Talking To Teens: Expert Tips for Parenting Teenagers

By talkingtoteens.com

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Parent-teen researcher Andy Earle talks with various experts about the art and science of parenting teenagers. Find more at www.talkingtoteens.com

Episode Date
Ep 160: Does Your Family Need a Code of Excellence?
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Parenting is never predictable. Even when we think we know our kid, some new interest or personality trait suddenly comes out of left field. Maybe your kid has always been a total carnivore, but this week, all their friends are vegan...so they want to be vegan too! Yesterday, your kid wanted to be a pro basketball player, but today they want to be a painter...tomorrow they’ll tell you they’re destined to be a scientist. It can be dizzying to keep up with your teens as they grow and evolve everyday!


But what about when a kid who’s always happy and smiling suddenly seems tired and disinterested in things? Or when your teen who swore they’d never smoke accidentally leaves a vape in the kitchen? When these kinds of unexpected parenting troubles pop up, it’s hard to adjust and react effectively. It can be incredibly challenging to avoid the urge to panic, and nearly impossible to remain cool and parent through peril.


According to this week’s guest, the secret to handling the ups and downs is to define our values–and stick to them. His name is Frank Figliuzzi and he’ the former assistant director of the FBI, served as FBI chief inspector for sensitive internal inquiries, and is now a national security analyst for NBC news! His new book, The FBI Way: Inside the Bureau’s Code of Excellence, highlights the principles that make the FBI so successful at handling crises and explains how you can apply those same principles when things go awry with your teen.


In the episode, we’re touching on what Frank calls “the seven Cs”, or seven fundamentals that parents can practice to create a harmonious house and handle conflict when it arises. We’re covering the importance of sticking to a code of values, practicing clarity, and enforcing consistent consequences–but not without compassion, credibility and conservancy. 


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Oct 17, 2021
Ep 159: Breaking Down Anxiety
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Anxiety is a pretty common feeling–you likely know how it feels to have your heart suddenly race in your chest, your palms go sweaty and your words turn to gibberish before a big presentation or confrontation. Having these anxious feelings is bad enough when it’s an isolated incident, but many of us–and our kids–might be feeling anxiety every day! This could be caused by anything, from eating to driving to social situations! For kids handling school, sports, clubs, college apps and friendship drama, anxiety may be a frequent presence keeping them from living their best life.


It seems like this anxiety is simply an unavoidable, biological force, but our guest this week is encouraging us to think about anxious behaviors a little differently. Instead of viewing them as something we have little control over, he’s telling us how anxiety may actually just be a force of habit, and therefore something we can change! Anxious responses follow the same patterns as habits, are often caused by similar triggers, and, as we’re discussing this week, can be treated in similar ways.


If you’re looking to heal you or your teen’s anxious patterns, this is the episode for you! Our guest is Judson Brewer, author of Unwinding Anxiety: New Science Shows How to Break the Cycles of Worry and Fear to Heal Your Mind. Judson is not only an internationally renowned psychiatrist and neuroscientist, but also the director of research and innovation at Brown’s mindfulness center. His 2016 Ted Talk, tilted “A Simple Way to Break a Bad Habit, has over 16 million views on YouTube!


In our interview, we’re diving into how anxious tendencies act just like habits–with triggers, behavior and rewards. Plus, we’re getting into how you can understand and reflect on your own behaviors, if you just have the courage to be curious.

Oct 10, 2021
Ep 158: The Knowledge Gap
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For many of us, education is the #1 priority for our kids. A good education can help lift kids out of poverty, can ensure a financially stable and independent future, and can open up the doors of opportunity and possibility, no matter what they dream of doing! While hobbies, social life and athleticism are all important parts of helping kids become well rounded, education is key to giving them the ticket to a prosperous life.

But the sad truth is that our education system might not be doing what we need it to do! In many ways, our current curriculum takes the wrong approach, leaving kids without the knowledge they need to succeed in adulthood. Today’s schooling is especially ineffective for students who are not so affluent, with a rising gap in test scores and academic performance between those on the highest and lowest ends of the socioeconomic spectrum.

So how can we create an effective, equitable system that gives our kids the chance they deserve? Our guest, Natalie Wexler, is here to help us find out. She’s the author of The Knowledge Gap: The Hidden Cause of America's Broken Education System--and how to Fix it. In our interview, she’s bringing attention to the serious issues facing today’s students, and how schools can start doing better by those they teach.

Natalie and I are discussing how our schools are focused on helping kids develop critical thinking skills instead of helping them build up a base of knowledge. Although this might sound like the right approach, it’s actually doing a disservice to kids all across the country! We’re also getting into why our nation’s wealth gap is so present in our education system, and discussing how you as a parent can give your kids’ education a boost.

Oct 03, 2021
Ep 157: "Hey! That's MINE!"
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There’s one slice of pizza left, and all three of your kids want it. One kid argues that he called dibs on it before it even came out of the oven, so it’s definitely his. Another says that since she had track practice today, she’s the hungriest–and therefore it belongs to her. The third declares that the two slices he already ate were wayyyy smaller than the rest, making him the rightful owner of this final piece. Unable to stop bickering over it, they look to you to decide who gets to eat it….but it seems like all three of them are making a pretty good case!


Decisions like this can feel impossible, but as parents, we face them almost everyday. Not only are there battles of ownership between the kids themselves, but you and your teen also likely argue over who owns their phones, the car, their bedroom, and even perhaps their body. (Who should get the final say on blue hair and belly button piercings?) When problems arise, it’s not always easy to distinguish what belongs to who, and that can make life pretty difficult!


This week, we’re talking about the rules of ownership….and what makes them so complicated. Our guests are Michael Heller and James Salzman, authors of the new book Mine!: How the Hidden Rules of Ownership Control Our Lives. In their work as lawyers and law professors, James and Michael have spent a lot of time thinking about possession and what entitles someone to the rights of ownership.


To help us understand how disputes over ownership arise, Michael, James and I are discussing the six rules that people use to argue that they have possession of something. We’re also chatting about why companies think they have the right to sell your data and covering how you can use your ownership position to teach kids important life lessons.

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Sep 26, 2021
Ep 156: The Funny Thing About Depression…
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Dealing with depression is tough–whether you’re battling it yourself or trying to help a teen who’s struggling. Depression can distance us from friends and loved ones, cause us to stop eating and sleeping and make things we once enjoyed seem pointless. If left untreated, depression can even be life-threatening. 


As more and more people–especially teens– find themselves struggling with depression in the midst of the pandemic, it’s more tempting than ever to search for remedies to this complicated condition. What can we do to make life with depression more livable?


For some of us, the answer may lie in laughter. You read that right. Laughter. Sometimes, in order to process our emotions and make light of the things that plague us, the answers lie in comedy! Joking about depression might not always be the most conventional coping mechanism, but it can do wonders for making such a terrifying, overwhelming illness more manageable on the daily.


Our guest this week, John Moe, is no stranger to laughing his way through tough times. He’s the author of The Hilarious World of Depression and the host of the podcast Depresh Mode, where he engages in interesting and introspective discussions with guests about mental health and more!. As someone who’s lived with major depressive disorder since his early teens, John knows that helping a kid through depression is not easy. That’s why he’s here to answer questions, give advice...and make us laugh!


Want to talk to your teen about depression but don’t know where to start? We’re getting into having conversations about mental health in this week’s episode. We’re also covering how you can spot depression in a teen, and how a little humor can help you and your teen work through the difficulties of depression together.

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Sep 19, 2021
Ep 155: Growing Apart in Middle School
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We all remember middle school….probably not too fondly! Between the relentless social drama to the embarrassing body changes, middle school is pretty much the worst. Not only are kids today dealing with the things we dealt with, they’re also juggling the pressures of social media, an intense political climate and a terrifying pandemic as the cherry on top! Growing up through all this is no easy task, and neither is parenting our kids through it.

It’s hard enough watching teens struggle with these difficult years, but when they won’t talk to us, it can feel impossible to be a good parent. Unfortunately, it's not uncommon for pubescent kids to suddenly shut parents out with no explanation. With everything going on in their lives, a lot of kids feel overwhelmed and afraid to open up, or they think it’s their job to go at it alone. How can we get through to preteens and remind them that we’re here to help them get through the perils of middle school life?

To find out, we’re talking with Judith Warner, author of And Then They Stopped Talking to Me: Making Sense of Middle School. Judith is the bestselling author of multiple parenting books as well as a senior fellow at the Center for American progress–and those are just a few of her many accolades! In her work and personal life, Judith recognized that parents of middle schoolers seemed to really be struggling, but not sharing their woes with one another out of embarrassment or fear. That’s why she’s decided to write this book: to help parents wrap their heads around this wild time, and realize they’re not alone.

In the episode, Judith and I are covering why middle school is one of the most painful periods–but also one of the most important. We’re discussing why this age is so hard on parents, and what we can do about it. Plus, we’re addressing how you can get a middle schooler to finally open up, even if they’ve been shutting you out! 

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Sep 12, 2021
Ep 154: What to Say to Motivate Your Teen
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Enforcing rules on teens is no easy task. Half the time they ignore you, sometimes they lie to you, and they love to find plenty of reasons to do the exact opposite of what you asked! As they gain independence, teens just don’t want to abide by your rules...even if they’re living in your house.


Plus, as much as we want kids to listen to us and take us seriously as authority figures...gosh dang it, we want them to like us! We know that it's important to give kids restrictions and limits, but it’s hard to see why when they’re slamming the door and screaming at us for taking their XBox away. To be a parent is to constantly walk that fine line between being close to your kid and knowing when it’s time to be tough….and it can be really hard!


Luckily, William Stixrud and Ned Johnson are back to give us more great advice on finding that parenting balance. They were last on the show to discuss their bestseller, The Self-Driven Child: The Science and Sense of Giving Your Kids More Control Over Their Lives.  Today, they're here to share some groundbreaking material from their brand new book, What Do You Say? How to Talk with Kids to Build Motivation, Stress Tolerance and a Happy Home


Although they’re big believers in giving kids autonomy, Bill and Ned know that parents still have an irreplaceable role in guiding kids through the perils of adolescence. That’s why we’re discussing how parents can best respond to a child who comes to them with a crisis. Plus, we’re debating the idea that kids should always “try their best” and revealing how you can start equipping kids with the independence they need to survive college and beyond.

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Sep 05, 2021
Ep 153: Initiate Change In Your Teen (Using DBT)
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Falling into a destructive cycle with your teen is far too easy–and incredibly frustrating. You yell at them to stop coming home late every night, or beg them to stop neglecting their homework for their Netflix….but they just don’t listen. Even offering rewards or doling out punishments never seems to work. It can feel like you’re living the same day over and over again, with no end in sight!

On top of feeling like your words are falling on deaf ears, all the fussing and fighting can start to put a strain on you and your teen’s relationship. It’s hard when you feel like you and your kid are enemies, or like the two of you are always bickering instead of connecting with one another. How can we get kids to listen, while also keeping our relationships harmonious?


If we really want to end the cycle and connect to our teens again, we’ll have to change the fundamentals of our approach. Our guest this week is Matis Miller, author of The Uncontrollable Child: Understand and Manage Your Child's Disruptive Moods with Dialectical Behavior Therapy Skills. Matis has been working as a clinical psychologist for over fifteen years, and has some groundbreaking ideas about how you can transform your parenting philosophy to bring peace to your home again.

Are you familiar with dialectic behavioral therapy? In this week’s episode, Matis and I are breaking down this fascinating method of clinical therapy, and sharing how you can apply it to tackle your toughest parenting battles. We’re also talking about how judgement and invalidation might be harming your parenting approach, and discussing how you can dish out more effective rewards and punishments.

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Aug 29, 2021
Ep 152: Alcohol, Drugs, and Prevention
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Stories of addiction and overdoses are incredibly scary. We hear about teens who lose their way after getting in with the wrong crowd, or watch friends and family struggle to keep their lives together while battling substance abuse. As a parent, the last thing you want is for kids to fall into a destructive pattern of addiction  that slowly chips away at their mental and physical health….but teens are impressionable and drug and alcohol use among adolescents is on the rise. What can we do to make sure our teens don’t develop  a substance use disorder?

Today, we’re talking about prevention. So often, we view substance abuse from the end, looking at the rock bottom as the starting place for recovery. And while it’s important to acknowledge those life-changing moments of realization, it’s time to focus on how we can stop our teens from using drugs at all. In this episode, we’re getting into the steps you can take right now to ensure your teen is safe from substance abuse. 

Our guest is Jessica Lahey, author of Addiction Inoculation: Raising Healthy Kids in a Culture of Dependence. With over 20 years of teaching and parenting experience under her belt, Jessica began to write about her experiences, becoming a blogger, journalist, and eventually a best-selling author. Her work with adolescents in rehab clinics pushed her to research and write on the subject of substance abuse–primarily how we can prevent it instead of waiting until our teens hit rock bottom. 

In our interview, we’re debating the existence of gateway drugs, explaining how kids get into substance use, and deconstructing the popular myth that it’s better to give kids wine at the dinner table before they reach drinking age. Plus, we’re covering things like academic failure, monitoring teens online activities and more!


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Aug 22, 2021
Ep 151: Is Your Teen’s Attachment Style Causing Problems?
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It’s important for our teens to connect to others. When we send our kids off into the world, we want to know that they’ll be able to bond with friends, work associates, and romantic partners. Since we won’t be around all the time, we hope that they can find nourishing, fulfilling relationships with other people! But some young adults aren’t quite able to form those types of connections. They become too clingy or distant, trying to force people in or push people out. Not every teen has the capability to maintain healthy relationships!

And while the teen years are influential, attachment styles are usually developed in the first three years of a child’s life–meaning it’s not always easy to help teens who are struggling to form strong bonds. But if we can educate ourselves and our families about the psychology of attachment, we can guide teens to recognize their own patterns. If we give them the ability to analyze their own behavior, they can work towards creating the positive friendships and romantic relationships they deserve.

In this week’s episode, we’re talking to Peter Lovenheim, author of The Attachment Effect: Exploring the Powerful Ways Our Earliest Bond Shapes Our Relationships and Lives. Peter is a journalist and author who dedicated six years to interviewing experts and scouring publications to understand the ins and outs of how we bond to one another! Now, he’s here to touch on some fascinating facts about relationships, attachments, and more.

Today, we’re getting into the different styles of attachment: secure, avoidant, and anxious–and talking about what parents can do to help teens who have difficulty with friendships or early romantic partners. Pate and I are also sharing the strengths and weaknesses of each kind of attachment, and why it can be so important to help teens discover their own personal tendencies when it comes to forming bonds with others.

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Aug 15, 2021
Ep 150: Healthy Habits for Teens
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Getting kids to eat healthy is no easy task. Not only do they resist apples and broccoli, they tend to have a fit when you don’t take them to McDonalds after soccer practice or reach for cookies at the grocery store. Plus, it’s hard enough to keep yourself on a healthy diet! After a long day of working and parenting, it almost seems like second nature to fill up a glass of wine and microwave some nachos!

And although you might put your own health on the back burner, creating  a healthy family includes healthy parents too. If you aren’t taking care of yourself, you’re not being your best self, meaning you aren’t fully there for your kids! Plus, how are you going to convince your kids to be active and fill their body with nutrients when you’re on the couch eating a Snickers bar?

To understand how both parents and kids can lead happier, more nutritious lifestyles, we’re talking to Sid Garza-Hillman, author of Raising Healthy Parents: Small Steps, Less Stress, and a Thriving Family. As a nutritionist, Sid has guided individuals and families away from unhealthy habits into prosperous ways of living! His groundbreaking approach to nutrition and holistic health emphasizes the value of reducing stress and taking small steps to arrive at a healthier life.

In our interview, we’re covering the different kinds of stress, and how too much stress on a parent can lead not only to unhealthy living, but also make life tougher for the entire family. We’re getting into some nutrition science and psychology to reveal how you and your family can change your eating habits for good. Plus, we’re discussing how you can introduce healthier options to your kids without them running in the other direction.

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Aug 08, 2021
Ep 149: Does Your Teen Look Good On Paper?
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We’ve always been told that the secret to getting a teen into college is for them to look perfect on paper. We nag them to join the honors society, sign them up for a hundred SAT tests, or even convince them to quit guitar lessons to make time for academic decathlon. But what if simply checking all the right boxes of what colleges are “looking for” isn’t the right approach anymore? Could it be that admissions officers are getting a little bored of reading essay after essay about the challenges of AP biology?

We might just be so focused on helping teens fit the mold we aren’t encouraging them to think outside of the box! More than just routine extracurriculars or high test scores, admissions officers want to see that kids have unique talents and passions. Instead of pushing kids to drop dance for the debate team, maybe it’s time we talked to them about how their natural interests can propel them towards a brighter future.

To get a behind-the-scenes peek at what college admissions officers are really looking for, we’re talking to Aviva Legatt, author of Get Real and Get In: How to Get Into the College of Your Dreams by Being Your Authentic Self. She’s also the founder of Ivy Insight, the gold standard in college admissions consulting! Her advice for your teen? Forget what they’ve been taught about being the “perfect” college applicant, and be themselves instead!

Aviva and I are talking about what she calls the “impressiveness paradox”, or why fancy-shmancy credentials alone might not help your teen get into the school of their dreams. We’re also covering how teens can tap into their passions to find their potential, and the value of making connections with people on campus before even submitting their application...

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Aug 01, 2021
Ep 148: The Biggest Financial Decision of Their Lives
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Deciding on a college is one of the biggest decisions teens will make in their lives. There are so many factors to consider. How big are the  classes? Will they be able to make connections in their chosen field? What do the dorms look like? With so many different schools and so many majors, finding the right fit can feel impossible.

But there’s one aspect of the college search we don’t always talk about, even though it’s arguably the most important of all: the finances.  We’re often so focused on helping young adults find a place that feels right or looks beautiful that we neglect to dive deep into how we’re going to foot the bill, in the present and down the line, in the case of loans. 

And even if we do find a way to pay, we often don’t pause to consider whether the degree we’re paying for is going to deliver a return on investment! This is especially true for those of us who are taking out loans. If we’re going to be in debt, it’s wise to know if and when we’ll eventually be able to pay it off.

To really wrap our heads around college finances, we’re talking to Beth Akers, author of Making College Pay: An Economist Explains How to Make a Smart Bet on Higher Education. Beth is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute and an expert in the economics of labor and higher education. She believes that everyone should have access to comprehensive financial information about college, so they can avoid making a decision they regret.

In our interview, we’re  breaking down why we often don’t talk about the financial aspects of choosing a college. We're also talking about how a student’s major affects their future prospects, and revealing a smarter way to go about taking out loans. If you’re searching for the best way to educate your kids without breaking the bank, this episode is for you!

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Jul 25, 2021
Ep 147: Dedicated, Purposeful Teens
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Some teens just don’t want to commit to anything! They go to one lacrosse team practice but quickly lose interest, quit piano lessons when the songs get difficult and avoid debate team meetings after school...even though they signed up for the whole year! As a parent, it can be frustrating to watch them shrug off any kind of obligation. You know getting involved in activities will help them gain new skills and make friends. So how can you get them to see how valuable commitments can be?

The truth is that kids these days are stuck in browsing mode. With so many distractions, it’s hard for them to focus on one thing. And even when they find something they care about, society tells them not to settle, not to get tied down, not to stick with anything that isn’t their “perfect” calling. But if we can help kids understand just how rewarding it is to find a lasting passion or commit to a craft, we can guide them towards a brighter, happier future.

This week, we’re talking to Pete Davis, author of Dedicated: The Case for Commitment in the Age of Infinite Browsing. Pete spoke at Harvard University’s 2018 graduation ceremony about the value of being committed to something meaningful. Since then, the video of his speech has been viewed over 30 million times! His inspiring message about dedication might be just what your teen needs to hear. 


Pete and I dive into the power of commitment in this week’s episode. We cover the importance of helping teens find a craft, discuss why kids should give up on the notion of finding their “calling”, and explain how it can be valuable for young adults to pick something and stick to it! If you want to help your kid find a fulfilling future but don’t quite know what advice to give, you won’t want to miss this episode!

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Jul 18, 2021
Ep 146: How AI Impacts Our Teens
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Our kids are growing up in a world where technology is expanding at a mind blowing pace! Every year they find themselves with shiny new social media apps, ten new video games that they HAVE to play, and fancy devices that are so much cooler than what came out last year. As a parent you may feel unsure about the best way to raise your teens  in this tech-filled world. How can you get them to put down their phone and focus on college apps? Or even just go outside and get a little exercise?

While all this tech can be a distraction, it can also be pretty dangerous. There are some pretty frightening parts of the online landscape! Kids might accidentally find themselves entrenched in a hate group or engaged in dark, fringe content. Not to mention that as coders and computer experts become better and better at programming artificial intelligence, teens might find their future jobs at risk–or even experience prejudice as a result of robotic resume readers! 


How is that all possible, you ask? John Zerilli, AI expert and this week’s guest, is here to tell us. He’s a research fellow at the University of Cambridge, and the author of A Citizen’s Guide to Artificial Intelligence. John predicts that in the coming years, AI is poised to infiltrate every area of our lives. He believes everyone has a right to be educated about it! He's here today to chat about how we can guide our teens through the coming technological revolution and ensure that they have bright and prosperous futures.


In today’s interview, we’re discussing how we can make cyberspace a safer place for kids. We’re also talking about how the job market is changing as AI grows in relevance and explains how racial and gender biases can be perpetuated by computer programs. So stick around, because you're not going to want to miss out on all this fascinating tech talk!

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Jul 11, 2021
Ep 145: How To Raise A Better Learner
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Getting teens to sit down and practice math can feel impossible. We go around in circles trying to convince them to practice the algebra portion of the SAT, or nag them after school to finish their calculus homework before turning on the XBox. No matter how many times we assure them that math skills are critical to a successful life, they just don’t seem to care! We can lead them to water, but we just can’t make them drink.

According to today’s guest, the secret to motivating math-reluctant teens might lie in cognitive science. In her recent work, she’s discovered and documented some fascinating findings about the complexities of the human mind. Specifically, she's gained some unique insights on the way humans learn. She’s here to tell parents how they can help kids not only master STEM material–but have fun doing it!

Her name is Barbara Oakley and she’s the author of both the bestselling A Mind For Numbers and the brand new Uncommon Sense: Teaching Practical Insights in Brain Science to Help Students Learn. Although she’s now a professor of engineering at Rochester College, she was once a student who struggled in science and math. When one of her own students prompted her to think critically about how she became a whiz at crunching numbers, she decided to dive into the neuroscience of learning to figure out how students can master math, even if they tend to lag behind.

In our interview, we’re discussing the difference between long term memory and working memory, and sharing how understanding these systems in our minds can help us become better learners. We’re also chatting about the importance of practice and how you can get kids to actually do it! In addition, we’re breaking down misconceptions about procrastination and how to motivate a teen who’s more interested in video games than cracking open the books...


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Jul 04, 2021
Ep 144: Add More To Life With Subtraction
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When kids are driving us up the wall and we want to regain control, we add rules. Then, later down the line...we add more rules. Soon we find ourselves trying to figure out a rule for every video game and homework assignment. As humans and parents, we’re wired to add more and more structure, attempting to create a sense of security. But sometimes the answer doesn’t lie in addition–it lies in subtraction!

We often fail to consider that maybe instead of putting more on our plate, we can instead take something away. This is because in our evolutionary pursuit of survival, humans have gained an affinity for acquisition. We used to hunt and gather to acquire food, but in our modern world, this need to attain means we like to add new objects, responsibilities, and ideas to our life. When uncertainty rears its head, we automatically think addition is the answer. However, if we consider letting something go instead, we might see a better path was right in front of us all along.

In today’s episode, we’re talking to Leidy Klotz, author of Subtract: The Untapped Science of Less. Leidy pulls from his innovative behavioral research and years of design and engineering experience to break down why we as a species feel inclined to add more and more to our lives without removing the things that drag us down.

Leidy and I are discussing why it is that our brains are so predisposed to pile more on without considering the possibility of letting something go. We also cover how we can help teens make some smart subtractions when it comes to technology, and explain how you and your teen can practice subtraction in everyday life.


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Jun 27, 2021
Ep 143: The Do’s and Don’ts of College Applications
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Let’s be honest–the pressure of the college application process is enough to drive anyone crazy. Both you and your kids might find yourselves losing sleep and shedding tears over the endless rampage of SAT scores, personal essays and scholarship applications. It’s so intense that celebrities are willing to bribe schools and admissions officers with thousands of dollars just to get their kid’s feet in the door!

Although you just want the best for your kid, it’s easy to get caught up in the competition of it all and become another expectant force breathing down their necks. You might find yourself so obsessed with whether or not they get in that you forget to notice all the hard work and character growth they’ve exhibited throughout the process. 

To understand how we can guide kids through college apps and other teenage chaos, we’re sitting down with educational consultants Cynthia Clumeck Muchnick and Jenn Curtis. Their new book, The Parent Compass: Navigating Your Teen's Wellness and Academic Journey in Today's Competitive World, is a guide for parents who are feeling uncertain about the application cycle, phones at the dinner table, and more!

In our interview, the three of us discuss the definition of a “parent compass” and how to help kids navigate the tech filled world they’re growing up in. We also dive into how we can help teens reevaluate goal setting, especially when it comes to college admissions.


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Jun 20, 2021
Ep 142: Good Troublemakers
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With so much fake news flying around on social media and the internet  becoming more and more politically polarizing each day,  it’s easy to be worried about whether or not our teens can think for themselves.  On top of online influences, teens are also susceptible to pressure from their peers in real life, who threaten to paint them as outcasts if they hold a minority opinion. With all these forces against us, raising independent thinkers with their own opinions, values, and moral codes is not easy.

To make matters even more challenging, psychological studies inform us that humans are fundamentally wired to abandon our own thoughts and observations to conform to majority opinion. Not only that, but we tend to only associate with those who agree with us–keeping us from questioning our assumptions and challenging our own perspectives. If we want to raise teens with strong critical thinking skills, it might be time to teach them the value of disagreeing with others.

That’s why we’re sitting down With Charlan Nemeth this week. Charlan is the author of In Defense of Troublemakers: the Power of Dissent in Life and Business, as well as a professor of psychology at the University of California Berkeley.  After working as researcher and consultant specializing in influence and decision making, Charlan has become an expert on the ways dissent can  be a powerful force in changing the world.

In our interview, Charlan and I discuss how even one dissenter can deeply influence the way a group of people approaches an issue. We also talk about why it can be so hard for teens to present dissenting opinions to their peers, and what parents can do to raise  kids who are unafraid to disagree with the majority.


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Jun 13, 2021
Ep 141: Getting Comfortable with Anxiety
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The high school social atmosphere is pretty terrifying. You might remember the feeling of your heart beating against your chest as you asked a table full of kids if you could sit with them, or the way you got tongue tied trying to talk to your crush in the hallway.  As stressful as it is, it tends to pass in time as kids mature. For many teens, this is just a part of growing up.

But for some, social anxiety is a major challenge that keeps them from finding friends and blossoming into confident adults. Too often, these  teens let their social anxiety rule their lives. They flee any kind of challenging social interaction, falling into a pattern of avoidance. They never learn to challenge their fears and live in their comfort zones.

Today, we’re talking to a social anxiety expert to learn how we can help teens break this cycle. Our guest is Dr. Ellen Hendriksen,  author of How to be Yourself: Silence your Inner Critic and Rise Above Social Anxiety. Dr. Hendriksen is a clinical psychologist and faculty member at the Boston University Center for Anxiety and Related Disorders. She’s also the original host of the Savvy Psychologist podcast, which has been downloaded over 15 million times on iTunes.


Dr. Hendriksen has spent years studying social anxiety, and she’s here to share all her expert knowledge with you today. In our interview, we cover what’s really going on in teen’s heads when they’re overwhelmed by social situations. We also get into all the wrong ways teens try to deal with social anxiety, and break down healthier methods for teens to shed the inhibitions that hold them back.

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Jun 06, 2021
Ep 140: Helping Teens Thrive
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We  would do anything for our kids to be successful. That’s why we sign them up for SAT prep classes, make sure they practice piano every day and watch their report cards like hawks. If they can get good test scores they can go to a good college, then get a job with benefits until hopefully they don’t need us at all anymore! So long as we ensure their meeting the marks academically, we’re giving them everything they could ever need...right?

Well, not quite. When we look at the research, we find that kids with the highest grades aren’t necessarily the most successful. Those deemed “gifted” don’t always become lawyers and CEOs if they don’t know how to work hard or persevere through adversity. In fact, when interviewed, kids in generation Z often feel like they’ve just been brought up as a product to fulfill certain standards–not as a well rounded human being.

How can we raise kids to not just fit the bill of academic perfection, but actually find lasting success and happiness? In other words, how can we help them thrive? Our guest today, Michele Borba is here to answer that very question. She’s the author of Thrivers: The Surprising Reasons Why Some Kids Struggle and Others Shine. After conducting years of research, she's discovered the key traits of the world’s most prosperous people. She’s here today to tell parents how they can pass along the recipe for a bountiful and fulfilling life to their kids.

In our interview, she explains how you can guide teens to discover their core assets to ensure they’re on the pathway to prosperity. We also discuss how you can instill strong values in your teen and why it’s important for teens to have a high level of agency in their everyday lives.

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May 30, 2021
Ep 139: Lessons on Living Justly from Malcolm X
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Unless you and your teen live under a rock, your child has probably been exposed to a lot of discourse about racism this past year. Sparked by the killing of George Floyd, the world erupted in protests and outcries for equality this summer–and the world has never been the same. 

With the video of the tragic murder available online amongst plenty of other intense dialogue about race, you might be wondering how you can talk to your kids about it all. You may feel like you don’t know how to approach the topic, or don’t feel like you can do an adequate job covering the vast history of racial inequality and all of its nuances.

If you don’t know where to start, it can be powerful to give your kid some reading material. Books can help teens learn about these issues from an expert, and then the two of you can then have a discussion about it. Need a text that feels right for an adolescent? Our guest today has got you covered. Her name is Ilyasah Shabazz, and she’s the author of The Awakening of Malcolm X: A Novel. 


Ilyasah is the daughter of human rights activists Malcom X and Betty Shabazz, and does incredible work as an educator, author, motivational speaker and activist. In this new book, she’s describing the pivotal period of Malcom X’s young life, when he was imprisoned for 6 years and began to see the world differently.  In telling Malcom’s story, she hopes to give young people the guidance they need to handle life’s trials and follow their vision for a brighter future.


In our interview, we’re covering some critical moments in Malcolm X’s youth. We’re discussing how educators can shed more light on the contributions of black and indigenous people throughout history, and why we need reform in our criminal justice system.

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May 23, 2021
Ep 138: Decoding Boys
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We think we know how puberty works. Kids grow hair everywhere, wake up 2 feet taller than the night before, and suddenly start wanting to go on dates to the mall without any supervision!  But there’s actually a lot to puberty that most parents don’t know about. Did you know, for example, that puberty can begin as early as age seven in some girls? Or that male puberty is almost totally contained to testicular growth for the first few months or even years?


If we don’t properly learn about puberty, we can’t teach our kids what they need to know. During this confusing period, teens can use all the help they can get. By making an effort to really understand all the ins and outs of puberty, we can give them the tools to  get  through adolescence and out to the other side.


Our guest this week, Cara Natterson, is here to clue us into all the latest research about coming of age. She’s a pediatrician, consultant, speaker,  and bestselling author of multiple books on parenting and health! Her latest book is titled Decoding Boys: New Science Behind the Subtle Art of Raising Sons. This book sheds light on tons of misconceptions about puberty, especially for young men.


Cara drops all sorts of fascinating facts and helpful tips in today’s episode. She explains why some teens go quiet during puberty, and how you can break through this barrier to connect with them.  We also discuss how puberty starts much earlier than we usually think, and get into the psychology behind why teens act impulsively.


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May 16, 2021
Ep 137: A Different Way to Talk About Puberty
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Puberty can be an intense experience for both teens and parents! Kids are going through a million different changes throughout their minds and bodies, while parents watch from the sidelines and try not to get caught in the crossfire! Although the mood swings can be brutal, one of the hardest parts of parenting a kid through puberty is wondering if you gave them all the right talks to prepare them for this crazy ride.


Although the puberty talk can be cringe-inducing, it’s not something that can be pushed aside. If no one walks a teens through the changes their body is experiencing, they can feel isolated. They may think they’re alone in the process, without someone to turn to for advice or reassurance. But speaking with kids early and often about puberty can help them approach their adolescence with confidence instead of confusion.

To understand how we can guide kids through their coming-of-age, we’re talking to Michelle Mitchell, author of both A Guys Guide to Puberty and A Girls Guide to Puberty. We’ve had Michelle on the show twice before, but her advice is so helpful that we invited her back for a third! In this interview, she’s delving into the ways parents can help kids navigate all the twists and turns that puberty brings.

In the episode, Michelle and I discuss how you can have those tricky talks about the process of puberty. That includes everything from periods to pimples. We also get into how we can teach boys about the female body and vice versa.


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May 09, 2021
Ep 136: Teens Versus Automation
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Our kids are heading into a new era–one full of self driving cars, automated grocery shopping and endless social media. They’re growing up surrounded by technology, and these gizmos and gadgets only become more prevalent every year. It’s nice to imagine a future where robots do all the work and we humans sit back with our feet up–but it’s also scary to imagine a world so controlled by computers that our kids might just lose their humanity!


It’s understandable to be worried about your teen coming of age in this environment. They’re entering a job market where employment opportunities are slowly being eradicated by automation. People like travel agents and bankers have been forced to watch as their jobs are taken by iPhone apps and digital kiosks. 

Not only that, but the  constant digital stimulation of iPhones, laptops and tablets is rearranging teens’ brains on a molecular level, inhibiting their social skills,  productivity and sense of reality! It’s frightening how much control technology has over all of us, especially growing teens. So how can we prepare young people for a future full of tech and automation?


Kevin Roose, our guest today, asked himself that same question a few years ago. He decided to dive into research about humanity’s growing dependence on technology, and then put  his findings into a book. It’s called Futureproof: 9 Rules for Humans in the Age of Automation. In it, he reveals how the key to surviving in the world of  robots is not to become more robotic ourselves but instead, become more human. 


In our interview, Kevin and I get into every question you might have about how AI is changing society. We address the concerns you may be having about your kid’s job prospects in this future full of automation and algorithms. He also explains how you can help teens use their phones to learn, create and connect with others instead of just scrolling mindlessly through TikTok...

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May 02, 2021
Ep 135: Fractured Families
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We have arguments with our teens about little things everyday–what to have for dinner, whether they can take the car out, what they’re wearing to school that day, et, etc. And although these skirmishes can seem small, they tend to add up. Suddenly, you tell your teen to put away their shoes one day, and they’re screaming at you, saying you’re ruining their life. It’s not the shoes that have them hysterical, it’s the cumulative effect of all the little disagreements over time!


Most of the time when these fights erupt, no one wants to apologize first. Distance can grow between the two of you. You become more and more certain that YOU were right and the OTHER person was acting crazy. You find other people who agree with you, and you stop questioning yourself. Then things just get worse until you find your relationship permanently damaged. In serious cases, you might even find yourself estranged from your kid. 


To understand how we can handle these Earth-shaking arguments with grace and prevent a deep rift from forming, we’re talking to Karl Pillemer, author of Fault Lines: Fractured Families and How to Mend Them.  Karl’s a sociologist who’s been researching estrangement between family members for years. He’s become acutely aware of how seemingly small disagreements can grow to jeopardize relationships.


In our interview, Karl and I break down what parents of teens should know about patching up arguments and preventing permanent damage. We dive into what you should do when you and your teen have disputes over values or lifestyle choices. We also talk about what leads family members to become alienated from one another, and how you can keep your teen from shutting you out.

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Apr 25, 2021
Ep 134: Beat Standardized Tests with These Tips
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There’s no singular experience in teenage life quite like the SAT. Unlike the grueling four year academic curriculum, it occurs for only 180 minutes–and determines whether or not a teen is accepted to the school of their dreams. Needless to say, this is likely a significant cause of anxiety for you and your teen alike.


 A lot of programs out there promise your teen instant success at standardized tests, but in reality, performing well is much more complicated than just quick tips and tricks. Beyond simply putting in the reps, acing the ACT or SAT requires teens to understand their own thinking. It takes a serious mastery over anxiety and external pressures to keep a clear head and perform like a champion.


This week we’re talking to one of the most sought after test prep professionals in the country, Ned Johnson. He runs the company PrepMatters, which helps people prepare from everything from the LSAT to the MCAT. He’s also the co-author of Conquering the SAT: How Parents Can Help Teens Overcome the Pressure and Succeed. Ned’s put in over 35,000 hours of one-on-one test prep with young adults, and has learned quite a few lessons along the way.


He’s here today to share with you why he thinks standardized tests are valuable despite their flaws. These tests go beyond just words and numbers–they teach teens how to push their boundaries. Ned and I also chat about why pressuring kids to do well can often backfire, and how you can help your teen tackle performance anxiety to smash that ACT out of the park...


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Apr 18, 2021
Ep 133: When Does a Teen Become an Adult?
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When kids leave the nest, it can be terrifying to see them go. As a parent, you may feel that your whole life has led up to this moment, and you might worry that you haven’t done enough. You want your kid to take on the world and succeed, but you worry they might come home crying and asking for their old bedroom back.


As scared as you might be, the terror of leaving home is even worse for young adults themselves. Life is full of trials and tribulations, and it’s scary without someone there to hold their hand. You probably remember the fear you felt when you first left home, how unpredictable and challenging every minute was. 


Even though adulting is hard, we as parents can start preparing our kids now, in their teen years. If we build a solid foundation of self sufficiency, kids will be able to adapt to the curveballs that life throws their way. Our guest this week is Julie Lythcott-Haims, author of Your Turn: How to Be an Adult. The book is full of personal stories and candid advice for how to be a functional young adult.


In our interview today, Julie and I talk about how it can actually be bad if your teen plans too much for their future. We also discuss why you shouldn’t be afraid to show your kid your imperfections, and how you can raise kids who know how to form healthy relationships.


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Apr 11, 2021
Ep 132: Break Down Barriers to Change
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It’s not easy to talk teens into anything. Simply getting them to clean their room or finish their stats homework is a nightmare!  It seems that as soon as you ask them to do something, they do the opposite, just to spite you. It can feel like you’re hitting the same wall over and over, never finding a way through.


Beyond just the realms of homework and household chores, this inability to get through to teens can have dire repercussions. If a teen is developing a serious drug problem or skipping school everyday, we need a way to reach them and help them get back on a better path. How can we break the cycle and finally get teens to listen?


Our guest today is here to share his revolutionary approach to inciting change in others. His name is Jonah Berger, and his new book is The Catalyst: How to Change Anyone’s Mind. Jonah’s method ditches all the nagging, pleading, and yelling for a much simpler, more harmonious process. He’s here to tell you how you can get kids to WANT to change, instead of trying to force change upon them.


In our interview, Jonah explains why trying to convince someone to do something will only push them in the other direction. He expresses why it’s so much more valuable to ask kid’s questions rather than bombard them with what you believe. He also discusses techniques you can use to help your child change their behavior when they just won’t seem to budge.


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Apr 04, 2021
Ep 131: Emotionally Resilient Boys
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In today’s culture, it may seem like the conversation around emotional wellbeing has moved on from solely focusing on women and girls. Yet, we rarely address the emotional wellbeing of boys and men in our cultural institutions like school, work, the family structure, or in our government’s policies. Whether it’s responding to a failed math exam, dealing with a breakup, managing an avalanche of responsibilities while entering adulthood, or dealing with trauma, we need to develop a system that helps boys process their emotions. Luckily, that’s exactly what I talk about in this week’s Talking to Teens podcast episode with psychologist and family counselor, Dr. Michael Gurian. 


Dr. Gurian has authored well over 20 books on adolescents, young adult males and females, and all kinds of topics relating to growing up and becoming an adult in the world we’re living in today. For more than 20 years Dr. Gurian has been helping young adults deal with trauma. In 1996, he founded the Gurian Institute, a program committed to helping boys and girls by providing counseling, professional development, and parent-teacher involvement for young students’ growth in education, making him the perfect person to talk to about helping young boys process their emotions and trauma. 


In the episode, our conversation centers around the tactics that parents can use to help teen boys process their emotions and trauma through two of Dr. Gurian’s books about this subject: Saving Our Sons: A New Path for Raising Healthy and Resilient Boys and The Stone Boys. The first is a myth-busting book for the whole family that can help parents and teens understand the latest research in male emotional intelligence, male motivation development, and the effects of neurotoxicity on the brain. The second is a novel that illustrates much of the information covered in the former.


Dr. Gurian’s informed approach in both of these books can help parents use them as a conduit for opening their teen to tough conversations about their emotional and mental wellbeing. In the podcast, Dr. Gurian lets us in on his approach and sheds some light on some common questions that parents might have about helping their boys process emotions...

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Mar 28, 2021
Ep 130: Creating Confident Kids
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Teenagers are inclined to worry about everything—the phones they have, the clothes they wear, the clique they belong to. They think everything they do will give others a reason to judge them. And unfortunately these insecurities prevent teens from achieving their goals. They’re so afraid of judgement and failure that they’d rather not try at all.

 

As a parent who was once a teen, you can’t help but empathize with them. There may have been a myriad of opportunities you’ve missed out on in your teens because you were too afraid to try them. But the lifetime of experiences you’ve had since your youth has taught you that the things you were afraid of then were miniscule in comparison to the much scarier things you’d eventually accomplish in life. It’s hard to watch your child hold themselves back from things you know they are capable of. 

 

In this episode, Lydia Fenet, author of the book The Most Powerful Woman in the Room is You: Command an Audience and Sell Your Way to Success, offers parents advice on raising confident, successful teenagers who know how to command a room. The lead Benefit Auctioneer at Christie’s Auction House in New York City, Lydia knows exactly how it feels to be on top and how to fail! From her own personal success and challenges, Lydia has discovered the top lessons we can teach teens to set them up for success: value of a dollar, the perks of being a good loser, and the secret to successful negotiation...


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Mar 21, 2021
Ep 129: Struggling Teen? Learning Music Might Be The Answer...
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If you feel like your child isn’t living up to their full potential because they get distracted too easily or lose focus of their own goals, just imagine how hard it will be for them to complete important tasks as adults when their responsibilities lie outside of their personal interests. Today, teens have so much going on in their lives that it can be difficult to commit to tasks that they’re not particularly passionate about: maintaining good grades for college admissions, managing chores, and consistently showing up for work. Fortunately, there are ways to help your teen develop discipline in their life. 

 

It’s great if your teen has a personal hobby that helps them develop a routine. Activities like sports, scouting, and working on art are all great ways to inspire your teen to regularly follow up with their interests. However, as they begin to take on more time-consuming responsibilities, some of their hobbies might fall to the wayside, and they can start to falter in keeping up with more mundane, yet necessary tasks. Teens that haven’t practiced discipline might start to take detrimental shortcuts on homework when the assignment is too difficult or delay submitting applications when they can’t rely on pure interest. If this behavior continues to develop into a pattern, teens may find themselves without the stamina to sustain themselves through higher education or when they enter the workforce. 

 

That’s exactly what I talk about in this week’s podcast episode with Dr. Anita Collins, author of her new book, The Music Advantage: How Music Helps Your Child Develop, Learn, and Thrive. Dr. Collins serves as an award-winning educator, researcher, and writer in the field of brain development and music learning at both the University of Canberra and the University of Melbourne. She’s also written one of the most watched Ted education films ever made, “How Playing an Instrument Benefits Your Brain,” and conducted research about how practicing an instrument can help young adults implement lasting changes in their brain, making her exactly the right person to talk to about developing discipline for teens.

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Mar 14, 2021
Ep 128: Persuade Your Teen With Story
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Often as parents we think telling our teen the facts about vaping or texting while driving or will show them that they need to change their behavior. The danger is so clear! When we are in the same room or car as our teen, they may go along with us, but spewing facts at someone rarely causes a person to affect long-term changes to their behavior. But how exactly can you persuade your teen to change for the better if they reject facts? The answer is simple: tell a story. 


We are affected by stories every moment of the day. In fact, our brains are wired to create narratives about the world and our own lives. Rarely do objective facts persuade as strongly as an emotionally engaging story. But telling a story properly is another matter. 

Fortunately this week, story-crafting expert Lisa Cron, is ready to help us learn how to spin a tale. Cron is an accomplished writer, literary agent, and TV producer. She’s the author of the new book Story or Die: How to Use Brain Science to Engage, Persuade, and Change Minds in Business and in Life. Cron believes that to make what you say impactful, you have to switch from using facts to telling an engaging emotional story. In today's episode, Cron shares useful advice on how to get your teens to obey your wishes and see your perspective by changing the way you share information with them...


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Mar 07, 2021
Ep 127: How to Heal a Broken Bond
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After all the blood, sweat, and tears of raising a kid, any parent would want a good relationship with a son or daughter that’s reached adulthood. But sometimes, conflicts that start small during the teenage years grow more intense, and parent-child relationships are ruined by resentment. Many parents find themselves painfully estranged from their grown children after they’ve left the nest. The sad part is, these rifts could have been mended before teens grew into adults, if only parents knew the right approach.


Oftentimes, parents do attempt to remedy deep conflicts with teens, but they go about it in the wrong way. Although they have the kid’s best interest at heart, they find themselves using defensive language, or fail to truly empathize with their children. If you want to keep your kids from distancing themselves as adults, you’ll have to really connect and hash things out from the heart.


To teach us how to overcome bad blood between ourselves and our teens, we’re talking to Joshua Coleman, author of Rules of Estrangement: Why Adult Children Cut Ties and How to Heal the Conflict.  Joshua became estranged from his own daughter when he went through a difficult divorce. It became worse when he remarried and had kids with his new wife.


He was eventually able to reconnect with his daughter, but the pain of the experience was unforgettable. He decided to dedicate his efforts to researching parent-child estrangement, becoming an expert. He now hosts weekly Q&A’s and writes a regular newsletter on the subject, along with publishing several books about it. 


So what can Joshua teach us about healing our relationships with our teens? In our interview, he talks about how part of the reason why kids distance themselves is a change in culture. We also talk about how your co-parent can push kids away from you, and how you can begin to breach the divide even when it seems like you’ll never get your kid back.

This episode is brought to you by ZoomTutor.com, home of the Better Grades, Fast Guarantee!

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Feb 28, 2021
Ep 126: Making Awkward Conversations Easier
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Say you’ve got a touchy topic you want to approach your teen about–maybe you found a vape in their room! You know that the moment you bring it up, your teen will explode and slam the door in your face. Or, even if you are able to sit down and have a real discussion, you’re worried they’ll ask you a question you don’t know the  answer to...and you’ll be caught like a deer in headlights! You might be so stressed about the conversation that you just don’t bring your concerns up at all.


Avoiding these tricky talks can be tempting, but ignoring them can have serious consequences. If no one walks a teen through complicated subjects like consent, drug use or self esteem, teens might not know what to do when they  get themselves into real trouble. Opening up a line of communication with your teen can help them navigate the murky waters of adolescence, and help you rest easy knowing they’re not keeping secrets from you.


To figure out how you can approach uncomfortable discussions with your teen, we’re talking to Michelle Icard, author of Fourteen Talks by Age Fourteen: The Essential Conversations You Need to Have with Your Kids Before They Start High School. Michelle is a member of the Today Show Parenting Team, and has been featured in the Washington Post, Time, People Magazine, and more. 


In our interview today we’re going over Michelle’s BRIEF model for tough conversations. Yes, this does mean keeping talks with teens short, but the acronym illuminates a super effective set of steps to ease into difficult discussions with kids. Michelle and I also break down how you can confront teens about independence, social media, healthy eating, dating, and more...

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Feb 21, 2021
Ep 125: What To Do With a Negative Teen
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When teens find out their friends are hanging out without them, or they didn’t get a part in the school play, they suddenly act like it’s the end of the world! No matter how hard you try to convince them that it’s really not a big deal and that there will be other opportunities in the future, they just can’t seem to get over it. Then, even when they appear to be back to their usual self for a while,  it seems like every week something new goes wrong. They just can’t stop making mountains out of molehills!


This focus on the negative expands just past dramatic teens–you might notice it in your own experiences. Even when you have ten positive interactions with your coworkers, it’s always the one that goes badly that plays over and over in your mind when you’re trying to sleep at night. You may find yourself scrutinizing your own parenting the same way, thinking about a single mistake even when you usually knock it out of the park.


To understand our preoccupation with the unfortunate, we’re talking to Dr. Roy Baumeister, author of The Power of Bad: How the Negativity Effect Rules Us and How We Can Rule It. After his research paper about the human obsession with bad events garnered a remarkable amount of citations, he decided to sit down and write a book about why people tend to think too much about the things that go wrong.


Dr. Baumeister and I dive into why negative experiences feel so much more significant than positive ones. We also talk about how to dole out bad news and criticism, and the mind’s peculiar reaction to social rejection.

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Feb 14, 2021
Ep 124: The Upside of Rude Teens
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It’s easy to get caught up worrying about your kid behaving rudely when you’re not around. You might be picturing them  going to the neighbor's house and asking for food they weren’t offered, forgetting to say please and thank you, and causing a huge mess without cleaning it up. No one wants a kid with no manners, so we tend to push politeness onto kids with a fervor. We often try so hard to keep kids from being rude that we force them to swing too far in the other direction, towards being overly courteous, saying “sorry” for everything and letting others walk all over them.


When we teach our kids to be apologetic, we can do more harm than good. Raising an overly submissive teen can mean that they’re not comfortable raising their hand in the classroom, advocating for themselves in a job interview or even saying no to an unwanted sexual encounter. If we want to raise happy and healthy teens,  we have to teach them to be firm, honest, comfortable...and maybe even a little rude.


Today we’re sitting down to chat with Rebecca Reid, author of Rude: Stop Being Nice, Start Being Bold. Rebecca is a regular columnist for Marie Clare, the Guardian, the Telegraph, and more. She also makes regular appearances on Good Morning Britain, where she contributes to conversations about political and social issues. 


Rebecca has been known to be assertive and firm in her convictions...but has always found herself apologizing a little too much. She started to notice that a lot of her submissiveness was caused by how she was conditioned to act as a woman! That’s why she decided to write her book, to help young people, especially girls, understand when it’s ok to be a little impolite and express their true feelings.


In our discussion, she breaks down the difference between positive and negative rudeness, the ways in which we can teach kids to understand consent, and how rudeness plays into the parent-teen relationship...

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Feb 07, 2021
Ep 123: Colleges, Universities, and What You're Really Paying For
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With prices skyrocketing and competition for admission growing more intense every year, applying to college can be a major source of stress for both parents and teens! It’s enormously difficult to decide which school offers the right dorms, classes, and clubs. On top of all that, you and your student have to figure out how you’re going to foot the bill.


Although families have access to resources like the FAFSA and other financial aid, it can be incredibly difficult to figure out how it all works. Every school offers something different, and half the time it seems like they tack on costs out of nowhere! It can feel like you’re being hoodwinked when you're just trying to give your teen a brighter future.


To get to the bottom of all the college cost craziness, we’re talking to Ron Lieber, author of The Price You Pay For College: An Entirely New Road Map for the Biggest Financial Decision Your Family Will Ever Make. Ron is a business expert, and writes the wildly popular “Your Money” column in New York Times. His expertise about money and parenting have made a twice best-selling author!


Today, he and I are discussing some questionable methods colleges use to entice students into attending. We’re also breaking down the questions teens should be asking themselves when shopping for schools, and a few key things they should be wary about when embarking on their university journey.


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Jan 31, 2021
Ep 122: Why Teens Rage and What To Do About It
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You’ve been asking your teenager to unload the dishwasher for days, only to be brushed off every time. One day, you decide that enough is enough–your teen has lost the privilege of having their phone until they unload it. You announce this to your teen, explaining with a perfect sense of calm why this has to happen….but suddenly, your teen flies off the handle! Furious, they hurl insults, exclaim protestations, and then refuse to come out of their room. Why are they getting so worked up over such a small event?


It turns out that this response is a part of a complicated evolutionary brain mechanism, one intended to keep us safe...but can sometimes misfire. It comes down to how we’re wired to face threats, whether we’re being followed down a dark alley or getting into an intense facebook fight! Understanding how this mental system works can help teens from making some impulsive mistakes–and help parents stay cool when arguments with teens heat up.


This week we’re sitting down with neuroscientist Dr. R. Douglas Fields, author of Why We Snap: Understanding the Rage Circuit in Your Brain and Electric Brain: How the New Science of Brainwaves Reads Minds, Tells Us How We Learn, and Helps Us Change for the Better. Dr. Fields is a leading researcher in the field of brain science, studying everything from experimental usage of brain waves to developmental psychology. Today, we’re talking about aggression: why it comes so suddenly, how it affects our body, and what we can do about it.

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Jan 24, 2021
Ep 121: How to Transform Troublesome Boys
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When kids are misbehaving or getting on your last nerve, it can be difficult not to sound like a broken record. Repeated cries of “come home on time” or “put down the controller and start your homework” can feel as though they are falling on deaf ears! Frustratingly, no matter how hard you try to get through to them, teenagers just don’t seem to listen.


This can become extra challenging when teens are partaking in behavior that is dangerous or harmful, or even illegal. Oftentimes, teens struggling with problems like substance abuse, self harm or addiction are especially likely to discard a parent’s pleas to change. If only there was another way to get through to kids, and make them realize there’s a better way to live.


To get some advice on helping teens improve their lives, we’re sitting down with Gregory Koufacos, author of The Primal Method: A Book for Emerging Men. Gregory has spent years as an addiction counselor and mentor for troubled teens, helping them see the path to recovery and happiness. His unconventional method towards mentoring young people might be just what you need to finally reach your teen.


Gregory’s mission is to help people understand the power of showing teens a better life, instead of just telling. He’s here to talk about how you can help kids truly build a positive future for themselves on a daily basis, instead of giving them advice that just falls flat. He also shares why it’s important to sometimes dish out some tough love, and the value of having a strong bond with your teen...

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Jan 17, 2021
Ep 120: The #1 Reason Teens Turn to Tech...
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It’s so frustrating when kids seem infinitely more invested in their Fortnite match than the stack of homework sitting on their desk, or intent on binging Emily in Paris when they should be practicing their violin! In our modern world, where technology surrounds us, it seems that we’re all prone to getting caught up in all the distractions offered by our devices. We know our kids are smart and capable–if only they grew up in a world with no social media or streaming sites...right?


Although it’s tempting, blaming our kids’ tendency towards distractions on technology doesn't get us closer to a solution. Even when we take their phones away and limit their access to Facebook and Instagram, it seems that they still get distracted, still procrastinate, still don’t put in their full effort! There’s got to be a better way.


Today we’re talking to Nir Eyal, author of Indistractable: How to Control Your Attention and Choose Your Life. Along with teaching  business at Stanford University and prospering as an entrepreneur, Nir has written widely on how people become hooked by technology, highlighting what exactly it is keeps us coming back for more. In our interview, he talks specifically about how parents can help kids dodge the technological distractions they so often fall prey to.


In Nir’s eyes, the ability of young folks to free themselves from distraction is the key to a successful future. So how can we help kids get there? The answer is a lot more complicated than just simply limiting their technology use. It involves digging deeper into what’s triggering the technology ues in the first place...


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This week’s sponsor is Prep U Products. Use code TEENTALK at checkout for 30% off your first order. Check out Prep U Products for the best in all-natural personal care for teen guys.

Jan 10, 2021
Ep 119: Fresh Advice from Dad
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There are so many things in life that teens, no matter their high school education, are not prepared for. Rarely are there standard courses on how to monitor our own technology use, balance friendships and relationships, and effectively resist drugs and alcohol. It falls on parents to deliver life advice. And with so much to cover it can be tricky to know where to start!

Moreover, it’s daunting to do: being the brunt of eye-rolls and bringing up sometimes awkward topics generally isn’t at the top of anyone’s to-do list! Parents know their teens will just tune out as soon as discussions get lecture-y and cliche. 

Luckily, Marc Fienberg joins us this week to help with the issue of how best to dole out advice--and how to say it. Marc is the author of Dad's Great Advice for Teens: Stuff Every Teen Needs to Know About Parents, Friends, Social Media, Drinking, Dating, Relationships, and Finding Happiness. A father of four, Marc found when each kid became a tween/teen, there were certain pieces of advice he consistently wanted to impart. Significant age gap between his kids meant he had the chance to tweak and adapt his advice for each kid--and his teens let him know if his advice was any good! 


In speaking with fellow parents and friends into account his own teens’ feedback, Marc has a wealth of knowledge on what advice is sound, what strategies work, and the best ways to deliver advice to your teen. 


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This week’s sponsor is Prep U Products. Use code TEENTALK at checkout for 30% off your first order. Check out Prep U Products for the best in all-natural personal care for teen guys.

Jan 03, 2021
Ep 118: Lying, Stealing, and Power Struggles
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With teens  dangling somewhere between childhood and adulthood, it can be hard to negotiate control as a parent–control over how late they can stay out, how much time they spend doing their homework, how much junk food they eat. Although they’re not kids anymore, they likely still live under your roof, meaning things can sometimes get heated when it comes to setting the rules.


In certain cases, this battle over control can drive your kid to do some seriously bad stuff. When they feel powerless, they might turn to stealing, lying, and emotional manipulation to reclaim their sense of authority. 


Today I’m talking to Paul Podolsky, author of Raising a Thief: a Memoir. Paul is here to talk about what happens when kids take their need for control too far. After he and his wife adopted a six month old child from Russia, they discovered that they were in for more than they bargained for. Paul has a lot to teach us about the psychology of control, and how to work through the power struggles you might be having with your kid.


By telling his own personal parenting story, Paul shines light on why teens sometimes feel powerless, what causes this troubling crisis of power in kids’ heads, and what you can do to gain back the control in your home...

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This week’s sponsor is Prep U Products. Use code TEENTALK at checkout for 30% off your first order. Check out Prep U Products for the best in all-natural personal care for teen guys.

Dec 27, 2020
Ep 117: The Warrior Challenge For Kinder, More Courageous Teens
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When your kids have moved out and are facing the world every day on their own, you won’t be there to tell them how to act–they’ll have to rely on their values. As a parent, leaving your kid with principles to live by can be a critical part of raising decent, self sufficient individuals!  If we can help kids prioritize kindness, respect, responsibility and honesty, we give them the key to a bright future.


But how do we teach values to our kids in a way that sticks? Even when we know what exactly  we want to teach to them, how can we get them to listen? Teens might not want to hear your opinion, and even if they do, it can be difficult to really show them how positive values create a better life. When it really comes down to it, imparting the right principles on kids feels just about as hard as making it to the top of Mount Everest!


Luckily, today we’re talking to somebody who has made it to the top of Everest. He’s also been struck by lightning, swam with great white sharks, survived an attack from a five foot iguana...and has a lot of insight when it comes to raising resilient teens with strong values. His name is John Beede, and he’s the author of The Warrior Challenge: 8 Quests for Boys to Grow Up With Kindness, Courage and Grit.  


John speaks to share how his character and values have allowed him to accomplish amazing things–and teach how teens that they can do the same. In our interview we’re talking about how teenagers can be  more comfortable being vulnerable, shed toxic friendships in favor of healthy ones, and harness the power of grit to accomplish anything they set their minds to...

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This week’s sponsor is Prep U Products. Use code TEENTALK at checkout for 30% off your first order. Check out Prep U Products for the best in all-natural personal care for teen guys.


Dec 20, 2020
Ep 116: Time Management for More Focused Teens
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When kids are tired from a long day of classes and basketball practice and it’s time to get cracking on some calculus, their gaze might drift from the textbook to their Instagram feed for an hour...or two hours...and then maybe they’ll watch a little Netflix, text their friends, make a TikTok...before they know it, it’s 10 p.m. and they haven’t even started!

Procrastination can get the better of all of us  occasionally, let’s be honest–but for students, it can often become a damaging habit that holds them back from getting the grades they hope for or finishing a college app on time. When it comes down to it, procrastination can often take hold of a teen’s time and simply not let go.

To help kids battle their inner procrastinator and become time management experts, we’re talking with Leslie Josel, author of How to Do it Now Because it's Not Going Away: An Expert Guide to Getting Stuff Done. Leslie has been working with teens and college students for almost twenty years to help them untangle their lives from the sticky web of procrastination and create order from their own personal chaos.

In our interview, she’s giving you tons of tips to guide your teen towards living a more organized life. We’re chatting about how teens can tackle time management, what kids can learn about their habits by doing some self reflection, and how we can give students some control over their learning process to get them more excited about their education...

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This week’s sponsor is Prep U Products. Use code TEENTALK at checkout for 30% off your first order. Check out Prep U Products for the best in all-natural personal care for teen guys.

Dec 13, 2020
Ep 115: Beating Substance Abuse and Addiction
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As more states legalize marijuana and vape companies continue to pander to young people with “fun” flavors, there’s an increased risk that your teen might do some experimenting. But while adults might be able to experiment and handle it, teens, with their still-developing brains, are much more likely to get addicted. 


Widespread availability plus technology makes clandestine access to alcohol and drugs easier than ever. Recent research shows that illicit drug use is starting younger and younger–current stats show kids starting as early as age 14! Kids these days are more susceptible than ever to potential substance abuse that can have serious, long lasting effects on their brains and bodies.


That’s why this week, we’re talking to Richard Capriola, author of The Addicted Child: the Parents Guide to Adolescent Substance Abuse. Richard has worked with families for over twenty years to guide struggling adolescents towards recovery from debilitating psychological and substance related conditions. His mission is to rescue kids from the depths of drug addiction and bring them back to a healthy, happy way of life.


In our interview, Richard shares what he thinks every parent should know about the realities of adolescent addiction. He explains how you can identify possible substance abuse in your teen or a teen you may know, how you can react without worsening the problem, and what steps you can take to create a plan for recovery...


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This week’s sponsor is Prep U Products. Use code TEENTALK at checkout for 30% off your first order. Check out Prep U Products for the best in all-natural personal care for teen guys.

Dec 06, 2020
Ep 114: What Teens Can Do Now To Prepare For College
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For parents and students alike, the road to college can be full of twists, turns and unpredictable roadblocks...it sometimes feels like you’ll never cross the finish line! It might feel  as though getting into top schools is practically impossible, especially when trying to get in means endless extracurriculars, community service, SATs, GPA–the list of requirements and considerations goes on and on. 


For students, the only thing worse than this insane workload is the possibility of not even getting in! For parents, it’s heartbreaking to know how much stress and pressure your kid is under. It can be excruciating to wait and wonder if they'll get accepted to the school of their dreams or be forced to reevaluate their life in the wake of rejection.


Although it may seem like it’s all too overwhelming to handle, don’t fear! We’re here to help out. There are small steps you and your teen can take to prepare for the college application process, whether they're finishing up seventh grade or heading into their junior year, a struggling student or top of their class. If you can develop a greater understanding of the whole process, you’ll be better equipped to set your student up for success.


Our guest today is Pamela Ellis, a.k.a, “ The Education Doctor”, author of What to Know Before They Go. Dr. Ellis has worked with thousands of teens and families to help students choose the right colleges and gain admission. She’s an expert on helping teens cope with the thousands of stressors of college admissions, with strategies covering everything from scholarship qualifications to everyday time management.


In the interview, Pamela and I discuss how teens can prioritize their responsibilities, why they should challenge themselves in small ways to expand their comfort zones, and what they can do to organize their lives during this stressful and confusing period.


This week’s sponsor is Prep U Products. Use code TEENTALK at checkout for 30% off your first order. Check out Prep U Products for the best in all-natural personal care for teen guys.


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Nov 29, 2020
Ep 113: What Top Athletes Can Teach Us About Teen Success
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When your teen is lying on the couch, binging netflix with their eyes glazed over, it’s hard not to wonder where their productivity went! Kids these days encounter distractions at every turn, with access to more social media apps and streaming services than anyone could possibly list.  Helping teens stay focused and motivated is no easy task.


Although it may seem impossible to empower a teen that just doesn’t want to try, today, we're speaking with a guest who’s interviewed top athletes to deduce what teens can do to achieve success--and what parents can do to help. 


I’m sitting down with Jeremy Bhandari, author of Trust the Grind: How World-Class Athletes Got to the Top. As a lifelong sports fanatic, Jeremy decided to talk to some of his favorite athletes to uncover their secrets to success, work ethic, and most importantly, happiness. He learned some seriously powerful lessons about how young people can thrive in any avenue they choose to pursue--and he’s here to share those lessons with you.


In our insightful interview, Jeremy and I talk about how some of sports’ biggest stars achieved their wildest dreams. He explains how your teen can do anything they dream of, so long as they receive encouragement, remain in the right headspace, and are constantly challenged to reach their full potential.

This week’s sponsor is Prep U Products. Use code TEENTALK at checkout for 30% off your first order. Check out Prep U Products for the best in all-natural personal care for teen guys.


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Nov 22, 2020
Ep 112: Consequences of Your Teen’s Digital Footprint
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It’s not always easy to know what to share about your kids online. You might want to celebrate how cute they look in a Winnie the Pooh Halloween costume by posting a picture on instagram, or share your grievances on Facebook when they just won’t stop wetting the bed. When you decide to snap that pic or type that post however, you might be doing more damage to your kid’s future and reputation than you realize.


Today we’re talking about how, even when parents have the best intentions, they may submit their kids to certain risks by posting information online. So much of your information can be found and used online in ways that can be harmful to your children, ways you might not even expect. Although social media can be a great place to share and socialize with friends and family, extra vigilance about your kid’s internet  presence is becoming more and more necessary as it becomes cheaper and easier for companies and individuals to collect your data.


In this episode, we’re sitting down with Leah Plunkett, author of Sharenthood: Why We Should Think Before We Talk about Our Kids Online. Leah serves as a Faculty Affiliate at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University, and is a leading expert on digital privacy and data collection, especially among young folks. Leah’s expertise on digital media, privacy, and adolescence make for an eye-opening interview about how you can guide yourself and your kids towards more responsible, literate use of the online landscape.  


Leah and I discuss a broad range of topics, covering everything from why your kids might be affected by your seemingly innocuous facebook posts, what information is at risk of being collected and exploited from your online activity, and whether or not parents should consider implementing surveillance technology to spy on their teen’s internet behavior...


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This week’s sponsor is Prep U Products. Use code TEENTALK at checkout for 30% off your first order. Check out Prep U Products for the best in all-natural personal care for teen guys.

Nov 15, 2020
Ep 111: Want Accountable Teens? Ask the Right Questions
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When your kids are refusing to listen, staying out past curfew and ignoring your repeated attempts to establish control, some serious questions come to mind. Questions like: When will they start respecting me? How can I get them to listen to me? What is it that causes them to act this way?


As frustrated as you may feel--and we know, teens can be frustrating--it turns out that you might be asking yourself the wrong questions. Even when it feels like your kid is single-handedly instigating  disagreements and causing turmoil, there is a more effective approach than simply imploring them to end this behavior, an approach that requires you to reflect on your own actions.


What is that approach, exactly? Glad you asked. This week I’m sitting down with John G. Miller, author of the classic book QBQ!: The Question Behind the Question and the recent Raising Accountable Kids:How to Be an Outstanding Parent Using the Power of Personal Accountability. John has been speaking and teaching workshops on leadership and management for over twenty years and is also the father of 7 kids! He’s here to share what he’s learned from years of mentoring clients and raising kids, and talk all about how you can practice accountability to become a better parent.


In our interview, John covers the basics of the principle of accountability, and the questions you should be asking yourself if you want to improve your parenting powers. He also identifies the qualities that, in his eyes, make a weak parent, and how you can strengthen your approach to ensure your kids become the best people they can be.


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Nov 08, 2020
Ep 110: Hidden Depression in Perfectionists
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We know our teenagers better than anybody else, so we’d definitely know when they were feeling depressed...right? The basic symptoms of a depressed person are recognizable---withdrawing from social activities, no longer participating in things they used to enjoy, changes in dress and diet. If we saw that our teen exhibited these symptoms or noticed that they seemed anxious or unenthusiastic about life, we’d definitely know something was up.

But what about a teen who’s depression isn’t quite so easily spotted?  What if your teen seemed to be doing perfectly--class president, varsity soccer team, prom queen--but deep down, they were hiding a seriously crippling mental health crisis? Teenagers like this exist, and in fact this kind of depression is a lot more common than you might think.

To shed some light on this subject, we’re sitting down with Dr. Margaret Rutherford, author of Perfectly Hidden Depression: How to Break Free From the Perfectionism that Masks your Depression. The book is all about how some people experience depression in a way we may not think of as “traditional” or” conventional”. These people seem as though they’ve got everything together on the surface, but inside, a deep depression is stirring...


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Nov 01, 2020
Ep 109: Can Your Teen Spot the Truth?
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With kids these days having 24/7 access to the internet on a million different devices, free to browse endless content and information, it can be frightening to wonder what they might come across. As a parent, you may worry that your teenager could be reading some inappropriate Reddit threads or secretly playing Minecraft until one AM on a school night….


However, there’s a  very significant internet force that affects teens these days, one that parents might not always consider: the widespread phenomenon of fake news. You might not think your teenager could encounter dangerous misinformation online, but fake news is much more common than you might think. A 2018 MIT study has found that on Twitter, rumors and conspiracy theories are shared and clicked on almost six times as much as factual news. How can we teach our teens to avoid these fake news outlets and ensure they are remaining informed only by the truth?


Our guest today is Cindy Otis, a former CIA analyst and the author of True or False: a CIA Analysts Guide to Spotting Fake News. Cindy’s an expert on cyber security and the spread of information, and she’s here to answer some of your most burning questions about how fake news might find it’s way into your teen’s feed. 


In our interview today, she outlines some of the book’s most intriguing concepts, like how fake news manages to appear in the first place, why so many people seem to believe it, and some things teens and parents  can do to think critically about how they consume media.


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Oct 25, 2020
Ep 108: Prepare Your Teen for Police Encounters
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When it comes to raising teens, most of us know  how important it it to have conversations about things like safe sex, drugs, and alcohol...but what about police brutality? Cyberbullying? Sexual harassment? Topics like these might feel like they’re coming out of left field….and you may not know where to even start! It’s difficult to teach kids about their legal rights and street smarts when there’s no manual anywhere telling parents how to do so.


However, topics like these are vital to the health and safety of the modern teen. Especially in recent times, as society is uncovering just how common sexual assault and ploice brutality are, it can be so valuable to help your teen understand their rights and basic safety procedures in times of crises or coercion.

Our guest today is Jonathan Cristall, a prosecutor who’s years of experience in the legal profession has taught him just how much danger teens can find themselves in. As a father himself, he wanted to give his kids a book that taught them basic legal and self defense  information….but couldn’t find one! That’s why he published his new book What They Don’t Teach Teens: Life Safety Skills for Teens and the Adults Who Care for Them. It covers some important stuff your kids might not learn in school--but that they should definitely know.


Jonathan sat down with us today to discuss the rights your teen should be aware of during an interaction with law enforcement,  the basic street safety skills every teen should have, and how teens can protect themselves from predators online...

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Oct 18, 2020
Ep 107: Only 7% of Parents Do This...
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When it comes to having hard conversations with teenagers, talking about pornography is often one of the most awkward and unprecedented topics to cover. It feels so private, so uncomfortable to bring up….especially with your own child!  It’s ever so tempting to just skip the conversation altogether. It’s not that likely that your teen is watching porn….right?


Quite the contrary. In fact, recent research indicates that about 90% of boys and 60% of girls today are exposed to porn before the age of 17. Not only that, but about a third of teenagers say they watch porn regularly, on a weekly or monthly basis. In contrast, only about 7% of parents have talked to their teenagers about pornograpy. And with modern pornography becoming more and more exploitative of both it’s stars and it’s viewers, teens could be at risk of viewing some seriously dark stuff--and getting into some frightening patterns.


That’s why we have the brilliant Megan Maas on the podcast this week. She’s a seasoned sex educator and researcher of adolescent psychology, and focuses a lot of her  energy on helping teenagers and parents become more comfortable with talking about pornography and it’s effects. She’s here to chat all about how to start those hard conversations about porn--and explain why they’re so important.


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Oct 11, 2020
Ep 106: Teen Brain Hacks
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When your teen is cranky, rude, anxious, or just stressed out, it’s hard not to ask yourself, what’s making them act this way? You may start to worry that it was by something you did...or wonder if there’s something you should be doing! Parenting is one of the world’s toughest jobs, and even when you’re doing your best it can feel as though your teen’s problems are somehow linked to your parenting.

The truth is, however, these behaviors could be caused by something far out of your control. Teenager’s moods are affected by so many things: the amount of sleep they get, how much time they spend on their screens, whether or not the person they have a crush on talked to them at school...the list goes on. There’s countless small forces that shape teens’ behavior in big ways, and by looking at research into how teens operate mentally and physically, we can uncover how these forces accumulate to shape teens’ behavior.


Our guest this week is Malin Gutestam, a researcher and educator who has worked extensively with adolescents to uncover how teens can not only improve their mood but also find success in their endeavors. She’s the author of Brain Tools for Teens, a guide to teen psychology and biology that focuses on helping teens understand their own form and function to increase performance on everything from academics to athletics...

Oct 04, 2020
Ep 105: The Hormones Behind Bonding, Relationships, and Sex
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Sep 27, 2020
Ep 104: A Good Relationship is Key to Raising a Good Teen
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Creating a strong relationship with your teen doesn’t always come easy. It can be hard to interest them in shooting hoops or watching old movies with you...they’re likely more excited about skating or hanging out with their friends at the mall. Even just starting up conversations can be difficult, as teens can sometimes be wary that you’re just trying to nag them or tell them what to do.

If we don’t form strong bonds with our teenagers, however, we might be keeping them from reaching their full potential. More and more research on adolescent mental health and self esteem indicates that having meaningful relationships with trusted adults can be vital to their well being. So how can we create powerful connections with our teens to ensure they move into adulthood with confidence and self efficacy?

Our guest today is here to talk all about how parents can forge positive relationships with teenagers that give them power to thrive. His name is Richard Lerner, and he’s a professor who’s done some groundbreaking research on the adolescent mind. His book, The Good Teen:  Rescuing Adolescents From the Myths of the Storm and Stress Years, is all about how we can smash the myth that adolescents have to be miserable, and instead create nurturing, empowering environments where care and encouragement allow teens to reach their full potential...

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Sep 20, 2020
Ep 103: How Risk-Taking is Hardwired in Adolescent Brains
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Watching teens gobble down five plates of food, grow six inches in one night and flock in groups to the mall as they attempt to attract “mates” really makes you think...teens aren’t so different from wild animals! And just like wild animals, our teenagers are up against quite a bit as they begin setting out on their own in the world. They’ll need to know how to protect themselves from danger, how to socialize with others, how to develop effective sexul communication, and how to provide for themselves as they become independent adults.


We can’t protect our teens from the force of nature forever...so how can we prepare them to master the art of survival? Amazingly, there’s a lot we can learn about priming out teens for adult life from studying the patterns of adolescent wild animals. Whether it’s uncovering connections between the ways animals and humans both learn to avoid danger, or finding similarities in reproductive patterns across species, our guests today are here to shine light on how wild animals can teach us all about teenage behavior.


My conversation today is with Barbara Natterson-Horowitz and Kathryn Bowers. They’ve been researching animal science together for the past ten years—and they’re also both mothers of young adults. Investigating the behaviors of wild animals while simultaneously wrangling teens at home caused them to identify similarities between teen adolescence and animal adolescence. Their book, Wildhood: The Astounding Connections Between Human and Animal Adolescents, discusses how we can use research on animals to help our teens grow up safe, confident, and independent.


The key according to Barbara and Kathryn is getting your adolescents’ four main needs met...


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Sep 13, 2020
Ep 102: Is Your Teen’s Tech Use Healthy, Junky, or Toxic?
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Technology is not going away, but it can feel like our teens have been looking at a screen for half their lives. With so many new distracting gadgets and apps, it’s often overwhelming to monitor our teen’s usage--not to mention try to keep an eye on our own! 


It’s important to make sure teens gain an understanding of how tech and apps work. They will likely have to use various softwares and apps when they join the workforce, and they need to know how to adapt to new tech. But striking a balance between the good tech and the bad tech is tricky. 


This week, Dr. Shimi Kang, author of The Tech Solution: Creating Healthy Habits for Kids Growing Up in a Digital World and addiction psychiatrist, clues me in on how different types of tech are hurting and helping teen’s developing brains--and what to do if you’ve already tried and failed to pry a phone from your screen-addicted teen...

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Sep 06, 2020
Ep 101: Connect Deeper with Vulnerability
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It’s not always easy to be pleasant as a parent, especially when your teens push your buttons, blow off curfew, or “forget” to unload the dishwasher, no matter how many times you gently remind them. As young people still figuring out the world, teenagers can be unpredictable in their emotions and wants. Having a good relationship with your teen is important, but having to keep your teen in line makes for a hard balance. 

And when your teenager is acting crazy and just not listening, how can you make sure they start behaving without bringing your relationship to the brink of destruction? How can you set rules and boundaries while also keeping your teens trust? It seems like sometimes there’s just no easy way to maintain a solid relationship with your teenager when they are driving you up the wall.

But our guest today has faith that as parents, we were born for these challenges. Kari Kampakis, author of Love Her Well: 10 Ways to Find Love and Connection With Your Teenage Daughter and mother of four teen/tween daughters(!), is chock full of wisdom about how to be a more wise and graceful parent. Kari believes that as parents we can form strong, loving bonds with our kids and still nudge them towards becoming healthy, respectable adults. Whether you’re looking to empower your kids when they’ve made a mistake or just looking for ways to balance setting boundaries with fun, Kari has you covered...

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Aug 30, 2020
Ep 100: Artistic Teen? Time to Get Creative...
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When our kid says they want to pursue art as a career, we can sometimes be hesitant to support them. We have no doubt that they’re talented: we’ve seen them receive standing ovations at the end of a musical theater performance, rack up trophies and medals for photography, maybe even have their creative writing featured in the local paper. But that’s now--pursuing work as an adult creative conjures up the image of the starving artists, of young people struggling financially and emotionally as they try desperately to make it big in the fast paced world of art and entertainment.


We want our kids to be financially stable, instead of living hand to mouth. Should we be encouraging our kids to pursue careers as bankers and programmers, even though it means they’re talent will go to waste?  Can our kids really make enough money from their art to live happy and healthy lives?


If only someone could tell us what it’s like to pursue a life as an artist in the modern age, so we could know if a stable future in the arts is truly possible. If only there was a person out there who knows exactly why it’s hard to make money as an artist, and whether or not we should encourage our kids to go after a career in art…

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Aug 23, 2020
Ep 99: “Mom! Dad! Can I Have Some Money?”
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Talking to our kids about finances can be a chore: terms like “good debt,” “credit score,” and “interests rates” tend to make most people’s eyes glaze over. Besides that hurdle, it feels like as parents we have to know all the ins and outs of money and wealth to get our teens to pay attention. Most parents might just throw up their hands and rely on schools and colleges to fill in the gaps. Let’s just hope our teens get jobs that have a good retirement plan with full benefits...and that they stay in that job for their career. 


But what if talking to our teens about money now was guaranteed to make them wealthier in the future? 


It’s not a pipe dream—in fact, the evidence (and this week’s guest) suggests getting teens financially literate is one of the most important things to do to prepare them for stability as an adult...



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Aug 16, 2020
Ep 98: From Insecure to Marvelous
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Being a tween and becoming an adult is an awkward time not just for tweens, but for their parents! Bodies are changing, friendships are growing more complicated, and your once confident child may appear to be folding in on themselves, pulling away from the world, just at the moment when they need to learn how to be on their own in it!


Instead of being able to tune in more accurately to their own voice, our teens are increasingly confronted with a myriad of messages on who to befriend, how to behave, and what to wear. With so many companies and personalities vying for our teens attention, it can feel like there’s no room for the voice of a parent. 


But teens, arguably more now than ever, need a steady parental presence... 


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Aug 09, 2020
Ep 97: One Trusted Adult
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Helping your teenager approach independence is hard. You want to make sure they know how to make their own choices so they’re prepared for adulthood--but you want them to always make the right choices. You want them to have autonomy and take care of things on their own--as long as they do it the way you want.


Even though it might be tempting to always take control and step in when your kid is making tough decisions, sometimes you just need to let your teenager learn on their own. If you constantly insert yourself in your teenager’s choices, they’re not going to be able to handle life’s crazy obstacles when they no longer have you to guide them through every little thing. Sometimes, you just need to let go and watch your teenager go at the world  themselves.


Brooklyn Raney has a lot to say about the benefits of letting go. She’s a speaker, teacher, and educator, and the author of One Trusted Adult: How to Build Strong Connections and Healthy Boundaries with Young People. She also runs a leadership camp for girls which helps teach young women about teamwork and resilience, and is a high school dean. Her work has helped parents, kids and educators everywhere learn the value of letting go...


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Aug 02, 2020
Ep 96: Getting Over the Awkwardness to Talk About Sex
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Talking to teens about sex is one of the hardest things to do as a parent. Initiation discussion about the birds and the bees can be very confusing, messy, and just plain awkward! Not only that, but teenagers can be very resistant to opening up and talking about sex even if they have questions and want clarification on the subject.

No matter how uncomfortable or difficult talking to your teenager about sex and relationships is, it’s a crucial part of helping your child to grow up happy and healthy. Kids today are exposed to sexual content from a very young age, with the internet providing an infinite amount of pornographic content. While knowing about sex from a young age is ok, kids should be learning the facts from an educational, honest source rather than porn. The porn industry, more concerned with making money than protecting the minds and hearts of young people, often portrays sex as degrading, violent, and often not even consenual.

Sound terrifying? I’m scared too! That’s why I’m sitting down with Cindy Pierce in today’s episode. Cindy is the author of several different books that tell you how to talk to teens about sex: Sexplotation: Helping Kids Develop Healthy Secuality in a Porn-Driven World and Sex, College, and Social Media: A Commonsense Guide to Navigating the Hookup Culture. She also travels around to schools across the country to educate teenagers, parents, and college students about sex...

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Jul 26, 2020
Ep 95: The Truth About Alcohol
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Drinking alcohol is a pretty significant part of the American cultural fabric. In fact, 86.3% of Americans over 18 say that they’ve tried alcohol and 55.3% report that they drink regularly. Nowhere is alcohol more culturally expected than in young adulthood. It’s almost assumed that college students will experiment with alcohol, and teenagers are becoming more and more likely to try alcohol before reaching adulthood.


But it’s nothing to worry about, right? Alcohol isn’t that dangerous, is it?  Unfortunately, the science says otherwise. In a recent federal report which rated the harmfulness of various drugs, alcohol was rated far and wide the most dangerous drug, with heroin coming in far behind in second and crack in third.  


How is this possible? The study examined the widespread dangers of different drugs on society as a whole, looking at how many people face serious damage from using. Alcohol is by far the deadliest, killing approximately 88,000 Americans a year. All illegal drugs combined kill about 22,000 a year, while pharmaceuticals kill 24,000. If we combine these two numbers, we can see that the amount of deaths caused by all other drugs is only around half of those caused by alcohol. 


And yet, most people are more informed about the various risks of taking Advil than they are about the dangers of alcohol! Our guest today, Annie Grace, is determined to change this. She’s the author of the book This Naked Mind: Control Alcohol, Find Freedom, Discover Happiness and Change Your Life...

Jul 19, 2020
Ep 94: Why Teens Run Wild & How to Keep Them Safe
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We have the “talk” with our teens and make sure they at least attend health class. We push our teens to get adequate sleep and nutrition. We put our teens through D.A.R.E. and make clear drugs and alcohol are not acceptable. Vandalism and stealing are even against the law. 

So Why, why?? we wonder, Why do teenagers still do these things!? And for Chrissake why is it always teens doing the misbehaving? You rarely see groups of 25 year olds, 40 year olds or (spry) 80 year olds participating in reckless and risky behaviors. 

Adults--from parents to deans to coaches--devote so much time and energy into trying to teach adolescents the risks of misbehaving. From broken bones to trauma, we want to help our teens avoid threats to their physical and mental health—so why don’t teens act accordingly? Why are teenagers more likely to take risks than any other age group? Do they really think they’re invincible? 

Teenage risk taking is more complicated than just a single platitude. It’s not just the fact that teen brain’s executive regions are under construction: an influx of hormones muddles things up along with intense peer pressure, whether real or perceived. 

To understand the interaction between the biology and neurology of the teen brain, this week I spoke with Dr. Jess Shatkin, author of Born to Be Wild: Why Teens Take Risks, and How We Can Help Keep Them Safe. As a practicing psychiatrist in Manhattan and Vice Chair for Education and Professor of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry and Pediatrics at the NYU School of Medicine, Dr. Shatkin has been entrenched in the workings of the teenage brain for decades. 

Dr. Shatkin was curious as to why teenagers make risky decisions even in his early days. The youngest of eight, he watched his older siblings morph and change, from tame tweens to wild teens to mature twentysomethings and adults. When Dr. Shatkin himself was a teen, he realized that he was making decisions he logically wouldn’t otherwise, had he been younger. And with older siblings to look up to, he knew he wouldn’t always feel so, well, wild


While teenage risk taking is more common than we’d like, it turns out teens don’t actually think they are invincible, as many adults have come to believe. We’d be wrong to assume teens feel as invincible as we think they act...

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Jul 12, 2020
Ep 93: How to Spot & Treat Eating Disorders
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For the average person, there is absolutely nothing frightening about pizza. It’s delicious, cheap to order, and easy to eat! So why might pizza be such a struggle for a teenager with an eating disorder?


 Pizza is high in calories and fat, and can be very triggering for someone who constantly obsesses over what they eat. Pizza is also the go-to food for birthday parties, school events, or college activities. It’s one of the most frequently eaten foods in American culture. For a teenager with an eating disorder, adjusting to regular life means eating pizza--and for them, this is isn’t easy.


 That’s why we need to take teen eating disorder treatment seriously, and help those suffering from anorexia, bulimia, or binge eating as soon as possible. By waiting too long to address these problems, or letting teenagers struggle with them alone, their physical and mental health can only get worse. It can become so serious that even something as simple as pizza at a school event can become a battleground.


 My guest today is Lauren Muhlheim, clinical psychologist and expert on teen eating disorder treatment. She recently authored When Your Teen Has an Eating Disorder: Practical Strategies to Help Your Teen Recover from Anorexia, Bulimia, and Binge Eating. The book dives into a lot of information about eating disorder recovery, focusing mainly on the idea of family-based treatment.


You may be familiar with the term family therapy, in which a family undergoes treatment together to work out issues they may be having with one another. Although they may sound similar, family therapy and family-based treatment are actually very different. When it comes to teen eating disorder treatment, family therapy focuses on the cause of the disorder, viewing family issues as the underlying problem. This kind of treatment usually only looks at the family as the cause, and places the solution in the hands of residential or other professional treatment. Family based treatment focuses on how families can set up structures and systems to help their teen heal physically and mentally. In this type of therapy, families essentially become the residential treatment; they are the ones who monitor eating, take measures to inhibit purging, or whatever the teenager may need...


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Jul 05, 2020
Ep. 92: Raising Successful People
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We all want our teens to be successful. But it’s hard to know if we’re pushing too hard...or not enough. Maybe you faced this dilemma when your teen adamantly wanted to quit piano, even though you knew they’ll regret it down the line. Or maybe they just got back from college and want to abandon their original career path. Sometimes it may feel like you’re walking on a tightrope, trying not to squash their hopes and dreams but also attempting to protect them from their ignorance. Luckily, Esther Wojcicki: American journalist, renowned educator, and mother of three incredibly successful daughters, joins me this week to share with listeners highly effective lessons that can help you empower your teen towards success. 


Like many teens, Esther Wojcicki, author of How to Raise Successful People: Simple Lessons for Radical Results,  questioned everything. And while not every teen’s power struggle is warranted, sometimes it produces the breakthrough needed. In Esther’s case, it saved her life. When Esther’s mother told her to lie down in her room while carbon monoxide was leaking into their home, Esther challenged her mom and insisted they go outside. This experience and others similar inspired both Esther’s teaching and parenting philosophy. 


In the 1980s-- and still today-- many educators assume an authoritarian role in the classroom: they are the keeper of information, and they are the lead disciplinarian should teen behavior go awry. And many well-intentioned parents handle their kids this way too. But Esther decided to shake things up. 


Instead of viewing her high school students as being that ought to be managed, and their questions as shots at her authority, she approached them as partners. She allowed them space and support to get creative. She collaboratively worked with them to achieve their projects. And more than anything, she showed interest in their work and expressed kindness along the way. Not only did she create a welcoming, empowering environment that inspired hundreds of kids to join, but she also helped her students achieve success beyond their wildest dreams. The once 20-student journalism classroom she led decades ago has grown to be the largest in the United States. With over 600 students, 5 teachers, and 9 prestigious journalism publication awards, Esther cracked the code. Without pushing them to the brink or letting them abandon their untapped potential, Esther found a way to help her students succeed while fostering meaningful relationships with them. These seemingly simple pillars-- creativity, collaboration, and kindness--yield radical results not just in the classroom, but in families...


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Jun 28, 2020
Ep 91: Not Under My Roof!
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Every parent wants their teen to find love one day. But maybe not while the teen is under their roof! For teens in American, being sexually active is considered a health risk. While sex at any age can come with risk of disease, infection, or unwanted pregnancy, many parents avoid talking about it, preferring to dismiss any relationships formed in high school as temporary--maybe even a distraction to our teens success!


But are these well-intentioned efforts doing more harm than good? Certainly the chances of high school relationships lasting into adulthood are rather slim, but the consequences of denying that our teens are experiencing love and experimenting with sex are severe. The teen pregnancy birth rate in the US is around 19 per 1000 births--compare that to a country like the Netherlands who have a teen pregnancy rate of around 4.5 per 1000 births.  With similar access to contraception as well as comparable economic advantages, what is it America is doing wrong when it comes to teenage relationships? 


Amy Schalet, author of Not Under My Roof: Parents, Teens, and the Culture of Sex, offers our listeners a unique perspective this week: raised by American parents in the Netherlands, Schalet shares her personal, historical, and sociological insights from researching the two countries’ opposing approaches to teenage sexuality. Interestingly enough, this issue stems back to medicine, of all places. 


In the United States, adolescent sex is viewed as a health risk. And the implications of that on American culture are incredibly strong. The fear and discomfort associated with perspective influences our culture, our upbringing, and our understanding of normalcy. And American parents use it to inform their household rules too. This often means no PDA, minimal conversations around sex, and certainly no sleepovers with adolescent partners. While such is quite normal in the United States, believe it or not, Holland approaches the matter differently altogether.

In the Netherlands, family physicians view adolescent sex and teenage sexuality as part of the developmental process. This involves open conversations about love, sex, and contraception in the doctor’s office and the classroom starting at a young age. And thus, parents follow suit. Instead of viewing teenage sexuality as uncomfortable and cringy, Dutch parents are incredibly more open to it. Culturally, adolescent relationships are acknowledged, upheld, and welcomed in Dutch households. And surprisingly, they have the lowest rates of teenage pregnancy in the Western world! 


But does that mean American parents should start welcoming whoever their teen chooses over for a sleepover? Perhaps not. But it is worth considering how other cultures view teenage sexuality, and how American parents can take the lessons learned into their homes. 


When I asked Amy Schalet more about the differing attitudes surrounding this topic between the two countries, she noted that the main difference has to do with parental control, and parents’ understanding of their adolescents’ ability to self-regulate....

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Among these fascinating topics and thought-provoking questions, Amy Schaelt and I discuss: 

  • Hookup culture 
  • Control and connection 
  • Teenage relationships and their aspirations 
  • More cultural comparisons between the U.S. and the Netherlands


Learn more about Amy Schalet’s cross-cultural insights and how they can help you build a stronger relationship with your teenager today!

Jun 21, 2020
Ep 90: What's Your Teen Thinking?
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Sometimes, talking to your teen feels like arguing with a brick wall. You want to help them, but they’re not listening, they’re angry  with you, and worse: they just shrugged and said, “whatever.” 


And it’s hard not to feel disrespected in these tough situations. As the adult, you want to regain control and set them straight, but if every teen listened when their parents demanded respect, well: we certainly wouldn’t be here today! 


These inevitable conflicts often arise from two equally strong forces: a teen’s desire to create their own identity, and their desperation for approval-- yours and their peers’.  Whether it be obsessively fixating on social media, tagging along on a risky event due to FOMO (fear of missing out) or engaging with mature content, teens are trying to foster independence and belonging, even when it leaves us scratching our heads. Sometimes it’s hard to tell what their motives are, and it’d sure be a whole lot easier if we knew just what they were thinking. 


But because we’ll probably never truly know, and spying doesn’t exactly foster a healthy parent/teen relationships, parents must remember that their job is not to be their teen’s life coach: it’s to empower them to healthily navigate their independence. And that means controlling our impulses, hosting neutral spaces for communication, and above all, trusting our teens: something journalist, author, and this week’s guest, Tanith Carey, champions in her book What’s My Teenager Thinking?: Practical Child Psychology for Modern Parents. Between bullying, vaping, lying, boredom, and more, Tanith covers strategies for managing and responding to these tough situations. 


When I asked her about a parent’s role in alleged bullying, Tanith believes that parents are most helpful when they listen. In the flurry of emotion and bustle of just getting home, teens usually don’t want you to rattle off a litany of strategies for overcoming the conflict: they just want to be heard. And after they’ve been listened to and are ready for solutions moving forward, put the power back in their hands: guide them to consider solutions. While parents have great wisdom and advice worth sharing, your teen--more than anyone--will know how certain strategies will play out. So engage them in self-questioning: this sounds like: “What if I wasn’t afraid of them?” “In what ways are they stopping me from doing what I want?” “How can I best mediate this?” By engaging the teen in self-questioning, Tanith notes, your teen will most likely determine a viable solution sooner. And they’ll also feel less victimized too. 


While alleged bullying is a lot trickier to navigate than a teen’s boredom, boredom is still a tough situation worth looking into. Tanith noted that this generation’s desire to be oversaturated with stimulation often leads them to craving productivity/engagement 24/7. And when that’s lost--even for a moment-- teens feel bored. Sometimes this tendency can lead to problematic behavior such as premature or excessive drugs/alcohol, but oftentimes it creates unutilized space for you to connect with your teen. “There’s nothing wrong with being bored!” Tanith argues, and instead of pushing them to find something else to engage with, teach them to view these moments as useful pauses--not failures or shortcomings. Share the space with them: ask them questions and connect with them here. Not only will they no longer be bored, but they can feel closer to you. 


These moments of connection can especially help when navigating the even tougher situations, like finding out that they’ve viewed mature content. And you want to scold them--who wouldn’t? Still, Tanith argued that scolding the teen here negates a pivotal opportunity to guide them. 


In Tanith’s research, mature content can significantly affect a teen. The brain can be scarred, and content could linger in the teen’s mind for up to 6 months. Instead of coming unhinged and imposing consequences, try to foster an open dialogue: one where they feel at ease and not intently criticized. This is because Tanith believes that that’s the most defining part of a parent/teen relationship: the degree to which the teen feels criticized. Yes: you may wish they never stumbled upon/searched this content. And yes: the level of investment the teen made in this content may change your response. But regardless, it’s important to contain your impulses and help them reestablish trust because the urge to chastise them here will do more harm than good. At the end of the day, we can’t control what our teens see (and excessively trying to will not reap many benefits either).


And then I asked about the infamous “whatever.” You tried to be reasonable and impose some sort of order and they hit you with this passive-aggressive exasperation. Tanith agrees that yes-- this is disrespectful, but instead of firing back, get curious! Maybe not in the moment, though. After taking a step back, Tanith believes parents can better understand their teen’s “whatever” by reopening communication channels. This means helping them name the problem and troubleshooting from there. More than anything, Tanith urges parents to step away when they feel triggered. Because the more authoritarian they are, the more passive aggression they’ll be met with. 


Another important topic we covered was the vaping craze. Many teens today see it as a fun, safe, rebellious activity that bridges social circles and helps build their independence. Tanith exposed the irony and humor in this: the same demographic teens often rebel against (us;  adults; authority) are the same ones marketing vape products to them! And yes: science tells us that vaping is quite damaging health-wise, and it’d be safer if teens simply said “no.” Still, Tanith cautioned against holding unrealistically high expectations for teens. Because the truth is, if you hold true to them, you’re going to be disappointed. What’s truly unrealistic is believing they’ll never engage in such risky behaviors. 


One more interesting topic Tanith and I covered was the gap year: is it a cop out or not? Because Tanith is from the U.K., she noted that gap years are far more normalized there; teens who take it grow in maturity and confidence so by the time they do reach college, they are better adjusted. But in the U.S., though, many parents think it’s a reason to stall. What’s more normalized in the U.S. is getting a college education straight after college. Putting your teen into a box either way is quite damaging, though. Tanith believes parents should put their biases down and acknowledge either route, or an alternative all together. 


In addition to handling these tough situations, Tanith and I cover: 

  • Social media and why you shouldn’t request to follow your teen
  • Youth activism and constructively viewing media 
  • Lying: is it the ultimate crime? 
  • Why the stigma around gap years in the U.S. should be tossed out 


Tanith Carey’s insights make facing these difficult times less stressful. Having a defiant teenager is more or less inevitable, but you have more control over the conflicts than you think. Excited to share this light-hearted podcast with our listeners!

Jun 14, 2020
Ep 89: The Followers & the Rebels
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At times it may seem like all your teen wants to do is exactly whatever their friends are doing...even if that means jumping off a cliff, as the metaphor goes. Other times, our teens seem to be rejecting everything and anything, rebelling to the point of isolation. It’s difficult to know when your teen is going to follow the rules and when they’ll rebel. 

The big question tightrope teens are walking almost all have to do with identity. Parents might be familiar with teens being adamant that they have a certain brand of jeans one month only to discard or alter those same jeans the next month. Some teens call their parents at the first sight of alcohol at a party, and other teens gladly grab a drink--and sometimes what your teen chooses might depend on which party they’re attending. 

The answers to the question of how we might get our teens to think through their choices--following or rebelling--may actually lie in the world of behavioral economics. 

This week, Michelle Baddeley, author of Copycats and Contrarians: Why We Follow Others...and When We Don’t, and world-expert on behavioral economics, covers when and why people copy each other and when they rebel. Behavioral economics, as Michelle explains, posits that new behaviors are acquired through observation and imitation--basically we look at how other people behave and take our cues from there. Anyone thrown into a new situation is susceptible to relying too much on others to determine their future behavior. Among the most vulnerable group to this influence is first-year high school/university students. 

When I asked what wisdom Dr. Baddeley could offer parents who want to help their teens critically combat this influence, Dr. Baddeley focused on the importance of shared trust, communication, and research. By illuminating the consequences of rash decisions with real life examples, Dr. Baddely notes that parents can help their teens without coming across as controlling or out-of-touch. 

Another important topic we cover is perhaps counterintuitive to most people: rebels are important. Dissent is essential for politics, capitalism, education--even families! Often people rebelling have a reason, and discussing why your teen disagrees with a family policy can open up deeper conversations about values and worldviews.

This too is supported in her research. While contrarians may simply enjoy the risk of being different, they do push the copycats to reconsider their position. The same can be said about rebellious teens. Most of the time, they may be wrong. But sometimes, they’re right. Simply quashing rebellion without discussing it--particularly if it’s repeated disobedience of a specific rule or policy--might send the message to your teen to merely be more covert with their dissent. 

In addition to how behavioral economics informs communication with teens, Michelle and I cover:

  • Tattoos and how to get your teen to reconsider getting one!
  • If it’s possible to truly resist peer pressure
  • A trick to get anyone to reconsider their decision
  • How to reverse a social media copycat-bubble
  • The upside of rebels and mavericks


Michelle’s book is multidisciplinary in nature and that seemed to be just how our conversation went as well. Turns out, there’s a lot we can all learn about adult-teen communication from principles in behavioral economics. Excited to share this one with our listeners!

Jun 07, 2020
Ep 88: A Conversation About Race
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Right now, America is once again in the midst of having one of the most important—and most complicated—conversations: the conversation about race. With the death of George Floyd at the hands of the Minneapolis police, reactions to racial disparity in America have exploded in the form of peaceful protests, community organization, and social media activism, as well as dramatic  incidents of looting and rioting. No matter where we turn, we’re face-to-face with a set of daunting, hard-to-answer questions that have haunted America through all its history. 

 

For parents, the conversation surrounding race holds a special significance in the home. Black, Latinx, Asian, Native American, and other non-White homes want to make sure their children are prepared to face race-related challenges that could arise over the course of their adolescence, and certainly, all parents want their children to be unbiased and empathetic toward others, regardless of skin color. However, the language surrounding racial injustice is often packed with loaded terminology and uncomfortable historical facts, making it intimidating for many parents to openly address race with their children. But to ensure the next generation of adults is prepared to continue fighting for racial equality, it’s absolutely essential for all parents to know how and why to talk about race openly and honestly, no matter how difficult it seems. 

 

To explore how race impacts teenagers on a daily basis and what parents can do to foster open dialogues about race in the home, I spoke with the esteemed Dr. Beverly Daniel Tatum. Dr. Tatum is the former president of the historically Black college Spelman University, a recipient of the American Psychological Association’s top honor, and author of the renowned book Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?: And Other Conversations About Race. As one of our country’s foremost scholars on race and a teacher of race-related subjects for over thirty years, it’s no surprise Dr. Tatum offers some incredible takeaways for listeners in this week’s episode. 

 

When it comes to talking about race, Dr. Tatum doesn’t shy away from the fact that all people need to be engaged, not just people of color. To illustrate her point, she compares racism to smog; if not everybody is actively involved in cutting emissions, our air will never be clean. It’s the same, she claims, for racism. Unless everyone is involved in fighting for racial equality, racism will always be a problem. And that fight starts with addressing the reality of racism in America. After all, you can’t fix a problem unless you’ve identified it first! 

 

This idea directly opposes the “colorblind” approach to race, where people pretend not to “see” skin color. In this week’s interview, Dr. Tatum not only explains why this mindset is harmful, but she gives great advice on what parents can do to embrace, accept, celebrate, and navigate the implications of REC—racial-ethnic-cultural—identities in the home—even White families. In fact, Dr. Tatum addresses how White families can act as firm and steadfast allies, and she even offers an alternate term for White privilege to help clarify its definition: White immunity. 

 

In the course of our conversation, Dr. Tatum also discusses the changes in policy, psychology, population, and polarization (the “Four Ps”) that have impacted the discussion surrounding race—valuable information to parents keen to learn more about the current state of racism in America. On top of these great insights, Dr. Tatum and I broach the topics of:

  • Addressing race and diversity in education
  • How race and brain development go hand-in-hand for teens
  • Why the history of racism is so important
  • Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs)
  • The concept of “White guilt” and what you can do to overcome it

With such a rich and critical topic at hand, and considering the current political climate, I know all listeners will find something valuable to take away from Dr. Tatum’s research and perspective. Whether you’re a social justice champion or a parent trying to address race for the first time, this week’s episode is sure to help you—and your teen’s—understanding of race.


Jun 04, 2020
Ep. 87: Combatting the Drama of High School
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In many ways, high school is something that takes place behind closed doors. Even though many  teenagers seem young and naïve to many parents, they’re having their first experiences with drugs, alcohol, sex, and other serious topics both inside and outside of class, and their choices have major consequences. Not to mention, teenagers are often dealing with a cutthroat social jungle packed with drama! All these stressors add up quickly, and teens might make irrational, possibly dangerous or harmful decisions. 

 

This world—the world of high school—is a hard one for parents to keep up with, especially when their teens don’t want to be open and honest about their experiences. Still, parents absolutely need to be a positive presence in their teens lives to help navigate these wild situations. But when teens are reluctant to share their experiences, how can parents possibly know how to act? 

 

For more about teenage social spheres and what parents can do to help, I talked with Rosalind Wiseman, author of multiple parenting books including Queen Bees and Wannabees: Helping Your Daughter Survive Cliques, Gossip, Boyfriends, and the new Realities of Girl World, the basis for the hit movie Mean Girls. (You could say Wiseman made “fetch” happen!) Aside from this feat alone, Wiseman has worked with teens for decades, and her books are all written with the guidance of actual teenagers and are screened by teen readers, making them some of the most spot-on books on the market. She’s also no stranger to working with parents, schools, and teenagers themselves to work through some of the most challenging moments in teens’ lives. 

 

According to Wiseman, one of the most crucial parts of helping teens navigate high school is to instill an understanding of how they should be treated and how they should treat others—something parents need to foster. Teens need to know their essential worth as a person and use this knowledge to guide their friendships, relationships, and important choices. For example, what are they looking for from their friends? Do they cherish trust? Loyalty? Acceptance? Teens need to know what their values are, what they look like, and know how to stand up for themselves when they’re being violated. They’re are going to make these decisions for themselves, but Wiseman explains to listeners exactly why instilling this kind of resolve is one of the best things a parent can do, as well as how to do it. 

 

In addition, Wiseman covers everything from breaking down cliques to creating a family “Bill of Rights,” rattling off insights and strategies for parents like the expert she is. Over the course of our interview, we cover:

  • Identifying teenage roles in friend groups. 
  • Getting teens to help themselves with self-help books. 
  • “Reconnaissance strategies” and the importance of teen privacy
  • The reality of nude photos and sexting 
  • Shifting elements of teenage drug culture 

Wiseman’s work has had an incredible impact on the world of parenting, teaching, and even pop culture, and having her as a guest on this week’s podcast was an absolute privilege. Whether or not you’re the parent of a high schooler, listen in for all of her amazing tips! 

May 31, 2020
Ep 86: The Dark Side of College: Testing, Admissions, and Inequality
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College holds a special place in the American Dream. It’s almost every parent’s hope for their kid to receive a four-year education and make a name for themself. A college  diploma is more than a piece of paper; it’s a marker for success. A promise of steady income, a supportive social network, and opportunities to continue moving upward. But the truth is, that piece of paper is becoming more and more inaccessible every year.


Sixteen- and seventeen-year-olds stress over the SAT and ACT like the scores determine their entire worth. Parents go gray trying to find ways to afford higher education. Even financial aid seems to be an elusive privilege to the families who need it most, and student loans loom darkly in the future. With so much at stake, one question is on everyone’s mind: Is college worth it?

For the answer to this question and a closer look at the college admissions process, I spoke with this week’s podcast guest, Paul Tough. In his most recent book, The Years that Matter Most: How College Makes or Break Us, Paul takes an unflinching stance on the reality of higher education in America to show readers the truth about colleges and universities. From SAT scores to post-graduation salaries, Paul’s extensive research tells all.


Written over the course of six years, Paul’s book is packed with studies, research, and interviews with people all across the spectrum of higher education. He recounts the stories of low-income students at leading universities like Princeton and Yale while also offering insights from leading SAT tutors, recruiting agents from top banks and law firms, and more. All his findings point to one conclusion—one that might be disheartening to many: When it comes to college, money matters.


Struggling colleges and top institutions alike are constantly looking for ways to fund their expensive programs, meaning they look for students from high-income families who’re likely to be solid donors down the road. A student’s socioeconomic background even continues to influence their chances of success after graduation. Employers look for people with similar hobbies and experiences—people they can “shoot the shit” with. It creates a circle of affluence in higher education, and, in Paul’s words, lacrosse bros really do run the world.

While the revelation in Paul’s books can be discouraging, we also talk about possibilities for teenagers from low-income households to enter the system and what people active in higher education are doing now to make college more accessible to a wider range of students, along with topics like:

  • What the SAT and ACT are really testing
  • The elite-college machine
  • How admissions truly determine who to enroll
  • If college is really becoming more diverse
  • The barriers to higher education

For parents and teenagers entering the college admissions process, this podcast episode is priceless. Paul Tough shines a light on the underbelly of higher education, giving all listeners some much-needed perspective on American education. If you want to know the secret, listen in! 

May 24, 2020
Ep. 85: Reaching Resilience
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As girls grow older, the social and internal pressure they face grows exponentially. The friend problems from middle school seems a far step from the intricate web of high school drama, romantic relationships form and fail, and the expectation to act, dress, and behave certain ways steers girls into uncomfortable, hard-to-navigate situations. All of this can have serious consequences on girls’ outlook on the world and themselves.

Without proper guidance from their parents, teenage girls can let unhealthy mindsets fester and become seriously harmful. Too much screen time, toxic friendships, and unresolved trust issues can all lead girls down the wrong path. They might develop major self-esteem and mental health issues, or they might become over-concerned with that others think of them instead of being true to their own passions. Parents play a huge role in developing positive habits in their teenage and preteen daughters, and with many teen girls feeling like life is at a never-ending standstill, it’s more important than ever for them to feel encouraged, supported, and empowered.


For a look at what parents can do to encourage and empower their teenage girls (and boys!), I welcomed back Lindsey Sealey, recent author of Rooted, Resilient, and Ready: Empowering Teen Girls as they Grow. Lindsey knows so much about how to instill confidence in young women that one podcast episode wasn’t enough! She previously appeared in Episode 74: Growing Strong Girls, but she came back to explain even more ways parents can help girls through especially hard times.


In Lindsey’s work with teenage girls, she often sees them put on “masks” to hide their true emotions and avoid failure. She thinks this kind of behavior is rooted in a fear, whether it be fear of judgment, fear of failure, or fear of not fitting in. These masks become more and more harmful as girls get older and their relationships and conflicts become more complicated. Mental health, romantic relationships, toxic friendships, and academic pressures build and build, making life more complex than ever for teenage girls. When a girl puts on a mask, she isn’t able to truly address these issues in a productive way, which is exactly what Lindsey works to prevent.


By teaching girls to be confident and always act in ways that are best for themselves, Lindsey helps girls become the best versions of themselves as possible. She works to help girls find their “farkle” (fire + sparkle) and pursue their skills and interests, and she has some great advice for how parents can do the same! In our interview, Lindsey unpacks how parents can talk to their teenage girls to grow their confidence and deal with all the drama of their teenage years appropriately, all while growing closer to their daughters. Here are some of the topics we cover:

  • Forming healthy relationships and cutting out toxic ones
  • What to do when teens lie
  • Giving teens their first phones
  • Why fifteen minutes is the most powerful unit of time

It was a privilege to have Lindsey rejoin me on the podcast, and her advice this time around was just as poignant as before. Whether you’ve heard from Lindsey before or not, this episode is a great listen for all parents, whether raising boys or girls! 

May 17, 2020
Ep. 84: Contain Your Teen’s Tech
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Did you know the average teenager spends over seven hours a day in front of a screen? And that doesn’t including mandatory screen time for homework, Zoom classes, and Google Classroom assignments! Teens spend an average seven hours on entertainment screen-time: video games, apps, social media, YouTube, aimlessly browsing the web. Passive entertainment is taking up more and more of teens’ free time every day, with some research estimating teens spend as much as 40% of their life in front of a screen.

This is a worrisome statistic for parents--and anyone invested in the next generation! The teenage years are critical for cognitive brain development, forming positive relationships, and practicing social skills; oversaturating the teen brain with technology can have lasting negative effects. But considering how social media and other screen-based activities play a major role in the modern teen social scene—especially now that COVID-19 has suspended in-person activities in most parts of the country—parents have to walk a fine line when it comes to their teens’ technology. How much screen time is appropriate? What should parents do to balance phone and TV time with other important activities? What happens if a teenager becomes entirely too invested in their online life, staying up hours into the night playing video games, Snapchatting, or scrolling through Instagram?

This week, I spoke with expert Joshua Wayne, author of The Simple Parenting Guide to Technology. Wayne’s book provides parents with incredibly practical ways to approach screen time in their homes, and with COVID-19 spurring a massive increase in social media use and virtual connectivity, his perspective is more valuable now than ever! 


Wayne knows that technology is here to stay, and fighting for zero screen time is not only futile but unrealistic. In our interview, Wayne explains how a technology agreement can set guidelines for use in the family (and how to implement one!). However, he knows all families are at different points when it comes to their relationship and reliance and technology, and provides great insights on how parents can adjust these guidelines to their individual situation. According to Wayne, the most important thing parents can do is maintain open and honest conversations with their teens about technology. Using electronic devices is part of everyday life, but getting outside, stowing phones at night, and in-person interactions are all things Wayne sees as productive ways to help teens balance life with screens!

Wayne is also acutely aware of the problems that come with overreliance on technology. On top of basic guidelines and approaches parents can bring into their homes, Wayne also covers difficult topics like:

  • Adjusting screen time hours during the pandemic
  • How to stay realistic about screen time uses
  • What to do if a teen gets defiant or aggressive
  • The best way to implement parental controls 
  • How to talk about the big P: pornography

Technology is an integral part of family life in the 21st century, and it’s here to stay. Whether you need help reigning in your screen-addicted teen or just want a good set of guidelines to follow, Joshua Wayne offers some excellent insights!

May 10, 2020
Ep. 83: The Future of Jobs
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More and more seems to be changing every day, and there’s no telling what long-term impact COVID-19 will have on the world our teenagers are going to inherit. All parents want their teenagers to be happy and successful in their personal and professional lives, but now more than ever, there’s a lot at stake. With an uncertain job market, a surplus of college-educated job seekers, and rising student debt, it isn’t clear for many parents what path their teen should go down.


Luckily, there are certain skills, attitudes, and practices parents can instill in their teenagers to help them be successful no matter what. And, better yet, there are tons of opportunities for a lucrative career and fulfilling life even without an expensive degree! In fact, certain job markets—manufacturing, for instance—are not only in high demand, but incredibly lucrative! The average manufacturing working earns over $80,000 a year, including benefits, and doesn’t necessarily require an expensive four-year degree.

For more on how today’s teens can enter adult life ready for success, I spoke with Terry Iverson, author of Finding America’s Greatest Champion: Building Prosperity Through Manufacturing, Mentoring and the Awesome Responsibility of Parenting. Terry himself has worked in manufacturing for decades and knows exactly what the industry has to offer to young adults. Moreover, Terry knows from his personal experience as a dad, coach, and public speaker how to help teenagers find and pursue careers that matter to them.


Terry grew in a single-parent household in Florida, and in high school he found himself working a late-night job, playing competitive sports, and taking AP courses all at the same time. He learned the values of hard work and accountability firsthand from an early age, and he encourages today’s parents to instill the same wisdom into their teenagers. He also maintains the importance of supporting teenagers by helping them find vocations that make them happy. More than anything, Terry knows that to be truly invested in something, you have to enjoy it first!

This might mean your teenager has something different in mind than what you want for them. Even though you might be set on sending your teen to an Ivy League college, what’s the point if they’re going to burn out and not use their degree? Rather than set these kind of predetermined expectations, Terry thinks a parent’s most important job is to help their teen research and experience a diverse array of trades to help them decide what they do—or don’t!—enjoy. Not only will this set them up for a successful career, but a gratifying and meaningful personal life.

On top of this, Terry offers great opinions on several different topics, including:

  • What teens can do to research their futures
  • The importance of internships and early jobs
  • The danger of four year colleges
  • How to instill work ethic in teens
  • Single parent households

Terry’s passion, well-researched statistics, and personal anecdotes provide an incredibly optimistic outlook during today’s wavering circumstances. If you’re feeling nervous about sending your teen into such an uncertain world, you need to hear what Terry has to say!


This week’s sponsor is Prompt, a company whose mission is to help students be more prepared for AP exams. Use the code TEENS at checkout for $10 off. 

May 03, 2020
Ep. 82: An Unconventional Education
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It’s difficult to get a teen to care about academics, but with the coronavirus pandemic forcing schools to move to remote coursework or close altogether, teens are even less motivated to keep up their studies. Parents across the world are struggling to keep their teens interested in education, particularly those enrolled in the traditional “time spent” schools.  

But there is something parents can do, and maybe be better equipped to do than teachers: encourage their teen’s curiosity. With a completely altered world, now just might be the perfect time to help your teen change their perspective on education, knowledge, and intellect.  

To learn more about how this could work, I spoke with Tony Wagner, author of several books on education most recently his memoir, Learning by Heart: An Unconventional Education. Himself a one-time high school dropout and two-time college dropout, Tony nevertheless hit his stride after letting his curiosity and interests—plus a heavy dose of discipline and concentration—guide him to success. After “quitting” school a number of times, Tony eventually made his way to Harvard University’s School of Education, earning a PhD while teaching, researching, and writing. 


In our interview, not only does Wagner walk me through some of his comedic personal stories (all the way from a conservative all-boys boarding school to San Francisco in the late ‘60s), but he explains how the most impactful parts of his education were often unconventional. Taking classes for no credit, having options as to what he would study, and being given the freedom to explore his own creativity were all recurring themes throughout his personal journey. These experiences are in stark contrast to the typical cookie-cutter schools where all students are asked to prepare for tests and perform rote tasks. Wagner, like so many modern students, struggled and questioned the merits of a rigid educational system.

Now a world-renowned expert in education, Wagner knows exactly why he and so many other growing men and women feel unfulfilled in America’s educational system. Having worked in all areas of the education system, from the classroom and administration and from prestigious institutions such as Sidwell and second chance schools, he gives excellent advice on how to foster curiosity, support struggling students, and reframe education to appeal to all students. In this interview, listeners will hear:

  • How teachers, coaches, and parents can push their child’s potential
  • The importance of discipline and concentration--not just interest
  • A warning from Tony about all-boys schools
  • How schools have fallen into the ‘time spent’ trap
  • Why we all need to rethink the purpose of education

Wagner’s advice is especially relevant in the classroom, but parents are perhaps the most vital teachers for their teenage children now, no matter if you know the answers to their homework or not! Wagner’s own story of overcoming a school system that didn’t feel right to him, plus his research on what’s students need to thrive will hopefully leave us all a bit more hopeful during these odd times!

This week’s sponsor is Prompt, a company whose mission is to help students be more prepared for AP exams. Use the code TEENS at checkout for $10 off. 

Apr 26, 2020
Ep. 81: Creating Genius
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If your daughter was a brilliant pianist—as good as Mozart, say—wouldn’t you want her to encourage her in pursuit of her talent and passion? Of course! You’d pay for lessons, organize recitals, and help her blossom into the artist she was born to be. Imagine if instead you decided for her that music wasn’t what she was supposed to be doing, and she better leave performing and composing to the male sex. It would be heartbreaking for her and a waste of talent and skill! Still, this is exactly what happened to Nannerle Mozart, who was, a musical prodigy by age 15, told to go home to be married in her teenage years instead of following in her brother’s footsteps.

Fortunately, something like this would probably not happen in the 21st Century. However, the sad truth is there are still innumerable obstacles facing women of all ages, from toddlers to teens, that are almost too subliminal to notice. The stigmatized expectations of women are internalized by girls at a very tender age, and without the proper guidance from parents, these perceptions can seriously hurt girls’ self esteem! They might even give up on their dreams and settle for whatever they’re told is “right” for them.

There are very few geniuses in the world, but the fact that so few women geniuses are recognized points to a deep-seated bias against women at large. To better understand some of these harmful stereotypes and discover what parents can do to debunk them and support their daughters, I spoke with Janice Kaplan, author and co-author of fourteen different books, including The Genius of Women: From Overlooked to Changing the World. In this book, Kaplan dissects what it means to be a “genius” and why it is that women are often overlooked in the running. Her takeaways are a great starting place for any parent looking to raise confident, enabled, and successful young girls!

Kaplain argues for the importance of looking at boys and girls in the same light in all aspects of their development. Young boys, she claims, are often given higher expectations and pushed harder than girls in subtle ways parents might not notice. For example, when boys face a problem, they’re told to “man up” and find a way past it, while girls might be told to look for success elsewhere. This might seem insignificant, but this kind of discouragement seriously impacts girls’ sense of ability and self-worth! According to Kaplan, it’s crucial for parents to instill the same sense of resolve in boys and girls alike to teach girls they’re capable of all the same feats.

Likewise, girls need to know they have the same opportunities as boys. Your daughter’s princess costume might bring her joy and be adorable, but does she know it’s just as acceptable to dress as an astronaut? A scientist? Media and pop culture are constantly reinforcing the view that women have a different place in society as men, but nothing could be farther from the truth. Parents play a key role in reinforcing the idea that girls are just as valuable in society as boys, and Kaplan tells exactly how! In our interview, we also cover topics like:

  • How to lead girls away from self-deprecation
  • Why appearance still matter, and how to de-
  • What to uniting factors of women geniuses
  • The importance of being a positive mentor

I had a wonderful time talking with Janice Kaplan, diving into the research she found and all the interviews she had with literal geniuses! For some incredible advice on what parents can do to create a supportive world for young girls, tune in to this week’s episode. I know you’ll love it! 

This week’s sponsor is Prompt, a company whose mission is to help students be more prepared for AP exams. Use the code TEENS at checkout for $10 off. 


Apr 19, 2020
Ep. 80: The Upside of Messy Teenagers
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You stick your head into your kid’s bedroom to see their desk littered with crumpled papers, gum wrappers, used dishes, worn books, pens, and chargers. Their bed is unmade, and some of the pillows are on the floor along with dirty or clean laundry. As far as you can tell, there’s no rhyme or reason whatsoever. It’s no wonder your teen has trouble concentrating! They live in a state of chaos. You call your child’s name, ready to lay down the law and make them clean their room. You want to run a tight ship, don’t you?

But what if this mess isn’t actually a bad sign? It’s very difficult to discern when somebody’s disorganization is an indicator of distraction versus a sign of productivity. Whenever a person is busy, it can be hard to stay tidy. Your work desk is probably the most cluttered when you have the most work to do. Your teen’s messy room might follow the same pattern! In some cases, mess could be a sign of creative potential. When this is the case, and when it’s time for you to step in and help your teen find their way?

This week I spoke with Tim Harford, accomplished journalist, speaker, and author, to get a better idea of how messiness and disorganization can play a positive role in your teen’s (and maybe your) life. His book, Messy: The Power of Disorder to Transform Our Lives, takes a close look at how and when being untidy might actually be a positive thing!


Harford points to great creative minds as diverse as Benjamin Franklin, David Bowie, Miles Davis, and Michael Crichton and points to one common denominator: mess. Often, the most high-achieving individuals are also the ones with the most pots on the burner. With so many projects bubbling away, it’s hard to keep everything in order. Enthusiasm and curiosity are two great traits for accomplishing goals, but they also make it very hard to keep things tidy, and they might make someone seem like they’re easily distracted. This is something you should keep in mind next time you see your teen leaving things half-finished. They might be taking a break from one project to begin another! If this is the case, it’s important for you to foster the right amount of encouragement and guidance without overstepping boundaries.

Harford cites multiple studies and field experts in our talk that provide awesome perspective on the concept of messiness. A parent of teenagers himself, Harford uses his research and expertise to give some great advice when it comes to applying the concept of messiness to family life. In our interview, he teaches me all about how to:

  • Turn accidents into positive experiences
  • Creating “empowered” spaces for teens to excel
  • Cultivating diverse friendships and perspectives
  • Making the most of quarantine situations with family


Raising a messy or distractible teen can be a challenge, but Harford’s wonderful advice is sure to help any parent come to, if not an appreciation for, then at least an understanding of how mess might transform a life. Thank you, Tim!

Apr 12, 2020
Ep. 79: How “Manhood” is Hurting Our Boys (and Girls!)
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Teen boys are like lion cubs—cute, playful, aggressive, but ultimately harmless. “Boys will be boys,” right? Unfortunately, it turns out the playing field of masculinity is actually much more dangerous than many believe. From hazing gone wrong, to depression and suicide, to jail time, the consequences of not understanding masculinity and what it means to be a man can be dire.

When boys begin the transition into manhood in their late teens, they’re forced to figure out what it means to “be a man.” The late high school, college, and early adult years are a proving ground for young men, and they’ll go out of their way to show off their machismo. But these rituals have become dangerous and harmful. And no one is talking about manhood--what does it mean to be a man?

These are important questions to answer for any parent raising a young man. For the answers, I turned to Michael Kimmel, the man to turn to when it comes to understanding men. Author of Guyland: The Perilous World Where Boys Become Men and many other books on masculinity and gender, Kimmel has a mind dedicated to dissecting the world boys grow up in and revealing how and why boys are impacted by the idea of “manhood.”

Kimmel claims adolescence and early manhood have blended together to give boys an unstructured, unsupervised playground to show off their masculinity. Coaches, teachers, and advisors turn a blind eye, and nineteen- and twenty-year-olds are left to make the rules on what it means to “be a man.” They often learn harmful tropes from porn, movies, pop culture, and even sports! It’s crucial for adults—especially parents—to step in and guide young men on this journey so they don’t hurt themselves or others in the process.


In our conversation, Kimmel deconstructs the concept of masculinity and lays it bare for what it is. Young men are taught to be in control, and when they feel emasculated, they feel they have to reestablish their status. This leads to risky and harmful behaviors, but there are still ways to influence young men positively! Here are some of the topics we cover in our conversation:

  • How to teach boys and girls to set realistic goals
  • Why boys often act out violently or aggressively, and how to prevent it
  • The pros and cons of sports
  • How to discourage feelings of entitlement in young men

Kimmel breaks down complex sociological relationships in words that everyone can understand. I know this podcast episode will prove valuable to all parents raising both sons and daughters. The world boys grow up in doesn’t just affect boys; it impacts everyone! For some amazing perspective on gender and parenting, tune in and hear what Kimmel has to say.

Apr 05, 2020
Ep. 78: Winning Arguments
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Voices rise. Doors slam. Yours teen calls you a name you know you didn’t teach them. But their room’s locked, and you can’t get inside to calm them down. When they finally emerge hours later, they hardly speak, and you’re unsure of how to repair the damage done…


This is what can happen when arguments with teenagers go too far.


Teens are inherently emotional, and disputes with them quickly evolve from simple disagreements into high-stakes battlegrounds. The transition is swift and unforgiving, and many parents don’t realize they’re in a serious argument until it’s too late! As a parent, it’s vital for you to know how to navigate these situations and deescalate conflicts with your teen. If not, even a small argument can transform into a relationship-altering feud, one that irreparably jeopardizes the trust, love, and respect you and your teen have for each other.

For some veteran advice on how to strategize and understand these kinds of confrontations, I spoke with Stanley Fish, author of Winning Arguments: What Works and Doesn’t work in Politics, the Bedroom, the Courtroom, and the Classroomalong with The First: How to Think About Hate Speech, Campus Speech, Religious Speech, Fake News, Post-Truth, and Donald Trump and seventeen other books! Fish has a long, distinguished career in academia that makes him an expert in many fields, and his tips and insights are sure to help any parent dealing with especially argumentative teens.

To start, Fish makes it clear that disagreements are an unavoidable part of life. In fact, he argues that arguments are actually more common than agreements! With this in mind, you shouldn’t be too worried about the clashes between yourself and your teen. They’re inevitable. What you should be focusing on is how to make sure these tiny squabbles don’t evolve into untamable beasts. To do this, it’s key to understand how and why arguments escalate, a topic Fish knows inside and out.


When we argue with someone, we cast ourselves in a play. We’re the hero, they’re the villain. Arguing with teenagers is no different. And, when somebody takes on this symbolic role, we’re more prone to forget the loving relationship we want with them. This is what happens when parents and teenagers explode with hurtful, wounding remarks during an argument. As a parent, it’s up to you to take the initiative and find ways to climb back down the ladder of escalation. And, according to Fish, this often means losing the argument. Conceding your point can allow you and your teen to focus more on your relationship than the problem at hand. In our interview, Fish gives several strategies for how parents can make use of this approach, along with why it’s so important!

In addition to this invaluable guidance, we discuss:

  • Why logic and evidence can be thwarted by emotion
  • The importance of eliciting “I feel” statements in an argument
  • Teaching teens the consequences of harmful speech
  • The difference between “transparency” and “immediacy”

It was a privilege to talk to somebody as wise and experienced as Fish, and I know his research on arguments, their structures, and how to approach them will help many parents find common ground with their teens. It’s important for parents to approach these situations realistically, so take a listen and become an expert yourself!

Mar 29, 2020
Ep. 77: Survive the QuaranTEEN!
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The global pandemic COVID-19 is causing the world to stand still. It almost seems unreal—like a sci-fi movie. Schools are closing rapidly, causing college students to fly home from all over the country and primary learners to learn from online platforms. Parents who can are working from home, making rapid adjustments to comply with their new work routine. Situations are rapidly changing every day, and it might seem like there’s no consistency. But for some lucky households, one thing remains constant: Family.

With parents working from the kitchen and children of all ages going to school in the living room, families are taking on a new dynamic. In some ways, it’s like living with coworkers. Boundaries need to be set, responsibilities need to be met, and—perhaps most importantly—conflicts need to be resolved. Spending so much time with each other in such close quarters might be challenging for some families, but this worldwide phenomenon is also a chance for parents and their children to grow closer and foster positive growth!

To understand exactly what parents can do to create the best possible quarantine environment for their families, I spoke with the queen of work relationships: Amy Cooper Hakim. She’s the author of Working with Difficult People: Handling the Ten Types of Problem People Without Losing Your Mind and holds a PhD in industrial organizational psychology. She’s the absolute authority on conflict resolution in the workplace, and being currently quarantined in Florida with several children of her own means she has firsthand experience applying her knowledge in a home environment!

According to Dr. Amy, two of the most crucial things parents can do to create a functional home environment are set appropriate boundaries and maintain an atmosphere of honesty. Although it’s sometimes hard, Dr. Amy believes in the importance of parents acting not only as a child’s “bestie,” but as an authority figure. It’s the same as being a CEO or manager—you need to lead by example, and what you say goes. In our interview, Dr. Amy gives incredible advice on how to balance this firmer parenting approach with one of empathy and compassion in order to show your children not only do you love them, but you want to care for and protect them, too!

She also shares what she plans to do during this unusual time to teach her children valuable lessons about perseverance, cooperation, and selflessness. With incredible optimism, Dr. Amy sees this time as a wonderful chance for her and her family to grow closer, and I know her advice will help you as well! In our interview, we talk about:

  • Practicing tact while delivering advice and criticism to teens
  • How teens often fall into one of several kinds of “difficult people,” and how to deal with each one
  • Prioritizing logic over emotion in family conflicts
  • Specific practices parents can implement in their homes to bring their families closer during quarantine!


During such odd times, it’s a joy to hear from someone so experienced and so optimistic about what families can do to bring out the best in each other. If you’re concerned over how you should be handling this quickly evolving situation, I highly encourage you to listen in! Dr. Amy is sure to have some advice that applies directly to you, and your family.

Mar 22, 2020
Ep. 76: Setting Better Boundaries
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Your 22-year-old son calls you asking for help on his tax forms. Then your 21-year-old daughter asks you to call roadside assistance for a flat tire. What do you do? Do you help, or let them figure it out on their own? Different parents have different solutions, but they all have the same question: as teenagers turn into adults, when does “helping” turn into “coddling?”

The answer is becoming more and more blurred with each passing year. As an increasing number of teenagers go off to college and emerge as young adults with low-paying jobs, student loans, and grad school applications, the role of parenthood is extending past the teenage years and into early adulthood. Most “twentysomethings” still need Mom and Dad for financial and emotional support, but is that okay? Should your child be paying rent to live at home? Are they on the right track, or are they falling behind? It’s crucial for you to know the difference. Otherwise, you might be reinforcing seriously harmful habits and hindering your child’s independence!

To understand this concept, I had a wonderful interview with Linda Perlman Gordon, author of five books and private psychoanalyst. Her book—Mom, Can I Move Back In With You? A Survival Guide for Parents of Twentysomethings—explores techniques and strategies for parenting children who are transitioning into adulthood. Many parents find themselves in this situation without resources or research to help, but as it turns out, most parents are in the same boat! These are exactly the parents Linda works with in her private practice and in group sessions.  


Gordon’s and co-author Susan Morris Shaffer’s work shows most parents feel awkward discussing their twentysomething “children,” when they really shouldn’t be! Modern times make it almost impossible for young adults to be completely independent post-college. Instead of looking at age as a benchmark for independence, it’s vital to look for signs of what Gordon calls “personal responsibility.” Yes, your child is twenty-four and living at home, but are they motivated? Are they looking for jobs, taking initiative, and moving toward a financially stable state? If so, you’ve nothing to worry about! If not, Goodman has some awesome advice on how to help your child take steps toward adult independence.


One of her best pieces of advice comes from setting boundaries. Without clear boundaries between you and your child, it’s easy to overstep your responsibilities as a parent..and for your almost-adult to take advantage.  All parents want to help their children, but your child needs to experience at least a few mistakes and pitfalls to grow. Especially in their early adult years! In addition to age appropriate boundaries, Linda and I discuss:

  • How adolescence has “aged” in years
  • Fostering adult responsibility in your teen
  • Why parents might want to think twice about charging ‘rent’
  • Keeping in touch with your emerging adult
  • The fine line between lending a hand and ‘coddling’/‘enabling’


You will always be your child’s parent, no matter how old they are. In modern times, your role may well expand past the traditional 18-years mark, and you need to be prepared to help your child make the transition into adulthood. And that’s all right! Listen in, and hear Linda Perlman Gordon explain exactly how to adjust parenting techniques for older teens and emerging adults! 

Mar 15, 2020
Ep. 75: "Purpose" but Without the Eye-Rolling
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*This episode contains strong language.*


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You remember high school, don’t you? The crushing pressure to define yourself, the need to fit in with your classmates, and the stress of meeting all the expectations of adults and teachers. What do you want to do with your life? they ask. But, at sixteen, did you really know? Did your life pan out the way you thought it would? Or was it full of unexpected twists and turns, mistakes that served as learning experiences on your road to success? 


It’s important for teenagers to recognize that they don’t, in fact, need to know everything about themselves by 18. But nowadays, with social media emphasizing the importance of personal branding and colleges putting pressure on teenagers to perform perfectly, teens can feel boxed in. They feel they need to know exactly who they are and what they want...ASAP! And they may get the message that their life must be one clean story with no zigs, zags, or misdirections. This limiting belief is detrimental in a world that is full of fast-paced change. 


Paradoxically, change is the most consistent part of human experience. Every day, we learn more about ourselves and make adjustments accordingly. And experimenting, failing, and adjusting is how we figure out what makes us happy, what motivates us to get out of bed each morning with a clarity of “purpose,” or, for those who are rolling their eyes at “purpose,” our “f*ck yeah!”


Alexis Rockley, author of Find Your F*ckyeah: Stop Censoring Who You Are and Discover What You Really Want, sat down with me this week to talk about how you can help your teen find their f*ck yeah and break out of restricting stereotypes. Rockley, who humbly describes herself as a “nerd who loves research,” is leading a movement to help young people find their “purpose” and “joy” in life...but in a cool way. She has spent years studying and working with experts in the field of positive psychology and her book unpacks the science and psychology in an accessible way to help people find their “f*uckyeah.”


According to Rockley, one of the most important aspects of raising well-adjusted, go-getter teens is to debunk the falsehood that “adults know everything.” Drawing from her own twisting and turning journey Rockley delivers the science behind teens limiting beliefs, and why it’s dangerous to place too much emphasis on, “What do you want to do when you grow up?” More helpful questions should address the reality of change--and acceptance of all the versions of you that you might be! 


Rockley also speaks to me about how parents can help teens navigate our “factory school system” and set themselves up for the modern workplace. Rockley gives great tips on how to expose your teenager to environments that value creativity and problem-solving skills, instead of simply following rote instructions. 

In addition to these fascinating topics, we talk about:

  • How to get your teen excited about their future
  • The problem with asking “What do you want to be when you grow up?”
  • The tricky science of ‘limiting beliefs’ in teens and young adults 
  • The need for personal branding…
  • And how personal branding could be negatively influencing who your teen is.


Alexis Rockley brings her enthusiasm and passion for helping others to this week’s episode, and her positive energy is contagious! I hope you find our conversation as fun and helpful as I did--and maybe you’ll be leaving a copy of her book lying around for your teen to ‘stumble’ upon. 

Mar 08, 2020
Ep 74: Growing Strong Girls
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Be assertive…but be nice to everyone. Love your body…but lose ten pounds. Be proud of your achievements…but work harder. Wear these clothes…but be unique. These are the conflicting messages that girls are constantly faced with on social media, at school, on TV, even sometimes at home. It’s confusing enough for full-grown women to know how to act in the face of such pressure, but even more so for a thirteen-year-old!

Teenage and preteen girls are in an incredibly vulnerable stage in their lives. Society and the culture bombard them with messages telling them to act, look, and even feel certain ways! Without the proper guidance, it’s easy for daughters to feel overwhelmed in this sea of content. They may be afraid to ask questions and torn about who to listen too. This is why it’s absolutely vital for parents to teach their daughters from a young age to be proud of their own voice, understand & value their needs, and pursue their interests. If not, daughters may get answers from the wrong places!

Lindsay Sealey, author of Growing Strong Girls: Practical Tools to Cultivate Connection in the Preteen Years and “girl advocate”,  sat down with me to talk about this and a lot more! For fifteen years, Sealey has been running group workshops and working with young girls one-on-one to help them develop their own sense of pride, confidence, and selfhood--making her an authority when it comes to helping parents connect to and support their daughters!

According to Sealey, a major part of empowering young girls is to provide them with a safe space to focus on their own wants and needs. In an age defined by comparing ourselves to others, it’s crucial for girls to understand—first and foremost—they need to make themselves happy. Sealey points out parents have an incredible opportunity to foster this revelation through quality time and attention to their daughters, not to mention, taking care of themselves!

Parents also need to listen first to their daughters, before jumping in with their own stories and advice. Often times, Sealey maintains, the drama that comes with girlhood is actually an opportunity to develop important skills. Still, parents must be willing to validate their daughter’s feelings and help them process emotions in a healthy way. Otherwise, girls feel belittled and like their opinions and experiences don’t really matter.

In the interview, we discuss not only these topics, but concrete exercises parents can use to help their daughters develop into strong young women! We also talk about:

  • The pros and cons of having a “BFF”
  • How to be a positive role model
  • Teaching girls to set appropriate boundaries
  • The importance of not being available 24/7
  • And how to discuss emotions


In such a fast-paced and content-heavy society, it’s vital for us to teach our daughters to value their own distinct voices--and in my conversation with Lindsay we discuss just that! So grateful to have Lindsay as a guest!

Mar 01, 2020
Ep. 73: “You ALWAYS do that!”
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Proper communication is tough enough between adults, but teenagers are a whole different game! The heightened sensitivity and emotions in teenagers means parents are more likely to find themselves in unwanted situations when talking with their teens. 

Communicating with teenagers in a healthy and helpful way is like walking a tightrope—it’s hard to find the right balance between getting your point across without devolving into an argument. One wrong word might trigger a fiery flare up! Or, worse, the silent treatment. Where do we even begin in turning things around?

This week I spoke with communication guru Cynthia Kane, author of How to Communicate Like a Buddhist and Talk to Yourself Like a Buddhist. (Her third book in the series is due out this spring.) Cynthia's search for a Bodhisattva—a person dedicated to helping others ease their suffering—for her own life, led her on a journey to become one herself. Her medium? Communication.

By using the Buddhist principle of Right Speech, Kane enlightens others on how to speak to themselves and others in positive, reforming ways. It’s all about being honest, taking time to recognize and address one’s own feelings, and finding ways to voice one’s needs and opinions in helpful ways. Kane suggests that before parents can effectively build a solid foundation of communication with their teenagers, they must first learn to listen to themselves. 

Parents who are unsure about their own decisions, stressed about their reputations, and caught up in past events have a much harder time listening and responding to their teen’s wants and needs. 


In practice, Kane’s insights help people more truthfully focus on their individual needs and build avenues of communication. These are crucial areas for parents to focus on if they want to improve and understand the relationship they have with their teen. Empathy and honesty are amazing tools for building trust between parents and teenagers, but, just like many other communication, they need to be learned and practiced. It all begins with an acute awareness of one’s own self-talk, and Kane offers a unique process to communicate your needs and wants more openly.

In addition to Kane’s special approach to communication, listeners will discover:

  • The importance of listening first and foremost to yourself
  • How to combat the “shoulds” 
  • Shutting down toxic teenage gossip
  • Why silence is a key part of effective communication

It was such a treat to learn so much from Cynthia, and I know I’ll be using her strategies in my own life going forward. Parents have so much to gain from this episode, and I’m excited to share all Cynthia’s knowledge with you!

Feb 23, 2020
Ep. 72: Know-It-All Teens
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Does your teen act like they know everything? When teens think they know everything, their actions can be doubly dangerous: they are already operating without a full-functioning pre-frontal cortex. Know-it-all teens are overconfident in their knowledge about the world, and as a result, they disregard advice from parents, teachers, and other adults who really do know better. Arrogant teens may be even more likely to jump into action without weighing the possible consequences. 

Having a know-it-all teen can be hurtful, even scary, for parents as they find themselves stonewalled when attempting to impart advice and basic information. If there was only a way to show them how little they truly know about things like vaping, alcohol, sex, and how the world actually works!!

Dr. Steve Sloman, co-author of The Knowledge Illusion: Why We Never Think Alone and professor at Brown Universit, took time off from his sabbatical semester to speak with me about the knowledge illusion teens (and most adults!) live under.  I was fascinated to learn about the study that is making people more humble and decreasing their polarization on a wide range of topics. 


Dr. Sloman’s book isn’t directly about parenting, however, his research and its implications offer novel understandings of how people—teens included—think and how parents can approach their teenagers to talk about issues that their teens may be overconfident in.


Perhaps surprising, the human mind is hardwired for specialization—nobody can know everything! We might feel we know how everyday objects and the world around us works, but we call plumbers for our sinks, chat with IT departments for our computers, and listen to economic strategists for updates on the NYSE. This shared expertise creates a community of knowledge, giving us a false understanding of what we, as individuals, really know on our own.


Teens don’t know everything, but they may often act and feel as if they do. This gives them a false sense of confidence when it comes to how they understand the world around them, and highly emotional teenagers will often act impulsively on this instinct, seriously impacting their future. Sloman believes the best way to make teens think about their choices is to ask them for in-depth explanations. Often, teens asked to explain “how things work” will be unable to, forcing them to make their own realizations about how little they truly know. This deeper understanding of human thought might be the key to helping your teen!

During my interview with Dr. Sloman, we cover a range of topics, including:

  • Why the Knowledge Illusion exists and what that means for people
  • How making your teen a ‘local expert’ may help them do better in math 
  • Intuitive vs. deliberative thinking
  • How Assigned roles in teenage friend groups
  • A different way to look at 'not measuring up'


It was a privilege to talk to Dr. Sloman, who called me all the way from France! I was just blown away by insights and found our discussion riveting! I hope you will too! 

Feb 16, 2020
Ep. 71: Laziness Ends Here
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Teens face more pressure today than ever before. At times, it seems like a teenager’s only path to success comes from a rigorous schedule of academics, sports, community service, and a generally overwhelming amount of extracurricular activities. Such a routine builds tremendous stress in teens—and in their parents.


This can be alarming for parents whose teenagers are “lazy.” It’s no secret that what kids do in school every year counts toward their future opportunities.  In a society where young people are expected to be hyperactive achievers, parents with unmotivated teens worry their teens are doomed to fail - it’s like they don’t care about anything at all!! 


Dr. Adam Price, author of He’s Not Lazy: Empowering Your Son to Believe in Himself, joined me for a discussion on how to kick your “lazy” teen into gear. As a clinical psychologist specializing in adolescent males, Price has seen it all. 


To Price, the rise of the “lazy” teen is a two fold problem. First, there is the enormous amount of pressure out on teens to always be above-and-beyond average. There are no longer “late bloomers,” instead, we have “underachievers.” Secondly, because parents are made to feel that the stakes are so high at every stage, they attempt to manage their teen by taking away the teen’s autonomy to make choices. 


Everyone is inherently more motivated when they are interested in the task at hand, and when they feel they have chosen it. In our interview, Price explains how exactly to give your teen the autonomy they need, without removing accountability. Even Dr. Price knows teens shouldn’t be allowed to do whatever they want 24/7! 


In my interview with Dr. Price, we cover a broad range of topics, including:

  • Developmental differences in boys and girls—and how they disadvantage learning in teens
  • How to use the basic principles of motivational interviewing with teens
  • The Paradoxical Response
  • How to answer “When am I ever gonna need to know this??”
  • Deescalating parent/teen power struggles


I’m so lucky to have had the opportunity to speak with Dr. Price and hear his advice on parenting teens! And I have to admit, I even saw a bit of my own teenage self in the concepts and stories we discussed...! This episode is must-listen for any parent with a “lazy” teen under their roof! 


Feb 09, 2020
Ep. 70: Sexual Identity Challenges
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Homosexuality, along with other sexual orientations and gender identities, are hot topics in today’s media. However, it is still new ground and can be confusing territory, especially for parents. Parents are already apprehensive about sex talks with their teens, but parents with LGBTQ-identifying teens can feel even more ill-equipped.

 

Despite the trend toward more acceptance, there are still challenges for LGBTQ people. Representation in history books is at best unequal, and often TV/film depictions are stereotyped or exaggerated. While tech-savvy teens can tap into supportive online LGBTQ communities, navigating the real world is not as easy - and often not as friendly. As a parent it can feel even harder to prepare your teen for the world when they identify as LGBTQ. 

 

Richie Jackson, himself proudly gay, felt similarly as his gay son prepared to head off to college. Despite having 18 years, Richie knew there was a lot more his son needed to know about living in the world and being LGBQT. So, he started to write letters to him. In fact, he wrote so many letters that he had enough material for the beginning of a book. Those letters are now published in Richie’s first book Gay Like Me: A Father Writes to His Son. In it, Richie shares stories from his own life, good, bad, and humourous, as well as stories of gay leaders, creatives, and game-changers. The book is a true labor of love and an important read for anyone who thinks being “gay” is no longer a big deal. 

 

Richie is adamant that it is vital for your teen to hear information from you, their parent, not just from outside sources. And no matter your teen’s sexual identity or gender, making sure they know about it is still important. Being an LGBTQ ally can change someone’s life. 

 

By teaching all kids and teens LGBTQ history, Jackson believes that gay and straight children alike will learn to embrace non-heteronormative identities as gifts rather than burdens. As we saw in Peggy Orenstein’s interview, being gay or non-binary can free a person to create a new script for their relationships, their career choices, and in their everyday lifestyle. 

 

In addition to great advice on how to talk to your LGBTQ teen about sex and prejudice, Richie and I discuss:

  • Balancing vulnerability and caution in relationships
  • Talking to teens, gay and straight, about sex
  • LGBTQ obstacles now vs. then
  • The importance of raising straight LGBTQ allies and advocates
  • Writing a book as a full-time parent and producer


Richie has crafted a beautiful book and truly opens up to readers (and of course his son). It is as poignant as it is informative and helpful and I think every parent will come away with new insights! 


Feb 02, 2020
Ep. 69: Happier Parenting
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In the hustle of parenting teens—driving then from activity to activity, keeping an eye on their screen time, feeding them, checking their grades, nagging them about homework—a lot of parents look around and realize, it isn’t fun. Where did things start to go sideways?

Many parents, feeling like this pattern of stressful parenting is not what they signed up for. So they make a list of all the things they could do to insert more fun into parenting…only to realize that that would be a awful lot of extra work.

This is exactly what KJ Dell’Antonia, author of How to Be a Happier Parent: Raising a Family, Having a Life, and Loving (Almost) Every Minute of It, discovered on her parenting journey. Instead of trying to insert fun things into her already packed family schedule, KJ decided what she really needed was some more happiness.

The first step to becoming a happier parent is to step back from the martyr mindset: the belief that, as the parent, everyone else’s needs come before your own. The martyr mindset is a sure-fire way to be an unhappy parent because you will always always come last.

The second step is to take a look at all the activities you engage in and assess how to insert some more happiness. Maybe that means you get a carpool going with some fellow parents to avoid spending 5 hours driving to and from your kid’s club sports practice. Or maybe it’s blocking off an hour or two on a Saturday to indulge in a hobby or long walk. Or maybe it’s inserting a new rule that no one is allowed to say dinner “looks gross.”

In my interview with KJ this week we discuss ideas and strategies around happier parenting, including:

  • How to avoid being “that parent”
  • Dinner rules for increased happiness (and sanity)
  • Why “all or nothing” is the best policy for your attention
  • Sibling arguments distilled into four main pain points
  • The importance of time for “doing nothing”

KJ is in the thick of parenting her own teens and with the wealth of information she has at her disposal, listeners are in for a thought-provoking treat! What would make you a happier parent?

Jan 26, 2020
Ep. 68: What You Don't Know About Teen Hook-up Culture
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Teen hookup culture is dangerous. And while most parents are aware of how scary and confusing it is for girls, society at large is neglecting half of the participants: boys.

Despite what culture norms say generally about boys, young men have feelings too. Unfortunately, media and male role models are rarely depicted as anything but macho, “strong,” assertive, and sexually dominant. While parents may encourage their girls to play sports and stand up for themselves, it is still taboo to encourage a teen boy to dance, craft, or be vulnerable. (Unless of course the teen boy is openly gay, in which case doing “feminine” things is more accepted.)

But sending messages, overt or subliminal, about how teen boys are “supposed” to be, hurts not only the boys, but the girls they will interact with.

This week New York Times bestselling author, Peggy Orenstein, joins me for a candid discussion about teens, hookup culture, and her latest book, Boys & Sex. Boys & Sex follows on the heels of Orenstein’s second foray into teen hookup culture from the female side, Girls & Sex (the first being the ground-breaking and bestselling Schoolgirls 20 years earlier in 1995).

As it turns out, the boys are as equally confounded as their female peers when it comes to sex, intimacy, and relationships. Almost all the information we give teens about sex is risk-based; that is, we tell our teens all the “bad” things that might happen, such as diseases, sexual assault, rape, pregnancy, and skip out on everything else.

When we forget to (or purposely leave out) talking to our teens about what healthy, normal, intimate relationships look like, we are letting everyone else decide for them.  The media, magazines, YA fiction, Netflix, and Hollywood (not to mention the pornography industry) decide “roles” for our teen girls and boys to play. Is it any wonder that young people, afraid of intimacy, lubricate their sexual interactions with alcohol?

Peggy and I discuss how we got here and what parents and educators can do to make things better. We cover:

  • What’s missing in our talks with teen’s about sex
  • How teen boys locker room talk feeds into hookup culture
  • Why it’s so hard for boys to stand up against other boys’ bad behavior
  • The big disconnect between girls acting “sexy” before truly understanding what sexy means

Peggy is a wealth of knowledge and I was blown away by her body of work on gender, women, and the landscape of teenage sex. Her insights are sometimes funny, sometimes disheartening…but they are always powerful!

Jan 19, 2020
Ep. 67: The Hidden Secrets of Teenage Success
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Are you are paralyzed by the thought of your teen failing? What if they never pass French or Algebra 2 or bomb their piano concert? 


As parents, it’s hard to watch your kids mess up, especially when if they had just listened to your suggestions in the first place they wouldn’t be stuck in a hole they only seem to be digging deeper. 


But rather than throwing down a rope to help them climb out of that hole, maybe there’s a better way to help them out. 


In our interview this week with Jessica Lahey, author of The Gift of Failure: How the Best Parents Let Go So Their Children Can Succeed, we talk about just that. A storied middle school and high school educator for more than 20 years (and mom to her own teens), Jessica has seen it all: from student outbursts in class to pens thrown at her head to lockers that are so full you’d need a crowbar to wedge out the mess of binders, papers and textbooks. 


In addition to her decades in education, Jessica has spent years researching the most effective techniques to use with teens, or as she sometimes refers to them “people in progress.” Her tactics to help teens learn from failures are all based on the science and psychology of teens’ developing brains. Executive functioning, like organization and emotional regulation are still developing in teens, which is why parents (and teachers and coaches) all have a part to play in raising future adults. 


In addition to learning how to help your teen learn and move on from failures, you will discover:

  • The fine line between “social jostling” and bullying
  • How to correct your teen’s mistakes to avoid repetitive errors
  • Why and how middle school is a “set up” for teens to fail
  • The importance of identifying your teens signals
  • How to institute a routine “clean out” to promote organization in your teen

 

Jessica’s book is everywhere—I even found a copy in bookstore in Argentina!—and I’m so excited to be sharing her expertise with our listeners!

Jan 12, 2020
Ep. 66: Grown and Flown and Still Parenting
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Lisa Heffernan, co-founder and author of Grown & Flown, shares her vast knowledge on parenting during the late-teens and even early 20s. Our Kids may be more grown up, but it doesn’t mean parents don’t still have an important role to play!
Jan 05, 2020
Ep. 65: 'Punishment' is a Trick Tactic
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Do you ever find that the more you try to communicate with your teens, the less they listen? You have to remind them to do their chores, to make good choices, to make it home on time and in one piece, but the lessons don’t sink in even when there are serious consequences for bad behavior. It makes it seem impossible to break through to them! But the solution may be taking a less punitive approach, and instead focusing on fostering the best relationship possible.

This week, we had the pleasure of sitting down with Dr. Laura Markham, author, parenting expert, and researcher who centers her advice around building relationships. Dr. Markham earned her Ph.D. in clinical psychology from Columbia University. Her website, ahaparenting.com, started off small but over the years has grown into an extensive parenting resource.

We went over some of the key points from her books, Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids and Peaceful Parent, Happy Sibling, where she writes about the hardest job in the world: parenting. In her words, “What could be more high stakes than raising another human being?”

Her goal is to give parents a comprehensive plan, while helping them understand that parenting is not a set of strategies, it’s a relationship.

One way to support your relationship with your teen is to think of alternatives to typical punitive punishments. If you look at the research, punishments rarely seem to have the intended effect of behavior change. Teens instead just get better at hiding the behavior you disapprove of. Instead of being more honest, teens just get better at lying. In relationships based upon mutual respect, Dr. Markham argues that there is no reason to punish. Instead, parents and teens can work together to decide on any consequences and a new plan of action for mistakes.

Rather than punishing your teen for a poor grade in a class by taking away their phone, Dr. Markham suggests sitting down with your teen, and asking how they got to the poor grade. Then the next step would be to come up with a plan together about what your teen will do get their grade back up and repair the relationship. "No punishments" doesn't mean teens get off scot-free for bad behavior - there are still consequences.


Back Away from Yelling

Another technique for improving a relationship comes down to communication skills. Yelling matches aren't fun for anyone. The fast you can interrupt them, the better your relationship will be. Dr. Markham stresses the ‘Stop, Drop, and Breathe’ method. Stop what you’re doing, drop your agenda, and take a deep breath. When you’re frustrated and your teen yells at you, instead of escalating, it might be better to try and see your teen’s perspective.


This is where limits come in. If your teen surpasses a clearly established limit, such as swearing at you during a fight, you need to check them on that. Tell them it’s okay to be mad, but you won’t be having a conversation with them until they cool down and are ready to talk with respect. Respect is a paramount rule, and there’s certainly a limit where behavior is no longer considered respectful.

We also think it’s good to come up with alternatives to speech that might degrade the relationship, such as, “I told you so”, “you’re lying”, or “you messed up.” We want to support our teens even when they test our limits, so we suggest saying something along the lines of, “your promise didn’t come through and that hurts our relationship, so let’s come up with a plan to fix it.”


A lot of our conversation with Dr. Markham focuses on what parents can do to work on themselves and regulate their own emotions. After all, a teen is way more likely to yell and act out if they don’t feel like their parent listens to them, or if they see their parents act out and adopt a similar behavior.

One of our biggest takeaway tips from this interview is that parents need to check in and make sure that their child is feeling heard. Part of that involves humility on the parents’ end. In our chat, we go over the means of benefits of saying sorry, admitting mistakes, explaining you aren’t always the expert on everything, and becoming a better listener. In fact, the more you listen, the less likely you teen will be to raise their voice at you.


Get your relationship back on track with these punishment alternatives and communication-building strategies from Dr. Markham!


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Dec 29, 2019
Ep. 64: A Way Through the Toughest Conversations
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Do you notice your teen shutting down and pushing you out? As teens strive to become individuals, they start to communicate less and less with parents. This is a common ‘side effect’ of growing up, but it isn’t all bad. Making decisions independently is a critical skill all teenagers need to learn. Although, if parents struggle to keep a close relationship with their teens, there can be more conflict and difficulty when it comes to teaching life lessons.


Amy Alamar, author of The Parenting Project: Build Extraordinary Relationships With Your Kids Through Daily Conversation, believes the best way to know your child is through conversation. As an experienced teacher and researcher, Amy uses academic research and psychological concepts to break down the most effective ways to communicate with teens. Her methods involve daily techniques you can use to build extraordinary relationships through conversation. Even when it comes to the most trying topics!


In this episode of the podcast, we cover everything from managing our reactions to word-for-word scripts for the toughest situations. Here are some of the major takeaways.


Recognize Your Reactions


Certain types of conversation make us act and react differently, we can’t help it. And sometimes our apparent shock or frustration can cause a teen to back out of the dialogue. As parents, if we’re discussing something that makes us afraid, like our teen driving for the first time, our emotions are heightened. We have a totally different energy than if we were talking to our teens about intimacy, or being a self-advocate.


Amy advises that we walk our teens through our own emotions so they aren’t put off by a genuine reaction. Simply explaining, “I’m not judging you, I’m just surprised,” can make a world of difference. It might take a minute to calm down, but it’s important to let your teen know that you want to have a fair conversation without reactions speaking louder than reason. We also discuss the value of finding the right tone and setting, even when we’re upset and can’t keep up a solid ‘poker face.’


Let Your Child Speak


Amy shares how staying quiet and letting your child speak can be the key to having meaningful conversation. For example, asking open ended questions like, “how did you feel about that?” can inspire a teen to be more open. Amy also suggests we point out situations in TV shows and movies to facilitate dialogue about touchy topics like drug use or peer pressure. It feels non-confrontational and lets your teen speak their mind freely, as it’s about a fictional scenario.


Plus, we outline the difference between whole-family and one-on-one conversations, as well as how to let our children bring up their thoughts about the future, so we don’t make assumptions about their path. Above all else, Amy highlights how to be on your teen’s team, always.


Navigate Risks and Limits


“We’re not their friends, we’re they’re parents.” This impactful statement from Amy regards setting expectations and holding our teens to them. We have to be bold about setting limits, but at the same time, we must recognize that it’s the purpose of a teenager to push limits, take risks, and try new things. So, our job is less about being strict, and more about talking our teens through their decision making and coming up with appropriate natural consequences when they make certain choices.


In this episode, Amy coaches parents how to teach their teens about making decisions, learning from mistakes, identifying parents’ concerns, and forming plans to address those concerns.


Master Difficult Conversations


There are so many tricky conversations that Amy has methods for mastering. If your child has a friend that you don’t like, Amy knows just how to handle it. She mentions that one of the worst things you can do is say, “You can’t be friends with that person,” or judge that person, because the minute you judge them, your child will start to shut down. Instead, she recommends ways to influence our teen’s decision making.


She has tips for talking about the most dreaded topic of all too: teenage sex. Some of her talking points include the importance of intimacy, being present, and having consent for an enjoyable experience. Rather than encourage or forbid sex, her approach focuses on how to have the best relationship, and what it takes to achieve that.


We even go into detail about what to say when someone breaks your child’s trust, elaborating on empathy and apologies. This episode is packed with useful suggestions to conquer all sorts of challenging discussions you’ll have with your teens!


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Dec 22, 2019
Ep. 63: Recognizing Strengths to Help Your Teen Thrive
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Unfortunately, a lot of teens perceive an unspoken message from their parents, the  sense that they aren’t good enough. Teenagers rate pressure from parents as a major source of stress, and it might have something to do with focus. When parents fixate on how their teens can improve, rather than where they excel, teens can form a negative view of their own identity.


Presenting a fresh perspective on raising teens according to their strengths, is Head of the Berkshire Country Day School, Jenifer Fox. Her book, Your Child’s Strengths: Discover Them, Develop Them, Use Them; A Guide for Parents and Teachers, is full of activities and lessons to help parents identify their kids’ strengths so they can thrive. 

 

Finding Strengths

Doesn’t it seem like everybody's a critic? That reality can be challenging for a teenager trying to find their true self. Even well-meaning parents can be quick to critique their kids by pointing out what they’re doing right, or wrong. One of the things teens crave most is validation and acceptance for their individual strengths, but some strengths are easier to recognize than others. 


It can be problematic if parents fail to perceive their teens’ strengths as viable. In this episode we talk about the misconception that our teens don’t do anything, and how we can recognize our teens’ interests as valuable. Whether it’s surfing, studying, or listening to music.


Jenifer also illuminates how teens can learn to play to their strengths. One method we discuss is encouraging teens to pick out the chores that they feel confident tackling. Another strategy we get into is paying close attention to the working world around us. When we teach our teens to ask how many different types of jobs we can spot in one place, and think about what it takes to get those jobs, we open up a great conversation about strengths. And, we talk about how to ask our teens to find a better alternative to showcases their skills, without being judgmental. 


That’s Not All!

In this episode with Jenifer Fox, you’ll also hear expert insight on:

  • How to bring the most authentic piece of yourself to the conversation.
  • The truth about schools being set up for one type of learning.
  • How project-based learning engages teens and touches on all areas of education.
  • The relevance of Activity Strengths: Those things that light you up and get you energized. The captivating flow state where time flies and you’re always looking forward to it.


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Dec 15, 2019
Ep. 62: Avoiding Negative Cultural Influences
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It can be hard to recognize all the negative messages our daughters receive from media, celebrities, athletes, and characters that say how girls should dress or behave. It’s even harder to raise our voice and combat massive social forces, especially when they’ve been around for so long that it feels easier to go with the flow. However, letting sexism slide can be very harmful, so what can parents do to shift our culture for the better?


Thankfully, parents can be a major part of the solution. The key is changing culture from the inside by calling out disparities in clothing, sports, politics, and the workplace and asking for something better. The small differences that we can make in our individual social circles add up quickly, and together social change is more than possible.


In this week’s episode, we spoke with Mike Adamick, author of Raising Empowered Daughters, who uses observations, history, and scientific research to break down cultural bias. Mike provides us with awesome insights for how to identify and call out sexism among friends in a way that starts a productive conversation without letting conflict drive others away. He also shares amazing methods for bringing up what’s not normal or not okay in the media without teens tuning out a lecturing dad.


Mike’s passion is to inspire other parents to be vocal about sexism when it comes up.  Far too often, people pass around harmful ideas and language towards girls because they’ve heard it before and might not think about it too much. He brings up a great example that dads have no trouble standing up for someone talking trash about their favorite sports team, or if someone’s being racist, but a lot of dads choose to avoid confrontation when it comes to sexism. It seems to be that staying silent in the face of gender issues is a driving cause of ongoing cultural problems.


Rocking the boat might sound crazy, but the disparity between men and women is crazy. In this episode, we dive into a ton of solutions to the common issues related to gaps between boys and girls.


  • Mike teaches us what to do and say when we encounter girls’ clothes that are more about appearance than utility.
  • We discuss the problematic logic of using biological differences between boys and girls to discriminate, instead of to be productive.
  • We’ll demonstrate how to avoid pigeon-holing moms and dads into certain roles, and consider how strangely out of the ordinary it seems when we see a dad spending time with kids instead of being at work.
  • Mike explains how to encourage boys to do better by not excusing bad behavior and falling into the dreaded “boys will be boys” mentality.
  • He also shares stories about his own daughter, and ways he supports her to let out the negative emotions like anger and frustration that our culture suggests girls should try to repress to appear ‘well-mannered’. 


This episode is jam-packed with even more eye-opening conversations that will help you shift the culture around gender bias, raise empowered children, and make a positive difference in the world.

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Dec 08, 2019
Ep. 61: Is Your Teen's Brain-Body Type Causing Problems?
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It seems like there’s always one teen that causes more trouble than the other. All it takes is some small comment or request and she flies into a rage! 

 

But this doesn’t happen with her siblings - so what gives? Is something just wrong with the way her brain and body are built? 

 

According to Dr. Robert Keith Wallace, author of Dharma Parenting: Understand Your Child's Brilliant Brain for Greater Happiness, Health, Success, and Fulfillment, maybe so. But it’s not anything “wrong”! 

 

On this week’s episode, Dr. Wallace and I dive into the principles in his book, based on the Ayurvedic doshas, an ancient Indian practice which has since found a basis in science. It turns out, some people are literally wired differently - down in their DNA - which can make them run a bit hot or cold, or even a bit slow! 

 

Dr. Wallace is an expert in brain-body connections and has some excellent tips on how to spot and stop triggers that may be tripping up your teen...and you! In addition to learning the three main brain-body types, you will discover:

  • How pitta, vata, and kapha teens and parents may interact
  • The power of “coaching” your teen in addition to parenting
  • The 6 Cs to mentally whip through during any argument to cool things down
  • The importance of teaching teens to make routines...and helping them shake things up when they need it! 

Dr. Wallace and I had such an interesting conversation and I’m so excited to share this episode with our subscribers and listeners! 

Exclusive offers from our sponsors...

 

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Dec 01, 2019
Ep. 60: Deliberate Parenting for Happy Campers
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Every parent has an idea in their head about how their family is going to go. It’s hard not to have hopes and dreams about just how perfect everything will go and how you won’t turn into your parents…but then kids become teens. 


And it seems like all of our expectations for a functional family go out the window. It can feel like we’re barely managing to tread water.


This week I spoke with Audrey Monke, author of  Happy Campers: 9 Summer Camp Secrets for Raising Kids Who Become Thriving Adults about getting deliberate in parenting. After serving as a camp director for over 30 years - not to mention being a mother of five - Audrey knows a thing or two about deliberate practices that work!


Being deliberate and intentional in your parenting practice may sound simple, but taking action isn’t always easy. 


Luckily Audrey and I discussed in depth specific practices you can implement with your teen and even exactly what you can say to your teen to shift into a more deliberate and positive practice. In addition, to Audrey’s go-tos for creating a positive mindful family environment you will discover:

  • How to turn “labels” into solutions
  • The subtle language shift that makes all the difference
  • The link between homesickness and a parent’s confidence in their kid
  • How to identify “hot spots” and “prime times” to optimize the good times and puzzle out the stress
  • A different way to “nag” to your teen that lets you off the hook 

So excited to be sharing  Audrey’s wealth of knowledge on creating a deliberate parenting practice and dealing with teens!!

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Nov 24, 2019
Ep. 59: College, Careers, and Becoming Adult
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Here’s a surprising fact: most teens have NO idea what they want to do when they “grow up.” And even the ones who do have no idea how to get there. 


Unfortunately this can lead teens to taking longer to get through college and find their place in the world. They may grow frustrated at having to switch jobs every two years - and in turn it makes their parents question if their teen will ever find their place in the workforce. 


This week I spoke with Barbara Schneider, researcher and author of Becoming Adult: How Teenagers Prepare for the World of Work about teens and their futures. Barbara clued me onto the environments that best set kids up for finding fulfilling work. One of the keys to helping teens find their path is simply exposure to what the possibilities are. 


Because the landscape of work is changing so quickly every year, Barbara suggests parents learn with their teen about what kinds of jobs and work are really out there. In addition to learning this, you will discover:

  • The difference between “players” and “workers”
  • ...and why each one has problems
  • The main factors that lead teens to attend college 
  • How to help you teen balance their “work” and “play”
  • When teens experience the most flow


Exclusive offers from our sponsors...


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Teencounseling.com connects your teen with a licensed professional counselor right where they spend the most time: on their smartphone. Click here for 10% off your first month.

Nov 17, 2019
Ep. 58: The Great Outdoors and Teens
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It’s a beautiful day: the sun is shining, the temperature is just right, and it seems like the whole neighborhood is soaking it all up. Except your teen. Instead, your teen is stuck on the coach, face glued to their smart phone...again! 

You’re pretty sure if you tried to ask them something they wouldn’t even respond! Do they even know how to entertain themselves without their phones anymore? Without any screen? Could they come up with


Linda McGurk, author of There’s No Such Thing As Bad Weather: A Scandinavian Mom’s Secrets for Raising Healthy, Resilient and Confident Kids, argues that now more than ever kids need to be spending time outside. Whether it’s structured activities, a game, or “friluftsliv,” the first step is to just get kids out there. And if it’s cold or rainy, Linda reminds us that there’s no such thing as bad weather - only bad clothes! 


Linda is big on what researchers have termed “risky play.” Risky play allows for kids of all ages a chance to play unsupervised and learn through experience how to negotiate and solve problems. How does this work for teens? Have a listen!

In addition to learning how to get your teen off the couch and outside, Linda and I cover:

  • The health benefits of being outside 
  • How to implement a “screen free Sunday”
  • Why “getting ahead” in school might actually lead to poorer learning
  • The power of a Facebook parenting group
  • And more! 


Exclusive offers from our sponsors...

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Teencounseling.com connects your teen with a licensed professional counselor right where they spend the most time: on their smartphone. Click here for 10% off your first month.

Nov 10, 2019
Ep. 57: Your Teen on Power
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Have you ever had to look on as your teen, on a power trip, becomes a complete jerk? Maybe you’ve even seen your teen become a tyrant after being given even the smallest bit of social  power, like being in charge of dropping a sibling(s) off at school. Suddenly they fly into a rage if said sibling is even a minute late walking out the door, even though your teen was ten minutes late last week when you took them to school.

This week I spoke with Erin Clabough, PhD, neuroscientist and author of Second Nature: How Parents Can Use Neuroscience to Help Kids Develop Empathy, Creativity, and Self-Control, about teens, power, and empathy. It’s true that people on power trips are bad at empathizing. And while it might seem like the solution is to just completely strip your teen of their social power, Erin suggests this is unwise.

In fact a study looking at groups of monkeys found that the animals with the lowest social status - the least amount of power - were the most likely ones to voluntarily pick up a drug habit.  Having social power and being the “one in charge” gives a person a dopamine rush - it feels good to be respected and listened too! For the monkeys that were low on the totem pole the alternative was to get a dopamine rush from readily available cocaine.

So the solution, according to Erin, lies in helping kids have values like empathy and kindness, in addition to having self-control!

And how can you do that? Surprisingly, bribing makes the list. As a neuroscientist, Erin intimately understands how to effectively use bribing to get your teen to start doing the right thing(s). In addition to unlocking how to properly bribe a teen, you will discover:

  • How to intervene when you see an imbalance of power
  • The two criteria for rules that teens follow
  • The importance of giving your teen social power
  • What cognitive empathy is and how to use it
  • Erin’s “OUT” Method for conflict resolution

And that’s not all! Have a listen to this week’s episode featuring Erin Clabough for more insights on managing teens on power!

Exclusive offers from our sponsors...

Wild Foods is a nutrition company on a mission to fix the broken food system. They put quality, sustainability, and health first in all of their products. Click here for 12% off your order.

Teencounseling.com connects your teen with a licensed professional counselor right where they spend the most time: on their smartphone. Click here for 10% off your first month.

Nov 03, 2019
Ep. 56: Make Meaningful Connections
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Do you ever feel like the week goes by and you haven’t really connected with your teen? You might look back to find that every conversation was about getting somewhere on time, making a plan for dinner, or providing reminders about something that needs to get done. 


Maybe you had the best intentions--you really planned to bring up a touchy subject or share something deep--but life just got in the way. You’re not alone. It’s a common complaint from parents in today's busy, over-scheduled, technology-driven world. 


So how do you carve out the time to connect on a really intimate level?


In this week’s episode I spoke with Joanna Guest about what parents can do to break out of the mundane go-go-go pace of life and start working in communication with your teen that is meaningful, positive, and real. Joanna is the author of Folded Wisdom: Notes from Dad on Life, Love, and Growing Up


When Joanna’s younger brother, Theo, showed no interest in reading, a teacher suggested their dad write notes to peak the little guy’s curiosity. Joanna’s Dad took the idea and ran with it, writing both Theo and Joanna a note with an illustration every morning to take to school. And he kept it up for 14 years, ultimately writing 4775 letters.


Unlike his daily communication, which often felt routine and rushed, the notes hit on deep topics, life lessons, and--during baseball season--the score of last night’s Yankee game.


In our interview, Joanna clued me in to the incredible insights she uncovered in curating her dad’s notes. Going back over the notes ten years later (and with a degree in Family Studies), Joanna marvels at just how special his notes were. She wrote this book to share them with the world.  

 

I was blown away at how wise and poignant Joanna’s advice  was for parents of teenagers today. Among other things, she told me: 

  • How to teach lessons without being so “teach-y” (a major turn-off for teens)
  • Why exploring  and sharing our vulnerability can bring us closer to our teens
  • Using a “practice” to foster stronger communication
  • How exploring your child’s interests opens up possibilities


If you are looking to meaningfully connect with your teen while imparting valuable life lessons, you will not want to miss this episode!

Exclusive offers from our sponsors...

Wild Foods is a nutrition company on a mission to fix the broken food system. They put quality, sustainability, and health first in all of their products. Click here for 12% off your order.

Teencounseling.com connects your teen with a licensed professional counselor right where they spend the most time: on their smartphone. Click here for 10% off your first month.

Oct 27, 2019
Ep 55: Build Resilience & Capability in Teens
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There are teens out there that have NO idea how to do the laundry, cook a meal, manage their time, pay bills--the list goes on. And that’s not even mentioning the poor behavior and attitude they throw at their parents and other adults. It’s frustrating to say the least! When will they “grow up”?? When will they listen?


Katherine Lewis wondered the same thing after a run in with some rowdy boys on a playground. They were throwing a ball around without any regard to the littler kids nearby. When she asked them to stop, she says they looked at her...and then carried on exactly what they were doing. She was shocked. 


Katherine came to the conclusion that the way we are told to raise kids and teens has had detrimental effects on how they turn out. 


After more than a year researching current trends for her book The Good News About Bad Behavior, Katherine had some answers. 


One thing that stood out to Katherine in her research was that all the “saving” parents have been told to do is actually working against our kids. Rather than rescue our teens from stressful situations, the science shows that kids who muster through conflict and minor trauma, come out more resilient on the other side. Katherine believes it’s no coincidence that behavioral and mental disorders are at epidemic levels: we haven’t given our kids the opportunity to manage their minor stressors on their own! And so all the small things become overwhelming. Maybe to the point that a teen might give up on trying to balance it all (eating, sleeping, doing laundry, getting good grades, cleaning, etc) in favor of doing nothing. 


The Apprenticeship Model that Katherine teaches in her coaching sessions helps parents to shift their mindset and  parenting practices toward helping their kids acquire skills and knowledge necessary for them to become happy, healthy, contributing adults. 


Let teens fail and mess up when they’re young, Katherine argues. That’s a teen’s job!


In addition to walking going through Katherine’s Apprenticeship Model for parenting, you will discover:

  • Why minor traumas are good for your teen
  • How to impose logical consequences when natural consequences aren’t an option
  • The problem with Perceived Criticism
  • Why teens should do homework on a timer
  • How to draw out a reluctant teen
Oct 20, 2019
Ep 54: Making Room for More with Minimalism
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Do you ever look back on a week and feel like you’re spending 90% of your family time doing stuff you don’t really love? Isn’t parenting supposed to be rewarding and inspiring at least 50% of the time? Why does it so often seem exhausting and overwhelming?

Christine Koh knows all about this feeling. This lady does a lot every day. She runs five businesses, hosts a podcast, works as a freelance writer, and speaks around the country! On top of that, she is raising a family and trying to be a good wife and member of her community. 

A minimalist mindset has helped her keep everything in balance and she breaks down exactly how she does it all in her practical and humorous book Minimalist Parenting. As she explained to me this week on the podcast, minimalism isn’t just about having less stuff or living without toilet paper, it’s a mentality that will allow you to make more room for the things you actually want to be doing in your family life and your professional life. 

She shared some really insightful hacks with me during our interview, including:

  • how to use the simple but effective “More and Less List”
  • Christine’s philosophy about teens getting jobs
  • tips for cleaning out your teen’s (and your own) “stuff”
  • ways to mitigate an over-abundance of stuff in the first place
  • a lesson on traveling with your teen

Set your family up to thrive by making more room in your lives for the things that are truly important to you, both in your home and on your calendar. By engaging in the minimalist practices Christine explains on this episode, you and your teenagers will be forced to re-examine your deepest values and decide what you truly want to stand for.

Oct 13, 2019
Ep 53: Bad Behavior? Ignore It!
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This week Dr. Catherine Pearlman joins the show for a conversation about her book Ignore It! How Selectively Looking the Other Way Can Decrease Behavioral Problems and Increase Parenting Satisfaction. After years of social work coaching young mothers, Dr. Pearlman founded the Family Coach, where she visits homes and coaches parents through their most stressful time of day. 

Catherine’s interview includes a dissection of how exactly the Ignore It! principles work. It’s not about ignoring your teen - rather, it’s about ignoring your teen’s bad antics so your teen stops repeating them! 

Catherine also clarifies when you should NOT ignore things. Most important on the list of things to acknowledge? Good behavior!  

In this episode we cover:

  • How to quash negotiations
  • Exactly how the Ignore It! method works
  • What to expect the first time you ‘ignore it’
  • How a ‘negative’ response can still be rewarding
  • Natural consequences and how to use them

Dr. Pearlman writes the column “Dear Family Coach”, which has been syndicated in publications like the Wall Street Journal, CNN.com, Sports Illustrated, and the Huffington Post. Excited to be sharing all that parenting wisdom in this interview!

Oct 06, 2019
Ep 52: Get Your Teen to Think
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This week I spoke with Dr. Jennifer Salerno about her book Teen Speak: A Guide to Understanding and Communicating with Teens. Dr. Salerno started an organization that trains medical professionals on how to speak effectively with their teenage patients. Soon, she discovered the doctors and nurses she was training were utilizing her teachings in their own homes!

Dr. Salerno’s research has resulted in a system used by medical professions all over the country to mitigate risky behaviors among teens. The system works by helping adults quickly identify risk and communicate with teens effectively about what the consequences of their actions may be.

Jennifer’s interview is packed with tactics parents can slip in to their everyday communication to create a positive impact on the parent-teen relationship.


In this episode we cover:

  • a step-by-step metod for using statements to dig deeper in a conversation
  • the “magic” sentence to get your teen talking about their day
  • dealing with teens’ tendency toward drama
  • how to turn “whys” into “whats,” and
  • getting your teen’s intentions to line up with their behaviors. 

Through her book and work in the medical community, Dr. Jen has reached hundreds of parents and medical staff. Her toolbox of communication strategies is open - now all that’s left is to start using them!

Sep 29, 2019
Ep 51: Hack Your Parenting
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Do parenting books just make you feel like you’re doing a terrible job? That’s exactly how Susan Groner, the Parenting Mentor, felt. So when she was asked to write Parenting: 101 Ways to Rock Your World she became determined to make it a feel-good and easy read. 

This week on the podcast, we brought Susan on to share some of her best parenting hacks. I like Susan’s advice a lot because it’s all practical! Her book is packed with 101 tips, tricks, and hacks for “Parenting with Sanity and Joy.” During our interview, I asked her to explain some of my favorite hacks from the book and she even ended up sharing a few killer strategies that don’t appear in there.

In this episode we cover: 

  • How to turn “because I said so” into a learning opportunity for your teen
  • why it’s never too late to start family traditions
  • “getting out of the rescue business”
  • how to turn chores into “contributions”
  • the #1 cause, according to Susan, that parent-teen fights break out

Through Susan’s business The Parenting Mentor, she has honed her own method for helping coach parents through the tough times, known as the CLEARR System. She shares some practical tips for responding to teens with empathy and solution-focused conversations. Rather than jumping in and trying to fix all the problems in your teen’s world, Susan recommends taking a step back and asking them what they could do to improve things. 

Of course, that can be much easier said than done.

Learn how Susan’s CLEARR system works and come along with me as I dive into my favorite tactics from her book.

Sep 22, 2019
Ep 50: Teenagers Under Pressure
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About 10 years ago Dr. Lisa Damour started to notice that stress and anxiety were on the rise among the teenage girls she worked with in her therapy practice and at the Laurel School, where she is the director of the Center for Research on Girls. The trend was so strong that Lisa felt compelled to focus on it for her second book, Under Pressure: Confronting the Epidemic of Stress and Anxiety in Girls.

But this anxiety isn't something we need to protect girls from. In fact, Lisa says most of the time stress is actually beneficial because when we are anxious about an upcoming test or tournament, it motivates us to work hard to prepare and make sure we are ready. Also, studies show that we actually perform better when we are a little bit "revved up".

It seems many girls today are worried they experience too much anxiety. However, Lisa told me that a teenager's stress level only becomes "too much" when its completely out of proportion to what the situation calls for. Most of the time anxiety is actually a good thing.

As parents we need to start doing a better job of helping our teens "face their fears". We need to teach them how to handle their anxiety and how to push themselves to do things that aren't necessarily easy for them. Lisa reveals how to do it on this week's episode.

This episode is brought to you by Teen Job Prep. Their intuitive resume builder helps teens create a professional resume, even with no experience! And their engaging video training teaches teens how to get a work permit, ace an interview, and find a part-time job.

Sep 15, 2019
Ep 49: Risky Behaviors and Self Harm
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Self harm is not just about cutting yourself. And it isn't something that's only an issue with girls. A teenage boy who punches the wall in anger so hard that his hand starts to bleed is also taking part in self harm. So is the college student who drinks enough alcohol to make herself sick, or the kid who purposely picks a fight with someone twice his size.

As odd as behaviors like this might appear, they actually make perfect sense from a teenager's perspective. This week on the podcast I spoke with Michelle Mitchell, the author of the new book, Self Harm: Why Teens Do It And What Parents can do to Help.

Michelle told me self harm happens when teenagers have strong negative emotions they don't know how to deal with. By making themselves sick or hurting themselves teenagers can find a sense of escape. The physical pain has a numbing effect and that temporary release can be highly addicting.

And the numbers are pretty scary. By some estimates, over 20% of teenagers experiment with self harm at some point and another 14% consider it but ultimately decide not to try it. It's hard to pin down exact statistics because many teens and their families never report the behavior to their doctor.


What Can Parents Do?

The first thing to think about is how you can equip your teenager to cope with very strong negative emotions in ways that are healthy and productive. Michelle told me what you can say to your teen to get them to reflect on their emotions and try out different strategies for dealing with them.

Of course, the best scenario is if you can have this talk before your teenager even thinks about self harm. However, this obviously isn't always an option. What should you do if you think your teen might already be self harming?

Your first reaction is VERY important. Many parents react with worry and fear and rush into "fix-it" mode. But this just piles more negative emotions on your teen and often makes a tough situation even worse.

On this episode, Michelle breaks down exactly what parents can say in the initial conversation, as well as the follow-ups. The key is to reduce your teenager's feelings of vulnerability so they feel comfortable talking about it. Then, you want to help them discover a replacement behavior they can use instead of harming themselves next time they experience negative emotions. Finally, you can talk about more long-term coping mechanisms and encourage your teen to work on it further with a therapist.

Sep 09, 2019
Ep 48: Gaslighting and Emotional Manipulation
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When her article on gaslighting for Psychology Today went viral, Stephanie Sarkis knew she'd found a topic people were interested in. Millions of people read and shared the piece because they identified with being in the type of relationship Stephanie wrote about, where subtle manipulation tactics make you feel bad about yourself.

That's what inspired her to write the book Gaslighting: Recognize Manipulative and Emotionally Abusive People--And Break Free.

Gaslighters are often very charismatic and they start by flattering you and telling you how incredible you are. Next, they try to isolate you from others by telling you not to trust your friends and family members, or that you are unsafe without the gaslighter around to protect you.

The best thing to do when you encounter people like this, Stephanie says, is to cut them out of your life, block their phone number, block their emails, block them on Facebook, and stop reading their letters.

However, if the person is your spouse or ex-spouse and you have kids together, it's very difficult to cut them out of your life. So I asked Stephanie what to do in these situations.

She taught me how to avoid saying things to your kids that can be used as ammunition by the other parent. She also revealed how to deal with "Flying Monkeys", or people that the gaslighter sends to talk to you and tell you that you're over-reacting and you should give the gaslighter another chance.

Another important topic we covered is what to do to prepare your teenager for dealing with emotionally manipulative people. Stephanie emphasized the importance of warning them about the signs of gaslighting early, before they get involved with a gaslighter. Because when a teenager gets into a relationship, especially with a gaslighter who is telling them how great they are, it's a very difficult time to "talk sense to them".

She talked about what you can say to warn teens about emotional manipulation ahead of time so that they will have their defenses up when they see this type of flattery being used on them.

She also explained how to set and enforce healthy boundaries with your teenager.

Another interesting topic covered in this episode is how to communicate your own needs to your teenager in a non-confrontational way. Stephanie has some great tips for how to get teens to help out and act more respectful.

Aug 18, 2019
Ep 47: Sex Positive Education for Teens
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For most parents, the main goal with sex education is to keep teens from having sex for as long as possible and make sure that, when they do have sex, they always use protection. These are definitely good goals, but they leave a lot to be desired. That's what a new movement is focusing on "sex positive education", with the goal of setting teens up to have a positive, fulfilling, and empowering sex life.

How do you adopt sex positive education with your own teenager?

Gia Lynne says the answer has to do with shifting our focus from teaching a results-oriented mindset to a pleasure-oriented mindset. Gia is the author of the new book On Blossoming: Frank and Practical Advice on Our Bodies, Sexual Health, Sensuality, Orgasm, and More. On this week's episode of the podcast, I spoke with Gia about how sex positive education works and what parents can do to start using it in their own homes.

The first thing to understand, Gia told me, is that sexuality and sensuality are not the same thing.

Sensuality is about using our senses to experience the world in a rich and pleasurable way. Sexuality, on the other hand, is related to intercourse and sexual attractiveness.

Here's another way of thinking about sex positive education. Sexuality focuses on the end result (having an orgasm or producing a baby), while sensuality focuses on enjoying everything fully in the moment as it occurs. Gia refers to this as having a "results-focused orientation" versus a "pleasure-focused orientation".

Teenagers who are results focused are more likely to rush into sexual intercourse, while those with a pleasure focus are more likely to slow things down and savor the sensual pleasure derived from experiences like holding hands, snuggling, and kissing.

How can you teach this attitude to your own teenager?

Gia told me it is about more than just sex. Sex positive education is about teaching teens to slow down and savor all of life's little pleasures rather than rushing through to get to the "good stuff".

She gave me some great tips for how to pass this mentality along to your teenager. For one thing, it starts with modeling. Let your teenager see you pause for a minute to savor an amazing cup of coffee or stop to watch the sunset. Show them that there is so much joy in life's simple pleasures.

Another component of sex positive education is training our teenagers to ask for what they want and to stand up for themselves when they don't want to do something. During our interview, Gia revealed some great strategies parents can use to start teaching these skills to teens.

We also talked about some other important topics in sex positive education, like masturbation, 'losing'' your virginity, using the right words when you talk about sex organs and acts, and a whole lot more.

Aug 04, 2019
Ep 46: Handling Problem Teenagers
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David Sortino's passion for working with "troubled" children started during his own childhood when his school administered an achievement test to determine which level of classes each student would be placed in. David threw the test in revolt and was placed in a special education class referred to by everyone else at the school as the "Zoo-Zoo Class". During that year, he noticed how everyone treated the "Zoo-Zoo" students and it inspired his interest in troubled kids.

In addition to his PhD in developmental psychology and his doctoral work at Harvard, Dr. Sortino has a lot of real-world experience working with troubled kids to draw from. He's worked with juvenile offenders in prison, gangsters seeking rehabilitation, and kids who have been expelled from school. His book, The Promised Cookie, is the true story of a school for troubled children where Dr. Sortino worked during his twenties. Using unconventional methods he was able to get through to a group of very hard-to-reach students.

What parts of David's methods can parents apply with their own difficult-to-reach kids?

Well, for one thing, he explained how to use a behavior contract most effectively with a teenager. The key, David says, is to appeal to their current stage of moral reasoning while also challenging them to use their higher-level morality. Most teens are in the 'Reciprocity' stage, says Sortino. This means they will respond best when they feel like they are getting something in return for every concession they make on a contract. Additionally, writing the contract will also challenge your teen to think about right and wrong, a higher level of moral reasoning.

Another tip, David told me, is to focus on your expectations for your teenager. Do you have expectations that your teen's current actions are hurting their future? Or that your teen should or shouldn't go to college? It's hard not to! We all have hopes and dreams for our kids. But those expectations can actually cause teens to rebel and push against our influence. How do you manage your own expectations for your teen? David has some tips on this episode.

Dr. Sortino also taught me a great strategy for connecting and empathizing with your teenager. He says the key is to think back to the most vulnerable moments of your own childhood and imagine how you felt during those moments. Remember feeling scared and worried and embarrassed as a kid and teen. When you approach conversations with your own teenager after doing this kind of visualization you'll feel much more connected.

During our interview, David covered all of these topics as well as a ton of other great stuff.

Jul 14, 2019
Ep 45: Troublesome Teenage Boys
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Teenage boys can be tough to deal with. They are disrespectful and lazy and they don't show gratitude or treat adults with courtesy. It's a tough set of attributes for parents to handle! But Bill Beausay says he always found teenagers very easy to work with. His doctoral work was in educational psychology, but he says many of his best techniques are based on intuition and experience from the many years he spent working as a family therapist.

"Inside, I still feel like I'm just a really big boy," he told me. It is this inner youthfulness that helps him to understand and connect with tough teenagers. And it's also what has made his books so successful. Bill has written 20 books including Teenage Boys!, True Greatness, Beating Teacher Burnout, and Dream It & Go!, among many others.

During our interview, Bill talked about how to redirect your teenager when you see them doing something that isn't going to work. He says you need to build a strong and deep connection with your teen before you can offer this kind of advice. The key is to find opportunities to get your teen talking about things they are afraid of and to open up to them about your own fears and mistakes. When you reveal something vulnerable to a teenager it's like you suddenly become real to them and you become someone they can talk to.

Bill has some helpful strategies and scripts for exactly what you can say and do to create these kinds of moments with your teen.

Another thing we talked about is what to do when your teen doesn't want to do their chores or pitch in around the house. Bill uses a very simple but powerful approach called "you'll be sorry". During our interview he walked through exactly how to do it. The key is not to force your teen to comply with your demands, but to remind them that if they don't do what you are asking there will be consequences later. Then you simply wait for the next time your teen needs something from you and remind them that they refused to help you last time you needed something from them.

Of course, you don't just want your teen to treat you with respect, you want them to treat all adults the same way. The ability to impress adults and connect with them meaningfully is one of the most important qualities that will help teens succeed in life. But good luck convincing your teenager to start showing an interest in adults an acting courteous toward them.

Bill has some simple but brilliant tips for how to get your teens talking to adults in a deeper way. It involves training your teen to start seeing every adult they meet as someone who can potentially help them out in life. He told me exactly what to say to your teen to make this happen in this episode.

The final piece of wisdom Bill revealed during our interview was about how to get your teen motivated and interested in life. He told me about the goal-setting exercises that he participated in with his own teenagers and exactly what he said to them to get them thinking about their future. The key is to remind teens that they don't need to have a fully-formed vision of their future before they can get started. In fact, nobody has a fully-formed vision of their future! What's important is just to pick something that interests them right now and get started. It's easy to change your mind later.

This episode has scripts and exercises from Bill for implementing these strategies with your teenager.

Jun 30, 2019
Ep 44: Non-Punitive Parenting Strategies
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Wow, wouldn't teenagers be delightful if we could just get them to stop giving us attitude and rebelling against everything we say? It's not such a fantasy as you might think. Actually, there is someone who has already figured out how to accomplish this using something called non-punitive parenting strategies. It's Canadian parenting expert and author of four parenting books, Judy Arnall.

On this episode, Judy taught me some awesome non-punitive parenting strategies from her books Discipline without Distress and Parenting with Patience. You'll learn to:

  • Reduce the reasons for rebelling
  • Teach your teen to express their emotions calmly
  • Manage your own anger at your teen
  • Express your needs to your teenager more clearly
  • Respond to swearing and foul language
  • Use I-statements effectively
  • Comfort your teen during emotional times

There's a ton of great info on this episode.

Judy explains the psychology behind why teens rebel and she shows you exactly what you can do to stop the process. Come along with me as I learn about non-punitive parenting strategies with Judy Arnall.

Jun 17, 2019
Ep 43: How to Stop Yelling at Kids
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Parents yelling at kids is nothing new. When you live under the same roof as another human being for so many years (especially an immature human being) you are going to get on each other's nerves. But it never feels good to fly off the handle and lose your cool. Yelling at kids is unsatisfying because it makes you feel bad about yourself and it damages your relationship with your child.

We all know this. Thousands of parents search Google for "how to stop yelling at kids" each month. It's not that we enjoy yelling or we think it's good for our family, we just can't help it. You kid does something that makes you furious and you lose it.

Your kids are pushing your buttons. And they are really good at it.

Parenting expert Bonnie Harris has been leading workshops with groups of parents for over 30 years. When she first started, she noticed something interesting. A few weeks into every class, parents would report that they were feeling worse than ever because now they knew what they were supposed to do but they still couldn't do it. They wanted to use the techniques Bonnie was teaching them but, instead, they were still yelling at kids and losing their cool.

That's when Bonnie had an epiphany. She realized that these parents were getting triggered by their kids. The kids were pushing the parents' buttons.

Inspired by this realization, Bonnie started researching the phenomenon. What, exactly, causes parents to lose it and start yelling at kids? She interviewed parents at her workshops and combined this knowledge with her psychology background and was able to map out exactly why our buttons get pushed and how to prevent it from happening.

And, of course, she field tested all of the techniques at home on her own daughter, Molly, who was a master button-pusher.

Bonnie's methods eventually became the basis for her bestselling book When Your Kids Push Your Buttons. She ultimately discovered 8 different types of buttons and she figured out exactly how kids push each one of them. Understanding your own buttons is the secret to stop yelling at kids.

Two Reasons for Yelling at Kids

Every time a parents loses it and starts yelling at kids, Bonnie discovered, there are two things happening below the surface. First, the parent has a Standard that has been violated by the child. Second, the parent begins to have negative assumptions about the child based on the violated Standard.

For example, you might have a Standard that a child should always speak respectfully to adults. Most likely, this Standard ties to your own childhood. Maybe you were raised in a home where you would never dare speak disrespectfully to your parents. When you hear kids talk to you disrespectfully, it violates your Standard, making you feel furious and start yelling at kids.

Assumptions are the thoughts you have about the kids as a result of the Standard being violated. Most of the time, parents don't even realize we are making these Assumptions, but these black-and-white thoughts about what the violation means are what really cause you to start yelling at kids. For instance, when kids speak disrespectfully to you, it violates your standard that kids should always respect adults. This might lead you to think to yourself, "these kids have no respect at all," and "they are spoiled, entitled, and arrogant."

And that's when you fly off the handle and start yelling at kids. Your button has just been pushed.

In this episode, Bonnie shares her incredible knowledge and walks through exactly what parents can do to uncover the psychology behind your own buttons and how they are getting pushed. Then she explains what you can do to stop yelling at kids and start responding to them with empathy and love.

Don't miss this superb advice from an international parenting expert.

Jun 02, 2019
Ep 42: Positive Parenting Solutions
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Jane Nelsen is famous for her Positive Discipline books and seminars, which teach parents how to control their children without using  punishments, threats, or other negative tactics. Her positive parenting strategies are used by thousands of parents around the world.

But do these positive parenting strategies work on teenagers?

This week on the podcast, I spoke with Jane Nelsen about how you can apply these strategies with today's tech-focused teenagers.

She had some amazing tips.

The foundation of Jane Nelsen's approach is the idea that all kids want to feel two things within their family: belonging and significance. When teens don't feel like they are loved and needed within the family, they check out and rebel. The positive parenting strategies Jane teaches in her workshops all focus on building a sense of belonging and significance in kids.

Positive Parenting Solutions for Teens

When teens act out, they are misbehaving because they mistakenly believe that doing so will help them feel a greater sense of belonging and significance within the family. Jane Nelsen refers to this as "mistaken goals". When you can understand which of these mistaken goals is driving your teenager to act out, the positive parenting solutions will make more sense to you.

There are four different types of mistaken goals.


1. Undue Attention

These teens can make you feel annoyed, irritated, and guilty with their constant need for attention. They mistakenly believe that they are only significant to you when you are focusing your attention on them. They only feel like they belong when they are the center of attention.


2. Power

The second type of teen can make you feel angry, provoked, and threatened with their constant challenges and power struggles. They mistakenly believe they are only significant when they are the boss. They only feel like they belong when they are in charge and are getting their way.


3. Revenge

The next type of mistaken goal that teens can pursue is revenge. These teens feel like it's your fault that they don't belong and aren't significant within their family. They mistakenly believe they have to get back at you for excluding them. These teens purposely try to hurt you.


4. Assumed Inadequacy

The final type of mistaken goal happens when a teen feels like they don't belong and aren't significant within their family because they are bad or because they are a failure. These teens have stopped trying to feel significance and belonging and have given up. They just want to be left alone.

So, which type of mistaken goal does your teen most often display?

These four mistaken goals are described in a lot more detail in Jane Nelsen's newest book, Positive Discipline for Today's Busy (and Overworked) Parent. She breaks down the psychology behind each of these mistaken goals and the positive parenting strategies that you can use to stop your teen from behaving in this way.

Tips from Jane Nelsen

During our interview, Jane revealed some proven positive parenting strategies that work with every type of teenager. For instance, she told me how you can get teens to follow through with every commitment they set without making them angry. She also told me how to get teens doing more chores around the house by showing them how it will help them feel significant.

Don't miss these powerful positive parenting strategies from Jane Nelsen, one of the top parenting experts alive today.

May 26, 2019
Ep 41: Choosing Great Teen Fiction Books
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Teen fiction books can change a kid's life when they come at just the right time. Brandon Mull wasn't much of a reader, he told me, until he read Narnia as a kid and was pulled in by the vast imagination of that story. That book was a turning point in his life that started him on the path of becoming a reader.

If you can get your teen reading the right kinds of teen fiction books it can inspire your teen or motivate them to start reading more and more. But if you buy your teen the wrong kinds of teen fiction books they could lose interest in reading altogether.

During our interview, we talked about how to pick the right kinds of fiction books for your teen.

Brandon spends four months out of every year traveling around the country doing free assemblies at schools about reading and literacy. Over the years he's talked to thousands and thousands of kids. When it comes to teen fiction books, Brandon says that he's found the fantasy genre has the broadest overall appeal for kids in this age group.

After writing an incredible 15 New York Times Bestsellers himself, Brandon knows what he's talking about.

Fantasy is a broad genre of teen fiction books that could include werewolves, vampires, magic, dragons, elves, goblins, and fairies. But the reason these books appeal so well to kids is that they often feature a young protagonist who is able to outsmart the adults and overcome amazing obstacles. Teens love this because this is how all teenagers want to see themselves.

So if you have a teen who isn't reading much and you want to get them reading more, try a fantasy book with a protagonist who is a similar age to your teen.

Teen Fiction Books Enhance the Imagination

Brandon encourages kids to think about teen fiction books as kind of like weight lifting for your imagination. When you read a book and have to picture the whole scene unfolding in your head, it's like a work out for your creativity. Doing this every day will sculpt a more creative brain.

If your teen is on the fence about teen fiction books, Brandon recommends asking if they have ever read a book and then seen the movie and been disappointed because the book was better in their head while they were reading it. Nearly everyone has had this experience and it proves that your imagination can be better than a famous Hollywood director with a multi-million dollar budget.

Once your teen realizes this, they'll see that it would be a crime not to use the theater of their own imagination more often by reading teen fiction books and other novels that stretch their creativity.

In this episode, Brandon covers all of these ideas and more in depth. He breaks down exactly what you can say to a teenager who isn't reading very much and how you can promote the pleasures of reading for fun.

May 04, 2019
Ep 40: Learning and Study Strategies
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For millions of teenagers who wish they could get better grades (or wish they could get the same grades with less effort) the answer might be as simple as adopting some new learning strategies and study techniques.

Over the past few decades, a lot of research has been conducted about which learning strategies work best and the results reveal that you can significantly improve your academic performance without increasing the amount of time you spend studying.

This week, I spoke with Ulrich Boser, the author of the book Learn Better, to find out what the best study techniques are for teenagers and what parents can do to introduce these new learning strategies to their teens.

How to Teach Learning Strategies

Let's face it, teenagers don't want to learn about study techniques from their parents. Your teen wants to discover their own learning strategies.

The problem is that there really are some strategies that are scientifically proven to work better than others.

In fact, as Ulrich told me during our interview, the idea that people have different "learning styles" and that different study techniques work best for different people is actually a myth that isn't backed up by modern research.

He emphasized that one of the best things parents can do to teach teens learning strategies is to use them yourself. Pick something you want to learn and model proper study techniques for your teenager.

Also, you want to help your teen adopt an attitude of experimenting with learning strategies. When they don't do well on a test or in a class, you want to encourage them to think about how they could use different study techniques next time rather than thinking they just must not be very smart.

The Best (and Worst) Study Techniques

So what does research suggest are the best learning strategies your teen should be using?

Ulrich mentioned a few during our interview that have been proven to enhance performance over and over again.

For instance, imagine that two people study for the exact same amount of time but one person distributes that studying over the course of a couple weeks, doing a little per day, while the other person does all of their studying in a single sitting. Research shows that the person who distributes the studying over time will perform much better on a test that the one who does it all at once.

Scientists refer to this study technique as "distributed practice" or the "spacing effect".

A learning strategy that many high school students use is highlighting important passages in their textbook while reading. However, Ulrich told me that research shows this doesn't improve performance at all. Neither does reviewing your notes.

Quizzing yourself in a way that forces you to generate the information each time, however, has been proven to work very well. Doing practice problems without having the answers in front of you is one way to achieve this. Or making note cards with questions on one side and the answers on the other could be effective as well.

In this episode, Ulrich covers all of these ideas and more in depth. He breaks down the science of learning strategies and reveals exactly what parents can do to help teens learn better.

Apr 10, 2019
Ep 39: Getting Kids to Listen to You
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Do you ever have trouble getting kids to listen to you and do what you ask them to do? How to deal with teenagers who won't listen to the rules is the most common question parents have when they find my website.


The problem, according to neuroscience, is that around age 12 kids stop listening to you merely because you are their parent. They want a better reason. Getting kids to listen is a whole lot tougher after this point.

The "I'm counting to three" technique becomes completely useless by this age unless you back it up with some extremely heavy consequences. But that just backfires and creates resentment that is hard to undo.

Here's how to deal with teenagers who don't respect your authority: you have to sell them on whatever it is you want them to do.

This episode of the podcast is all about how to get kids to listen to your requests and follow them.

I spoke with Chris Smith and worked through a step-by-step plan that will teach you exactly how to get kids to listen. Chris is the bestselling author of The Conversion Code, and the Co-Founder of Curaytor, one of the fastest-growing companies in America. He's an expert at selling products over the phone and he's trained thousands of salespeople around the world how to do this.

In this episode, we go through an in-depth, step-by-step example of how to deal with teenagers who don't want to clean their room. And Chris reveals some actual word-for-word scripts he's used on his own daughter to get her to clean her room too.

The first step in getting kids to listen is to find something they want, Chris told me, and to uncover both the logical and the emotional reasons they want this thing. He uses a technique called "Digging Deep" to achieve this.

Once you know what they want, here's how to get kids to listen: start the conversation with a Pattern Interrupt statement that grabs their attention and subtly establishes your dominance without making them feel threatened. Chris gives examples during out interview.

Next, use the Five Yes technique followed by a Feature-Benefit Tie-Down and follow Chris' simple strategy for locking down the terms of the agreement.

With this system, you sell the teen on what you want them to do rather than expecting them to do it because you are the parent and you told them to. This is how to deal with teenagers.

The 29-minute public version is free to listen to, and the 46-minute extended version, packed with extra goodies, is reserved for site members. Log in or sign up to access everything our site has to offer!

Mar 17, 2019
Ep 38: Giving Advice to Teenagers
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Teenagers don't ask for advice all that often. So when those moments do come up and your teen wants your guidance, parents need to make the most of these rare occurrences.

In past episodes, like my interview with Ned and Bill (the authors of The Self-Driven Child), I've talked about the importance of not giving teens advice that they didn't ask for. If you don't at least get their permission before giving them advice, it is never going to work.

But what about those times when your teen does ask you a question or expresses an interest in hearing how they could do something better? When these situations arise, you don't want to mess it up and say the wrong thing! After all, it might be months before another golden opportunity pops up again.

How can you make sure to say the right thing?

This week, I got some advice on how to give advice to a teenager from Annie Fox. She's the author of 12 books including Teaching Kids to Be Good People, The Girl's Q&A Book on Friendship, and the Middle School Confidential series. For many years, Annie has maintained an anonymous advice column for teenagers and she's answered thousands and thousands of questions from teens all over the world.

So she's a complete expert on giving advice to teenagers.

Annie has uncovered some amazing tactics. One thing I found really interesting is that she doesn't tell the teens what to do in her responses. 

Wait, isn't telling people what to do the whole point of giving advice?

Not exactly. Most of the time, teens already know what the right thing to do is. They aren't looking for a lecture, just someone to listen to them and help them work out the best way to do what their heart is telling them to do.

Sound complicated? Actually, Annie makes it surprisingly simple in this episode.


The 24-minute public version is free to listen to, and the 42-minute extended version, packed with extra goodies, is reserved for site members. Log in or sign up to access everything our site has to offer! 

Feb 15, 2019
Ep 37: Teach Lessons Using Stories
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You may have noticed this, parent. There's something hard about teaching important lessons to teenagers: they don't want to listen to their parents lecture about ANYTHING. Also, because of their high need for autonomy, teens often feel strongly compelled to do the exact opposite of whatever their parents suggest (even when you aren't in lecture-mode).

To be effective with teenagers, you have to be a little more subtle. Teaching lessons to teens works best when you let the teenager "discover" the answer for themself.

When you can accomplish this Jedi mind trick, your teen will no longer question you, push back, and resist your help. They will come to you first to talk through their problems (NOT to get "advice" -- they don't need that).

But how can you teach lessons to teenagers without them feeling like you are teaching them a lesson?

Easy: just tell the perfect story at the perfect time in the perfect way. Then simply let the teen realize the moral of the story on their own.

Duh.

Paul Smith has spent years studying exactly how to do that and he has written three incredible books about it: Lead with a Story, Parenting with a Story, and Sell with a Story.

He has interviewed hundreds of successful people all over the world and collected the most impactful stories from their lives. He's also analyzed the times when great leaders tell stories to inspire, motivate, or instruct, and he has carefully measured what works and what doesn't work.

In our interview, Paul told me 8 simple steps to turn any vivid memory from your past into a sizzling story that will teach your teenager a valuable life lesson.

Finally, he gave me some of his personal favorite parenting stories. These are one's he's used with his own son and they are really powerful. In one story, Paul learns an important lesson about what it means to be a man by watching his dad eat a quiche. It's great!

Jan 24, 2019
Ep 36: Sex and Pornography Talks
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There's no way around it: talking about sex and pornography with your teenager is really awkward. It's one of the most common topics that parents come to us for help with.

How do you know which issues to bring up with your teenager at which times? And what if you accidentally tell them something they didn't know about yet and put the idea in their head? What if they are already getting exposed to mature content from their friends at school?

These days, the scary thing is that pornography companies are actively targeting younger children. So even games, educational apps, and family friendly websites aren't necessarily safe. Your kids can stumble across mature content at any time and it's happening earlier and earlier.

What should parents do?

We got answers this week from Dina Alexander. She's the founder and president of Educate Empower Kids, a nonprofit dedicated to teaching parents how to deal with these dangers and raise strong, healthy kids who use technology for good in this new digital age.

Dina has created in-depth educational programs for parents on these issues and has written numerous books: How to Talk to Your Kids About Pornography, 30 Days of Sex Talks, and 30 Days to a Stronger Child.

In this episode, she reveals what she has learned during years of working with thousands of parents and leading experts through her organization.

Jan 01, 2019
Ep 35: Parenting Like a Badass
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Teens are really good at letting parents know how completely and utterly uncool we are every chance they get.

It can be easy for parents to start feeling really beat down, exhausted, and lame.

Maybe it's because all the "parent" characters we see on movies and TV are stereotyped as out of touch with their teenagers and clueless about popular culture and modern technology. Maybe it's just because parents are met with exasperated eye rolls so often from their own teens.

Somehow, many parents have lost touch with their inner badass.

And I've found that teenagers respond much better to parents who see themselves as a badass.

This week's podcast guest, Biz Ellis, went through her own "parent identity crisis" after she became a mother. She realized that she didn't feel "cool" about being a mom. So she went on a bit of a journey of self-discovery and ended up finding the answer in a T-shirt.

It was a T-shirt her husband made for her and it said "One Bad Mother" on the front. Suddenly she felt cool again as a mom.

She had found her inner parenting badass.

In this episode, Biz tells her story and reveals insights she has learned through over 200 episodes of hosting one of the most popular parenting podcasts on the planet.

Dec 15, 2018
Ep 34: Drug and Alcohol Conversations
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If your teen is using drugs or alcohol, what can you do to get them to stop? Should you punish them?

Punishing teens for drug or alcohol use will often drive them to increase their use even further. And, even if that doesn't happen, your teen is definitely not going to feel like they can talk to you freely about drugs if you are always punishing them for drug use.

Studies show that tough love doesn't work, despite what the "old wisdom" says. And, when it comes to teenagers, this is especially true.

With teenagers, parents are slowly becoming less important in their lives and it can feel hopeless. But it isn't hopeless!

This week's podcast guest, Dr. Robert J. Meyers, has spent his career studying the best ways for people to get their loved ones to stop using drugs and alcohol. And he has found strategies that are insanely effective.

In hist studies, people come to him because they are unable to get their loved one to enter drug or alcohol treatment and about 70% of the time he is able to help them get the individual into treatment successfully.

The key comes in Robert's ability to teach people to use their power more effectively.

Robert's book, Get Your Loved One Sober: Alternatives to Nagging, Pleading, and Threatening, is a masterpiece and is considered to be a classic text on the subject. He is one of the top experts in the world on how to get friends and family members to stop using drugs and alcohol.

He explained that his approach centers on mapping out the times when your teen is using drugs or alcohol and map out alternative activities during those times that don't involve the drug. Then, when your teen does use the drug and comes home intoxicated, you need to understand how to respond properly. Robert has identified subtle things you can say in these moments to get your teen to start questioning their use.

How, exactly, to do that is the subject of this podcast episode.

Dec 01, 2018
Ep 33: Does Your Teen Bully You?
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Is your teenager mean to you? What can parents do with teens who bully them and treat them cruelly? And why do teenagers even treat their parents like this in the first place?

This week on the podcast, I talked with Sean Grover, the author of the award-winning book When Kids Call the Shots: How to Seize Control from Your Darling Bully and Enjoy Being a Parent Again. Sean is an expert in child bullying behaviors. He teaches workshops to parents around the country and works privately with families and teens to end this kind of unruly behavior.

Sean explained that, to teens, bullying is not about being mean. It's about getting what they want.

He told me about a teen he worked with who was torturing his mom because she missed his piano recital. When Sean suggested the boy let his mom off the hook, he replied, "If I keep this up, I think I can get a new laptop."

Yes, your teenager is bullying you in order to manipulate you and get what they want. Your teen has realized that he or she can get things out of you by making you feel bad about yourself.

Sean has mapped out the most common types of bullying that occur in families and he's developed specific strategies for exactly how to get your teenager back under control. All of that (and much more) is covered in this episode.

Nov 15, 2018
Ep 32: Productivity for Teenagers
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There are a LOT of things for teenagers to be distracted by these days. And that's not a bad thing, as this week's guest, David Allen, was quick to point out. It's good because it means teens have a lot of options to choose from. But it also means productivity for teenagers is as important as ever--maybe more important.

David Allen is the author of the classic productivity book Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity, one of the best selling business books of all time, and a productivity consultant to some of the biggest companies on the planet.

His new book, Getting Things Done for Teens: Take Control of Your Life in a Distracting World, is part of David's top secret plan to change the world by getting his powerful productivity methods to the next generation. To write it, he teamed up with two terrific co-authors and a few graphic designers who created cartoon characters for the book.

So David knows a lot about productivity for teenagers.

In this episode, he talks a lot about how to motivate teens and get them engaged. This isn't about magically getting your teen excited to do something they hate, it's about how to help them figure out what they really want to be doing.

One place to look, David says, is at what your teenager is already doing. Where are they spending their time? If you engage them about these behaviors there is likely some kind of motivation there.

Once teens are sufficiently motivated you can invite them to set goals and write them down. Then, if your teenager wants, you can check in with them about their progress on the goals in some amount of time, maybe a few months.

Then give your teen space.

One secret of productivity for teenagers is that they need space to attempt the goals on their own before you offer help.

When you check in with your teen on how their goals are progressing you can help them reflect on their progress so far and can then start to talk to them about skills that could help them be more productive in meeting their goals during the next 3 months.

How to do this, exactly, is a bit complicated but David Allen makes it seem easy with his clear, no nonsense approach in this episode, Productivity for Teenagers.

Oct 01, 2018
Ep 31: Eating Disorders and Exercise
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What can you say to a teenager who seems to be having a difficult time around food? Eating disorders are incredibly serious and can often end in serious health consequences and even death if they go untreated. But getting teens to talk about these issues is difficult as most are highly defensive and don't want to admit there is a problem.

Dana Suchow is an expert on eating disorders and this week on the podcast she reveals some powerful strategies for connecting with teens about their eating issues.

Originally, Dana was just trying to start a fashion blog so she could be cool and glamorous and fly around the world with her photographer boyfriend. But when she found herself struggling with an eating disorder to stay thin for photo shoots and Instagram pictures, she decided to open up about her problems on her blog.

Soon, the site, DoTheHotPants.com, had transformed from a fashion blog into a popular forum for people to speak out about eating disorders and other body issues.

At the helm of this project, Dana Suchow has been thrust into the spotlight as an international expert on eating disorders and getting people to open up about their bodies.

She told me that she remembers a conversation with a roommate back when she was struggling with her eating disorder. Her roommate was really trying to help, but to Dana it just felt like she was being attacked. She became defensive and lashed out.

The issue is that eating disorders are very secret and personal. If you know a teen who is grappling with this, you need to be careful how you approach it. Even if you mean well, bringing it up in the wrong way can actually backfire.

This week's podcast episode has some specific strategies you can use to get through. Dana Suchow also explains how to connect with teenagers about exercise in a positive way, words you should absolutely avoid when talking about food, and where negative body image comes from.

Parents actually have a lot more power than you might think. There are things you can do to really make a difference with your teenager when it comes to eating disorders. But it is NOT easy and there is a lot that can go wrong.

In this episode Dana gets into detail on exactly what parents can do.

Sep 15, 2018
Ep 30: Puberty and Body Changes
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One of the most dreaded, feared, and awkward talks that parents need to have with their teens is the "puberty talk." How do you discuss teens' changing bodies and minds with them and prepare them for adult challenges like sexual relationships and drug and alcohol pressures? When is it time to even start talking about puberty and sex?

This week we brought Dr. Suanne Kowal Connelly on the podcast to reveal her secrets. She's the author of Parenting Through Puberty: Mood Swings, Acne, and Growing Pains, and honed her skills in this area during 25+ years as a pediatrician.

As a doctor who works with teens, Suanne is often in the position of having just 5 or 10 minutes alone with a teenage or pre-teen patient. In that short time, she has to deliver critical information about how their body is changing, get them to talk to her candidly about their drug and alcohol use, and give them some advice they will actually follow.

How does she possibly accomplish all of this?

Suanne has developed a set of powerful strategies based on Motivational Interviewing for having these discussions with teens. And because she sees so many teenagers every day, she has been able to practice and refine these techniques over and over again until they work perfectly every time.

In this episode she gets into her methods, revealing additional specifics and strategies not found in the book.

Sep 05, 2018
Ep 29: Finding Your Identity
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Who are you, really? How is it that you feel completely different but yet still in some ways totally the same as you did when you were a kid? What will you be like when you're older? Teenagers are starting to wrestle with difficult questions about finding your identity.

These issues will really confront them hard during their twenties, when they'll have to choose a career and figure out where, how, and with whom they want to live their lives.

But the groundwork for finding your identity is already in place during the teenage years.

So how can parents support teens during this process? Especially if you're dealing with rebellious teens who want to do everything for themselves?

This week's podcast episode, featuring Paul Angone, answers just that question.

He is often called a "leading voice to Millenials." After studying young adulthood and the generational differences between Millenials and Boomers for years, Paul Angone started the popular blog All Groan Up -- a place for those asking “what now?”

His new book is called 101 Questions You Need to Ask in Your Twenties (And Let's Be Honest, Your Thirties too) and it is an insightful collection of wisdom about the big issues that young adults are wrestling with in their lives.

Paul talked at length about the process of finding your identity, or your "secret sauce" that you can bring to the world. The key is to push teens to take on increasingly more responsibility in their lives while also taking the right kinds of risks.

Then he reveals exactly what parents should say to teens during this process.

In this episode he goes into extreme detail, revealing additional specifics and strategies not found in the book. Paul Angone explains the in's and out's of engaging teens about finding your identity during this 43 minute episode.

Aug 31, 2018
Ep 28: Connect then Redirect
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Todd Cartmell is an expert in dealing with difficult teenagers. In his psychology practice he often gets brought in to handle the really difficult teens and kids.

So it makes sense that the interview really focused on how to get control of a difficult teenager. But what surprised me a bit was a quote Todd Cartmell revealed early on during the interview. It was from John Maxwell originally: "You've got to connect before you can redirect."

And I realized after the interview that this quote is exactly what we did during the episode. Todd Cartmell showed me how to first connect with a difficult teen or child and then how to redirect their difficult behavior systematically.

It's a brilliant approach and Todd Cartmell speaks with so much wisdom and authority on the subject since he has dealt with so many difficult kids in his therapy practice every day and has written FIVE BOOKS on parenting.

His latest book, 8 Simple Tools for Raising Great Kids, is really superb.

In this episode he goes into extreme detail, revealing additional specifics and strategies not found in the book. Todd Cartmell explains the in's and out's of his exceptional method for handling difficult teenagers and children of all ages during this episode.

Aug 15, 2018
Ep 27: Awkward Talks with Teens
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Sometimes as a parent you have to put your teen through things you know they aren't going to like. Maybe it's forcing them to finish the season of a sport they signed up for. Or initiating an awkward conversation about drugs or sex.

Why do you do these things?

Because you know that your teen may not like it now, but one day they will understand you were doing what you thought was best for them.

This week's episode is about how to do those "hard things." And how to know when it's better to just leave it alone. Our guest, David McGlynn, is the author of the new book One Day You'll Thank Me: Lessons from an Unexpected Fatherhood, a candid, insightful, hilarious, and poignant memoir about raising a couple of rebellious boys--and about his close but complicated relationship with his own father.

A college professor and the author of three books, David shares gripping anecdotes laced with surprisingly fresh insights into adolescent behavior.

Specifically, this episode breaks down the ins and outs of discussing sex and other difficult topics with your teen. After finding explicit search terms on the family iPad, David polled his college students about how their parents discussed sex with them and he found that ALL of them said it was extremely awkward.

In fact, as he pushed himself to go through with this and other awkward talks over the years, he realized that the awkwardness can actually be a good thing. The way that parents handle these awkward talks teaches teens how to initiate awkward talks in their own lives as they grow up and go out on their own.

Also, by initiating awkward talks, you show your teen that you are OK with awkward. And this makes them feel comfortable talking to you later on when they have sensitive issues happening in their lives.

What's the best way to have these awkward talks?

That's the subject of this week's episode.

Aug 09, 2018
Ep 26: The Teenage Achievement Trap
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Let's face it: we want our kids to be happy. And we know that, in order to be happy, they need financial freedom and they need to be doing work that challenges them and allows them to make a positive contribution to the world.

So we emphasize the importance of doing well in school and sports and other activities. We're training our kids to succeed in life.

But, as bestselling author Brandilyn Tebo explains on this week's podcast episode, this creates a serious problem: our teens get the message that they have to win in order to be worthy of our complete love. And, perhaps even worse, they start to feel like they need to win in order to be worthy of self love.

Brandilyn knows what she's talking about. As she explains in her bestselling book, The Achievement Trap, she was once caught up in the trap herself. She was a fashion model, straight-A student, president of a club at her college, and a volunteer at the nearby animal shelter.

From the outside, she seemed to have the perfect life.

But after she developed an eating disorder that led to a breakdown, she started to question everything about the way she was living her life. When she finally found the answers, they didn't come from where she expected.

Today, she leads retreats around the country and works with individuals and business as a life and branding coach.

On this episode Brandilyn reveals the solution for parents looking to help their teens steer clear of the achievement trap. She says it's critical to teach teens how to start seeing failure and loss as opportunities to practice unconditional self love.

How, exactly, do you teach this skill to teens?

That's the subject of this week's episode.

Jul 23, 2018
Ep 25: Mental Strength for Teens
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There is a lot of talk these days about the importance of qualities like grit, perseverance, mental toughness, and the like. But I've noticed that it's hard to find practical advice on how to actually instill these qualities in a teenager.

To get some answers, this week we tracked down one of the world's leading experts on mental strength. Amy Morin is the author of the international bestseller 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don't Do. Her TED talk, with over 7 Million views, is one of the 30 most popular talks of all time.

She knows what she's talking about.

Amy's new book, 13 Things Mentally Strong Parents Don't Do, addresses one of the top questions people asked about her first book: how do you instill mental strength in kids?

We caught up with Amy for an hour in between talks at Google and Apple and she got candid about her experiences raising foster children, told some stories that didn't make it into the book, and revealed some truly powerful strategies for helping teens build more mental strength.

That's the subject of this week's episode.

Jul 10, 2018
Ep 24: Adolescent Neuroscience
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If you ask someone to name their favorite musical artist, top three foods, even just a good memory from the past, they will tend to come up with examples from their teenage years. Why are teenage memories so vivid, and what does this mean?

This week, I spoke with Lucy Maddox, child psychologist, researcher, and author of the new book Blueprint: How Our Childhood Makes Us Who We Are.

She explains that, when we look back later on, teenage memories can seem bigger than others because we often try many things for the first time during the teenage years and our first experience with something can be very heightened.

Of course, social experiences are also heightened during the teenage years. Lucy reveals what you should teach your teen about friendships and relationships.

That's the subject of this week's episode.

Jun 29, 2018
Ep 23: The Terror of Teenage Rebellion
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At first, Neal Thompson was glad that his young boys had found an activity that was getting them outside, keeping them active, and helping them gain acceptance from peers. But, as the kids grew older, skateboarding started to show it's dark side: vandalism, drugs, alcohol, skipping classes, lying, and more.

He wrote about the whole incredible story in his new book Kickflip Boys: A Memoir of Freedom, Rebellion, and the Chaos of Fatherhood. I spoke with him about it this week on the podcast.

Through all of the drama, Neal learned some valuable lessons about how to deal with rebellious teenagers in a positive way. In the end, one of the big things he wishes he would have been able to do was to relax and stop worrying so much about the future.

The thing that kept his family strong through it all? Neal says it was the ability to say "I love you" to his kids consistently and really mean it.

He also shares some strategies that he uncovered by watching his wife and her natural way of getting the kids to open up. Neal noticed that she was often more effective than he was at this even though he spent a lot of time with the boys skateboarding. We explore her communication style in-dept during this episode.

Jun 15, 2018
Ep 22: Negotiating Rules and Limits
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Parents today know that we're not supposed to act like complete dictators and that kids do better when they have some say over the household policies and are able to negotiate and talk things through a bit. Sure, sounds good.

But there's a problem.

What if your teenager is a great negotiator and wins the negotiation? Many parents are getting pushed around by teens in these situations and it leaves you in a tough spot. Yes, confidence and the ability to speak up for yourself are important things for teens to learn. But having firm rules and boundaries is also important.

How do you make sure that when your teen tries to negotiate something you win?

We got some answers from the former Lead International Kidnapping Negotiator for the FBI, Chris Voss. Chris is the author of the hugely popular bestseller Never Split the Difference: Negotiating as if Your Life Depended on it and a leading expert in the science of negotiation.

In this episode, Chris walks step-by-step through how to prepare for and triumph in a negotiation with your teen.

He reveals:

  • How to use the "Ackerman Model" to end at the exact result you want while making your teen feel like they won
  • The science behind Tactical Empathy, and how you can use it during negotiations
    A simple, 7-word phrase to instantly disarm your teenager and make them feel understood
  • What most parents get wrong when they try even a simple negotiation
  • How to use Emotional Labeling or "tagging" effectively
  • Why it is so hard for parents and teenagers to get along in the first place, according to Chris
  • Your teen has probably been giving you the "Fake Yes"--learn what to do about it
Jun 08, 2018
Ep 21: Teaching Your Teen to Be Happy
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Professor Tim Bono teaches one of the most popular classes ever offered at Washington University. And, no, the class isn't about archaeology or mathematics. It doesn't cover the periodic table or a period in history. And it isn't an elective like dance or yoga. It's a psychology class on how to be happy.

Why does he think today's students are drawn to a class on how to be happy in such numbers?

Well, in addition to teaching, Tim also conducts research. And he's making some alarming findings.

"In every dataset I've ever collected," he told me when I interviewed him last week for the podcast, "the more time teens are spending on social media scrolling and looking through other people's posts or posting information about their own lives, the less self esteem, sleep, confidence, and optimism they usually have."

For most members of this generation raised on technology, it appears especially important to learn the science of how to be happy. Today's teens need this knowledge in order to combat the negative impact of so many hours spent on devices.

What can we do to teach teens how to be happy?

Dr. Bono is a true expert on the science of teenage happiness. In addition to being a professor and researcher, he is also the author of When Likes Aren't Enough: A Crash Course in the Science of Happiness. Tim says there are simple things parents can do with teenagers to start improving their level of wellbeing.

One thing parents can do is help teens understand their sleep cycle--and it's more complicated than you might think.

Also, Tim revealed how you can give teenagers gifts that will help them live happier lives and teach them how to be happy for years to come. He recommends focusing on social experiences. Things teens can do with their friends are great gifts, Tim says.

Finally, parents should instill an internal locus of control. We want teens to feel like they have control over the world, not like they are just at the mercy of fate. This will ultimately lead to greater success and happiness in life.

The way to achieve this is to talk to teens about what they specifically did that caused something to happen. For instance, did they do poorly on a test? Or do well on a test? Tim recommends asking them to think about their study habits and preparation and how these things might have contributed to the outcome. If we make a habit of doing this, it will train our teens to have happier and more resilient brains.

May 25, 2018
Ep 20: Building a Strong Family Culture
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There is no shortage of shady people trying to influence your teenager; marketers, friends, the media, random people on the internet. And today, no matter who these people are (and regardless of whether you approve or not), they can have your teenager's full attention any time they want--thanks to the smartphone.

Parents have lost a lot of control over how, when, and with whom teens communicate...and it's scary.

With teenagers open to so many conflicting messages from outside of the family, what hope can parents have to instill firm positive values?

This week's guest, Thomas Lickona, is the past president of the Association for Moral Education and he speaks around the world on fostering moral values and character development in schools, families, and communities. He has written 9 books on moral development and character education, which have been translated into ten languages.

His new book, How to Raise Kind Kids: And Get Respect, Gratitude, and a Happier Family in the Bargain, addresses the question of how to instill virtues in your kids.

In this episode, Thomas reveals that, yes, parents can combat the constant barrage of outside influence, but it isn't easy. It requires creating a family culture so strong it overpowers the negative influence of teenagers' friends and social media newsfeeds.

May 17, 2018
Ep 19: Teenagers and Self-Motivation
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Ned Johnson is an elite SAT tutor who specializes in developing self motivation for students who are preparing to take important exams. William Stixrud is a leading neuropsychologist, professor, and expert on the adolescent brain.

Together, they wrote an incredible book called The Self-Driven Child: The Science and Sense of Giving Your Kids More Control Over Their Lives.

This week on the podcast I interviewed Ned and Bill about how parents can help teenagers develop self motivation.

Ultimately, these experts stress that there are certain areas where most parents should actually be giving teens more freedom and others where most parents already need to be giving less. Bill and Ned break those down and explain how to use "collaborative problem solving" to impose stricter rules.

Also, they reveal how to teach teens things and give teens advice in a way that they will accept. In order to teach teens how to develop self motivation you have to get past their defenses and that requires perfect timing. Learn how to make sure it happens just right.

May 10, 2018
Ep 18: Christian Parenting Skills
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Biblical parenting can be especially hard for parents to maintain during the teenage years. Thankfully, when it comes to Christian parenting podcast guest Hanna Seymour is a true authority. She's been mentoring teenage girls all over the world through her Christian advice blog, Dear Hanna, for years.

The Perfect Christian Parenting Podcast Guest

Hanna's book, The College Girl’s Survival Guide, is a collection of her responses to the top 52 questions teenage girls typically ask her relating to college. During our talk, I wanted to know what larger insights can be drawn from the book; what can we learn about biblical parenting?

This Christian parenting podcast episode specifically dives into some biblical parenting techniques for dealing with your teenagers' friends. Hanna talks about how parents can make sure teens have good friends by staying involved in their social relationships.

Biblical Parenting and Important Values

One strategy is to help teenagers to see that they aren't alone in their problems. This will ultimately build empathy and lead teens to more deeply understand the value of living to be a person for others.

Hanna says that, when she was in college, her mother told her stories about some big mistakes she made in her teens. And Hanna really wishes her mom would have shared these stories earlier.

But how do you know what is OK to share with your teen and what needs to stay secret? What is the best way to share something so that your teen won't think you are condoning immoral or illegal behavior?

Listen to this Christian parenting podcast for answers from Hanna.

May 01, 2018
Ep 17: Work-Life Balance for Dads
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In 2008, NY schoolteacher and father Matt Schneider and his friend Lance set out to bring a balance to the "Mommy-and-Me" yoga classes, "Mom" shopping programs, and "Mothering" news segments that seemed to be dominating the parenting media. Together, they founded City Dads Group, a national network of meet-up groups for dads.

Since then, Matt has become a popular voice on parenting and, specifically, fatherhood, with his views quoted in such places as The New York Times, USA Today, and Bloomberg Businessweek. He hosts the popular podcast, the Modern Dads Podcast.

This week on the Talking to Teens Podcast, Matt reveals lessons he's learned about how to be a more effective father and husband. Much of this advice centers around finding work-life balance and creating a positive parenting partnership.

Apr 11, 2018
Ep 16: Getting College Paid For
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With the soaring cost of a university education these days, many parents wonder how they can get their teens free college tuition at a top school.

To get answers, I sat down with academic strategist Jeannie Burlowski. This lady is like the Einstein of college finances.

Seriously.

Her day job (the one she works when she’s not writing books and speaking at conferences) is literally coaching college students to set extraordinarily high goals for themselves, and then strategizing to help them figure out the fastest, least expensive way to get to those goals.

If your college student daughter wants to go to Johns Hopkins for med school and get a PhD at the same time, for example, your family might hire Jeannie to figure out all the steps to make that happen—with an emphasis on getting it all done as inexpensively as possible. Most often without scholarships.

Because inexpensive is one of Jeannie’s primary focuses, she’s written a book specifically for parents of kids and teens who’ll one day be going to college: LAUNCH: How to get Your Kids Through College Debt Free and into Jobs They Love Afterward.

LAUNCH has become one of the most well-respected books on this subject (it’s the go-to reference book for financial planners and college consultants) because Jeannie isn’t just about doing college cheap, she’s about doing it debt-free and so effectively that it results in a great, satisfying career after college is over.

So, when it comes to landing a free college diploma for your teen, she kiiiiinda knows what she’s talking about.

Avoiding Undergraduate Student Loans

In her grad school and medical school consulting practice, Jeannie’s seen students who graduated from four years of college with over $180,000 in student loans. This kind of debt is crippling.

Her advice to parents is clear: DO EVERYTHING YOU CAN to help your kid avoid taking out undergraduate student loans. No matter your income level, if you strategize well enough early on, you can get your teen through four years of undergrad without borrowing a dime.

During her 23 years working as an academic strategist, she’s developed some extremely creative strategies to bring the cost of REAL, high quality, high value college down, down, down, down...down to such a bargain basement level that even ordinary families can have it 100% paid for by two – four years after the kid graduates from high school.

So What’s the Secret to Free College Tuition?

Well, Jeannie says you need to be very careful here because the idea is to get your teen a GOOD education that leads to a real job after college. Landing your teen free college doesn’t do any good if the education he or she receives is sub-par.

So she suggests that your goal should be to get your teen a debt-free college education, not necessarily 100% free college tuition.

Um…what’s the difference?

Jeannie explained it to me like this:

“Everything you purchase that has high quality and high value has a cost. When you purchase something that can literally change a family’s life for generations, it’s going to have a significant cost. That just makes sense. But if you take a number of very strategic steps early on, you can completely sidestep paying the sticker price for college—even if your family makes too much to qualify for financial aid and your kid’s not getting any scholarships.”

I was surprised to hear that there are tax breaks for parents of college students that can save them thousands. Who tells parents about this? Savvy parents are finding out about them in Jeannie’s book.

In this episode

Jeannie reveals a few of the trade secrets she has uncovered over the past 2+ decades. This is not hard stuff to apply and the benefits are astronomical.

For example, teens often hear this about AP classes: “If you do well on the test at the end of an AP class, you’ll get college credit for that subject!”Really?

Is that statement really true? In reality, less than half of teens who take an AP test are actually awarded the promised college credit. Jeannie says that there’s a far more effective way to earn college credit in high school, and she covers it on pages 91-96 of her book.

Debt-Free College Education

Of course, one key to getting some free college tuition money is to land merit aid awards from colleges and universities. Merit aid is free college money that does not ever need to be paid back, and your child can be eligible for it even if you have a million dollars in the bank.

The problem is—many parents assume that students have to be geniuses with perfect GPAs and test scores in order to get merit aid. “Not so,” Jeannie says. “The key to getting merit aid is to get your teen started early (in middle school and high school) focusing in on fewer activities than most students do, in greater depth than most students ever have time for.”

Commitment and depth to fewer activities can impress admissions offices into offering these students loads of free money later.

What kinds of activities are we talking about here?

It’s all covered in this episode.

Mar 17, 2018
Ep 15: Wake Up and Get More Savvy
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Michelle Mitchell, author of Parenting Teenage Girls in the Age of a New Normal, has a wake-up call for parents on this episode. As the founder of Youth Excel, an organization specializing in life-skills training for teens, Michelle has seen all kinds of parent-teen issues first hand. She thinks it is a big problem that parents tend to be out of touch with the latest technology and culture. During our interview, she pointed to a number of specific areas where parents need to get a little more street smart.

Mar 09, 2018
Ep 14: Chores and Responsibility
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Want your teenager to start doing more chores? Good idea.

Studies show that requiring teens to pitch in around the house and community for the benefit of the greater good has all kinds of positive benefits.

But, of course, it isn't so easy to actually convince your teen to take on more responsibility. What's the answer?

Dr. G, author of Get the Behavior You Want Without Being the Parent You Hate, is a national expert on raising responsible, respectful kids.

In this podcast episode she talks at length about how to instill responsibility and a strong work ethic in teenagers. She reveals how, exactly, you should ask teens to do their chores, what you should do about allowance, tips on getting teens into volunteer work, and much more.

Re-Thinking the Definition of Chores

An important question is: what chores should your teen even be doing? Cleaning their room? Doing their own laundry?

Actually, no. These aren't even true chores. Yes, your teen should, of course, be doing all of these things.

But chores, Dr. G explains, must be things that teens do for the greater good, not just for themselves. This means cooking dinner for the family, washing everyone's laundry, cleaning out the stable, doing the family grocery shopping, etc.

And how much of this stuff should you expect your teen to do? Probably more than you think. Dr. G has found that teens need to be doing chores every single day...

Feb 04, 2018
Ep 13: Passion, Grief, and College
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Susan Toler Carr, elite college admissions and career counselor and founder of the organization Justin Carr Wants World Peace. In this episode, Susan reveals the strategies she uses for helping teenagers find things they are passionate about. She also opens up about the loss of her son and discusses candidly how we can be better at talking with teenagers -- or anyone -- who is going through a loss.

Jan 18, 2018
Ep 12: Underage Drinking Special
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Various guests. Alcohol use during the teenage years isn't a new phenomenon. But a lot of new research has been done on how parents can mitigate risks for teens. Combining clips from interviews with leading experts from around the world, parent-teen researcher Andy Earle breaks down the science in this episode. Learn exactly what to say to your teen and how to make sure it has maximum impact.

Jan 10, 2018
Ep 11: The Science of Teen Popularity
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Many parents have had the experience of seeing a kid change seemingly overnight from a child who doesn't worry about things like status and popularity to a teenager who is obsessed with this stuff. It can be baffling when teens start to suddenly care deeply about things like clothes, hairstyles, and social media.

Thankfully there is a scientific explanation for why this change occurs and there are some simple things parents can do to help teens keep this popularity craze in check.

Mitch Prinstein has spent his career studying status, popularity, and adolescent behavior--so he's the perfect individual to teach us these lessons. In his fascinating book, Popular: The Power of Likability in a Status-Obsessed World, Mitch explains what he has learned through decades of research.

Interestingly, Mitch said that popularity is actually a good thing in many ways. People who are more popular in high school go on to be more successful, have better relationships, and enjoy their lives more when they hit their 30's and beyond. So you don't want your teenager to completely disregard popularity.

But there is an important difference to be aware of. Research shows there are actually two types of popularity: likability and status. You want your teen to be liked by his or her peers but you don't necessarily want your teen to have high status.

What should you say to a teenager to help him or her navigate this stuff? What important things do you need to know about popularity as a parent?

And, finally, how might your own popularity (or lack thereof) when you were in high school still be influencing your parenting today?

All of that and more is covered on this episode of the podcast.

Jan 04, 2018
Ep 10: Help Teens Cope with Anxiety
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We all experience some level of anxiety but for 1 out of every 8 kids it is a serious struggle. An uneasy feeling in their stomach on the way to school. A pounding heartbeat as they sit down for an exam. Sweaty hands when they’re asked to speak up in front of their peers.

What can parents do to help teens cope with anxiety?

This week on the podcast I got some incredible insights from Karen Young. Karen spent years working as a therapist and helping families and individuals cope with anxiety. Now she runs the immensely popular website, www.heysigmund.com, where her articles have been read by millions of parents and teenagers around the world.

Karen said that we need to start by listening to our teens and not trying to convince them that they will be OK or that their feelings are “no big deal”. Then we should teach them about why they are feeling anxious by explaining how anxiety works.

Finally, we can help teens learn strategies for coping with the anxiety.

This sequence is crucial, Karen stressed. Don’t start offering solutions until you have given teens information. They need to know why the solutions work.

In this episode Karen lays out exactly how to do this with a teen in your life.

Dec 21, 2017
Ep 9: Smartphones, Social Media, and Texting
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Teenagers today are addicted to their electronic devices. They text during class, post on SnapChat while they do their homework, and browse Instagram until 2 or 3 AM when they are supposed to be sleeping. How should parents handle smartphones and social media?

A big part of the problem is that the teenage brain is highly attuned to rewards. So the instant gratification that comes with the ping of Likes and new followers is nearly impossible to resist. Smartphones are specifically designed to be like candy to the teenage brain. Studies show that the notifications from social media produce a surge of activity in the teenage reward system.

Parents need to be aware of this and help their teens learn how to put limits on screen time. Joani Geltman helps parents deal with issues like smartphones and social media all the time. She is the bestselling author of A Survival Guide to Parenting Teens.

In this episode of the podcast, Joani outlines some simple and effective solutions.

She also talks at length about vaping, and a related phenomenon called “juuling”, serious problems that many parents are worried about today.

Oct 09, 2017
Ep 8: Teens Who Think Creatively
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How does imagination and creativity work? And how can we help our teens to think outside of the box? This week we spoke with Jim Davies, a leading expert on the science of imagination and the author of the book Riveted. He explained that the key to raising teens who can think for themselves is to reward them when they take risks--even if the risks don't end up turning out very well.

We also have to be very careful about how we offer feedback on our teens' work and progress. It is important to encourage teens and offer praise but it is also important to be realistic. You need to be able to tell them when they aren't doing a good job.

How can you walk this fine line as a parent? Jim explains it this week on the podcast.

Oct 08, 2017
Ep 7: The Science of Teen Persuasion
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Does it ever seem like your teen purposely does the exact opposite of what you ask? This is a perfectly normal part of adolescence and the experts say not to worry about it. But, let's face it, sometimes as a parent you really do need to be able to persuade your teen to do what you are asking. How can parents be more influential? In this episode I got some answers from persuasion researcher Jake Teeny.

Jake has published a number of studies on persuasion and has even created a free online course called The Science of Persuasion to teach research-based influence techniques. So this guy knows what he's talking about. He explained to me that there are two different routes through which people can be persuaded. If you want your teenager to form a lasting attitude as a result of your persuasive attempt, then you want to persuade through the central route. This means that you need to get your teen to invest some energy and carefully consider your message.

How do you make sure this happens?

Jake told me there are two factors: motivation and ability. Your teen has to be both motivated and able to carefully consider what you are saying. Most likely your teen has the ability unless he or she is really tired or feeling particularly lazy. So Jake taught me some strategies to increase motivation. For instance, he explained how to frame a message in terms of your teen's values so that he or she will view it as more self-relevant and will be more motivated to consider it.

Oct 07, 2017
Ep 6: Don't Raise a Wimpy Teen
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"Grit" and "self-sufficiency" are buzz words that many parenting experts seem to extol. But how do you actually instill perseverance in a teenager? Nick Boothman knows from the experience. Author of one of the best-selling communication books of all time, How to Make People Like You in 90 Seconds or Less, Nick has raised five highly successful children. He has worked hard to teach his kids to be resourceful and to never give up.

He told me exactly how during our interview.

Another skill that Nick thinks is critical to teach teenagers is how to be captivating in front of an audience. He gave me some tips on how to accomplish this from his new book, The Irresistible Power of StorySpeak. It involves training teens to use colorful language and to tell brief, engaging anecdotes with a point.

Oct 06, 2017
Ep 5: Resolving Conflicts with Teenagers FAST
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Let's face it: conflict is a way of life when you have a teenager in the house. They can often seem to be Jedi Masters at turning every small thing into an argument. But in this episode, Lianna Tsangarides points out that there are also significant inner conflicts that teens are struggling to deal with. For instance, on one hand they want independence and autonomy but on the other hand they still need help from their parents.

Lianna teaches us how you can reduce this external type of conflict as a parent by understanding more about the inner type of conflict.

She works through a specific example of how you could handle a conflict with a teenager and explains that there are different levels of validation. To stop conflict in its tracks, use the deepest level of validation at the start of an important conversation.

Oct 05, 2017
Ep 4: Mastering Non-Clinging with Teens
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When we love someone we tend to want to pull them closer or hold them tighter. But often, especially with teenagers, this can push them away or cause them to withdraw. In this interview, writer and yoga expert Rachel Scott explains the concept of Aparigraha, meaning non-grasping or non-clinging. She says that parents can embody this principle by creating an open, loving space for teens to talk about whatever is on their mind.

Importantly, however, we have to be able to detach ourselves from the outcome. If we want or need for the conversation to go a certain way teenagers will instinctively pick up on our need and will avoid complying. So the idea is to create the proper atmosphere and then detach yourself from the outcome and be OK with whatever happens.

Your teen might not say anything at all.

Don't let the outcome bother you.

But of course this brings up an important question. If you are completely detached from the outcome then you will never be able to talk to your teenager about pre-planned topics like college applications, sports tryouts, dating, or whatever else is on your mind. So the key is being able to find the balance between having some ideas about where you want the conversation to go but being OK with wherever it does end up going.

How can you do this?

Rachel lays it out on this week's podcast episode...

Oct 04, 2017
Ep 3: Handling Self-Centered Teenagers
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Are you dealing with a self absorbed teenager? What is the best way for parents to handle self centered teenage problems?

I interviewed Wendy Behary, one of the leading experts on narcissism, and asked her about exactly this issue. What she came up with blew me away.

One of the big topics covered in this episode is how to tell a self absorbed teenager that something they are doing is not OK. How can you confront a teenager without making them feel like they are being attacked?

Teens have a tendency to turn these kinds of talks into arguments. But as a parent it is important to be able to communicate to teens that they absolutely need to stop behaving in a given way.

An Expert on Self Absorbed Teenager Psychology

Wendy Behary is the ideal individual to teach us how to handle self centered teenage problems. The author of Disarming the Narcissist: Surviving and Thriving with the Self-Absorbed, Wendy is one of the world's leading authorities on dealing with narcissism.

She taught me a few powerful techniques for telling a self absorbed teenager that his or her actions are not acceptable. My favorite is something she calls "empathic confrontation".

More Self Centered Teenage Problems...

We also talk about triggering. Wendy says that what initially got her interested in studying narcissism is that she found herself in her therapy practice being triggered by a particularly narcissistic client.

Parents are triggered by their teens' behavior all the time. It is easy to find yourself yelling at your teen and getting worked up. Wendy explained that these moments when you catch yourself getting triggered are actually important opportunities to help your teen grow.

But you have to know how to respond properly in the moment.

Wendy explains how to do it in this episode.

Oct 03, 2017
Ep 2: Getting Yourself in the Right Space
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As parents, we tend to worry about our teens when we're preparing for an important talk. We worry that they won't understand what we are trying to communicate. That they will be distracted by their smartphones and social media accounts. That they simply won't care enough to listen.

But we don't often worry about ourselves.

How can parents get into a more open, receptive state before jumping into an important conversation? What can we do to make sure that we are centered and present? That we don't overreact? That we're perceptive enough to ask the right questions?

In this episode of the Talking to Teens Podcast, I sat down with J. Brown to discuss these issue along with many other helpful topics. A world-renowned yoga and meditation teacher with a popular blog and podcast, J. Brown blew me away with the insight and wisdom of many of his remarks and recommendations. From general life principles to specific strategies for centering yourself before an important talk with your teenager, we found a lot to talk about in this interview.

Oct 02, 2017
Ep 1: Success and Getting What You Want in Life
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Are there any secrets on how to talk to teens about their future and what they want out of life? And, once you get them to open up, what the heck should you say?

In this episode, Bill Deresiewicz breaks down the art of talking to teenagers about whether they feel they are on the right path or not.

Bill is the author of the New York Times bestseller Excellent Sheep: The Miseducation of the American Elite and the Way to a Meaningful Life. What's important to keep in mind when talking to teenagers, Bill points out, is that success looks very different to different people. Parents should resist the urge to impose their own views of what success means on their teens.

Instead, Bill recommends that parents think of their job as being to help teens discover for themselves what success might look like for them.

He honed these skills over many years as a professor at Yale and Columbia talking with students during his office hours about what they wanted out of life. And he shares some incredibly tips in this episode.

Oct 01, 2017