Helping Teens and Families Live Happier Lives

teenage girl hunches over and cries with the title "sad and overwhelmed"
teenage boy smoking a joint with the title "unmotivated and disinterested"
teenage girl perfectionist looks insecure and holds sign reading "me 4 class prez."
teenage girl in despair about dropped notebook "overcome by trauma.'
angry teenage boy in baseball cap with title "angry and belligerent."
boy in hoodie using tablet: "shy and withdrawn."

Helping Teens and Families Live Happier Lives

teenage girl hunches over and cries with the title "sad and overwhelmed"
teenage boy smoking a joint with the title "unmotivated and disinterested"
teenage girl in despair about dropped notebook "overcome by trauma.'
angry teenage boy in baseball cap with title "angry and belligerent."
teenage girl perfectionist looks insecure and holds sign reading "me 4 class prez."
boy in hoodie using tablet: "shy and withdrawn."

Helping Teens and Families Live Happier Lives

teenage girl hunches over and cries with the title "sad and overwhelmed"
teenage boy smoking a joint with the title "unmotivated and disinterested"
teenage girl in despair about dropped notebook "overcome by trauma.'
angry teenage boy in baseball cap with title "angry and belligerent."
teenage girl perfectionist looks insecure and holds sign reading "me 4 class prez."
boy in hoodie using tablet: "shy and withdrawn."

Helping Teens and Families Live Happier Lives


How do you talk to your middle school tweenager about heavy topics like suicide? Well, let's
talk about that today on Tips on Teens. My name is Kent Toussaint. I'm a licensed marriage and
family therapist, and I specialize in helping kids, teens, and families to live happier lives.
I lead two organizations, Teen Therapy Center and the nonprofit 501c3 organization, child
and teen counseling, both here in Woodland Hills, California. Every Wednesday at noon, I jump
onto Facebook Live to answer your parenting questions. Let's answer today's. There have been
several reported runaways and suicide attempts at our middle school this semester. How should
I be talking to my kids about this without freaking them or me out? Thank you for your question.
This is a really tough one. I totally understand the discomfort and the fear aligned with all
this. How you talk about it, the first thing is make sure that you are feeling grounded and comfortable
or at least able to embrace the discomfort of the conversation.


Because if you're scared of it, and you're hesitant, your kids are going to pick up on that. And
they're going to be just as hesitant, if not more. So it's really important that you're doing
your work on yourself, whether that's through journaling, talking to your own therapist or
whatever that is, make sure you feel you can talk about this in a direct and respectful manner.
Second, let's create an environment where there's little to no distraction where you guys
can talk. Maybe that's in the car, maybe that's in her bedroom or in the kitchen table. And again,
that is without a cell phone present. I know that's a challenge, but that's, you know, the cell
phone just going to get in the way. Third is just talk about a directly with some compassion.
You know, you can say, Hey, I know, there's been a lot of, you know, suicide attempts at school
lately. And I imagine it's got to be kind of tough. I'm curious how you're feeling about it. Now,
you may get the you know, don't let that throw you.

It's okay. Stay in the conversation and say, Well, if I were you, I would have a lot of feelings.
And I just want you to know that I want to be a safe place for you to talk about that. And you may still
get the shrugging of shoulders and say, Hey, you know, I just want to make sure you're feeling
safe and you don't feel alone because a lot of times suicide or running away comes from the same
place of feeling trapped, feeling overwhelmed, feeling like you don't know what to do. And
so it feels like, you know, it's the cliche line. It's the permanent solution to a temporary
problem. Some kids relate to that. Some kids won't, it just depends. But I want to make sure you
don't feel trapped. And I'm wondering, have you ever felt this way? Have you ever felt like you
need to kill yourself or run away to escape your problems? Right now, I know the alarm bells in
your head are ringing, like, I can't say that. I'm gonna give them the idea, and you're not. You're
not. If they haven't thought about

it, they're likely to say, no, and roll the eyes, and you can probably take them at their word.
If you ask the question, hey, have you thought about suicide before, or running away, and you
get the long pause, or you just get the hmm there may be something more there and I think it's okay
to acknowledge that hey you know your long pause or your ambiguous answer you know makes me concerned
because I love you so much I want to make sure that you don't feel alone and you don't feel trapped
and if you can't talk to me I want to make sure you have someone to talk to whether that's your cousin
whether that's a therapist whether that's your rabbi whoever that is someone who can be a support
for your teenager and or teenager. And if you need to find that person, I encourage you to find
that person. But it's talking about, you know, coping skills that you know, through creativity,
through physical activities, social activities, grounding exercises, exercises like breathing
exercises, there's a lot

of things that help, but helping them understand that being alone with these feelings is overwhelming.
Sharing these feelings in a safe place where you're not going to feel judged, where you're going
to feel supported, not necessarily that you're going to give the answers, just that you can
just listen and understand may be enough. And I think it's helping to create those environments
and helping them understand that those environments are there. Also providing the 988, the
National Suicide Hotline. So if they have, you know, three in the morning they can't sleep and
they don't want to wake you up, but they're willing to call 988, that's an option too. It's a big
topic. Again, running away and suicide, painting with a broad brush here, often come from the
same place of feeling overwhelmed, feeling like these problems are beyond one's capacity
to handle and it'll never end. As adults, we know, most of us, that problems come and go. And no
matter how big the problem is, eventually it passes.

And it depends not, the problem is not what defines us, it's how we respond to the problem. and
helping our kids understand how we respond to problems is what defines us, who we are, not the
problem itself. This is a huge topic, obviously, and I'm going to scratch the surface a little
bit, but I think it's really important to talk about kids directly about this in an open and healthy
conversation, not trying to convince them, not trying to change their minds, but help them
understand that you understand how they feel. That's our question for today. Again, my name
is Kent Toussaint with Teen Therapy Center. If you want more information, give us a call at our
phone number below. We love to hear your questions. If you want me to answer your question here
on Tips on Teens, you can email us at tipsonteens at teentherapycenter .com. You can also join
our Facebook group, Tips on Teens. We'd love to have you join. Thanks again, and I'll see you
guys next week. Bye -bye.

Welcome to Teen Therapy Center!

The mission of Teen Therapy Center is to help children, teens and families live happier lives. We’re good at it too! We speak both “teen” and “parent” which helps us break down barriers to communication. Our staff is a group of fun loving professionals from a variety of backgrounds. You can meet them here.

Teen Therapy Center offers individual, family and group therapy. We’re happy to offer a free consultation to see if we’re the right fit for you. If not, we can still help guide you to the support you need. Get in touch at (818) 697-8555, we’d love to hear from you!

Online and Phone Sessions Available!

Teen Therapy Center is offering virtual therapy through platforms like Zoom, FaceTime, or via phone call. Whether you attend session in-person or from home, our therapists remain committed to providing a high level of care, compassion, and support for you and your family.

Online and Phone Sessions Available!

Teen Therapy Center is offering virtual therapy through platforms like Zoom, FaceTime, or via phone call. Whether you attend session in-person or from home, our therapists remain committed to providing a high level of care, compassion, and support for you and your family.

Our Latest "Tips on Teens" Video

Tips on Teens is our weekly segment on Facebook Live where Kent Toussaint answers your parenting questions. We cover a wide range of topics affecting teens and their families. We’ve archived all the videos right here on the site. 

Click below to search our library of Tips on Teens videos for answers to your questions. As always, we love to hear your questions. Send them to us here.


Your teenager is not getting enough sleep. How do you help her? Hi, my name is Kent Toussaint
with Teen Therapy Center and the nonprofit 501c3 organization, Child and Teen Counseling,
both here in Woodland Hills, California. Every Wednesday at noon, I jump onto Facebook Live
to answer your parenting questions. And if you need more support with your child, teenager,
your family, please contact us at the link below. You can also join our Facebook group, Tips
on Teens, and join our email blast, too. Thanks a lot. All right, here's our question on Tips
on Teens. Hey, Kent. Hello. My 15 -year -old isn't getting enough sleep. I feel like since the
beginning of the school year she's been getting to bed later and later because of homework and
school projects. It's turned into a vicious cycle. I think she also has anxiety that's keeping
her up as well. It takes her a long time to fall asleep now. Any suggestions on how to go about tackling
this problem? Yes, thank you for the question. There are

many reasons why this could be happening. Obviously, I don't know for sure because I don't know
your family, but here are some questions you want to tick off the list. Number one, screen time.
What is her relationship with screens? How much is she on screens? Not only just for school stuff,
but social media, videos, gaming, you know, discord, whatever that is, most kids nowadays,
are on screens, a majority of the day, I mean, just just recreational use is four to six hours
a day. That's not including school time. And what the research is finding out is all that excessive
screen time is impacting a teenager's brain is impacting mood regulation, hormone development,
and you know how that relates and hormones are a big part of how we are in the world. It's really
important that helps our mood regulation. So it's really important that we help your child
pull back screens, we cannot expect that she's going to self regulate this on her own. She's
a teenager, she has a developing prefrontal cortex

right here in the front of her brain that handles emotional regulation, impulse control, the
ability to see cause and effect that is impaired. Not her fault. She's 15. Every 15 year old's
prefrontal cortex is impaired compared to an adult's. So you may need to work with her to make
sure that if her bedtime, let's say is 11 o 'clock, that you know, by 9 930, she is logged off of
all screens, because it takes a while for the brain to recalibrate after being on screen so much.
And I know this may sound like a daunting task, but you also may need to help her manage her time
better when she is home from school, has her snack, and how does she start rolling into homework
without her phone in her hand? And the problem again, so many teenagers have that FOMO, fear
of missing out. They're so scared of not having that phone, not responding right away, that
they'll lose everything. And we need to find a way to help your child slow down on the screens.
I'm not saying take them away completely because


you know it's kind of toothpaste out of the tube right but we need to kind of have some barriers,
not barriers, some boundaries here to help her because she can't do it herself and again the
most important thing about this is do you have a strong healthy supportive relationship with
your daughter it's hard to do that with a teenager I get it but making sure that there's time where
you guys can relate to each other connect when it's not about homework, not about socks on the
floor, not about anything else but to where she feels like you enjoy being with her. Now again
she's gonna push away from you a little bit, that's normal and I encourage you to keep trying
to make that effort. Other things to keep in mind and again you should double check this with
your pediatrician or dietitian or nutritionist but like caffeine use that could impact her
sleep and also her anxiety, sugar, again, I'm not an expert on all that stuff. But I just common
sense and all the clients I've had anecdotally, that


can be a big part of it. I encourage you to consult with your medical professionals to confirm
if those things are part of it. But anxiety, what's causing this anxiety? And if there's, if
it's caused by things like stress at school, stress at home, maybe having a safe place for your
daughter to talk about this, in whether it's group therapy, individual therapy, family therapy,
where she can kind of process through and get on top of this anxiety may help her fall asleep.
Also, moderate physical activity. So many of us humans in America are so sedentary because
we get so used to just sitting down and being on a screen and maybe she needs to you know get some
more exercise. Again, talk to your doctor about what's an appropriate level exercise for your
daughter. It's a big topic. It could be a lot of things but these are some the big things that I
see often in my practice for my teenagers and my kids that I work with who are struggling with
sleep. It's a big thing. You need sleep. Your teenager

needs at least, according to studies, about nine hours of sleep a night. And I know that's a tall
order, but I encourage you to find a way to do that because sleep is gonna help her regulate her
emotions, her anxiety, and help her be a more functional human being. That's our question for
today. Again, my name is Kent, Toussaint with Teen Therapy Center and Child and Teen Counseling.
If you'd like me to answer your question here on Tips on Teens, email us at tips on teens at teen
therapy center .com or just direct messages right here on Facebook. And if you like more support
at Teen Therapy Center, or Child and Teen Counseling, give us a call. We'd love to support you.
Thanks again, guys. See you next Wednesday. Bye bye.

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"Ask Kent" at CBS Morning News

Our Clinical Director, Kent Toussaint, appeared on his ongoing segment “Ask Kent” at CBS Morning News.  Kent answered questions from parents about REAL parenting issues.

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