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Episode summary:

At a time when headlines are filled with dire warnings about the mental health of our adolescents, this information-packed session with Dr. Lisa Damour offers vital guidance for parents—including those with younger kids—about how to navigate the ups and downs that come with growing up.

Dr. Lisa Damour is the author of three New York Times best sellers: Untangled, Under Pressure, and The Emotional Lives of Teenagers. She co-hosts the Ask Lisa podcast, works in collaboration with UNICEF, and is recognized as a thought leader by the American Psychological Association. Dr. Damour is also a regular contributor to The New York Times and CBS News. Dr. Damour serves as a Senior Advisor to the Schubert Center for Child Studies at Case Western Reserve University and has written numerous academic papers, chapters, and books related to education and child development. She maintains a clinical practice and also speaks to schools, professional organizations, and corporate groups around the world on the topics of child and adolescent development, family mental health, and adult well-being. Dr. Damour graduated with honors from Yale University and worked for the Yale Child Study Center before earning her doctorate in Clinical Psychology at the University of Michigan. She has been a fellow at Yale’s Edward Zigler Center in Child Development and Social Policy and the University of Michigan’s Power Foundation. She and her husband are the proud parents of two daughters.

Things you'll learn from this episode:


Helping adolescents learn to manage negative emotions like anger

How to ease a child into using cell phones and social media

When to worry about your teenager

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Episode Transcript

Speaker 1: (00:08)
Hi there and welcome to the Parenting Without Power Struggles podcast. I'm so glad that you're here. This podcast is really just about helping you have more joy, more fun, and fewer power struggles as you raise your kids. I'm your host, Susan Stiffelman. I'm the author of Parenting Without Power Struggles and Parenting With Presence, and it's my privilege and honor to share some of the things I've learned in the 40 plus years I've been a teacher, a marriage and family therapist and educator, and a mom. We cover everything related to raising confident, resilient children here with guests like Dr. Dan Siegel, Dr. Mona Delahooke, Martha Beck, Kristen Neff, Janet Lansbury, Debbie Reber, Maggie Dent, Julie Lythcott Haims, and many other wise and wonderful speakers. Before we get started, make sure you're taking advantage of everything that we have to offer at You'll be able to get my free newsletter that has lots of inspiration and support practical as always, because I'm committed to making your day better, not just change things conceptually or theoretically.

Speaker 1: (01:14)
You're gonna also be able to find out more about my monthly Parenting Without Power Struggles membership program for those of you who want ongoing personal help and are Co-Parenting with a Narcissist support group for those who need that kind of support. There are also over 30, 35 deep dive, 90 minute masterclass on everything from the Gifts of ADHD with Dr. Ned Hallowell, Tools from Neuroscience with Mona Delahooke, Helping Behaviorally Challenged Children Do Well with Dr. Ross Greene and so many more. So you can find out more at Now let's get started. Hi everyone. Welcome to the Parenting Without Power Struggles podcast, and I'm really happy to be talking today with my guest Dr. Lisa Damour. Hi Lisa. Hi.

Speaker 2: (02:00)
Thank you so much for having me. I'm really glad to be here with

Speaker 1: (02:03)
You. I'm gonna start by saying that my assistant wanted me to tell you that she read your book in a very short period of time, and now her mother who taught high school for 45 years is reading it and they have a book club of two.

Speaker 2: (02:15)
Oh, I love that. That means a huge amount to me.

Speaker 1: (02:18)
Yeah, so this is such a powerful book and and we've been wanting to have a conversation with you for a while. So let me tell people a little bit about your background, particularly what you're doing now, and we'll jump right into talking about what you've found, what you've learned, and how you can support parents who have teens or who are going to have teens. Cuz it creeps up on you how it does. So, Dr. Lisa Damour is the author of three New York Times bestselling books, Untangled, Under Pressure and her most recent book, the Emotional Lives of Teenagers: Raising, Connected, Capable and Compassionate Adolescents. Such a fabulous title. She co-hosts the Ask Lisa podcast works in collaboration with UNICEF and is recognized as a thought leader by the American Psychological Association. Dr. Damour is also a regular contributor to the New York Times and CBS News. She maintains a clinical practice and also speaks to schools, professional organizations and corporate groups around the world on topics of child and adolescent development, family mental health and adult wellbeing. Dr. Damour graduated with honors from Yale University and worked for the Yale Child Study Center before earning her doctorate in clinical psychology at the University of Michigan. She is has been a fellow at Yale. You know, it just goes on and on and on. And you and your husband are the proud parents of two daughters?

Speaker 2: (03:40)

Speaker 1: (03:40)
Are. And how old are your girls?

Speaker 2: (03:42)
So they are 12 and 19, so I'm on either end of adolescence right

Speaker 1: (03:46)
Now. Nice. Okay. So I guess just, you know, the typical opening question, but I have to ask, how did the book come to, to fruition? How did it get birthed?

Speaker 2: (03:58)
So you know, I'm a clinician who cares for teenagers. They've been the focus of my work for a very long time. And then along came the pandemic and you know, we just had never seen anything like it, any of us. And then certainly the impact on teenagers was horrendous and specific. You know, teenagers have two jobs, which is to become increasingly independent and spend as much time with their friends as possible. And the pandemic really hamstrung them, you know, on both of those counts. And so I really felt like coming outta the pandemic, there were just, were so many questions about adolescent mental health and then on top of that, so much confusion about what mental health even is. And so the reason I wrote the book was to try to bring across what we know as clinicians about what mental health really looks like in any of us, which is that it is not about feeling good or calm or relaxed, it's about having feelings that fit the situation you're in and then managing those well. And the work right now does seem to really be centered on helping parents tease apart what is expectable distress and healthy management of it from what's a mental health concern. And the discourse that surrounds us right now is very much treating those as though they are one and the same, that distress and a mental health concern are equivalent. You know, they aren't, I know they aren't. And you know, the work is to try to help parents know what they're looking at and then know what to do.

Speaker 1: (05:29)
Right. Which is one of my first questions. So how do we assess how our teen is doing? You know, what are the ways that we can get a, a feel for their overall mental health? And, you know, because we do know that there's no avoiding angst and existential, you know, concerns and a lot of things that are surrounding our kids, especially in today's day and age. How do we tease that out and and recognize when, when there's a need for more support?

Speaker 2: (05:58)
You know, that's the key question, and I think that's what makes it so hard to be a parent of a teenager right now, is that teenagers have always had lots and lots of ups and downs. That's the nature of adolescents. We're in a moment historically that is incredibly loaded and that teenagers have very strong responses to, and parents are surrounded by headlines about adolescent mental health crisis. Right? So this is very frightening time to be the parent of a teenager. So what I would say to parents of teenagers is that ups and downs are to be expected. What we don't wanna see is if a teenager, really anybody's mood, but a teenager's mood goes to a concerning place and stays there, right? We, we expect them to be low and then high and then low and then high and then, you know, but if they get to a place where they are low and it is happening day over day or anxious in a way that is paralyzing to them and they cannot do the things they mean to do, that's when we worry.

Speaker 2: (06:54)
And then of course we worry about teenagers who are not being, not taking good care of themselves, right? That they are self-harming or talking about feeling like they don't wanna be here anymore or even more directly talking about suicide. And of course, teenagers who are acting out in ways that are destructive. But the, the key is not to focus on distress per se, as a sign of mental, you know, that there's a mental health concern. Distress is typical expectable. It is growth giving. It helps teenagers orient themselves to the world. There's so much value, you know, this in having a full range of emotional experience. And if parents are looking at a teenager in distress, which of course like several times a week, they will be right. I mean, like, we just have to plan for that. The questions I want parents to be asking themselves are, does this make sense? Is my kid upset for a reason that actually fits reality? Like they've flunked a test or their best friend just, you know, stood them up and then how's my kid handling it? Or are they using strategies that are helping them feel better that come at no cost? That's what we're looking for.

Speaker 1: (08:05)
Awesome. And, and you know, I do think, as you've said, there's a lot of news circulating right now about the, the state of adolescents and the concern particularly about the increase in suicidal ideation and self-harm and depression anxiety. And it is a, a, a pretty intense time to be an adolescent. It's important, isn't it, for us to magnify or capitalize or build on the places where our teens are doing well and you know, sort of help mitigate some of the noise on the outside. Can you make some suggestions for how we can offer or what we can offer our teens who are maybe like just barely keeping their head above water to make sure that they know that, that the things they're going through aren't permanent or to sort of help them access their strengths when they may have, you know, mis mislead them?

Speaker 2: (08:59)
Yeah, no, so I think the first thing is that I'm so attuned right now to that moment between parent and teenager where a teenager comes to the parent and the teenagers in a great deal of distress. So this is a kid who talks, not all kids are talkers, but for kids who talk you know, they come and they're upset about something that happened at school or something that happened with a peer or something that happened in the world. And what I, I think we so often blow past as parents is that often all the kid wants as empathy, they just want someone to just hear what they said. Yeah. Say my, that stinks and you're having the right reaction. Yeah. And I would really like, yeah, I can't, I'm just making up numbers, but I would say 95% of the time the teenager's like, thank you.

Speaker 2: (09:49)
I just, I just wanted to not be alone with this and have someone tell me that it was okay that I was having this feeling. And so I think even that act that can seem so small and so simple, a huge percentage of the time, then the kids ready to go, they're like, okay, now I can lay it down and I can carry on into my strengths. So I think there's that. I think another thing that we need to do for teenagers is make sure that they're plugged in with adults in their world, right? So hopefully things at home are strong, but that's not always the case and it doesn't need to be the case. Teenagers make incredibly powerful connections with teachers and coaches and mentors and bosses and those relationships with adults who are good people who care about that teenager are incredibly nourishing for adolescents.

Speaker 2: (10:35)
Yeah. And then the last thing I would say is teens need ways to contribute to be of use to feel valuable and valued. And you know, there's incredible work on this done by Andrew Fini out at u UCLA about when teens are put in positions where they get to be truly useful, whether it's service or a job or helping out around the house, not only do the people around them benefit the teenager benefits tremendously. Wow. And so it's really critical that we continue to make available or even require that young people do things to contribute beyond themselves because it's good for the world and it's also good for the team.

Speaker 1: (11:17)
I've seen that in my personal life when my son was a teenager. I've seen it in my community that you see just energetically that feeling that you've handed somebody something that has, you know, to feed them or you've provided us some a moment of support to somebody who's struggling on the outside in your town volunteer. There's so many wonderful opportunities and, and you know, I know this, there's such a core need for us to feel that we matter and that we contribute. So I'm really happy that you're mentioning that because I think it gets overlooked a lot sometimes as parents, we try so hard to make, make everything so perfect for our kids that we miss the chance to let them struggle a little bit or, you know, not have, not be always on the receiving end, but to be providing for others. So I wanna talk a little bit about the, some of the strong emotions that teens go through. So looking at anger, for instance, anger is part of being human. There's no getting around it. You can either experience it, process it, or repress it, you know, like much healthier if we can help our kids when they're teens, be aware of anger. And I'd love to hear you talk about how you help them express some of the, what are called negative emotions or just part of being alive.

Speaker 2: (12:34)
So anger is such a great place to start because you know, so much of my work right now is about making the case for unwanted and unpleasant emotions. You know, that they're really important. We can't avoid them, we can't, it doesn't help us to be frightened of them. But that doesn't mean you can do whatever you want with them. And I think anger is such a good example of where, you know, of course teenagers are gonna be angry and they often should be angry and they have a right to be angry and we support that. But there are ways that a anger should be expressed and there are ways that are actually not appropriate for the expression of anger. And so I think often in family life, you know, teenagers will say stuff that is outta line. Yeah. They have very powerful emotions. Their, you know, breaks can be weak at times.

Speaker 2: (13:18)
And it's not uncommon for teenagers to say stuff that as soon as they've said it, they wish they hadn't said it or as soon as they've said it, they regret it and or they know it was, you know, they went too far. And so I think where we can misstep in this is to focus on the fact that the kid is angry. Okay. That's, you know, that's not worth it. Right. That, you know, to focus on. Like, why is the kid angry? Well, the kid may be angry for lots of reasons. And really I think what we wanna focus on is, you know, the anger may be justified probably is the expression of anger. So to make, you know, make it very clear, you can be mad but you can't talk to anybody in the house this way. Or you can be mad, but you can't take it out on yourself in that unkind way. Right. You know, you can, you can have, you're gonna have these feelings. Like we don't even get a choice about it. How they get expressed is really where we're gonna draw the line. And I think that model that again, we're good with the distress or we're not against the distress. Yeah. We're very, very curious about how is it being expressed? How is it being managed? That's where the energy should go. I think anger is like the, it's such a good example Yeah. In family life with teenagers.

Speaker 1: (14:26)
So what are some of the ways that you talk about, I know in mo your most recent book especially that you can redirect or provide healthy outlets for the legitimate anger that might be circulating a teen's system and what they can do with it that doesn't harm themselves or others.

Speaker 2: (14:44)
Yeah. So, you know, one of the things I bring across in this book is how we as clinicians think about emotion regulation. And we think about it as a two-part process, right? That there's the option of expressing mo emotions to get relief. And then there's also the option of quieting or taming emotions to get relief. And, you know, we hold those on equal footing. The culture is very weighted towards expressing, getting kids talking, but that's not always gonna work for a kid or gonna be appropriate. And so if we work in those two buckets, right, of, of ways that kids can manage. So in terms of expressing anger, kids can talk about feeling angry. They just can't attack people with their words. Kids can't use their bodies to, you know, to show someone that they're angry or to hurt somebody else. But it doesn't always have to be words.

Speaker 2: (15:36)
I I was talking to a mom of a 12 year old boy not too long ago and it was a tricky divorce situation and the boy was rightly upset. Like he was very upset about something that had happened and he came to his mom and he said, is there something I can break? And I will tell you, me, probably two years ago before I wrote this book, would've been like, oh, I don't know about that. And me having written this book, I'm like, good job buddy. Like, you're just trying to get it out, but you're trying not to do anything you're not supposed to do. And if that is how you can get relief,

Speaker 1: (16:08)

Speaker 2: (16:09)
That is entirely appropriate. So those are forms of expression, but kids may also need to find ways to tame it sometimes. Like they may be really, really hot about something that they can't do anything about. And so going and like listening to music that makes 'em feel better or watching a show that just takes their mind off of it. We don't talk enough about the value of things that actually just help soothe or distract. Yeah. Or, or reduce painful emotions. I think we worry that we're somehow minimizing or dismissing them, but in fact you can't express all the time. And sometimes the more you express the worse you feel.

Speaker 1: (16:47)
A really good point. And sometimes, you know, kids pick up on our desperation or neediness like, oh my gosh, you're distressed. Let's talk about it. Let's talk about it honey, she didn't mean it that way. Or you, you know, here's some advice that you haven't asked for. And, and I think it actually turns the volume up on a child's distress because now they're having to manage their own and ours. Yep. Like, oh gosh, now I have to take care of mom cuz she's so freaked out cuz I'm freaked out

Speaker 2: (17:10)
. Exactly, exactly. We're saying what would help you feel better? You know?

Speaker 1: (17:15)
Mm. I love

Speaker 2: (17:16)
That. You know, like that's a perfectly reasonable response when a kid says, I'm feeling very upset. And and not always going down though. Like, let's unpack it and talk it to death mode.

Speaker 1: (17:26)
Right, right. Yeah. So I wanna talk about, and this is great, I wanna talk about risky behavior because you know, we know that there's a developmental imperative to try new things, to push the envelope to see where the lines are and the limits are to test ourselves, develop mastery, all those good things. And it often shows up in, oh my gosh, I cannot believe you did that, that you thought that was a good idea. , can you speak to that?

Speaker 2: (17:51)
So teens are amazing and they are, they are neurologically designed to seek out novel and thrilling experiences. Like that's how they're built and we wanna keep 'em safe. That is our job as parents. I think the first thing to say out of the gate, and this is painful for me to say, is the mother of teenagers. You cannot guarantee a teenager's safety. There is nothing you can do that is legal to guarantee your teenager will be safe cuz you can't lock 'em in the house. You can't supervise 'em all the time. That's just not an option. And that's a hard thing to live with. That's a hard thing to live with. But that's a reality. I think what we can do to up the safety of our teenagers as they invariably seek out thrills that we would maybe as parents wish they didn't, is first to make sure we have a good working relationship with them.

Speaker 2: (18:41)
When I, if I had to come up with a single measure of how safe a teenager was, I would say, how close are they to the adults in their environment? And teenagers who have no good, strong relationship with a adult in their environment, I would be very frightened for them. Versus a teenager who's like, well if it got bad I could call my folks. Or if it got bad I could call my uncle. Right. That those, those kids are worlds apart. So I think part of how we do it is we have conversations where we set ourselves up as partners and the safety instead of saying, don't let me catch you. You know, X, Y, z saying here's why I worry about how you could get hurt if you X, y, z. Right. So really saying like, I think about these things, I want you to be safe, I trust you wanna be safe.

Speaker 2: (19:27)
Really, I always say to teenagers, look, don't worry about getting caught. You're not gonna get caught worried about getting hurt. Right. I mean like really keeping the emphasis on safety. That's why we worry about risk is it's just not safe. And then I think we can go a step further and offer ourselves to help. And that's where you say to your kid, if you get to a party and it is not good, I will come get you out of any situation. If you need me to scream into the phone so your friends think I've lost my mind and like, you're in trouble, I will a hundred percent do that. You blame me all day long, I will be there and get you, I will never, ever, ever make you sorry you asked for my help. Wow. So I think really treating, just like dealing with the reality that like things with teenagers move fast and they find themselves in situations they didn't mean to be in. And at the ends of the day, all we want is safe kids. And the way we have safe kids is that they feel like they can ask us for help if they need

Speaker 1: (20:17)
It. Yeah. Yeah. I mean that's the cornerstone of my work. I talk about being the captain of the ship and how we show up for our kids and of course that shifts, we want them ultimately to be the captains of their own ship, but that we start out as, you know, the captain of the ship right hand above left versus the two lawyers versus the dictator. Mm-Hmm. where we're trying to control our kids and overpower them. This is just about being lovingly present and in charge and it's such a comfort. Mm-Hmm. , it, it, it creates this feeling of safety, you know, which safety is such a powerful word for all of us, but particularly when you're embarking on this adventure of separating from your parents and moving out into the world that you wanna look over. In fact, I watched a friend of mine's baby today, the toddler Mm. It's just my most delicious thing in the middle of the, the week. And and she's, you know, looking over her shoulder, are you still there? And there's an equivalent of that isn't there with our teens that maybe they, they can tolerate us being much further, but they wanna know.

Speaker 2: (21:16)
Yep, yep. And that there, you know, if they need us Yeah. They won't be. Sorry.

Speaker 1: (21:22)
So we know this is a whole, this could be its own interview and I have so many thoughts and feelings about technology and social media mm-hmm. But we wouldn't be complete if we didn't touch on it. At least, you know, how does it enhance or compromise our teen's life?

Speaker 2: (21:40)
So I'm so glad you posed the question that way because I don't think there's a kid on the planet for whom social media is not simultaneously a good and bad thing that they're using it cuz they enjoy it. Yeah. Because it connects 'em to kids. They like yeah. They're having a good time and you know, totally interwoven with that experience. They come across stuff they don't like, they feel less than they feel, you know, like there's all sorts of stuff that it can be really difficult for them. And what I would say and, and where my my thinking is really pointing is like the goal of adults is to try to minimize what some researchers, researchers, I think usually call problematic use, right. That there's problematic use of social media and I I have my own kind of categories of what I consider problematic use.

Speaker 2: (22:28)
And I think if we focus on those, it actually gives parents something to do . Right. As opposed to just like Right. Scaring them to death about all social media and all technology because I I, that doesn't really point them in a direction that allows them to feel empowered and helpful. So one form of problematic use is obviously any use that disrupts what kids should be doing as part of healthy development, whether it's, you know, focusing on their schoolwork or spending time in real life with people that are being physically active. The big one is sleep. And

Speaker 1: (22:59)
Glad you went there.

Speaker 2: (23:00)
Yeah. Sleep is the glue that holds human beings together and teenagers need nine hours a night. Yeah. Which is way more than anybody's getting. And so I can't believe this sounds as draconian as it does, but like teens don't need phones in their bedrooms. None of us should have phones in our bedrooms, especially overnight. And that we have such good data on the link between mental health and sleep and so in terms of problematic use, I would say a kid who's on their phone instead of sleeping, I would call that problematic use. Right? So that's one category, right? Another category. And I think this is when people talk about, but for me it's not the biggie in terms of actually when they're using the phone, you know, is if they're using it in a way that causes them to be unkind to others or it becomes a source of which, you know, they're being on, on the receiving end of mistreatment.

Speaker 2: (23:46)
And what we do see is whatever's happening in kids real life interactions tends to carry over into their social media interactions. And so it kind of exacerbates Yeah. Kids who are struggling and it, you know, for kids who are having a good relationships with their friends, they're having a good time online at the same time. The big one for me is much more about what the algorithms are serving up to teenagers actually to all of us, but let's focus on teenagers. The conversation I want us to be having is about the norms in the digital environments where kids are hanging out. The algorithms quickly determine what a teenager's most likely gonna wanna look at next. And they tend to actually then deliver a great deal of that content to any one of us, but especially teenagers. The language teenagers use for this is they talk about TikTok having sides, right?

Speaker 2: (24:34)
So there is the cat video side of TikTok. There is the goofy dance video side of TikTok. There's the gay books side of TikTok. There is the, you know, there's a variety of sides. There are also some very dark and creepy sides. There is the white supremacy side of TikTok, right there is the how to lose 10 pounds and 10 minutes side of TikTok. Right? So what we need to be mindful of is that teens are vulnerable to norms more than children are, more than adults are. And we need to be mindful of the norms in the digital environments where they're spending a lot of time because those norms stand to change behavior. Not only mood and feeling, but behavior. And so when I think about problematic use, one of the ways I size it up is, well there are problematic norms that get established in digital environments and you wanna know what norms your kids are being exposed to. So those are some specifics about how to think about it. The other thing I'll just say is delay, delay, delay, delay. You know, the later kid engages with these things, the better. 13 year olds on social media are very different from 17 year olds on social media. And so the further into back into development that we can push things the better.

Speaker 1: (25:47)
Can we go a little further with that? Because one of the things that I do, and I've done a number of masterclass where we, the topic is screen time in one version or another. Can we talk more about the mechanic of that? Because Yeah, I think a lot of parents understand this conceptually and they struggle with, but my teen will hate me, but my teen will get sneaky. But, but my team will claim perhaps rightly that they're the only kid whose parent is so controlling. And I, my work is about fortifying parents so that they can, they can be sturdy enough to hear that with compassion and kindness and not be, you know, and not melt over it. Mm-Hmm. , can we speak to that a little bit about how a parent can compassionately respond to this intense desire to have access in their bedroom and so forth?

Speaker 2: (26:36)
Well probably the easiest thing and, and I, I like that. I love talking to families who have younger kids is how you set it up. It's very hard to walk it back.

Speaker 1: (26:47)
I know.

Speaker 2: (26:48)
So, but setting it up can be a really great moment because at the moment a kid wants a phone, they will actually agree to anything and, and that's really important and parents should make the most of it. So, you know, at the, when it finally becomes time for a kid to have a phone and then let's talk about how you know, when that time comes. You can also say to them, here it is, it never goes in your bedroom. If you use this in any way that does not actually, you know, fit with our family values, it's ours for a while. You know, I mean you can make all of those rules and they, they will say, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes. Please let me have it so you can start there. The other thing that's critically important is they should have a phone when it becomes how their peers are connecting with one another and not having a phone threatens to make your child socially isolated.

Speaker 2: (27:34)
Digital technology is not always together good for kid altogether good for kids. Social isolation is also very bad for kids. Right. So we're trying, like, we're looking for the inflection point. Now the critical thing that does not get said enough, that does not mean the phone you hang, your kid has to have a browser on it or any social media apps. Exactly. It can be a texting machine and kids can get a long way staying connected to their peers through texting. And so the question I would be asking as a parent is first you start with a thing that only texts and like truly cannot go online, cannot go anywhere on the internet. Right. And then you see if your kid still has friends, still has kids to talk to, still has plans on the weekend as long as your kid still has friends, has kids to talk to and has plans on the weekend. Texting is working.

Speaker 1: (28:18)
Is that the phone? I know there's one called Gab, G a b B. There

Speaker 2: (28:22)
Are phones like that. I will tell you, you can also just take an iPhone and, and cuz sometimes people don't wanna replace the phone. The phones themselves are expensive. So if you're like, eventually this kid's gonna end up with a browser, you can get an iPhone and have no browser on it and have no social media apps on it and set it up in a way that your kid can't Great. Add anything to the phone without your permission. Great,

Speaker 1: (28:42)

Speaker 2: (28:43)
Awesome. So just start there and and then see how they do with texting. If your kid ends up in the meanest text chain ever, your kid is not ready for social media. Right.

Speaker 1: (28:53)

Speaker 2: (28:54)
If your kid, you know, is using texting like in their funny but completely acceptable way and then they say, I'm starting to feel really left out because I don't know what's happening on, you know, fill in the blank social media platform, you can have that conversation like how left out, right? I mean, do you have people you're sitting with at lunch or you know, like how much is this a factor? You can then very, very slowly move into it, but the goal is that they have good thriving in-person relationships. Yes. And, and social media can be part of that and some kids can feel like it's hard to maintain those without social media. Be open to that. But see if you can't be having that conversation with a 14 year old or a 15 year old Yes. Not a 12 year old or younger, you're

Speaker 1: (29:38)
Happy. And I'm just thrilled that we're, you know, very much on the same wavelength here because it's so complicated and parents are so hungry for reasonable support. You know, not just this unilateral No. Just don't get it. Some people might make that decision, but you know, realistically we know that that is a real gonna have real fallout for a child.

Speaker 2: (30:00)
Yeah. Right? I mean, social isolation's bad for kids.

Speaker 1: (30:04)

Speaker 2: (30:05)
And there's, there's something in between that that can I, in my experience right. That you can go slowly and watch carefully to make sure that it's being handled well.

Speaker 1: (30:18)
And, and one of the ways I know some parents will do that, that I've talked about with some of the our members in our community is that you share an account for a little while. So there's the scaffolding there, it's a fam or it's a family Instagram or something where you put photos of the vacation and maybe you just have connection. You know, now if you're waiting till 14 or 15, it may not be necessary. Where do you fall on that?

Speaker 2: (30:42)
You know, I think in my experience, not a lot of kids are gonna be into that to the degree that they want it. They want it for themselves. And that's fine. Show me you use texting. Well, yeah. And then, and show me that not having these social media apps is starting to really put a dent in your social life and then conversation

Speaker 1: (31:01)
And, and if for those of you listening or watching who don't know about Janelle Burley Hoffman's wonderful iPhone contract. I just love that we've done some stuff together. And she, many years ago now, when her son was given his first iPhone created a list of contract and the very first , I think the first item on there was it is our phone. You get to use it. Yep.

Speaker 2: (31:24)
Yeah, absolutely. And that's, you know, back to also the another reason why kids, I, I don't like for them to have phones in their bedrooms, you know, one is it disrupts their sleep. Yeah. The other is, I think it it implies more privacy than anything digital actually has. There can be a squirrely quality, I think, you know, to a kid being behind a closed door in a room for a long, long time and, you know, everything digital is public and we should always treat it as such. And I think that part of what helps us remember that is we're not using it in secret spaces, you know, or buying closed doors that you know, you use it where someone could walk by. And I, and I think that that kind of structural feature of supervision, even if the parent is actually not looking all that carefully

Speaker 1: (32:11)

Speaker 2: (32:12)
Yeah. I think is valuable and no cost and high, high benefit

Speaker 1: (32:16)

Speaker 2: (32:17)
Thing to do.

Speaker 1: (32:19)
So we won't go into this in depth, but it is so on my mind these days, the thing of chat g p t that I just wanna ask you what your thoughts are. Ai

Speaker 2: (32:29)
I haven't really wrapped my head around it to be honest. I I think it's really something we're gonna, it came up fast. you surprised us all. There's really, really excellent work. You know, I think there's concern about it from the academic standpoint and what it means for kids in school. Challenge success of phenomenal group out of Stanford is really done very thoughtful work on, you know, why kids cheat if they cheat. And you know, I think all of that really meaningfully translates over to how we think about AI in school settings. But I think this is this is a big one I know came up on us fast.

Speaker 1: (33:05)
Yeah. So let's wrap up by kind of a a, a basic but such an important question. When do we know that it's time to worry? And I know you touched on this earlier, but I wanna kind of close with

Speaker 2: (33:18)
Absolutely. It's the critical question and I think especially with all of these swirling headlines around teenagers, like, when do you worry about your kid? So I'll use a different metaphor, a different way of talking about it than I did before, which is to say, psychological concerns are not unlike physical concerns in that physically healthy people get sick. You know, we get colds, we get, you know, bad flus. That is not evidence that we're now somehow not a physically healthy person. And the proof of our physical health is that we actually get better, right? We fight it off, we get through it and, and we get to a place of feeling good again. We only worry about physical illness if a person becomes sick and then they are unable to recover and they get sicker and sicker and sicker. So that metaphor carries over very well to when to worry about the emotional health of a young person in your life physically, you know, emotionally healthy people.

Speaker 2: (34:14)
Kids are gonna get upset, , they're gonna have things happen that make them like rightly distressed on its own knock grounds for concern, right? What we wanna see is they can get through it and get through a successfully and get to a place of feeling better. We worry when they don't, when they are so anxious that then they start to avoid things and then they start to feel more anxious about other things and it has a sort of spreading quality that takes over their life, or they're so low or so numb that things feel bleak and nice things happen and they still don't feel better. And they start to feel very despairing or hopeless. That's when we worry. And then of course if there's any harm being done, if, if there's any coping, so they may be coping, but they may be coping in ways that are, you know, expensive. Like, you know, like, like come with a price tag. So things like, you know, they're using substances or they're taking it out on the people around them, or they are self-harming, right? Those are all coping, but those are not the kind of coping we're looking

Speaker 1: (35:11)
For. Or they're, or they're playing video games for 10 hours straight. They barely coming out of the room to eat or shower or engage with anyone, right?

Speaker 2: (35:19)
Absolutely. So the way we would think about that is, okay, so distraction can actually be a very valuable strategy for regulating emotion, but not if it starts to get in the way of everything else, right? No coping should cause its own fresh problems.

Speaker 1: (35:31)
That's a great way to put it. Thank you Lisa. This is You're welcome. Brilliant stuff. And I just wanna make sure that people know that the book is the emotional, well, it starts with the emotional lives of teenagers raising, connected, capable and compassionate adolescents. And do you wanna say more about how people can learn more about your work?

Speaker 2: (35:50)
Absolutely. So I have that book and two others for families. And then I have a podcast called Ask Lisa the Psychology of Parenting. It comes out every week and my co-host Rena Ninan and I take questions from families and unpack those. And then my website, Has just you know, probably two decades worth of resources. , you know, that I've tried to organize in a useful way. And then I'm on social media, you know, Instagram and Twitter and Facebook.

Speaker 1: (36:20)
Awesome. Well, thank you so much for your time and for your expertise and for so wholeheartedly going down this path for parents who really, really need guidance and support. So you're just, thank you offering a lot to the world. Thank

Speaker 2: (36:34)
You. And thank you for all that you do on behalf of families.

Speaker 1: (36:39)
If you have enjoyed this episode, thank you for tuning in. I just hope that you are taking something valuable from it. That's really my goal and aim and, and my privilege. If you have a minute, you can even leave a reading or comment or review. You can subscribe and certainly if you'll tell a friend or two about the podcast, that really helps us get the word out. Now, if there's a topic that you would like me to cover, go ahead and visit That's where you're gonna see all the other episodes and you can also submit a question of your own. Be sure to stay in touch. You can visit to get my free newsletter to hear all about the classes and programs that I offer. I have a fantastic class coming up in May with Terry Cole, author of one of my latest favorite books, boundary Boss. It's called Harmony at Home, A Boundary Boss Approach to Parenting. And I think you'll find so much value in that session. So I hope you'll check it out. So as we wrap up, just a reminder, no matter how busy life gets, look for those moments of sweetness and joy. Stay safe, everyone. Stay well, and I'll see you next time.