Raising Emotionally Resilient Teenagers

A Note From The L.A. Teen Therapist

Children learn early on that in order to please others, they sometimes have to give up being who they are. I help teenagers re-discover their true self-expression. – Sandra

Since it is their natural inclination to want to feel connected, children may put aside their feelings to “belong.” As children try and mold themselves to fit an image that their parents, teacher or friends want them to be, they may suppress their needs to the point where they are no longer in touch with what they really feel.

Adolescence, with all the changes that accompany it, can be an intense time where teens are overwhelmed by new feelings. If teens believe that they are responsible for making other’s happy, or that others are responsible for making them happy, they become a victim of others’ choices.

While it is not uncommon for parents to have expectations that they wish their teen to fulfill, it is essential that parents also provide their children with the space to truly be seen and heard. Ultimately, the lessons you want and need to teach them are:

  • Love and appreciate yourself.
  • Stand strong in what is true for you.
  • Trust and believe in yourself.
  • Don’t waste time looking for other’s approval.

Parents typically teach what they know. If you came from a household where your parents were absent or pre-occupied with their own challenges, you may have be left to grow-up on your own. Depending upon the age difference between you and your child, you may also not yet have had the opportunity to master all of the life skills you want to teach.

In closing, it has been said that it “It takes a whole village to raise a child.” In reality, there is great value in reaching out for support during the process of laying a solid foundation for your child’s future. You are not required to do it alone. Through enlisting the help of professional resources, family, and friends, you can provide your child with the experiences necessary for them to become strong, successful and emotionally healthy young adults.

… EMPOWERING TEENS TO BE THEIR BEST SELVES.

“The best example of Sandra’s work is in my daughter’s renewed enthusiasm and attitude towards life. My daughter now sees every problem as one that can be solved, every uncomfortable experience as an opportunity to learn and grow. Sandra’s work with my daughter has helped her become a more secure, confident and happy individual.”

Worried About Your Teen? FREE Parent Consultation

For more information, please visit my website:

SandraDupont.com

verified by Psychology Today

Adolescent Therapist|Parent Coach|Teen Mentor

Providing service for: Los Angeles, Santa Monica, Pacific Palisades, Malibu, Beverly Hills, Beverly Glen, Culver City, Brentwood, Westwood, Marina Del Rey, Mar Vista, Encino, Sherman Oaks, Topanga Beach and Topanga Canyon, Ocean Park, Hancock Park, West Hollywood.

Parenting Teens After Divorce

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A Note From The L.A. Teen Therapist

It’s often difficult for teens whose parents have split apart. Read on for helpful tips. – Sandra

A teen doesn’t like the feeling that he or she must act as a messenger between hostile parents. Adolescents want parents to talk with each other so that the messages are communicated the right way, and don’t feel like they are going to mess up. It is unfair to make your teen carry messages to your “ex” because you find it too awkward or aggravating to do so yourself.

Avoid arguing and discussing child support issues in front of your teen. Most teens upon hearing these things feel that their existence is a burden on their parents. Do not put your teen in the middle of your child support disputes.

It hurts your teen very much to hear one loved parent criticize the other loved parent. When teens hear bad things about one parent, they hear bad things about half of themselves. Even if you are sure you’re right, try to avoid criticizing the other parent around your kids.

DESTRUCTIVE REMARKS THAT YOU SHOULD AVOID:

  • You’re lazy/stubborn/bad tempered, just like your mother/father.
  • Your mother/father put you up to saying that.
  • Your dad/mom doesn’t love any of us or he/she wouldn’t have left us.
  • You can’t trust her/him.
  • He/she was just no good.
  • If she/he loved you, she/he would send your support checks on time.
  • Someday you’ll leave me too, just like your father/mother.

All of these remarks raise fear and anxiety in your teen.

It is very difficult for the teen of divorced parents to cope with feeling “caught in the middle.” If they want to tell you about time spent with their other parent (and they usually don’t), listen closely and politely, and then stop. Encourage your teen to love both parents.

Asking your teen to take your side in any situation regarding your ex-spouse can create a tremendous amount of stress for your teen. Your teen wants to love both of his or her parents. Avoid putting teens in the position of having to take sides.

Complaining to your teen about how lonely you feel makes them feel guilty and sad. It’s not healthy for a teen to be consumed with worry for their parents’ ability to survive. Let your teen be a teenager.

Your teen will have the best chance of growing up to be a functional human male or female with both parents as role models and nurturers. This means that there should be some way of them having access to the good each parent has to offer.”

(Acknowledging Ruben Francia)

Worried About Your Teen? FREE Parent Consultation

For more information, please visit my website:

SandraDupont.com

verified by Psychology Today

Adolescent Therapist|Parent Coach|Teen Mentor

Providing service for: Los Angeles, Santa Monica, Pacific Palisades, Malibu, Beverly Hills, Beverly Glen, Culver City, Brentwood, Westwood, Marina Del Rey, Mar Vista, Encino, Sherman Oaks, Topanga Beach and Topanga Canyon, Ocean Park, Hancock Park, West Hollywood.

Your Teen’s Academic Success

A Note From the L.A. Teen Therapist & Life Coach

When children become teenagers they embark upon a journey of forming a separate identity. – Sandra

The following tips will help you support your teen in embracing the learning experience as well as developing a love of learning and the strength of character to persist beyond failures.

LEARNING STYLE
People learn differently. Some learn from listening to lectures or reading, while others learn best with visual aids or hands-on projects. If a teacher’s style doesn’t match your teen’s learning style, students can supplement learning by using flash cards or sketching diagrams to aid in memorizing new material.

When taking notes, it may be useful for your teen to draw a sketch of something that helps the information stick in their mind. During class, students should listen for key words or phrases the teacher emphasizes, write them down, and highlight them so they are easily recognizable when reviewing their notes.

PLANNING
It is important for teens to understand their homework assignments and write them in their phone notebook, daily planner or notepad. Include specific details about what is expected and the assignment due date.

If your teen devotes enough time to do good work, they’ll have greater means to succeed. Estimating how much time is needed to read a book, write a paper or prepare for an exam will help your teen establish an effective study schedule.

ORGANIZATION
Organizing study notes helps students find information quickly when preparing for exams. This can be accomplished with highlighters, colored pens and post-its. Flagging information while reading makes it easy to return to. Highlight or write important topics, phrases or terms in a new color pen so they stand out.

Nobody benefits from completing an assignment, but forgetting to turn it in. At this stage, teachers have little patience for the excuse, “I left my homework at home.” After homework is finished, teens should put homework in their binder or backpack, and set it next to the door so they can grab it and go the next morning.

COMMUNICATION
If your teen can develop a good relationship with each teacher, they’ll feel more comfortable asking questions and clarifying expectations, even if they don’t personally like the teacher.

STUDY SPACE AND TIME
Some people prefer a quiet study environment while others benefit from listening to soft music. A comfortable study space should reflect the student’s style, but it should also be free of distraction. I recommend that cell phones and social media be off limits during study time.

Teens can optimize learning by getting adequate rest, taking breaks, and being physically and emotionally healthy. Establishing bedtime limits and a nightly routine of reading or listening to relaxing music prior to bed helps teens get the sleep they need.

Test prep involves more than just studying. Teens need to be rested, alert, calm, confident and comfortable. Plan ahead to avoid distractions such as hunger pangs or feeling cold. It is also important to learn how to manage the time given for an exam and allot a certain number of minutes to each section of the exam.

HOMEWORK HABITS
Instead of watching television or plugging in to the Internet upon arriving home from school, I recommend using them as a reward for after homework has been completed. Consider establishing healthy homework habits such as:

• Homework is done immediately after school.
• Take short breaks every 45 minutes or so to re-focus attention.
• If self-discipline is an issue, homework can be done in the kitchen or common areas instead of their room.
• All social media is off-limits until homework is finished.
• Cell phone is only accessible when homework is finished.

CHECKING IN
As the new school year begins, check in with your teen by asking what they think of their teachers and how they are feeling about the subjects they are studying. Once school is underway check in daily or weekly by asking about their assignments and what they are learning. If, as time goes on, your teen expresses continuous feelings of helplessness or hopelessness this could mean a couple of things:

• They need assistance beyond the time spent in class to understand new information, and thus a tutor may prove helpful.
• They may have a learning disorder that needs to be better understood like ADD, dyslexia, or a sensory processing disorder. (There are tests as well as treatments designed to help address these challenges.)
• They could be struggling with depression, bullying, low self-esteem or even substance abuse.

Worried About Your Teen? FREE Parent Consultation

For more information, please visit my website:

SandraDupont.com

verified by Psychology Today

Adolescent Therapist|Parent Coach|Teen Mentor

Providing service for: Los Angeles, Santa Monica, Pacific Palisades, Malibu, Beverly Hills, Beverly Glen, Culver City, Brentwood, Westwood, Marina Del Rey, Mar Vista, Encino, Sherman Oaks, Topanga Beach and Topanga Canyon, Ocean Park, Hancock Park, West Hollywood.

Improving Teen’s Self-Esteem

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A Note From the L.A. Teen Therapist & Life Coach

Having healthy levels of self-esteem means teens do not need to determine their self-worth by looking to others for validation. – Samdra

Ideally, a teen’s self-worth should be determined by how well they live up to their desired self-image, which hopefully aligns with their beliefs and vision for their life.

    • Does your teen dress to impress?
    • Does he or she pretend to be someone that they are not?
    • Does your teen say things that don’t represent how they really feel?

Where we are born, and where we go to school does not necessarily determine who we are meant to be. We come into this world with unique gifts and talents. We have our own physical expression, as well as our own personality and style. Add to that your life experiences, and areas of interest, and we become an individual like no other.

High school is a phase of life when teens will feel pulled to fit in with the crowd. Yet, by doing this, are they being true to themselves?  The teen years are a time to start thinking where your son or daughter would like to go with their life. By trying on many types of different behavior, they are discovering their authentic expression.

Are they the athletic type? Are they the scholar? Are they an entertainer, or an artist? Are they the peace-maker? These are questions only they can answer for themselves. For some, this may mean raising a family–in a home filled with love. For others, this may mean becoming an educator with a focus on changing the world.

Anything is possible, but first, your teen must get to know themselves, and then find the courage to be themselves in all their magnificence.

… EMPOWERING TEENS TO BE THEIR BEST SELVES.

“The best example of Sandra’s work is in my daughter’s renewed enthusiasm and attitude towards life. My daughter now sees every problem as one that can be solved, every uncomfortable experience as an opportunity to learn and grow. Sandra’s work with my daughter has helped her become a more secure, confident and happy individual.”

Worried About Your Teen? FREE Parent Consultation

For more information, please visit my website:

SandraDupont.com

verified by Psychology Today

Adolescent Therapist|Parent Coach|Teen Mentor

Providing service for: Los Angeles, Santa Monica, Pacific Palisades, Malibu, Beverly Hills, Beverly Glen, Culver City, Brentwood, Westwood, Marina Del Rey, Mar Vista, Encino, Sherman Oaks, Topanga Beach and Topanga Canyon, Ocean Park, Hancock Park, West Hollywood.

Understanding the Teenage Brain

A Note From the L.A. Teen Therapist & Life Coach

Here is some important information that describes the developmental changes that occur in teenager’s brains. – Sandra.

  • Has your teen ever felt blue for no obvious reason?
  • Do they ever do things on impulse that they later regret?
  • Have they ever overreacted to a situation and later wondered why?

Adolescence is now starting at younger ages than in previous generations. The average age that girls go into adolescence is between 10 and 11, when they reach 17% body fat. Boys go into adolescence between 12 and 13.

Teenagers are going through a transitional time when the brain rewires itself for emotional attachment, reproduction, and ultimately the creation of a stable family structure. 

There can be a noticeable gap between intelligence and behavior during the teen years. We used to attribute this to the assault of a hormonal hurricane. There is actually a lot more going on in the different structures of the teenage brain that end up having long-term consequences.

The myelin sheathing, which insulates nerves, increases by 100% in teenagers. Myelin sheathing is responsible for the conduction of nerve impulses to the brain. As the nerves become twice as efficient, this feeds the intensity and speed of a person’s reaction, contributing to the experience of mood swings.

The teen years are also time of the lowest levels of Serotonin in the human brain during human life. Serotonin is the primary transmitter in the limbic system, having to do with morale and moods. Low serotonin levels create a state in which a teens are more susceptible to feeling stressed and overwhelmed.

The brain does not grow in an orderly fashion. It first over-produces a bunch of connections that go to new parts of the brain. Then, in the later teen years-around age 16 through the mid-20’s-it starts eliminating connections based on how frequently they are used. The connections that remain determine a person’s sense of identity.

Did you know that the teenage brain does not complete development until close to age 25? Yes, something called the pre-frontal cortex, which is responsible for impulse control and operates much like the CEO of a company, does not complete development until your mid-twenties, leaving teens vulnerable to impulsive behavior.

Worried About Your Teen? FREE Parent Consultation

For more information, please visit my website:

SandraDupont.com

verified by Psychology Today

Adolescent Therapist|Parent Coach|Teen Mentor

Providing service for: Los Angeles, Santa Monica, Pacific Palisades, Malibu, Beverly Hills, Beverly Glen, Culver City, Brentwood, Westwood, Marina Del Rey, Mar Vista, Encino, Sherman Oaks, Topanga Beach and Topanga Canyon, Ocean Park, Hancock Park, West Hollywood.

Preventative Therapy For Teenagers

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With residents from 140 different cultures, speaking over 200 languages, L.A. has become one of the most dynamic cities to raise a teen. – Sandra

Due to managed care, treatment options for adolescents who are struggling often fall short of a full assessment, and a holistic approach grounded in wellness and prevention. Teen Therapy needs to not only provide symptom relief but empower teen clients with emotional intelligence, social intelligence, and attachment building exercises, to meet the rapid changes they are encountering.

Emerging science now offers us an inside look at how imbalances in the teen brain affects their moods, behavior, relationships and academic performance. Studies also show that the experience of being empathically understood in therapy can literally change a teen’s brain; building new neural networks in the teen’s pre-frontal cortex, and increasing the size of the memory storing part of their brain.

Did you know that much of what insurance companies refer to as “mental illness” can be prevented, by educating families about the complex connections between mental health, and diet, neurobiology, environment and culture? Effective therapeutic treatment of teenagers must therefore include multi-disciplinary approaches that can help address emotional challenges unsuccessfully resolved by talk therapy alone.

Worried About Your Teen? FREE Parent Consultation

For more information, please visit my website:

SandraDupont.com

verified by Psychology Today

Adolescent Therapist|Parent Coach|Teen Mentor

Providing service for: Los Angeles, Santa Monica, Pacific Palisades, Malibu, Beverly Hills, Beverly Glen, Culver City, Brentwood, Westwood, Marina Del Rey, Mar Vista, Encino, Sherman Oaks, Topanga Beach and Topanga Canyon, Ocean Park, Hancock Park, West Hollywood.

Defining Healthy Family Rules For Teens

A Note From the L.A. Teen Therapist & Life Coach

Ideally, family rules should honor the relationship between parents and children. -Sandra

It is important to consciously identify your rules for dealing with your teen as well as their rules for dealing with you.

EXAMPLES OF UNSPOKEN PARENTAL RULES:

  • “I’ll give you anything you want if in return you will love and respect me.”
  • “I need to raise my kids the exact opposite of how my parents raised me.”
  • “Since I am your mom, I know what is best for you.”

TEENS ALSO HAVE THEIR OWN RULES:

  • “Whatever trouble I get into, my dad will get me out of it.”
  • “It’s my parent’s job to do everything for me.”
  • “Everything should go my way. If not, I get to throw a tantrum and disturb everyone around me.”

We usually make up rules based on experiences we have had in life. Their purpose is to help direct the interactions we have with others. These rules, although neither right or wrong, and may be helpful–or not.

You should only keep using your current rules if you are getting positive results.

You ultimately need to try and bring hidden rules out into the open. If there are hidden agendas, the people involved may feel they are trapped, and unclear about what is expected of them. This can lead to rebellion and/ or power struggles.

Hidden rules can ultimately sabotage a relationship. By putting the rules on the table, they can be talked about, honestly dealt with, and if appropriate, changed.

An example of naming the rules would be “the reason I can buy you the things you want is because I worked overtime. The reason I can do this is because you help out at home with the chores I normally do. By your helping me, I can help you.”

Teenagers then understand that there is a cost for what they are getting. By communicating this, you help teens become more aware and grateful. Adolescents then know that they must take part in the exchange, if only to say “thank you.”

It can be very helpful to use the approach of asking your teen “What is it that you want from me?” and then clarify exactly what that means to them. Then you can ask the big question…”And what are you willing to give to get that?”

As a parent, remember, you are the one in charge–not your child. Your power, used wisely, can eliminate power struggles, allowing you to focus attention on creating dynamics with your teen that work.

Worried About Your Teen? FREE Parent Consultation

For more information, please visit my website:

SandraDupont.com

verified by Psychology Today

Adolescent Therapist|Parent Coach|Teen Mentor

Providing service for: Los Angeles, Santa Monica, Pacific Palisades, Malibu, Beverly Hills, Beverly Glen, Culver City, Brentwood, Westwood, Marina Del Rey, Mar Vista, Encino, Sherman Oaks, Topanga Beach and Topanga Canyon, Ocean Park, Hancock Park, West Hollywood.

Are Smartphones Interfering In Your Family’s Relationships?

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A Note From the L.A. Teen Therapist & Life Coach

Have your family members gotten in the habit of paying more attention to their smartphone–than to each other? – Sandra

The human powers of attention are turning out to be no match for the promise of “instant access to everyone and everything” through our mobile devices, reports Hara Estroff Marano, Editor-at-Large at Psychology Today. She goes on to discuss how “networked mobile technology, while expanding our cultural and social worlds, is crushing our private one.”

As a parent, how often are you noticing face-to-face conversations with your teen being derailed by your, or your teen’s, phone alerts? Family researcher Brandon McDaniel has labeled this new phenomenon “Technoference,” —”everyday intrusions or interruptions … that occur due to technology. Unfortunately, this interference is negatively impacting the parent-child relationship.

According to Virginia Tech psychologist Shalini Misra, “The mere presence of a smartphone—even if not in use—can degrade private conversations …” resulting in diminished efforts to disclose their feelings and/or understand each other. The ability of a person to be physically present but absorbed by “a world of elsewhere” was described by psychologist Kenneth Gergen as “absent presence.”

Yet, responsiveness and shared feelings are hallmarks of satisfying relationships. When a person is pre-occupied, their communication may be marked by delayed responses, flat intonation, and minimal eye contact, resulting in missed opportunities for authentic connection. Family members’ obsession with their phones may literally be contributing to a downward spiral of interaction and relationship satisfaction.

Relationship expert, John Gottman, explains that unstructured moments spent in each other’s company hold the most potential for our building closeness and a sense of connection. Comments and observations that invite laughter or conversation provide the opportunity for parents and teens to strengthen their rapport. Danger lies in family members checking their devices so often they become oblivious to each other’s bids for attention, and connection.

(Acknowledging Hara Estroff Marano)

Worried About Your Teen? FREE Initial Consultation.

For more information, please visit my website:

SandraDupont.com

verified by Psychology Today

Adolescent Therapist|Parent Coach|Teen Mentor

Providing service for: Los Angeles, Santa Monica, Pacific Palisades, Malibu, Beverly Hills, Beverly Glen, Culver City, Brentwood, Westwood, Marina Del Rey, Mar Vista, Encino, Sherman Oaks, Topanga Beach and Topanga Canyon, Ocean Park, Hancock Park, West Hollywood.

AP Courses vs. Character Building?

A Note From the LA Teen Therapist & Life Coach

A college education has become the norm to strive for in many American families. – Sandra

Does our educational system need to be revamped?

Parents pour money into private schools in an attempt to give their child the cutting edge. Teens load up on AP courses to compete for places in the college of their choice. Yet, young graduates, diplomas in hand, commonly struggle to find the job of their dreams after college.

Do we need to consider the possibility that not all children would benefit from college, and offer them viable alternatives in the form of trade and technical schools? Instead of simply loading on more coursework, setting standards that leave adolescents feeling depressed and overcommitted, perhaps its time to consider some other approaches to preparing our youth to become productive members of society.

“Grades Matter, But…”

According to Sheldon Horrowitz, Ed.D. “Grades alone cannot capture the breadth and depth of what a child has learned, how they have personalized their knowledge in ways that better prepare them for post-secondary education or the workplace – or whether they are prepared to be confident and contributing members of society.” In his article “Grades matter, but…” he illuminates the fact that the challenge for children with learning difficulties is to “exit high school undefeated by repeated hurtles” – as they struggle to meet the requirements of testing and grading.

As a therapist for teenagers, I often hear how parents and their children wait with baited breath for the weekly online assessment of the child’s test and homework scores. The whole thrust has become one of obsession with grades. Teenagers, on the average spend around 7 hours in school and another 2 to 3 hours of homework. This does not include the extracurricular activities that college bound students participate in to enhance their college application. This type of schedule literally fills a child’s day from breakfast until bedtime, with no downtime for self-reflection or regeneration.

I leave you with this question: If teens were feeling more peaceful and fulfilled in their academic experience, would substance abuse, bullying and self-harm diminish?

Worried About Your Teen? FREE Parent Consultation

For more information, please visit my website:

SandraDupont.com

verified by Psychology Today

Adolescent Therapist|Parent Coach|Teen Mentor

Providing service for: Los Angeles, Santa Monica, Pacific Palisades, Malibu, Beverly Hills, Beverly Glen, Culver City, Brentwood, Westwood, Marina Del Rey, Mar Vista, Encino, Sherman Oaks, Topanga Beach and Topanga Canyon, Ocean Park, Hancock Park, West Hollywood.

Is Your Teen Being Bullied?

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It’s time to take a new approach to this epidemic.

I create a safe for victims–and bullies alike–to get assistance. Bullying can be stopped! If your teen is bullying others or being bullied, I can help you to discover the cause and remedy it. I invite you take that critical next step, and allow me to demonstrate the support I can offer to you and your family.

… EMPOWERING TEENS TO BE THEIR BEST SELVES.

“The best example of Sandra’s work is in my daughter’s renewed enthusiasm and attitude towards life. My daughter now sees every problem as one that can be solved, every uncomfortable experience as an opportunity to learn and grow. Sandra’s work with my daughter has helped her become a more secure, confident and happy individual.”

Worried About Your Teen? FREE Parent Consultation

For more information, please visit my website:

SandraDupont.com

verified by Psychology Today

Adolescent Therapist|Parent Coach|Teen Mentor

Providing service for: Los Angeles, Santa Monica, Pacific Palisades, Malibu, Beverly Hills, Beverly Glen, Culver City, Brentwood, Westwood, Marina Del Rey, Mar Vista, Encino, Sherman Oaks, Topanga Beach and Topanga Canyon, Ocean Park, Hancock Park, West Hollywood.