Parenting Skills

Parent and Child Having a discussion

Building Skills for Stress Resilience

  • Validate Feelings: There is an art to validating our teens' feelings effectively. Work to tell them you see and appreciate the challenge of what they are feeling, and try not to follow it with statements such as, “Oh don’t worry, it will get better.”
  • Empower Problem Solvers: Rather than jump in to try and fix their problems, ask,  “Do you have any solutions in mind?” or “Let me know if you want any input from me.”
  • Talk About Your Emotions: Let them know about how you work to handle stress and other difficult emotions. It is not about burdening them but sharing feelings appropriately.
  • Support with Resources: If your teen is systematically avoiding the social time, school work and other activities due to anxious and/or sad feelings, get support and find resources for help on our website. This includes learning what you can do at home, such as opposite action, exposure interventions, and behavioral activation.
  • Prioritize Sleep: The American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends 6– 12-year-olds get 9-12 hours of sleep a night, and 13–18 year-olds get 8–10 hours a night. Keeping phones and other devices out of their room at night is important. For teens with devices in their bedrooms, 36% report that they wake up and check it at least once a night. Another study shows that just having a phone (or other mobile devices in the bedroom) negatively impacts sleep duration and quality even if teens report not checking them.
  • Teach the 3 Ex’s of Worry: This is a great skill for both youth and adults regarding everyday worry. Author Lynn Lyon teaches the 3 Ex’s strategy. “Expect” -recognize that worry often arises and practice accepting it; “Externalize”-pull it out and personify it, “Hello worry ”; “Experiment” do the opposite of what the worry demands, -it demands attention. Instead, don’t get into a discussion with it, but pivot into other activities or thoughts. This takes practice.
  • Prioritizing Face-to-Face Time: Find more ways teens can have screen-free time with peers, younger kids, and adults of all ages. Examples include jobs, getting to know their friend’s parents, having neighbors for dinner.

Seeking Support

Unfortunately, “parenting and private” are two words that often go together. We are in a major tech revolution that warrants open conversations and help-seeking. We agree with the teacher in the film who says, “The most successful people in life are those that can ask for help.”

  • Letting your kids know examples of when and how you have reached out for help is a great way to have discussions and model this important skill.
  • Ask your teens whether they know where to go for support. Also, see if they have a teacher they can talk to and other adults, such as family or a friend’s parent.
  • Get support yourself when you are facing the emotional challenges of your teens or screen time issues. Offer your insights to others! Our website has resources for support.

Advocate for More Stress Resiliency Skills in Your School

More and more schools are implementing programs to build resiliency skills. Parents can make a big difference in organizing together and working with their schools.

  • Social-Emotional Curriculum- Visit our website for the programs in the film and others.
  • Wellness Clubs and Peer-to-Peer-Many models exist. And programs where teens, with training, teach others about safe social media and communication skills are impactful.

In conversation with your teens, determine guidelines for your family. Sometimes you will decide on a rule that your teens will disagree with—that is OK, but explain your reasoning. For example, let’s take sleep. Share with them the science of sleep and that you want to parent in line with your values. You value good sleep for their emotional wellbeing and having tech off and away is essential to achieve that.

  • Car rides without devices (we allow them for directions and other quick planning issues)
  • Phones and other electronics out of the bedroom at night
  • Family meals without devices
  • Plan ahead. For example, consider emailing guests before they come for dinner that it will be phone-free because you want to ensure everyone gets to have undistracted time together —kids may groan for a moment but so often they are truly happy afterward
  • When together out in the world, i.e. doing errands, have phones mostly away

Tech Talk Tuesdays

We have hundreds of blogs, full of relatable stories, examples, and science to help you with all sorts of parenting issues. Also, we know it is hard to decide what limits are right for your family and hard to see them through. On the TTT blog there we have many writings on making rules work! Sign up for new weekly blogs


Here are a few Tech Talk Tuesday posts that you might be interested in:

How to say “no” effectively by Delaney Ruston, MD

How to foster mental focus in our kids—and ourselves by Delaney Ruston, MD

How to Talk about Scary and Tragic News with your Kids  by Delaney Ruston, MD

Anxiety, Screen Time and Skills by Delaney Ruston, MD

Building Community to Support Emotional Wellbeing by Delaney Ruston, MD