves. It casts a heavy shadow on our heart and is an immediate withdrawal from our (PBA). As they say you can’t do wrong and feel right.

Have you been fake or dishonest with your parents, friends or at work? We know that we all have a tendency to impress others even if we have to act phony. Next time be yourself and you will feel a lot more wholesome. It takes strength and courage to be honest with yourself as well as others.

Sean Covey shares a story of a teenager called Jeff. Jeff was smarter in mathematics than his other friends. He came up with an idea to start charging them for every test he helped them cheat on. Initially, he felt great making money and helping his friends get good grades. Later, he realized he hadn’t really been helping them at all. If they didn’t learn now, it would just get tougher down the road for them. So he quit his game and took a brave stand by being honest with himself and his friends. It was hard but it was the right choice, which served everyone’s best interests.

Honesty may not be a trend anymore. You will find people get ahead in life by cheating and lying. But remember – every act of honesty is a deposit into your (PBA) and will build strength eventually, because your heart will be pure.

You may begin by not exaggerating or embellishing your point of views. Or next time when your parents ask you to tell them about something, just factually narrate the complete story without misleading them or deliberately leaving out some information.

Renew yourself

We all think that only medicines and magazine subscriptions expire. Wrong! As human beings, we also sometimes feel low and need a place of refuge to re-energize our mind, body and soul. If we do not learn to relax and renew ourselves occasionally, we tend to lose the zest for life.

How you can do it depends on your daily routine. Some people like to relax by writing in a journal, painting, playing a sport, going to the gym, etc. Some like to retreat to a quiet place for some quiet thinking in their homes, such as in their bedrooms, terrace or the basement. Some like to head outdoors to a favourite spot, such as a park, garden, river-side, etc.

I know a teenager, who used to keep hitting his tennis ball on a particular wall to relieve tension and after half an hour of playing ball, he felt de-stressed and renewed.

Of course, if you can build a habit of listening to a soothing Qirat by one of your favourite Qaris, it works like watering a wilted flower. When done, you’re in full bloom!

So next time you end up in an argument with your parents or friends or are simply worried about something try to slip in to your favourite place of refuge and re-collect your thoughts and emotions. Once you have renewed yourself, you will feel much better, Insha’Allah. And that will work as a deposit in your (PBA)!

Decide on a fun activity and do it today. If you feel lethargic go out for a walk or run.

Let your talents bloom

Allah (swt) has gifted talents to every single human being on this Earth. Even people with certain disorders such as Dyslexia or Autism are greatly gifted and intelligent. The key is to tap into your talents and draw on the best. Try figuring out what pleases you most and what skill you are inspired to polish?

And if you haven’t figured out fantastic ways to make deposits into your (PBA) yet, try to find special interest and then develop it. Nothing is more rewarding. And we don’t need to be stereo-typical and traditional about it. Why just think of being a writer or an athlete? You can be good at anything and carve a niche for yourself.

Talents come in different packages. They are all about self-expression. One can be a great collector of leaves, exhibit leadership skills, be a patient listener to others, write backwards, etc. Don’t ever think that it sounds silly or small. People, who have believed in their ideas and pursued their dreams, are the ones who have ever achieved anything. Most importantly they found joy and an identity for themselves. Stuff they did or made equally benefited others, too.

Make a list of talents you want to develop this year and how to achieve them. Secondly, list the name of people you admire the most for their talents and maybe try finding out how they got there!

Teens, Texts and Technology

Apr 11 -Teen, texts and technology

When I was growing up – in the Stone Age – we did not have email or Facebook; cell phones were few and far between. My mother did not even allow a cordless phone at home lest her children spend more time than necessary chatting idly with friends.

Fast forward twenty years from then, and teenagers today have their own cell phone with unlimited texting and web surfing. While there are some advantages to being in touch with young adults via technology, the prospects are scary.

A Pew study in 2004 revealed that 18 percent of 12-year olds have a cell phone. In 2009, the number shot up to 58 percent. The scary part is that with unlimited texts in many family plans these days, our sons and daughters can be tapping their way into trouble. What may be hard to say face-to-face is easier said via text. Being available to respond 24/7 can result in rushed responses that are not well thought-out and can be misinterpreted.

The irony is that while the price of Roti, Kapra and Makan in Pakistan is rising steadily every year, the price for SMS messages, cell phone cards and high speed internet is falling. While this is a feather in the cap for our telecommunications industry, it is also opening the door for a lot of Fitnah.

The new Bluetooth technology is even scarier. It can allow people to exchange photos, videos and text messages with complete strangers – within a range of about 15 yards. With upcoming software, a teenage boy sitting across the table at a restaurant will not even need to have your daughters phone number, he can still text her if he thinks she looks cute in her purple outfit.

A report in the New York Times revealed that 15 percent of teens between the ages of 12 and17 had received inappropriate photos on their phone. So what is a parent to do? A parent cannot blame technology or completely deprive their child from gadgets that have become the norm today – but a parent can set limits and bridge communication gaps. In 2010, a parent cannot afford to say, “I’m not good with computers.” Even if they trust their children and are genuinely not interested in Facebook or Twitter, they need to get on the bandwagon even if they can’t check them daily; at least their children know that they can.

With so many aunties and uncles on Facebook these days, I am positive teenagers have some parallel social site we will find out about soon. When it comes to technology, our children will always be a step ahead of us. Many teens have two Facebook profiles; one where they can add their parents and another where they can be themselves with their friends.

In 2020, when my children become teens, I shudder to think what is in store for us. I firmly believe that in addition to faith in the Almighty and dua to keep children in good company, parents need to make conscious decisions to limit screen time from a young age. Once children enjoy volunteering, sport, art and reading from a young age, they will hopefully continue having a variety of extracurricular screen-free activities when they are older.

Wandering aimlessly on the World Wide Web can take impressionable minds to weird places with even weirder pop-up ads and too-good-to-be-true virus-infested offers. Another key element in limiting technology usage is that parents need to practice what they preach. If a mother does not allow her daughter to use her cell excessively but is herself glued to her iPhone apps, then she should know that hypocrisy will come to haunt her.

I love Facebook too as it is a great way to keep in touch with my friends and family overseas. However, I am appalled at some teenager profiles. In the relationship category, some fourteen year olds have selected “Whatever I can get” and have pictures that are not reflective of the good families that they come from. The worst part is not posting photos but the comments that go back and forth on these teen pages. “OMG…you’re hot…”, “LOL, lmao, you are hotter.” “No, I insist that you look gr8”

Not only have spellings gone down the drain, privacy and modesty is quickly following suit. As parents, we cannot just throw our hands up in the air in despair – we can make a difference if we try.

Some ways to monitor the technology explosion in your home

1)      Children should know that cell phone and Internet privileges need to be earned and can be revoked.

2)      Make sure your teens do not add strangers to their Instant Messaging or Facebook profiles.

3)      Sign up your children for cell phone plans with limited minutes for emergency calls and texts.

4)      Sign up for free Internet activity monitoring such as

5)      Do not allow cell phones and computers in bedrooms. Cell phones should be charged next to computers in a central place in the home.

6)      Teach your child never to disclose personal information like his address or school online.

7)      Teenagers – and even younger children- will always be a step ahead with technology. Befriend them so you do not have to spy on them. You might not have the time to sit and go through all the texts, calls and websites your child peruses but just the fact that you can check should hopefully deter them from any misuse.

Did you know?

  • 5 million new users join Facebook every week
  • 10 hours of video is uploaded to YouTube every hour
  • The average American teenager sends and receives 2,272 texts a month; that is 80 messages DAILY!
  • 90 percent of kids 12-17 said they do not report an incident of cyber bullying to parents.

Source: Journal of School Health, Nielsen and NPD group