A-List Acting Coach Talks College Parenting

5 Keys to Motivating College Students

Michelle Danner was busy directing her 6th feature film when we called her to discuss parenting a USC film student. She’s coached Chris Rock and Gerald Butler. She also coaches her own offspring with a method to erase pressure while encouraging drive.

Here are her five best tips for building confidence without pressure:

Erase Pressure

Often when parents have an expectation of what they want their children to be, the child feels that pressure. It can force decisions they wouldn’t want to make on their own towards specific career choices or college majors. Make sure they know you are comfortable with any choice they make.

Give Your Student Unconditional Support.

Erasing pressure doesn’t mean repressing drive. It’s more about making their choices successful. One of Danner’s main goals as a parent was to offer her son the tools for success. For instance, if he was very into basketball, she’d find a basketball tutor. Luckily, her son wanted to pursue film, so she didn’t have to search far for the tools and people to support him. Now, he edits her scripts.

Highlight the Benefits of Decisions Instead of Pushing Your Views

Whether the person in reference is your child or anyone else, most people want to hear the benefits of a decision rather than being told what to do. For instance, we interviewed with Ned Johnson, founder of test-preparation company PrepMatters, in our article on Parenting College Students Through Times. He authored a book with a neuropsychologist on motivating teenagers while reducing stress. He mentioned his own daughter and giving her time to think about a suggestion and then waiting until she’s ready to discuss it further. Have a discussion where you listen and offer positive resolutions. Then give space for the conversation to soak in.

Teach Resilience

When Danner coaches actors, they don’t make it without resilience. From a young age, they need faith that the role they want is around the corner. Often, it takes 200 auditions to land the part. In the meantime, they have to keep working on their craft. She coached a former James Bond who was turned down for a major role a decade earlier.

With her own son, he was taught faith but also checkins, evaluating how things are going along the way in order to decide next steps. Who was also taught the importance of socializing with kids who challenge.Who children are socialize with. She also shares her challenges and how she deals with them to model for her son.

Bottom Line

Help build your child’s confidence by giving them the emotional and physical tools to succeed. The irony is if you try to force a decision such as choice of major, you’re setting them up for failure because eventually they’ll either end up unhappy or quite and need brand new education or career training. The optimal result? Maybe, just maybe, one day, they’ll edit your screenplays.