teen confidence

5 Ways to Help Girls Develop Teen Confidence

You don’t have to feel helpless watching your daughter struggle with teen confidence. I am going to share 5 ways you can help her develop confidence.

>>> ONLINE COMMUNITY FOR TEENS & PARENTS. JOIN THE WAITING LIST: FREE DOWNLOAD: Depression & Anxiety Toolkit for Parents Raising Teen Girls <<<

We are launching an online community for teen girls, with a separate forum for parents.

This is a safe space to grow as a family to support your teen daughter’s unbreakable mindset.

 

Join Our Community for Teens & Parents

Adolescence is often a stage in life that is demanding in itself as teens go through transitions, developments, and relational and behavioural alterations. This period

teen confidence

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of tremendous change could also be filled with moments or periods of low self-esteem. Self-esteem, self-worth, and self-confidence have one thing in common… the Self in these words and a reference to the relationship we have with ourselves, i.e how one views or feels about themselves….

Parents can help their daughters with teen confidence by building their self-esteem, self-worth and self-confidence through some of the following suggestions, tools, and techniques.

 

>>> ONLINE COMMUNITY FOR TEENS & PARENTS. JOIN THE WAITING LIST: FREE DOWNLOAD: Depression & Anxiety Toolkit for Parents Raising Teen Girls <<<

We are launching an online community for teen girls, with a separate forum for parents.

This is a safe space to grow as a family to support your teen daughter’s unbreakable mindset.

 

Join Our Community for Teens & Parents

 

5 Ways You Can Help Your Daughter Build Teen Confidence:

teen confidence

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#1 – Praise the process and not the outcomes… Praising the outcome often comes naturally – you are proud of what your daughter accomplishes! However, I encourage you to also praise  the things your daughter has learned, or skills she developed, when working towards a goal or arriving at the outcome (be it good or bad). This allows her to develop a growth mindset as well as promotes teens to be resilient.

#2 Have realistic expectations for your daughter. Sometimes you may be trying to live life through your children. (Your own self-worth often plays a part here). As a result you can end up setting unrealistic standards that result in a lot of pressure and performance to appease parents, rather than being authentic and truly embracing progress over perfection. 

#3 Encourage your daughter to engage in positive self-talk and model positive self-talk yourself. Prompt your daughter to note when she is being judgemental, harsh or cruel towards themselves. Reflect on this and also for them to stop… by embracing being human and exercising some self-compassion. My colleague, Jessa Tiemstra, Provisional Psychologist wrote a blog article to help you model confidence for your daughter. Take a read HERE.

#4 Create a gratitude or success trail of paper… As a habit teen girls can engage in by documenting successes, and accomplishments, that they can read to themselves or can serve as reminders of what they have managed to overcome or achieve. Even some of the strengths and skills they developed along the way…. This can be something that can be reviewed in times of distress

teen confidence

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or when their self-esteem is down. 

#5 Help your daughter notice and be aware of dynamics that might trigger not-so-good feelings…. Is it a place, people, relationships, or friendships,

that activate low self-esteem or low self-worth…encourage them to develop healthy boundaries in letting the aforementioned (people/ friendships)  know they will not tolerate such behaviours or can simply look at stepping away? Help your daughter understand that boundaries are there to take care of them and also are necessary for healthy relationships. Having boundaries in areas where people act in less than respectful ways is okay! 

Teen confidence is one of three pillars your daughter needs to be okay now and in the future. The other two are: developing healthy relationships, and learning how to step into their spotlight.

Our online community (launching early 2023) will have a forum specifically for teen girls with resources for them on all three pillars. It will also have a parent forum for you. Join the waiting list here.

 

Love,

Chipo

Register Social Worker offering counseling for female identifying teens (11-21 years old)

 


I am a registered social worker with a Bachelor of Social Work with a major in psychology from the university of the Western Cape, and a Master’s in Clinical Social Work specialization with individuals, families, and groups from the University of Calgary.

In my practice, I note the different intersectionalites that come into play, and I have adapted myself to understanding the effects thereof. I pride myself in working from a holistic and integrative approach using trauma-informed, anti-oppressive, and intersectional lenses in rendering services.

I am grounded by embracing my full humanness-being imperfectly perfect. My faith, family and friendships carry me through life and its happenings. I find being in nature very healing and so is savouring moments. When not working, I love to engage in some fitness, going on walks, journaling, catching up on Korean series, city adventures and reading for pleasure. I also believe in allowing my inner child come out sometimes through art, dancing, building sand castles you name it.

teen relationships

3 Ways to Improve the Quality of Teen Relationships

3 Ways to Improve the Quality of Teen Relationships

Support circles are only as strong as the quality of your teen relationships. Learn how to improve the quality of your relationships in this article.

>>> FREE DOWNLOAD: Depression & Anxiety Toolkit for Parents Raising Teen Girls <<<

10 tools you can immediately use to improve your female identifying teens’ mental health & build resistance against depression & anxiety:

 

Anxiety & Depression Toolkit for Parents Raising Teen Girls

 

3 Reasons Why the Quality of Our Relationships Matter

teen relationships

Photo by Omar Lopez on Unsplash

You can lean on the right people for the type of support that you need.

Support comes in many forms. Can you identify who you might go to when you need the following type of support?

  • Emotional support
  • Tangible support
  • Informational support
  • Affirmational support

When you have deeper relationships with others, you learn more about yourself. These are relationships where you obtain support, encouragement, and constructive feedback on your growing edges in a way that helps you feel uplifted and supported. Each relationship will provide you with something unique and different.

You are four times more likely to feel good about yourself and life when you feel close to people.

>>> FREE DOWNLOAD: Depression & Anxiety Toolkit for Parents Raising Teen Girls <<<

10 tools you can immediately use to improve your female identifying teens’ mental health & build resistance against depression & anxiety:

 

Anxiety & Depression Toolkit for Parents Raising Teen Girls

 

3 Ways to Increase the Quality of Our Relationships

#1 Time and Effort – Be consistent in your efforts to connect with those who you care about and that care about you.

#2 Be Present – Keep the cell phone away from you. Rather than placing the cell phone on the table, for example, keep it in a backpack or bag. This signifies to the

teen relationships

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other person that you are attentive to them and will not get distracted by a social media notification, phone call, or text message. Don’t underestimate the power of being attentive!

#3 Express Appreciation – Sincere statements such as “thank you”, “I appreciate your insight”, and “You are important to me”, go a long way to strengthening our connections with others. When people hear a sincere statement of appreciation, this invites them to open their hearts and minds. If you are not used to expressing yourself in this way, practice in front of the mirror or when you are alone in your room. It might feel funny at first! Give it a try and see what happens.

These are three ways you can begin to improve your relationships, which is part of being a good friend. To dive further into improving relationships (specifically friendships) you can read my colleague’s blog article: ‘How To Be A Good Friend‘.

If you are looking for unbiased support to learn social skills, gain confidence in your relationships, and be a great friend, I would be honoured to be part of your support circle.  I offer affordable therapy ($40 per session) in Calgary, Alberta (online appointments available to Alberta residents). If you’re ready to create a solid foundation for your relationships, book a free consultation here:

Book Your Free Consultation

Let me know how your journey is going and if you have any questions! 

Fazilah Shariff MSW, MHA, RSW

 

 

 


Is your teen having challenges navigating their current circumstances? Do you want your teen to obtain the skills and tools they need to navigate the peaks and valleys that come their way?

Are you looking for someone who can support your teen to step into their spotlight, have great relationships, and find their confidence? I speak teen. My strength is connecting with and relating to teenagers. I strive to provide a balance of learning and laughter during my sessions. Teens need a coach and therapist who they can trust to talk to about the hard stuff in their lives.

I work with teens from a range of life experiences and backgrounds. My specialities include working with teens who identify as BIPOC (black, indigenous, and people of colour) and/or LGBTQIA+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning, intersex, asexual, and more).

I have a Master of Social Work and a Master of Health Administration. I am also a Registered Social Worker. I have worked across the healthcare sector and served on numerous boards of directors for not-for-profit organizations.

teen confidence

5 Ways for Parents to Boost Teen Confidence

I want to share a personal story of teen confidence. And then from the heart of my teenage self, I have a list of 5 ways I wish adults had instilled confidence in my life.

>>> FREE DOWNLOAD: Depression & Anxiety Toolkit for Parents Raising Teen Girls <<<

10 tools you can immediately use to improve your female identifying teens’ mental health & build resistance against depression & anxiety:

Anxiety & Depression Toolkit for Parents Raising Teen Girls

 

Here we go…

From the time I was 12 years old until I was in my early twenties, I struggled with my own self confidence and self esteem. I can remember my parents enrolling me in summer day camps with names like “Girl Power” to help me learn strategies on how to increase my feelings of self worth.

I had babysitters that would often show me magazines with photos of lots of beautiful celebrities and sometimes we would watch music videos. I put the pictures

teen confidence

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from the magazines on my walls, like most girls my age did. We didn’t have social media back then but I still compared myself to the images of perfectionism that I saw.

Throughout my teenage years, I became obsessed with fashion. I always had to stand out from the other kids in school, to have the newest styles. In a way I was expressing my creativity, because I’ve always loved art and beauty. I also liked experimenting and trying out different identities. But in another way, I had become materialistic and placed a lot of pressure on myself to look a certain way and to be praised and approved by others. I wasn’t accepting my true self- I was often changing things about my appearance in order to make others notice me.

It also wasn’t only my physical appearance, I struggled with accepting my own personality as well. I have always been shy and introverted, which has been difficult in such an extroverted world. I did not feel like I fit in. I felt a huge pressure by society to act more outgoing and social and another huge pressure to fit into the stereotypical ideal of beauty by wearing fashionable clothes and using makeup. The behavior of the women in my life also influenced me, when I saw them not leaving their house without makeup on.

With all this being said, I wish I had known some strategies to change my inner voice which was constantly telling me I wasn’t good enough as I was. For parents of female identifying teens, here are five tips you can use to help your daughter’s confidence grow:

>>> FREE DOWNLOAD: Depression & Anxiety Toolkit for Parents Raising Teen Girls <<<

teen confidence

Photo from Canva Pro

10 tools you can immediately use to improve your female identifying teens’ mental health & build resistance against depression & anxiety:

Anxiety & Depression Toolkit for Parents Raising Teen Girls

 

5 Ways Parents Can Boost Teen Confidence

Teen Confidence Tip #1 – Encourage your daughter to try new things and take risks.

Parents want the best for their children, and to keep them safe. However, by giving your daughter some freedom, she is able to take risks that will build confidence. If she wins, you can praise her and if she fails, you can commend her for being so brave. Ultimately, my confidence skyrocketed in my mid twenties when I decided to stop listening to others, and to travel solo after a breakup.

Teen Confidence Tip #2 – Encourage your daughter to stop caring what other people think (and discourage people-pleasing behaviours)

This one’s really a game changer for me because I’ve always had people-pleasing tendencies. I realized that by listening to what others think I should do in my life, I was really allowing them to control me– which in turn inhibited my freedom and true happiness because I was not being true to myself or following my intuition. The reality is, there will always be people that like you and people that don’t, no matter what– and that’s okay.

Teen Confidence Tip #3 – Praise your daughter for qualities other than her appearance

I can speak a lot about this one from experience. I became addicted to receiving compliments about my appearance and it seemed like more and more I was trying to chase perfection so that I could be deemed as valuable and needed by others. Of course it’s great to give compliments on appearance but it should not be the only thing she is receiving compliments on. Instead, make a conscious effort to focus on the things she is doing for the world.

Teen Confidence Tip #4 – Be careful about the media she is consuming.

Be conscious of the magazines around the house and the types of TV shows that you have on. After 15 minutes of looking at a fashion magazine, their mood is shown to shift from enthusiasm to comparing and negative self talk. I am sure the same goes for social media, so encourage her to limit her time spent on it. Help her realize that social media is not reality, and neither are the photoshopped magazines.

Teen Confidence Tip #5 – Notice the type of behaviour you are modeling.

Avoid making any sort of negative self-talk, putting down your own appearance or making it mandatory that you must wear makeup before you go out. Avoid saying insulting things about your own personality. Instead teach self acceptance, and how she doesn’t need material things to make her more beautiful. For fathers, don’t treat her as though she is helpless and should rely on a man to do things for her. She is capable of doing stereotypically “masculine” activities, like mowing the lawn

or yard work.

>>> FREE DOWNLOAD: Depression & Anxiety Toolkit for Parents Raising Teen Girls <<<

10 tools you can immediately use to improve your female identifying teens’ mental health & build resistance against depression & anxiety:

Anxiety & Depression Toolkit for Parents Raising Teen Girls

 

Together, by taking the time to reflect on this topic we can shift society’s expectations. We can stop looking outward for our inner happiness. By loving ourselves first, we can become more compassionate, empathetic and generous towards others. In my mid-twenties, I relearned what society taught me and began to think in a new light.

If you found this article helpful, you can continue the work with our blog article ‘3 Ways to Help Your Teen Stop Perfectionist Thinking‘.

Love,
Kari


 

raising a teen girl

10 Things to Avoid When Raising A Teen Girl

Wouldn’t it be great if there was a handbook for raising a teen girl? Unfortunately, no such handbook exists.

BUT if you want to develop a healthy and working relationship with your female identifying teen, read on.

After working with many teens and families as a Registered Social Worker, I have developed a list of 10 things to avoid doing.

raising a teen girl

Photo from Canva Pro

>>> FREE DOWNLOAD: Depression & Anxiety Toolkit for Parents Raising Teen Girls <<<

10 tools you can immediately use to improve your female identifying teens’ mental health & build resistance against depression & anxiety:

 

Anxiety & Depression Toolkit for Parents Raising Teen Girls

Here are 10 things you want to avoid while raising a teen girl:

  1. Don’t snoop (i.e going through your teen’s phone). That’s boundary trespassing. (You can still set internet rules, though. Read our blog to learn how: ‘4 Tips To Setting Internet Rules for Teens‘).
  2. Not giving your teens the privacy they need when out with friends.
  3. Not hearing and listening to your teen when they try to talk to you.
  4. Not compromising and negotiating and having rigid boundaries.
  5. Coming from a ‘your way or the highway’ style of parenting.
  6. Don’t be fast to talk when you need to listen to understand (e.g interrupting and trying to multitask when they are trying to engage with you).
  7. Don’t take anything teens do personally, I mean they are trying to find themselves and are in transitioning stages… Come on, what was your behaviour like as a teen?
    raising a teen girl

    Photo from Canva Pro

  8. Teens don’t want to be talked to as little kids, allow them some independence and ability to make informed decisions.
  9. Don’t force them to engage in things or activities you prefer as a parent or leave up to your dreams and aspirations, this might result in pressure and inability to cope and can often lead to mental health challenges.
  10. Don’t compare your teen to other teens, especially their peers.

 

>>> FREE DOWNLOAD: Depression & Anxiety Toolkit for Parents Raising Teen Girls <<<

10 tools you can immediately use to improve your female identifying teens’ mental health & build resistance against depression & anxiety:

 

Anxiety & Depression Toolkit for Parents Raising Teen Girls

 

One thing you WANT to do, is ensure you and your daughter have a lot of support during this time.

It takes a community to raise a child 🧡

Through Pyramid Psychology (soon to be known as ‘Unbreakable Teen Me’), I offer private therapy sessions for female identifying teens, which include support for YOU in-between sessions.

I support adolescents in Alberta ranging from 11 to 21 years old. You can book a free consultation with me here:

I Want Support for My Daughter Now

 

Love,

Chipo

Register Social Worker offering counseling for female identifying teens (11-21 years old)

 


I am a registered social worker with a Bachelor of Social Work with a major in psychology from the university of the Western Cape, and a Master’s in Clinical Social Work specialization with individuals, families, and groups from the University of Calgary.

In my practice, I note the different intersectionalites that come into play, and I have adapted myself to understanding the effects thereof. I pride myself in working from a holistic and integrative approach using trauma-informed, anti-oppressive, and intersectional lenses in rendering services.

I am grounded by embracing my full humanness-being imperfectly perfect. My faith, family and friendships carry me through life and its happenings. I find being in nature very healing and so is savouring moments. When not working, I love to engage in some fitness, going on walks, journaling, catching up on Korean series, city adventures and reading for pleasure. I also believe in allowing my inner child come out sometimes through art, dancing, building sand castles you name it.

volunteering for teens

Volunteering for Teens: The Benefits, Barriers, and How-To’s

Volunteering for Teens: The Benefits, Barriers, and How-To’s

This blog will share the benefits, barriers, and how to’s when it comes to volunteering for teens.

As a teen, you can sometimes feel lonely or find it hard to connect with other people. Sometimes you want to make friends but find it challenging to meet people who we connect with. Sometimes you want more ties to people in your neighbourhood or city, but you don’t know where to start.  

One way to build community connections is by volunteering your time to a cause that you feel connected to. 

10 Benefits to In-Person Volunteering for Teens

  • Making friends and creating strong relationships 
  • Finding a mentor
  • Creating a sense of belonging  
  • Gaining confidence 
  • Increasing your emotional and physical well-being  
  • Having fun  
  • Expanding your social skills  
  • Feeling less isolated 
  • Learning hard and soft skills 
  • Future job reference 
volunteering for teens

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4 Perceived Barriers to Volunteering for Teens (and what to do about them):

#1 – I don’t have time. 

Surprisingly, volunteering time can make you feel as though you have more time. Studies show that when you give your time, you feel less time-constrained because you will learn how to manage your time better. (Also, since you spend this time developing ourselves it feels less like a task on our to-do list.)

#2 – I’m scared to meet new people.  

If you are with a group of people, pick one person that you would like to chat with and try to get to know them. After a while, focus your energy and time with a few more people and see how you feel. Continue to check in with yourself to see how you are feeling. Give yourself permission to step away if you are feeling overwhelmed or give yourself permission to continue talking to people if you’re feeling okay.  

Remember that going outside your comfort zone and feeling a bit uncomfortable is okay (as long as your safety is not at risk). You may soon learn how to walk toward the unknown. The more you can develop this skill the more you will train your mind to have greater psychological flexibility.

#3 – I don’t know what I am interested in.  

You may be pleasantly surprised that you know more about yourself than you think you do! Consider creating a list of things that you already enjoy doing and the soft and hard skills that you want to learn. Revisit the list after a day or so and write down what stands out to you. 

The fun part of volunteering is exploring and discovering what you like and do not like. Finding a volunteer opportunity that is the right fit is like finding your way on a hiking trail. The more you try, the better you get at

volunteering for teens

Photo from Canva Pro

navigating the trail and anticipating what comes next.

#4 – I don’t know where to start.  

Think of this as a process and focus less on the result. You may start to notice the fun that comes with exploring and testing things out.

Working through these questions can sometimes be easier with someone else. In private sessions with me, we can work through your choice to volunteer and the potential barriers or fears that may come up as a result. Alberta residents can book a free consultation with me here:

Book A Free Consultation

 

The next section provides tips on how to go about starting to find a volunteer opportunity. 

Volunteering for Teens: How To Find The Right Opportunity

It can take a few attempts before finding a volunteering opportunity that is right for you. Think of this as if you’re on a trip and exploring the things around you. The community is your playground, and you are the explorer. 

There are many ways to explore on your journey towards finding a volunteer opportunity and making community connections: online (ex. VolunteerConnector.org), your current friend/family networks, school billboard or

teacher, calling organisations that interest you, social media, etc. 

Considerations to Volunteering for Teens:

1. Communicate with your parents – Sometimes parents have great ideas and can support our efforts!

volunteering for teens

Photo from Canva Pro

2. Your personal values –  Seek opportunities and organisations that align with your personal values. If you need help with exploring your personal values Brene Brown’s list of values could get you started.

3. Social diversity and inclusivity – Ask yourself, does the organisation seek to create an environment that allows volunteers from all walks of life to succeed and meaningfully contribute? Is the organisation inclusive of diversity – race, socioeconomic status, gender, sexuality, abilities, etc.?

Learning the value of diversity, understanding different perspectives and life experiences, and working with people who have different ideas have many benefits. It helps us learn more about ourselves and our community, understand how to relate to others who a different from ourselves, and much more.

4. Your interests and volunteer goals – See above for practical tips.

5. Time commitment and location – Is the location accessible to you? Is it close to your home or school? Will you be driving, getting a ride, or taking the bus?  These are all important factors to take into account.

6. Schedule and frequency Do the volunteer shifts align with your schedule or does this overlap with other commitments? Is the frequency of the volunteer opportunity in line with the time you have available?

 

Volunteering for Teens in Calgary, Alberta:

volunteering for teens

Photo from Canva Pro

If you are in Calgary, hundreds of organisations in our city are looking for volunteers. Here are a couple of organisations that are looking for teen volunteers: 

Volunteering is a great way to build relationships in your community. It has been something that I have engaged in throughout my life and have benefited so much from! It’s helped me to create strong friendships, learn more about myself, and build strong community connections.

You do not have to navigate friendships, community, and volunteering by yourself. That is what I am here for! I offer affordable therapy ($40 per session) in Calgary, Alberta (online appointments available to Alberta residents). If you’re ready to create community, let’s chat:

Book Your Free Consultation

Let me know how your journey is going and if you have any questions! 

Fazilah Shariff MSW, MHA, RSW

 

 

 


Is your teen having challenges navigating their current circumstances? Do you want your teen to obtain the skills and tools they need to navigate the peaks and valleys that come their way?

Are you looking for someone who can support your teen to step into their spotlight, have great relationships, and find their confidence? I speak teen. My strength is connecting with and relating to teenagers. I strive to provide a balance of learning and laughter during my sessions. Teens need a coach and therapist who they can trust to talk to about the hard stuff in their lives.

I work with teens from a range of life experiences and backgrounds. My specialities include working with teens who identify as BIPOC (black, indigenous, and people of colour) and/or LGBTQIA+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning, intersex, asexual, and more).

I have a Master of Social Work and a Master of Health Administration. I am also a Registered Social Worker. I have worked across the healthcare sector and served on numerous boards of directors for not-for-profit organizations.

how to be a good friend

How to Be A Good Friend (for Teen Girls)

How to Be A Good Friend (for Teen Girls)

Teen girls often talk about how other people in their lives should be a good friend. And yet you often seclude yourselves from the same expectation. (Adults do this too). WHY? Bet when you are pointing the finger to others 3 fingers point right back at cha! Now how can you be better at this friend thing in life?

Here are the top 3 ways I have discovered to be a good friend. Things I have learned through life experience and working with families and teen girls:

(If you already know this is an area you would like support in, know that I pride myself on my holistic approach to caring for your mental health. I come from a trauma informed background that looks through an intersectional lense to give you services that meet your needs. Alberta residents can book a free consultation with me below).

Book A Free Consultation

How to Be A Good Friend Strategy #1: Self Compassion

how to be a good friend

Photo by Hala Al-Asadi on Unsplash

It all starts with you… Everything starts with the self. You!  How do you treat yourself? Do you treat yourself with care, love and support? If you are overly critical towards yourself, you may have a tendency of being overly critical with others. What would treating yourself with compassion mean or look like? And from there how can you extend the same level of grace to others? What would being more curious mean than being judgmental?

Note: this does not mean tolerating disrespect, being bullied, pressured or allowing others to flake on you. Extending grace and tolerating being mistreated are different things.

 

How to Be A Good Friend Strategy #2: Authenticity

Do you show up as your true authentic self? Or is there some sort of code switch in order to fit in? What’s the worst that could happen if you showed up as you? People might no longer like you or be friends with you. Well they were not your friends to begin with. I mean who hates authenticity? Someone’s true self without blinds and folders.

Being your authentic true self does not mean opening yourself up to everyone. It means being able to show up as you, the person in the mirror, flaws and all, embracing your complete sense of humanity – being imperfectly perfect.

Your life and existence is not a performance. Show up as you and the world and everything else will adjust. Your self-worth is not tied to other people’s views or expectations of you. It’s an independent construct so treat it as such. You are worth it just because you are.

Photo by Tyler Nix on Unsplash

 

 

How to Be A Good Friend Strategy #3: Communication

What’s your communication style like? Is it your way or the highway? Is there room to hear each other out, ask for space when needed, or carry on with the

conversation at a later time?  Do you socially and emotionally distance yourself when things get hard or when you don’t get your way? How do you find your way in life?

I would be curious to know why you respond the way you do to the above questions.  Are there other alternatives to your current responses? If so, what could they be?

What does healthy and effective communication look like to you?

At the end of the day it takes two to tango, including yourself. So you are not exempt from communicating. TA DAAA! What a surprise, hey?

Are you jumping into conclusions or do you make space to ask for clarity in order to avoid assumptions and confusion?

I want you to know this is not a personal attack. This is simply a personal reflective practice or journal entry you can engage in. Even for myself as I write this, I am holding space for my triggers (cringe).

how to be a good friend

Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash

If you want to dive further into this exercise, here are a few more questions:

  • Are you assertive with your boundaries…. being able to express or communicate your needs and wants and also allowing space and room for others to do the same?
  • Is there space to hold feelings, have difficult conversations, and resolve conflict? Or people are no longer good because they made a mistake?
  • Do you respect your boundaries and those of others? Are you vengeful and passive in your setting of boundaries or do you create them in order to take care of yourself and keep the relationship strong?
  • Is there room for accountability, empathy and constructive criticism for growth? 

 

If these questions brought things up for you, felt like an attack, or made you react defensively, there is something there for you to work on. I offer a neutral, quiet space to work through your triggers here. Book your free consultation with me here:

Book A Free Consultation

Just remember, the most important thing:

Be the friend you want to have. 

Love,

Chipo

Register Social Worker offering counseling for teen girls


I am a registered social worker with a Bachelor of Social Work with a major in psychology from the university of the Western Cape, and a Master’s in Clinical Social Work specialization with individuals, families, and groups from the University of Calgary.

In my practice, I note the different intersectionalites that come into play, and I have adapted myself to understanding the effects thereof. I pride myself in working from a holistic and integrative approach using trauma-informed, anti-oppressive, and intersectional lenses in rendering services.

I am grounded by embracing my full humanness-being imperfectly perfect. My faith, family and friendships carry me through life and its happenings. I find being in nature very healing and so is savouring moments. When not working, I love to engage in some fitness, going on walks, journaling, catching up on Korean series, city adventures and reading for pleasure. I also believe in allowing my inner child come out sometimes through art, dancing, building sand castles you name it.

Back to School Anxiety: Coping Skills for Your Teen

If you’re noticing your teen is a little edgy lately or seems less than keen to talk about school they may be struggling with ‘back to school anxiety’. The usual pre-jitters and mix of excitement and nervousness of going back to school could be prompting thoughts like these for your teen:

Photo by Canva

  • Who will I be in class with?
  • What if I get that teacher again?
  • I can’t wait to see my friends again!
  • I hope I will get good grades.

This year may be especially hard for teens if they struggle with social anxiety and enjoyed the online aspect of schooling again this year. On top of the regular ‘back to school’ worries, your teen may  be thinking:

  • What if it’s really hard?
  • What if I’m behind?
  • What if we have to wear masks again?
  • What if things shutdown again? 
  • What if I don’t like it?

Sometimes teens don’t have an exact grasp on the specific thoughts but their worries  manifest physically. You might notice complaints of physical symptoms like headaches, stomach aches, general flu like symptoms with no illness related causes, etc. You may also notice changes in behaviours – more irritability, sleep disruptions, etc. 

Worries about going back to school – especially this year – are to be expected…. BUT that doesn’t mean your teen has to white knuckle through it. 

Here are five anxiety coping strategies you can implement to help your teen transition back to class as smoothly as possible:

Anxiety Coping Skill #1

Photo by Canva

Breathing can be a secret weapon for your teen. Dialling into their breathing can help activate their rest and relax system (parasympathetic nervous system). This sets off a domino effect of calming. 

There are various breathing techniques you can try. Sheryl Ankrom, MS, LCPC shares eight different breathing exercises you can try here. Square breathing, or 4×4 breathing is one I find works well, and can be done anywhere anytime – including on the way to the school, in the hallways, and even in class. The Sunnybrook Hospital in Toronto shares a really great video on how to do this exercise here.

Whichever exercise your teen chooses, I recommend going through it at least 4 times to allow their nervous system to catch up.

Breathing exercises aren’t for everyone. If your teen can’t focus on their breathing, or doesn’t enjoy it – try having them focus on some of their other senses. Here are a few ways they can do that:

  • Look around the room and (in their mind) name objects they can see
  • Pick a colour and try and spot it as much as possible
  • Listen for sounds near or far
  • Name one thing from all 5 senses – something they can see, hear, smell, feel and taste

The key is to bring awareness to the present moment and be less hyper focused on the anxiety.

Anxiety Coping Skill #2 

Photo by Canva

We all have objects in our lives that immediately bring comfort. They serve as relaxation prompts. It can be helpful for your teen to have an object like this with them as they begin the new school year. Here are some ideas, or things I have seen work well:

  • Favourite piece of jewelry
  • Extra comfy sweater
  • Stone/crystal around their neck, or tucked in their bag
  • A note/quote/message on their phone
  • Putty
  • Favourite playlist on their phone (if permitted)
  • Doodle a small heart on a knuckle
  • Fidget ring around their finger

Having something that reminds your teen of comfort and calm will cause their brain to put out some chill alpha waves.

Anxiety Coping Skill # 3

Encourage your teen to find at least one person they can rely on that has got their back – a coping buddy. They can have more than one of course! It might be a teacher, guidance counsellor, friend, sibling, etc. Someone they can seek out and connect with when needed. This person can provide a nice distraction, or some comfort.

If your teen really can’t think of anyone that is accessible at  school, see if you can find someone remote who can be available for a call or text during an anxious moment – you, their auntie, etc.

Photo by Canva

Anxiety Coping Skill # 4

Use the F.E.A.R. technique. This stands for False Evidence (or Emotions) Appearing Real.

Anxiety can trick your teen’s mind to make them believe they are small and incapable in the face of the problem or thing they fear. The F.E.A.R technique is a way to bring balance in the other direction – with anxiety being small and your teen being big and capable.

Step One: Identify the worry (fear) – e.g. ‘I’m worried that I won’t be in the same class as any of my friends.”

Step Two: Dig deeper – what would happen if your friends weren’t in your class? What’s anxiety telling you? – e.g. ‘I will have no one to talk to all year. I will be lonely.’

Step Three: Flip it around – what could you do if your friends aren’t in your class? How could you respond? How could you solve this? – e.g. ‘Could be a total loner and not talk to anyone all year, 

I guess I could make new friends, I could find my friends during breaks, I could join a club or something at lunch, I could ask to be switched classes, I could talk to the person sitting next to me, etc.’

This technique gives the worry clear words and takes your teen down that FEAR acronym. It lets them know that even if the scary thing does happen, they have a lot of control and choice to do something about it! 

Anxiety Coping Skill # 5

Photo by Canva

Create a plan and a routine so your teen knows what to expect. It is helpful to focus on what is in your teen’s power to control (their routine) and what is not.

A routine for school starts the night before – with a good amount of sleep, taking time to relax before bed, etc. Encourage your teen to include some things in their routine they enjoy.

You can also help your teen plan ahead for when they get to school – who will they meet up with? Do they know which classes they are in? What time does school start and end?

Having a plan around things that your teen can actually control (e.g. their responses, behaviours, what thoughts they tend to, etc.) can help quell some of that anxiety. 

Things to Make Note Of:

Photo by Canva

Your teen is not alone in their anxiety – going back to school can be an anxiety-inducing experience in ‘normal’ times. Never mind the times we are in now! Let them know they are not the only ones. Ask them about their back to school thoughts.

What are they most stressed/worried about? 

Another thing you can do is focus on the things they are looking forward to. Get them to pay  attention to the friends they may get to see again, the school club they will join, etc. 

Anxiety can be a big deal but it doesn’t have to take over yours or your teen’s life – Share this blog with a parent of a teen and spread the support! 

The Happiness Pill Program is a 6-month teen life coaching program that supports teens to shift beyond anxiety, depression, and overwhelm and into confidently living the life they want by providing ongoing support. There is a built-in parent program and community to support you, too. Get on the path to freedom from teen anxiety here.

Love,

Chantal 


Chantal Côté (she/her) is a psychologist and teen life coach living in Calgary, Alberta. After over a decade in non-profit and community mental health, Chantal started Pyramid Psychology, a practice dedicated to supporting teens – a population she is constantly amazed by. Chantal is on a mission to help 100,000 teen girls (and their parents) build bulletproof mindsets so they can weather the ups and downs of life. As part of this goal, Chantal has had the privilege of speaking at various events – virtual and live – to support teens and parents.

Outside of this passion, Chantal is often in nature, writing poetry, playing ball hockey and hanging out with her loved ones.

Each week, Chantal writes a blog article in response to issues she hears from the parents and teens she connects with. If you have something you’d like to read more on – email ideas and questions to info@pyramidpsychology.com or DM us via Instagram or Facebook. 

Back to School Anxiety: Coping Skills for Your Teen

If you’re noticing your teen is a little edgy lately or seems less than keen to talk about school they may be struggling with ‘back to school anxiety’. The usual pre-jitters and mix of excitement and nervousness of going back to school could be prompting thoughts like these for your teen:

  • Who will I be in class with?
  • What if I get that teacher again?
  • I can’t wait to see my friends again!
  • I hope I will get good grades.

On top of this, teens have spent  the last year and half contending with  alternative forms of schooling in response to the pandemic – online, on and off in-person (with masks, shutdown sports, etc.), hybrid between online and in-person, etc. For some teens, this adds an extra layer of worry.

Photo by Matt Ragland on Unsplash

If your teen spent the last year learning online , they may be wondering what it will be like to go back to school like “normal”. They may be thinking,  “Do I even want to go back in person??”

This year may be especially hard for teens if they struggle with social anxiety and enjoyed the online aspect of schooling. On top of the regular ‘back to school’ worries, your teen may  be thinking:

  • What if it’s really hard?
  • What if I’m behind?
  • What if it’s weird to not be wearing a mask?
  • What if we have to wear masks again?
  • What if things shutdown again? 
  • What if they do cohorts again and my friends aren’t in the same class as me?
  • What if I don’t like it?

Sometimes teens don’t have an exact grasp on the specific thoughts but their worries  manifest physically. You might notice complaints of physical symptoms like headaches, stomach aches, general flu like symptoms with no illness related causes, etc. You may also notice changes in behaviours – more irritability, sleep disruptions, etc. 

Worries about going back to school – especially this year – are to be expected. But that doesn’t mean your teen has to white knuckle through it. 

Here are five anxiety coping strategies you can implement to help your teen transition back to class as smoothly as possible:

Anxiety Coping Skill #1

Breathing can be a secret weapon for your teen. Dialling into their breathing can help activate their rest and relax system (parasympathetic nervous system). This sets off a domino effect of calming. 

Photo by Lutchenca Medeiros on Unsplash

There are various breathing techniques you can try. Sheryl Ankrom, MS, LCPC shares eight different breathing exercises you can try here. Square breathing, or 4×4 breathing is one I find works well, and can be done anywhere anytime – including on the way to the school, in the hallways, and even in class. The Sunnybrook Hospital in Toronto shares a really great video on how to do this exercise here.

Whichever exercise your teen chooses, I recommend going through it at least 4 times to allow their nervous system to catch up.

Breathing exercises aren’t for everyone. If your teen can’t focus on their breathing, or doesn’t enjoy it – try having them focus on some of their other senses. Here are a few ways they can do that:

  • Look around the room and (in their mind) name objects they can see
  • Pick a colour and try and spot it as much as possible
  • Listen for sounds near or far
  • Name one thing from all 5 senses – something they can see, hear, smell, feel and taste

The key is to bring awareness to the present moment and be less hyper focused on the anxiety.s.

Anxiety Coping Skill #2 

We all have objects in our lives that immediately bring comfort. They serve as relaxation prompts. It can be helpful for your teen to have an object like this with them as they begin the new school year. Here are some ideas, or things I have seen work well:

  • Favourite piece of jewelry

    Photo by Firmbee.com on Unsplash

  • Extra comfy sweater
  • Stone/crystal around their neck, or tucked in their bag
  • A note/quote/message on their phone
  • Putty
  • Favourite playlist on their phone (if permitted)
  • Doodle a small heart on a knuckle
  • Fidget ring around their finger

Having something that reminds your teen of comfort and calm will cause their brain to put out some chill alpha waves.

Anxiety Coping Skill # 3

Photo by Rosie Sun on Unsplash

Encourage your teen to find at least one person they can rely on that has got their back – a coping buddy. They can have more than one of course! It might be a teacher, guidance counsellor, friend, sibling, etc. Someone they can seek out and connect with when needed. This person can provide a nice distraction, or some comfort.

If your teen really can’t think of anyone that is accessible at  school, see if you can find someone remote who can be available for a call or text during an anxious moment – you, their auntie, etc.

 

Anxiety Coping Skill # 4

Use the F.E.A.R. technique. This stands for False Evidence (or Emotions) Appearing Real.

Anxiety can trick your teen’s mind to make them believe they are small and incapable in the face of the problem or thing they fear. The F.E.A.R technique is a way to bring balance in the other direction – with anxiety being small and your teen being big and capable.

Photo by Alexis Brown on Unsplash

Step One: Identify the worry (fear) – e.g. ‘I’m worried that I won’t be in the same class as any of my friends.”

Step Two: Dig deeper – what would happen if your friends weren’t in your class? What’s anxiety telling you? – e.g. ‘I will have no one to talk to all year. I will be lonely.’

Step Three: Flip it around – what could you do if your friends aren’t in your class? How could you respond? How could you solve this? – e.g. ‘Could be a total loner and not talk to anyone all year, 

I guess I could make new friends, I could find my friends during breaks, I could join a club or something at lunch, I could ask to be switched classes, I could talk to the person sitting next to me, etc.’

This technique gives the worry clear words and takes your teen down that FEAR acronym. It lets them know that even if the scary thing does happen, they have a lot of control and choice to do something about it! 

Anxiety Coping Skill # 5

Photo by Prophsee Journals on Unsplash

Create a plan and a routine so your teen knows what to expect. It is helpful to focus on what is in your teen’s power to control (their routine) and what is not.

A routine for school starts the night before – with a good amount of sleep, taking time to relax before bed, etc.Encourage your teen to include some things in their routine they enjoy.

You can also help your teen plan ahead for when they get to school – who will they meet up with? Do they know which classes they are in? What time does school start and end?

Having a plan around things that your teen can actually control (e.g. their responses, behaviours, what thoughts they tend to, etc.) can help quell some of that anxiety. 

Things to Make Note Of

Your teen is not alone in their anxiety – going back to school can be an anxiety-inducing experience in ‘normal’ times. Never mind the times we are in now! Let them know they are not the only ones.Ask them about their back to school thoughts.

What are they most stressed/worried about? 

Another thing you can do is focus on the things they are looking forward to. Get them to pay  attention to the friends they may get to see again, the school club they will join, etc. 

Anxiety can be a big deal but it doesn’t have to take over yours or your teen’s life – Share this blog with a parent of a teen and spread the support! 

The Happiness Pill Program is a 6-month teen life coaching program that supports teens to shift beyond anxiety, depression, and overwhelm and into confidently living the life they want by providing ongoing support. There is a built-in parent program and community to support you, too. Get on the path to freedom from teen anxiety here.

Love,

Chantal 


Chantal Côté (she/her) is a psychologist and teen life coach living in Calgary, Alberta. After over a decade in non-profit and community mental health, Chantal started Pyramid Psychology, a practice dedicated to supporting teens – a population she is constantly amazed by. Chantal is on a mission to help 100,000 teen girls (and their parents) build bulletproof mindsets so they can weather the ups and downs of life. As part of this goal, Chantal has had the privilege of speaking at various events – virtual and live – to support teens and parents.

Outside of this passion, Chantal is often in nature, writing poetry, playing ball hockey and hanging out with her loved ones.

Each week, Chantal writes a blog article in response to issues she hears from the parents and teens she connects with. If you have something you’d like to read more on – email ideas and questions to info@pyramidpsychology.com or DM us via Instagram or Facebook. 

My Teen Doesn’t Have A Lot of Friends – Should I Be Concerned?

I’ve had parents mention some concern about their teens only having 1 – 2 friends… Is this something to be concerned or worried about?

Having friends and changes in friendships are a very normal process for teens and their identity development – at different times we all have different people in our lives. Teens are going through that process right now, figuring out what type of people they want in their lives.

There are  some factors that may lean your teen towards wanting a small friend group. For example, if they are a little more introverted – or have introverted qualities – or maybe they feel most connected in close, intimate relationships.

I remember my middle school self – I got along well with a lot of my peers, but I really just had this one friend – she and I spent a ton of time together. She had this electric keyboard and we would hang out all weekend and write parody songs together. We had a blast! I just had the one close friend, really. And that was great for me.

So I think it depends on where your teen is at with having just one to two friends. If those two friendships are really close, good friendships, that makes a big difference.

Photo by Ana Municio on Unsplash

Questions to Ask

Here are a few questions you can ask yourself when it comes to your teen’s friendships:

  • Does our teen enjoy spending time with their friend(s)?
  • Is your teen saying or are you noticing behaviours indicating they may want more friends?
  • Do they seem satisficed with their friend groups?

Whether your teen has lots of friends or just a few, there are other elements that are more important.

Other Things At Play

It’s important to recognize if this is a preference thing, or if there is something else at play. 

Does your teen need to work on social skills? Confidence?

Consider how this might be getting in their way of making friends. If these skills are missing or underdeveloped, it can be really challenging for teens to make or keep friends.

It is important not to assume here. Ask your teen about their friend group – get to know how they see their friendships and what they value about them. In lending a curious ear, you may learn more about whether this is a preference, or their way of bei

ng, or if there are underlying difficulties or challenges that are preventing them from making more friends? If you discover your teen is really shy and strugglin

g to with talking to others, check out this blog I wrote just for them: How to Get Past The Shy: 4 Conversation Tips for Teens.

Something to Think About

One thing to consider is asking yourself if your concern is something that is coming from a projection of your experience growing up, or something you experienced as a teen. It can be helpful to practice a little self-reflection on your own friendships growing up and how that might impact the way you view your teen’s friendships. It might also lend itself to having empathy for your teen’s friendship woes as they come up. What were your friendships like? What were some things that were difficult with relationships?

Check-in with yourself and see if there’s a bit of parallel with your own experiences when you were younger.

Love,
Chantal


If you found this post helpful, pass it on by emailing a friend or sharing it on Twitter or Facebook – thank you!

Chantal Côté, R.Psych, Pyramid Psychology – helping older children, teens, and young adults learn how to build bulletproof mindsets.

To connect, send an email to info@pyramidpsychology.com