Youth Forum Parent Support Workshop Notes

Holly Pedersen PhD, MFT



Questions to audience…

Why are you here?

  • Previously hospitalized son
  • Middle school parent – fear of sending children to harmful environment
  • Solidarity – no students currently in school
  • Inability in community to tolerate really powerful emotion
  • Mindfulness and connecting at an empathetic level
  • Seeking clarity after many years without understanding
  • Society has changed. Many issues were here in the 70’s/80’s, but society has changed. All are responsible to work together to help

What feelings led you here?

Fear, confusion, insecurity

What questions brought you?

What do you want to walk away with?

  • Individually and collectively, what can we do to change?
  • This is a call for help and we need to respond


  • Framework for understanding, evaluating and building your teen’s resilience
  • Practical tools for supporting emotional well-being
  • Support as caregivers


Ability to:

  • Cope with everyday challenges
  • Deal effectively with stress, pressure

I have – connection

I am – purpose

I can – control some things


I have people around me who I trust; love me, no matter what; set limits for me; show me how to do things, help me; want me to learn to do things on my own; are role models

Good Parenting = Nurturing + Guidance + Limits

3:1 ratio of nurturing versus guiding and limit-setting interactions

C          Curiosity. Express curiosity about your teen; get curious not furious.

A          Acceptance. Communicate that you accept your teen & her feelings.

R          Respect. Share your admiration and high esteem for your teen.

E          Encouragement. Give praise & encouragement.

S          Support. Look for opportunities to help your teen – Alongside his growing independence are more child-like needs for assistance and care.

Creates mental model inside your child for (role modeling):

  •             Acceptance
  •             Security
  •             Connection

This connection provides a safe haven moving to a launching pad to independence

  • by transferring more of their primary connection to their peers
  • protective factor
  • bridge from dependence to independence

Action items:

  • time with friends is an important part of “to-do list”
  • another trusted adult outside the family is important

I am:

A person someone can like and love

Worthy of respect and care

Trusting that I will be okay no matter what

Allowed to feel

Caring, loving, and kind

A valuable, contributing member of my world

Able to feel hope

* Action Items:

Define and build upon strengths

Mastery over something that fits with who your child is and what interests her/him

Service to other builds confidence, purpose, hope

Define your own family culture

Your child’s guiding principles rather than society’s/this community’s, achievement-oriented focus in these areas:




Audience Question:  How do we deal with busy schedules and getting enough sleep?

Part of family culture needs to include this consideration and


  •             Start with sleep, then build schedule around that
  •             End screen time 30 minutes before bed
  •             Homework – 15 hours per week should be it (M. McGee)

Multicultural differences/different parenting styles

  • Parents’ history is real, difficult to develop consistency in parenting when cultural backgrounds are different
  • Takes a great deal of communication

– Workshop: group led by MFT was suggested

–  Seeking help can be tough, AND by talking through and seeking therapy when needed, parents are modeling helpful behavior

–  Mindful parenting class at PA Univ. in April


I Can:

  • Feel, tolerate, and manage my emotions
  • Communicate my feelings and needs
  • Build flexibility
  • Build emotional vocabulary – feeling language

Use emotion language yourself, “I feel…”

Emotion management

If you identify/label feeling

  • Actually calms feeling (brain scans show this)

To accept and validate feeling

  • Normalizes the feeling

Choose how to express/what to do with the feeling

  • Journaling is a great activity for expressing feelings

* Action item:

Understand hour child’s typical response to distress:

Fear & Anxiety?

Sadness & hopelessness?     (more worrisome)

Anger & Rage?

Audience Question:  What about “I can’t”?

First, name the feeling and “let’s see how we can make this work”

Carol Dweck’s book “Mindset”

Control strategies for: I CAN

P    Present. Stay emotionally present

A    Attune. Help your child to feel felt

V    Validate. Show how you get how she/anyone could feel this way

E    Evaluate. Help identify need, strategy, next step (move into problem-solving)

When we fight what we feel, the feeling gets bigger.

  • After 90 seconds, an unimpeded emotion will begin to transform on its own.

Teach problem-solving skills

  • Calm feelings first
  • Identify problem & underlying meaning

Reframe, redefine, refine problem

  • Brainstorm solutions

Plan A, Plan B, Plan C -> Understand there are multiple paths to same goal

  • Teaching coping skills:


Problem – solving

Letting go


* Action Item:  Develop/identify personal philosophy of coping with disappointment and adversity à hope

Audience Comments/questions:  It’s hard to not talk too much

  • A little bit of space
  • Be ready to stop what you’re doing

Social media

  • often encompasses their whole world
  • sharing test scores via social media adds to academic pressure
    • teach them about confidential information
    • You don’t want to be that guy
  • How do we demonstrate respect for privacy versus monitoring to see what they are doing online?
    • Set clear guidelines up front for openness (for accounts you know about)
  • Ask them to teach you about sites (play dumb), putting them in the driver’s seat

Good ways to connect…

Daily family practice of reading, meditation, family dinners

Love and logic workshop tip

  • Pick a key word, say it repeatedly (Wow, or Bummer)
    • Gets them to start talking

Need for AP classes was questioned

  • Schools are beginning to look at this and question the benefits vs. risks
  • Colleges look at whether student is taking the most rigorous classes available to them.
  • School sends profile to colleges that will include limit of AP classes, or elimination of AP classes

Note: Some parents are interested in creating a peer group for teens in this area. The closest one is in SF. An MFT is needed to facilitate.

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