Talking To Teens: Expert Tips for Parenting Teenagers

Parent-teen researcher Andy Earle talks with various experts about the art and science of parenting teenagers. Find more at

Ep 3: Handling Self-Centered Teenagers
Trailer 19 min 32 sec

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There’s a lot to be worried about these days!  Whether you’re feeling anxious about the ongoing pandemic or just concerned that your teen is struggling in school, it’s easy to let distress clutter your mind. When we let that anxiety crawl around in our brain, we often find ourselves distracted from the better moments in life, thinking obsessively about a work meeting when we’re supposed to be spending quality time with our families. Interestingly, that voice inside our head–the one that’s always muttering about the past and the future–can be useful, if we know how to harness it. This inner dialogue comes from an evolutionary need to learn from past mistakes to survive the next challenge, and can help us immensely when tackling life’s challenges! If parents can learn to steer this voice in a positive direction, they can help teens do the same. That way, these young adults will know how to handle that tricky inner dialogue before they head off into the real world.Our guest this week is one of the world’s leading experts on controlling the conscious mind as well as an award-winning professor of psychology and business at the University of Michigan! His name is Ethan Kross, and his new book is called Chatter: The Voice in Our Head, Why It Matters, and How to Harness It. In our interview, Ethan and I are getting into how and why we talk to ourselves, and what we can do to make the most of our inner voice.In this week’s interview, we’re discussing the idea of being “present”...and why it doesn’t always help us feel better. Plus, we’re diving into tons of other strategies for harnessing your inner voice that might be the perfect solution to that constant worrying!

Nov 28

25 min 31 sec

Click for full show notes, exercises, and parenting scripts from this episodeWe often hear that the secret to a healthy relationship of any kind is communication...but what does that really mean? Does it mean apologizing when we feel we’ve messed up, or daring to discuss uncomfortable topics? Are there certain things we shouldn’t say, and how do we know when we’re communicating too much? How do we get teens who are checked out to actually hear what we’re saying? These questions and more are keeping us from having an open, communicative relationship with our teens.But when bad communication causes so many problems, it’s understandable that you might be hesitant. When you’re feeling frustrated or upset with your teen, certain ways of communicating can deepen the divide between the two of you instead of building a bridge. Teens who are dealing with pressures from every side of life can sometimes drive us up the wall–and despite our best efforts, we too often let our communication fall into a pattern of yelling, nagging and not really listening to what they have to say. This week, we’re helping you fight the tendency to slip into all the fussing and fighting. By giving you the guidance to create a healthier, more communicative relationship with your teen, our hope is to bring some harmony to your home. Our guest is David Bradford, professor at Stanford’s graduate school of business and author of Connect: Building Exceptional Relationships with Family, Friends, and Colleagues. David’s been teaching a seminar at Stanford on interpersonal dynamics for two decades, and he’s here to share some of the most valuable insights from his work with us.David and I are discussing why teens often refuse to hear anything we have to say, and how we can open up a stronger, more positive channel of communication between us and them. We’re providing alternatives to giving advice, which, according to David, in’ts as effective as we think! Plus, we’re discussing what David calls the “three realities of communication” to uncover why our misunderstandings can so often lead to hurt feelings or accusations.Click for full show notes, exercises, and parenting scripts from this episode

Nov 21

33 min 30 sec

Click for full show notes, exercises, and parenting scripts from this episodeIt’s hard to think of a group that gets labelled more than teenagers. Whether we declare them slackers, class clowns, popular kids or outcasts, it can be easy to put them in boxes based on their personalities! But have you ever considered that personalities aren’t as constant as you might think? Maybe teens’ personalities change with time as they grow or fluctuate depending on who they’re with or where they are. They might even have the power to intentionally change their own personalities if they put their minds to it.The debate over whether human personality is stable or fluid is one that reaches back through the history of psychology. Some scientists in the past believed that our personalities were set in stone by age thirty, while others believe there’s no such thing as a set personality at all! Are our personalities decided at birth, or are they decided by the events of our lives? Do we have a role in choosing our own personality or is it something that just happens to us?These are the kinds of questions we’re asking Christian Jarrett this week. He’s been a leading cognitive neuroscientist for two decades with work featured on the BBC, in Vice, Guardian, GQ and more! His book, Be Who You Want: Unlocking the Science of Personality Change, tackles commonly asked questions we all have about defining our personalities and changing ourselves for the better. He’s here to cover some of the most interesting points and give advice for parents of teens with rapidly changing personalities.In our interview, Christian explains why teens are especially vulnerable to personality change! We’re also covering the effects of social situations on teens’ personalities, and how you can help your teen use certain techniques to actively work towards being the person they want to be.Click for full show notes, exercises, and parenting scripts from this episode

Nov 14

24 min 29 sec

Click for full show notes, exercises, and parenting scripts from this episode When our middle or high schoolers are driving us up the wall, we often attribute their wacky behavior to hormones. They weren’t this crazy when they were younger, and we pray they won’t be this unpredictable as adults, so we assume it must be those teenage chemicals in their brains making them act up. It’s just a biological process, and there’s nothing we can do...right?But attributing all of our teens’ behavior to hormones can bring up some complicated questions for parents. Like, with everything going on in her brain already, would it be wise to put my daughter on birth control? Or, is it normal, hormonal, behavior that keeps my teenager out late, causes him to drive like a maniac? What if there are other factors to consider when pondering these questions that can make things a little clearer for parents?To find out, we’re talking to Dr. Sarah McKay, renowned neuroscientist, to find out what role hormones really play in teen’s development...and what popular ideas are actually misconceptions! Dr. McKay is an Oxford educated doctor with years of experience researching brian science. Finding herself intrigued by outdated or misconstrued ideas about the female mind, she decided to write The Women’s Brain Book, a comprehensive look at the development of women’s neural pathways.  In this week’s episode, Dr. McKay’s demystifying the role of hormones during puberty–and explaining why we give them too much weight. Plus, we’re discussing the specific brain changes our pubescent kids are experiencing, and getting into how gender stereotypes seep into what should be purely scientific perspectives of puberty.Click for full show notes, exercises, and parenting scripts from this episode 

Nov 7

28 min 27 sec

Click for full show notes, exercises, and parenting scripts from this episodeWe’re all familiar with the term “boys will be boys.” It’s often used when guys are physical, detached, aggressive, and violent. making it seem as though these behaviors are the norm. Much of society acts as though these traditionally “masculine” tendencies are simply intrinsic to male DNA...which can make us feel like there’s nothing we can do when our sons get into trouble for it.But what if there was a way we could talk to our boys to help them realize that this behavior is not the only option? What if we could show them that, by slowing down and thinking about the situation at hand, they may find it wiser to simply keep the peace instead of causing a ruckus? This week, we’re revealing how you can sit down with your son and prevent all the brawling before it starts, or get through to a teen boy who’s masculinity might need a makeover.Our guest is Andrew Reiner, author of Better Boys, Better Men: The New Masculinity That Creates Greater Courage and Emotional Resiliency. Andrew is a professor at Towson University, where he teaches a seminar entitled “The Changing Face of Masculinity.” His work has been featured in the New York Times, the Washington Post, NPR and more. He speaks at schools and conferences around the globe...but today he’s sitting down to speak with us!Andrew and I are discussing why it is that boys are compelled to react with violence or aggression when triggered. We’re also diving deep into the importance of vulnerability, and how we can help our sons accumulate a supportive community where they can express their emotions without fear.Click for full show notes, exercises, and parenting scripts from this episode

Oct 31

32 min 10 sec

Click for full show notes, exercises, and parenting scripts from this episodeIt feels like these days, we’re all a little more tired than we’d like to be! We pour ourselves an extra cup of coffee in the afternoon, feed our kids nutritious meals to give them a boost, and declare an early bedtime...but none of it seems to help! You and your kids might feel bogged down by 3 PM, or struggle to finish a basic to-do list. We’re trying to take care of ourselves, so why are we feeling so exhausted?Turns out, the answer is a lot more complicated than you might think–and it’s based in sophisticated nutrition science. Your body’s natural processes have been interrupted by our society’s agricultural and medical practices, and it might be causing you to have a fraction of the energy you once had! The chemicals in your food and the prescriptions you’re taking may be doing more harm than good when it comes to creating a happier, healthier life for yourself and your kids.To shine some light on this energy deficiency, we’re sitting down with Dr. Steven Gundry! He’s a former cardiac surgeon and the author of several successful books on nutritional science, including his new book: The Energy Paradox: What to Do When Your Get-Up-and-Go Has Got Up and Gone. In this week’s episode, we’re diving into the mechanisms at play in our body’s digestion and immune systems–and what we’re doing that’s causing those mechanisms to get all kinds of messed up.Ever heard of a microbiome? We’re talking all about how this home for trillions of microorganisms inside your gut serves as the center of your body’s functions….and how our practices are rendering it ineffective. Plus, we’re getting into the real truth about fiber, and unpacking the nuances of metabolic flexibility to explain why we just can’t seem to stay energized.Click for full show notes, exercises, and parenting scripts from this episode

Oct 24

28 min 11 sec

Click for full show notes, exercises, and parenting scripts from this episodeParenting is never predictable. Even when we think we know our kid, some new interest or personality trait suddenly comes out of left field. Maybe your kid has always been a total carnivore, but this week, all their friends are they want to be vegan too! Yesterday, your kid wanted to be a pro basketball player, but today they want to be a painter...tomorrow they’ll tell you they’re destined to be a scientist. It can be dizzying to keep up with your teens as they grow and evolve everyday!But what about when a kid who’s always happy and smiling suddenly seems tired and disinterested in things? Or when your teen who swore they’d never smoke accidentally leaves a vape in the kitchen? When these kinds of unexpected parenting troubles pop up, it’s hard to adjust and react effectively. It can be incredibly challenging to avoid the urge to panic, and nearly impossible to remain cool and parent through peril.According to this week’s guest, the secret to handling the ups and downs is to define our values–and stick to them. His name is Frank Figliuzzi and he’ the former assistant director of the FBI, served as FBI chief inspector for sensitive internal inquiries, and is now a national security analyst for NBC news! His new book, The FBI Way: Inside the Bureau’s Code of Excellence, highlights the principles that make the FBI so successful at handling crises and explains how you can apply those same principles when things go awry with your teen.In the episode, we’re touching on what Frank calls “the seven Cs”, or seven fundamentals that parents can practice to create a harmonious house and handle conflict when it arises. We’re covering the importance of sticking to a code of values, practicing clarity, and enforcing consistent consequences–but not without compassion, credibility and conservancy. Click for full show notes, exercises, and parenting scripts from this episode

Oct 17

27 min 5 sec

Anxiety is a pretty common feeling–you likely know how it feels to have your heart suddenly race in your chest, your palms go sweaty and your words turn to gibberish before a big presentation or confrontation. Having these anxious feelings is bad enough when it’s an isolated incident, but many of us–and our kids–might be feeling anxiety every day! This could be caused by anything, from eating to driving to social situations! For kids handling school, sports, clubs, college apps and friendship drama, anxiety may be a frequent presence keeping them from living their best life.It seems like this anxiety is simply an unavoidable, biological force, but our guest this week is encouraging us to think about anxious behaviors a little differently. Instead of viewing them as something we have little control over, he’s telling us how anxiety may actually just be a force of habit, and therefore something we can change! Anxious responses follow the same patterns as habits, are often caused by similar triggers, and, as we’re discussing this week, can be treated in similar ways.If you’re looking to heal you or your teen’s anxious patterns, this is the episode for you! Our guest is Judson Brewer, author of Unwinding Anxiety: New Science Shows How to Break the Cycles of Worry and Fear to Heal Your Mind. Judson is not only an internationally renowned psychiatrist and neuroscientist, but also the director of research and innovation at Brown’s mindfulness center. His 2016 Ted Talk, tilted “A Simple Way to Break a Bad Habit, has over 16 million views on YouTube!In our interview, we’re diving into how anxious tendencies act just like habits–with triggers, behavior and rewards. Plus, we’re getting into how you can understand and reflect on your own behaviors, if you just have the courage to be curious.

Oct 10

24 min 11 sec

For many of us, education is the #1 priority for our kids. A good education can help lift kids out of poverty, can ensure a financially stable and independent future, and can open up the doors of opportunity and possibility, no matter what they dream of doing! While hobbies, social life and athleticism are all important parts of helping kids become well rounded, education is key to giving them the ticket to a prosperous life.But the sad truth is that our education system might not be doing what we need it to do! In many ways, our current curriculum takes the wrong approach, leaving kids without the knowledge they need to succeed in adulthood. Today’s schooling is especially ineffective for students who are not so affluent, with a rising gap in test scores and academic performance between those on the highest and lowest ends of the socioeconomic spectrum.So how can we create an effective, equitable system that gives our kids the chance they deserve? Our guest, Natalie Wexler, is here to help us find out. She’s the author of The Knowledge Gap: The Hidden Cause of America's Broken Education System--and how to Fix it. In our interview, she’s bringing attention to the serious issues facing today’s students, and how schools can start doing better by those they teach.Natalie and I are discussing how our schools are focused on helping kids develop critical thinking skills instead of helping them build up a base of knowledge. Although this might sound like the right approach, it’s actually doing a disservice to kids all across the country! We’re also getting into why our nation’s wealth gap is so present in our education system, and discussing how you as a parent can give your kids’ education a boost.

Oct 3

28 min 22 sec

Click for full show notes, exercises, and parenting scripts from this episodeThere’s one slice of pizza left, and all three of your kids want it. One kid argues that he called dibs on it before it even came out of the oven, so it’s definitely his. Another says that since she had track practice today, she’s the hungriest–and therefore it belongs to her. The third declares that the two slices he already ate were wayyyy smaller than the rest, making him the rightful owner of this final piece. Unable to stop bickering over it, they look to you to decide who gets to eat it….but it seems like all three of them are making a pretty good case!Decisions like this can feel impossible, but as parents, we face them almost everyday. Not only are there battles of ownership between the kids themselves, but you and your teen also likely argue over who owns their phones, the car, their bedroom, and even perhaps their body. (Who should get the final say on blue hair and belly button piercings?) When problems arise, it’s not always easy to distinguish what belongs to who, and that can make life pretty difficult!This week, we’re talking about the rules of ownership….and what makes them so complicated. Our guests are Michael Heller and James Salzman, authors of the new book Mine!: How the Hidden Rules of Ownership Control Our Lives. In their work as lawyers and law professors, James and Michael have spent a lot of time thinking about possession and what entitles someone to the rights of ownership.To help us understand how disputes over ownership arise, Michael, James and I are discussing the six rules that people use to argue that they have possession of something. We’re also chatting about why companies think they have the right to sell your data and covering how you can use your ownership position to teach kids important life lessons.Click for full show notes, exercises, and parenting scripts from this episode

Sep 26

28 min 29 sec

Click for full show notes, exercises, and parenting scripts from this episodeDealing with depression is tough–whether you’re battling it yourself or trying to help a teen who’s struggling. Depression can distance us from friends and loved ones, cause us to stop eating and sleeping and make things we once enjoyed seem pointless. If left untreated, depression can even be life-threatening. As more and more people–especially teens– find themselves struggling with depression in the midst of the pandemic, it’s more tempting than ever to search for remedies to this complicated condition. What can we do to make life with depression more livable?For some of us, the answer may lie in laughter. You read that right. Laughter. Sometimes, in order to process our emotions and make light of the things that plague us, the answers lie in comedy! Joking about depression might not always be the most conventional coping mechanism, but it can do wonders for making such a terrifying, overwhelming illness more manageable on the daily.Our guest this week, John Moe, is no stranger to laughing his way through tough times. He’s the author of The Hilarious World of Depression and the host of the podcast Depresh Mode, where he engages in interesting and introspective discussions with guests about mental health and more!. As someone who’s lived with major depressive disorder since his early teens, John knows that helping a kid through depression is not easy. That’s why he’s here to answer questions, give advice...and make us laugh!Want to talk to your teen about depression but don’t know where to start? We’re getting into having conversations about mental health in this week’s episode. We’re also covering how you can spot depression in a teen, and how a little humor can help you and your teen work through the difficulties of depression together.Click for full show notes, exercises, and parenting scripts from this episode

Sep 19

32 min 58 sec

Click for full show notes, exercises, and parenting scripts from this episodeWe all remember middle school….probably not too fondly! Between the relentless social drama to the embarrassing body changes, middle school is pretty much the worst. Not only are kids today dealing with the things we dealt with, they’re also juggling the pressures of social media, an intense political climate and a terrifying pandemic as the cherry on top! Growing up through all this is no easy task, and neither is parenting our kids through it.It’s hard enough watching teens struggle with these difficult years, but when they won’t talk to us, it can feel impossible to be a good parent. Unfortunately, it's not uncommon for pubescent kids to suddenly shut parents out with no explanation. With everything going on in their lives, a lot of kids feel overwhelmed and afraid to open up, or they think it’s their job to go at it alone. How can we get through to preteens and remind them that we’re here to help them get through the perils of middle school life?To find out, we’re talking with Judith Warner, author of And Then They Stopped Talking to Me: Making Sense of Middle School. Judith is the bestselling author of multiple parenting books as well as a senior fellow at the Center for American progress–and those are just a few of her many accolades! In her work and personal life, Judith recognized that parents of middle schoolers seemed to really be struggling, but not sharing their woes with one another out of embarrassment or fear. That’s why she’s decided to write this book: to help parents wrap their heads around this wild time, and realize they’re not alone.In the episode, Judith and I are covering why middle school is one of the most painful periods–but also one of the most important. We’re discussing why this age is so hard on parents, and what we can do about it. Plus, we’re addressing how you can get a middle schooler to finally open up, even if they’ve been shutting you out! Click for full show notes, exercises, and parenting scripts from this episode

Sep 12

21 min 18 sec

Click for full show notes, exercises, and parenting scripts from this episodeEnforcing rules on teens is no easy task. Half the time they ignore you, sometimes they lie to you, and they love to find plenty of reasons to do the exact opposite of what you asked! As they gain independence, teens just don’t want to abide by your rules...even if they’re living in your house.Plus, as much as we want kids to listen to us and take us seriously as authority figures...gosh dang it, we want them to like us! We know that it's important to give kids restrictions and limits, but it’s hard to see why when they’re slamming the door and screaming at us for taking their XBox away. To be a parent is to constantly walk that fine line between being close to your kid and knowing when it’s time to be tough….and it can be really hard!Luckily, William Stixrud and Ned Johnson are back to give us more great advice on finding that parenting balance. They were last on the show to discuss their bestseller, The Self-Driven Child: The Science and Sense of Giving Your Kids More Control Over Their Lives.  Today, they're here to share some groundbreaking material from their brand new book, What Do You Say? How to Talk with Kids to Build Motivation, Stress Tolerance and a Happy Home. Although they’re big believers in giving kids autonomy, Bill and Ned know that parents still have an irreplaceable role in guiding kids through the perils of adolescence. That’s why we’re discussing how parents can best respond to a child who comes to them with a crisis. Plus, we’re debating the idea that kids should always “try their best” and revealing how you can start equipping kids with the independence they need to survive college and beyond.Click for full show notes, exercises, and parenting scripts from this episode

Sep 5

27 min 34 sec

Click for full show notes, exercises, and parenting scripts from this episodeFalling into a destructive cycle with your teen is far too easy–and incredibly frustrating. You yell at them to stop coming home late every night, or beg them to stop neglecting their homework for their Netflix….but they just don’t listen. Even offering rewards or doling out punishments never seems to work. It can feel like you’re living the same day over and over again, with no end in sight!On top of feeling like your words are falling on deaf ears, all the fussing and fighting can start to put a strain on you and your teen’s relationship. It’s hard when you feel like you and your kid are enemies, or like the two of you are always bickering instead of connecting with one another. How can we get kids to listen, while also keeping our relationships harmonious?If we really want to end the cycle and connect to our teens again, we’ll have to change the fundamentals of our approach. Our guest this week is Matis Miller, author of The Uncontrollable Child: Understand and Manage Your Child's Disruptive Moods with Dialectical Behavior Therapy Skills. Matis has been working as a clinical psychologist for over fifteen years, and has some groundbreaking ideas about how you can transform your parenting philosophy to bring peace to your home again.Are you familiar with dialectic behavioral therapy? In this week’s episode, Matis and I are breaking down this fascinating method of clinical therapy, and sharing how you can apply it to tackle your toughest parenting battles. We’re also talking about how judgement and invalidation might be harming your parenting approach, and discussing how you can dish out more effective rewards and punishments.Click for full show notes, exercises, and parenting scripts from this episode

Aug 29

26 min 54 sec

Click for full show notes, exercises, and parenting scripts from this episodeStories of addiction and overdoses are incredibly scary. We hear about teens who lose their way after getting in with the wrong crowd, or watch friends and family struggle to keep their lives together while battling substance abuse. As a parent, the last thing you want is for kids to fall into a destructive pattern of addiction  that slowly chips away at their mental and physical health….but teens are impressionable and drug and alcohol use among adolescents is on the rise. What can we do to make sure our teens don’t develop  a substance use disorder?Today, we’re talking about prevention. So often, we view substance abuse from the end, looking at the rock bottom as the starting place for recovery. And while it’s important to acknowledge those life-changing moments of realization, it’s time to focus on how we can stop our teens from using drugs at all. In this episode, we’re getting into the steps you can take right now to ensure your teen is safe from substance abuse. Our guest is Jessica Lahey, author of Addiction Inoculation: Raising Healthy Kids in a Culture of Dependence. With over 20 years of teaching and parenting experience under her belt, Jessica began to write about her experiences, becoming a blogger, journalist, and eventually a best-selling author. Her work with adolescents in rehab clinics pushed her to research and write on the subject of substance abuse–primarily how we can prevent it instead of waiting until our teens hit rock bottom. In our interview, we’re debating the existence of gateway drugs, explaining how kids get into substance use, and deconstructing the popular myth that it’s better to give kids wine at the dinner table before they reach drinking age. Plus, we’re covering things like academic failure, monitoring teens online activities and more!Click for full show notes, exercises, and parenting scripts from this episode

Aug 22

30 min 10 sec

Click for full show notes, exercises, and parenting scripts from this episodeIt’s important for our teens to connect to others. When we send our kids off into the world, we want to know that they’ll be able to bond with friends, work associates, and romantic partners. Since we won’t be around all the time, we hope that they can find nourishing, fulfilling relationships with other people! But some young adults aren’t quite able to form those types of connections. They become too clingy or distant, trying to force people in or push people out. Not every teen has the capability to maintain healthy relationships!And while the teen years are influential, attachment styles are usually developed in the first three years of a child’s life–meaning it’s not always easy to help teens who are struggling to form strong bonds. But if we can educate ourselves and our families about the psychology of attachment, we can guide teens to recognize their own patterns. If we give them the ability to analyze their own behavior, they can work towards creating the positive friendships and romantic relationships they deserve.In this week’s episode, we’re talking to Peter Lovenheim, author of The Attachment Effect: Exploring the Powerful Ways Our Earliest Bond Shapes Our Relationships and Lives. Peter is a journalist and author who dedicated six years to interviewing experts and scouring publications to understand the ins and outs of how we bond to one another! Now, he’s here to touch on some fascinating facts about relationships, attachments, and more.Today, we’re getting into the different styles of attachment: secure, avoidant, and anxious–and talking about what parents can do to help teens who have difficulty with friendships or early romantic partners. Pate and I are also sharing the strengths and weaknesses of each kind of attachment, and why it can be so important to help teens discover their own personal tendencies when it comes to forming bonds with others.Click for full show notes, exercises, and parenting scripts from this episode

Aug 15

23 min 56 sec

Click for full show notes, exercises, and parenting scripts from this episodeGetting kids to eat healthy is no easy task. Not only do they resist apples and broccoli, they tend to have a fit when you don’t take them to McDonalds after soccer practice or reach for cookies at the grocery store. Plus, it’s hard enough to keep yourself on a healthy diet! After a long day of working and parenting, it almost seems like second nature to fill up a glass of wine and microwave some nachos!And although you might put your own health on the back burner, creating  a healthy family includes healthy parents too. If you aren’t taking care of yourself, you’re not being your best self, meaning you aren’t fully there for your kids! Plus, how are you going to convince your kids to be active and fill their body with nutrients when you’re on the couch eating a Snickers bar?To understand how both parents and kids can lead happier, more nutritious lifestyles, we’re talking to Sid Garza-Hillman, author of Raising Healthy Parents: Small Steps, Less Stress, and a Thriving Family. As a nutritionist, Sid has guided individuals and families away from unhealthy habits into prosperous ways of living! His groundbreaking approach to nutrition and holistic health emphasizes the value of reducing stress and taking small steps to arrive at a healthier life.In our interview, we’re covering the different kinds of stress, and how too much stress on a parent can lead not only to unhealthy living, but also make life tougher for the entire family. We’re getting into some nutrition science and psychology to reveal how you and your family can change your eating habits for good. Plus, we’re discussing how you can introduce healthier options to your kids without them running in the other direction.Click for full show notes, exercises, and parenting scripts from this episode

Aug 8

30 min 50 sec

Click for full show notes, exercises, and parenting scripts from this episodeWe’ve always been told that the secret to getting a teen into college is for them to look perfect on paper. We nag them to join the honors society, sign them up for a hundred SAT tests, or even convince them to quit guitar lessons to make time for academic decathlon. But what if simply checking all the right boxes of what colleges are “looking for” isn’t the right approach anymore? Could it be that admissions officers are getting a little bored of reading essay after essay about the challenges of AP biology?We might just be so focused on helping teens fit the mold we aren’t encouraging them to think outside of the box! More than just routine extracurriculars or high test scores, admissions officers want to see that kids have unique talents and passions. Instead of pushing kids to drop dance for the debate team, maybe it’s time we talked to them about how their natural interests can propel them towards a brighter future.To get a behind-the-scenes peek at what college admissions officers are really looking for, we’re talking to Aviva Legatt, author of Get Real and Get In: How to Get Into the College of Your Dreams by Being Your Authentic Self. She’s also the founder of Ivy Insight, the gold standard in college admissions consulting! Her advice for your teen? Forget what they’ve been taught about being the “perfect” college applicant, and be themselves instead!Aviva and I are talking about what she calls the “impressiveness paradox”, or why fancy-shmancy credentials alone might not help your teen get into the school of their dreams. We’re also covering how teens can tap into their passions to find their potential, and the value of making connections with people on campus before even submitting their application...Click for full show notes, exercises, and parenting scripts from this episode

Aug 1

24 min 39 sec

Click for full show notes, exercises, and parenting scripts from this episodeDeciding on a college is one of the biggest decisions teens will make in their lives. There are so many factors to consider. How big are the  classes? Will they be able to make connections in their chosen field? What do the dorms look like? With so many different schools and so many majors, finding the right fit can feel impossible.But there’s one aspect of the college search we don’t always talk about, even though it’s arguably the most important of all: the finances.  We’re often so focused on helping young adults find a place that feels right or looks beautiful that we neglect to dive deep into how we’re going to foot the bill, in the present and down the line, in the case of loans. And even if we do find a way to pay, we often don’t pause to consider whether the degree we’re paying for is going to deliver a return on investment! This is especially true for those of us who are taking out loans. If we’re going to be in debt, it’s wise to know if and when we’ll eventually be able to pay it off.To really wrap our heads around college finances, we’re talking to Beth Akers, author of Making College Pay: An Economist Explains How to Make a Smart Bet on Higher Education. Beth is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute and an expert in the economics of labor and higher education. She believes that everyone should have access to comprehensive financial information about college, so they can avoid making a decision they regret.In our interview, we’re  breaking down why we often don’t talk about the financial aspects of choosing a college. We're also talking about how a student’s major affects their future prospects, and revealing a smarter way to go about taking out loans. If you’re searching for the best way to educate your kids without breaking the bank, this episode is for you!Click for full show notes, exercises, and parenting scripts from this episode

Jul 25

22 min 51 sec

Click for full show notes, exercises, and parenting scripts from this episodeSome teens just don’t want to commit to anything! They go to one lacrosse team practice but quickly lose interest, quit piano lessons when the songs get difficult and avoid debate team meetings after school...even though they signed up for the whole year! As a parent, it can be frustrating to watch them shrug off any kind of obligation. You know getting involved in activities will help them gain new skills and make friends. So how can you get them to see how valuable commitments can be?The truth is that kids these days are stuck in browsing mode. With so many distractions, it’s hard for them to focus on one thing. And even when they find something they care about, society tells them not to settle, not to get tied down, not to stick with anything that isn’t their “perfect” calling. But if we can help kids understand just how rewarding it is to find a lasting passion or commit to a craft, we can guide them towards a brighter, happier future.This week, we’re talking to Pete Davis, author of Dedicated: The Case for Commitment in the Age of Infinite Browsing. Pete spoke at Harvard University’s 2018 graduation ceremony about the value of being committed to something meaningful. Since then, the video of his speech has been viewed over 30 million times! His inspiring message about dedication might be just what your teen needs to hear. Pete and I dive into the power of commitment in this week’s episode. We cover the importance of helping teens find a craft, discuss why kids should give up on the notion of finding their “calling”, and explain how it can be valuable for young adults to pick something and stick to it! If you want to help your kid find a fulfilling future but don’t quite know what advice to give, you won’t want to miss this episode!Click for full show notes, exercises, and parenting scripts from this episode

Jul 18

28 min 50 sec

Click for full show notes, exercises, and parenting scripts from this episodeOur kids are growing up in a world where technology is expanding at a mind blowing pace! Every year they find themselves with shiny new social media apps, ten new video games that they HAVE to play, and fancy devices that are so much cooler than what came out last year. As a parent you may feel unsure about the best way to raise your teens  in this tech-filled world. How can you get them to put down their phone and focus on college apps? Or even just go outside and get a little exercise?While all this tech can be a distraction, it can also be pretty dangerous. There are some pretty frightening parts of the online landscape! Kids might accidentally find themselves entrenched in a hate group or engaged in dark, fringe content. Not to mention that as coders and computer experts become better and better at programming artificial intelligence, teens might find their future jobs at risk–or even experience prejudice as a result of robotic resume readers! How is that all possible, you ask? John Zerilli, AI expert and this week’s guest, is here to tell us. He’s a research fellow at the University of Cambridge, and the author of A Citizen’s Guide to Artificial Intelligence. John predicts that in the coming years, AI is poised to infiltrate every area of our lives. He believes everyone has a right to be educated about it! He's here today to chat about how we can guide our teens through the coming technological revolution and ensure that they have bright and prosperous futures.In today’s interview, we’re discussing how we can make cyberspace a safer place for kids. We’re also talking about how the job market is changing as AI grows in relevance and explains how racial and gender biases can be perpetuated by computer programs. So stick around, because you're not going to want to miss out on all this fascinating tech talk!Click for full show notes, exercises, and parenting scripts from this episode

Jul 11

27 min

Click for full show notes, exercises, and parenting scripts from this episodeGetting teens to sit down and practice math can feel impossible. We go around in circles trying to convince them to practice the algebra portion of the SAT, or nag them after school to finish their calculus homework before turning on the XBox. No matter how many times we assure them that math skills are critical to a successful life, they just don’t seem to care! We can lead them to water, but we just can’t make them drink.According to today’s guest, the secret to motivating math-reluctant teens might lie in cognitive science. In her recent work, she’s discovered and documented some fascinating findings about the complexities of the human mind. Specifically, she's gained some unique insights on the way humans learn. She’s here to tell parents how they can help kids not only master STEM material–but have fun doing it!Her name is Barbara Oakley and she’s the author of both the bestselling A Mind For Numbers and the brand new Uncommon Sense: Teaching Practical Insights in Brain Science to Help Students Learn. Although she’s now a professor of engineering at Rochester College, she was once a student who struggled in science and math. When one of her own students prompted her to think critically about how she became a whiz at crunching numbers, she decided to dive into the neuroscience of learning to figure out how students can master math, even if they tend to lag behind.In our interview, we’re discussing the difference between long term memory and working memory, and sharing how understanding these systems in our minds can help us become better learners. We’re also chatting about the importance of practice and how you can get kids to actually do it! In addition, we’re breaking down misconceptions about procrastination and how to motivate a teen who’s more interested in video games than cracking open the books...Click for full show notes, exercises, and parenting scripts from this episode

Jul 4

27 min 23 sec

Click for full show notes, exercises, and parenting scripts from this episodeWhen kids are driving us up the wall and we want to regain control, we add rules. Then, later down the line...we add more rules. Soon we find ourselves trying to figure out a rule for every video game and homework assignment. As humans and parents, we’re wired to add more and more structure, attempting to create a sense of security. But sometimes the answer doesn’t lie in addition–it lies in subtraction!We often fail to consider that maybe instead of putting more on our plate, we can instead take something away. This is because in our evolutionary pursuit of survival, humans have gained an affinity for acquisition. We used to hunt and gather to acquire food, but in our modern world, this need to attain means we like to add new objects, responsibilities, and ideas to our life. When uncertainty rears its head, we automatically think addition is the answer. However, if we consider letting something go instead, we might see a better path was right in front of us all along.In today’s episode, we’re talking to Leidy Klotz, author of Subtract: The Untapped Science of Less. Leidy pulls from his innovative behavioral research and years of design and engineering experience to break down why we as a species feel inclined to add more and more to our lives without removing the things that drag us down.Leidy and I are discussing why it is that our brains are so predisposed to pile more on without considering the possibility of letting something go. We also cover how we can help teens make some smart subtractions when it comes to technology, and explain how you and your teen can practice subtraction in everyday life.Click for full show notes, exercises, and parenting scripts from this episode

Jun 27

22 min 39 sec

Click for full show notes, exercises, and parenting scripts from this episodeLet’s be honest–the pressure of the college application process is enough to drive anyone crazy. Both you and your kids might find yourselves losing sleep and shedding tears over the endless rampage of SAT scores, personal essays and scholarship applications. It’s so intense that celebrities are willing to bribe schools and admissions officers with thousands of dollars just to get their kid’s feet in the door!Although you just want the best for your kid, it’s easy to get caught up in the competition of it all and become another expectant force breathing down their necks. You might find yourself so obsessed with whether or not they get in that you forget to notice all the hard work and character growth they’ve exhibited throughout the process. To understand how we can guide kids through college apps and other teenage chaos, we’re sitting down with educational consultants Cynthia Clumeck Muchnick and Jenn Curtis. Their new book, The Parent Compass: Navigating Your Teen's Wellness and Academic Journey in Today's Competitive World, is a guide for parents who are feeling uncertain about the application cycle, phones at the dinner table, and more!In our interview, the three of us discuss the definition of a “parent compass” and how to help kids navigate the tech filled world they’re growing up in. We also dive into how we can help teens reevaluate goal setting, especially when it comes to college admissions.Click for full show notes, exercises, and parenting scripts from this episode

Jun 20

27 min 9 sec

Click for full show notes, exercises, and parenting scripts from this episodeWith so much fake news flying around on social media and the internet  becoming more and more politically polarizing each day,  it’s easy to be worried about whether or not our teens can think for themselves.  On top of online influences, teens are also susceptible to pressure from their peers in real life, who threaten to paint them as outcasts if they hold a minority opinion. With all these forces against us, raising independent thinkers with their own opinions, values, and moral codes is not easy.To make matters even more challenging, psychological studies inform us that humans are fundamentally wired to abandon our own thoughts and observations to conform to majority opinion. Not only that, but we tend to only associate with those who agree with us–keeping us from questioning our assumptions and challenging our own perspectives. If we want to raise teens with strong critical thinking skills, it might be time to teach them the value of disagreeing with others.That’s why we’re sitting down With Charlan Nemeth this week. Charlan is the author of In Defense of Troublemakers: the Power of Dissent in Life and Business, as well as a professor of psychology at the University of California Berkeley.  After working as researcher and consultant specializing in influence and decision making, Charlan has become an expert on the ways dissent can  be a powerful force in changing the world.In our interview, Charlan and I discuss how even one dissenter can deeply influence the way a group of people approaches an issue. We also talk about why it can be so hard for teens to present dissenting opinions to their peers, and what parents can do to raise  kids who are unafraid to disagree with the majority.Click for full show notes, exercises, and parenting scripts from this episode

Jun 13

25 min 18 sec

Click for full show notes, exercises, and parenting scripts from this episodeThe high school social atmosphere is pretty terrifying. You might remember the feeling of your heart beating against your chest as you asked a table full of kids if you could sit with them, or the way you got tongue tied trying to talk to your crush in the hallway.  As stressful as it is, it tends to pass in time as kids mature. For many teens, this is just a part of growing up.But for some, social anxiety is a major challenge that keeps them from finding friends and blossoming into confident adults. Too often, these  teens let their social anxiety rule their lives. They flee any kind of challenging social interaction, falling into a pattern of avoidance. They never learn to challenge their fears and live in their comfort zones.Today, we’re talking to a social anxiety expert to learn how we can help teens break this cycle. Our guest is Dr. Ellen Hendriksen,  author of How to be Yourself: Silence your Inner Critic and Rise Above Social Anxiety. Dr. Hendriksen is a clinical psychologist and faculty member at the Boston University Center for Anxiety and Related Disorders. She’s also the original host of the Savvy Psychologist podcast, which has been downloaded over 15 million times on iTunes.Dr. Hendriksen has spent years studying social anxiety, and she’s here to share all her expert knowledge with you today. In our interview, we cover what’s really going on in teen’s heads when they’re overwhelmed by social situations. We also get into all the wrong ways teens try to deal with social anxiety, and break down healthier methods for teens to shed the inhibitions that hold them back.Click for full show notes, exercises, and parenting scripts from this episode

Jun 6

30 min 1 sec

Click for full show notes, exercises, and parenting scripts from this episodeWe  would do anything for our kids to be successful. That’s why we sign them up for SAT prep classes, make sure they practice piano every day and watch their report cards like hawks. If they can get good test scores they can go to a good college, then get a job with benefits until hopefully they don’t need us at all anymore! So long as we ensure their meeting the marks academically, we’re giving them everything they could ever need...right?Well, not quite. When we look at the research, we find that kids with the highest grades aren’t necessarily the most successful. Those deemed “gifted” don’t always become lawyers and CEOs if they don’t know how to work hard or persevere through adversity. In fact, when interviewed, kids in generation Z often feel like they’ve just been brought up as a product to fulfill certain standards–not as a well rounded human being.How can we raise kids to not just fit the bill of academic perfection, but actually find lasting success and happiness? In other words, how can we help them thrive? Our guest today, Michele Borba is here to answer that very question. She’s the author of Thrivers: The Surprising Reasons Why Some Kids Struggle and Others Shine. After conducting years of research, she's discovered the key traits of the world’s most prosperous people. She’s here today to tell parents how they can pass along the recipe for a bountiful and fulfilling life to their kids.In our interview, she explains how you can guide teens to discover their core assets to ensure they’re on the pathway to prosperity. We also discuss how you can instill strong values in your teen and why it’s important for teens to have a high level of agency in their everyday lives.Click for full show notes, exercises, and parenting scripts from this episode

May 30

27 min 38 sec

Click for full show notes, exercises, and parenting scripts from this episodeUnless you and your teen live under a rock, your child has probably been exposed to a lot of discourse about racism this past year. Sparked by the killing of George Floyd, the world erupted in protests and outcries for equality this summer–and the world has never been the same. With the video of the tragic murder available online amongst plenty of other intense dialogue about race, you might be wondering how you can talk to your kids about it all. You may feel like you don’t know how to approach the topic, or don’t feel like you can do an adequate job covering the vast history of racial inequality and all of its nuances.If you don’t know where to start, it can be powerful to give your kid some reading material. Books can help teens learn about these issues from an expert, and then the two of you can then have a discussion about it. Need a text that feels right for an adolescent? Our guest today has got you covered. Her name is Ilyasah Shabazz, and she’s the author of The Awakening of Malcolm X: A Novel. Ilyasah is the daughter of human rights activists Malcom X and Betty Shabazz, and does incredible work as an educator, author, motivational speaker and activist. In this new book, she’s describing the pivotal period of Malcom X’s young life, when he was imprisoned for 6 years and began to see the world differently.  In telling Malcom’s story, she hopes to give young people the guidance they need to handle life’s trials and follow their vision for a brighter future.In our interview, we’re covering some critical moments in Malcolm X’s youth. We’re discussing how educators can shed more light on the contributions of black and indigenous people throughout history, and why we need reform in our criminal justice system.Click for full show notes, exercises, and parenting scripts from this episode

May 23

23 min 13 sec

Click for full show notes, exercises, and parenting scripts from this episodeWe think we know how puberty works. Kids grow hair everywhere, wake up 2 feet taller than the night before, and suddenly start wanting to go on dates to the mall without any supervision!  But there’s actually a lot to puberty that most parents don’t know about. Did you know, for example, that puberty can begin as early as age seven in some girls? Or that male puberty is almost totally contained to testicular growth for the first few months or even years?If we don’t properly learn about puberty, we can’t teach our kids what they need to know. During this confusing period, teens can use all the help they can get. By making an effort to really understand all the ins and outs of puberty, we can give them the tools to  get  through adolescence and out to the other side.Our guest this week, Cara Natterson, is here to clue us into all the latest research about coming of age. She’s a pediatrician, consultant, speaker,  and bestselling author of multiple books on parenting and health! Her latest book is titled Decoding Boys: New Science Behind the Subtle Art of Raising Sons. This book sheds light on tons of misconceptions about puberty, especially for young men.Cara drops all sorts of fascinating facts and helpful tips in today’s episode. She explains why some teens go quiet during puberty, and how you can break through this barrier to connect with them.  We also discuss how puberty starts much earlier than we usually think, and get into the psychology behind why teens act impulsively.Click for full show notes, exercises, and parenting scripts from this episode

May 16

31 min 59 sec

Click for full show notes, exercises, and parenting scripts from this episodePuberty can be an intense experience for both teens and parents! Kids are going through a million different changes throughout their minds and bodies, while parents watch from the sidelines and try not to get caught in the crossfire! Although the mood swings can be brutal, one of the hardest parts of parenting a kid through puberty is wondering if you gave them all the right talks to prepare them for this crazy ride.Although the puberty talk can be cringe-inducing, it’s not something that can be pushed aside. If no one walks a teens through the changes their body is experiencing, they can feel isolated. They may think they’re alone in the process, without someone to turn to for advice or reassurance. But speaking with kids early and often about puberty can help them approach their adolescence with confidence instead of confusion.To understand how we can guide kids through their coming-of-age, we’re talking to Michelle Mitchell, author of both A Guys Guide to Puberty and A Girls Guide to Puberty. We’ve had Michelle on the show twice before, but her advice is so helpful that we invited her back for a third! In this interview, she’s delving into the ways parents can help kids navigate all the twists and turns that puberty brings.In the episode, Michelle and I discuss how you can have those tricky talks about the process of puberty. That includes everything from periods to pimples. We also get into how we can teach boys about the female body and vice versa.Click for full show notes, exercises, and parenting scripts from this episode


May 9

27 min 37 sec

Click for full show notes, exercises, and parenting scripts from this episodeOur kids are heading into a new era–one full of self driving cars, automated grocery shopping and endless social media. They’re growing up surrounded by technology, and these gizmos and gadgets only become more prevalent every year. It’s nice to imagine a future where robots do all the work and we humans sit back with our feet up–but it’s also scary to imagine a world so controlled by computers that our kids might just lose their humanity!It’s understandable to be worried about your teen coming of age in this environment. They’re entering a job market where employment opportunities are slowly being eradicated by automation. People like travel agents and bankers have been forced to watch as their jobs are taken by iPhone apps and digital kiosks. Not only that, but the  constant digital stimulation of iPhones, laptops and tablets is rearranging teens’ brains on a molecular level, inhibiting their social skills,  productivity and sense of reality! It’s frightening how much control technology has over all of us, especially growing teens. So how can we prepare young people for a future full of tech and automation?Kevin Roose, our guest today, asked himself that same question a few years ago. He decided to dive into research about humanity’s growing dependence on technology, and then put  his findings into a book. It’s called Futureproof: 9 Rules for Humans in the Age of Automation. In it, he reveals how the key to surviving in the world of  robots is not to become more robotic ourselves but instead, become more human. In our interview, Kevin and I get into every question you might have about how AI is changing society. We address the concerns you may be having about your kid’s job prospects in this future full of automation and algorithms. He also explains how you can help teens use their phones to learn, create and connect with others instead of just scrolling mindlessly through TikTok...Click for full show notes, exercises, and parenting scripts from this episode

May 2

22 min 6 sec

Click for full show notes, exercises, and parenting scripts from this episodeWe have arguments with our teens about little things everyday–what to have for dinner, whether they can take the car out, what they’re wearing to school that day, et, etc. And although these skirmishes can seem small, they tend to add up. Suddenly, you tell your teen to put away their shoes one day, and they’re screaming at you, saying you’re ruining their life. It’s not the shoes that have them hysterical, it’s the cumulative effect of all the little disagreements over time!Most of the time when these fights erupt, no one wants to apologize first. Distance can grow between the two of you. You become more and more certain that YOU were right and the OTHER person was acting crazy. You find other people who agree with you, and you stop questioning yourself. Then things just get worse until you find your relationship permanently damaged. In serious cases, you might even find yourself estranged from your kid. To understand how we can handle these Earth-shaking arguments with grace and prevent a deep rift from forming, we’re talking to Karl Pillemer, author of Fault Lines: Fractured Families and How to Mend Them.  Karl’s a sociologist who’s been researching estrangement between family members for years. He’s become acutely aware of how seemingly small disagreements can grow to jeopardize relationships.In our interview, Karl and I break down what parents of teens should know about patching up arguments and preventing permanent damage. We dive into what you should do when you and your teen have disputes over values or lifestyle choices. We also talk about what leads family members to become alienated from one another, and how you can keep your teen from shutting you out.Click for full show notes, exercises, and parenting scripts from this episode

Apr 25

26 min 58 sec

Click for full show notes, exercises, and parenting scripts from this episodeThere’s no singular experience in teenage life quite like the SAT. Unlike the grueling four year academic curriculum, it occurs for only 180 minutes–and determines whether or not a teen is accepted to the school of their dreams. Needless to say, this is likely a significant cause of anxiety for you and your teen alike. A lot of programs out there promise your teen instant success at standardized tests, but in reality, performing well is much more complicated than just quick tips and tricks. Beyond simply putting in the reps, acing the ACT or SAT requires teens to understand their own thinking. It takes a serious mastery over anxiety and external pressures to keep a clear head and perform like a champion.This week we’re talking to one of the most sought after test prep professionals in the country, Ned Johnson. He runs the company PrepMatters, which helps people prepare from everything from the LSAT to the MCAT. He’s also the co-author of Conquering the SAT: How Parents Can Help Teens Overcome the Pressure and Succeed. Ned’s put in over 35,000 hours of one-on-one test prep with young adults, and has learned quite a few lessons along the way.He’s here today to share with you why he thinks standardized tests are valuable despite their flaws. These tests go beyond just words and numbers–they teach teens how to push their boundaries. Ned and I also chat about why pressuring kids to do well can often backfire, and how you can help your teen tackle performance anxiety to smash that ACT out of the park...Click for full show notes, exercises, and parenting scripts from this episode

Apr 18

30 min 19 sec

Click for full show notes, exercises, and parenting scripts from this episodeWhen kids leave the nest, it can be terrifying to see them go. As a parent, you may feel that your whole life has led up to this moment, and you might worry that you haven’t done enough. You want your kid to take on the world and succeed, but you worry they might come home crying and asking for their old bedroom back.As scared as you might be, the terror of leaving home is even worse for young adults themselves. Life is full of trials and tribulations, and it’s scary without someone there to hold their hand. You probably remember the fear you felt when you first left home, how unpredictable and challenging every minute was. Even though adulting is hard, we as parents can start preparing our kids now, in their teen years. If we build a solid foundation of self sufficiency, kids will be able to adapt to the curveballs that life throws their way. Our guest this week is Julie Lythcott-Haims, author of Your Turn: How to Be an Adult. The book is full of personal stories and candid advice for how to be a functional young adult.In our interview today, Julie and I talk about how it can actually be bad if your teen plans too much for their future. We also discuss why you shouldn’t be afraid to show your kid your imperfections, and how you can raise kids who know how to form healthy relationships.Click for full show notes, exercises, and parenting scripts from this episode

Apr 11

26 min 25 sec

Click for full show notes, exercises, and parenting scripts from this episodeIt’s not easy to talk teens into anything. Simply getting them to clean their room or finish their stats homework is a nightmare!  It seems that as soon as you ask them to do something, they do the opposite, just to spite you. It can feel like you’re hitting the same wall over and over, never finding a way through.Beyond just the realms of homework and household chores, this inability to get through to teens can have dire repercussions. If a teen is developing a serious drug problem or skipping school everyday, we need a way to reach them and help them get back on a better path. How can we break the cycle and finally get teens to listen?Our guest today is here to share his revolutionary approach to inciting change in others. His name is Jonah Berger, and his new book is The Catalyst: How to Change Anyone’s Mind. Jonah’s method ditches all the nagging, pleading, and yelling for a much simpler, more harmonious process. He’s here to tell you how you can get kids to WANT to change, instead of trying to force change upon them.In our interview, Jonah explains why trying to convince someone to do something will only push them in the other direction. He expresses why it’s so much more valuable to ask kid’s questions rather than bombard them with what you believe. He also discusses techniques you can use to help your child change their behavior when they just won’t seem to budge.Click for full show notes, exercises, and parenting scripts from this episode

Apr 4

22 min 56 sec

Click for full show notes, exercises, and parenting scripts from this episodeIn today’s culture, it may seem like the conversation around emotional wellbeing has moved on from solely focusing on women and girls. Yet, we rarely address the emotional wellbeing of boys and men in our cultural institutions like school, work, the family structure, or in our government’s policies. Whether it’s responding to a failed math exam, dealing with a breakup, managing an avalanche of responsibilities while entering adulthood, or dealing with trauma, we need to develop a system that helps boys process their emotions. Luckily, that’s exactly what I talk about in this week’s Talking to Teens podcast episode with psychologist and family counselor, Dr. Michael Gurian. Dr. Gurian has authored well over 20 books on adolescents, young adult males and females, and all kinds of topics relating to growing up and becoming an adult in the world we’re living in today. For more than 20 years Dr. Gurian has been helping young adults deal with trauma. In 1996, he founded the Gurian Institute, a program committed to helping boys and girls by providing counseling, professional development, and parent-teacher involvement for young students’ growth in education, making him the perfect person to talk to about helping young boys process their emotions and trauma. In the episode, our conversation centers around the tactics that parents can use to help teen boys process their emotions and trauma through two of Dr. Gurian’s books about this subject: Saving Our Sons: A New Path for Raising Healthy and Resilient Boys and The Stone Boys. The first is a myth-busting book for the whole family that can help parents and teens understand the latest research in male emotional intelligence, male motivation development, and the effects of neurotoxicity on the brain. The second is a novel that illustrates much of the information covered in the former.Dr. Gurian’s informed approach in both of these books can help parents use them as a conduit for opening their teen to tough conversations about their emotional and mental wellbeing. In the podcast, Dr. Gurian lets us in on his approach and sheds some light on some common questions that parents might have about helping their boys process emotions...Click for full show notes, exercises, and parenting scripts from this episode


Mar 28

31 min 33 sec

Click for full show notes, exercises, and parenting scripts from this episodeTeenagers are inclined to worry about everything—the phones they have, the clothes they wear, the clique they belong to. They think everything they do will give others a reason to judge them. And unfortunately these insecurities prevent teens from achieving their goals. They’re so afraid of judgement and failure that they’d rather not try at all. As a parent who was once a teen, you can’t help but empathize with them. There may have been a myriad of opportunities you’ve missed out on in your teens because you were too afraid to try them. But the lifetime of experiences you’ve had since your youth has taught you that the things you were afraid of then were miniscule in comparison to the much scarier things you’d eventually accomplish in life. It’s hard to watch your child hold themselves back from things you know they are capable of.  In this episode, Lydia Fenet, author of the book The Most Powerful Woman in the Room is You: Command an Audience and Sell Your Way to Success, offers parents advice on raising confident, successful teenagers who know how to command a room. The lead Benefit Auctioneer at Christie’s Auction House in New York City, Lydia knows exactly how it feels to be on top and how to fail! From her own personal success and challenges, Lydia has discovered the top lessons we can teach teens to set them up for success: value of a dollar, the perks of being a good loser, and the secret to successful negotiation...This episode is brought to you by, home of the Better Grades, Fast Guarantee!Click for full show notes, exercises, and parenting scripts from this episode

Mar 21

30 min 18 sec

Click for full show notes, exercises, and parenting scripts from this episodeIf you feel like your child isn’t living up to their full potential because they get distracted too easily or lose focus of their own goals, just imagine how hard it will be for them to complete important tasks as adults when their responsibilities lie outside of their personal interests. Today, teens have so much going on in their lives that it can be difficult to commit to tasks that they’re not particularly passionate about: maintaining good grades for college admissions, managing chores, and consistently showing up for work. Fortunately, there are ways to help your teen develop discipline in their life.  It’s great if your teen has a personal hobby that helps them develop a routine. Activities like sports, scouting, and working on art are all great ways to inspire your teen to regularly follow up with their interests. However, as they begin to take on more time-consuming responsibilities, some of their hobbies might fall to the wayside, and they can start to falter in keeping up with more mundane, yet necessary tasks. Teens that haven’t practiced discipline might start to take detrimental shortcuts on homework when the assignment is too difficult or delay submitting applications when they can’t rely on pure interest. If this behavior continues to develop into a pattern, teens may find themselves without the stamina to sustain themselves through higher education or when they enter the workforce.  That’s exactly what I talk about in this week’s podcast episode with Dr. Anita Collins, author of her new book, The Music Advantage: How Music Helps Your Child Develop, Learn, and Thrive. Dr. Collins serves as an award-winning educator, researcher, and writer in the field of brain development and music learning at both the University of Canberra and the University of Melbourne. She’s also written one of the most watched Ted education films ever made, “How Playing an Instrument Benefits Your Brain,” and conducted research about how practicing an instrument can help young adults implement lasting changes in their brain, making her exactly the right person to talk to about developing discipline for teens.This episode is brought to you by, home of the Better Grades, Fast Guarantee!Click for full show notes, exercises, and parenting scripts from this episode

Mar 14

33 min 54 sec

Click for full show notes, exercises, and parenting scripts from this episodeOften as parents we think telling our teen the facts about vaping or texting while driving or will show them that they need to change their behavior. The danger is so clear! When we are in the same room or car as our teen, they may go along with us, but spewing facts at someone rarely causes a person to affect long-term changes to their behavior. But how exactly can you persuade your teen to change for the better if they reject facts? The answer is simple: tell a story. We are affected by stories every moment of the day. In fact, our brains are wired to create narratives about the world and our own lives. Rarely do objective facts persuade as strongly as an emotionally engaging story. But telling a story properly is another matter. Fortunately this week, story-crafting expert Lisa Cron, is ready to help us learn how to spin a tale. Cron is an accomplished writer, literary agent, and TV producer. She’s the author of the new book Story or Die: How to Use Brain Science to Engage, Persuade, and Change Minds in Business and in Life. Cron believes that to make what you say impactful, you have to switch from using facts to telling an engaging emotional story. In today's episode, Cron shares useful advice on how to get your teens to obey your wishes and see your perspective by changing the way you share information with them... This episode is brought to you by, home of the Better Grades, Fast Guarantee!Click for full show notes, exercises, and parenting scripts from this episode

Mar 7

30 min 15 sec

Click for full show notes, exercises, and parenting scripts from this episodeAfter all the blood, sweat, and tears of raising a kid, any parent would want a good relationship with a son or daughter that’s reached adulthood. But sometimes, conflicts that start small during the teenage years grow more intense, and parent-child relationships are ruined by resentment. Many parents find themselves painfully estranged from their grown children after they’ve left the nest. The sad part is, these rifts could have been mended before teens grew into adults, if only parents knew the right approach.Oftentimes, parents do attempt to remedy deep conflicts with teens, but they go about it in the wrong way. Although they have the kid’s best interest at heart, they find themselves using defensive language, or fail to truly empathize with their children. If you want to keep your kids from distancing themselves as adults, you’ll have to really connect and hash things out from the heart.To teach us how to overcome bad blood between ourselves and our teens, we’re talking to Joshua Coleman, author of Rules of Estrangement: Why Adult Children Cut Ties and How to Heal the Conflict.  Joshua became estranged from his own daughter when he went through a difficult divorce. It became worse when he remarried and had kids with his new wife.He was eventually able to reconnect with his daughter, but the pain of the experience was unforgettable. He decided to dedicate his efforts to researching parent-child estrangement, becoming an expert. He now hosts weekly Q&A’s and writes a regular newsletter on the subject, along with publishing several books about it. So what can Joshua teach us about healing our relationships with our teens? In our interview, he talks about how part of the reason why kids distance themselves is a change in culture. We also talk about how your co-parent can push kids away from you, and how you can begin to breach the divide even when it seems like you’ll never get your kid back.This episode is brought to you by, home of the Better Grades, Fast Guarantee!Click for full show notes, exercises, and parenting scripts from this episode

Feb 28

27 min 50 sec

Click for full show notes, exercises, and parenting scripts from this episodeSay you’ve got a touchy topic you want to approach your teen about–maybe you found a vape in their room! You know that the moment you bring it up, your teen will explode and slam the door in your face. Or, even if you are able to sit down and have a real discussion, you’re worried they’ll ask you a question you don’t know the  answer to...and you’ll be caught like a deer in headlights! You might be so stressed about the conversation that you just don’t bring your concerns up at all.Avoiding these tricky talks can be tempting, but ignoring them can have serious consequences. If no one walks a teen through complicated subjects like consent, drug use or self esteem, teens might not know what to do when they  get themselves into real trouble. Opening up a line of communication with your teen can help them navigate the murky waters of adolescence, and help you rest easy knowing they’re not keeping secrets from you.To figure out how you can approach uncomfortable discussions with your teen, we’re talking to Michelle Icard, author of Fourteen Talks by Age Fourteen: The Essential Conversations You Need to Have with Your Kids Before They Start High School. Michelle is a member of the Today Show Parenting Team, and has been featured in the Washington Post, Time, People Magazine, and more. In our interview today we’re going over Michelle’s BRIEF model for tough conversations. Yes, this does mean keeping talks with teens short, but the acronym illuminates a super effective set of steps to ease into difficult discussions with kids. Michelle and I also break down how you can confront teens about independence, social media, healthy eating, dating, and more...This episode is brought to you by, home of the Better Grades, Fast Guarantee!Click for full show notes, exercises, and parenting scripts from this episode

Feb 21

31 min 7 sec

Click for full show notes, exercises, and parenting scripts from this episodeWhen teens find out their friends are hanging out without them, or they didn’t get a part in the school play, they suddenly act like it’s the end of the world! No matter how hard you try to convince them that it’s really not a big deal and that there will be other opportunities in the future, they just can’t seem to get over it. Then, even when they appear to be back to their usual self for a while,  it seems like every week something new goes wrong. They just can’t stop making mountains out of molehills!This focus on the negative expands just past dramatic teens–you might notice it in your own experiences. Even when you have ten positive interactions with your coworkers, it’s always the one that goes badly that plays over and over in your mind when you’re trying to sleep at night. You may find yourself scrutinizing your own parenting the same way, thinking about a single mistake even when you usually knock it out of the park.To understand our preoccupation with the unfortunate, we’re talking to Dr. Roy Baumeister, author of The Power of Bad: How the Negativity Effect Rules Us and How We Can Rule It. After his research paper about the human obsession with bad events garnered a remarkable amount of citations, he decided to sit down and write a book about why people tend to think too much about the things that go wrong.Dr. Baumeister and I dive into why negative experiences feel so much more significant than positive ones. We also talk about how to dole out bad news and criticism, and the mind’s peculiar reaction to social rejection.Click for full show notes, exercises, and parenting scripts from this episode

Feb 14

24 min 25 sec

Click for full show notes, exercises, and parenting scripts from this episodeIt’s easy to get caught up worrying about your kid behaving rudely when you’re not around. You might be picturing them  going to the neighbor's house and asking for food they weren’t offered, forgetting to say please and thank you, and causing a huge mess without cleaning it up. No one wants a kid with no manners, so we tend to push politeness onto kids with a fervor. We often try so hard to keep kids from being rude that we force them to swing too far in the other direction, towards being overly courteous, saying “sorry” for everything and letting others walk all over them.When we teach our kids to be apologetic, we can do more harm than good. Raising an overly submissive teen can mean that they’re not comfortable raising their hand in the classroom, advocating for themselves in a job interview or even saying no to an unwanted sexual encounter. If we want to raise happy and healthy teens,  we have to teach them to be firm, honest, comfortable...and maybe even a little rude.Today we’re sitting down to chat with Rebecca Reid, author of Rude: Stop Being Nice, Start Being Bold. Rebecca is a regular columnist for Marie Clare, the Guardian, the Telegraph, and more. She also makes regular appearances on Good Morning Britain, where she contributes to conversations about political and social issues. Rebecca has been known to be assertive and firm in her convictions...but has always found herself apologizing a little too much. She started to notice that a lot of her submissiveness was caused by how she was conditioned to act as a woman! That’s why she decided to write her book, to help young people, especially girls, understand when it’s ok to be a little impolite and express their true feelings.In our discussion, she breaks down the difference between positive and negative rudeness, the ways in which we can teach kids to understand consent, and how rudeness plays into the parent-teen relationship...Click for full show notes, exercises, and parenting scripts from this episode

Feb 7

26 min 22 sec

Click for full show notes, exercises, and parenting scripts from this episodeWith prices skyrocketing and competition for admission growing more intense every year, applying to college can be a major source of stress for both parents and teens! It’s enormously difficult to decide which school offers the right dorms, classes, and clubs. On top of all that, you and your student have to figure out how you’re going to foot the bill.Although families have access to resources like the FAFSA and other financial aid, it can be incredibly difficult to figure out how it all works. Every school offers something different, and half the time it seems like they tack on costs out of nowhere! It can feel like you’re being hoodwinked when you're just trying to give your teen a brighter future.To get to the bottom of all the college cost craziness, we’re talking to Ron Lieber, author of The Price You Pay For College: An Entirely New Road Map for the Biggest Financial Decision Your Family Will Ever Make. Ron is a business expert, and writes the wildly popular “Your Money” column in New York Times. His expertise about money and parenting have made a twice best-selling author!Today, he and I are discussing some questionable methods colleges use to entice students into attending. We’re also breaking down the questions teens should be asking themselves when shopping for schools, and a few key things they should be wary about when embarking on their university journey.Click for full show notes, exercises, and parenting scripts from this episode

Jan 31

27 min 13 sec

Click for full show notes, exercises, and parenting scripts from this episodeYou’ve been asking your teenager to unload the dishwasher for days, only to be brushed off every time. One day, you decide that enough is enough–your teen has lost the privilege of having their phone until they unload it. You announce this to your teen, explaining with a perfect sense of calm why this has to happen….but suddenly, your teen flies off the handle! Furious, they hurl insults, exclaim protestations, and then refuse to come out of their room. Why are they getting so worked up over such a small event?It turns out that this response is a part of a complicated evolutionary brain mechanism, one intended to keep us safe...but can sometimes misfire. It comes down to how we’re wired to face threats, whether we’re being followed down a dark alley or getting into an intense facebook fight! Understanding how this mental system works can help teens from making some impulsive mistakes–and help parents stay cool when arguments with teens heat up.This week we’re sitting down with neuroscientist Dr. R. Douglas Fields, author of Why We Snap: Understanding the Rage Circuit in Your Brain and Electric Brain: How the New Science of Brainwaves Reads Minds, Tells Us How We Learn, and Helps Us Change for the Better. Dr. Fields is a leading researcher in the field of brain science, studying everything from experimental usage of brain waves to developmental psychology. Today, we’re talking about aggression: why it comes so suddenly, how it affects our body, and what we can do about it.Click for full show notes, exercises, and parenting scripts from this episode

Jan 24

35 min 44 sec

Click for full show notes, exercises, and parenting scripts from this episodeWhen kids are misbehaving or getting on your last nerve, it can be difficult not to sound like a broken record. Repeated cries of “come home on time” or “put down the controller and start your homework” can feel as though they are falling on deaf ears! Frustratingly, no matter how hard you try to get through to them, teenagers just don’t seem to listen.This can become extra challenging when teens are partaking in behavior that is dangerous or harmful, or even illegal. Oftentimes, teens struggling with problems like substance abuse, self harm or addiction are especially likely to discard a parent’s pleas to change. If only there was another way to get through to kids, and make them realize there’s a better way to live.To get some advice on helping teens improve their lives, we’re sitting down with Gregory Koufacos, author of The Primal Method: A Book for Emerging Men. Gregory has spent years as an addiction counselor and mentor for troubled teens, helping them see the path to recovery and happiness. His unconventional method towards mentoring young people might be just what you need to finally reach your teen.Gregory’s mission is to help people understand the power of showing teens a better life, instead of just telling. He’s here to talk about how you can help kids truly build a positive future for themselves on a daily basis, instead of giving them advice that just falls flat. He also shares why it’s important to sometimes dish out some tough love, and the value of having a strong bond with your teen...Click for full show notes, exercises, and parenting scripts from this episode

Jan 17

24 min 35 sec

Click for full show notes, exercises, and parenting scripts from this episodeIt’s so frustrating when kids seem infinitely more invested in their Fortnite match than the stack of homework sitting on their desk, or intent on binging Emily in Paris when they should be practicing their violin! In our modern world, where technology surrounds us, it seems that we’re all prone to getting caught up in all the distractions offered by our devices. We know our kids are smart and capable–if only they grew up in a world with no social media or streaming sites...right?Although it’s tempting, blaming our kids’ tendency towards distractions on technology doesn't get us closer to a solution. Even when we take their phones away and limit their access to Facebook and Instagram, it seems that they still get distracted, still procrastinate, still don’t put in their full effort! There’s got to be a better way.Today we’re talking to Nir Eyal, author of Indistractable: How to Control Your Attention and Choose Your Life. Along with teaching  business at Stanford University and prospering as an entrepreneur, Nir has written widely on how people become hooked by technology, highlighting what exactly it is keeps us coming back for more. In our interview, he talks specifically about how parents can help kids dodge the technological distractions they so often fall prey to.In Nir’s eyes, the ability of young folks to free themselves from distraction is the key to a successful future. So how can we help kids get there? The answer is a lot more complicated than just simply limiting their technology use. It involves digging deeper into what’s triggering the technology ues in the first place...Click for full show notes, exercises, and parenting scripts from this episodeThis week’s sponsor is Prep U Products. Use code TEENTALK at checkout for 30% off your first order. Check out Prep U Products for the best in all-natural personal care for teen guys.

Jan 10

30 min 57 sec

Click for full show notes, exercises, and parenting scripts from this episodeThere are so many things in life that teens, no matter their high school education, are not prepared for. Rarely are there standard courses on how to monitor our own technology use, balance friendships and relationships, and effectively resist drugs and alcohol. It falls on parents to deliver life advice. And with so much to cover it can be tricky to know where to start!Moreover, it’s daunting to do: being the brunt of eye-rolls and bringing up sometimes awkward topics generally isn’t at the top of anyone’s to-do list! Parents know their teens will just tune out as soon as discussions get lecture-y and cliche. Luckily, Marc Fienberg joins us this week to help with the issue of how best to dole out advice--and how to say it. Marc is the author of Dad's Great Advice for Teens: Stuff Every Teen Needs to Know About Parents, Friends, Social Media, Drinking, Dating, Relationships, and Finding Happiness. A father of four, Marc found when each kid became a tween/teen, there were certain pieces of advice he consistently wanted to impart. Significant age gap between his kids meant he had the chance to tweak and adapt his advice for each kid--and his teens let him know if his advice was any good! In speaking with fellow parents and friends into account his own teens’ feedback, Marc has a wealth of knowledge on what advice is sound, what strategies work, and the best ways to deliver advice to your teen. Click for full show notes, exercises, and parenting scripts from this episodeThis week’s sponsor is Prep U Products. Use code TEENTALK at checkout for 30% off your first order. Check out Prep U Products for the best in all-natural personal care for teen guys.

Jan 3

27 min 46 sec

Click for full show notes, exercises, and parenting scripts from this episodeWith teens  dangling somewhere between childhood and adulthood, it can be hard to negotiate control as a parent–control over how late they can stay out, how much time they spend doing their homework, how much junk food they eat. Although they’re not kids anymore, they likely still live under your roof, meaning things can sometimes get heated when it comes to setting the rules.In certain cases, this battle over control can drive your kid to do some seriously bad stuff. When they feel powerless, they might turn to stealing, lying, and emotional manipulation to reclaim their sense of authority. Today I’m talking to Paul Podolsky, author of Raising a Thief: a Memoir. Paul is here to talk about what happens when kids take their need for control too far. After he and his wife adopted a six month old child from Russia, they discovered that they were in for more than they bargained for. Paul has a lot to teach us about the psychology of control, and how to work through the power struggles you might be having with your kid.By telling his own personal parenting story, Paul shines light on why teens sometimes feel powerless, what causes this troubling crisis of power in kids’ heads, and what you can do to gain back the control in your home...Click for full show notes, exercises, and parenting scripts from this episodeThis week’s sponsor is Prep U Products. Use code TEENTALK at checkout for 30% off your first order. Check out Prep U Products for the best in all-natural personal care for teen guys.

Dec 2020

33 min 36 sec

Click for full show notes, exercises, and parenting scripts from this episodeWhen your kids have moved out and are facing the world every day on their own, you won’t be there to tell them how to act–they’ll have to rely on their values. As a parent, leaving your kid with principles to live by can be a critical part of raising decent, self sufficient individuals!  If we can help kids prioritize kindness, respect, responsibility and honesty, we give them the key to a bright future.But how do we teach values to our kids in a way that sticks? Even when we know what exactly  we want to teach to them, how can we get them to listen? Teens might not want to hear your opinion, and even if they do, it can be difficult to really show them how positive values create a better life. When it really comes down to it, imparting the right principles on kids feels just about as hard as making it to the top of Mount Everest!Luckily, today we’re talking to somebody who has made it to the top of Everest. He’s also been struck by lightning, swam with great white sharks, survived an attack from a five foot iguana...and has a lot of insight when it comes to raising resilient teens with strong values. His name is John Beede, and he’s the author of The Warrior Challenge: 8 Quests for Boys to Grow Up With Kindness, Courage and Grit.  John speaks to share how his character and values have allowed him to accomplish amazing things–and teach how teens that they can do the same. In our interview we’re talking about how teenagers can be  more comfortable being vulnerable, shed toxic friendships in favor of healthy ones, and harness the power of grit to accomplish anything they set their minds to...Click for full show notes, exercises, and parenting scripts from this episodeThis week’s sponsor is Prep U Products. Use code TEENTALK at checkout for 30% off your first order. Check out Prep U Products for the best in all-natural personal care for teen guys.

Dec 2020

27 min 33 sec