It's hard for teachers, counselors and colleges not to like a kid who's nice to his parents. And it's impossible for a parent not to be moved by their own kid's thoughtful gesture. If you're looking for ways to be an even better son or daughter, here are a few simple things that every parent I've ever met would appreciate, things that have nothing to do with grades, test scores or colleges.
1. Thank them.
Say "thank you" to your parents more often. Not just for the big stuff, like putting a roof over your head or paying for college (though your parents certainly deserve thanks if they do those things). But also for the little stuff, like fixing your dinner, doing your laundry, coming to all your soccer games, helping you with your math homework, giving you advice, etc. Even if it's a good parent's job to do some or all of these things, that doesn't mean they don't deserve thanks.
2. Every now and then, spend five minutes answering the question, "How was your day?"
Almost every student answers that question with one word–"Fine" or "Good." Switch it up every now and then. Actually tell your parents what happened during the day that made you happy, or encouraged you, or frustrated you, or worried you. They'll appreciate that you're sharing bits and pieces of your life with them.
3. Let them know if they were right about something.
If your parents gave you advice, or predicted something that would be good for you, or even if you were arguing about an issue that you can now see from their perspective, admit it. Say, "You know what, Mom, you were right about ____." Your parents will enjoy hearing it and they'll appreciate that you're mature enough to say it.
4. Pitch in.
Parents do a lot for kids. Every now and then, offer to lend a hand and help even if your parents don't ask you to. Offer to help wash the dishes or take the trash out or walk the dog. Or offer to do something on your own that they normally do for you. They'll appreciate your efforts to ease their workload just a bit.
5. Give them a break.
It's not easy being a teenager today, but it's not easy being the parent of a teenager, either. The next time you feel yourself getting frustrated or annoyed with your parents, take a deep breath and try to put yourself in their shoes for a second. Be nice and try to be understanding. Don't vent your frustration at them.
If you did all five of these things, how would it make your parents feel? Isn't it worth it?