Susan Borison and Stephanie Silverman, best friends and co-founders of Your Teen Media, are bringing their magazine to life. From interviews with the experts and authors to discussions of trending topics and personal stories, Your Teen with Sue and Steph is an essential guide to raising teens today.
For over two decades, she has been helping parents build strong, positive relationships with their teens through improved communication, connection, and understanding using her PRIME Parenting Framework. She works with parents, teens, and families through both private and group coaching.
Dr. Cam received her doctorate in Developmental Psychology from George Mason University, where she was mentored by Dr. Susanne Denham and recognized for her superb teaching as a professor of Adolescent Psychology. Additionally, Dr. Cam is a Certified Professional Success Coach (CPSC), has served as a high school youth leader for over 10 years, and is co-founder and clinical lead of the Thriving School Community, an organization that cultivates a culture of well-being in middle and high schools. Dr. Cam also developed the “I Am Enough” Teen Workshop in collaboration with Ofosu Jones-Quartey for the Ryan Bartel Foundation. This popular 12-week workshop helps teens develop resiliency, mindfulness, self-management, self-esteem, and self-awareness.
Dr. Cam speaks around the world to inspire, encourage, and educate parents and educators on teen development and communication. She talks regularly at schools, national organizations, conferences, and on podcasts. After her presentation at the Nysmith School for the Gifted, the coordinator described it as, “The best Parent Education event the school has ever had.” She has also been featured as a parenting expert on television, NPR, the TEDx stage, and in publications including Grown & Flown and HerMoney.
Dr. Cam uses her fun, interactive style to unpack frustrating adolescent behavior and empowers her clients and audiences to work with their teen's wiring rather than against it—boosting the development of a positive, healthy sense of self rather than unwittingly eroding it. Parents leave her sessions feeling hopeful, supported, and motivated for change.
Dr. Cam is the mom of a teen too, so she not only talks the talk, she walks the walk!
MORE ABOUT CHARLE PECK:
As the co-founder of a revolutionary behavioral health program, Charle partners with school districts to improve the well-being of both staff and students. With over 20 years of education and mental health leadership experience, she has the unique lens of a seasoned teacher and a licensed therapist. Her clinical work in trauma and crisis intervention gives her clear insight to truly understand our fractured mental health system. Charle provides your team with practical, sustainable solutions to transform your entire school culture. As a Keynote Speaker, she delivers a powerful message to education leaders all over the world, sharing relatable stories and leaving them with strategies to begin implementing real change.
Speakers: Susan Borison, Stephanie Silverman, Dr. Cameron Caswell, & Charle Peck
Welcome to Your Teen with Sue and Steph. I'm Sue.
And I'm Steph. And we are the co-founders and owners of Your Teen Media, the resource for parenting tweens and teens.
And today we're talking with Charle Peck and Dr. Cameron Caswell, co-authors of Improving School Mental Health: The Thriving School Community Solution about tools that can help us support our teenagers with more compassion.
But before we talk to them, we're going to talk about, well, ourselves, and how we parent around like those moments where you're really in a power struggle with your kid and it's not going well. And hopefully, we're going to tell you how we pivoted.
So, one of my kids would really have this rage when something didn't go well. It was like a little scary even. It was a like an overreactive response to something that didn't go their way. And then they would go upstairs, and they would slam the door.
And number one, the rage was uncomfortable for me. But also, in a world where like we hear about these stories of kids just kind of taking their own lives, it's so hard to have your kid overreact to a set of facts that seem disproportionate and also, have this scary rage that feels like maybe they could hurt themselves.
In today's world, it's hard not to take you down that path. So, when that kid would go and slam the door shut in their room and not be responsive, I would really be like, “You got to come out, you got to tell me how you're doing. Like really, really getting worried on my end.”
And then it was a battle between the two of us. Like, “I need my privacy.” And I'm like, “I need to see you.” And it was ugly, really ugly.
Eventually, I said, “Let's just talk about that. I want to tell you how I feel when that happens and I want you to tell me how you're feeling when that happens. And then what can we do?”
And we ended up coming to an agreement that this kid said they needed time. Like that was what closing the door was. “I need time to get over this and I do get over it and I want you to respect that.” And I said, “I worry you're going to hurt yourself, so I need some kind of ability to hear you or see from you and you tell me that you're okay.”
It's like that one upmanship, like you get loud, they get louder, you get louder than them. And it just keeps escalating and escalating and you don't even know what you're even talking about anymore because it's so loud and so out to control.
I'd like to think, and I don't know if this is a revisionist history and I think some of this was as they got older, was where I'd be like, “Oh my God, I hated the way that went. I was screaming, they were screaming, can we get to what you're trying to do?”
Like I remember one around a curfew and I'm like, “Okay, what is it that you're not getting to do?” Can we talk about something that is going to work for you and work for us? But I just remember, ugh, when you just said the discomfort, Sue, like when you're in it, it's hard to see a way out of it.
So, I have one kid with terrible anxiety, and it drove me crazy because I felt like it was such an excuse, like a really terrible reaction to anxiety. Like just do it. And over and over again, my reaction was, “Oh my God, just do it. Just do it. So, you're anxious, you still got to do it.”
And I remember interviewing a psychologist at one of the hospitals and his specialty was anxiety and he was all over me about how great I did. “Like that was so good. Like don't pamper the kid.” Like and that's one approach.
That's definitely an approach that's been taken over the years. It's not as compassionate as what you're going to hear from our guests today. And if I'd had their advice and I had looked at this child differently, she probably would need much less therapy than she needs right now.
But one story in particular, I totally humiliated this kid. Like they wouldn't take the food out of the oven because they could burn themselves. It was a whole like fire thing. There's still a fire thing there and won't light matches. And so, I made all of us wait to have dinner until that kid came down and took the food out of the oven and I won. I mean, I won. And so, what? So-
That’s so right. Right, right.
So, I could list many other things that that kid did because I needed to win because I needed not to have a kid getting their own way from living, that everything would be, “I'm too anxious.” So, I would just handle it differently. And I hope when people are listening to the experts talk about this, that you're going to see that you can get there without you having to be right.
And again, it was more like the quiet of it. Like one kid wanting to do something that was so out of our comfort zone. I think I've told this story before about like going downtown, selling t-shirts, like standing on the corner of wherever, like by the calves arena.
And we're like, “That just sounds like a really bad idea. You're going to have all this cash on you and then you're going to get on the train and come home with all this cash on you when everyone's staying downtown and you're coming home.”
And he was 14. And all I can picture is the cops showing up at the door and saying, “So, at what point, Ms. Silverman, did you think this was a good idea?” And that's all I could see was how it could end so poorly.
And I do remember saying to that kid, it's funny, like I remember saying like, “I'm really uncomfortable. You got to get me more comfortable.” And in the end, we got to something that I was still uncomfortable, I was less uncomfortable than I was. And it wasn't the way he wanted it either. But it was trying to, I mean … and obviously, people hear this about coming from this place of curiosity and trying to sit next to them, but like it's so hard.
Up next is our conversation with Charle Peck and Dr. Cameron Caswell.
We can't wait for you to join us.
Our guests today are Charle Peck and Dr. Cameron Caswell, co-authors of Improving School Mental Health: The Thriving School Community Solution.
Integrating their shared experiences as teachers, mental health experts and parents Peck and Caswell, explore how the power of a mental health first school community can improve the lives of teachers, parents, and students.
Thank you both so much for joining us.
We all know we're in a crisis mode with our tweens and our teens and their mental health. It's talked about everywhere. And it's one of those situations where like everyone kind of wants someone else to fix it.
Like the problem in your house is so stressful, but you want the school to fix it. And the school's thinking like, “You know what, it's time to have the parents fix it.” And some of us want the kids to like just suck it up and do a better job, be better.
And so, all of this led the two of you to co-author a book, Improving School Mental Health. One of the takeaways that I got right away is that it takes all of us. It's not like a handoff. I mean, I would love to outsource the mental health to someone else, but it's going to take all of us, including our kids, to work together and to figure this out.
So, I want to talk just for a second and then we're going to turn to solutions about the problem. What's going on right now, with our adolescents and why are they feeling so isolated and disconnected?
Dr. Cameron Caswell:
Charle and I both have worked a lot with adolescents and the thing that we keep seeing is that they are hugely misunderstood. And so, we respond to them from this assumption of where they're coming from. And we read disrespect and we read attitude and we read them ignoring us. And really the message they're trying to send is not that at all, but we should respond that way.
And so, when kids don't feel like they're understood or that they belong, that's when they escape. And so, they escape up to their rooms, they escape to their friends, they escape online. And it's not because they don't want to be around us, it's because they really don't believe we want them around us. And so, they feel like they're isolating themselves on purpose.
Yeah. And then we see the effects of the spillover effects. So, if they're having issues at home, that's showing up at school and if they're having issues at school, they're problems that are showing up at home.
So, they're getting constant messages that they're doing something wrong and we don't know what to do as adults to respond effectively to them.
Did COVID make things worse?
Dr. Cameron Caswell:
Dr. Cameron Caswell:
It didn't cause the problem. It definitely showcased where the problems were and it did make them worse because now, kids who were finding those people that they belonged with at home or anywhere else, were stuck, isolated up in their rooms if they didn't feel that connection at home, they didn't have the support that they might have had at school.
And also, there's a lot of studies coming out now that there's a lot of delay in some of their social skills and their skills. Now, they're going back to school and there's so much anxiety because they've missed years of developing these skills and they don't know what to do.
It wasn't a new problem, and we were still struggling to lead kids into interacting in a healthy way or to build their confidence and esteem. So, we were already struggling. Kids were coming to me with struggles at school all the time that were happening with their peers and their families.
And sometimes school's an escape for kids. So, when COVID hit, those kids had to stay at home in that stressful environment. They didn't have an escape. They didn't have school as respite. And believe it or not, school can be a great escape for some kids who were having abusive situations at home or who don't feel like their parents get them.
There's a lot of teachers and a lot of educators and other people in their lives are coaches who get them on a different kind of level or reach out to them. And they didn't have that. That was a really big problem for kids when they just didn't get that extra support from a caring adult.
And also, I think because the system was kind of already having cracks in it, it allowed us to really see what systems weren't working.
Dr. Cameron Caswell:
Yeah. And I actually think there's a positive to that, because I know before COVID, I would reach out to schools to talk, say, “I'd love to talk to your parents about mental health and what they can do to support it.” And they're like, “Oh, no, no, no, no, we're just interested in academics.” Now, they call me and say, “Can you please come in and talk about mental health?”
So, I think what happened was it brought awareness to a problem that had been going on for quite some time because now, parents couldn't avoid it because it was right under their noses. And they were like, “Oh my gosh, what do we do?”
Kids no longer had that outlet or they weren't at school, so we saw it more often. And now, that they're going back to school, a lot of people said, “I hope this resolves it.” And it's not. In fact, it's even getting worse because now, kids are going back without the skills that they need to be able to adapt to school environments.
And so, it has been showing that that infrastructure has needed repair for quite some time. And what we've been doing just isn't repairing it.
It's an opportunity, like we didn't want it, but it's an opportunity. And you both have put together really solutions for educators, parents, and pretty much anyone touching kids and the kids themselves.
If I were creating a rubric right now, I'd say … well, you did create this rubric, I don't have to come up with it. You have nine skills that you think can really help change the situation. And each of those nine skills goes under a category.
So, three categories each with three sets of skills underneath. Can we start with — let's do the upper level, explain what the categories are.
Yeah. So, I can tell you about the auto skills. Auto skills are about me, they're about ourselves and they focus on developing ourselves in a way that we can build confidence and give ourselves a break and some freedom from all of that pain and shame and guilt that we carry.
So, we understand and manage our self-perception around that. And these skills help us make better choices that align to who we want to ultimately be and show up as in the world.
Dr. Cameron Caswell:
The whole purpose of these nine skills, we wanted to get back to basics. We found that there's a lot of great solutions out there, there's a lot of great skills out there, but they become so complicated and there's these laundry lists of the things that you have to do in order to do it right, that we either don't do it or we don't do it right, or we do it inconsistently.
And our belief is, if we teach everyone in the school and everyone at home, all the adults, these skills, instead of trying to teach them to the students and throwing them right back into environments that are causing the problems to begin with.
If we teach it to the adults, if adults start modeling these behaviors and these skills and they start interacting with kids with these behaviors and skills, suddenly, we're creating those connections. We're creating that sense of security and safety, that sense of belonging that kids need to thrive.
And now, we don't have all the issues beginning, we're preventing the issues rather than trying to fix them after they've happened. And so, that's where these nine skills really come into place. And as Charle said, we start with the auto skills, which is about me.
So, there's self-compassion and that's about combating that insecurity that we have and we find value within ourselves and we build proficiency in the skill of self-compassion.
And then there's self-reflection, that's when we take responsibility for kind of writing our own story, our own narrative and really think deeply about who we are again and who we want to show up in the world as.
And then informed decisiveness is about how we make our choices that align to our priorities and goals of who we want to be and become.
Dr. Cameron Caswell:
Well, I think we wanted to really walk through an example of what that looks like. So, one of the stories that we use — we use a lot of stories within our book.
So, we tell a story of Tori, which is one of our clients. And she was struggling at school with ADHD. And if anybody else has ever experienced a child with ADHD, (I have one of my own) we know that this can come out as a lot of misbehavior. They distract the class, they have trouble focusing. Tori was even making little noises.
And so, we wanted to work with the parents because they were stressed out on how do I help Tori? And they were feeling like the school's writing me because my child's not behaving. They were feeling guilt and pressure because my child's not behaving.
And so, we first looked at this self-compassion and we wanted them not only to focus on their own self-compassion, but to help Tori understand her self-compassion.
And so, what we do with that, is we look at and we turn it into superpowers. And this is about taking those very skills that we struggle with, that we may be teased about and turning those into what are our strengths? Because we often look at how are these our weaknesses?
And kids will say, “I'm the ADHD kid.” That's what Tori was saying, “I'm the ADHD kid.” And now, suddenly they just feel like their abilities and their opportunities shrink instead of going, okay, when you've got ADHD, (which is a name of how your brain thinks) your brain thinks in these different ways that are amazing, they're more creative, they can get really passionate, they've a lot of energy. When there's something they really are interested in, they can focus on it.
So, rather than looking at what are the weaknesses, what are the strengths that we can build on and how do we use that? And from the parent's perspective, when I'm looking at her strengths, now, I'm able to support her in that rather than trying to combat all of her weaknesses. So, it changes my view too.
Charle, do you want to go into how we use the second skill in this story with Tori?
Let's start with auto, as you explained, so it's about self, which three skills fall under that?
Yeah, so, self-reflection is all about negative self-talk and combating that so that we can improve function overall and feel that we have a little bit more self-control over our story.
And so, we talk about the story spiral and that what we think about ultimately, affects how we feel about ourselves and then that affects how we show up in our behaviors. And that's what's happening with our kids.
And that's what happens to us as parents too. Our thoughts, our feelings, our behaviors are all in line. They all influence one another. And then how others respond to us is what we still move forwards with. We're getting those messages all the time.
So, with self-reflection, what we would do with Tori, is we would help her think, “Okay, well, what are you telling yourself?” Let's reframe that thinking with what you should do versus what you could do.
So, we talk with Tori about reflecting about, “Well, what do you think people think you should do?” “I should sit in my seat quietly, I should do my work.” And then we reframe it with, “Well, what could you do? Could you sit in your chair?” “Yes, I could.” But what supports do we need in place?
So, when we're working with the adults who are working with a kid like Tori, who has this negative self-talk, we encourage them to use that reframe as well.
So, for example, we've worked with a parent who had a kid with ADHD and who was getting in trouble at school and we said, “Okay, like what are you telling yourself?” The parent was saying, “Well, I should get my kid to be more compliant. Like I want them to be in class and do their work and be more compliant.”
We got that parent to say, “Well, you could make your kid more compliant, but it's actually pretty dismissive.” And she learned to reframe that and say, “Well, what does Tori actually need?” If we're choosing for her to be compliant, that's still not meeting her need. And it's pretty dismissive, so these behaviors continue to show up.
So, it's really about reframing it into should versus could and using could which gives you more choice.
Dr. Cameron Caswell:
Yeah. So, it is. So, these are the skills that as adults when we use them, it's the best way to teach them. So, in this case, (that shaming, the should is shaming) the parent is feeling like I'm failing as a parent because my child's misbehaving. “I should be able to parent my child better so that my child can behave better. And now, I should …”
All these things where when we feel should they are focused on our shortcomings, and we don't feel like we can change them. We need just change that SH to a C and just change to could, it provides a choice for us and we say, “I could do this.”
Now, in this case, sure, she could do things that guaranteed that Tori would behave, but they were punitive. They were, like Charle was saying, dismissive, they were not solving the problem. They were, “We could remove her from school. We could …”
There was choices we could do that wasn't going to get Tori in trouble necessarily, but none of them were solutions that she actually was choosing because they weren't long-term solutions and they were actually pretty punitive and would disconnect her more from Tori without solving her.
So, now, we're going, “Okay, I could, I'm choosing not to, but what do I want to do and what are my choices? What can I do?” And so, that leads us into the third skill, which is informed decisiveness. And informed decisiveness, we start by identifying what our guidepost is. Because we all make snap decisions. We can't help it. Our brain needs to.
So, our goal is to say, “Let's make snap decisions, but let's pre decide what we want to base those snap decisions on.” What are our guideposts?
So, in this case with Tori's parents, one their guideposts were, they want to be supportive parents for Tori, that was important to them. So, now, I need to make a decision. What is an informed decision that is going to be supportive of Tori?
And this is hard because I don't know about you guys and I'm guessing you have, you've gotten those emails from teachers about your child and you feel like you are in trouble. And your initial reaction … and this is where I decide, I'm like all of a sudden I decide, I'm like, “Oh my gosh, I got to change this right away.” Instead of going, “Okay, what is important for Tori?”
Because teachers also we have to realize, are making decisions that are not necessarily informed either. They're going based on their emotion, they're going based on their gut. So, I need to stop and I need to think, what is my guidepost here? What do I want to make this on?
And we have one tool that we love, it's called the path of possibilities. And what we can do is we can say, “Here's my guidepost to support my child, this is what I want.” And on the other way we say, “This is what I don't want. I don't want to isolate my child. I don't want my child to feel bad about themselves.”
So, now, we go, “Decisions I can make. Do they take me closer to this path where I want to go, where I'm supporting my daughter? Or do they take me away from that?” And so, when you map it out that clearly … and we do this with teenagers and they're just like, “Oh.” When you can sit down and go, this choice, does this get you towards where you want to go or away from where you want to go? It makes that decision a lot easier to make.
And even if the outcome isn't what you are hoping for, you've relieved yourself of that guilt because you know why you made that decision. And you know that's the best decision you could make in that moment. Because we live with a lot of guilt on decisions we've made in the heat of the moment. When we make them based on what's important to us, we already know that was the best we could do.
The next category is aloe. Can you first give us a definition and then what are the three skills under allo?
Allo skills are how we relate to other people, and that's breaking down unfair judgments or isolating when we should be connecting or problem solving without reactivity. So, that's what all of these skills are about.
So, social plasticity, empathetic listening, and informed responsiveness are all parts and all skills that we use in the allo skills. So, I'll start off with social plasticity and then maybe Dr. Cam, you can describe the other two.
So, social plasticity is really important because this helps us not jump to unfair judgments and making assumptions, which we always do that with teenagers. I mean, it is so common for us to do that, but we need to check ourselves better.
And the reason we do this, when we build proficiency in social plasticity, we're creating a safe, secure environment from for them to just work within or live within.
And so, we need to ask ourselves like, “What's more to their story?” Like there's always something else going on. So, we use the curiosity chain in order to kind of unsettle that. We ask ourselves, “Well, what am I missing? There's more to this kid's story. What am I missing?”
And that leads to the other two skills that help lead towards connection and to solving problems with the kid or the other person you're working with.
Dr. Cameron Caswell:
I think one thing you're going to find that underlies all of these skills is that they're based in curiosity and they avoid criticism and judgment. I mean, that is the underscore of all of these. And these are skills rather than just saying lead with curiosity and not judgment, which you’re like, “Okay, these are actually providing very concrete ways to do that.”
So, the other one is empathetic listening. Now, we all know listening is important. We also know that we all are terrible at it. So, we have active listening, but I have taught active listening and I have realized that active listening can backfire in a major way when not done correctly.
And so, I have parents tell me, “Hey, I tried this and my teen was like pissed off at me.” And we realized the reason was that when we try to do these skills as a step-by-step guide, they become very inauthentic and kids see right through that. And so, that's what we were seeing.
And so, we step back and go, “Okay, wait, how do we teach this in a way that it's actually going to be effective for parents to do?” And so, we have simplified it to just getting to the point of listening in order to see it through their eyes. That's all we want you to do. We want you to experience it the way they experience it.
When we just have this one goal, we automatically change our positioning to listen. We automatically ask the right questions, we automatically become more empathetic because we're listening to view it as they see it. And when they know, and they know, when we see it the way they see it, then they feel heard. And that's what makes all the difference in the world.
So, we listen not to get answers, not to get all the details because then that's feeding us to fix it or make our own judgment. It's about experiencing it through their eyes only.
The third skill is the informed responsiveness. And this one's really important because we respond based on assumptions. Our brain fills them in and we react to that. So, good example is our kid comes down and they have a bad attitude and you're like, “No, no, I am not accepting that behavior from you. You cannot talk to me that way.” And what do we do? We get angry and we jump on what we call the ladder of conflict.
So, they come down and they have an attitude maybe because they don't realize their tone, maybe because they're probably frustrated with us. But they're trying to voice their opinion. They're trying to just be heard. And we immediately shut that down and we get angry.
So, we get angry. What happens to them? Well, they get angry at that, and then we get angry and we just keep going up the ladder of conflict. And where the real power lies is at the bottom of that ladder because that's where we can use a rational brain.
So, we want to get back to and think about, we need to be on that bottom rung. And if we're the adults, it's our responsibility to be on that bottom rung.
Alright. So, we're going to go through a scenario. We picked this scenario because literally this morning we got an email from a parent asking for advice here. And we know this from other parents that this is not uncommon. They can't get their kids to go to school.
So, let's go through what allo looks like using the parent who comes to you with this crisis, “I can't get my kid to go to school.”
So, we have an example that we use with Logan. Logan is a kid who not only didn't go to school, he was pretty feisty about it. And a lot of parents don't know what to do with that.
So, starting with social plasticity, we needed to break down our judgments with the parents. We needed them to say, “Listen, you are making assumptions about what's going on with Logan without getting curious about what's going on with Logan and asking him.” So, that was the very first thing we asked them to do is what is missing from his story? Let him tell you that.
And so, they were able to say, there's bullying going on, “Mom, I'm being bullied. This is the problem.” So, after we broke that judgment down, we created that safe and secure environment for then Logan to open up to us. That was super important.
Empathetic listening helped with that too, because Logan didn't feel further isolated. And so, when kids feel like they're isolated, they disengage. But with Logan, because his mom and actually caregivers opened up and gave that space to him, he increased his engagement with them and then thought differently about, “What if I could make it to school.”
And we could say, “Listen, I wonder if we could try this,” or, “I wonder if you could try to go to class, if we could let your teachers know what the problems so that you could be an ally with them, or we could partner with them to make it so that you could actually get to school. What could we have in place?”
So, those conversations were all very important to get Logan to even change his mindset about maybe I could go to school. So, Cam, do you want to talk about what happened when we got to the informed responsiveness piece? Because that was pretty powerful.
Dr. Cameron Caswell:
Yeah, the informed responsiveness. So, what the teachers will tell the parents is that we got to get them to school. And what the parents will do is they fight every morning, they find ways to get force their kids to school or they just give in. And neither one of these are actually responding to the actual problem. They're responding to the behavior in an emotional way.
So, what we want to do, after we have listened to them empathetically, and we now, understand the actual problem, now, we can respond from a way of compassion where we work with the child to say — and this was Logan, we want to work with Logan to say, “What do you need to go?” This leads us into the collaboration that we'll get to.
But because we do that, we can respond from a place of rationality, of calmness, and we can say, “What is our end goal that we want to achieve?” And this is not about this pressure of having to get them to school. It's about I want to respond in a way that's going to help my child ultimately get to school because they need to. Ultimately, get to school because they have the tools or whatever it is.
So, if it's bullying, now, I know we can address that problem rather than just pushing them to go, which we see a lot. And then the kids are just told to suck up the bullying.
That's when we use the circle of control too, by the way. We ask the parent, “What is in your circle of control? You don't have to climb that ladder of conflict. You can encourage Logan to get to school.”
And then what is within Logan's circle of control and outside of it? Like when he actually can get to school, what is he in control of? That was helpful too.
Okay, let's move on to ambi. What are the three skills that are under ambi?
Dr. Cameron Caswell:
So, ambi skills, ambi means together. So, these are the skills we use in order to work with one another. So, I now understand me, I now understand you. Now, how do we work together in a healthy way?
And relationship reciprocity is really about finding that balance. There's a lot of imbalance of power and it's making sure that we now, can understand one another and there's a flow back and forth. Compassionate communication is really about understanding the other person, but making sure they also understand us.
So, we always try to be heard, try to be understood, but this is realizing that what we're saying may not be received the way we mean and vice versa. So, it's getting clarity of that.
And then collaborative resolution is about finding a solution together that serves everybody's needs. A lot of us will walk into a problem with a solution in mind. And our whole thing is trying to convince them to accept our solution rather than going in with a need in mind and figuring out how do we meet our needs.
So, we'll use the example of Liam and his mother. Liam is a new driver, he's of age. And he doesn't want to drive, but his mother needs him to drive so that she can attend some of the things she was hoping she would do.
And so, they had conflict over this every time she needed to leave the house. And Liam said, “Well, I need you to take me to soccer practice.” She needed to do what she needed to do instead. So, they had a conflict over this.
So, we used relationship reciprocity with them to break down that power imbalance. And we asked his mom, “Sicily, what are you willing to give? And how much are you willing to take? And let's just assess that. When do you know you've reached your limit with taking him?” So, we have that conversation that's about limits and knowing those limits.
And then we moved on to compassionate communication. And the skill around that is building that connection so that you know that you're not dismissive of Liam. And you're trying to understand what's going on there.
So, are you sending a message that is a respectful piece of communication? Like is your intention to just be respectful towards what Liam needs? And if you're constantly in check, is it respectful? And check in with Liam if he understands that you are intentionally trying to be respectful, you're maintaining that connection. And that's just with the couple of questions around that to assess during that engagement.
And then the final piece that we did with Liam and his mom is the collaborative resolution. We needed to resolve the problem while protecting the relationship and maintaining connection. And so, that's the goal.
So, we decided that we needed each of them to decide, what is the one thing you need, Liam? And what is the one thing that you needed for the mom? And his mom said, “Well, I need Liam to drive.” Well, no, it's not just about needing Liam to drive. It's more to that.
And Cam, why don't you go ahead and explain how we came up with that resolution with them, and then discuss anything else you need to.
Dr. Cameron Caswell:
So, the mom was really pissed off with her son, let's just say she had been looking forward to him driving for years. And now, that he was refusing to drive all she wanted … and they fought about this all the time because he was resistant.
And so, when it came to the problem solving, and we asked her, “What do you want?” She said it in a pretty snarky tone, “I just want him to drive.” And that was the solution that she was trying to convince him of because the problem was he actually had a phobia of it, so it wasn't so simple. And she was just riding him without addressing the problem.
So, it really came down to what she needed. The one thing she needed was that she wanted to go to a group that she had been dying to go to. She wanted to be able to make to that, but it was at the same time as his soccer practice.
So, instead we said, “The one thing you need is that you want to be able to make it to your group. And the one thing he needs is to be able to make it to soccer practice. So, what are some solutions we can do?”
And they might not be him driving. Maybe it's a carpool, maybe it's … there's other ways that we can do it. Maybe there's, we drop them off a little early. Let's figure this out so that both of our needs are met.
And what's great when both of our needs are met, we now, it's just as important for us to fix, make sure their needs is met as ours. And so, now, we trust one another to have our best interest at heart, and we're willing to collaborate now.
We're going to wrap up with the question we ask all of our guests. And that is, what is the biggest myth about raising teenagers?
Dr. Cameron Caswell:
That they're jerks.
Agreed. And we hear that a lot.
Dr. Cameron Caswell:
Yeah. And that's the nice word.
And they want to do well, don't they? They really want to do well, they do.
Dr. Cameron Caswell:
No teen wants to get in trouble. No teen wants to disappoint you. They are just trying to be heard and they don't communicate that well sometimes. And we make assumptions about where that attitude comes from.
Okay, Cam and Charle, thanks so much for being here with us. Hopefully, people who are listening got so much out of this that they're going to be running to get the book, which is called Improving School Mental Health.
And there's opportunities here for everybody to change something in the way they interact with their kids. So, good luck to all of you, and thanks Charle and Cam.
Thanks for joining us today. If you have any topics that you want us to talk about, let us know on our Facebook page or email [email protected]. You can follow Your Teen on Facebook by searching Your Teen for Parents and on Instagram and Twitter @YourTeenMag.
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