ask amanda...
...asked & answered archives
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What are some of the top New Year's Resolution Goals for teens?
– Father of 15 year old teen
Here is a list of my top 10 goals (…with one to grow on!) that teens have expressed as we look back on 2012 and towards the future.
• Letting Go of things I can't control
• Stand Up for Myself
• Get healthy.
• Be More Social!
• Become a Better Person…on the inside!
• More Quality Time With My BF
• Be happy… stop worrying.
• Be ME!...and no one else!
• Get along with Parents
• Improve at School
• Work Towards My Dreams!

My daughter is 13 and her grades have slipped significantly over the last month. I've tried studying with her and giving her incentives but nothing seems to be working. What do I do?
– Mother of 16 year old headed into finals
If your daughter is not openly expressing academic challenges (finding her school work really difficult) as the reason for her slipping grades, it is very likely that there is something going on for her on a personal level. Begin by asking her what she feels is hindering her academic performance. Make sure you let her know that you are concerned because you know how smart she is and that she is capable of better grades. If she is resistant, don't push. Your next step should be to establish contact with her teachers to get a sense of what they are seeing at school. As a start, you can email them individually to express your concerns and ask for their observations and input. It is very possible she is being teased or bullied by someone at school and the sooner you get to the bottom of it the better. If you do determine that she is being bullied in some way, you will have to handle the situation very delicately so she feels supported and empowered rather than more vulnerable. I'd be happy to walk you through this if you find there are bullying issues. If, however, feedback from her teachers does not confirm the possibility of bullying but does confirm falling grades, continue to work with her teachers and the school guidance counselor (if you feel that s/he is a good resource) to get to the bottom of what may be going on for your daughter. Slipping grades don't just happen. There is always something behind this change and I encourage you to continue your search until you get some clarity and I am happy to support you in any way I can.

What can I do to increase my daughter's self-esteem?
–Mother of 14 year old
From the beginning, the messages your daughter gets from you about how much she is loved and all the reasons why will directly impact her sense of self-love. In addition, your daughter will take cues from you, so the level of respect for yourself and your female body that you express in a variety of ways (in word and action) is paramount to the degree of self-value she experiences. Next, be very aware of the messages she receives about being female through the media in all forms. The media isn't going away. We don't necessarily want it to, but it can have enormously detrimental effects on pre-adolescent and adolescent girls if they have not been taught to have an active filter when viewing magazines, television and movies. From the time she is young, be in charge of what magazines come into your home and the type of TV shows she views. Watch and read with her as often as possible and point out that advertiser-driven media makes money by convincing people they are imperfect and in need of various products and services to make them more beautiful, slimmer, more fashionable, etc. This will help her to develop a filter and the ability to discern messages that dis-empower her as a girl. These will be among the most important tools you can give her for living out in the world as a strong, healthy, self-loving girl and one day, a woman.

Is talking to my daughter about sex important if she is taught not to have sex until she is married?
–Mom of tween
There are two fundamental realities of human beings to which I would like to refer in order to answer your question. The first is that at the very core of the adolescent journey is the desire to discover and assert one's self in world. The second is that hormones are more intoxicating than any drug. That is, the desire to love and be loved and the deep, primal need for the life force to perpetuate itself is a powerful draw to love and sex. With these realities in mind, the likelihood of a young person exploring these realms in spite of anything her or his parents may say, is extremely high. This is not to say that you shouldn't express your desire for your daughter (or son) to wait until marriage to have sex, supported, of course, by solid reasons. However, to send her out into the world without important knowledge that will be essential to protecting herself should she decide to engage in sexual relations of any sort, would be setting her up for danger on many levels. Knowledge is power and protection.

How do I keep my two teenage girls from fighting/competing with one another?
–Mom of teen siblings
Negative competition is rooted in low self-value. I strongly believe that when we recognize and are happy with our own strengths and talents, we are less likely to feel that we have to compete to be like or better than someone else. Try to be very balanced in your attention and positive communication to each of your daughters. I would also highly recommend that you spend quality time with each of them separately so you can really focus on communicating to each girl the ways in which you value her as an individual. If their father is in their life, it is equally important for him to communicate very clearly the value he sees in each on an ongoing basis.

What is a teen girl life coach?
- Anonymous mother of a 16 year old in Georgia
A teen life coach is someone highly trained professional who creates a safe space for girls to share their triumphs, explore their struggles, seek answers, and develop tools to create a life of confidence, success and happiness. Their role is to help guide teen clients to a deepened knowledge and awareness of their own best self and to assist in the development of tools that enable them to more effectively set and achieve specific goals, achieve personal empowerment and enhance quality of life.

What exactly is coaching all about anyways?
- Anonymous 16 year old girl
Coaching is not therapy, nor is it a case of fixing something that is broken, but rather bringing out the very best and teaching life skills and tools to get and stay on track.

I’m trying to focus on school/college applications and there are too many things in the way. My best friend doesn’t seem to get that I need some space sometimes and I’m not her therapist, what should I do?
- 17 year old girl
Friendships are a necessary part of a happy, fulfilling life. But sometimes a friendship takes up a lot of emotional energy that is needed for other areas, including school responsibilities. Setting boundaries with friends can be a challenge but necessity. A good friend is a good listener and cares about a friend's struggles, but if your friend is not in an immediate crisis and their personal problems are complicated and won't get resolved quickly, you may need to draw the line on how often you give advice or become a shoulder to cry on. Set up times to talk rather than making yourself available on a moment's notice. You could also try scheduling some time every day to turn off your phone and computer while you study and do your homework. It's okay to tell a friend that you need some time to complete school assignments and that you will get together later. Make sure they know that you care but you just can’t drop everything to always help them when you have other things that have to be done.