Skip to Content

How to Develop the 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens

Developing the 7 habits of highly effective teens helps build solid character traits and leadership skills.

In his powerful book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens, Sean Covey outlines a step-by-step guide for teens to increase their self-esteem and achieve success.

Adapted from his father’s bestselling book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Sean Covey applies those timeless principles to the tough issues and real-life pressures that teenagers face in their everyday lives. 

From developing healthy relationships to evaluating life-changing decisions, one of the most important things for young adults to recognize is the contributing role that good habits play in their own life. 

Focusing on the value of developing good habits, such as the seven listed below, will help teens foster strategies to deal with peer pressure, sharpen critical thinking skills and build solid character traits for a successful life!

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens

  1. Be proactive
  2. Begin with the end in mind
  3. Put first things first
  4. Think Win-Win
  5. Seek to understand, then be understood
  6. Synergize
  7. Sharpen the Saw

As a parent, you play a huge part in helping your children develop good habits that will help them grow into confident, successful, and healthy adults.  But time is of the essence.  A study conducted by researchers at Brown University concluded that habits take root in most children by age nine. 

That finding alone suggests the importance and power of role modeling.  As much as you may want your children to develop good, healthy habits, if you aren’t modeling those behaviors yourself then they aren’t as likely to adhere to them on their own.

Developing the 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens

The roadmap to greater self-esteem and success is paved with good habits.  Focusing on these 7 key dimensions of life is the most effective way to develop positive tendencies that will support personal growth, healthy relationships, and greater accomplishments.

1. Be proactive

The first habit of being proactive is the catalyst to all supportive habits moving forward.  Practicing being more proactive in your teen years will naturally help you take responsibility and feel more prepared for whatever lies ahead.  Proactive people are focused on cultivating their own happiness and actions to take control of their own life. 

Tip: Listen to a TED talk on ways to be more proactive.

2. Begin with the end in mind

The second habit of “begin with the end in mind” acts as a road map or guidepost for your goals.  The early teen years are a great time to begin thinking about what you want for your future and what you want your life to look like down the road.  Spend time identifying your values early on and learn what types of actions and behaviors align with what you stand for.  Going through this process of self-awareness will not only help you keep your focus on cultivating the life you want, but it will also help you be a better decision-maker and consider the consequences of your actions.

Tip: Write out a personal mission statement and then create a vision board for what you want your life to look like 5, 10, and 20 years down the road.

3. Put first things first

Developing solid time management skills is important at any age but learning how to prioritize as a teenager will set you up for more than just productivity, achievement, and success.  Figuring out what matters most in life will also help set the stage for healthy relationships, allowing you to step out of your comfort zone and into your courage zone, experiencing more personal growth.

Tip: Take a values assessment to help identify what principles are core to your beliefs.  Identify 3-5 values and write them down on a sticky note or keep them in the Notes app on your phone. You can easily call upon this list when feeling overwhelmed or not knowing where to start to help you quickly prioritize.

4. Think win-win

Lifting others up is just as important as celebrating your own success.  Recognizing and praising the accomplishments of others cultivates an environment where teens feel less threatened by the success of their peers and fosters more of a team atmosphere.   Adopting a win-win mentality during the early teen years increases the likelihood of camaraderie and seeking a mutually beneficial solution as an adult.

Tip: Watch a professional team sporting event and observe how the teammates work together, celebrating each other’s contributions on their road to victory.

5. Seek first to understand, then be understood

This habit is the foundation for one of the most crucial communication skills your teen will ever develop.  The ability to actively listen.  Beyond hearing someone, active listening dives deep into understanding what is being said before attempting to respond in any given discussion.  When young people learn early on to listen to someone else’s point of view, they are more likely to appreciate different perspectives as well as learn from them.

Tip:  Click here for 10 active listening exercises.

6. Synergize

This habit is a throwback of sorts to the old saying “two heads are better than one.” Teens can sometimes feel isolated but developing the habit of synergy is a great way to partner up and create a better solution than either could have achieved alone. Being open to additional perspectives and the clever ideas of others grows your ability to learn and develop relationships with people that may be different than you.

Tip:  Sign up to volunteer at a local organization or event and take the opportunity to work with others you may not know.

7. Sharpen the saw

Developing a self-care routine to stay refreshed or sharpen the saw is essential at any age, but it’s especially effective when navigating the stressful teen years.  A solid self-care routine can help teenagers find balance and thrive, manage anxiety in difficult times, maintain a more positive attitude and provide an opportunity to self-regulate.

Tip: Check out these 50 healthy self-care ideas and activities for teens.

Important points for developing good habits in teens

The teenage years are filled with ups and downs, peer pressure, new experiences, and tons of growth.  Developing good habits early on is an effective and healthy way to help navigate these years but it’s important to remember that progress over perfection is the key. 

Start by having your teen evaluate their current habits.  Ask them which habits support their values and goals and which habits do not.  Once they have figured out which habits need replacing, encourage your teen to pick one or two from the list above and get ready to support them on their journey!