Planning For The Future After High School Graduation

 

Ahh, future planning for after high school graduation… You know those people who have always known what they wanted to do?

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I am not one of them.

I remember having friends in high school who were so certain about what job they wanted to do and had thought of all the steps to get there – attend university X in city Y, and if that does not work then university A in city B. Plan A had plan B, and plan B had plan C. I admired the passion and certainty. However, I also couldn’t help but wonder if there was something “wrong” with me because I did not have that same level of passion or certainty.

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Everyone’s journey is different, and I have learned that that is a beautiful thing. My journey has taken twists and turns, many of which I could not anticipate, and through a mix of choice, circumstance, and consequence, I have ended up where I am today. With this in mind, here are three tips for teens struggling with planning for after high school graduation:

Planning For After High School Graduation Tip #1:  Let Go of Unhelpful Expectations

Not everyone has that “Ah-ha!” moment or knows their dream job since they were little. There is likely no job that is 100% perfect for you, but rather a list of potential options. With every option, there will be things about the job that you like and things that you don’t. The idea of the “perfect job”, and the expectation that you need to know it at 17 or 18 years old, are beliefs that are likely not serving you well. 

If you are unsure of what direction to take, perhaps a better way to look at planning for after high school graduation is to view it as a treasure map. You don’t know exactly how to get to the treasure, and you may not even know what the treasure is, but there are always steps to take and stones to turnover along the way. Even a “dead-end” can provide you with valuable information and experience!

Planning For After High School Graduation Tip #2: Be Intentional 

Whatever you are considering after high school graduation, it can be helpful to be mindful and try to make your choices with intention. If being mindful is a new skill for you, my colleague here at Pyramid Psychology wrote an article that you may find helpful: Mindfulness for Teens: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly!

There is no single “right way” to live your life or pursue your dreams, and there are so many ways to learn, grow, experience, and discover more about yourself and the world around you. Life after high school graduation could look like going to university or college right away, but it could also look like spending time working or travelling, taking a gap year (or two), getting hands-on experience, volunteering, or even taking a range of courses to see what interests you.

It is important to recognize that indecision is a decision. Indecision is not inherently right or wrong, but it may lead to discouragement and regret if it is your default state for a long time. It can end up feeling like your life is happening TO you, instead of you being in the drivers seat.

Planning For After High School Graduation Tip #3: Keep Moving Forward

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With so many options and paths available, it can be easy to fall into “analysis paralysis” – dwelling, overthinking, and having thoughts spin and swirl around with no real progress or clarity. 

When this happens, try to narrow your focus, even if it is just by a bit. What interests you, makes you feel alive, or gives a sense of purpose?

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Some of the teens I work with have found it helpful to take interest tests, personality tests, and/or career tests to begin narrowing the scope of options… This is probably the psychology part of me speaking, but I think they are also kinda fun! Here is a list of potential quizzes to try out: The 13 Best Career Tests and Quizzes to Help You Find Your Dream Job.

Whether you know your dream job, have potential ideas, or have no clue at all, I hope this blog has provided encouragement and given you something to think about. I have a variety of tools available to help you through the emotional side of planning for after high school graduation; it can be helpful to learn skills for handling this, and get a new perspective on things. You can book a 1:1 appointment with me through my booking link:

 

Book an Appointment

 

 


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.

 

 

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.

How To Handle Change For Teens

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The topic for this month at Pyramid Psychology is how to heal and handle change for teens. Significant changes have occurred for most of us in the last few years, many of which we have never experienced before.

A lot of the change has had to do with Covid-19 and all the change that has occurred at the personal, family, and societal levels. But even if Covid-19 was not actually the most significant or meaningful recent change in your life, handling change is important for you as a teen.

If the changes in your life are stopping you from living life the way you normally do, or you are feeling anxious or depressed, you can book a free consultation for 1:1 therapy with me here:

Book a Free Consultation

Here are my top two tips for handling change as a teen:

Change For Teens Tip #1: Acknowledge

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Tip #1 for dealing with change for teens is to acknowledge that the change is happening, as well as all of the associated thoughts and feelings that are coming up as a result. Change is often bittersweet and may include feelings like hopefulness, relief, excitement, and peace, but also anxiety, uncertainty, sadness, and loss. Whatever your experience may be, try to give it room to just be. It is so easy to immediately judge whatever thoughts and feelings may be coming up.

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One judgement I hear a lot from the teens I work with is, “I shouldn’t be feeling this way because other people have it so much worse.” While this may be factually true, this line of thinking isn’t particularly helpful for anybody. Rather, these thoughts serve to add negative judgement and guilt on top of the existing struggle with change. It’s like another tablespoon of salt on top of an already too salty pizza.

Other people can have it worse AND you can still be struggling with your own experience; there does not need to be a competition for “who has it the worst”. Giving room for your own experience may actually help you support those around you who may be struggling. This is similar to the idea of filling your own cup before you can pour out to others. Acknowledging your experience does not mean that all the thoughts and feelings that come up are true, but it does give you the choice to be curious about them and make better-informed decisions.

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Change For Teens Tip #2: The Boundary of Control

An idea I often introduce in my sessions is the boundary of control, which encourages teens to think about all the things that they can control or influence in a situation and all the things that they can not. In getting clear about this distinction, you can redirect your focus and energy into those things that you can do. Examples of things you can control when it comes to change, include your own words, actions, boundaries, beliefs, and self-care. In contrast, examples of things that you cannot control include the behaviours and words of others, what others may think, and the priorities of other people.

As an activity or point of reflection for yourself, think about what factors are inside of and outside of your control when it comes to Covid restrictions in Alberta being loosened. You can draw a circle and create a photo like the one below to add to this exercise:

Website: Laurahutchingstherapy.co.uk

Whatever change you may be facing, remember to acknowledge your experience, be curious and non-judgmental, and invest your energy into those things that you can control or influence. I believe in you!

Sometimes when you acknowledge what’s going on, you may realize that the emotions you are experiencing are a lot to handle. It’s perfectly normal to need an outside perspective or safe person to speak to. I specialize in supporting teens like you (through therapy) to navigate change in a positive way that builds ok your confidence. I would love to meet you. You can book a free consultation with me on our website:

Book a Free Consultation

 


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.

 

 

Perfectionism – 5 Questions To Ask Your Teen

Perfectionism

What is this thing anyway?

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The research defines perfectionism in a variety of ways. Without diving into the substantial research that exists on the topic, here are two perspectives on perfectionism, with links for further research.

Some perspectives view perfectionism as being a personality trait –  People with perfectionism have a tendency to be more conscientious and also score higher in neuroticism. (Neuroticism is a fancy word in the psychological literature that essentially describes a person’s tendency to experience negative emotions such as anxiety, anger, and self-doubt.)

Other perspectives view perfectionism as a combination of beliefs and behaviours

No matter how you define it, perfectionism seems to be a complex trait that consists of a dynamic mix of genetics, personality, beliefs, thoughts, and behaviours.

In addition to what perfectionism is, the focus of perfectionism can differ. You can read about three different types HERE.

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Most often though, perfectionism is talked about in a way that is directed inward. Your teen can set high expectations for themselves across contexts such as school, sports, hobbies, performances, or relationships. Having high self-expectations can come from a place of internal motivation to succeed but can also come from pressure from others or from societal expectations. In the former, your teen is running toward a goal, whereas in the latter, they are running away from a fear of failure or judgement.

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Perfectionism can also be directed outward and can be seen as rigid, high standards your teen places on others OR they are having placed on them. In this other-oriented perfectionism, there is an expectation for others to be perfect (or close to!) and subsequent negative judgments when they are not.

So, what do I do with this information?

Knowing the underlying factors influencing perfectionism can help you support your teen, or maybe even yourself – knowledge is power! Consider the following prompts for self-reflection or in conversation with your teen:

  • Where are the perfectionist tendencies coming from?
  • Are they tied to my genetics or personality traits, or have I picked up some perfectionist tendencies from somewhere else?

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  • Is my perfectionism directed at myself or others?

o   How would I like to be treated?

o   Where does the idea of compassion fit into my strivings for perfection?

  • What is the root of my perfectionism – am I striving toward something I genuinely care about or am I running away from the potential of judgement, embarrassment, or sense of failure?
  • When I “fail”, what am I telling myself? Are these thoughts true or kind?
  •  Since being perfect is impossible (we are human after all), what is a more realistic and helpful value to live by?

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If you are struggling with perfectionism yourself, our team at Pyramid Psychology compiled our knowledge and wrote a blog specifically for you: Why Trying To Be A Perfect Parent Isn’t Serving You.

If you’re watching your teen struggle with perfectionism, Chantal Cote – psychologist, teen coach and Founder of Pyramid Psychology – wrote a blog article with tips to help your daughter through it: 3 Ways To Help Your Daughter Stop Perfectionist Thinking.

 

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 Perfectionism is often linked to feelings of anxiety or depression, particularly in teen girls who are already prone to these emotions. We have developed a toolkit with 10 tools to help you build resilience for your daughter. You can download your free copy here:

 

Free Anxiety Toolkit for Parents Raising Teen Girls


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.

 

 

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.

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.

Parenting Teens: A Word of Intention

As I navigate parenting teens, I am always reading to learn more. As I was reading the latest book by Michelle Borba, Thrivers, I was feeling full of hope by her message – ‘By nurturing 7 specific character strengths in our teens, we are practically guaranteed to get them from stressing to thriving’, I couldn’t wait to share this message with the parents of the amazing teen girls I support every day. Something happened as I kept reading. Those feelings of hope and excitement faded beneath a shadow of something else – Self-doubt? Overwhelm? Definitely annoyance. Shame… What was happening?

Well, there is so much information out there, really great stuff, ready and available at our fingertips to equip us to be the best possible parents. So much in fact, that it can quickly feel like too much, that we are constantly failing to keep up on the newest parenting standards. As I read the book, I was getting caught up in the parenting rat race thoughts of “I’m not doing enough”, “not good enough”, “there isn’t enough time, resources, knowledge to parent like this’ ‘, etc.

The role of parenting can be one of the most rewarding experiences. It can also be one that feels isolating; Am I the only whose teen…..?- Are others unsure about how to handle….? – and many parts of parenting seem to operate under a covert set of rules. It’s not an easy undertaking.

There was this meme going around at the height of the pandemic when most parents were at home and kids were attending classes online: It went something like – “My co-workers are the worst. They walk around half-naked, blast their music, and demand food from me”. I definitely cracked a smile and gave a good head nod in recognition of this common at home scenario. The thing is parenting is a non-stop role that keeps us onboard… Well, forever. So it’s a wonder to me how parenting, especially the behind the scenes of it, is not talked about with more acceptance, awareness, and love.

As you step into the new year – which really is an arbitrary time to select, but seems to be a socially accepted time to reset or start anew, why not highlight your intentions as a parent and to do so lovingly with awareness and acceptance.

Here are a few things to keep in mind:

Parenting Teens: Letting Go of Perfection

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There is just no such thing as perfection. When raising teens, it is more of an art than a science. There is definitely science behind a lot of what is happening in your teen’s brain and body that helps explain the behaviors you see – but when it comes to the manual on parenting – it doesn’t exist. You can watch this link for a short Netflix clip on the topic. The quicker you can let go of getting right all the time and company ring to other parents (guaranteed to bring about bad feelings!), the quicker you can step into being a more present parent. Challenge yourself to drop the struggle with perfection. It will create more empathy in your parent-teen relationship (the ‘me’ to ‘we’ concept). It also releases the pressure valve on stress for both you and your teen.

Parenting Teens: Intention

Intentional, thoughtful parenting is more aware. You question why you do what you do. You stop and think before jumping on the bandwagon of the latest parenting trend or keep doing what you’re doing just because that’s the way it’s always been done. Yes, it requires a little more effort to show up in this way. Yes, it can be so tempting to just hang out at

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cruising altitude. Everyone wins when we parent with intention. Values guide parenting with intention. What matters most to you, becomes your North star. You’ll know when you’re aligned because you’ll feel more solid, certain, and frankly that things are easier (easier, but not perfect).

Parenting Teens: Action

In many ways I’m the master of getting pumped up to try something new and then fizzling out after a few weeks. When it comes to putting your parenting intentions into action, it is crucial to walk the walk, and keep walking the walk, until it becomes almost second nature. Modeling by way of what you say, what you do, and sharing about the values that matters most to you.

I see you amazing parents who love your teens dearly and just want them to be happy. Here’s to 2022 being a year of loving intentions that nurture not only your teen, but you who are doing your very best.

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.