One Simple Statement Your Teenage Son Needs To Hear!


Here it is… the long awaited post. Forget the 100 Things I Want My Teen to Know lists. Whose got time for that and what teenage boy is going to read  10 things you have to say, let alone 100 things you have to say?!? Here it is; the single most important thing you can say to your teenage son. Say it often, say it creatively. Say it with your actions and reactions. Say it to yourself. When he is grown and gone, if he remembers nothing else, make sure he believes and lives by this one simple statement.

Respect yourself.  

 Respect is a word we throw out all the time. Our teens hear it as; be nice, follow my rules, listen to teachers, do as you are told. But respect is so much more than getting the lawn cut on time. Respect is so much bigger than following the rules. Respect is deep and complex.

It means valuing each other’s points of views. It means being open to being wrong. It means apologizing when you are wrong or just when you have hurt someone else’s feelings.  It means accepting people as they are. It means being patient and kind even when you are annoyed. It is understanding that the world does not revolve around you. It means other people matter. It means, you are lucky and privileged to have what you have and be who you are. It means your teenage son has a responsibility and moral obligation to share his greatness (talents, experiences, gifts) with the rest of the world.

We want our teenage boys to respect women, to respect teachers, to respect themselves, their friends’ parents. But how do we teach that? We can tell them, demand it of them, but how do we instill it?

Teach respect by breaking it down to its many smaller parts. Use these words while raising your boys. Look for and point out times when you see these values in action, either his own actions or those around him. Give him opportunities to experience these emotions in his everyday life.

This list is a direct copy from for synonyms for RESPECT


  • Appreciation
  • Awe
  • Consideration
  • Deference
  • Dignity
  • Esteem
  • Fear
  • Honor
  • Recognition
  • Regard
  • Reverence
  • Tribute
  • Account
  • Adoration
  • Approbation
  • Courtesy
  • Estimation
  • Favor
  • Homage
  • Obeisance
  • Ovation
  • Repute
  • Testimonial
  • Veneration

A few of my personal favorites:

Appreciation: If your teenage son grows up appreciative for what he has, what he is given and who he is, he will have learned respect. He should say thank you every day. To you for a meal, for going to work and providing for him, to his sibling for doing his chore, to his teacher when they pass back a test or paper, etc. Your teenager should know that he is lucky to have the life he has. He should be exposed to as much difference as possible. He should have opportunities to work in a soup kitchen, or go on a volunteer type trip, to donate supplies and money that he has earned. He should know from an early age that he has many advantages that are not a guarantee. He will respect his good fortune even when he desperately wants the latest iphone upgrade or a car of his own.

Dignity: Every person deserves dignity. Teach your son how to preserve his dignity in difficult situations. Talk to him about his power to preserve the dignity of others. Treat your son with dignity and expect that he treats ALL others that way. Even as your son is going through the gawky, awkward stage and he is trying to look cool, be cool and be accepted, teach him to care about others. Be sure he is treating his old friends and neighbors with dignity. They may not stay in the same social circles, but he can still be kind. That will teach him later in life that there are many different people, from many different backgrounds, cultures and experiences, but he will be a more interesting and sought after person if he has learned to treat everyone with dignity and ultimately respect.

Courtesy/Regard/Honor: Be nice. Be kind. Be respectful! Every other human your teenage son will encounter has feelings, has a family who loves them, has value and worth in the world. Teach your teenager to know that. Their teachers, their neighbors, their peers, their friends’ parents, their boss, their girl friend and ex girlfriends, have value and matter. Be courteous, in person and online. Have regard and honor for who they are. They may be different than your son. But that is OK. Show your son this by finding courtesy, honor and regard in your own relationships and talking about it. They learn respect by watching and modeling you.

Awe: Love this one! When was the last time you used the word “awe” around your teenage son? Teach your sons the meaning of awe. They will understand the word, awesome. Start there. Be positive. See things and behaviors and accomplishments that are awesome. Then help them understand the awe part. Take a moment to honor and respect an accomplishment and say “I am in awe, I am so proud, that is not anything I could ever do. I am amazed”! Help them see the awe in things around them. The awe in the beauty around them, maybe for you that is a beautiful sunset, or a kindness around you, or a clean house, or whatever brings you to a moment of “wow, this is great”. Maybe that moment doesn’t last very long in the midst of crazy lives and busy families, but take a moment to show your teenage son what brings you a moment of “awe”. Teach them to find their own moments. In recognizing and appreciating a moment of “awe”, your teenage boy will be honoring who he is, taking time for himself, and demonstrating an incredibly mature moment of respecting himself. How many adults live and breathe everyday going through the motions and feeling stuck, bored, overwhelmed? Your teenage son will have experience and practice in taking a few minutes out of his day and connecting with something that really matters. Help him respect his own moments of awe. Expose him to yours and encourage him to find his own!

Grab anyone of these positive words and ideas and start using them with your teenage son. These are the building blocks to teaching respect. He will value himself and those around him. And isn’t that the best we can hope for ultimately? Raising a good, kind, decent human being is a huge accomplishment.

Click here if you missed the one simple thing I want my teenage daughter to know.

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My Teen Wants More and More Freedom!

freedom-and-responsibilityTeens are desperate to grow up and be allowed to do adult things. They often feel they deserve certain privileges or freedoms just because of their age or their grade or heck, even sometimes just because everyone else does it.  They want to drive at 16. They want to drink alcohol at age 18. They want to go to that concert. They want no curfew.  The list can go on and on. Your teen might have their very own list of freedoms they feel they are “ready for”. But how do you determine if they are really ready? How can you help them understand that they can’t just be handed freedoms? Maybe they have been handed too much already and they really have no clue why you are telling them “no”.

This simple chart will help your teen understand the other part of growing up. It will help keep you both focused on how you will each know your teen is ready for more freedom. This chart will help you balance giving your teen too much freedom before they are ready to handle it. It will help you check your teen’s readiness to become an adult.

Being an adult is fun. It comes with many freedoms. We can hop in the car anytime we want. No one is checking our phone data usage and telling us to cut back. No one is telling us what time to go to bed or when we have to leave the house in the morning. Being an adult rocks!!

However, being an adult is boring and annoying and tedious sometimes too. No one comes in to clean our room. No one does our laundry for us. No one cooks dinner and cleans up the kitchen. No one goes to the grocery store for us or plans us an amazing vacation, or fills the gas tank up, or restocks the toilet paper. All of the jobs are the responsibility side of being an adult. Yep, we can choose when to do laundry but we have to do it. We can eat whatever we want, but we have to plan it, buy it, cook it, AND clean it up!

Teens need to see the direct connection.

If they can handle the responsibility side of the chart they can EARN a freedom item from the other side of the chart. Period. One freedom earned for one responsibility mastered. Bigger freedoms come when bigger responsibilities are taken over. Freedoms are taken away when responsibilities are nonexistent or slipping.

Freedoms – Responsibilities Chart


Freedoms Responsibilities
Drive the family car Fill the car with gas, take the car in for oil change as needed, pay own auto insurance (start with one and add as they get older or begin to drive more)
Have friends sleep over Clean the house and bathroom to family standard
Owning a smart phone rather than a lame flip phone Pay for the phone and data plan every month!
Keep room in whatever state of disarray they like Do own laundry. From start to finish.
Eat whenever, (whatever, wherever) Cook a family meal once a week regularly. At least one night a week plan, cook and clean up.
Stay out past curfew for special event Consistently prove that they meet all expectations they next day. i.e.: go to work on time next day, are awake and ready to do the above items as agreed
Fill in the item your teen thinks he’s ready for Ask yourself, “what are the adult responsibilities they would need to meet if they were living on their own”. Find a connection to the “boring” part of being an adult.


It is not always easy to find the direct connection within the chart. And every teen needs a custom chart. Your teen’s freedoms are different than the neighbors. Your family’s idea of responsibility may differ from your friends.  But the idea is that there are great parts of being an adult and teens are almost always ready to push those and have those and enjoy those. But often times they take those freedoms without having had any responsibility. So many teens have cars but no jobs. So many teens have high end clothing but have no idea how to wash a load of clothes. So many teens have nicer phones than their parents but don’t even know what the monthly bill is. It is a disservice to allow your teen to grow up not understanding the connection. They will live their adult life feeling unhappy and unsatisfied if they never learn the connection. They will ruin expensive high end clothes if they do not learn how to care for them, they will never have a nicer phone than the one they have if they do not understand cell phone plans, contracts, and costs.

Teens want freedoms. Teens need responsibilities. Your job is to link the two and teach them how to grow up enjoying all of the freedoms while still meeting all of the responsibilities! If your teen sees and understands the connection between freedoms and responsibilities they will have a lifetime of balance between work and play!



What Is Your Teen’s Communication Style?


Teens are constantly interacting with their world. They interact at home, at school and in the community. While we used to hang with friends for hours looking for something to do, today’s teen may be sitting in their room playing on online video game or texting friends for hours. Teens need to communicate with their world, but they seem to be getting less and less practice. Teens can even email their teachers and ask for help without ever speaking. Communication is an advanced skill and one that needs to be taught, modeled and practiced. There are four main styles of communication – passive, aggressive, passive-aggressive and assertive.

Identifying your teen’s style and even your own can help you give your teen an invaluable life skill!

Passive: A teen that is using a passive style doesn’t stand up for themselves. They have an opinion or question, but chose not to say anything. They may be fearful of being judged, laughed at, or embarrassed. But they may also be passive because they don’t have confidence, don’t know how to give their input, or may truly believe that their ideas are less valuable. They may apologize frequently and be hesitant to share their opinion, even when asked. A passive teen is more likely to withdraw. Teens that use a passive style are more likely to experience depression and anxiety because they often feel like they have no voice.

Passive communication is giving everyone else what they want.
Family Example:               Needs help on home work, but never asks. Responds with                                                                    “sure or yeah” to any question.

Friend Example:             Doesn’t want to go to a party or bonfire because there will                                                                    be drinking there, but instead tells friends they have a                                                                            headache and just doesn’t show up.

Social Media Example:  Likes every picture on Instagram even though some of the                                                                   pictures hurt her feelings because she wasn’t invited to that                                                                 event.

Aggressive: For teens, an aggressive style of communication is often yelling, talking over another person, swearing, threatening, disrespectful or blaming. Teens who communicate aggressively most of the time are often angry at the world, blaming everyone but themselves and have difficulty taking responsibility for their actions and behaviors.

Aggressive communication is the teen getting what he wants at all costs.

Family Example:            “No way, you are so lame, I’m not doing that”. “You can’t make                                                               me do that”.

Friend Example:            “Come on, you are so boring, let’s go to the party”. I’m going                                                                  to  tell the whole school you are a wimp if you don’t try it”.

Social Media Example:  Posting negative comments about a friend. Starting on line                                                                   rumors or shaming peers into doing things with the threat of                                                               using social media to shame them.

Passive Aggressive: You’ve heard the term passive aggressive. But what does it really mean, especially with teens? Teens who behave in a passive-aggressive manner often work really hard to seem agreeable, but inside they are angry and resentful. They will try to smile while plotting to ruin the very agreeable plan just made. Often teens who communicate in a passive aggressive style will be thought to be dishonest, lying, or manipulative. These teens will struggle to have real relationships unless they learn to express their opinions and feelings.

Passive-aggressive communication leaves both persons are left feeling dissatisfied.

Family Example:      Teen agrees to do the dishes, but then comes up with every                                                                  excuse in the book as to why they weren’t done. Teen agrees                                                                to curfew, but then all night is devising a plan to get more                                                                    time out.

Friend Example:          A teen wants to hang out with only one friend that night.                                                                      Even though she agreed to meet all four friends out, she                                                                        works behind the scenes to find a way to get the other                                                                          two friends to drop out. Maybe she starts a fight. Maybe she                                                                tries to convince them they really need to go to another                                                                        spot.

Social Media Example:  A teen thinks a friend is trying to steal his girlfriend. Rather                                                                   than address the issue directly, he hacks into the other                                                                         teens KiK and makes malicious or embarrassing posts.


Assertive: Teens who communicate assertively can ask for what they need and express their feelings respectfully. They are able to stand up for their beliefs without discrediting others beliefs. They are able to advocate for themselves and negotiate through difficult situations. Teens who can master assertive communication will have healthier relationships with friends, teachers, parents, employees and eventually a spouse.

Assertive communication allows both parties to get what they want.

Family Example:         “Mom, I won’t be able to the dishes today because I have a                                                                     huge final, but I will do them on the weekend”.

Friend Example:            Your teen is able to stand up for a friend who is being                                                                            laughed at or bullied. Your teen is able to refuse to smoke                                                                    or drink even faced with pressure.

Social Media Example:  Your teen is appropriate and positive on social media.

You can teach your teen’s to communicate more assertively. Talk to them about what you are seeing and show them examples of how they could get what they want out of the situation. Encourage them to use assertive communication at home. It is good practice and can become a habit. Using the terms and identifying communication styles of their friends and even other family members can help your teen to be a more effective communicator throughout their lifetime.




6 Steps to Managing Anxiety








Does my teen have anxiety?  What’s the difference between nervous and clinical anxiety?

Every person, every adult, and every teenager feels anxiety at some point. These are all words someone might use to describe anxiety:

Stress ~Worry ~Edgy ~Jumpy ~Jitters ~Apprehension

Nervous ~Fear ~Butterflies in my stomach ~Uneasy

Angst ~Freaking out ~Panic ~Agitated

Everyone has felt these emotions.  How your teen handles these emotions is based on:

1. Genetics

2. Brain chemistry

3. Life experiences

4. Their unique personality

Teens have very little control over their genetics, their brain chemistry, or even their life experiences, but they can develop new techniques and teach themselves to handle anxiety differently. They can use their unique personalities to manage anxiety in a way that works for them.

The history of human anxiety is based on the concept of flight or fight; our instinctual drive to either punch the woolly mammoth in the face or run like hell!

Humans needed to be stronger and faster when faced with a threat. Our bodies were designed to secrete adrenaline to help us have the boost of energy needed to fight the woolly mammoth or be prepared for a literal life or death sprint. Our early brains registered the woolly mammoth as a threat, secreted the Adrenalin and were instantly given the boost of adrenaline to survive.

Then the act of fighting or running dispersed or used up the adrenaline. The early humans used every ounce of adrenaline to survive. They were exhausted and hopefully alive.

In today’s world, we rarely need to use the fight or flight instinct. But our bodies still release adrenaline when faced with a threat.

For teens that may mean they walk into a class and see there is a pop quiz scheduled. They hopefully are not going to punch the teacher in the face or go running out of the classroom to avoid the threat. But the adrenaline is still released. They feel scared, nervous, shaky, sick to their stomach, etc. They feel the threat. Their body prepares for action. But none is needed or appropriate.

Teens are faced with many “threats” throughout their day. From tests, to college planning, friend drama, work and school pressures, social pressures, etc. They are releasing hormones like crazy and often have a buildup of adrenaline that needs to be worked out. They may be moody, irritable, angry, sullen, or straight up mean. Their threats are very real, but must be dealt with differently.

Teens can practice dealing with anxiety before the threat and during the threat.

Because teens are still growing and changing every day, still developing their personality and still accumulating life experiences, they need to practice managing anxiety.

Here are 6 steps to managing anxiety

1. Recognize the behavior or symptoms that are anxiety. (Trouble sleeping, too much sleeping, stomach ache, distracted, hyper, angry, moody)

2. Stop Negative Thoughts (state the threat in a positive way, eliminate all or nothing thinking, ask can you control it, yes or no?, avoid over generalizing)

3. Express Anxiety (write, talk, sing, be honest that the feelings are anxiety)

4. Be Aware of Food and Drinks consumed (sugar and caffeine in particular can increase feelings of anxiety)

5. Get More Exercise (Use up the adrenaline regularly! Your body can then process the flood of adrenaline that comes with a threat more efficiently)

6. Learn about mindfulness, mediation, controlled breathing and other forms of relaxation like stretching, yoga, tai chi, etc)

Anxiety is very real with very real symptoms; breathing gets more shallow, muscles tighten, heart rate increases. Along with this can come headaches, stomach aches, or other many other physical symptoms.



Mountain Of Popularity


The Mountain Of Popularity.

Popularity in Middle School is like a mountain. The top seems to be the goal. People line up and train to summit the mountain. People need special equipment to survive the top of the mountain. The right boots or the specific name brand coat seems to be the factors that can make or break a summit attempt. But once they summit, the cold hard truth is that the top of a mountain is lonely. Its cold, it is slippery with snow and ice. It is hard and rocky. The top of the mountain only has room for a very few people. It’s small up there. And because it’s so small and the conditions are brutal, there is massive competition to see who can hang on the longest. You can be shoved, pushed, kicked, or just lose your grip if you are not careful. The competition is tough. It takes an extraordinary amount of energy to stay on the top of the mountain; staying on top of who is talking to whom, who is wearing what, who is trying to summit, who is climbing up the back side. mountains16

I would challenge all tweens to really take a look at a mountain. Sure the summit looks awesome and adventuresome, but there are amazing stops along the way to the summit. There are mountain meadows filled with wild flowers, fresh water, space to spread out and play. There are small creatures and huge beasts. It is beautiful! And the best part of all is that there is room for everyone! No one needs to hold on for dear life. You are not going to fall. You are not going to get thrown off.  No one needs the perfect gear to survive the conditions. No one is going to sneak up the back side and take over your position. There can still be many different meadows. There can still be the meadow filled with super smart kids, or the meadow filled with band kids, or the meadow filled with really athletic kids, but every single meadow is beautiful and full of really amazing creatures!incredible-mountain-meadow

Summit if you must tween, but  when you are tired and worn out, know that there is a meadow filled with flowers and streams and pretty cool creatures that has plenty of room for you!



Should My Teen Have More Responsibilities?

chore2The primary task of the teen years is for your teen to learn how to be an adult while still in a safe, nurturing environment. It’s the time when they should try adult skills and tasks and have an opportunity to fail, to try again, and to ultimately master that task. Let’s be honest. We’ve got the safe nurturing environment thing down. We do for our kids for so long, it’s hard for them and us to make the transition to them doing for themselves. We say. “Their job is to work hard in school”, or “they play a travel sport, they have no time for the extras”, or “I just want them to be a kid and enjoy life while they can”. All are great sentiments, but none prepare them for adult life. Not a single one of us focusing on just one job. We work, raise a family, do everyone’s laundry, shop for and prepare all of the meals, all the while planning how we are going to pay for braces, college and maybe a wedding someday. It is a disservice to your teen to let them believe doing one job really well is enough. They are going to be expected to do all of the jobs someday. And this summer is the perfect time to start handing them more and more responsibilities.

Teach them to cook one complete meal. Have them make it once a week all summer. Show them how to read the menu, write the grocery list and then go to the store and purchase the supplies for that dinner. They will become a master of that one meal. During the busy school year you can even call home and say, “Hey, can you whip up your meal tonight, I’ll stay at work an extra half an hour”!

Have them run their own laundry from start to finish. If they run out of clean shorts, direct them to run a load of laundry. If the dryer is full of unfolded clothes you haven’t gotten to, they can fold it and put it away. They will find a dryer full of unfolded clothes that belong to someone else their entire lives! Might as well get them used it now.

Leave them a chore list. They will hate your guts for it. There is nothing more annoying as a teen than to wake up at noon, think you have the whole day to yourself and find a chore list waiting! But, hey, isn’t that the story of your life? Don’t you wake up every day at 5:45 and have a day’s worth of tasks waiting? I’m not saying every single day they should be scrubbing grout in the bathroom or washing second  floor windows, but one hour’s worth of sweeping or loading the dishwasher is a gentle reminder that the day to day tasks will become their day to day tasks.

Your teens do work hard all year. They do wake up early and get good grades. They do play sports more intensely than our generation did, but they are all going to grow up into adults with adult responsibilities. Teach them not only how to cook or how to do laundry, but teach them that cooking and laundry are jobs that every adult must do. The better they are at managing those basic tasks, the more time they have later in life to enjoy all of the rewards you want them to have now. Staying on top of their day to day lives allows your young adults to have hobbies, travel, and build a relationship and a career!

Your teen is desperate for adult freedoms; later curfew, a car of their own, coming and going without checking in, etc. Why not make the connection between the freedoms they crave to the responsibilities they want to avoid?

What are you assigning your teen to do today?


Why Is The End Of The School Year Filled With So Much Drama?

services-child-adolescent-therapy-1Why does the end of the school year seem to bring out the worst in middle school age kids? Why are they all fighting? Why is she moving tables with only 6 days left to go? What happened to the delicate balance we once had? Why does the end of the year bring so much change?

Middle School age kids feel the end of school profoundly. They know that a huge change is coming. They desperately want to be done with waking up early, packing their lunch, doing homework and speeches. They need a break. They are ready for a break. They can’t wait for the break. But on the flip side, they are terrified of the change. They know that they have created a delicate balance with their current friends. They know that next year any small change can disrupt who talks to whom. They know that next year they have to find a table to eat their lunch. They know they may not get in classes with their current friends. They know that their best friend lives closer to another friend and they may not make the effort to include each other. They know that the delicate balance of middle school drama is about to explode. And so the subtle shifts of each middle school kid trying to figure out where they stand causes a domino reaction. One change causes another and another and within days of the end of the school year, every kid is feeling the threat of being toppled over and having to set up their domino line all over again. There are no guarantees about whose domino will fit where.

Help your middle school kid understand what is happening. Talk with him or her about it. Ask her if she sees examples of that happening, within her own group or across the cafeteria in another group. Help him to understand that every kid in middle school is feeling the same threat of the domino line falling and the aftermath of having to set it all back up again. The emotions of the dominos are complex. Some kids are ready for the change. Maybe they did not have a great group of friends. Maybe they did not have any classes with friends. Some kids are ready for the change, but many others are not. Many others would like to keep things exactly the same because they are having a great social year, or maybe because the unknown is so much worse in their eyes than the current situation?

Accepting change, dealing with change and making the most out of change is such a great life skill! So instead of encouraging your middle school kid to just finish the year, take a break, get outta there, finish strong, etc, why not use this as a chance to talk about change and give them some life skills?

Here are three tips for dealing with change.

  1. Simply notice. Teach your young teens to notice what is happening. All too often they are so focused inward that they do not see the change happening all around them. They are not alone. They are not the only one feeling left out or worrying about being left out. Many other kids have the same worry. Many others are feeling the dominoes fall. Help them notice who is desperately trying to set the dominos back up? Who is stepping back and watching the thrilling show of falling dominoes? And who is taking their domino out of the line and retreating somewhere out of the line of falling? Help them notice all of the dynamics, not just their own.
  2. Face the Feelings. Middle School sucks. One 7th grader said that middle school was modeled after Hell and all kids go through it so they never want to go to Hell for real. Yikes! Pretty powerful words. The agony, the frustration, the feelings of loneliness, the sadness, the guilt, the shame, the excitement, the thrill of being included, whatever the emotions of the moment are, it is important for your middle school to be able to recognize them. The feelings need to be identified in order to learn to deal with the feelings. Sometimes a middle schooler comes home angry or moody or withdrawn. Help them identify what the emotion is. Did they treat someone badly that day and they feel guilty? Did they get treated badly that day and they feel sad? Chances are your middle schooler felt many different emotions all day and needs a chance to sort them out. Give them time and space to do that. Do they need to be alone? (texting, tweeting, snap chatting, kiking, etc does not count as being alone) Do they need to give you a blow by blow of their day? How does your teen face the feelings?
  3. Focus on the Future. There is life beyond Middle School. Help your teen see that this is very temporary. The changes are the momentum that is taking them to new, bigger and better adventures! Help them see that the changes have to happen in order for everyone to grow up and gain confidence. If everyone stayed friends with their kindergarten first friend, think how different we would all be. Help them see that by breaking down the dominos, new paths can be created, new games can be played! There is more strategy and more skill to high school and beyond. Dominoes can do so much more than to try to be just like everyone else. Each domino has its own numbers and colors and it is up to each teen to be willing to flip that domino over and explore the amazing potential of who they really are!

Hang in there! The school year is almost over and your teen is one step closer to being confident, powerful and absolutely sure of who they are!


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Should My Teen See A Therapist?


“How do I know when it is time to contact a therapist for my teen”? “What’s the difference between normal teenage stress versus a real mental health problem”?

Teens face day to day struggles with things like stress, grief, bullying, sadness, guilt, overwhelmed feelings about their future, dating drama, gender identity issues, etc.  It can be difficult to know when your teen is  successfully working though some of these issues and when they might need the help of a professional. You are the expert on your own teenager. Even though most days they might seem like a moody stranger living in your home, trust your instinct. But if the decision is not clear, the best way to determine if your teen could benefit from counseling is to ask him or her. Ask them if they think it would be helpful to talk to someone. You don’t have to go into a lot of details or even have a clear idea about what they might want to talk to a therapist about. “Are you overwhelmed? Would it be helpful to talk to a counselor? Would you be willing to give therapy a try”? He or she may know that it is time. They may need to know it is an option. Your willingness to ask is letting them know there is no stigma to asking for help in your house and giving them an open door to any support they might need now or in the future.

Here are some warning signs that it might be time to seek the advice of a professional:

  1.  Home, School or Community Struggles. Has their behavior in one or more of these places changed dramatically?
  2.  Change of Friends. Is your teen is no longer hanging out with friends or have they changed friend groups completely?
  3.  Angry and Irritable. Is your teen more irritable, angrier, or quicker to anger than they used to be? Is anger or irritability starting to affect their life?
  4.  Excessive Worry. Is worry stopping your teen from doing things? Is worry affecting sleep? Is worry changing their mood or energy level?
  5.  Dramatic Changes in Sleep Habits. Is your teen sleeping much more, much less? Always tired?
  6.  Self Destructive Behavior. Cutting? Drinking? Drugs? Excessive risk taking? A disregard for pain?
  7. Talking about death or thinking about it often. Is your teen obsessed with death? If your teen is talking about or thinking about hurting himself or someone else, it is time to call for help immediately.

If you feel like something isn’t right and your teen is struggling, you are probably right.  A therapist will spend time with you on the phone or in person to answer any questions you may have and can help you determine if they feel they can offer your teen the support and coping skills your teen needs. Finding the right therapist is not just finding one in your network, but finding one that will be a good fit. Ask your friends who they know, check out sites like Psychology Today to find a therapist, and have a conversation with a few therapist until you feel confident that you have the right person for your teenager.





Unplug Your Teen This Summer and Get Him Outside!



Unplug your teen and get him outside this summer!

Every kid and every parent is anxiously awaiting the last day of school. We are sick of getting up early, making lunches, doing homework and dreading end of year complicated projects and exams! It’s got to end and it’s got to end soon! But what then? Is your teen going to sleep past noon every day, bury their face in their device or play video games all day? What kind of summer is that? What happened to kids going out and finding things to do? Didn’t we build forts well into our teenage years? Didn’t we ride our bikes farther than our parent ever knew? What about hanging out at the lake all day? We were outside all of the time! We were bored but found things to do. We were independent and creative and found ways to have fun. Why is it now the norm or the expectation that teens will be tied to their device all summer long? Isn’t summer a great time to challenge that?

Unplug your teen and get him outside!

Chances are your teen might not know what to do once he steps into the sunlight. Here are some simple steps to get him outside.

  1. Get his friends involved. If you can convince a group of them to go outside that’s half the battle. Encourage him to get a group of friends to ride to the local pool, or lake or quarry or wherever kids can get wet in your town. Don’t arrange a car pool. Don’t have specific drop off and pick up times. Tell them to hop on their bikes and find their way! Chances are they will get lost or take the long route, but that is OK. They have nothing but summer ahead of them and they might find some fun along the way.
  2. Offer ideas for how to get outside. Remind them of the fishing gear in the garage. Have them research cool hikes. Ask your teen and their friends to build a fire pit in your back yard and celebrate with a bonfire and smore’s. Teach them how to Geo Cache. It’s a great way to get them exploring outside, but also using their devices to find the hidden stashes. Here is a website to get them started.
  3. Check out your local recreation department for opportunities. Is there a rock climbing class? Is there a community trail clean up day? Hunter Safety class, boating safety class? Your family doesn’t have to hunt or boat, but it might grab your teens’ interest and open up possibilities for lifelong hobbies or family activities.
  4. Have your teen research and plan a family trip. Give them the opportunity to find outdoor activities that challenge the whole family. Would they find a cave to explore? Would they want to climb a mountain or sand dune? Would they choose grueling hikes, canoeing, paddling, watching birds, sleeping in tree houses, exploring ice caves? What would your teen choose? Find something in your area and get outside together!
  5. How about a huge yard or neighborhood project? Tear out bushes? Plant trees? Stain the deck? Your teen is capable of more than you think. The positive about technology for this generation, is that they can find information and how to videos on just about anything! They can even film themselves working on this project and create their own how to videos!
  6. Find camps and classes; Scout, YMCA, private and church sponsored camps all offer many great opportunities to be outdoors. A week at camp could set in motion a lifelong love of the outdoors and connect your teen with a whole new group of kids who shared a similar experience together. It just might keep them texting and tweeting with each other all year long!

Sounds amazing in theory, right? But how do you get your teen to agree to any of this? I’d like to say talk with them about the importance of being physically active every day, the importance of putting down their device and looking up once in a while, the importance of being a kid and connecting with their creativity, and simply having good old fashioned fun!! But that may be in one ear and out the other for your teen. Or maybe it doesn’t even go in one ear at all because they have their ear buds in every second of every day!

So the answer is instead very simple.

Call it what you want; positive reinforcement, encouraging them to make good decisions, rewarding them…. Bribe them!! Even as adults we do things that are good for us for a reason. Hopefully as adults it is because it is rewarding, fun, we stay healthy, we meet friends, or we get paid. But we get something for everything we do. Teens are not yet capable or sometimes just too darn lazy to see the many advantages that they can get from being outdoors. They want instant gratification by posting and chatting constantly. They don’t see how putting their device down will feel good. They don’t believe us that putting the device down will lead to accomplishing something, building something, exploring something or simply lead to having a really good time. That bike ride you force them to take might just be really fun. They might start to understand pride in accomplishing a task, or getting creative and making the best of a situation. These are life lessons we need to teach and we need to give them, one way or the other. So bribe them shamelessly. Dangle the prize, but know that they are going to earn so much more that the monetary prize. They are going to be worn out, tan, dirty, and have lived their childhood to the fullest! They are going to have memories to share with their children. They are going to learn creativity, ingenuity, and persistence! They are going to learn to solve their own problems. They are going to learn how to be resourceful. They are going to have fun! So if they think they are getting outside for some perk or prize, fine. That will be our little secret as parents! Find out what would grab their attention and go for it! The price is small compared to the rewards they really get!

”You and your six buddies complete this list and I’ll treat you to a day at an amusement park”.

“Go to this camp and I’ll get you the latest video game”.

“Sign up for these classes and you can have a week of no chores”


How are you going to unplug your teen??





How Is Your Teen Using Social Media?


xemenia and her mom 434Here are a few interesting statistics from The Pew Research Center on teens and social media use.

92% of teens report going online daily. Of these,

24% of teens using the internet report that it is “almost constantly,”


73% of teens have a smartphone (Their assertion that “everyone” has a smart phone seems more accurate than I would have liked to believe)

91% of teens go online from mobile devices (a great reminder that teens have access to any site or social media wherever they may take their small device)

91% of teen cell owners use text messaging

33% of teens with cell phones use messaging apps like Kik or WhatsApp

The number of text messages sent or received by cell phone owning teens ages 13 to 17 (directly through phone or on apps on the phone) on a typical day is 30.

The number of messages exchanged for girls is higher, typically sending and receiving 40 messages a day.

And for the oldest girls (15 to 17), this rises to a median of 50 messages exchanged daily.

One-in-five teens — 22% — use online pinboards

One-in-six teens (17%) read or comment on discussion boards like reddit or Digg.

Whisper, Yik Yak and Ask.FM are three examples of anonymous sharing apps or sites where individuals can ask questions or post confessional text or images anonymously. Just 11% of teens with cell phones report using anonymous question or sharing apps.

72% of teens play video games online or on their phone

47% of teens talk with others over video connections such as Skype, Oovoo, Facetime and Omegle.

52% of all teens report using Instagram

Two-in-five American teens (41%) use Snapchat

A third 33% of all teens use Twitter.

Older teens are more likely to use the service than younger, with use rising steadily as teens age, from just

13% of 13-year-olds using Twitter

28% of 14-year-olds

43% of 17-year-olds.

The oldest girls ages 15 to 17 are the most likely to use Twitter with nearly half of them (49%) using it.

Roughly one quarter of teens (24%) use Vine, an app that allows users to record and share short, six-second videos.

About one-in-seven (14%) teens use Tumblr.

Facebook is the most popular of all the social media platforms included in the survey, with 71% of all teens saying they use Facebook

While most teen Facebook users (85%) say their parents see the same content as everyone else, 5% say they’ve adjusted privacy settings to limit what their parents can see. Even though many teens haven’t used technological tools to shield their posting activity from their parents, teens have other ways to hide information from their parents’ gaze. A majority of teens (58%) also have obscured the content they share on social media in general, using inside jokes or other coded messages that only certain friends can understand.

Here is a graph that shows the percentage of parents who follow their teens on these sites. It looks like parents have the most likely social media site fairly well monitored. But what about all of these other ways teens are connecting with the world? What other apps is your teen using to communicate? Do they communicate with certain people with certain apps? Based on these numbers, it’s well worth a conversation with your teen. These apps are here to stay. Teens are more and more comfortable with app communication over in person communication, so now is your time to teach them to set their own limits, to monitor their own use, to have their own rules and standards for their own behavior.

On Facebook, Parents Are Friends with Their TeensRead more about teens and social media use here:









See the full Pew Research Center report here: