Managing Teen Anxiety: High School Graduation

Managing teen anxiety around high school graduation – what an emotional rollercoaster! I remember the hallways were buzzing with nervous excitement, each day more than the last…

I was looking forward to my high school career coming to an end but this was often overshadowed by anxiety surrounding the unknown. Many of my friends seemed so sure of what they were doing, with some of them planning on moving across the country for school. Although I was excited to gain more independence, I also felt a ton of pressure. Every thought seemed to end with a question mark.

This uncertainty and sense of being out of control caused some pretty overwhelming anxiety. Just as uncertainty can lead to anxiety, anxiety can lead to avoidance, and I was a pro at it! I avoided looking up admission requirements and application deadlines because I was worried I wouldn’t have the grades to get it. Unfortunately, this only caused more anxiety over the thought of missing the deadline and panic when realizing I was giving myself less time to get things sorted and submitted.

 

If you’re a teen (or a parent of a teen) and your high school graduation is coming up, I have created some tips I found useful during my own graduation. These are tips I share with teens in therapy with me as well.

 Teen Graduation Anxiety Tip #1 – Embrace Exploration

Career quizzes are not only fun but informative. They can be a great way for you to hone in on your interests and reveal careers related to them. You could even do them with your friends or family for fun!

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There are a lot of quizzes out there, but if you’d like to take one right NOW here is one to get you started: Your Free Career Test

Teen Graduation Anxiety Tip #2 – Examine Your Values

Values reveal what’s important to you, and can provide direction in your life. Understanding and getting to know your values can be another way to help with decision making; Living in alignment with your values helps you to live a more fulfilling life. If you’re not sure where to start, Values Discussion Cards by Therapist Aid is a hands-on exercise you can try!

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Teen Graduation Anxiety Tip #3 – Steer Clear of Avoidance

While it can be scary to look into admission requirements and submission deadlines, knowing the answers can relieve anxiety and prevent it from snowballing. I found a really great article for you that outlines 30 great questions you can ask to really get to know the schools you are looking into. You can read the article by Foothills College in California HERE.

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Teen Graduation Anxiety Tip #4 – Practice Self-Compassion:

For many teens (and even young adults like myself), thoughts may lead towards the negative, while what you’re saying/doing on the outside is more like an Instagram or TikTok reel – bright, shiny, and ‘perfect’.

I wanted to remind you of this because, even though it might not be discussed out loud, many of your peers are also feeling nervousness surrounding the uncertainty of graduation. They just aren’t saying it.

Sometimes, having a third party person to discuss your thoughts with, and provide known tools for anxiety, can be a really helpful addition to your graduation plans. I am available for 1:1 appointments all across Alberta (online) or in-person in Calgary, Alberta. Your parents will need to be involved in the process – they can book a free consultation with me HERE.

 

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Book A Consultation with Ally

 


 

Hi there! My name is Ally and I am a MA student therapist working with teens, parents, and young adults in Calgary, Alberta. I am passionate about helping others and one of the greatest honours of my life is being able to listen and hold space for other people’s stories. 

 When I am not working, I enjoy listening to music, spending time with family and friends, hiking, and indoor cycling. I love exploring new places with some of my favourites being Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Spain, Iceland, as well as Vancouver Island. 

 Calgary is home, but I will take any opportunity to travel!

Six Ways To Handle Change For Teens

Six Ways To Handle Change For Teens

Although change for teens is inevitable, it often doesn’t feel easy or straightforward to deal with, especially in the moment. Change can be scary because we’re often afraid of the unknown. Uncomfortable thoughts or emotions can come up when we feel like we’re not in control of our lives. With so many changes going on during junior high and high school, it’s important to develop skills that can help during these times.

The following tips can be helpful when dealing with change:

Tip for Dealing with Change #1 – Acknowledge and Validate your Feelings: While it can be uncomfortable to consider difficult emotions, particularly when they’re happening, it’s incredibly helpful to start identifying shifts in our mood/emotions. Know that it’s normal to feel many different and intense emotions when there’s changes going on. If emotions wheel for teens you’re not sure how you’re feeling, using a ‘feeling wheel’ can help you identify your emotions. You can read an article on the benefits of a feeling wheel HERE.

Tip for Dealing with Change #2 – Consider Control: Something I’ve found incredibly useful for myself and teens I’ve supported through change, is to consider control. There’s a ton of useful strategies you can use to figure out what you have control of. Imagine you have a hula hoop around your waist. The space between your body and the hula hoop is what is within your control. These are things like your emotions, your responses, your attitude, your opinions, and your behaviours or responses. Everything outside of the hula hoop are things that you cannot control, such as other people’s beliefs and opinions, and other people’s feelings or what they think. When experiencing change, take the time to consider and focus your attention/energy on the things you have control over.

Tip for Dealing with Change #3 – Maintain Consistency and Routine: After considering control, you can take action on some of these things and one of those areas is your routine or schedule. Changes can impact so many aspects of life, keep your routine or schedule in place, wherever it’s possible. Consistency and routine can help you feel more organized and in control.

Tip for Dealing with Change #4 – Celebrate Wins: Since change isn’t easy, it’s important to praise yourself for successes, no matter the size.

Tip for Dealing with Change #5 – Seek Support: From my own experiences, this step can be a difficult one. Asking for help may make us feel like we aren’t able to handle things on our own or maybe it’s because we don’t want to burden others. When I’m feeling this way, I remind myself that I would always want to know if my family or friends were struggling, so I can offer support in whatever way I can. Taking on overwhelming change(s) can feel far less overwhelming when you have someone beside you (literally or metaphorically).

Tip for Dealing with Change #6 – Recharge your Battery: With change being so stressful, it’s important to take the time to recharge! Have fun with friends or family, listen to your favourite music, or watch a nostalgic movie. You can also practice mindfulness to recharge. ‘Mindfulness for Teens: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly‘ is a blog article you can read for tips on mindfulness.

If you’re a teen experiencing overwhelm or other concerns during these difficult changes, you can book a free consultation with me HERE. Sessions with me are private between you and I. They are an opportunity for you to let go of what’s on your mind, and develop tools to handle hard situations going forward.


 

Hi there! My name is Ally and I am a MA student therapist working with teens, parents, and young adults in Calgary, Alberta. I am passionate about helping others and one of the greatest honours of my life is being able to listen and hold space for other people’s stories. 

When I am not working, I enjoy listening to music, spending time with family and friends, hiking, and indoor cycling. I love exploring new places with some of my favourites being Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Spain, Iceland, as well as Vancouver Island. 

Calgary is home, but I will take any opportunity to travel!

You can learn more about me on Instagram, or book a Free Consultation.

7 Ways to Support Teens Through Change

Change for teens, a guaranteed part of life – and rarely easy. Teens have had to face crazy amounts of change over these past few years. As parents, witnessing this may have resulted in many sleepless nights and you stressing over what they’re doing locked away in their bedroom all that time. 

 In the middle of grade 8, my dad was promoted to a new role at his company, meaning we would have to move from Edmonton to Calgary. As my shy, anxious 14 year old self, with a sense of adventure, my brain was working overtime. Moving houses, cities, leaving my friends, and sports club behind in the middle of a school year was terrifying (and a teeny bit exciting). 

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Whether your teen daughter is changing schools, changing friend groups, undergoing body and brain developments, or adjusting to the ever flip flopping social situations, change is on her radar. Teens can be excellent maskers and may not share with you how they’re feeling. Your daughter may not even know exactly what she’s feeling. Instead, she might constantly distract herself from real life, feel things and not be sure why, and shut down or lash out at the people around her. 

When we first moved, I protested with a food strike to share my disdain of my life feeling like it was turned upside down. I spent many lunch hours hiding in the school bathroom crying. It gave me a little release from some of the confusion, anxiety, and fear I was feeling. 

 One lunch hour the hot tears came before I could make it to the bathroom stall and at that very same moment, a group of the more popular girls walked in. I tried my best to look like I was doing anything but crying, but my mascara streaks and red face betrayed me. My 14 year old self was thinking- 

What could be worse?! 

To my surprise the girls huddled around me and sang “You are my sunshine” until we all burst into awkward laughter. I never became close with that friend group, but that wasn’t the point- some time shortly after that moment, I just kind of knew I was going to be ok.  

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Even though change isn’t easy, it is often necessary and can even lead to some pretty amazing experiences. Below are 7 ideas to help make a world of difference in your daughter’s life as she steers through teen years full of unknowns.

Change For Teens Tip #1 – Validate her experience by being curious, asking questions, and listening you can offer your daughter a space to share her experience and make sense of what she is thinking and feeling. You might even share a story of your own change and ask how hers is different or similar.

 

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Change For Teens Tip #2 – Plan where you can some change comes at us more suddenly, but even in those circumstances, we can do some planning. Invite your teen to examine the situation to see how she (and maybe you together) can plan for things that might come up.

Change For Teens Tip #3 – Help her hone in on her choices As Jessa (provisional psychologist here at Pyramid Psychology)  talked about in her blog last week How to Handle Change for Teens’, even in the most dire situations, there are always choices that we can make. Finding choices can help your teen have a sense of control when external circumstances are feeling pretty out of control.

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Change For Teens Tip #4 – Support them to form meaningful connections feeling connected to people who get it, who your daughter feels safe with and can trust can ease stress felt from transitions. Nothing like a good dose of empathy to help possibilities blossom. The Happiness Pill program is a unique online group coaching experience (with some 1:1 coaching too!) that was designed to give your daughter a safe space to build these types of meaningful connections. If the idea of seeing your daughter build relationships while working on her own joy lights you up, you can get the details for the program HERE.

Change For Teens Tip #5 – Give yourself some of that support sugar- If your teen is experiencing change, you are feeling it too. Whether it’s her behaviour or your own experience of change, the impacts are felt. Take some time to fill your cup with love and care before you try to pour from an empty cup in support of your teen.

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Change For Teens Tip #6 – Highlight past victories- You can ask your teen daughter about some past changes that she has gone through and how she can use those to help her now. How did she survive or even thrive? What are some things she learned about herself in the process? About others? She may have learned tools to manage change, too!

Change For Teens Tip #7 – Create opportunities for joy and optimismChange is stressful- so it’s important to offer a different landscape once in a while. Coming up with ideas on how to take breaks, have some fun, and do things that bring her joy, can be a great way to manage some of the stress that comes with change. 

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.

Teen Perfectionism Has You Stuck in Thinking Traps

“I could have done better.” “I’ll never be good enough.”

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 Many individuals experience these thoughts from time to time, however, when they become excessive, it can be incredibly overwhelming and take a toll on your functioning – especially for a teen whose brain is developing so many things at once.

My own journey with perfectionism started by gaining a deeper understanding of cognitive distortions or “thinking traps.” Thinking traps are unhelpful patterns of thought that can prevent us from seeing things as they really are. There are several types of thinking traps. Here are some more common thinking traps with teen perfectionism:

Teen Perfectionism Thinking Trap #1: All-or-Nothing Thinking:

Viewing situations or events in absolute terms: good or bad, success or failure.

Example: You get a bad grade on a test and believe you will fail the subject.

 

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Teen Perfectionism Thinking Trap #2: Personalization and Blame

Taking responsibility or placing blame on oneself when an event is completely or partially out of your control.

Example: Someone is talking about qualities of a bad friend and you believe they are calling you a bad friend.

 

Teen Perfectionism Thinking Trap #3: Labelling

Making an extreme judgement about yourself or someone else without considering other factors.

Example: You label yourself as stupid for getting a bad mark on a test.

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Anxiety Canada shares some more examples of thinking traps HERE.

 While perfectionism can feel motivating and like it is helping you achieve your goals, being particularly self-critical can be harmful to your self-worth… Perfectionism itself is a trap because perfection doesn’t exist!

 Understanding and recognizing these thinking traps is a great place to start! My top two tips for continuing to tackle teen perfectionism are:

#1 Keeping a diary can help track thoughts and emotions that are connected to perfectionism thinking traps. It can increase awareness.

#2 Practising self-compassion is one of the most helpful ways to tackle your inner critic. Be kind to yourself! You can read more about how to develop self-compassion for yourself in another blog from our team: Self-Compassion: How Caring Can Stop Teen Depression In Its Tracks.

Working through the emotions around perfectionism, and helping you to decide whether it is really helpful or not to you, are some of the ways I can help you in one to one counselling. Sometimes, having an outside ear to listen can be so helpful with these thinking traps! I am currently offering 1:1 sessions for Alberta teens – online or in-person (Calgary) for the very affordable price of $40 per hour. You can book a free consultation to get to know me better HERE.

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Counselling (or therapy) is a support that helps people who are facing difficult situations. It’s not meant to “fix you” and it does not mean “something is wrong” with you. It’s about offering a safe place to try new ideas, resolve problems, make changes, and move towards the life you want to live. Different therapists can help people work towards personal, relationship, athletic, educational, and career hopes and go​als.

Counselling is a combination of expressing yourself, being witnessed (listened to), discovering resources, and learning new things. There will be times when you will be sharing about your experiences and your counsellor will listen. There are other times when you will be discovering things that will support you to get through difficult situations. Sometimes your therapist will share information, ideas, and resources with you.

We help teen girls build bulletproof mindsets through:

  • Transforming negative self-talk into confidence, clarity and strength
  • Embracing self-love and stepping into the spotlight
  • Learning who to let into their squad of BFFs

You can learn more about each of our team members HERE or book a free consultation HERE.

If you have something you’d like to read more on – email questions to info@pyramidpsychology.com or DM us via Instagram or Facebook.

 

 

Why Trying to be a Perfect Parent Isn’t Serving You

What do the words ‘Perfect Parent’ mean to you?

Many parents who come to us have experienced perfectionist thinking traps. Recognizing that you are in a ‘perfect parent’ trap of thoughts is the first step to empowering yourself as a parent.

Here are the three most common perfectionism thinking traps that parents have shared with our team at Pyramid Psychology:

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Perfect Parent Thinking Trap #1:

As a parent, you likely have an ideal in your mind of how parenting is supposed to look. Oftentimes, the vision you have includes very hard to reach (AKA unrealistic) standards for yourself. 

The ‘perfect parent’ ideal is usually a combination of messages you’ve heard consciously or unconsciously from many possible sources. Here are some common sources of parenting messages:

  • The beliefs and values your parents had when you were growing up.
  • Watching your friends become parents.
  • Online or in-person parent groups, clubs, etc.
  • Social media.

A lot of the messages you have heard, and place on yourself, are putting a lot of pressure on you and aren’t serving you or your family.

This is a reminder to take a look at the parenting message you withhold for yourself: is it empowering to you? Or is it chipping away at yourself? If you’d like to dive into this concept more, Colleen O’Grady wrote a powerful book – Dial Down the Drama – that talks about powerless versus powerful parenting messages. You can read the synopsis HERE.

 

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Perfect Parent Thinking Trap #2:

Another Perfect Parent Thinking Trap is when you tie your teen’s success (or failures) directly to your own self worth, or your ‘grade’ as a parent. When you’re in this perfectionism trap, you will feel like your teen’s failures or mistakes are a direct reflection of you as a parent – you will also see their success as a reflection of your parenting as well.

Although you do influence and impact your teen’s life, you are also not directly linked in such a way that whatever your child does is a direct reflection of you, and vice versa. They are their own human, and so are you. Connecting your ‘success’ as a parent to your teen is a risky thought pattern to get into.

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Perfect Parent Thinking Trap #3:

There can often be a lot of pressure put on you as a parent – internally and externally – to be a ‘super’ parent. This can create a trap of perfectionism thinking; a belief that you must be a perfect parent and show up for everything for your teen and be fully engaged + present.

You may be stuck in this trap if you feel you need to do everything you can for your teen and be your very best. You feel you must go the extra mile every time you show up for your teen.

The reality is that things are going to come up and your attention is going to be divided. You have other responsibilities – a partner, friends, work, other siblings etc., are just some of the things that need your attention too! Setting such a high standard for yourself to be a ‘super parent’ is putting a lot of pressure on you, and is setting yourself up for failure.

You may notice that your teen struggles with perfectionism as well – she is also being inundated with messages around who she ‘should’ be and what she ‘should’ be achieving in life. These thinking traps can lead to anxiety, depression, and disconnection for both of you. The Happiness Pill Teen Coaching program is a 4-month coaching program developed by our Founder, Psychologist and Teen Coach – Chantal Côté that focuses on developing skills to handle these thinking traps.

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In the program, you will work with your teen to discover what she wants most in her life – and how to get there. You will get on the same page as her, and then learn how to support her along the way (including how to battle your perfectionism thinking traps). There is 1:1 coaching AND group coaching for your teen, so she can build relationships with other teens who are experiencing the same pressure she is. You can get the details here:

The Happiness Pill Teen Life Coaching Program


Counselling (or therapy) is a support that helps people who are facing difficult situations. It’s not meant to “fix you” and it does not mean “something is wrong” with you. It’s about offering a safe place to try new ideas, resolve problems, make changes, and move towards the life you want to live. Different therapists can help people work towards personal, relationship, athletic, educational, and career hopes and go​als.

Counselling is a combination of expressing yourself, being witnessed (listened to), discovering resources, and learning new things. There will be times when you will be sharing about your experiences and your counsellor will listen. There are other times when you will be discovering things that will support you to get through difficult situations. Sometimes your therapist will share information, ideas, and resources with you.

We help teen girls build bulletproof mindsets through:

  • Transforming negative self-talk into confidence, clarity and strength
  • Embracing self-love and stepping into the spotlight
  • Learning who to let into their squad of BFFs

You can learn more about each of our team members HERE or book a free consultation HERE.

If you have something you’d like to read more on – email questions to info@pyramidpsychology.com or DM us via Instagram or Facebook.

 

 

 

3 Ways to Help Your Teen Daughter Stop Perfectionist Thinking

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“I’m a perfectionist,” she said, breaking her gaze with me to look down at her feet, slightly turned inwards, careful not to crease her sneakers. The smile on her face suggested this was a kind of badge of honour, but the way her shoulders slumped forward as if rocks were stacked on either side, shared a different story, a kind of heavy burden. 

Teen perfectionists, driven by thoughts of meeting an ideal, whether it be an ideal grade, an ideal body image, an ideal way of being or performing, results in a constant “falling short” in the person’s eyes.

Fed by negative self-talk, unhealthy comparisons, and unrealistic  expectations teens who struggle with perfectionistic thinking tend to:

1.Get blocked from starting tasks, leading to things like procrastination or incomplete assignments, as they contemplate the right or perfect thing to say, do, or write

2.Put a disproportionate amount of time and energy on the tasks they are trying to accomplish and when they are not working on them, it is like a constant radio static in their brain reminding them that they should be.

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(Tackling the Perfectionism Monster is a great podcast to listen to on this topic).

**Tina imagines the way her body “ought” to look. Every day she spends hours looking at images of what she considers the ideal body type. She spends most of her day thinking about or planning around activities that will lead her to this “perfect” image. Even when she’s hanging out with friends or reading her book, her brain constantly tries to pull her into these thoughts and feelings. Perfectionism has Tina trapped in a cycle, pulling her away from much of the enjoyment of her life and consumes her with feelings of stress, guilt, and shame.

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**Evelyn calls herself a procrastinator and most of the time manages to get her assignments in but often right at the deadline or after her mom asks her teachers for an extension. Lately her English assignments have been piling up. Every time Evelyn opens her laptop, she stares blankly at the page, her brain arguing with itself between putting something down and shooting the idea down before her fingers can start typing. The white page stares back at her, a reminder that if her ideas aren’t great enough, she may as well put nothing at all. 

 3 Ways to Help Your Daughter Break Free from Perfectionism

Teen Perfectionism Tip #1: Swing and A Miss

In order to learn how to walk as infants, we needed to start by getting our body to move in different ways, working our way up to standing, and eventually finding our balance to take small steps. No one expected us to start off knowing how to master this skill. Learning any skill requires practice in order to improve. When teens are stuck in perfectionistic thinking, it can paralyze any attempt to get started on tasks, believing that if they don’t get it right the first time, it’s not worth the risk. Helping your daughter recognize that learning happens through successive approximation, by reinforcing behaviours that resemble the desired behaviour. In other words, whenever your teen takes an action that gets them moving in the direction of what they are trying to achieve, and that action is somehow being reinforced (e.g. your teen seeing improvement, a good grade, praise, words on the page, etc.), the more likely they are to keep taking action. If your teen struggles to get started on a writing assignment, encourage them to start by copying a nursery rhyme or a favourite quote a couple of times on the page. They can delete it afterwards, but by starting there and seeing that there is something on the page, it can help them build momentum to continue writing. 

 

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 Teen Perfectionism Tip #2: OWN

This one comes from The Wellness Project with Des podcast episode, “Overcoming Perfectionism With Sarah Herd. The acronym OWN stands for Only What’s Necessary- this is great for teens who struggle with constantly putting most of their focus and energy into specific accomplishments they desire. Helping your teen step back and think about what’s most important to them and what fills their wellness cup is a good place to start. Once they are aware of what matters most to them, they can map out where the majority of their time and energy is spent throughout the week and see if they line up. If perfectionism is a factor, chances are this will be out of sync. The OWN acronym encourages teens to take a look at what would be absolutely necessary in accomplishing a task and letting go of some of that extra to free up time for more things they truly enjoy. 

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Teen Perfectionism Tip #3: Failing for perfection 

Perfection is a trap. Having something be absolutely free of defects, flaws, and imperfections is completely unrealistic. The more your teen can learn to accept failure and mistakes as part of being human, the sooner they can begin to let go of this idea of perfection. This isn’t to say your daughter can’t have goals she is striving for. Nor, that she is doomed to a life of endless failure. Sometimes this means as parents, needing to step back in some places to allow for failure. This can be a frightening prospect, where your parents’ imagination might go to the worst case scenario of mistakes and failures that are irreparable and life altering. 

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Shifting to see most failures and mistakes as opportunities to build your teen’s resilience by teaching them things like changing the script on their self-talk and failing forward, learning from their mistakes, can really help your teen start to step away from perfectionistic thinking.    

Perfectionism can be really tricky and tied to your daughter’s beliefs about her self-worth. The Happiness Pill Program is a 4-month coaching program designed to help your daughter build her confidence, develop healthy and meaningful connections, and learn to get in the driver’s seat of her emotions. If this sounds like the answer you’ve been looking for, please email us at info@pyramidpsychology.com to find out more about our Happiness Pill Teen Life Coaching Program. Our next intake is March, 2022.

**Please note: the people referred to in this blog are a composite of various stories I’ve heard throughout the years and do not represent one specific person.


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.

6 Teen Motivation Tips When You Have Big Goals

Teen motivation is something that comes up often in the work I do, because I am often supporting teen clients with goal planning.

While it’s easy to chalk up lack of motivation to laziness, there’s much more to it.

When you are feeling unmotivated, a good place to start is exploring why you are feeling that way.

For example, your attendance may have gone down because you’re feeling unmotivated to attend school when there’s other factors contributing to this. Once we have identified the root of “lack of motivation”, it’s time to work towards some solutions, which is more fun than it sounds!

After being in school myself for several years, I’ve had lots of opportunities to develop my own strategies. I have included some of these for you below!

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Teen Motivation Goal Tip #1: Develop Small and Clearly Defined Goals

Accomplishing goals feels much more manageable when they are broken down into smaller ones. 

Personal Tip: Make note of the goals in a way that works best for you. As much as I love finding a new day planner or agenda, the convenience of creating a to do list on my phone works best for me. My phone is always close by if I need to add to or check something off my list. 

Teen Motivation Goal Tip #2: Get Organized

With a busy schedule, it can be easy to forget even the most important things. Add any important due dates to your paper or online calendar, so you do not forget.
Personal Tip: When I have an assignment due, I add “alerts” into my calendar app. To really be sure I don’t forget, I’ll add 2 alerts including a day before the assignment is due, so I can start if I have not already. The second alert to reminds me to submit the assignment, so it is not late.

 

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Teen Motivation Goal Tip #3: Set The Environment

Create a space that encourages you to accomplish your goals. You can look around the house for things to add to or repurpose for your space. This is one of my favourite ways to get motivated because it allows me to get creative and personalize my environment!

Personal Tip: If I have a big assignment, I make sure my surroundings aren’t cluttered before I start because it can be incredibly distracting for me. It also checks something else off my life – chores ☺

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Teen Motivation Goal Tip #4: Lean on Others 

Keep others informed of any big goals you have or ones you find particularly challenging. Support systems are there for that reason!
Let the people in your support circle know what support looks like for you. This can ensure that support comes in the way that’s most helpful for you. This could be asking a parent to provide gentle reminders or completing goals with friends who are working on similar things.

It is okay to need outside support as well – sometimes your immediate circle may not be quite the right people for the motivation you need. I am offering 1:1 support specifically for teens, at a lower rate. You can book an appointment with me HERE.

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Teen Motivation Goal Tip #5: Reward and Recharge!

It feels good to check things off your list, but life is all about balance. Be kind to yourself and give yourself credit when you’ve accomplished your goals, no matter how small.

Remember that you need to consistently integrate activities into your life that recharge your internal batter. 

Personal Tip: What recharges your battery is personal to you, but a personal favorite of mine is listening to my favorite songs, especially 90s/2000s pop ☺ 

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Teen Motivation Goal Tip #6: Revisit Your Goals

Life can get really busy and sometimes it can cause you to forget your goals or why they’re important to you. Revisiting your WHY behind your goals can kickstart your motivation. It also serves as an opportunity to try out new strategies if you find that others aren’t working anymore. 

Personal Tip: Ask a friend what works for them! 

You aren’t alone in your struggles! One of the biggest sources of motivation buzzkill I’ve come across with teens I work with, especially when it comes to school, is falling behind. When homework and extracurricular activities pile up and get overwhelming to manage, your stress levels rise. This is when avoidance kicks in and it becomes easier to not do anything at all because it seems impossible to know where to start.

Following the tips above can help you not get to this point… If you do get there, though, these tips will allow you to let the people around you know how you feel! The weight of expectations can feel much lighter when there’s others to help you carry it.

Getting an outside perspective can often be helpful when you feel like you’re drowning in your struggles to keep motivated. Therapy is one source of support that can guide you to your own strategies, and provide some of that outside perspective. You can book me in here:

BOOK TEEN THERAPY

Before I let you go, I also encourage you to check out The Happiness Pill Program – this is a 4-month program designed to support you AND your parents to keep you moving towards the life you want for yourself, full of motivation and joy. Take a look here:

The Happiness Pill Program


 

Hi there! My name is Ally and I am a MA student therapist working with teens, parents, and young adults in Calgary, Alberta. I am passionate about helping others and one of the greatest honours of my life is being able to listen and hold space for other people’s stories. 

 When I am not working, I enjoy listening to music, spending time with family and friends, hiking, and indoor cycling. I love exploring new places with some of my favourites being Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Spain, Iceland, as well as Vancouver Island. 

 Calgary is home, but I will take any opportunity to travel!

Building Teen Grit & Motivation

Our team here Pyramid Psychology has noticed an increase in the teens and parents we work with struggling with Teen Grit & Motivation – so we are covering it on our socials, blogs, and live videos for all of January!

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There is a lot of overlap between teen grit and motivation, with both concepts referring to a complex process that starts and maintains goal-oriented actions. Despite the similarities, there are noteworthy differences: 

Motivation can come from internal or external sources, be directed at small or large goals. It is also more likely to fluctuate. 

Gritrefers to the perseverance and passion to achieve long-term goals. In this context, passion does not necessarily mean being swept up in strong emotions but rather knowing what is meaningful to you – the spark that provides a sense of purpose.

Think of motivation as the daily weather, and grit is the climate.

Daily motivation is something you can handle on the spot, with the various tools and resources out there,  including our blog article: 5 Ways to Increase Teen Motivation https://pyramidpsychology.com/teen-motivation-5-ways-to-increase-teen-motivation/ .

To ensure the overall is going well, regular check-ins and support from external sources can be really helpful for your teen – therapy is one way to get this support. You can meet our team, and book a free 20-minute consultation HERE.

Angela Duckworth is a leading psychologist in grit, and defines it in the following quote:

“Grit is passion and perseverance for long-term goals. 

One way to think about grit is to consider what grit isn’t. 

Grit isn’t talent. Grit isn’t luck. Grit isn’t how intensely, for the moment, you want something. 

Instead, grit is about having what some researchers call an “ultimate concern”–a goal you care about so much that it organizes and gives meaning to almost everything you do. And grit is holding steadfast to that goal. Even when you fall down. Even when you screw up. Even when progress toward that goal is halting or slow. 

Talent and luck matter to success. But talent and luck are no guarantee of grit. And in the very long run, I think grit may matter at least as much, if not more.” 

In other words, grit takes your teen’s values into consideration – what matters so much to them in this life that they are willing to stick to it even when things get tough? What is it that gives them a sense of purpose and meaning?

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(Values can be hard to identify. If you would like to know more check out this values list (List of Values – Steve Pavlina) or consider booking a session with one of the Psychologists on our team HERE.

Because grit is based on your teen’s values, it is less swayed by factors like feelings or setbacks. Instead, it is an ongoing process of choices to make moves (no matter how small!) toward the life they want to live.

Grit is a complex, long-term process that is made up of countless small decisions.

While some teens may be naturally “grittier”, grit is a quality that can also be cultivated.

Here are some questions your teen can ask themselves, if grit is something they want to cultivate more of in their life:

Cultivating Teen Grit: What do they want the most for their life?

Have your teen take some time to be intentional and reflect on this question, whether that be through journaling, meditation, discussion, or paying attention to their own thoughts. You can join them, too!

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Cultivating Teen Grit: What is a small, next step that you can take to reach your long-term goal or end state?

It can be easy to get lost in questions of where to start or how to achieve a large goal – think of ONE small thing you can do today, instead of looking at your whole to-do list.

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Cultivating Teen Grit: What is your inner voice telling you?

Is it a helpful, hopeful voice, or a negative, judgmental one? If you’re struggling with your thoughts, our blog on Thought Distortions HERE has some helpful ways to re-energize your thinking.

Cultivating Teen Grit: How do you view failure?

A quote by Denis Waitley says:

“Failure should be our teacher, not our undertaker. Failure is delay, not defeat. It is a temporary detour, not a dead end. Failure is something we can avoid only by saying nothing, doing nothing, and being nothing.”

One last thing I’ll share is a question for YOU to ponder as a parent – “what can I do to model motivation for my teen?”

Lack of motivation, if it goes on too long, can often express itself as anxiety or depression. With our FREE Anxiety Toolkit for Parents Raising Teen Girls, you will receive 10 tools you can begin implementing TODAY to support your teen through this. Download your free copy here:

Tool Kit

I am always a call away as an external resource for your teen – gaining a new perspective with someone on the outside can go a long way to building a life of grit and success for your teen. You can book a free 20-minute consultation with me here:

Book a Free 20 Minute Consultation with Jessa

Email us with any questions, any time: info@pyramidpsychology.com

Love,

Jessa

 


Jessa

Jessa is a provisional psychologist living and servicing teens and young adults in Calgary, Alberta.

Jessa is passionate about helping people become the best version of themselves and is continually learning how to best support her clients. She has experience with acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) and cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), but most importantly she emphasizes the therapeutic relationship.

A safe, authentic relationship is key for therapy to work. Jessa prioritizes compassion and nonjudgmental curiosity. Together, she can find out what matters most to you and how to get there.

If you think Jessa may be a good match for you, please feel free to reach out and set up a free consult or book a session. She is looking forward to hearing from you!

Once a month, she writes a blog article in response to issues she hears from the parents, teens and young adults 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.

5 Ways to Increase Teen Motivation

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Teen motivation has been fragile over the last couple of years – for parents, too! Many of the teens I work with share that they are struggling finding teen motivation for day to day things – cooking, cleaning, assignments, getting out of bed, etc. Even finding the motivation for the things they want to do is difficult.

This is a big part of why I developed my signature 4-month coaching program for you and your teens – The Happiness Pill Program. Your teen will receive several 1:1 coaching sessions with me, as well as weekly group sessions with other teens who are also feeling a lack of motivation. For you, there are parent office hours to connect and ask questions while we work together to guide your teen to their best life.

Before the program is even complete, you will begin feeling like a weight has been lifted – your teen will be finding tools for motivation and getting back to their old selves. You will feel empowered to walk alongside them. You can find the details here:

The Happiness Pill Program

 

For, understanding why your teen is feeling unmotivated can be a helpful starting point. 

Here are the top five reasons teens share with me for struggling with motivation:

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Lack of Teen Motivation Cause #1: Stress

Stress is the #1 thing that zaps motivation – and there certainly hasn’t been a shortage in the last couple of years! When your teen feels stressed, or overwhelmed, like they have too many things to do, it depletes their motivation.

The more stressors your teen has to manage, the more it zaps their motivation. It is something that needs to constantly be managed right now.

Lack of Teen Motivation Cause #2: Lack of Desire

Whether or not your teen ‘should’ complete a task or activity is a different question than their desire to do so. If your teen doesn’t like the task/activity at hand, or isn’t seeing the benefits of doing it, motivation can easily be zapped.

Chores and school assignments are two common areas that come to mind. Especially right now, with all the changes in school throughout Covid – things have been delayed, changed, and even cancelled. The mentality of ‘what’s the point’ tends to set in in situations like this.

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Lack of Teen Motivation Cause #3: Big Picture

As parents it’s helpful to recognize that teens have an underdeveloped prefrontal cortex, which is the area of the brain that’s responsible for reasoning, thinking things through, and problem-solving. It is in charge of how your teen evaluates things; their higher thinking structures to figure things out.

Your teen has the ability to problem solve, judge, and rationalize – of course – but these skills are still under construction. This makes seeing the big picture/long-term benefits harder for your teen to consider, in comparison to instant gratification. When a project is due next week but your teen has been invited to hang out with friends, for example: Your teen may not be thinking long-term – seeing that they will likely feel high pressure and stress with completing the assignment last minute. The short-term instant gratification of hanging out with friends right now is a much bigger push for motivation.

While your teen’s frontal cortex is still developing, their limbic system – emotional centre – is highly developed and is often in charge.

This can happen in many other areas as well, including chores at home 😉 Your teen won’t be thinking about the nagging from you later, if they don’t complete the chore. They would rather get instant gratification now – finishing their video game, being with friends, etc.

Lack of Teen Motivation Cause #4: Instant Gratification

With your teens limbic (emotional) system being in charge, they are driven by pleasure; the rewards circuit in their brain. Their brain will respond a lot quicker to things that feel good in the moment, than things that are long term in nature. The instant gratification of watching a few more TikTok videos, as opposed to getting off and going on their bike, or hanging out with their family, will usually win over. This is especially true if your teen is already feeling a lack of motivation.

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Lack of Teen Motivation Cause #5: Externally vs Internally Driven

If a parent, teacher, etc. is telling your teen to do something, oftentimes it isn’t as motivating because it isn’t linking to an internal sense of reward or value to get the thing done. When I say ‘reward’ I mean pleasure from doing it, or seeing another value or benefit.

If you’re asking your teen to do something that also triggers an internal drive, it is likely to get done quicker.

Part of what I do with you and your teen in The Happiness Pill Program is create a roadmap of where your teen wants to go. Your teen is fully involved in creating the plan, so the steps we take to get there are intrinsic motivators. This is done on ‘Ready-Up Day’, a 1:1 session between you, your teen, and myself. You can book a free 20-minute consultation to discover if The Happiness Pill Program is the best way to motivate your teen and empower your parenting HERE.

The Happiness Pill Program

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Now that you can see some of the things that are zapping motivation for your teen – stress, overwhelm, lack of desire, trouble seeing the big picture, instant gratification, and externally driven tasks – it’s important to talk about how you can support your teen to feel more motivated.

Here are five ways you can help:

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Increasing Teen Motivation: Take A Break

In talking to a teen client recently, they shared that taking a step back from some of the stressors in their life was really helpful to get motivated again. The 24-hour rule is a good one – allow your teen to sleep on it, and then things will look different the next day.

Allowing your teen to take a break, or create some distance, gives them the opportunity to rest, reset, and re-energize. It can give them a new perspective for when they come back to the task, activity, goal, etc.

Increasing Teen Motivation: Evaluate the Goal

You can help your teen to check-in with themselves on why what they are trying to get done is important to them – a school assignment, meeting a health goal (working out, joining dance, etc.). You can guide your teen to ask ‘why did I want to start this in the first place?’ Getting back into the WHY behind it. Understanding the values and hopes behind a goal can bring the motivation back to life.

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Increasing Teen Motivation: Destress

With stress being the #1 zapper of motivation – and with no shortage of it right now – it’s important that your teen has opportunities to destress (and you too)! Think of people as having various internal batteries – physical, mental, social, etc. – that gauge how you’re doing. The more stress you have, the more those batteries are drained.

When your teen isn’t doing well – their mental battery is drained – it’s difficult to think clearly, make good judgements, or stay focused and concentrated. When the physical battery is drained they may be feeling tired, lethargic, etc.

Reducing stress in your teen’s life allows their batteries to recharge. It also allows them space to think about what it looks like when their batteries are fully charged and in the green zone. They may show up in a different way than they were before.

You can help your teen think about things that destress them. For some it could be spending time alone, connecting with a creative project, enjoying social interactions, increasing play/laughter, leisure activities (reading, watching movies), being outdoors, hanging with animals, etc.

It can be helpful for your teen to come up with a list of 5-6 things that they know help them to destress. Keep the list somewhere they can easily access, and make sure they are using the things on the list over and over again.

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Increasing Teen Motivation: Set Smaller Goals

Your teen can create small tasks to achieve, a short list, or try a daily challenge. The important thing here is to help your teen to create tasks that are small enough for your teen that they know they are going to achieve it. Creating small things your teen can cross off the list (or place a checkmark beside) triggers the motivation and reward circuit in the brain – the “I’ve done this AND gotten the reward” mentality.

A school assignment, for instance, can be broken down into smaller pieces, like reading 10 pages of chapter three in my social studies textbook. Wanting to take a dance class can be broken into smaller tasks – looking on the website at three dance organizations in my neighborhood is an achievable task to build your teens motivation/reward circuit.

Increasing Teen Motivation: Enjoy the Moment

When your teen is not feeling motivated – ruminating or thinking about past things, or getting stuck thinking about future orientated things in a stressful way (I have a lot to do, what if I can’t make it, etc.) Replaying past things. Not enjoying the moment can zap motivation in the moment. Take delight in what’s happening now. Invite your teen to grab a tea instead of going straight home to do homework, check out a really cool skyline with the mountains in the background. Taking a moment to enjoy what’s happening in the now and allowing that to be wonderful and joyful in the moment.

For further support helping your teen with lack of motivation, you can download our FREE Anxiety Toolkit for Parents Raising Teen Girls HERE – it includes 10 tools as well as several mini webinars delivered right to your inbox. These tools will give you control over what to do next, and take away the overwhelm.

And don’t forget that in just four months, you and your teen could be on the same page, feeling motivated to create your teen’s dream life with The Happiness Pill Program – it includes 1:1 coaching, group coaching, parent office hours, creating a roadmap together AND many online tools & resources. Find the whole list of what it entails here:

The Happiness Pill Program


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.

Teen Motivation: Paying Attention to Teen Interests

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“I just don’t feel motivated”, is all too common a phrase, particularly for teens who have had their lives turned upside down over the last couple of years. At a time when school, friendships and social experiences are of utmost importance, teens have been required to navigate a lot of their life differently during the pandemic. 

Lack of teen motivation can be hard to navigate as a parent, particularly when you see it affecting your teen’s level of joy, or decreasing their desire for social interactions.

Here are two ways to inspire your teen to find their motivation:

Teen Motivation: Social issues

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Talking to your teen and asking questions about what matters to them can help them feel more connected. Whether it’s a social justice cause, an inequity they gripe about, or some issue they can talk about forever,  helping your teen hone in on what they are passionate about will drive their motivation. This will lead them to want to be around others who are also passionate about this issue. This feeds motivation to reach out to peers, making a difference, and seeking others with similar views, etc.

Teen Motivation: Collaborative List of Joy

Creating a collaborative list of things that brings each person in your family joy – including your teen,  can be a great way to motivate your teen to be involved in family activities.

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Work towards trying all the things on the list as a family.  Can you think of three things you would add to the list right now?

The Happiness Pill program is a 4-month coaching program designed to combat anxiety and depression, which are often the causes of lack of motivation for teens. Your teen daughter will join other teens struggling with the same issues, in weekly group coaching calls. She will also have 1:1 appointments with me, and an appointment with you there to ensure you’re both on the same page.

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Lastly, the program includes parent coaching sessions for you as well.

If you’re ready to take the weight off your shoulders and move into a life of joy with your teen daughter, book your free 20-minute consultation to get started:

Book Your Happiness Pill Consultation Now

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.