6 Helpful Tips for the Parents of Troubled Teens


Editor’s note: In this busy world with all its pressures it is easy to lose sight of how we interact with our teens. Sadly, sitting still and focusing on what they have to say, just for the sake of being with them, can seem like one more stressor. 

This article was contributed by Kate Maleski, LCSW and EWN psychotherapist. Here Kate provides some practical, do-able tips for any parent who wants to be closer to their teen. 


Sometimes you have tried in EVERY possible way to help your adolescent and you still see them and your relationship suffering. You feel mentally, emotionally, physically exhausted and don’t know where to turn. Here are a few steps you can try to increase communication and your adolescent’s self-esteem. When nothing seems to be working…..

1. Be involved. This means being present. Turn off your phone, close your book, be close to them with no distractions and be with them. When you give half of yourself then you are telling your adolescent that they are only worthy of half of you. Let them talk. Don’t just be involved when it’s convenient for you.

2. Listen more than talk. If you don’t listen to your adolescent you will never understand them. Ask open-ended questions to help allow for more communication. “I would feel terrible if that happened to me. Is that how you felt?” Try not to react or judge. Nod as they talk to show that you hear what they are saying. Hearing is different than agreeing.

3. Be Realistic. If your adolescent comes to you with a problem be realistic. Encourage them with positive yet realistic words of encouragement. Don’t try to turn them or the situation into something other than what they are presenting to you.

4. Use a sense of humor. Nothing in life is that bad that you can’t make it better with a laugh. Being an adolescent isn’t easy. There are a lot of moments when crying or yelling seems to be the only possible solution. Help them to learn to laugh at life. There is nothing better than a good laugh to make you feel better.

5. Love. Say it. Show it. Love and accept your adolescent whoever they are. Recognize their strengths and weaknesses. Encourage them to pursue their talents and enjoy success on their terms rather than yours. Don’t point out faults. They already know them. This world is challenging and they need to hear, feel, and sense unconditional LOVE from you.

6. NEVER give up! Repeat steps 1 through 5 as many times as needed. Your teen may not be convinced at first. It can take a while for your genuine focus to get through. Then they will know that you are there for them and won’t judge.

I also encourage the adolescent girl in your life to join my group this fall: Girls In Charge. It is designed to help teenaged girls feel empowered and learn to feel good about “ME”!

Photo courtesy of Steven Shorrok, highersights, via Flickr

Beauty in a Dark Sky


Even in a dark sky there is light and beauty. Sometimes it’s easy to see. Sometimes we need patience, time and breath to see it.

Photo courtesy of Steve O’ Bryan of SmackSmog



Knocked Down Hard: How Mindfulness Got Me Through

f6203d41-e62a-46d3-a3a3-12f3fcebdc2dEditor’s note: This article was contributed by Nicole Newcomb, MHC-P

Recently I lived through a major life upheaval that was not my doing. It felt like the ground under my feet shattered.

We all struggle with life transitions, some are viewed as a blessing and others as a punishment. It could be the most important aspect of whether it’s a blessing or punishment is how you endure the new transition. Do you cope? Avoid it?  Or run full speed ahead?

During my recent perceived punishment from the Universe, my first instinct was to run. I fought this urge and instead decided to cope. Already being a mindful practitioner, I decided to lean hard on my mindfulness practices to get me through.

In less emotionally charged situations I could deep breathe or go for a run to cope, but this transition was different. I felt as though for all the good that I tried to do and all the hard work that I had put in, it was for those qualities that I was forced into this new situation. This transition was going to take all the coping skills I had and I knew it was going to be a long journey back to my normal, positive, content state of being.

I allowed myself to grieve for the first day that I received the news, (basically I cried all day) but I knew I could not let myself wallow for too long. The next day I got up early and started planning out how I was going to take care of myself. I fought long and hard that day to try and save what I had and not be forced into my new position. After my war ended and I knew for sure that I had lost, it was time to accept, cope and move on.

Thereafter I started every morning with a mindful run with my dogs, followed by a mindful walk and a 10-15 minute meditation. Then I ate my breakfast mindfully and practiced positive self-talk while I got ready for work. I practiced this ritual daily for two weeks straight. Then one morning after my run I was mindfully walking (Believe me, this took a lot of concentration because my mind so badly wanted to drift back to negative sad, self-defeating thoughts) and my practice paid off!

If it was not for my mindful walk I would never have seen the photo you see above. I love Mother Nature and she showed me that day that she loved me too. I did not see the heart at first glance, I just thought the trees looked beautiful against the bright blue sky. When I looked down at this picture in my hand I smiled and finally felt a sense of contentment.

It was the first time since my news that I felt like I was going to be okay. I told myself I would be, but it wasn’t until that moment that I knew I would. I was so grateful for the love I received that I had to share it with all those that I loved and now I am sharing it with you so that you know you will be okay, too!

Are you interested in how you can learn about the benefits of Mindfulness practice, what that is and how to incorporate mindfulness skills into your daily life (it’s not as hard as you think) I offer a group at Explore What’s Next on Mindfulness. Click here to see the Mindful Group poster for more information!

5 Ways to Cope with the Anxiety of Starting Something New

DSC03852-1Editor’s note: This article was contributed by Kate Maleski, LCSW and EWN psychotherapist.

The weather is changing, school buses are present, you may be staring a new job or project. Changing an ingrained habit like overspending and/or overeating, you may feel a pit in your stomach and think….am I ready for this?

Summer has come to an end and it’s time to get programmed again. As with changes in the season, there will always be changes in your life. Recently I was faced with a lot of change; new city, new job, new house and faced with anxiety because of the unknowns. Change can be exciting for some but terrifying for others.You may be scared about leaving familiar ground and taking the chance on something unfamiliar. It’s important to find the joy in starting something new.

Your mind is racing and you are questioning everything in your day and you haven’t even gotten out of bed. Realize that you are starting something new and it is normal to feel worried. Look at it as an adventure and a challenge rather than adding stress in your life.

Suggestions that may help:

1. Keep in contact with something safe. You want to have something familiar that feels good when faced with anxiety. Even if it includes having your favorite coffee, or picking up takeout once a week from your favorite restaurant, or just meeting with an old friend.

2. Challenge negative thinking. Take a few minutes to develop a different relationship with your thoughts and feelings. Instead of judging yourself think about the new possibilites you are giving yourself.

3. Breath it out. A lot of times when feeling anxious you hold your breath. Don’t hold your breath, focus on your breath. Bring your thoughts and breath together moment by moment.

4. Allow for worry time. Accept the worry rather than running from it.Talk about it but don’t let it overwhelm you. When feeling anxious during a time that is not designated “worry time” jot it down and save it for later.

5. Learn to relax. What is your outlet? Yoga, exercise, reading, cooking. Using a healthy outlet will help your body relax and not focus on your anxiety.

These are the skills I have used recently with my new adventures. Remember, if you don’t push yourself to try something new you will always be left the same place.

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