As a teen-focused therapist one of the most common things I hear from parents is “my teen won’t talk to me.” Parents want nothing more than to know what their teen is thinking and feeling. On the other hand, one of the most common things I hear from teens is “they don’t listen”, “they don’t understand,” or “they just yell at me.”

Why is there such a different perspective? It is hard for parents to see their teen in pain. Parents often tend to go into “fix it” mode. They give unwarranted advice, discuss how they “would handle things.” They end up trying to problem-solve the emotion away leaving the teen feeling unheard. So what to do instead? Validate! In Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), Marsha Linehan identified 6 Levels of validation. She believed it is impossible to over-estimate the importance of validation.

Validation: It is that simple.

Validation is the acknowledgement of another person’s perspective and feelings. Often parents mistake it for complete agreement. This is not true. For example, if your teen says “I hate you, you are the worst parents ever,” you may not be inclined to agree with this. However, you can validate it! You can say “Given the situation (being told no), I can understand that you feel this way.”

The first level is being present. When was the last time you gave 100% of your attention to your teen? There are so many ways to be present with your teen, just sitting with them through intense emotions, hugging them when they cry, listening without giving advice, turning off your cellphone and other distractions, etc. The more present you are with your teen the more they will come to you.

The second level is accurate reflection. This is when you show your teen you were listening by verbalizing what you heard them say. Accurate reflection may look like “So I hear you saying..” or “It sounds like you feel…” It is important to remember not to just repeat back their wording verbatim.

The third level of validation is reading your teen’s behavior and guessing what they might be feeling. Not everyone is in touch with their feelings so it may be difficult for your teen to tell you what they feel. Based on what they share and how they behave, you can guess at what they might be feeling. For example, “I’m guessing you were hurt when they didn’t invite you” is a level three validation.

The fourth level is understanding your teen’s behavior in terms of their history and biology. Your teens past experience influence their thoughts and feelings today. If your teen fell from a tree as a child, they may not like heights. An example of a level four validation would be “given your past experience I can understand why you would feel that way.”

The fifth level is normalizing or recognizing emotional reactions. Many teens worry that they are the only one that feels the way they do. Knowing that other people would feel similarly in the same situation helps to reduce the painful reaction. For example, “Of course you’re worried. Taking your driver’s test is scary for a lot of people.”

Level six is radical genuineness. This is when you understand the emotion on a deep level. This is treating your teen as a “real” person with “real” feelings. Radical genuineness meets your teen with love and support demonstrating belief that they are capable of managing their own feelings.

What can validation do?

Validation is a core parenting skill in DBT it encourages your teen to talk to you and communicate with you more openly. Validation helps to build trust and shows your teen that you value what they have to say. Validation communicates respect for your teen. Validation takes practice, so be patient with yourself as you are starting a new form of communication.

Need help communicating with your teen? We can help! Give us a call today at Mindful Healing at (860) 387-5689 or click here to schedule your FREE parent screening.


Teen depression rates are rising. You probably see on the news or in your social media feeds posts about teen suicide. This isn’t meant to scare you, but to inform you. Teenagers today are struggling with overwhelming emotions. They are facing unrealistic pressure and expectations of trying to the best. They often need help learning how to recognize and understand what they are feeling. Let’s talk about signs of when you may need to help your teen manage their emotions.Teen depression rates are rising. You probably see on the news or in your social media feeds posts about teen suicide. This isn’t meant to scare you, but to inform you. Teenagers today are struggling with overwhelming emotions. They are facing unrealistic pressure and expectations of trying to the best. They often need help learning how to recognize and understand what they are feeling. Let’s talk about signs of when you may need to help your teen manage their emotions.

Sign 1

Social Withdrawal This is typically an indicator a parent will notice when their teen doesn’t want to social with their peers. Some teens withdrawal from some but not all friends. This is a good time to ask them what is going on. Remember to be validating and role model understanding. Depending on how they answer will determine your next steps. If there is a barrier you may want to seek outside support such as counseling.

Sign 2

Increased and Unexplained Aches and Pains  Depressed teen often complains of not feeling well. Common aliments include headaches and stomach aches. It is important to take them to their primary care physician to rule out any medical causes. Depression can lead to physical complaints that may impact school and social avoidance.

Sign 3

Irritable or Angry I know you are thinking isn’t every teen moody, but that’s not entirely accurate. While the brain is still developing impacting their mood shifts, the type of irritability and anger I am referring to is yelling, fighting, rage, cursing, or property destruction. Depression in teenage boys may look different than girls, boys may be more outward destructive behaviors. They may appear more oppositional and get involved with the wrong crowd, while girls may become more withdrawn.
Let’s talk about ways can help!

3 Ways to Help Them

1. Make face time a priority

This may simple but for some it is harder than it sounds. Quality time can say “you are important and a priority.” Take time each day to be totally focused on your teen.

2. Limit Screen Time

More and more research is showing the negative impact screen time is having on mental health. Teens often go online, play video games, or watch YouTube to avoid dealing with their emotions. Social media also creates tremendous pressure for teens to be perfect, comparing themselves to perceived versions of others’ lives. This is a standard no one can live up to. Talk to your teens about the impact of social media. Have social media contracts or discuss online safety.

3. Get active with your teen

Exercise is a great mood booster. Ask your teen what they want to do. This is a great way to bond as well. Suggest activities such as sports or hiking or promote volunteering or being a mentor.

This blog reviewed some of the signs may indicate your teen is depressed. There are many more that you can find here. Observe your child, get to know them, monitor if they are off their baseline. Ask questions and keep the dialogue going.


Click here to schedule you FREE 15-minute consultation call so that we can connect and discuss the next best steps for your teen. I look forward to speaking with you soon.


“The phrase working mother is redundant” – Jane Sellman. For many mothers, this rings overly true. For any mother time with your children is precious, especially when balancing with the demands of a career. With the weather warming up and plants in bloom, kids are anxious to get outside. You want to be a fun and exciting mom, but it can be hard to plan and prepare for entertaining activities when you are pressed for time.

This list of 5 outdoor activities that are perfect for mothers that are short on time. They are simple, creative, fun ideas that don’t require a lot of planning or preparation.

1. Go On A Picnic

Grab a blanket, pack their favorite lunch, and head to your local park to enjoy the weather with your kids. In today’s fast-paced urban lifestyle a picnic is a great way for some family bonding.

2. Side Walk Chalk

Take your artwork outside! Sidewalk chalk is a stable of spring and summer activities. This is a great item to have on hand for when your children get bored. You can draw stories together, make superheroes, take turns tracing each other, etc. You can develop your child’s motor skills by playing hopscotch or four-square. Depending on your child’s age you can also work on shapes, numbers or animals with sidewalk chalk. Don’t forget about hangman. It’s an all-inclusive educational, fun idea!

3. Blowing Bubbles

Children love bubbles. Best part, you don’t even have to purchase bubble solution, which can go quickly with spills or losing the bottle. DIY bubbles are easy and fun, plus it saves you a bit of cash.

One recipe is to use 2 cups of warm water, 1/3 cup of dish soap, and ¼ cup of corn syrup, combine the ingredients in a large dish or bowl and stir gently. You can use a hanger as the wand to make the bubbles. Have large cookie cutters available? Those are fun to make bubbles in different shapes.

4. Sensory Scavenger Hunt

This is an exciting twist on a scavenger hunt and doesn’t require preparation. Identify smells and sounds or nature together! See what you and your children can find, the scent of flowers, sounds of birds.

5. Make a Bird Feeder

What better springtime activity is there than a DIY bird feeder? Bird feeders are great ways to enjoy wildlife at its best. It’s so much fun to sit back and watch all the wonderful birds. Not to mention that making bird feeders with the kids is a fun activity to get them outside and loving nature.

There are several DIY ways to make a bird feeders. A simple way is withplastic soda bottle and a couple of wooden spoons. You just have to make holes in the bottle for the spoons and be sure that you angle the spoons downward so that the birdfeed will drizzle onto them.

Quality time with your family doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive. After a long stressful day at work relax and enjoy some family time with these fun activities.

This article was orignially written for The Lady Project in March 2018.


With the school year well underway and college applications (or potentially disappointments) it can be a stressful time for anyone with a teenager. So as parents how do we navigate this stress without losing our minds? One helpful tip is “The Three Cs of Parenting.” Consider the advantages of staying Calm, Caring, and Consistent as a parent. Though at times this may sound easier said than done.

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