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Talking To Teens: Expert Tips for Parenting Teenagers

Kids & Family Podcasts

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


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




Ep 280: The Surprising Power of Hanging Out

Sheila Liming, author of Hanging Out: The Radical Power of Killing Time, explores the underestimated value of unstructured social time for teens, discussing why it's essential for developing negotiation skills, setting boundaries, and fostering creativity. Bonfire Digital Wellness has a diverse team of seasoned, compassionate school counselors, ready to coach your teen. Check it out today and take advantage of a 1-month FREE trial: Full Show Notes: In today's fast-paced world, parents often worry about their teenagers' productivity and safety. The idea of teens "just hanging out" can induce anxiety, conjuring images of wasted time or potential mischief. Yet, these unstructured moments play a critical role in adolescents' development, offering unique opportunities for learning and growth unattainable in more structured settings. Our guest, Sheila Liming, brings a fresh perspective on the art of hanging out. An accomplished teacher, essayist, and author, Sheila has extensively explored the complex dynamics of social interactions and their impact on individual development. Her book, Hanging Out: The Radical Power of Killing Time, challenges prevailing notions of productivity, suggesting that these seemingly idle moments are foundational to shaping character and interpersonal skills. The Value of Unstructured Time Sheila argues that hanging out offers teens essential lessons in negotiation, boundary setting, and improvisation. Away from adult supervision and structured activities, teens learn to navigate social dynamics, make collective decisions, and, crucially, understand their own limits. This episode delves into why fostering these skills is crucial for their transition into adulthood. Overcoming the Stigma of Idle Time The common view of idle time as inherently unproductive overlooks its potential to strengthen relationships and community bonds. Sheila and host Andy Earle discuss how parents can reframe their understanding of what it means for teens to spend time together without a set agenda. They touch on the historical context of hanging out and how digital interactions compare with face-to-face gatherings. Embracing Risk and Flexibility One of Sheila's key messages is the importance of embracing risk and being open to the unpredictable nature of social interactions. For teens, navigating this uncertainty is vital for emotional development. The conversation covers practical ways for parents to encourage their teens to engage in healthy social experimentation while maintaining safety and trust. Making Time for Connection In our busy lives, making room for genuine connections can be challenging. Sheila shares insights into why dedicating time to hang out—both for teens and adults—is more crucial than ever. She offers tips on how parents can model healthy social behavior and create opportunities for meaningful family interactions. Episode Highlights Amid a culture obsessed with productivity and screen time, encouraging teens to engage in the simple act of hanging out might seem counterintuitive. Yet, as Sheila Liming articulates, these moments are irreplaceable workshops for life's most valuable lessons. Tune in to learn how to support your teen in making the most of their social opportunities. Don't miss out on this enlightening conversation—subscribe to Talking to Teens to stay updated on insightful discussions aimed at making the journey of parenting teens a bit smoother.


Ep 279: "What Were You Thinking?" - Inside the Teenage Brain

John Coleman, author of The Psychology of the Teenage Brain, joins us to explain why the biology of the adolescent brain leads to risk taking and emotional ups and downs, and how parents can provide support during this temporary period of development. Bonfire Digital Wellness has a diverse team of seasoned, compassionate school counselors, ready to coach your teen. Check it out today and take advantage of a 1-month FREE trial: Full Show Notes The teenage years can feel like an emotional rollercoaster for parents and kids alike. Why does your once sweet child suddenly start acting out and making baffling decisions? What drives them to take risks, rebel against authority figures, and make choices that seem completely irrational? In this week’s episode of Talking to Teens, we’re getting to the root of teenage psychology and behavior with an expert guide. We’re joined by Dr. John Coleman, a clinical psychologist who has spent decades researching adolescent development. He’s the founder of a research center focused on teens and their families, and is the author of the book The Psychology of the Teenage Brain. John explains that the ups and downs of the adolescent years can be explained by major changes happening in the biology of the teenage brain. As Dr. Coleman tells us, the teenage brain actually undergoes its biggest developmental shift since infancy, which shapes teen behavior in profound ways parents often don’t realize. The Teenage Brain: Pruning, Hormones and Development As John explains, there are two major biological processes unfolding in the adolescent brain: pruning and hormonal changes. First, he describes the proliferation of gray matter that happens in late childhood. Gray matter contains neuron cells, creating lots of connections in the brain. But in the teen years, the brain eliminates unused neural connections through a process called pruning. This effectively “shrinks” the brain, reorganizing it to become more efficient. However, this leads teens to feel uncertain and confused. At the same time, John explains that hormone levels are fluctuating more intensely during adolescence than any other life stage. The hormones affecting mood, stress responses, impulsiveness and more vary greatly throughout the day, leaving teens emotionally unstable. This is why an event can make them despair one moment and elated the next. Understanding the changes happening biologically helps parents empathize with teens during this rocky transition, says John. Even though the period is temporary, it shapes how teens think, process information and regulate emotions in the moment. Why Teens Act Without Thinking In our interview, John provides a scientific explanation for why teenagers engage in baffling, risky behavior without considering consequences. As he explains, the brain networks connecting the emotional centers to the prefrontal cortex (the area controlling planning and decision making) are still immature in adolescents. So when intense impulses arise, the thinking part of teens’ brains can’t overcome these urges, leading them to act out without foresight about the outcomes. Helping Teens Develop Healthy Brains The good news is there are things we can do to help teens through this period, says John. Having routines, boundaries and open conversations about emotions helps them regulate their moods and behavior. We discuss how parents can model healthy emotional responses for kids, so they can build skills managing feelings that will serve them in adulthood. John also emphasizes that despite teens’ outward rejection of parents, they still heavily rely on parental support during this challenging developmental window. So staying patiently engaged as a caring guide remains important, even when kids are pulling away to assert their independence.


Ep 278: The New Faces of Teen Addiction

David Magee, author of Things Have Changed, joins us to explain today's teen addiction crisis involving social media, potent synthetic drugs and vulnerable mental health. Bonfire Digital Wellness has a diverse team of seasoned, compassionate school counselors, ready to coach your teen. Check it out today and take advantage of a 1-month FREE trial: Full Show Notes Teen substance use has drastically changed in recent years. With skyrocketing rates of anxiety, depression and addiction, today’s parents are facing new and confusing challenges when trying to help their kids. We used to assume teens mainly struggled with peer pressure around drinking or smoking cigarettes. Now, teens face a host of new pressures tied to social media, a lack of sleep, and easy access to dangerously potent substances. To help parents understand what’s really happening and how we can better communicate with struggling teens, we spoke with David Magee, author of Things Have Changed: What Every Parent and Educator Should Know About the Student Mental Health and Substance Misuse Crisis. After losing his son William to an accidental overdose in college, David became an advocate for better understanding teen addiction. He now speaks nationwide to students and parents, and started the William McGee Institute for Student Well Being at Ole Miss. It’s Not The Same Substances Today’s teens aren’t using their parent’s drugs. While past generations struggled with alcohol, cigarettes or weaker strains of marijuana, today’s kids are taking synthetic drugs, often laced with fentanyl, that are exponentially more potent and dangerous, David explains. He describes a current epidemic of fake Adderall pills being sold to high schoolers and college students. The counterfeit pills are never actual Adderall, but instead made of unknown substances designed to be addictive. Almost all contain fentanyl, says David. Kids think they’re buying a familiar drug, but it’s actually much more treacherous. This is just one example of how substances have changed. David explains today’s marijuana can have THC levels of 70-90%, compared to just 4-8% in the 1990s. He says schools are shocked when drug tests come back 6 or 7 times higher than just a few years ago. Social Media Enables Secret Addiction David explains that the majority of illegal transactions happen over social media apps and payment platforms. Kids are finding connections on Instagram and Snapchat, then paying through Venmo or CashApp to stay under the radar. Seeing multiple Venmo payments in and out of a teen’s account every day could signal that something is amiss, says David. He explains that parents needs to understand today’s digital landscape to spot warning signs. Punishment and phone monitoring usually backfires, while asking caring questions can help kids open up. Focus on Feelings, Not Scare Tactics Well-meaning authority figures often take a punitive approach, trying to scare teens away from substances through condemnation. But David explains this usually has the opposite effect, making kids feel ashamed in ways that increase their desire to use. Instead, he suggests leading with empathy, compassion and care. Getting kids the right kind of therapy or counseling is crucial, preferably with someone who specializes in teen addiction. Building teens’ emotional intelligence through ongoing communication within families is key. Above all, David focuses on helping teens cultivate sustainable joy in their lives, not just harping on what they shouldn’t do. He explains that happy, engaged teens are less likely to self-medicate through dangerous substance use. If you found this episode helpful, check out David’s website at for more resources. His book provides practical guidance for parents and educators struggling with today’s newly complex issues around teen mental health and addiction. Please subscribe for more content that can help strengthen family...


Ep 277: Understanding Our Kids' Online World

Michael Rich, author of The Mediatrician’s Guide, joins us to explain why we must move beyond fear of “screen time” to have more nuanced conversations with teens about finding balance, meaning and ethics in their digital lives. Bonfire Digital Wellness has a diverse team of seasoned, compassionate school counselors, ready to coach your teen. Check it out today and take advantage of a 1-month FREE trial: Full Show Notes Teens today have never known a world without smartphones, social media, and round-the-clock internet access. As digital devices become more and more ingrained into every aspect of their lives, it's only natural for parents to worry about the impact all this technology might have. We often hear panicked stories about social media causing depression or video game addiction destroying kids' attention spans. It makes us want to snatch the screens out of teens' hands completely! But is going cold turkey really the best approach? To help parents navigate the digital age, we're talking to Dr. Michael Rich, an expert on kids and media. Dr. Rich is an associate professor of pediatrics at Harvard Medical School and the founder and director of the Clinic for Interactive Media and Internet Disorders at Boston Children’s Hospital. He's also the author of a new book called The Mediatrician’s Guide: A Joyful Approach to Raising Healthy, Smart, Kind Kids in a Screen Saturated World. As both a pediatrician and a former filmmaker, Dr. Rich has a unique perspective on why we should move past fear-based thinking when it comes to kids and technology. Rethinking "Screen Time" Trying to simply limit screen time is an outdated way of thinking, says Dr. Rich. Screens are so embedded into every part of life that trying to quantify daily use is irrelevant. Instead of counting minutes spent staring at a device, Dr. Rich encourages intentionality. This means being mindful, balanced and present in how we interact with technology. Dr. Rich coins these practices the “killer B’s.” Being mindful means understanding how device use displaces other activities, while being balanced means taking regular screen breaks. Most importantly, being present while using devices prevents us from missing out on real world connections. Trying to upgrade from texting to calling to in-person interactions is key. Looking Below Problematic Behaviors It’s easy to blame devices themselves for issues like addiction or bullying. However, Dr. Rich explains that problematic digital behaviors are usually symptoms of underlying issues like ADHD, anxiety, depression or autism spectrum disorders. Taking away teens’ access without addressing root causes may make problems worse. Dr. Rich notes that teens often see their devices as tools that help them cope with or avoid difficulties in their lives. Complete removal can heighten their distress. Instead, identifying and properly treating adolescents’ mental health is key to curbing unhealthy digital habits. Fostering Digital Wellness Rather than seeing devices as inherently bad, Dr. Rich focuses on how we can use them for good. Social platforms and interactive games actually have huge potential for building community, creativity and emotional skills. However, teens need guidance on using digital spaces ethically. Dr. Rich encourages parents to model intentional digital wellness and have open conversations about pitfalls like compare/despair thinking or internet rabbit holes. Promoting self-awareness and balance helps teens build healthy lifelong technology habits.


Ep 276: Your Teen's Bullsh*t Brain

Lance Burdett, author of Dark Side of the Brain, explains why teens generate unhelpful thoughts and how we can reframe anxious thinking by getting comfortable with discomfort. Bonfire Digital Wellness has a diverse team of seasoned, compassionate school counselors, ready to coach your teen. Check it out today and take advantage of a 1-month FREE trial: Full Show Notes Raising teenagers can feel like navigating an emotional minefield blindfolded. Their moods swing rapidly from joyful to gloomy, their friendships feel fleeting, and their interests change every five minutes. Meanwhile, the pressure to get good grades, gain college acceptance and determine their entire future weighs heavily on their shoulders. It’s no wonder teens get overwhelmed by this cocktail of hormones, peer pressure and looming adulthood. Their brains are firing on all cylinders, trying desperately to make sense of it all. Often, this neural chaos manifests as worry, anxiety, negative thought patterns and even depression. So how can we help teens move through this rocky passage of life? How can we get them to open up about their mental struggles instead of shutting down? Most importantly, how can we empower them to reframe unhelpful thoughts and take control of their own wellbeing? To gain some perspective, we’re speaking with Lance Burdett, a former police crisis negotiator turned adolescent mental health expert. Lance has worked extensively with teens and parents to help them understand the “Dark Side of the Brain” – the automatic negative thought patterns that often arise during times of stress. In his book Dark Side of the Brain and on today’s episode, Lance is explaining the science behind our brain’s threat detection system that generates needless worry. He’s also revealing why it’s okay for teens to admit they’re not okay – as long as they ask for help afterward. We discuss how parents can model self-care, help teens reframe anxious thoughts and teach kids to get comfortable with discomfort. Why Our Brains Make Sh*t Up The human brain developed mainly to keep our ancestors alive on the African savanna over two million years ago. This means our brains are wired first and foremost for survival, not happiness, Lance explains. When our ancestors encountered threats like predators, adverse weather or lack of resources, their brains kicked into high alert, pumping out adrenaline and cortisol to ready the body for fight or flight. Unfortunately, our modern brains can’t tell the difference between a lion attack and a mean comment on Instagram. So teens often experience an exaggerated stress response to non-life-threatening issues like peer drama or academic pressure. This is why teens frequently catastrophize small problems, assume the worst and spiral into intense worry, Lance says. Their brains are simply acting on evolutionary impulses that once kept humans safe – but now cause needless stress. Understanding the brain’s tendency to “make shit up” can help teens reframe anxious thoughts as just their brains being overprotective. It’s Okay to Say “I’m Not Okay” Parents often tell struggling teens that “it’s okay not to be okay” to encourage them to open up about their troubles. But Lance warns that this mantra can be dangerous if left by itself, as it makes mental distress seem permissible. Instead, he advocates adding a second half – “it’s okay to say I’m not long as I ask for help afterward.” The most vital step for teens is the help-asking, Lance stresses. Admitting one is not okay is only the first move. What matters next is having teens reach out to friends, family members, counselors or crisis lines to get the support they need. Lance explains that previous generations hid mental health struggles due to stigma. But today’s teens can be more open about feeling depressed, anxious, overwhelmed or suicidal – on the condition that they let caring adults know they need support. Saying “I’m not okay” is...


Ep. 275: Empowering Teens to Stay Alcohol-Free

Dustin Dunbar, author of You’re Doing Great and Other Lies Alcohol Told Me, joins us to reveal the false messaging alcohol feeds teens about itself and discusses how parents can model alcohol-free lives to intrinsically give kids the skills to resist drinking culture. Bonfire Digital Wellness has a diverse team of seasoned, compassionate school counselors, ready to coach your teen. Check it out today and take advantage of a 1-month FREE trial: Full Show Notes Teenage years come with intense new social pressures – the urge to fit in, make friends, and figure out who you are can feel overwhelming. In the midst of this tumultuous period, teens are confronted with the prevalence of underage drinking all around them. Their peers are doing it, cool kids on social media make it look fun and exciting, and it seems like the “normal” thing to do. As parents, we want to protect our kids not just from the dangers of alcohol itself, but from falling for the many myths alcohol sells – that it’ll make you happier, more fun, more liked and more confident. The reality is, teens need tools and support to handle their insecurities, anxieties and difficult emotions in healthy, constructive ways. This week, we’re talking about how we can empower teenagers to develop self-awareness and stay alcohol-free amidst intense social pressures. We’re joined by Dustin Dunbar, founder of The Alcohol-Free Revolution and author of the book “You’re Doing Great (And Other Lies Alcohol Told Me)”. Dustin grew up surrounded by family members struggling with alcohol addiction. After overcoming his own battle with alcohol, Dustin has devoted himself to smashing the myths and lies alcohol tells young people. He’s here to reveal the tactics Big Alcohol uses to target teens, and explain why drinking culture is declining amongst Gen Z. Why Teens Are Drinking Less Despite the messaging bombarding them every day, today’s teenagers are actually drinking less than past generations. Dustin explains how teens are seeing through the deception inherent in alcohol advertising and social norms. More teens are prioritizing their health and wellbeing over fleeting social acceptance. Dustin reveals the shocking cancer risks of alcohol, and why social media influencers never show the negative consequences the next day. We discuss how parents can prompt critical thinking about the way alcohol is marketed to take advantage of teenagers’ insecurities. Emotional Tools For Handling Anxiety Dustin explains why alcohol is so tempting for anxious teens – it suppresses nervous system functioning, numbing difficult emotions. Without alcohol, teens have to learn to sit with feelings of awkwardness, FOMO, insecurity and more. We discuss tools parents can teach teens to handle emotions healthily, like identifying underlying feelings, de-escalating anger, setting kind boundaries, and expressing needs calmly. Dustin shares how learning these tools transformed his relationships. Modeling Mindful Drinking Research shows parental drinking habits have an enormous influence on teens. Dustin implores parents to seriously evaluate their own drinking and model more consciousness. Substance abuse often masks unresolved trauma – Dustin explains why getting vulnerable and giving up numbing aids can lead to self-discovery. Becoming an Alcohol-Free Role Model As Dustin explains, parents’ own drinking habits can normalize alcohol for impressionable teens. Showing teens an alcohol-free lifestyle demonstrates better coping strategies for stress and models healthier social skills that don’t require liquid courage. Our interview dives into the surprising interpersonal benefits Dustin has experienced since quitting drinking. Joining the Alcohol-Free Revolution Dustin discusses the free global community he created to support people in transitioning to alcohol-free lives. Members find camaraderie in overcoming drinking triggers, guidance in handling new emotions now out of...


Ep 274: Escaping the Villain Role

Justin Lee, author of Talking Across the Divide, joins us to explain how parents can have more productive disagreements with teens by overcoming the ego protection instinct and using storytelling to find common ground. Bonfire Digital Wellness has a diverse team of seasoned, compassionate school counselors, ready to coach your teen. Check it out today and take advantage of a 1-month FREE trial: Full Show Notes Parenting a teenager often feels like an ideological battleground. Their values, interests and worldviews can seem completely foreign to our own, causing rifts in our relationship almost daily. Navigating these choppy waters requires strategy and finesse so that we don’t widen the gap even further. This week, we’re learning how to bridge divides from someone who has made connections his life’s work. We’re joined by Justin Lee, author of the new book Talking Across the Divide: How to Communicate with People You Disagree With and Maybe Even Change the World. Justin has spent over 20 years facilitating thoughtful dialogue between groups that typically don’t see eye to eye. As the founder of the world’s largest LGBTQ Christian advocacy organization, Justin has firsthand experience bringing together people of divergent backgrounds. Now, he’s sharing his tried and tested methods for overcoming conflicts by focusing on shared interests and storytelling. Even when parents and teens sit on what feel like opposite sides of the ideological spectrum, we likely have more in common than we realize. By approaching rifts strategically instead of confrontationally, we can narrow divides and start effecting real change. The Ego Protection Instinct When tensions run high, our first instinct is often to double down on our position. After all, no one wants to look like the “bad guy” or feel embarrassed when realizing they’re wrong. This ego protection instinct kicks in, causing both parties to dig their heels in further in order to save face. Justin explains that the key to working through this instinct is to approach the conversation calmly and strategically. Making teens defensive will only cause them to reject our perspective entirely. By listening first instead of accusing, we make space for their viewpoint while getting them to lower their guard. This thoughtful approach makes them more receptive later on when we share our own story. Telling Our Story When it comes time to share our side, Justin explains that facts and figures often fall flat. What really helps the other person relate to our position is hearing the story behind why this issue matters so much to us. By explaining our personal experiences, worries, disappointments and more, the other person gains empathy and understanding as to why we ended up with these strong beliefs. Storytelling helps them step into our shoes, seeing our views as reasonable instead of attacking our character. It also allows both parties to recognize each other’s stories as valid without having to denounce the other. Plotting a Way Forward Without a plan for how the conversation should end, we risk leaving the other person hurt or resentful. Justin encourages parents to think critically about what they actually want to gain before diving into tense talks. Do we want to “win” by making the teen feel stupid? Or do we want to gain a better understanding between us? By visualizing a story in which the teen’s past actions were reasonable and our new way forward makes sense, we provide a path that allows them to save face while still growing. With thoughtful compromises focused on shared interests rather than contradictory positions, we stand a better chance of inching closer together. No matter how far apart parents and teens may feel at times, Justin proves even groups with the most divergent views can find common ground through strategic, thoughtful dialogue. By leading with empathy and storytelling, we model good communication while bridging ideological...


Ep 273: Lowering the Drama in Big Family Choices

Janice Fraser, author of Farther, Faster, and Far Less Drama, joins us to explain how families can have productive debates using decision-making frameworks that increase understanding between parents and teens. Bonfire Digital Wellness has a diverse team of seasoned, compassionate school counselors, ready to coach your teen. Check it out today and take advantage of a 1-month FREE trial: Full Show Notes Big family decisions often come loaded with drama. Choosing a high school, making plans for college, or deciding on a family vacation can easily erupt into endless debates. Teens plead their case while parents grow frustrated - and no one feels heard. So how can families have productive talks that lead to real decisions instead of arguments? This week we’re learning how better family decision-making can increase understanding and reduce drama at home. We’re joined by Janice Fraser, author of the new book Farther, Faster, and Far Less Drama: Make Better Decisions By Working Together. As an executive coach and startup advisor focused on group decision-making, Janice has delivered workshops and coached teams around the world. She’s here to teach us how we can facilitate productive family meetings by reframing the way we look at big decisions. Why Family Drama Builds During adolescence, teens develop their own perspectives - but parents don’t always make space to hear them. Without a framework for discussion, family debates can spiral as power struggles emerge. Parents may value efficiency and feel that their experience gives them authority, while teens want to feel autonomy and self-direction. To bridge this gap, Janice suggests focusing conversations around understanding rather than winning arguments. She explains that the real root of family drama lies in a values conflict, one that thoughtful discussion and compromise can usually resolve. Outcomes Over Outputs A key source of tension, Janice reveals, comes from parents and teens having different definitions of success. We often judge our kids by their outputs - their grades, achievements, sports records. But what teens really care about is meaningful outcomes that equip them for adulthood. Janice suggests reframing family talks around the outcomes we want for our teens, like confidence, purpose and responsibility. If we make decisions based on what moves us towards those outcomes, we can avoid getting locked into one narrow path forward. Tools To Organize Perspectives Of course, gathering different viewpoints is easier said than done. Families need tools to structure productive debates. Janice details facilitation techniques she’s used at home, like writing discussion points on sticky notes before talking. Organizing ideas visually allows equal participation, avoids dead-end arguments and identifies shared priorities. Janice explains how to use methods like 2x2 matrices to focus on urgent topics and depersonalize debates. Modeling Conflict Resolution Through thoughtful facilitation, parents can model critical thinking and conflict resolution - skills teens need to thrive as adults. Janice explains that by creating an open, understanding environment, parents show teens how to handle differences maturely in their own relationships. Thoughtful family decision-making leads to better outcomes all around. Janice makes it clear that with the right tools, families can work together for everyone’s growth and success. In the Episode... My conversation with Janice was packed with insights on facilitating family harmony. We also discuss: To learn more from Janice, visit or find her on Instagram @janiceleefraser. As always, don’t forget to share and subscribe!


Ep 272: Helping Teens Discuss Anxiety

Cai Graham, author of Fearless and Free, joins us to offer practical strategies for helping teens open up about their anxiety, break through communication barriers, and understand the science of their emotions, guiding them from silent struggles to active coping. Bonfire Digital Wellness has a diverse team of seasoned, compassionate school counselors, ready to coach your teen. Check it out today and take advantage of a 1-month FREE trial: Full Show Notes Navigating the turbulent waters of teenage anxiety can often feel like a daunting task for parents. Teenagers, caught in the storm of hormonal changes and social pressures, might close off, leaving us struggling to reach them. When they do grapple with anxiety, many teens lack the vocabulary or the comfort level to express what's happening inside them, and this silence can create a divide between them and the support they need. On the other hand, parents may feel helpless or at a loss for the right words when they notice their teen's distress. But there's hope—and it begins with understanding, communication, and the tools to change the narrative around anxiety. Enter our guest, Cai Graham, a parenting and teen coach, speaker, podcaster, and the insightful author behind the workbook "Fearless and Free - A Step by Step Blueprint to Conquer Anxiety." Cai brings to light the nuances of teenage anxiety from both parental and adolescent perspectives, delivering frameworks and actionable tactics for starting those necessary conversations. Understanding Anxiety's Hold on Teens Cai dives deep into the heart of anxiety, explaining the biology behind it, and destigmatizing the experience for both teens and their parents. She dismantles the shame that can often shroud feelings of anxiety, unpacking why teens might feel a troubling sense of isolation when confronting their worries. By reframing these emotions as natural, Cai enables parents to foster an environment where teens can approach their apprehension without fear of judgment. Communication Tools for Tough Talks Cai introduces the 'three questions'—a game-changing tool for parents to get teens talking without overwhelming them. This exercise offers teens the space they need to measure their emotional temperature in a safe space. Through this straightforward approach, the dialogues that once seemed impossible start to flow, creating a foundation for mutual understanding and trust. The Role of Self-Compassion in Healing Self-compassion is key in the fight against anxiety. Cai urges both parents and teens to exercise it, arguing that it's crucial in the face of setbacks. By examining failure as feedback, not defeat, teens can learn resilience. Cai's discussion on self-compassion serves as a powerful reminder for parents to lead by example in how they handle their own imperfections, ultimately guiding their teens by showing them that being gentle with oneself is not only okay—it's necessary. Navigating Panic and Anxiety: KNOW the Difference Cai brilliantly differentiates between anxiety and panic, illustrating to parents why understanding the distinction matters. She presents methods to help teens address and cope with the sudden onset of panic as opposed to the simmering worries of anxiety, equipping families with the knowledge to tackle each appropriately. Practical Strategies for Calming the Chaos Armed with tactics like 'brain dumping' and the THINK framework, Cai teaches teens how to prioritize tasks and address the onslaught of negative internal dialogue that can exacerbate anxiety. These strategies are essential tools for empowering teens to take control of their emotional and practical worlds. In this episode, Cai Graham guides us through: - The power of naming emotions to conquer anxiety - Coaching teens to manage their to-do lists and calm their minds - Techniques for grounding and self-soothing during anxious moments - How to model effective coping strategies to inspire anxious...


Ep 271: Navigating the Teen Loneliness Epidemic

Simone Heng, author of "Let's Talk About Loneliness," joins us to explain why loneliness is reaching epidemic levels among teens, how it rewires the teenage brain, and what steps we can take as parents to help our kids reset and relate. Bonfire Digital Wellness has a diverse team of seasoned, compassionate school counselors, ready to coach your teen. Check it out today and take advantage of a 1-month FREE trial: Full Show Notes Loneliness is reaching epidemic levels among today's teenagers. Studies show teens are lonelier than any other generation, with 10 out of 11 feelings of loneliness. As kids withdraw socially, they get caught in a negative feedback loop where loneliness leads to more loneliness. How can we help pull teens out of this dangerous downward spiral? How can we raise kids equipped for meaningful human connections when devices and social media threaten to replace in-person relating? This week we’re exploring the teenage loneliness crisis, why it’s happening, and what we can do about it. We’re joined by Simone Heng, author of the new book “Let’s Talk About Loneliness.” Simone is a speaker and former broadcaster focused on human connection. She’s here to explain why loneliness can be so devastating to the developing teenage brain, how teens end up self-isolating, and what small steps we can take to foster more connectivity at home and beyond. Why Loneliness Rewires the Teenage Brain Loneliness isn’t just an emotional experience – it changes the actual structure and functioning of the brain, explains Simone. When we don’t get enough in-person interaction, our brains downgrade the areas meant for processing social cues and relating to others. Simone describes how chronic stress from loneliness keeps our body in fight-or-flight mode, releasing excess adrenaline and cortisol. This is meant to motivate us to go out and connect. But instead, lonely teens withdraw even further, caught in a vicious cycle. The overloaded stress response starts to dampen teen’s immune systems, reduce cognition, and make them more prone to disorders later on. At a time when kids need to be developing social skills, loneliness causes their abilities atrophy. Simone and I discuss how this epidemic of disconnection is intertwined with the digital age, where teens derive a false sense of “connection” from screens and devices. She explains why online interaction will never truly satisfy our brain’s hardwired need for in-person relating. Escaping the Downward Spiral The solution for loneliness isn’t one-size-fits-all, explains Simone. Because each teen’s stress response system functions differently, they need personalized strategies for resetting their body to healthy baseline functioning. Simone suggests getting teen’s cortisol levels tested to find out specifics on their stress response. She then offers individualized nutrition plans, sleep recommendations, and more tailored support. General tips include getting teens outdoors, helping them identify and connect with their values, and limiting time online. An important step is also examining our own stress, says Simone. Kids pick up on parents’ tension, so we have to model self-care, healthy relating, and good boundaries around technology use. Fostering Human Connection at Home When teens isolate in their rooms, it can seem impossible to draw them out. But Simone suggests reframing device use as a privilege to be earned through family connection. She gives examples like asking teens to put phones away during parts of family dinners or outings. We can challenge teens to go on “silent walks” without headphones, and actually engage with the people they pass. We can also prompt them to observe social dynamics when out together, almost as field research rather than always defaulting to screens. With some creativity and commitment to disconnecting from devices, we can develop little rituals of relating that help fulfill our human need for community, says...


Ep 270: Parenting Beyond Social Media

CJ Casciotta, author of The Forgotten Art of Being Ordinary, joins us to discuss parenting beyond social media and finding real community. We talk about how to guide teens to separate online fiction from truth, why ordinary existence is profoundly meaningful, and how to foster raw, personal connection. Bonfire Digital Wellness has a diverse team of seasoned, compassionate school counselors, ready to coach your teen. Check it out today and take advantage of a 1-month FREE trial: Full Show Notes In today's social media saturated world, it can feel impossible to raise teens without the influence of the metaverse. Kids are constantly comparing themselves to unrealistic standards set by influencers and celebrities online. The temptation for teens to create a sort of fictional version of themselves for social media is huge. So how do we parent teens beyond the vortex of social platforms? How can we model authenticity and real human connection for kids distracted by the digital realm? To help make sense of it all, we spoke with CJ Casciotta, author of The Forgotten Art of Being Ordinary: A Human Manifesto in the Age of the Metaverse. As a media professional himself, CJ has an inside look at the social technology teens are using. But as a parent, he's concerned about the way online personas are replacing real identities. In our conversation with CJ, we discussed moving beyond the virtual world to find meaning in ordinary human existence. We also talked about the importance of modeling authentic offline experiences for teens. Escaping the Comparison Trap Social platforms tempt us to create the best possible versions of ourselves to display to others. But as CJ explains, teens feel pressure to make their lives seem extraordinary in the process. They often feel inadequate when comparing their realities to the fake realities shown by influencers online. CJ stressed that parents need to clarify the line between truth and fiction for kids. We should have open conversations about the fact that what teens see online is often more acting than real life. As parents, we can model embracing ordinary existence for teens, showing them that a normal life is beautiful too. CJ suggests that we guide teens in using technology to create art and community that celebrates ordinary humanity. We can prompt them to appreciate the simple miracles of human connection, instead of chasing inflated social media success. Building True Community Real community requires showing up authentically, embracing imperfection. As CJ explains, this means resisting the urge to document and publicize every gathering. True connection happens when we put down our devices and engage sincerely with those around us. CJ is modeling this for his own kids by recently moving to a new city to be closer to genuine friends. He realized his family felt isolated and numb despite living in a crowded urban area. Now they are remembering what real community feels like. As parents, we can push teens to value in-person experiences over digital ones. We can also limit their technology use at times so real connection isn't constantly competing with the virtual world. Building spaces for teens to bond beyond devices needs to become an intentional priority. In the Episode... Diving beyond the world of screens is crucial for families today. On top of the topics above, CJ and I also discussed: If you want to learn more, visit CJ's Substack ( or check out his book The Forgotten Art of Being Ordinary. As always, don't forget to subscribe!


Ep 269: Are You a Consistent Parent?

Sheri Glucoft Wong, author of Raising Kids, shares the importance of being a consistent parent, even when raising teens feels like a complicated maze. As a therapist, Sheri has a wealth of insight on how to effectively and consistently communicate with our kids. Bonfire Digital Wellness has a diverse team of seasoned, compassionate school counselors, ready to coach your teen. Check it out today and take advantage of a 1-month FREE trial: Full Show Notes As parents, we all have those moments when communicating with our teen feels easy, and other times when no matter what we say, it leads to conflict. Why is that? What makes the difference between feeling effective vs ineffective? This week we’re exploring that idea with our guest Sheri Glucoft Wong, a nationally recognized family therapist and author of Raising Kids: Your Essential Guide to Everyday Parenting. Sheri introduces the concept of being “on your spot” as a parent – when you feel aligned in your head, heart, and gut about an issue, communicate it clearly to your teen, and they respond accordingly without a power struggle. What does it mean to be “on your spot” and why does it create cooperation not conflict? How can we get “off our spot” and start grasping for leverage through threats and consequences? Sheri explains why threats often backfire and how a simple “tweak” using “when/then” language instead of “if/then” can turn things around. The Power of Being “On Your Spot” Being on your spot as a parent means you feel clear and aligned internally about an issue, so you can take a firm yet kind stance with your teen. Sheri shares how parents have no trouble insisting kids wear seatbelts in the car – they never threaten or bribe, they just know it’s non-negotiable. But with other issues, like manners or chore completion, they struggle because they’re not fully on their spot. In our interview, Sheri describes how being on your spot means your head, heart, and gut all align – you intellectually know what your teen needs, you care enough to want that for them, and your instincts tell you it’s the right thing. When all three are lined up, you can stand firm calmly and prevail without resorting to power struggles. From Threats to Incentives When we’re off our spot as parents, we often start grasping for leverage over our teens through punishments and consequences. We take away devices or restrict privileges trying to motivate them. But Sheri explains that while limits are fine, threats rarely work and can backfire. Instead of “if/then” threats, Sheri suggests “when/then” incentives. Rather than saying “if you don’t complete your homework, you lose phone privileges,” say “when you complete your homework, you can have phone time.” This small tweak eliminates the threatening tone and helps motivate cooperation. Reframing Difficult Experiences No matter how much we want to shield our teens from pain, they’ll inevitably face disappointments that are out of our control – a pandemic, social conflict, a lost game. But as Sheri explains, what truly shapes the impact isn’t what happens to teens, but rather what they make those events mean. As parents, we have power to reframe difficult situations and influence how our teens internalize them. We can encourage resilience rather than victimhood by discussing values and modeling emotional management. By focusing on what they can control, not what happens to them, we help teens build lifelong coping skills. Additional Topics: If you enjoyed this episode, check out Sheri’s book Raising Kids: Your Essential Guide to Everyday Parenting for more great insights!


Ep 268: How to Convince Stubborn Teens

Michael McQueen, author of MindStuck, dives into the science of persuading stubborn teenagers, and reveals why the tactics parents typically use to influence our kids simply don't work. Bonfire Digital Wellness has a diverse team of seasoned, compassionate school counselors, ready to coach your teen. Check it out today and take advantage of a 1-month FREE trial: Full Show Notes Trying to convince a stubborn teenager to see things your way can feel impossible at times. They seem completely stuck in their perspectives, unwilling to listen to reason or logic. So how do we get through when teen minds seem closed off? According to our guest Michael McQueen, the root of the issue lies in outdated persuasion tactics. When trying to sway teens, most parents rely on giving information, evidence and rational arguments. But as Michael explains, this only taps into one small part of the brain–the rational, thinking prefrontal cortex. The majority of our decisions and viewpoints are actually shaped by a more impulsive, instinctual part of the brain. For teens, who are still developing cognitively, this portion of the brain wields even more influence. So if we want to change a teen’s mind, we have to learn what truly motivates it. The Teenage Brain In his book “Mind Stuck,” Michael refers to the two processing centers of the brain as the “inquiring mind” and the “instinctive mind.” The inquiring mind takes in information and analyzes it logically before coming to conclusions. But for most people, only around 5-10% of decisions happen here. The instinctive mind is much faster, making snap judgments based on emotions, biases and self-preservation. This is the mind that judges whether someone is in our “tribe,” and causes us to have gut reactions. For teens with underdeveloped prefrontal cortexes, nearly all decisions happen via the instinctive mind. So when parents offer rational arguments to change teens’ behavior, teens brush them off–because facts and data barely penetrate their instinctive way of thinking. Actually, pushing logic often backfires, causing teens to dig their heels in defensively. Instead, Michael suggests appealing to the instinctive mind by building trust and rapport. One way to do this is through vulnerability and finding common ground. Getting on Their Wavelength Trying to assert authority or superiority when conversing with teens is unlikely to get us anywhere, Michael says. Teens are inherently skeptical of parents’ knowledge and worldliness. The instinctive mind wants to stick with the tribe–and for teens, parents are not members. That’s why Michael suggests having authentic conversations where we come alongside teens humbly. Saying “I don’t have this all figured out” or “I’d love to hear your take on this” demonstrates that we respect their autonomy. It also diffuses tension so they drop their defenses. Michael also discusses the importance of developing trust by upping oxytocin levels. The bonding hormone oxytocin determines how much we unconsciously trust someone. Releasing it requires candidness and finding synchrony–walking together side-by-side can naturally build connection. Matching body language too obviously can feel disingenuous. But according to neuroscientist Dr. Paul Zak, going on walks is an easy way to build rapport with teens by mirroring cadence and getting on the same wavelength. Asking the Right Questions Beyond vulnerability and synchrony, the language we use with teens can foster influence and trust, Michael says. Asking questions is more productive than making statements. And there’s an art to framing inquiries that defuse tension and make teens want to open up. We can preface questions by admitting we don’t have the full picture. And we should ask out of genuine curiosity rather than trying to catch teens behaving badly or evaluate their choices. Our motive should be understanding their perspective. The way teens interpret our questions depends...


Ep 267: Neurodivergent Teens and Communication

Chris Martin, author of May Tomorrow Be Awake, speaks on the concept of neurodiversity, and how parents can encourage teenagers to be their unique selves, rather than trying to pass as "normal." Bonfire Digital Wellness has a diverse team of seasoned, compassionate school counselors, ready to coach your teen. Check it out today and take advantage of a 1-month FREE trial: Full Show Notes We all want our kids to feel “normal”, to fit in with their peers and the culture around them. But what if normal isn’t all it’s cracked up to be? What if we’ve defined “normal” too narrowly, and left a lot of beautiful minds out of the picture? Our guest today, Chris Martin, is encouraging us to take a closer look at the concept of neurotypicality. As a poet and advocate who has worked with autistic writers for over 20 years, Chris has come to see neurodivergence as a creative superpower rather than a deficit. So what does it mean to be “neurodivergent”? Why is neurodiversity so poorly understood? And how we can nurture the neurodiverse minds all around us--both in our kids and in ourselves? Introducing Chris Martin To explore those questions, we’re speaking with Chris Martin, poet and Executive Director of UnRestricted Interest, an arts organization for neurodivergent writers. Chris is himself neurodivergent, with ADHD. In his book “May Tomorrow Be Awake”, Chris details his experiences working with nonspeaking autistic poets. He shares their incredible insights while reframing common misconceptions about autism--like the notion that autistic people “lack empathy.” Drawing on his background, we’ll be discussing: Autism’s Upsides Autism comes with plenty of challenges, but also some incredible strengths...if we choose to see them. As Chris explains, many autistic traits have a positive flipside when reframed. What’s seen as a “restricted interest” can also be viewed as a passionate devotion to a subject, while sensory sensitivity connects autistic people to the environment in profound ways. Chris even explains how synesthesia--common in autistics--may have given rise to metaphor and poetry. Understanding how autistic minds work differently is key to valuing their contributions. Neurodivergence itself shouldn’t be the problem--the problem is a culture that refuses to accommodate it. Masking Our True Selves Many neurodivergent people can “pass” for neurotypical, masking their true selves in order to fit in. But as Chris recounts, this masking process can make people physically ill. He explains how as a child, he trained himself to perform neurotypicality out of fear of bullying. Monitoring himself constantly to fit in was exhausting, and separated him from his true identity. The good news is that for the next generation, culture is already changing. Chris’s neurodivergent son hasn’t experienced the bullying Chris once did. But for those of us who grew up masking, unlearning those habits is tough. Through his work, however, Chris has found his way back to himself--and wants to help others do the same. Embracing Our Shared Neurodiversity One takeaway from Chris’s book is that since we all have diverse minds and bodies, disability is a universal human experience. We can’t predict or eliminate it--we have to accommodate for it. Likewise, we all exist on a spectrum of neurodivergence. Though some people seem more neurotypical than others, it’s partly an act, Chris argues--we’re all suppressing or enhancing certain natural tendencies to conform. Kids start out accepting of their own and others’ neurodivergence. But at some point, we teach them to hide it. What if instead, we could preserve that spirit of openness, and build a culture that embraces each mind and body? A world that celebrates neurodiversity is one that would benefit us all--one that’s more creative, more thoughtful and more humane. Chris and his autistic friends are illuminating the path. Additional Topics: Don’t miss this...


Ep 266: Is Social Media Making Our Teens Angry?

Tobias Rose-Stockwell, author of Outrage Machine, clues us in to how social media platforms manipulate emotions to keep us scrolling and riles us up. We talk about how the internet influences our beliefs and the pursuit of truth over winning arguments. Bonfire Digital Wellness has a diverse team of seasoned, compassionate school counselors, ready to coach your teen. Check it out today and take advantage of a 1-month FREE trial: Full Show Notes It’s hard to deny that public discourse, especially online, has taken an ugly turn over the past decade. Social media sites, which we all once heralded as revolutionary tools for connection and change, now seem to breed anxiety, arguments, and even despair. So what happened? Is there something inherently wrong with us, or have these sites changed over time in ways we haven’t fully grasped? This week, we’re here with writer and media researcher Tobias Rose-Stockwell to investigate the psychological underpinnings of sites like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Tobias is the author of Outrage Machine: How Tech Amplifies Discontent, Disrupts Democracy, and What We Can Do About It. In his work, Tobias has uncovered how social media sites have increasingly capitalized on innate quirks in human psychology to keep us outraged, divided, and always scrolling for more. The Science of “Doomscrolling” You may have found yourself getting sucked into heated arguments and disturbing news stories online, unable to look away even when you want to. As it turns out, this phenomenon called “doomscrolling” is no accident. As Tobias explains, human brains have evolved to rapidly take note of potential threats and dangers. We’re primed to focus our attention on the outrageous, salacious, and emotional parts of our environment — likely because paying attention to hazards helped early humans survive. Social media sites have now wired themselves to tap into these psychological instincts. Features like personalized news feeds surface the most emotional and provocative content first, since data shows we’re most likely to engage with those posts. The results? We can’t peel our eyes away from our feeds, even when what we’re seeing stresses us out. Designed for Division Outrage and disagreement may keep us glued to our screens, but they’re also highly divisive. So how do sites incentivize us to spar? As Tobias describes, social media platforms highlight content that drives “meaningful social interactions” — comments, shares, likes, and other measurable forms of engagement. As a result, posts showcasing arguments and moral outrage tend to get boosted to the top of our feeds. We’re also psychologically primed to take sides when we witness fights unfolding and controversy brewing. Tobias explains that even if the topic itself doesn’t affect us, we feel inclined to pick a team, stake our claim online, and stand our ground. Meanwhile, the platforms continue serving up divisive content, because that’s what keeps pulling us back in. Escaping the Outrage Machine If social media sites structurally pit us against each other, is there any hope for nuanced public discourse? How might we escape from the outrage machine? As Tobias advises, simply being aware of how these sites manipulate us is an important first step. When we understand the psychological hooks they use to capture our attention, we can be more conscious about how and when we engage. Beyond that, Tobias offers tips for having healthier dialogues both on and offline. He advises focusing conversations around shared truths rather than fixating on disagreements. Ground rules can also help, like assuming good intentions in those we speak with. If you found this glimpse into the outrage machine illuminating, be sure to check out the full episode. Tobias offers so many more insights that help explain the current landscape of social media. Understanding what’s behind the curtain is the first step to using these sites more...


Ep 265: Turning Teens Into Savvy Investors

Maya Corbic, author of From Piggy Banks to Stocks, tells us how to turn allowance into financial lessons. Maya dishes on the potential dangers of blindly trusting financial advisors, the future of investing, and investing for generational wealth. Bonfire Digital Wellness has a diverse team of seasoned, compassionate school counselors, ready to coach your teen. Check it out today and take advantage of a 1-month FREE trial: Full Show Notes Investing often feels out of reach for teens. The stock market can seem complex and intimidating, and most kids just don’t think about their money working for them. But investing early and shifting teens’ money mindset can set them up for financial success down the road. This week, we’re talking with Maya Corbic, financial educator and author of “From Piggy Banks to Stocks: The Ultimate Guide for a Young Investor.” Maya has spent over a decade teaching kids and teens how to manage money wisely. After paying off all her debts and realizing she didn’t have to work a 9 to 5 anymore, Maya decided to dedicate her life to helping others improve their financial literacy. On the show, Maya is breaking down the basics of investing in simple terms teens can grasp. We’re discussing how to switch teens’ thinking from being consumers to being owners and investors. Maya explains what teens should learn about money before they’re ready to start investing. She also reveals common mistakes parents make when introducing kids to investing concepts. Turning Teens into Investors Instead of Just Consumers Maya suggests reframing the way we talk to teens about the products they love to use. For example, teens may be huge fans of Apple products. But instead of seeing themselves as consumers of iPhones and Apple watches, Maya encourages teens to think like owners. They can purchase stock and actually own part of the company behind their favorite tech gadgets. This sense of ownership switches teens thinking and gets them excited about investing. Owning even just one share of a company ties teens to brands in a whole new way. And it opens their eyes to the idea that they can earn money by owning stock, not just by traditional jobs. Maya says this revelation is often the needed spark to get teens interested in investing and understanding market principles. But teens can’t just jump into the stock market without some financial literacy. First, Maya takes us through some money basics every teen should grasp. Money Lessons to Precede Investing While investing early has major advantages, teens still need to learn some fundamental money lessons before they start buying stocks. Maya outlines concepts like: Learning these basic building blocks paves the way for later investing success. They also ensure teens have a balanced relationship with money. Maya suggests parents invest small sums on behalf of young teens before they’re ready to make their own investment decisions. But by the time teens reach high school, they have the cognitive ability to understand stocks and start directing their own investments, Maya explains. Common Pitfalls to Avoid Eager parents often make mistakes when introducing teens to investing. Investing in individual stocks instead of funds, failing to assess risk tolerance, and picking investments not aligned with the teen’s goals are a few pitfalls Maya sees parents commonly fall into. She warns that every teen’s investment portfolio should look different based on their objectives, time horizon and risk appetite. Maya advises parents help teens complete free risk assessment questionnaires rather than just telling them what to buy. This empowers teens to understand market dynamics and make informed decisions. Maya also cautions parents not to overwhelm teens with complex investing jargon. Finding relatable examples and analogies is key to getting teens excited about investing without confusing them. Comparing it to lending money and earning interest is one...


Ep 264: Overcoming Anxiety, Finding Well-Being

Dr Gregory Scott Brown, author of The Self-Healing Mind, helps us bust myths surrounding mental health and self-care. We discuss the difference between mental health and mental illness and the keys to teen well-being. Bonfire Digital Wellness has a diverse team of seasoned, compassionate school counselors, ready to coach your teen. Check it out today and take advantage of a 1-month FREE trial: Full Show Notes As parents, we spend a lot of time thinking about our teens’ mental health. Often, the first things that come to mind are mental illnesses like depression, anxiety, or suicidal thoughts. However, there’s a key distinction between mental illness and mental health. While illnesses like depression undoubtedly take a toll, mental health refers to overall well-being - things like motivation, focus, emotional regulation and connection. So how can we support the mental health of our teens? This week, we’re talking self-care - those small, daily practices that equip us to handle life’s ups and downs. To break it all down, we’re joined by Dr. Gregory Scott Brown, psychiatrist and author of The Self-Healing Mind. In his book, Dr. Brown outlines what he calls the five pillars of self-care: sleep, spirituality, nutrition, breathwork and movement. He explains how these pillars not only stave off mental illness, but also strengthen the skills and habits teens need to build mental resilience. Things like focus, self-awareness, stress tolerance, healthy relationships and more. The Healing Potential Of Self-Care In our interview, Dr. Brown explains that self-care practices have scientifically-proven healing effects on the mind and body. Breathing exercises can stimulate relaxation responses by increasing GABA and alpha brain waves. Adequate sleep allows the brain to replenish and solidify memories. Movement and yoga help us cultivate conscious body awareness and presence. And healthy eating provides the building blocks for neurotransmitters that regulate mood. Rather than erasing unwanted feelings with medication, self-care helps us sit with discomfort and understand the message behind our emotions, Dr. Brown explains. However, self-care can powerfully complement medical treatment for those facing clinical diagnoses like depression or anxiety. Like a ladder that helps someone climb out of a ditch, meds offer initial relief, but self-care helps sustain mental health over the long run. Daily Self-Care For Busy Teens The best part about self-care is that it takes no special skill or money to practice - just intention and consistency. Dr. Brown suggests starting small by choosing one or two pillars to focus on. Teens might start going on nightly walks with a parent or friend. They could set aside 10 minutes before bed to journal. Or challenge themselves to put their phones away during mealtimes. On top of specific techniques for sleep, eating, breathing, meditation and more, Dr. Brown provides tips for making self-care stick. Like scheduling it into each day or week. Or practicing it preventatively, not just when stressed. He also explains how parents can model self-care, and even make it a shared activity through things like breathwork before bed. By living self-care, not just preaching it, we’ll inspire the next generation to make it a lifelong habit. There’s so much more from our conversation with Dr. Brown about the remarkable impacts self-care can have - both big and small. To learn more, be sure to check out The Self-Healing Mind wherever you get your books!


Ep 263: Sex, Puberty and Parenting

Dina Alexander, founder of, joins us to share her view on how to talk to tweens and teens about S-E-X and everything that comes with it. Rather than one big “talk” Dina encourages small, frequent talks to get the message(s) across. Bonfire Digital Wellness has a diverse team of seasoned, compassionate school counselors, ready to coach your teen. Check it out today and take advantage of a 1-month FREE trial: Full Show Notes Talking about sex with teenagers is notoriously awkward and uncomfortable for parents. But in today's world, where kids have unprecedented access to explicit content online, it's more important than ever to push past that discomfort. Our kids need us to have open, judgement-free conversations to help them build healthy relationships and develop positive views on sexuality. On this week's episode of Talking to Teens, we're speaking with Dina Alexander, an expert on communicating with kids about sex and relationships. Dina is the founder of Educate and Empower Kids and the author of the 30 Days of Sex Talks book series. With a daughter who is currently a senior in high school, Dina has plenty of firsthand experience navigating tricky conversations about sex. Dina explains why discussions about sex make so many parents anxious, even as sexual imagery pervades mainstream American culture. Often, our own experiences and assumptions get in the way of having constructive talks with teens. We discuss how to get over those hang-ups so we can have productive dialogues. Dina has recently released updated editions of her sex talk books, so we explore what has changed in the past few years when it comes to teen perspectives on relationships and intimacy. The proliferation of dating apps and social media has dramatically impacted how kids today approach romance and physical affection. Porn aimed specifically at girls and young women has also grown more prevalent. Dina offers insight into how to address new challenges. Throughout the interview, Dina provides tips for making chats about delicate topics more comfortable and effective. We talk about starting early, framing discussions around ideals for healthy relationships, and being willing to answer kids' questions without judgement. She explains why no one gets sex talks exactly "right" - the simple act of keeping the conversation going is what matters.


Ep 262: Built to Move: Healthy Teens

Kelly and Juliet Starrett, authors of Built To Move, highlight the significance of physical activity, especially among teens. Being healthy is not only about exercising once per day for 45 minutes—Kelly and Juliet advocate for building movement into your day. Bonfire Digital Wellness has a diverse team of seasoned, compassionate school counselors, ready to coach your teen. Check it out today and take advantage of a 1-month FREE trial: Full Show Notes Raising teenagers is exhausting. As parents, we’re often overwhelmed juggling work, household duties, keeping up with kids’ busy schedules, and trying to keep our own sanity intact. Self-care goes out the window, and before we know it, we’re burnt out, injured, or sick. We know we “should” make time to exercise and eat right — but finding time is easier said than done. However, what if small, sustainable movement habits could give us the energy, focus and durability we need to weather life’s stressors and model healthy lifestyles for our teens? This week we’re talking all about the power of movement with Juliet Starrett and Kelly Starrett, authors of the new book Built to Move: The 10 Essential Habits to Help You Move Freely and Live Fully. Juliet and Kelly are movement and mobility experts who have spent decades working with elite athletes and organizations. They’re here to breakdown how small movement practices throughout your day can have big impacts on health. Why We Need to Move More Here’s a concerning stat: the average American teenager spends just 40-80 minutes per day outdoors. This lack of movement and nature exposure sets teens up for poor health outcomes. As Kelly and Juliet explain, our bodies need regular movement and time outside to function properly. Otherwise, we adapt to live a “sedentary lifestyle”. In fact, research shows that sitting for more than 6 hours per day can negatively impact how our bodies metabolize fats and sugars, hurt brain function, increase disease risk, and limit our sleep quality. We might make time for exercise, but if we spend the rest of our waking hours inactive, it simply isn’t enough. The good news? Adding more movement throughout our day doesn’t require intense exercise regimens. Light activity like walking, stretching, squatting and spending more time upright makes a measurable difference. Juliet and Kelly suggest simple habits like walking meetings, family movement breaks, and getting outside in nature more often. 10 Essential Movement Habits In Built to Move, Juliet and Kelly outline 10 essential habits that families can build to incorporate more movement, like: These habits might seem basic, but they work synergistically to create energy, improve sleep quality, reduce injury risk and make our bodies more resilient to handle life’s curveballs. They’re designed to be simple, sustainable practices we can fit into our regular routines without added hassle. In our interview, Kelly and Juliet walk through each habit in more detail, explaining the reasoning and science behind their recommendations. They also share tips for realistically applying these habits as busy parents and professionals. Modeling Healthy Movement Teaching healthy movement habits doesn’t stop with us — we need to model these behaviors for our teens as well. As Kelly and Juliet explain, the household is the center of change. We can’t rely on institutions like schools to instill healthy practices in teenagers. Leading by example is key. Luckily, the movement habits Juliet and Kelly recommend set families up for success. Taking regular movement breaks, walking meetings and getting outside are practices the whole family can do together. Not only will these habits provide health benefits for teens, but they’ll also help families bond. Modeling healthy movement and self-care shows teenagers that things like sleep, nutrition and activity aren’t just obligations — they can be fun too. Building these habits into family time...


Ep 261: What Your Teen’s Music Says About Them

Susan Rogers, author of This Is What It Sounds Like, offers insight into what different tastes in music reveal about personality. Plus, how parents and teens can connect more deeply by sharing and exploring music. Bonfire Digital Wellness has a diverse team of seasoned, compassionate school counselors, ready to coach your teen. Check it out today and take advantage of a 1-month FREE trial: Full Show Notes Music is deeply personal, especially for teenagers. In this episode, we’re exploring what your teen’s music taste says about them and how you can use music to connect more deeply. We’re joined by Susan Rogers, a cognitive neuroscientist, award-winning professor at Berklee College of Music, multi-platinum record producer, and author. With decades of experience in the music industry and a PhD researching music perception and cognition, Susan has rare insight into both the art and science of music. In our conversation, Susan explains that musical tastes are highly individualized, tapping into our inner psyche and self-image. Criticizing your teen’s music taste can feel like a personal attack to them. Instead, Susan suggests having a “record pull” where family members take turns playing music they love for each other. This allows everyone to glimpse into each other’s musical psyche. What Your Teen’s Taste Reveals We discuss fascinating research Susan conducted asking people what visuals and memories they associate with their favorite music. Results showed the majority of people see autobiographical memories, allowing them to relive happy moments from their past. For teens, this often means music from when they were younger. Susan explains music activates the brain’s “default network” tied to our sense of self. So when teens listen to music they relate to, it becomes deeply enmeshed with their personal identity. Lyrics often take a backseat, Susan says, with musical qualities resonating more deeply. Using Music to Connect With the teenage brain still developing areas related to identity and self-perception, what teens believe their peers think of them becomes what they think of themselves. Susan suggests asking teens openly about their music, not to criticize their taste but to understand them better. Playing music you relate to for your teen can also help them understand you, glimpsing into your psyche. Susan proposes a “record pull” where family members share meaningful music with each other. Additional Topics: