5 Must-Have Skills for Parenting an Emotional Teen

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Focusing on SKILLS and not a “vent sesh” will help you as a parent to feel more effective in communicating, interacting with and responding to your teen to help to de-escalate emotional situations.

In our DBT Parenting Group, parents learn 5 skill sets to effectively parent an emotional or high-risk teen with success:


Parents learn to slow down their own emotional reactions so that they can respond in ways that are helpful. This also empowers parents to change patterns of dysfunction that may have played out across generations. Ultimately, our mindfulness skills provide parents with a choice about how they want their family to operate.


Learning to find the middle path will help parents develop more balanced and less extreme responses. It’s what allows parents to look for the valid aspects of their teen’s problematic behavior and learn to acknowledge the feelings without condoning the behavior so that acceptance can lead to change, rather than starting with change that typically creates more conflict when a teen feels misunderstood.


All parents who have high-risk or emotional teens need support in managing the stress associated with this difficult parenting task. Parents learn how to take care of themselves in times of crisis and also how to respond to their teen in these times so that they can know exactly how to help without enabling their teen or making the situation worse in some way.


Parents learn to understand their own emotional triggers and responses so that they are able to lessen emotional situations in the home and respond more effectively to the needs of the teen. This means more balance, more peace, less stress and less conflict.


This skillset helps parents develop and focus on the goals of their interaction with their teens. This results in more effective interactions and less emotional reactivity on the part of both parent and teen. Simply put, parents feel closer and more connected to their teen while still being able to set limits that work.

Sound like exactly what you need to supercharge the treatment process for your teen?

YOU Have the Power to Radically Shift Your Teen's Mood

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If you have a teen in treatment, learning the skills to validate their experience AND continue to support positive change are critical to your teen’s long-lasting success.

Here are three reasons that DBT parent skills training is critical to your teen’s treatment success.

1. YOU will benefit from learning and using new skills. It’s not likely that you’re living a stress-free existence if you have a teen who experiences emotional overwhelm.

Learning how to be more mindful of your own emotions, how to self-soothe when times get tough and how to unwind and openly communicate will help you at home, at work and in every single other aspect of your own life.

2. Participating in skills training shows that you think treatment is important and you’re committed to change in your family system.

By investing the time and financial commitment into changing your own role in the relationship and managing your own responses will reinforce that your teen is not a problem to be solved, but a part of a family unit that’s all working towards positive change and a happier, healthier way of life.

3. You’ll learn to accept what you can change and have the biggest impact over what you can.

You may not be able to directly change your teen’s behavior and that can feel super frustrating.

What you WILL do is learn how to change your responses which will provide an opportunity for your teen to change in response to you. It’s a win-win!

Want IN on the science-backed program that we've seen radically change the way that parents and teens interact and had resulted in major shifts in the parent-child relationship for the positive?

Impulsive Isn't an Excuse for Poor Choices

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Saying, "I'm just impulsive" to justify acting on urges is a cop out.

It's like saying, "I'm just an inactive person" to justify not taking the time to exercise.

There are skills that you can learn and actions that you can take to improve.

And at the teen support center, while we believe that you're doing the best you can, we also believe that you can improve, be more skillful and make better choices. (If we didn't then why would we do what we do?!)

Often times emotional teens act without thinking through all the consequences.

In fact, this happens a lot with teens in general. The pre-frontal cortex of the brain that's responsible for decision making isn't fully formed.

So making effective decisions takes some work.

So that your teen doesn't act in an instant on intense emotions...

and self-harm

or lash out

or steal

or cave to peer pressure.

We've seen many a teen act impulsively to avoid intense emotions.

And we've heard the line "I'm just impulsive" many a time too.

It's time to stop owning skills deficits as personality traits and own the responsibility to do the work to improve.

Because we know you can.

Because we believe in you.

Are you ready to believe in you too?

We’re here when you are.

Short Term Discomfort for Long Term Success

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It’s easy to decline support when your life is working well.

It’s easy to say “I’m fine” and really mean it… because there’s nothing happening in the moment that would prompt you to think otherwise.

It’s easy to forget about the distress, discomfort and destruction that may have happened a week prior when in the moment all you really want to do is feel good for once… to NOT think about those things.

But then…

All of the sudden..

It’s not working again.

And panic attacks


Anger outbursts

School avoidance

It returns.

And then what?

You call or email in crisis mode and hope that someone will “fix” the problem.

So you don’t have to feel it.

So you don’t have to experience it

But the truth is, unless you spend SOME of those “easy” moments diving deeper into what’s driving the difficult ones, nothing will ever change

You’ll continue a pattern of feeling good, feeling overwhelmed to the point of crisis, having a breaking point, then a honeymoon period before starting the whole cycle all over again

What’s more, the empathy, accommodations and support your teen’s high school provides looks a whole lot different than how your teen will seek and receive support in college. In their career. In their life.

So why not lay the foundation with skills that can last a lifetime and lead your teen into effective choices and stable successes… not intermittent times of joy that are so fragile that we’re afraid to look at what’s not working for fear that it’ll ruin it all in an instant.

Breaks in anxiety and shifts in sadness are nice, but lifelong skills to actually manage the ups and downs without your life falling apart when you have a bad day are even better.

Need proactive support? We’re here

Need crisis support? We’re still here

WHEN you get the support is up to you.

The skills to stop self-harming

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You can’t run away from your problems without running into more problems…

Many times when our teen clients experience discomfort, the natural tendency is to avoid.  

Friend drama?  Pretend it doesn’t exist

Parent conflict?  Isolate in your room

Too much school work stress?  Shut down and don’t do it

The problem with avoidance, though is that the problem doesn’t go away.  

And it gets bigger and bigger… as do the consequences of not approaching it.

Think about it…

What happens if you’re still self-harming in your thirties?

Or, avoiding work every time you’re anxious when you’re 25?

Avoidance as a long-term strategy simply doesn’t work.

At the teen support center, we teach our clients to TOLERATE discomfort.

We want you to be prepared for life’s ups and downs that include leaning into the unknown.

Expect it

Understand it

Learn how to LIVE with it

It’s like learning how to want ice cream without actually eating ice cream.

You CAN experience and acknowledge your urge without acting on it EVEN when it’s uncomfortable.

It’s hard and it doesn’t always work, but that’s why tolerating discomfort is a practice.

It’s also why you need more than just a distraction skill or two to cope with hardships.

You can only cope for so long before the emotion and urge take over.  

You need to be able to feel the feeling without letting it overcome you and direct your behavior.

And it works when you work it…

The proof is in the RESULTS.

Our teen clients are celebrating multiple months without self-harm and we’re excited to support them in the skill-building steps that prompted this progress.

5 Truths of Senior Year Success

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Ready for your high school senior to move from feeling overwhelmed and uncertain about the college application process to feeling SURE and SECURE with the roadmap for college-bound success?

In this FREE Parent Podcast you will learn:

✔️The secret to choosing the best college with your student and why this matters now more than ever

✔️Why choosing a roommate is not a good strategy and how your student can best navigate roommate drama and difficulties with ease

✔️The critical stress management strategies and healthy habits that your student needs now so that they can confidently approach life on their own

✔️How you can complete the Common app, FAFSA and piled up paperwork while maintaining your sanity AND a solid relationship with your teen in the process!

Click below to listen!

How to Shift Out of the Endless Anxiety Cycle


Here's why anxiety "WORKS" and what you can do to shift out of the Endless Anxiety Cycle...

Having anxiety is normal and necessary.

It's what motivates us to get work done.

It's what keeps us safe from dangerous situations.

And when we can use our anxiety as a catalyst to solve problems...

Like studying for a big test

Or looking both ways before we cross a street

Well, then anxiety has done its job and we're happy.

BUT... when our bodies or minds perceive a threat when there is no actual danger, well...

We end up isolating

Or opting out of life events

Or feeling paralyzed to move forward or complete daily tasks

The truth is that avoidance "works" to manage anxiety. And that's what makes it so hard to change.

When we avoid a situation that makes us anxious, it makes the anxiety go away. And that makes us feel safe.

But it also maintains the anxiety.

Avoidant behavior confirms in our brains that the trigger for our anxiety actually IS a threat. And then it makes it even HARDER to face this situation in the future.

At the teen support center, we help teens learn that the only way to anxiety relief is THROUGH the anxiety itself.

We teach targeted coping skills to manage in-the-moment anxiety while also helping our teens to FACE the situation that's making them anxious.

As our amazing therapist Gabby Morale always says, "If you can't face it, you can't fix it... so let's face it together!"


Learn to LAUGH this school year...

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Does your teen need to learn to LAUGH this year? 😆

Many students are SO focused on the NEXT steps, like college and career that they create stress, anxiety and overwhelm in the moment that makes it difficult to enjoy time with friends, downtime at home and family fun too.

What's more... this becomes a HABIT.

Not only do these teens struggle with stress in school, they begin to take this perspective in all areas of life. (Both now and into adulthood.)

Constantly looking at what comes next.

Perpetually wondering, "Do I measure up?"

Dissatisfied with life and lacking joy.

Feeling like everything is SO hard because they are always focused on what they NEED to be and accomplish, rather than accepting and loving who they are right now while taking action steps to meet goals.

We teach our teen clients to use coping skills and mindfulness as a means to balance accepting life right now so they can actually enjoy it AND setting goals for future success.

This helps teens to learn how to regulate emotions and manage worry thoughts so that they don't take over and make life miserable.

When you're constantly focused on what you don't have, anxiety spirals into panic.

We know that change is impossible without acceptance, so let's help your teen learn to accept themselves AND learn to laugh this school year.

Here's an acronym that we'll teach in our Senior Year Strong Group:

😂 L.A.U.G.H.

Let go of worries

Apply yourself

Use coping skills

set Goals

Have fun!

This is the LAST week to apply for a space in the Senior Year Strong 12-week group series.