Advice For Teens (Charles J. Sykes’ 50 Rules)

Watch the video for this Forward Steps post

In the video above, Sir Ken Robinson makes an entertaining and profoundly moving case for creating an education system that nurtures (rather than undermines) creativity. It has been a favorite of mine for a time and I figured that here, at this post with advice for teens, is the perfect place to include it for you to enjoy also.

At the time I posted this list of 50, below, Charles J. Sykes was senior fellow at the Wisconsin Policy Research Institute and a talk show host at WTMJ radio in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Forward Steps Latest Personal Development ProgrammeHe offers fifty life lessons not included in the self-esteem laden, reality-light curriculum of most schools. Here are truths about what kids will encounter in the world post-schooling and ideas for how parents can reclaim lost ground, not with pep talks and touchy-feely negotiations, however with honesty and respect.

Sykes’s rules are frank, funny and tough minded.

Charles has written for The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and USA Today and is the author of six previous books: A Nation of Victims, Dumbing Down Our Kids, Profscam, The Hollow Men, The End of Privacy and (ad) 50 Rules Kids Won’t Learn in School.

His book contains perfect (however, very old fashioned and much of it outdated) advice for teens. I’ll let you decide what’s still appropriate and relevant today. You might find that a few are quite sexist or offensive. Regardless, they are still interesting to read through, if only from a historic perspective.

This list of 50 is a list of the chapter headings for the complete (ad) 50 Rules Kids Won’t Learn in School book.


Life is not fair. Get used to it.


The real world won’t care as much as your school does about your self-esteem. It’ll expect you to accomplish something before you feel good about yourself.


Sorry, you won’t make sixty thousand dollars a year right out of high school and you won’t be a vice president or have a company car. You may even have to wear a uniform that doesn’t have a designer label.


You are not entitled…


No matter what your daddy says, you are not a princess…


No, you cannot be everything you dream…


If you think your teacher is tough, wait until you get a boss. He doesn’t have tenure, so he tends to be a bit edgier. When you screw up, he’s not going to ask you how you FEEL about it.


Your navel is not that interesting. Don’t spend your life gazing at it.

Your navel is not that interesting. Don't spend your life gazing at it. -Charles J. Sykes Click To Tweet


Your school may have done away with winners and losers. Life hasn’t.


Life is actually more like dodgeball than your gym teacher thinks.


After you graduate, you won’t be competing against rivals who were raised to be wimps on the playground.
50 Rules


Humiliation is a part of life. Deal with it.


You’re not going to the NBA, so hold off on the bling and spare us the attitude.


Looking like a slut does not empower you.


Flipping burgers is not beneath your dignity. Your grandparents had a different word for burger flipping. They called it opportunity.


Your parents and your little brother are not as embarrassing as you think. What’s embarrassing is ingratitude, rudeness, and sulkiness.


Your parents weren’t as boring before as they are now. They got that way paying your bills, driving you around, saving for your education, cleaning up your room and listening to you tell them how idealistic you are.


Life is not divided into semesters and you don’t get summer off.


It’s not your parents’ fault. If you screw up, you are responsible.


Smoking does not make you look cool…it makes you look moronic.


You’re offended, so what? No, really. So what?


You are not a victim.


Someday you may have to grow up and actually move out of your parents’ house.
50 Rules With Advice For Teens - Forward Steps blog quote


Batman’s girlfriend is right: “It’s not who you are underneath, but what you do that defines you”.


Pi does not care what you think.


A moral compass does not come as standard equipment.


Your sex organs were not meant to engage in high order thinking or decision-making.


Somebody may be watching.


Learn to deal with hypocrisy.


Zero-tolerance = zero common sense.


Naked people look different in real life.


Television is not real life.


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


Winners have a philosophy of life. So do losers.


If your butt has its own zip code it’s not because McDonald’s forced you to eat all those Big Macs. If you smoke, it’s not Joe Camel’s fault.


You are not immortal.


Being connected does not mean you aren’t clueless.


Look people in the eye when you meet them.


People in black and white movies were really in color in real life. And no, the world did not begin when you were born.


Despite the billion-dollar campaign to turn your brain into tapioca pudding, try to learn to think clearly and logically.


You are not the first and you are not the only one who has gone through what you are going through.

You are not the first and you are not the only one who has gone through what you are going through. -Charles J. Sykes Click To Tweet


Change the oil.


Don’t let the success of others depress you.


Your colleagues are not your friends and your friends aren’t your family.


Grownups forget how scary it is to be your age. Just remember: this too shall pass.


Check on the guinea pig in the basement.


You aren’t perfect and you don’t have to be.


Tell yourself the story of your life. Have a point.


Don’t forget to say thank you.


Enjoy this while you can.

At (ad) 50 Rules Kids Won’t Learn in School you’ll be able to read the full chapters which expand on each of these rules.

PLUS check out these free gifts from friends…CHECK out the following great resources as well…Forward Steps Personal Development ยป Advice For Teens (Charles J. Sykes' 50 Rules)

Hi, I'm Thea Westra at Forward Steps (

Hi, I'm Thea Westra at Forward Steps (

Since March 2003, I've been sharing practical, positive, thought provoking and inspiring self improvement content online. My aim is simple - to offer tips and resources that help us enhance our daily experience of life and to keep stepping forward. Perth, Western Australia is the place I call home and I'm the author of "Time For My Life: 365 Stepping Stones". You might also know me from the Forward Steps personal development blog and the daily series of "365 Forward Steps Notes", all designed to add wings to our unique life journeys.

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Advice For Teens (Charles J. Sykes\' 50 Rules)