Category Archives: 2015 Blog Series

Pressure To Perform: How Pursuit Of Excellence Is Killing Our Kids

Posted on November 30th, 2015

According to the Lucille Packard Children’s Foundation, suicide is the third leading cause of death for children and young adults ages 10-24 nationwide. Although the most publicized local accounts have been from the Palo Alto school district (three this year, nine since 2009), the Silicon Valley culture of high academic and athletic performance puts a tremendous amount of pressure and expectations on all of our young people. We know from myriad studies that teenaged brains are still developing, with full frontal lobe maturity not occurring until the age of 24 in some cases… yet our youth are expected to perform not only at an adult level, but at an excellent adult level in all areas of their lives.

Teens who are successful academically are often encouraged to take multiple AP classes. It’s not enough to get As in high school – in order to be a “viable” college candidate, they are told they need to be getting As in college level classes while they are still in high school. Teens who are athletically gifted are expected to play on competitive sports teams rather than recreational, or even high school teams. They are told they need to be traveling to national tournaments in order to be seen by college recruiters. Oh, and by the way, college coaches are really looking for multi-sport athletes. If you dig computers and legos, you should be competing on a nationally ranked robotics team. If you are a musician, you should have multiple subscribers to your SoundCloud. If you are funny, you should have your own monetized YouTube channel with thousands of subscribers. If you have a heart for others, you should be spending your free time volunteering in a third world country or inventing a new clean water or energy source. Whatever gifts our children have, they are encouraged to push themselves to excellence, at all times, in all areas.

The Double Bind

In the world of psychology, we have a communication term called “The Double Bind”. This occurs when a person receives two or more conflicting messages, in which one cancels out the other. This rigid pursuit of excellence creates a double bind for all of us – parents, teachers and students alike. As parents and educators, we are told to set high expectations for our children, give them the resources (tutors, SAT prep classes, coaches, trainers, camps) they need to succeed, while at the same time we are told that it is our job to keep them physically, mentally and emotionally safe. How can we both push our children to take advantage of the resources to be their best, while at the same time protecting them from depression, anxiety, and other mental illness that results from this perfectionistic drive to outperform their peers […]

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Helping Teens Learn From Bad Choices

Posted on November 25th, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving! We will not be publishing a blog on Friday, November 27 due to the holiday, but will resume again on Monday, November 30. Enjoy the start of the holiday season!

As parents of teenagers we may watch our teens make impulsive decisions that we don’t understand, don’t approve of, or don’t remember making ourselves. However, we most likely made those same impulsive and sometimes bad choices at that age. Decision making is difficult during the period of adolescent development, which includes rapid changes in the body and, more importantly, in the development of the brain.

As you may have noticed, your teen’s body shape, size, and height may have changed suddenly, sometimes seemingly overnight. Your son who was once smaller than you can now easily rest his arm on top of your head. In addition to the more obvious external growth, teens are going through rapid internal changes as well.

You may witness and experience a high rate of moodiness and irritability in your teen. Although it is challenging for parents to deal with their child’s mood swings, we have to remember that teens have an even more challenging time controlling and expressing their emotions. It is often helpful to […]

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Mindfulness: A Prescription-Free Approach To Teen Stress And Depression

Posted on November 23rd, 2015


Recent mental health trends have demonstrated that American youth are experiencing higher levels of stress, depression and anxiety than ever before. Research is showing that mindfulness is a very timely tool for teens and young adults to use as they face these challenging trends that are negatively impacting their quality of life.

The Research

Leading research continues to support the belief that the practice of mindfulness in adults has a positive impact across a wide range of health conditions such as pain, blood pressure, skin conditions, sleep disturbance, depression, anxiety, stress, and substance abuse (Baer, 2003).

Additionally, practicing mindfulness has been shown to improve an adult’s social and emotional skills, helping that person feel in control, make meaningful relationships, manage difficult feelings, and be calm, resilient, compassionate, and empathetic (Baer, 2003; Solomon et al 2004).

Finally, mindfulness has been shown to help an adult’s cognition by supporting the development of intellectual skills, improving sustained attention, visuo-spatial memory, working memory, and concentration (Jha et all 2007, Chambers et all 2008, Zeiden et al 2010). Essentially, research has demonstrated that adults who practice mindfulness experience improvement in their overall well-being.

While less extensive, and partially challenged by methodology—studies had small numbers of participants and lack of randomization—mindfulness research in youth has shown great promise over the last decade […]

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How To Help Your Teen Manage Life’s Many Stresses

Posted on November 20th, 2015

Life is full of demands and teenagers, like many adults, experience stress on a daily basis. As parents, it is our job to prepare our teens for the rigors of life, but it is equally important to teach our teens how to cope with the stresses associated with adult life. A report published by the American Psychological Association in 2014 highlighted that American teenagers (ages 13-17) identified stress levels higher than they believed to be healthy, and that “high stress and ineffective coping mechanisms appear to be ingrained in our culture.” In looking at the bigger picture, it’s apparent that parental management of a teenager’s life (home, school, peer relations/significant relationships, jobs) has become much more complex over the years.

So, what do we do? The first step in combating stress is to identify the warning signs. Many children and teenagers have difficulty recognizing and/or verbalizing that they are experiencing stress, and therefore, that stress may manifest in forms that are uncharacteristic of your child or teen. It is common for children and teens to show stress through changes in their behaviors. These changes may include irritability/moodiness, non-participation in activities they used to enjoy, crying spells, continual expression of worry, sleeping/eating too much or too little, complaining about or refusing to attend school, excessive hostility/avoidance of parents or abandoning life-long friendships for new friends. Just as important, “feeling sick” can be an indication your child or teenager is experiencing stress, as stress can manifest in a physical form as well (stomach aches or headaches).

The second step in combating stress is […]

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How To Talk With Your Teen About Alcohol And Drugs When You Yourself Used

Posted on November 18th, 2015

As a parent, you have a genuine desire for your children to “have it better.” You want to provide them with the best experiences possible, help them to reach their greatest potential, and prevent them from making the same mistakes you may have made.

So, how do you talk to your teen about drug and alcohol use if you yourself used? This is a very common question and it may be the reason you have avoided speaking with your teen about the dangers of alcohol and drug abuse. Recognizing that this is already a tough topic, it can be made more complicated by your own past choices.

The following 6 tips can foster your connection with your teen while helping him or her navigate the difficult choices and pressures surrounding alcohol and drugs […]

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Playing An Active Role In Improving Your Teen’s Self-Esteem

Posted on November 16th, 2015

You may have asked yourself, what can I do to enhance my teen’s self-esteem? Intrinsically, teens’ visions of themselves are not only a reflection of their environment, but also the experiences of their parental figures. As parents, your role is significant in demonstrating and modeling a healthy self-view for your teens, especially if your hope is to see improvement in how they carry themselves today and going forward.

Despite the many distractions that continually reinforce negative thoughts and beliefs within your teen – the media, internet apps, etc. – what you, as an adult, demonstrate also has a major influence. Without discussion, guidance and modeling that only you can provide, all those distractions can lead to harming a teen’s positive development.

One contemporary approach in treating low self-esteem in teens is to encourage parents to take a more active role in demonstrating, and in some cases strengthening, their own self-esteem. Here are some tips on how to take a more active role in improving your teen’s self-esteem […]

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Sex And Spirituality

Posted on November 13th, 2015

Like everything else in a teenager’s life, coming into one’s own sexual identity is a rollercoaster of emotions, peer pressure, and hormones. In his book Stages of Faith, James Fowler, a developmental psychologist, describes a person’s spiritual development in a series of phases. He explains that most adolescents are in what he calls the Individuative-Reflective stage. In this stage, people begin to step outside the box of their family upbringing and notice the great diversity that the world has to offer. During this stage, adolescents will often begin to question the faith of their families and explore other avenues.

Fowler’s stages can also apply to sexual development. Adolescence is that time when people become alive sexually. Teenagers begin to discover their attraction to others, and what they like. It is a confusing time and instances of rejection can make a young person feel truly depressed. As a pastor, I never anticipated how much I would be talking about sex and relationships with the teens with which I work. It comes up quite often. So often, in fact, that other pastors and I put together a sex and spirituality event for youth to ask any questions on their minds and to have experts discuss a range of different topics.

As most of you know, very few teens want to talk about sex and relationships with their parents. In fact, they probably cannot think of anything worse. So as a religious leader, I want to leave parents with a few tools that may help foster communication […]

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How To Effectively Motivate Your Teen

Posted on November 11th, 2015

Parents often struggle with finding ways to motivate their teen to be more productive. It may seem like all your child wants to do is sleep, text, play online games, etc. You might assume that your teen is just being lazy, but that would be a misguided conclusion. Here are some things to consider if it seems like you just can’t get your teen motivated.

1. Incentives

Teenagers can be quite passionate and motivated…when something that they value is involved. Compliance is much easier if the teen sees some inherent value in the task being asked of him or her. Try to think about things from your child’s perspective. For example, if maintaining a sharp appearance is important to him/her, then he/she might be more likely to understand the value of laundry duty. On the other hand, if they could care less whether the floor is clean, then you may find it challenging to convince them that they should be more on top of vacuuming or mopping.

However, not everything has obvious inherent incentives […]

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Preparing Your Teen For College AND A Career

Posted on November 9th, 2015

We all want the best for our children and students, and that often includes an idyllic plan for a four-year college degree and a fulfilling career. This has manifested into a “college for all” strategy that has certainly changed the psyche of students. The percentage of 10th graders who expect to earn a bachelor’s degree nearly doubled from 43% to 85% over the two decades ending in 2002. Unfortunately, this expectation is quite disconnected from reality, despite that fact that bachelor degree attainment has increased by about 10 percentage points over the past 23 years.


[SOURCE: One in Seven]

Racial Disparities In Education And Income

You might be surprised to know that far less than half of 25-29 year olds have bachelor’s degrees. And, over the past 23 years, the gap between Caucasian students and African American and Latino students has actually increased. About 40 percent of Caucasian students obtain […]

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How To Help Your Teen Have A Positive Body Image

Posted on November 6th, 2015


The link between body image and depression, low self-esteem, social anxiety, and eating disorders has been studied as a personal psychological problem for well over fifty years. Because the prevalence of eating disorders and body image based problems have skyrocketed over the last 20 years, the discussion of body image is now being looked at not strictly as a personal psychological problem, but rather an indication of a social problem. This is great news for us parents! As the body image epidemic grows culturally, we can recognize the problem and prevent it from spreading to our own children. But first, we need to recognize it in ourselves, and we need to understand what body image is.

What is body image?

Body image is defined as a person using his or her body to construct a sense of self. The image of who she is becomes psychologically constructed by how she looks, her attractiveness, her sexuality, how her body performs (athletically), or if her body is healthy. In short, body image is used as a gold standard of worth for people who are able-bodied. Are you attractive enough, thin enough, sexy enough, athletic enough, or healthy enough? I like to refer to these as sacred body-righteous standards. They are sacred because they are believed as unquestionable truths, and righteous because the body is used to define the individual morally. If, however, an individual has […]

The Most Important Role Model For A Teen? You!

Posted on November 4th, 2015


Regardless of all of the teachers, coaches, directors, coordinators, and celebrity heroes that come in and out of your teenager’s life, you, the parent, remain the most influential person. Although this truth may not always appear believable, the fact remains — your teen is watching you.

Having worked with teenagers for more than a decade, I consistently hear young men and women talk about their parents’ temperaments, values, and leadership. As a parent myself, I’ve had to develop and be intentional in demonstrating this leadership in the home. I’m not always perfect, but we as parents can not underestimate the impact we have – both positively and negatively – in our children’s lives.

My goal in writing this article is both one of encouragement and admonishment. I have no intention of shaming any one parent, but rather I believe that as a community, we can be strongest when we work together. By sharing the macro level of successful parenting principles with other parents, we can then implement these ideas on a micro scale in our own families.

There are five key principles that have had tremendous impact on not only my family but also on the lives of the teenagers I have led […]

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Lessening Homework Stress With Your Teen

Posted on November 2nd, 2015

You are at the end of a long day, trying to get the kids ready for bed, when your teenager says, “But I still have homework to do.” OR, grades are just updated online, and the list of missing assignments is longer than the list of completed. OR, texting, Snapchat, and all the numerous games in the App Store take up every moment that your children have after school.

If you have a teenager, you have certainly experienced similar scenarios at one time or another – maybe even every night. Life with teens doesn’t have to be this way. You can lessen the stress that homework, grades, and studying can cause in your home by using the following tactics […]

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Juvenile Diversion Programs Reinforce Choices And Consequences Among Teens

Posted on October 30th, 2015

As first responders, law enforcement officers make critical choices that affect at-risk youth and juvenile offenders. Violent acts, bullying, drug use, sexual assault, internet crime, running away, family abuse, mental / emotional disorders and suicides are often part of life for youth in America. Thoughtful decisions made by police officers during youth encounters, whether it is with a youth victim, suspect, or witness, can have far-reaching benefits. Police are often the first contact youth have with the justice system and can provide as a means for positive intervention. Many low risk crimes can be mitigated by youth diversion programs, as opposed to being processed through the Juvenile Probation Department.

Often, youth make choices without fully understanding the consequences of their actions. These choices can be made for a variety of reasons. Many times the negative choices are a result of different pressures faced by the juvenile offender; especially peer pressure and the need to fit in. It’s not unusual for law enforcement to contact a juvenile offender who has not fully thought out the consequences of his / her actions. When possible, the officer will attempt to resolve an incident at the lowest level possible. When officers contact a youth offender, they take into account many variables before making a decision on what action is required to best address the violation. One of the options is to recommend low-level juvenile offenders to a Juvenile Diversion program[…]

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Creating A Culture Of Support With Your Teen

Posted on October 28th, 2015

How do adults create an ongoing culture of support for the children in our community? The prominence of devastating teen suicides today sheds light on the fact that parenting tends to be governed by a futuristic focus for children, rather than one that supports the present life of the child. Desire for success and achievement of that child can erroneously outweigh the imperative attention needed to the process itself. The development of resiliency within a child is crucial to address frequently, rather than impulsively paying attention to the end result. Within the challenge of how to create a culture of support for adolescents, lies the answer.

Awareness, effort and action are crucial components in developing a culture of support for today’s adolescents. Establishing a safety net externally, but even more importantly, developing problem solving skills and the increased ability for a child to rebound from disappointment or failure should take priority when raising mentally healthy and resilient children. If subjected to a culture whose focus is enticed and overly weighted by external resume building, the culture of support one desires to create will lack the substance, internal grit and confidence needed — particularly if the crucial development of a child’s need for self-management is ignored.

Below are a few tips to begin to create a more supportive environment for an adolescent in our diverse community […]

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Talking With Your Teen About Divorce

Posted on October 26th, 2015

There is no easy, simple, or convenient way to share the decision to divorce from your partner with your teen. You’ve realized that, moving forward, divorce is the best course of action for you and your partner. Now, the next challenge you will face will be sharing that decision with your child, and working through this period of change together.

Any host of Internet sources will offer you advice as to how to approach ‘the conversation’ with your teen – as attorneys, though, we hope to offer you something of a different perspective. We have observed our fair share of distress amongst families during their respective divorce proceedings; as counsel, we have offered aid and support to the husbands, wives, and children whom we represent. From our experience, what we believe to be the most important thing to maintain is to first, foremost, and always act in your child’s best interest. With teenagers, this oftentimes means that the best thing you can do is to not ‘talk at them,’ but to listen to them.

The divorce will affect your relationship with your partner, but it will equally affect your children[…]

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The Importance Of Boundary Setting

Posted on October 23rd, 2015

The teen years can be challenging to navigate for parents and teens alike. Parents are tasked with providing balanced parenting as teens learn how to adjust to numerous biological, psychological, and social changes.

Biological changes such as puberty can lead to numerous differences in teen behavior. During adolescence, children are experiencing growth in multiple parts of their brain, specifically, in the prefrontal cortex, corpus callosum, and cerebellum. Moreover, psychological changes can be seen as they further develop beliefs, values, and sense of identity. Teens will seek emotional and social independence as they start to use new levels of logical and rational thinking. Social maturation is seen in varying areas within a teen’s life, including peer relationships, school, work, community, and family relationships affect social development.

As teens age and learn to grow with these changes, it is reasonable for parenting to shift and change as well. In this age, teens are moving toward more independence, exploring their role and identity in the world. They spend a great deal of time preparing themselves for the next phase of life, adulthood.

Boundaries are an important foundational component to parenting teens, especially through the tumultuous teen years. Boundaries define the separation between parent and child. They help parents understand the scope of their role. Furthermore, boundaries create stability for teens when they decide to stick within the boundaries and when they decide to cross them.

Clear boundaries are well defined and regularly adhered to by parents. Clear boundaries can also minimize confusion by providing anticipated consistency in a teen’s life. Correspondingly, inconsistent boundaries can cause uncertainty, frustration, anxiety, anger, or embarrassment. Below are some ideas on how to provide healthy and appropriate boundaries […]

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Letting Go Of Success In Favor Of Struggle

Posted on October 21st, 2015

I find the evolution of parenting styles fascinating. In my work as an Educational and Therapeutic Consultant, I am on the front lines of identifying parenting patterns in families within the very first meeting. When I sit with parents, they are often in a negative place, having tried everything they can think of to help their child, only to realize it’s not enough, its not working. The family system isn’t functioning well, and it’s often compromised and strained. The parents I work with are often very competent, smart, and successful people in most aspects of their lives, but when it comes to being a parent, they have hit a rather large bump in the road. And, because being a parent is such an important part of their identity, there are often feelings of anger, sadness, shame, and denial.

Parenting in today’s world is a very difficult endeavor. One of the more interesting parenting trends in the last several years is the concept of the “Helicopter Parent.” It’s a provocative concept, one that triggers us in many different ways. There are likely multiple definitions, but for me one word really covers it: hovering. Why do parents hover? Some reasons might be fear of negative outcomes if they don’t, overcompensation from how they were parented, pressure from other parents, or messages they get from cultural and societal norms could be a few reasons. But I think the most compelling answer is […]

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Anxiety And The Teenage Brain

Posted on October 19th, 2015

Take a moment to remember a time when you were scared for your physical safety.

In that moment, changes occurred in your mind and body. This is often referred to as “fight-or-flight mode,” and it’s your body’s natural way of trying to survive when faced with a threatening situation. Maybe you found yourself reacting more quickly. Perhaps your heart began pounding, you felt a rush of adrenaline, and your breathing became faster. In a life-or-death situation, this mode is essential for our survival.

However, in our modern day lives, the fight-or-flight mode can be activated by a false alarm, such as when our social, academic, or occupational lives feel threatened. Due to the ongoing cognitive development of teenage brains, they actually get false alarms more often than adults. For example, a teen who is feeling the social anxiety of embarrassment in front of his friends will quickly go into fight-or-flight mode and will keenly feel those changes in his mind and body. Unfortunately, in these modern situations, this physical reaction often interferes with our coping functions, as opposed to helping us.

As science’s understanding of the brain advances, we are realizing more and more that teenage brains actually process and respond to anxiety-inducing situations differently than adult brains. The higher brain functioning area of the frontal cortex does not finish developing until an adult reaches his or her mid-twenties. As a result, an adolescent brain relies more heavily on the rapid, automatic reaction of the amygdala to discern the threat of a situation, whereas an adult brain uses more of the slower but higher brain functioning of the frontal cortex. The amygdala not only helps us with rapidly processing emotions and discerning threats, it also plays an important role in the release of hormones. Relying on the amygdala in an anxiety-inducing situation means it’s more likely for a teen to inaccurately interpret a situation and have a stronger hormonal response, which greatly affects conscious thoughts and behaviors. This explains why an anxiety-inducing situation can make teens feel like their whole world is ending.

So what can you do to support your teen to better manage their reaction to anxiety? […]

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Difficult Discussions, Positive Outcomes: Improving Communication With Your Teen

Posted on October 16th, 2015

You walk into your high school junior’s room and see an e-cigarette. You overhear your middle school daughter talking about how fun it was to meet those guys in the park last Saturday night. Another parent shows you inappropriate photos your high school freshman has been posting on Instagram. How do you react? What do you say? How we respond sends important messages to our teens and sets the stage for open communication and positive outcomes.

As with most emotional situations, take some time before you respond. Although this may be difficult, do not to start the conversation with a confrontation that will put your teen on the defensive. The timing of when we confront our teens — at the very moment when we learn of the transgression or in a day — does not matter since the events are in the past and our response, more than our timing, will be crucial to a positive outcome. These situations have already occurred and when we are reactionary, we are incendiary.

Here are eight steps to help you have a productive discussion with your teen […]

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The War Over Self Image: Media vs. Reality

Posted on October 14th, 2015

The Prevalence Of Media

In today’s culture, young people are exposed to high volumes of social media and television. In addition, our increasing reliance on the Internet and cell phones has amplified teenagers’ interactions with digital media to even higher levels. With this in mind, it’s not surprising to learn that young people view 3,000 advertisements on average per day. Moreover, teens spend approximately 30 to 40 hours a week in front of some sort of screen, including watching television, using the computer, or engaging on their cell phone. This high accessibility to youths and teens has given industries that influence the media, such as Hollywood and the fashion industry, ample opportunity to shape and mold the minds of young people by setting the tone and trends for the culture of today.

The transition of emerging adolescence is a pivotal and sensitive period, during which many young people grapple with the need to feel accepted. As they look to celebrities, commercials, and magazine advertisements for societal guidance on what is considered normal or popular, unrealistic ideals are formed. Teens consider celebrities and models to be the pinnacle in their pursuit for perfection and begin to establish extremely high standards of beauty or masculinity.

Research has found that 80% of females feel more insecure about their own appearance after being exposed to images of famous female models and celebrities. However, only about 5% of people are naturally born with an “ideal” body type, meaning the standards surrounding us are practically unachievable. Furthermore, many of the images propagated by the media are not reality at all, but are in fact highly airbrushed and altered through Photoshop.

In the attempt to personally achieve the false reality that Hollywood portrays, young people are training their minds to compare, desire, and set unhealthy expectations to look like the fully matured celebrities or the highly edited models they see on television, magazines, and all forms of media. When this occurs, self-image and self-worth are the first areas to be affected, which can impact many areas of a teen’s life.

Is The Media Affecting Your Teen?

“I have absolutely nothing to wear! How am I supposed to fit in at school if all of my clothes make me look ugly or like a little kid?” At one point or another, most parents have probably heard statements like these, or other negative remarks spoken by their teen concerning appearance. Becoming aware of the language young people use to speak about themselves can provide a window into what is dwelling within, and a clue to possible struggles with body image.

Specialists have found that a shocking […]

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The Pitfalls Of Privilege

Posted on October 12th, 2015


Congratulations, you’ve made it!

Parents, do you remember your days as a starving college student, having to choose between spending money either on gas, beer or food? Maybe you offered yourself up as a babysitter, mover, or even donated blood for some extra cash. As a kid, you might have had a first job pedaling a bike in the hot sun, thirsty and sweaty as you flung newspapers onto doorsteps for significantly less than minimum wage. You worked hard for the money you earned and you made careful decisions as to how to spend it.

It’s likely you are now a rockstar in your field. Whether you are a corporate ladder-climbing success, a tech-geek enterprising entrepreneur, or a maven money manager, poverty is no longer nipping at your heels.

BUT, now you are a parent living in the fabulous Bay Area – a hotbed of innovation, technology, new wealth, and….privilege!

As a therapeutic and educational consultant living and working in the Bay Area, I often meet with parents who find themselves appalled at their young teen’s entitled behavior, demanding the latest iPhone, Juicy Couture sweatsuit, or Xbox game.

I hear story after story of parents’ dismay over the piles of worn-once brand name clothing, hours wasted on endless shoot-em-up games, and lack of social awareness brought on by eyes and thumbs glued to social media.

“This isn’t how we were raised!” is the heartbroken battle cry as parents struggle to understand how their offspring bear materialistic values totally contrary to their own. “Why is he / she like this?” […]

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Recognizing And Addressing Depression In Your Teen

Posted on October 9th, 2015


Teenage years can be difficult as young people face issues such as academic pressure, conflict with peers, romantic relationships, and just trying to fit in. You may notice your teen struggling with these concerns, which might cause her to seem moody, grouchy, or difficult to deal with.

Depression, however, is much more than moodiness or occasional sadness: depression is a medical diagnosis. Just like other medical issues, depression is not something we choose.  If teens experience depression it is not their fault, and it may not be simple to identify the cause. Unfortunately, teen depression is more common than we might think.

Many parents want to know why their teen is depressed and may even blame themselves. However, the causes of depression can be a complex combination of brain chemistry, genetics, environmental factors, and stressful events. Your teen may not be able to verbalize why he is feeling the way he does. However, identifying the cause of the depression may not be as important as figuring out how to deal with it.

Managing teen depression can feel like a very scary, daunting task for parents, but the first step is to recognize the symptoms […]

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What IS The Most Important Meal Of The Day?

Posted on October 7th, 2015

We all are familiar with the old adage “Breakfast is the most important meal of the day,” but what about the other meals?

Teenagers are notorious for having irregular eating schedules. They like to sleep in, yet need to be at school at the crack of dawn. (There goes breakfast!) They prefer to buy lunch at school. (A bag of chips and a soda will suffice, right?) And they are involved in so many extracurricular activities that dinner is often consumed late at night while simultaneously finishing homework.

So, that begs the question: what IS the most important meal of the day? The answer is, they’re all important.

Adolescence is a period of rapid growth and development in which nutrient needs are high. Teens need a variety of food groups at each meal in order to meet their daily nutrient needs. The USDA’s MyPlate is a good representation of what teens need at each meal, however it falls short in the fats category, as they are not represented on the plate itself. As a society, we are becoming increasingly aware of the importance of dietary fats. The human brain is nearly 60% fat1 and your teen’s brain needs dietary fat to grow and develop.

It is also important to recognize that each teen has different nutrient needs based on age, height, weight, gender, and activity level. Therefore, a “one-size-fits-all” approach doesn’t work […]

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Resilience: The Main Ingredient For Success And Happiness

Posted on October 5th, 2015

Ask any parent what his or her greatest hopes are for his or her child and you’ll hear: “To be successful and happy.” So how can parents help children achieve this when the lifestyle of a teen today is stress-filled, with too much to do and so little time?

Here are a couple of thoughts teens have shared with me:

I wish my parents knew that while it’s great to have support, their constant need to make my life perfect is more of a burden than a blessing. I want to make them proud, but I also want to be happy.


I wish my parents would just listen and talk to me the way they want to be talked to. And not be hypocritical by telling me not to do something, but then turn around and do the same thing! Also, using fear as a tactic doesn’t work. They don’t realize that I see fear as a source of stress rather than motivation.

Whether you are a parent of a preteen or teen, a valuable skill you can teach your child is resilience. Resilience is the ability to rise above difficult circumstances, to live in a less than perfect world while moving forward with optimism and confidence. In the simplest of terms, it’s the ability to get back up after you fall down […]

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