Working with teens I hear a lot of comparing and high expectations they put on themselves. One common things I hear from them is “other people don’t seem to be bothered by this” or “I should be able to handle this.” So why is it that some people seem to be able to handle stress and disappointment without missing a beat and others seem to be overwhelmed?

The answer is resiliency. When teens are resilient, they cope better during and after difficult situations. They ‘bounce back’ when things go wrong. Your teen needs resilience to navigate life’s challenge. All teens can build resilience.

Here are so are some things you can do to help your teen become more resilient:

  1. Spend quality time with your teen

We live in a world that is constantly busy with work and other distractions. Make planned time each week to spend with your time without distractions to listen to them.

  1. Foster your teen to be independent and learn to stand alone.

Let your teen become responsible for waking up, making lunch, etc. Let them suffer their own consequences if they don’t. Let them be responsible for their own homework. Help them without taking over. When they are in the real world you won’t play an active role it is important they start practicing now

  1. Allow your teen to make mistakes, or even FAIL, without trying to fix the situation or take away their pain.

Sounds crazy, I know. The hardest thing for a parent to do is see their child in pain. However, learning to fail and feel distress is an important skill. Failure is an inevitable part of life. We are all imperfect. If your teen forgets an assignment, don’t bring it to them. It will be better for them to learn the responsibility AND to learn that they are okay, they survived, their worth didn’t change. Experiencing mistakes and failure can actually increase self-esteem!

  1. Praise the effort your teen puts into school/sports/etc not the result.

Let your teen know how happy you are that they are studying so hard and practicing rather than the grade they got. This puts the focus on them and what they are doing. When we praise the grade we send the message that the grade is more important. For example, you can say “You have been so responsible studying for your test. I am happy to see all your hard work.”

  1. Nourish your teens interests outside of school.

More and more I hear of teens wanting to quit outside activities so they have more time to study. Academic pressures can become overwhelming. While goals to do well in school can be healthy they should not overshadow the rest of your life. Interests in sports, dance, music, art, scouts, etc help to foster independence, socialization, and more.

  1. Encourage your teen to communicate their needs directly.

Self-advocacy is a skill that can be gained through practice. Help your teen learn how to talk to teachers, administrators or even you. When they need help encourage them to talk to the person directly first. If you must meet with a teacher, include your teen in the conversation. You won’t be able to do this for them later in life.

  1. Know how to argue

Families that work well know how to argue. Family is where we learn how to resolve conflict. Reality is conflict happens. If we grow up in a home that is chaotic teens don’t learn to manage feelings. Children learn to resolve differences of opinions and disappointment is from watching their parents. Teach your teens that it is okay to disagree and how to disagree.

Your teen will inevitably be face challenges and have to learn to cope with them by themselves. Let your teen have a go at sorting out their problems and fighting their own battles before you step in. Fumbles and failures are part of the process.

If your teen is having difficulty coping with challenges or feeling independent there is hope. I’d love to connect and discuss the next best steps in helping your teen find happiness. Click here to schedule your parent screening.


Before leaving for vacation I had everything planned out and organized. I wanted to go on my trip and have nothing to worry about, to be able to be in relaxation mode from the second I left work. I wrote my next three weeks blogs, I did all my notes (a rarity for me), I did the laundry, cleaned the house, I was ready to go.

This worked wonderfully. I had an amazing vacation. Everything went as planned. Not a care in the world. I was ready to come home, relaxed and stress free. I had planned a Sunday to recover and re-adjust before returning to work.

When I landed I was waiting as the plane was taxiing to its gate and, just like everyone else, I turned on my cell phone. Then BAM reality hit. All my planning was gone. I was overwhelmed with stressors and to dos. I had expected to have emails to respond to, but not like this:

  • I was being audited by 2 insurance companies (every therapists worse nightmare)
  • A clerical error had accidently ended my relationship with an insurance company and they needed me to “request” reinstatement
  • And worst of all, my cat of 14 years, was dying and may not make it until I got home

I was flooded with emotion; my thoughts were racing. “How am going to handle all of this?” “What if he doesn’t make it until I get home?”  “Was my relaxing vacation a waste because I am so stressed now?” It didn’t feel like I even went away. The list went on and on.

Then I had to pause. What was really in my control? What could I address in this moment? Nothing. This was a moment of suffering for me. All I could really do was be in the moment, and feel the grief. Allow myself to feel the loss. I needed to practice mindfulness and self-compassion. The skills I preach every day and in the moment, I had lost. I was consumed with anxiety and frustration about work and grief about my cat.

As I began to slow down and allow myself to just be, the feeling of the loss of my cat got more intense. Ironic I know, but this was better. I was able to feel it, to know that this was the moment I was in and it wouldn’t last forever. My vacation was relaxing and nothing can take those moments away, they came and they went. This moment was a moment of pain and I needed to feel it. Trying to avoid my feelings had left me feeling overwhelmed and confused.

It is easy to get caught up in our thoughts and emotions. They sometimes have a repetitive quality. Trying not to think about our thoughts or feel our feelings only amplifies them (aka avoidance). This is why practicing mindfulness is so important. Learning to be aware and accept distressing thoughts and feelings helps us allow them to and go without battling with them.

Mindfulness reduces suffering.
And suffering is the result of resisting reality. Pain is inevitable but suffering is optional-Buddha

We resist reality by constantly thinking about the past or the future.

Focusing on the past leads to depression, hopelessness, and isolation. Focusing on the future leads to  anxiety, fear and worry.

Focusing on the past or the future leads to being overwhelmed. Now we are dealing with whatever emotions thinking about the past and future brought up, but also whatever emotions we are currently experiencing. It’s too much!

This is what happened to me when my plane landed. My thoughts and feelings began to be overloaded with the memories of the past and plans/fears of the future. I was unable to handle the immense sorrow of my loss. It wasn’t until I began to experience the moment that I was able to begin to grieve and process my feelings.

To learn more about how mindfulness can help change your life click here!