Tough Love

tough love for teenagers and students

Having worked with many thousands of ‘challenging’ young people, we have come to realise that sometimes we need to be negative to be positive. In other words, ‘if you don’t work hard, don’t sacrifice a part of your personal life and don’t stand up for yourself in the face of peer pressure, then your life could actually be quite hard!

You could end up as a ‘victim’ feeling sorry or angry for yourself for the rest of your life. This is negative Motivation which hopefully leads away from a fear of failure to achievement.

We have worked with the ‘attitudes and behaviours’, the alpha males/females, the anger and aggression, the chronically shy and the apathetic. Thank goodness we can see through all that and know, mostly, that these are scared little kids who have issues in their lives.

Get close enough, peel a few 'identity' layers away and you will find that these kids could write a ‘tear jerker’ of an autobiography.

For some kids we believe in Tough Love. We believe that giving it to them straight, breaking down their false identities, treating them hard but with love and respect is the only way forward. For other kids, a little TLC and some great motivation is all that is needed.

That’s why we do what we do. That’s why we created The Genesis eXperience. It helps put bad experiences in a place where it will be difficult to find them - in their future. Because, their future is going to be where they find their full potential and their true identity.

I give below some hard ‘negative’ or 'tough love' motivators that could work with some of the students/kids you teach or are a parent to. I particularly recommend the following rules that Charles Sykes wrote in the mid 90s.

Lastly, we would like you to add to our list below so please do click the contact button and send them in. We hope to build this page into a great resources for teachers and parents.


Some rules kids won’t learn in schools (well at least from some teachers!)

Life is not fair. Get used to it. The average teenager uses the phrase, "It's not fair" 8.6 times a day. You got it from your parents, who said it so often you decided they must be the most idealistic generation ever. When they started hearing it from their own kids, they realized.

The real world won't care as much about your self-esteem as much as your school does. It'll expect you to accomplish something before you feel good about yourself. This may come as a shock.

Sorry, you won't make $40,000 a year right out of high school. And you won't be a vice president or have a car phone either. You may even have to wear a uniform that doesn't have a Gap label.

If you think your teacher is tough, wait 'til you get a boss. When you screw up, he's not going to ask you how you feel about it.

Flipping burgers is not beneath your dignity. Your grandparents had a different word for burger flipping. They called it opportunity. They weren't embarrassed making minimum wage either.

It's not your parents' fault. If you screw up, you are responsible. This is the flip side of "It's my life," and "You're not the boss of me," and other eloquent proclamations of your generation. When you turn 18, it's on your dime.

Before you were born your parents weren't as boring as they are now. They got that way paying your bills, cleaning up your room and listening to you tell them how idealistic you are. And by the way, before you save the rain forest from the blood-sucking parasites of your parents' generation, try delousing the closet in your bedroom.

Your school may have done away with winners and losers. Life hasn't. In some schools, they'll give you as many times as you want to get the right answer. Failing grades have been abolished and class valedictorians scrapped, lest anyone's feelings be hurt. Effort is as important as results.

Life is not divided into semesters, and you don't get summers off. Not even Easter break. They expect you to show up every day. For eight hours. And you don't get a new life every 10 weeks. It just goes on and on.

Television is not real life. Your life is not a sitcom. Your problems will not all be solved in 30 minutes, minus time for commercials. In real life, people actually have to leave the coffee shop to go to jobs.

Be nice to nerds. You may end up working for them. We all could.

You are not immortal. If you are under the impression that living fast, dying young and leaving a beautiful corpse is romantic, you obviously haven't seen one of your peers at room temperature lately.

Enjoy this while you can. Sure parents are a pain, school's a bother, and life is depressing. But someday you'll realize how wonderful it was to be a kid. Maybe you should start now.Your navel is not that interesting. Don't spend your life gazing at it.

Charles Sykes. USA

Your life will be a mirror reflection of how you treat other people. Good or bad.

You reap what you sow.

At any given moment, you are only a heartbeat away from eternity. Live it.

You must do what YOU don't want to do, so YOU can do what YOU want to do. Ever heard of peer pressure?

A bad attitude is like a flat tire; you won't get very far till you change it.

You need to be a great human being in order to bring up other great human beings.

Always remember to say thank you, because no one has to do anything for you.

Remember that you are no better than anyone else, and no one else is better than you!

Nothing that’s easy is worth accomplishing.

The more you learn ... the more you earn.


Return from Tough Love to Teachers Resources