Volunteering with Your Teen

As Thanksgiving approaches, we often discuss the things for which we are grateful. It can also be a great time of year to show gratitude by sharing our time and abilities. Here is a list of ideas to get involved in the community with your teen.

  • Nursing Homes – Call nursing homes near you and ask if they have residents who need a visit. Many elderly don’t have family in town and value the time visiting. If your child plays an instrument, it would be a great idea to have them play them a song.
  • Food Pantry – Spend a few hours at a local food pantry. Depending on your child’s comfort level, you can serve meals or simply sort through donations.
  • Homeless Care Packages – If you live an area where homelessness is an issue, this can be a great way for your teen to take action without giving cash (if you don’t want to or don’t have it) when you drive by someone in need. Brainstorming items to put in a small bag together.
  • Ronald McDonald House – There are 365 Ronald McDonald Houses in the country, so check if one is near you. Families with pediatric medical patients can stay at Ronald McDonald Houses, and they need volunteer groups to cook meals for those guests.
  • Tutor Elementary Students – Check with local school districts to see if they are in need of older students for tutoring. Many schools have after school care and like to have a few “homework helpers”.
  • Humane Society – Humane societies use volunteers as dog walkers, companions or cleaners. If your teen is an animal lover, this is a great opportunity!
  • Yard Work – Your teen can offer to shovel, rake, garden or cut the grass for an elderly or handicapped neighbor.

These are just a few of the opportunities out there to get involved in the community. Most importantly, let your child’s interests guide how he/she chooses to help.

Teenage Independence

Most parents see the changes their child goes through around the ages of 11-13 and wonder what has happened.

Suddenly your child doesn’t want to be seen with you in some public places, spends hours in their room with the door closed, or stops talking to their friends when you walk in the room.

It can be easy to take this personally or worry something is going wrong. Nothing has gone wrong. Your teen’s development requires them to separate themselves from their parents. This doesn’t mean you don’t still have time as a family, but it’s okay if that is more dreaded than it used to be.

While it may feel too soon to you, the beauty of adolescence is that they have years to test out independence while still in the safety and comfort of their home.

Let your teen push away a little, appreciate the times they still want you close by, be in awe of their growing sense of self, and maybe miss the little child they used to be.

If you feel your teenager would benefit from more support, life coaching can help. Schedule a free parent consultation to learn more.

What You Say is What They Think

Your teenager is developing their self-image. As a parent, you play a crucial role in aiding that development.

Think back to when you were growing up? What things did your parents repeatedly tell you about yourself? How did those comments affect your self image?

I used to believe I was inherently messy because my mom often commented on my inability to keep a clean room. Although small, it is a powerful example, because I can see how that belief affected my efforts toward a clean house for years. I thought, “There’s no use trying because I’m always going to be messy.”

The things you say about your teen are options you are offering them to believe about themselves. Be intentional. How often are you recognizing their strengths? What do you admire about them? What do you hope they believe about themselves?

Take a few minutes to make a list of compliments you want to give each of your children, and see how many you can naturally give each day.

Let’s Talk

When talking to your teen, it’s important to remember that they are building skills for analyzing and judging. Don’t take it personally if they are more critical of you then they used to be.

They are also creating their own identity. Let them! Try to connect with your teen by intentionally talking to them without inserting your opinion or direction. Allow yourself to be curious and open to what is going on with your child, their school, their friends, their activities.

If your teen comes to you with something they’re upset about, give them space to vent. Instead of telling them how to handle the problem, empathize without fixing. This will help you see what your teen is really thinking and feeling. Then, ask how you can help them solve the problem.

Finally, if you want to know more about your child’s day than that it was “fine,” try asking more pointed questions:

  • What went well today at school?
  • What’s coming up that you’re excited about?
  • What made you laugh today?
  • Who did you sit with at lunch today? Who would you like to sit with?
  • What was a challenge for you today?
  • If you could teach one class, which one would it be? Why?
  • What was something that bothered you today?
  • How did you (or could you have) made someone’s day better?
  • Which one of your friends is most similar to you? Which one is most different?
  • What one rule do you wish you could change at school?

To strengthen your relationship with your teenager, it is most important that they are connected to themselves. That is what coaching can do.

Sign up for a free 30-minute parent consultation today.

5 Ways to Help Your Teen through Divorce

  1. Do not talk negatively about your ex.
    This is put on the list at number one intentionally. Even if your child brings up bad things about your ex, do not contribute. Studies have shown that this is the number one indicator of how drastically a divorce will affect a child in a negative way. No matter what, stay positive or at least neutral when discussing your ex with your child.
  2. Do not use your child as a go-between.
    No matter how old your child is, it is a difficult and awkward position for them to be communicating for their parents. Asking your child to do this clues them in on extra tension and makes them feel in the middle of drama. If communication is difficult between you and your ex, use an adult friend or family member to relay messages.
  3. Be as open and honest as you can.
    Of course there are limits to what you want your child to know about your divorce and there should be (see #1). But, it is also important to remember that this is their family changing too. They will have questions. Decide ahead of time what you are willing to share, and even if in vague terms, be open to talking with them.
  4. Give a head’s up to teachers and other adults.
    Divorce can create ripple affects in a teenager’s life. It is best to let teachers or coaches know, so they have an understanding of what your child is going through if they notice changes in behavior or attitude. This is also helpful so they are prepared if your child confides in them.
  5. Give your teen support from someone else.
    As much as you want to be there for your child, they may feel more comfortable talking to someone else. This could be a teacher, family member, or a life coach. Adults your child already knows can be a great place for support, but often teenagers are more comfortable talking to someone new. I am here to help your child unpack everything going on for them, find their strength, and feel secure in a challenging situation.

Create Your Emotions

For most of my life I thought “you can’t help the way you feel.” I am here to tell you, you can!

Your emotions do not just happen to you. They are generated by the thoughts you have.

Let’s say you took a test and scored an 85%. Some people may get that score and be thrilled and proud. Others may be panicked and disappointed. While others still might be curious and determined.

The only reason people produce an array of emotions from the same test score is because they have different thoughts. Amoung many other things, people may think, “Wow, I thought I understood that better, but I wonder what I got wrong” or “Shoot, I did horrible and I never want to look at that test again!” or “My studying paid off, I did awesome!”

There is nothing wrong with any of those thoughts. The point is you can choose which one you want. If someone else can think differently about the situation, so can you. We are human and sometimes want to be upset or sad in a situation; but if you want to be motivated or compassionate in another situation, you can!

I am here to help teenagers be aware of and intentional with their thoughts. I will teach them the skills to empower themselves in the midst of family changes, friend drama, and school pressures.

When Anxiety Strikes

So many of us struggle with anxiety. For our teens it can be triggered by school pressures, social situations, family drama, or some reason your child can’t even pinpoint. Anxiety is not something that will simply go away, but it does not need to control your or your teenager’s life. It can be managed. Let’s talk about how.

Understanding Anxiety

First, it’s important to define anxiety. While the physical symptoms vary from person to person, anxiety is a feeling of worry, unease, apprehension or nervousness. We often use it as a “catch-all” emotion when we’re unsettled and alerted to some kind of discomfort. It has it’s purpose, which is to protect us from danger. The problem is our brain was developed at a time when we were living in caves, frequently in life-threatening situations that luckily we’re simply not often exposed to now. So, considering the human brain is a mechanism that has been around for about 40,000 years, it has not had much time to catch up to present-day living. This means when we face modern danger (like a chapter test or not getting an invitation to the party Friday night), our brain reacts with the same anxiety-producing thoughts that it would to the possibility of death around the corner. Maybe something like, “Don’t even try,” “Your life is over,” “That’s the worst idea,” “You’ll never make it.” Then most of us think there is something wrong with us, compounding the negative self-talk a million times over.

Sometimes the most freeing thing is to know that nothing is wrong with you. Nothing has gone wrong in your body if you’re feeling anxiety. It is a part of the human experience. There is no need to fight it, so lets talk about what we can do instead.

Dealing with Anxiety

Again, remember that when we feel anxiety, it is because we are perceiving some kind of danger. So, we naturally want to seek safety or relief from the anxiety. This is often done in three ways:

  1. Resist: When many us feel anxiety, we want to push it away. We add worry and stress about the anxiety by thinking that we shouldn’t feel it. Arguing with the anxiety only makes a battle within yourself, compounding the unease and strengthening the anxiety.
  2. React: The second thing a lot of us do with anxiety is react to it. We may start talking fast, rushing around, try to control things we can’t, and lose our tempers at others.
  3. Avoid: The third most common way to handle anxiety is avoidance. This means were doing something that gives immediate distraction and pleasure to our brain. For most people that is eating, drinking alcohol, doing drugs, or going on social media.

Did any of those sound familiar? I want to offer you a better way.

Process: The skill of processing our feelings is valuable for many negative emotions, but especially anxiety. It requires us to accept, observe, and be curious about what is going on before we can change it. In moments of anxiety, know that it is normal and okay, then give yourself the control by choosing to allow it to happen. Think of yourself as an observer and try to describe what is happening. Observe what anxiety really is by asking: Where do I feel it? What color would this feeling have? Is it fast or slow? Is it cold or warm? Is it contracting or expanding? With those answers, know that you can handle that feeling. Again, we will want to get rid of the anxiety as soon as we feel it, but allowing ourselves to process it in this way gives us the authority over the anxiety. It can be there, and you can still be okay.

The next step is to realize the thoughts that trigger the anxiety. That is the powerful work we do with coaching.

If your teen has been struggling with anxiety, let me help them understand and conquer it.

What is Life Coaching?

The life coaching I provide is called causal coaching. I don’t simply treat the symptoms of my clients’ pain, but teach them to understand the thoughts that are creating it.

“The primary cause of unhappiness is never the situation but your thoughts about it.” -Eckhart Tolle

As a coach, I am not here to give your teen advice and direction. I am here to facilitate their growth in understanding themselves and their abilities. I provide my clients perspective on their situation. I help them recognize the power they have and focus on the progress they want to make. We will not simply stay and dwell in the problem. We will face reality, listen to and understand the emotions that are there, and then we will intentionally choose how to process and move forward.

Who is Coaching for?

As a life coach, I am not here to diagnose or medicate your child. Life coaching with me is intended for teenagers who are functional in their daily life, but showing signs that the changes in your family are wearing on them. This may include:

  • decrease in extra-curricular engagement
  • withdrawing from family or friends
  • increased anxiety
  • drop in school performance
  • increased attitude or anger
  • changes in eating patterns
  • expressed sadness or confusion

If your family is dealing with divorce/separation or a parent who has an addiction, support your teen with life coaching. I will provide a judgement-free space to unpack all the feelings that come with these challenges. Then, we move forward on purpose.