8 Tips for Disciplining Teens and Tweens

8 Tips for Disciplining Teens and Tweens

by Genelle Black, MA

I recently opened my email to see the subject of a newsletter I had received that was all about how to “control” your teen. Immediately I was triggered. You control your electronics or machinery. You can control an animal.

You can’t or shouldn’t control a human being.

Take a second and think back in time to when you were a teen. Did you like being bossed around? Did you take kindly to others imposing their will on you? Did their bossiness make you want to comply or rebel? If you’re anything like most teens, you did things just because you were told you couldn’t or shouldn’t.

That is part of what adolescence is; testing boundaries.

When I think of control in the context of parenting, I think of the authoritarian parent. That is the parent who believes that it is their way or the highway. This parent seeks to break the will and spirit of their child. The parent who switches up rules on a whim to suit whatever their need or feeling is that day. There is no reasoning, no compromise and no understanding with this parent. This style of parenting breeds unhealthy attachment styles for their children that last well into adulthood.

Adolescence is also a time of self-discovery and individuation. Attempting to control your teen will stunt that self-discovery and make the transition to adulthood even more difficult. Making choices and dealing with the resulting natural consequences of said choices will be foreign to those adults who have no autonomy.

All this is not to say that adolescents do not need boundaries and guidance. The way guidance, discipline and boundaries look over time should shift based on the age and developmental stage of your child. You can’t simply redirect your teen away from the dangers of sexting and inappropriate sexual behaviors as you would redirect your toddler from a dangerous stove or electrical outlet.

The adolescent years require parents to actively engage in helping the teen develop a moral compass and a strong sense of self.

In order to do this work, you must approach your relationship with your kid from a place of openness. So many times parents discipline from a place of shame or fear. Those two emotions tend to leave little room for truth or growth. Fear and shame make us say things like “how could you do that?” Or “No child of mine would do that!” Or even “what’s wrong with you?” To minimize issues with your tween or teen, try some of these changes.

  • Be proactive about the behaviors you want to see. Create a behavioral contract with a clearly defined list of desired behaviors and clearly defined consequences. The adolescent and the parents come to an agreement about what is expected and there is no ambiguity which results in seeing more of the desired behaviors.
  • Keep the lines of communication open. Listen to your teen when they vent. If you don’t listen to the small things they won’t tell you the big things. Your teen must know that you are a safe person to confide in and that communication with you will remain judgement free and non-punitive.
  • Let your tweens and teens learn from the natural consequences of their actions. Don’t step in to rescue them from everything and don’t always be quick to step in with your own punishments.
  • Educate your kids about the risks they are taking. Notice I said educate and not “shame”. You may have heard your parents say “good girls don’t do xyz”. A better approach would be to discuss the risks and rewards for such behavior. It may look like saying “It may have felt good to get that kind of attention from your crush but you took a big risk by sexting with him”. Then talk about the risks without judgement and what can be done differently when similar situations come up in the future.
  • When you do impose consequences, think of the intended goal of the discipline and make it appropriate to the situation.
  • Discuss behavioral issues or problems with your tweens and teens when everyone has had a chance to cool down. Discipline and anger should not go together.
  • Make sure that you are able to follow through on any disciplinary measures you impose. Empty threats will get you nowhere and problem behaviors will only escalate.
  • Choose your battles wisely. If you are reactive to everything that your adolescent does and every reaction is punitive, they start to think, “I’m always in trouble anyway/I’m going to be in trouble no matter what I do so I might as well do what I want”.
If you find that your family requires individualized help in order to decrease conflict with your tweens and teens, please schedule an appointment to speak with me about how I can help.
Genelle Black, MA I am a pre-licensed professional counselor with 9 years of experiencing working in school, community, clinic and forensic settings. I graduated with two bachelor of arts degrees in Psychology and Music from Spelman College in Atlanta. I also have my MA in Counseling Psychology with a forensic concentration. I completed the majority of my training as a Marriage and Family Therapist trainee and interned in California providing play therapy to children traumatized by community violence and domestic violence in their homes. I am also trained in trauma-focused CBT and grief work and have done extensive work with foster and adopted children. I look forward to working with you to help your child on the journey of healing.
Learn more about Genelle and how she can help you and your child today, Here

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Encountering your Shadow

Encountering your Shadow

by Nyambura Kihato, M.Ed, MA, LPC, CCTP

Have you ever found yourself doing something that you felt was totally out of character?

Perhaps you got into an argument and suddenly physically attacked someone, much to your surprise. Or you felt a surge of an intense emotion such as jealousy or rage that seemed alien, like it wasn’t coming from you. It was as if someone or something else had taken over your body and mind and you were no longer in control.

Hello, meet your shadow.

Everybody has a shadow. While the shadow part of our personality can do much damage, this doesn’t mean it is evil. In fact, Psychiatrist Carl Jung stated that it is healthy to have a good balance between our shadow (the part of our personality that we repress) and our persona (the mask we wear in the world to fit into society’s norms). Our personality is healthy when there is a balance of opposing tendencies: extraversion balanced by some introversion; kindness and self-sacrifice balanced by some selfishness and aggression. The problem comes when we deny or are unaware of the contents of our shadow. If not made conscious, stuff from our shadow can develop into a complex, which hijacks us and our relationships, in spite of our best intentions.


So how can we know more about our shadow and its contents? Because it is unconscious, we are likely unaware of its presence. Here are some suggestions:

  • Talk to someone close to you that you trust: your best friend, spouse/partner, sibling, close family member; someone with integrity and who knows you well. Chances are, they’ve seen you being seized by the complexes in your shadow. And if they are comfortable being honest with you, they could give you insight into this part of your personality.
  • Pay close attention to your dreams: write them down or draw images that appear in them, maybe even join a dream group. The characters, plots, and situations that show up in our dreams can give us clues about the contents of our shadow.
  • If you feel ready to have an intimate relationship with your shadow, find out about Jungian analysts or certified dream therapists in your area. When we decide to explore our unconscious, it is a good idea to have a guide and witness to help us navigate through the dark, deep reaches of our psyche. If you are a trauma survivor, however, it is recommended that you see a trauma therapist and work on the trauma before starting on shadow or dream work.
Embrace your whole personality, the good, the bad, the ugly. It all makes up who you are. Work on parts you want to change while allowing all parts to balance one another.
Nyambura Kihato, M.Ed, MA, LPC, CCTP I earned my Bachelor of Education in German Language and Literature from Kenyatta University in Kenya. I studied German further at the Goethe-Institut Nairobi, and in Luebeck, Germany. I went to graduate school at the University of Hull, UK, where I obtained a Master of Education in Counseling and Child Development and Learning. I taught for several years in Kenya before coming to the United States to study at the California School of Professional Psychology, San Diego, graduating with an M.A. in Counseling Psychology. I am a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) in the state of Georgia, trained in EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing), and am a Certified Clinical Trauma Professional (CCTP). I currently serve on the board of the Jung Society of Atlanta and am training to become a Jungian analyst.
Learn more about Nyambura and how she can help you today, here!

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Pain with Intercourse

Pain with Intercourse

by Tali Boots, LPC

Most women at one time or another have experienced some level of pain with a sexual activity.

Most of the time, this is due to lack of lubrication or a lack of arousal before penetration. Making sure to give yourself enough time to emotionally and physically get aroused and ready for a sexual activity is paramount. It can be helpful to also start with something small to begin getting the vagina ready to be entered.

Don’t forget to use your tongue, fingers and toys before using something large like a penis or dildo.

Now, while most women do experience some pain at some point during their sexual lives, a smaller group of women experience pain every time they attempt intercourse. This could be due to a medical diagnosis called Dyspareunia; which simply means pain during intercourse. Some reasons for this may be the following: vaginismus, vulvodynia, endometriosis, vaginitis, pelvic inflammatory disease or lichen.

Vaginismus is when the muscles at the entrance to the vagina tighten down and make penetration difficult, painful and sometimes impossible.
Vulvodynia is when there is pain associated with the outside of the vulva. This may be a burning or sharp, prick-like pain.
Endometriosis is the inflammation of the uterine walls and/or bladder that causes pain.
Vaginitis is an infection in the vagina, which can cause inflammation and micro-tears in the canal and of coarse, pain.
PID is contracted from a sexually transited infection and causes inflammation and pelvic pain.
Lichen is an inflammatory disease that can cause a rash or itchy patches, which can happen in and around the vagina/vulva.

So, any of these medical ailments also have a psychological component to them. They may not have started out that way, but when someone experiences pain when they are expecting pleasure, one might start to freak out about this, causing some stress. Imagine this happens time and time again, you might begin to avoid sexually activities all together. Maybe even kissing and cuddling begins to stress you out because you worry it will all lead to intercourse.

Here’s a basic treatment plan to help heal all the above conditions:


Head to your gynecologist for a definitive diagnosis. Unfortunately not all gynecologists are created equal in this area. Call and make sure that they are knowledgeable about pelvic pain disorders and the possible treatments for them.


Find a sex therapist in your area. Google sex therapy and your town, read their website. See if they mention having experience working with any of these conditions. Call them and ask how they work with these conditions. The most important aspect of therapy is the relationship you develop with your therapist, not necessarily all of their education and fancy websites. Ask around to your gynecologist, girl friends, family doctor for a referral.


Look for a Pelvic Floor Physical Therapist. They are worth their weight in gold! They are specialized in pelvic floor EVERYTHING. They can fine tune your treatment plan.

So, with all three of those people in your corner, you can undo the damage to your sex life by these disorders.

Feel free to call us today to see if we have the right sex therapist for you. We are passionate about helping people live their best lives and that includes your best sex life.Take care and take care of your body/mind connection.

Tali Boots, LPC I specialize in Sex Therapy and Transgender Therapy. This is ALL I do. I am not a general therapist who has some knowledge in all areas, I focus on these two areas only, in order to give you the most personalized and educated care possible.
Learn more about Tali and Sex Therapy Here

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