Selfie-Esteem: The Impact of the Like Culture on a Teen’s Self-Worth

Jul 02, 2019

A few decades ago, the “like” culture consisted of a handwritten note read, “If you like me, check yes or no”. Today, it is much different. Chloe, 15, shared that she knows she is “good” based on the number of likes she will receive from a selfie. “If I get 50 likes then I know that I am a good person and that I have friends. If I get less than that, I feel awful. I usually end up deleting the post and then I won’t talk to anyone for awhile.”

From Instagram, Snapchat, and Facebook to Twitter (and every app in-between), social media has become a powerful and primary form of communication. It has also created a culture, a like culture.

So what exactly is the “Like” Culture? 

Culture is a set of adopted and shared values that a group can hold. Those values can affect how someone thinks, feels, and behaves. It sets the criteria by which you judge situations, others, and oneself. 

The like culture is the...

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What to Do When: Understanding Non-Binary Gender Expression in Teens (and Adults too!)

Jun 20, 2019

Hi Julie,

My daughter came home the other day and told me she has never felt comfortable in her body and doesn’t really feel like a girl or a boy. She said she has been using they pronoun “they” with friends and also has chosen a gender-neutral name. I want to support her - err, them - but I don’t think I understand. Is this a phase? Is she/they transgender? Can you offer any insight?


As a psychotherapist who works with my gender non-conforming kiddos and as a parent of a non-binary child, I am so thrilled to see this question. For the first several years of your child’s life, you were certain you understood your child’s gender. When your child comes out as non-binary, it can be confusing. Even now, I am constantly learning, making mistakes, apologizing, and learning more. This is what an ally does. So, I have put together a list of the most common questions I have been asked as a psychotherapist and as a parent.

What does non-binary mean?

The...

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What To Do When: Understanding your LGBTQ teen

Jun 06, 2019

Hi Julie~ 

My daughter came home last week and said she thinks she is gay, or rather she said she is bi-sexual. I like to think I’m a fairly aware and open person, and if this is how she identifies then I want to support her. However, I’m at a complete and total loss of what to do. Right now, I left it at, “Okay, thanks for telling me. Can I have some time to think about it?”  What do I say? What do I need to do?  

—-

One out of four families has someone in it who identifies as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender. Even more may have kids who question their sexuality at various points.

I have worked with many lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning kids and their parents to come out and transition. I’ve witnessed the feelings parents experience and their responses when a child says, “Mom. Dad. I have something to tell you.” I’ve seen shock, denial, guilt, blame, grief, suspicion, religious...

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What to Do When™: Teens + End-of-School-Year Anxiety

May 31, 2019

Hi Julie~

My daughter was diagnosed with anxiety over the school year. She’s done a pretty good job of managing it, and I really thought that having a break from school would make her feel even better - especially after having some time to sleep and rest. However, now that school is out, she seems more tired and more anxious than ever. What can I do?

Anxiety is a universal emotion, and, on some level, everyone experiences anxiety. Many teens experience heightened levels of anxiety when there is a transition or change in their life. Anxiety is a normal stress reaction to perceived danger. The end of the school year marks a change for your daughter, so her anxiety may rise because change may feel like perceived danger. There are some ways that you can help her manage her anxiety and settle into summer break.

Validate Feelings

Validating your teen’s feelings can help them to feel understood. Let her know that you empathize with the feeling of anxiety. (“I hear that...

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What to Do When: Five Ways to Support Teens + Yourself in the Era of School Shootings

May 09, 2019

Hi Julie,

Yesterday the news struck. Another school shooting. I can’t handle it. I don’t know how to help my daughter when we hear about one. She is starting high school in the fall, and I don’t know if I can handle four more years of this fear. Help!

Thanks,

Annie


Hi Anne~

There are few events that strike fear in our hearts, our homes, and our communities like the senseless act of a school shooting. With images and snippets flashed on television and streamed over social media, it is natural to feel fearful about the safety of your child and their school. Beyond limiting exposure to media, it’s critical to know exactly what to do when tragedy strikes so you can support your teen and yourself.

  1. Lean into your support system and self-care habits. To assuage your teen’s anxieties, you need to first address your own. When you fly on an airplane, the flight attendant instructs you to put your oxygen mask on first, before helping others. The same is true...
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Are you Really Listening (part 1 in a 3-part series)

Apr 11, 2019

Do you ever notice that your teen’s eyes glaze over while you’re talking to them? This is a surefire sign you are talking too much and listening too little.

Solid, healthy communication is essential in any relationship, right? When we talk and share our feelings, we feel closer to one another. However, talking is only part of the equation. The other portion - the much larger portion - is listening.

Sadly, this often gets reversed because it is easy to talk and way harder to listen.  When communicating with teens, most parents and adults talk 50% more than what’s necessary. If you’re verbose, you may even say 70% or 80% more than necessary.

Yikes! And, when you are busy doing all that talking, it, again, can be tough, really tough to listen. Anyone can talk, but not everyone listens.

*You* need to be part of the group that listens.

Without the capacity for effective listening, communication becomes irrelevant. This is often what happens with your...

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How you and your Teen can Stress Less this Holiday Season

Nov 21, 2018

It feels like just yesterday I was sitting on the bay of the river, toes in sand, watching the fireworks above me. Today, I’m sitting on the living room floor, toes wrapped in wool socks, watching my teens argue over what pie we should have and tossing around ornaments for a tree that won’t up be up for another few weeks.

Yep, the holiday season is upon us. This truly is my favorite time of year where we celebrate family, friends, tradition, and spirit. Yet, all too often, we stumble and trip through the season only to begin the new year overwhelmed and exhausted. And, it’s not just you.

The American Psychological Association conducted a survey that found that adolescents and young adults report the highest level of stress among all ages. When their holiday overwhelm is paired with other seasonal stressors such as fewer hours of daylight, changes in routines, holiday guests, academic workload, finals, college applications and more, they return to the daily grind...

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