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boy in hoodie using tablet: "shy and withdrawn."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boy in hoodie using tablet: "shy and withdrawn."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boy in hoodie using tablet: "shy and withdrawn."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.


How do you help your sensory and processing issues kid develop a more well -rounded view of the
world? Hi, my name is Kent Toussaint and welcome to Tips on Teens where I answer your parenting
questions. If you have any, if you or your family or your child could use a little more support
from a therapist through individual therapy, family therapy, group therapy, please contact
us. We love supporting kids and teens. happy to have a free phone consultation with you. Our
content info is in the caption below. Let's jump into today's parent question on tips on teens.
My son has some processing and sensory issues. He really excels in the stuff he likes, which
is math and violin. The stuff he doesn't like, he hates, and he struggles with. He'll be entering
high school this year and I want him to be well -rounded so he can hopefully graduate and go to
college. How do I encourage him to apply himself more to the stuff he doesn't like. Thank you
for question. I think many of us who have children who

are neurodivergent to E struggle with this topic. I think there's a different focus you should
you should different questions focus on is how do I help my kid lean into his strengths? Because
because trying to get him to do the things he doesn't like, is maybe like pushing water uphill.
And I would encourage you to lean into the strengths if math and violin is where he really excels,
let's lean into that as much as possible. Will he have gaps in his education? Maybe. I don't think
well -rounded is the goal because none of us are well -rounded. Perhaps his focus, his hyper
focus on math and violin may help him excel so much that the other things will kind of come through
with it. And I've seen this happen with many kids. For example, let's say your kid hates creative
writing and he's kind of failing his English class. Once he really wants to do exploratory math
and experimental math, he's going to have to do certain things to get to the certain college
he wants to get to and or violin. And

so eventually, there will be hopefully some maturity as he gets older, and he'll be able to recognize,
well, I have to do this so I can get there. and that's the kind of awareness you want to develop.
So it's more intrinsically inside of him motivating him instead of you with the whip trying
to get him to write his essay. Now, that may mean that he does poorly in some classes and won't
be able to graduate and go right to a four -year university his freshman year. He may not have
the emotional maturity to do that anyway. So maybe having him slow walk it and go into a community
college where now it's like, hey, if you want to get to this college, you're going to need to get
an A in this English class, which may mean that now has a more, again, it's more intrinsic in him.
It's more of his own idea instead of someone forcing it on him. This is really tough because your
kid may be going not in a conventional route that you had planned for. But I think it's really
important to help your kids
who are 2E lean into their strengths and allow those other deficits to rise up to meet those strengths.
It's a big topic. There's many different balls and winches and gears working around here. No
one answer fits with every kid. So if this is really a struggle, I encourage you to talk to someone
who can support you, who focuses on kids and teens and families like us at Teen Therapy Center
in Woodland Hills or our non -profit 501c3 organization, Child and Teen counseling. If you'd
like help, give us a call. We'd love to support you. We have therapists for all budgets. Again,
my name is Kent Toussaint with Teen Therapy Center and the nonprofit Child and Teen Counseling.
We're off next week. I'll be camping, but we'll catch up with you guys in two weeks and do a new
parent -led question on Tips on Teens. Thanks, everybody. Bye bye.

How does YOUR kid fit in?

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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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