"Ask Kent" at CBS Morning News
Check out videos of our Clinical Director, Kent Toussaint, when he appeared on a segment called “Ask Kent” at CBS Morning News from 2017 to 2018. Kent answered questions from parents about REAL parenting issues. Kent continues to answer your parenting questions every Wednesday at 12pm on Facebook Live!
Well, the Me Too movement is in the forefront of the news these days, and for many parents, it's
a discussion they are having with their children. Joining us now is licensed family therapist
Kent Toussaint, and normally we take your questions, but the day of the Women's March, we wanted
to talk about me too. So good morning, thanks so much. So first off, how do we really talk with
our daughters about dealing with sexual harassment and assault and at what age should we really
start talking about this? It's a big question.
I think we need to start talking to our daughters early and often, just like we would with our
sons. I think we need to teach our daughters how to recognize their own dignity and their own
self-respect, and we do that by modeling it for them, by treating them with respect, by respecting
their feelings, their thoughts, giving them a voice in the family and what they feel. Not necessarily
that we're always going to agree, because families don't always agree, but the feelings are
important that we recognize them, And especially with authority, because we as parents are
authority figures. But we need to be compassionate authority. We need to teach our kids to respect
compassionate authority, not ultimate authority. Because that's what happens when you have
these adults who abuse children. They abuse that authority, and it takes away a child's agency,
a child's ability to stand up for themselves. And if we haven't taught them how to do that, then
we put them at a disadvantage.
And you did mention our sons, but We actually need to have two discussions with our sons. The
first is what to do if they're a victim, and is there a different approach with boys than with
girls? I don't think
so. I think it's the same approach because it's the same outcome. Boys can be abused just like
girls can. Okay. And boys also need to be taught to respect women, as women need to be taught to
respect men as well. It goes both ways. I really think that boys need to be taught that if they
are in a situation that is uncomfortable, that their parents are safe, teachers are safe, police
officers are safe, someone is safe, there's a safe adult somewhere that they can go to and that
with their feeling uncomfortable they have a right to stand up for themselves. If they can't
stand up to the perpetrator, at least go to another adult who can advocate for them.
And you mentioned teaching our sons to respect women, but is there a time when really we should
start talking to them about how they treat girls?
I think it's as early as, hey, you know, be nice to your sister, you know, but also it's same thing,
be nice to your brother as well. And do we model that, you know, in the home, you know, if there's
a mother and father in that home, is there respect being displayed between the parents? That's
the best way to teach empathy is by example, not by our words, but by our actions as parents. And
because kids won't necessarily listen to our words, they'll follow what we do, and they'll
follow how we say things, not just what we say.
And I know you mentioned this a little bit earlier, but Many kids are ashamed to speak out about
being a victim. How can we make sure that they understand that we do want to help, but we can't
help if we don't know? And the importance of really talking to either parents or as you mentioned,
somebody who they trust.
That goes back to helping your child feel safe to talk about anything and everything. Talking
about sex to our kids, we should talk about it early and often.
As soon as they ask, where do babies come from? That's a great time to have a really frank and honest
conversation with a three-year-old. And when a three-year-old, there's not this weight and
this heaviness of sex and what that means. It's like talking about tying shoes. It's not that
big of a deal to a three-year-old. So if you're talking to a three-year-old, a four-year-old,
or a five-year-old, before they have those sexual thoughts and feelings already weighing
on them. By the time they hit 13, 14, whatever it is, it's a common conversation that you can have.
There may still be some discomfort, but they'll know it's safe.
all right, Kent, thank you so much.
You're very welcome.
Talking to my three year old about, I'm not so sure. The Stork story just doesn't work anymore, huh? No.
Alright, thank you Kent. Well, if you want your questions answered, send them to us by email,
just send it to cbs.com, Kent. All right, thank you. You're welcome.
Ask Kent - July 21st, 2018
Title: Ask Kent: Signs Of Autism, Dealing With Death
Welcome back. So how can we help our kids deal with the death of a friend and how to spot the signs
of autism? Well, those are two questions that we're going to tackle this week on ask Kent Kent.
You saw it is a licensed family therapist He joins us now with some answers. Good morning, Kent. Thanks so much for joining us.
Okay, so the first question that was sent in to us says, my son is really awkward and doesn't have
any friends. How do I find out if he has autism or is just quirky? What exactly is autism?
Big question. So I'm just going to talk about it very basic level. So there's two big parts of
autism. One is a struggle to have interpersonal relationships, struggle to share emotions,
understand other people's emotions, share interests. Another thing could also, the other
part is, restricted or behavior or interests. So let's say your kid has a real interest in trains,
but nothing else. And so you may be talking about movies or music or dinner and he keeps talking
about trains. Now any one of these one by themselves is not necessarily autism, but these are
some of the signs and the good thing about it is is through LA County, there's the regional center.
So if your child is diagnosed and you need to go to a probably a psychologist Much like we have
at teen therapy center or any other psychologists in the city to get tested And if you do qualify
for that autism spectrum disorder, and it is a broad spectrum You may qualify for free services
through, you know, social skills training, occupational
training, things like that.
And this next question kind of goes with that. So often when people describe signs of autism,
they only describe signs in young kids. I wonder what the subtle signs might be in a teenager.
I don't know if it's going to be that much different. Okay. For a teenager, they may be more verbal,
they may have more increased social skills, but they still may be impaired. They may have a hard
time understanding or how to read a room, how to understand if they're talking about something
and they're irritating someone, they may not understand it where someone else will. So I don't
think there's going to be a huge difference, but again, autism spectrum disorder is a very broad
diagnosis and it can show up in a lot of different ways. Certainly good to seek out an expert on
that. Absolutely. Okay,
the next question. My 15 year old son lost a really good friend this past week to a brain aneurysm.
My son is very depressed. He doesn't want to see anyone or do anything. It's been about two weeks
since his friend passed. What can I do?
It's a heartbreaking story. I mean, his son lost his friend. Grief is normal, and it's normal
to go through this period of increased sadness and sorrow. But the thing about grief is it's
best done and as a shared experience. And what I would do is try to help him be with other people
who can share that experience with him. Maybe the family of this boy who passed away, they may
have a really strong bond because they both love this boy very much and having a shared experience
of grieving may help. Also along with their family members. I really encourage this child to
make sure he goes to the services to start that process of finding closure and make sure that
you don't try to explain or dismiss the feelings. The feelings are gonna be real, it's gonna
take a while to get over that.
Yeah, all right Kent, thank you so
much. You're welcome.
And if you have a question you'd like to ask Kent, well just send us an email. The address is Kent
Kent answers questions about autism and helping your teen deal with grief and loss.
Ask Kent - June 2nd, 2018
Title: Ask Kent: How To Deal With Troubled Teens
Well, teens can be exasperating, but we are here to help you. Licensed family therapist Kent
Toussaint joins us this morning to answer your questions that you've sent in. And we want to
say good morning to you, Kent. Thanks so much for joining us. Thank you. Okay, so our first question
is from a person who says that our young adult daughter stopped taking her depression medication.
She thought the medication was having a negative impact on her skin and caused it to itch. So
she did not contact her doctor and missed her last appointment. So What are your thoughts on
people, you know, not taking their medication without medical consultation?
Well, first off, I'm not a medical doctor. I'm a licensed family therapist. So, but common sense
would dictate if you're prescribed medication and you want to go off that medication, one should
probably talk to their doctor about that. Now she may be having a negative reaction, but going
to her doctor it's important. And if she's going off depression medication, we know that if
you go off in the way that the doctor does not see appropriate, there could be negative reactions.
So I would encourage this 20 year old woman to talk to her doctor, talk for a therapist, find out
what's going on because depression medication is not the only way to treat depression. It's
one part of it. Therapy is a big part of that too. Okay
and hopefully there are other medications not
just one. Exactly I think there are a lot of medications out there.
Okay perfect thank you Kent. Okay so the next question how do I deal with my 15 year old boy who
is defiant and self-destructive? For example he needed to turn in three missing assignments
by Friday. He did the work he completed it on Thursday but he didn't turn in the then she says,
or he says if he turned them in, he I looked online, it showed I confronted him, he said turn it
in because he did so dumbfounded. I don't k So there's a lot going on he did not. When I confr that
no, he didn't turn I want to. I'm so dumbfound to respond. So
there's a question. The things that me are the connection bet this child. I see this a lot at teen
therapy center, where kids will say they do the homework, they actually do the homework and
don't turn in. And I'm wondering why he's doing this. Is he, did he not turn in, but he's saying
he did? Either way, there's, I think there's something going on with a connection between this
parent and this child. He's, and I'm wondering if it's because there's so much pressure to do
the assignments, to get straight A's or whatever that pressure is, there's now this animosity,
there's this tension between parents and the child and there's this shame. Whether he forgot
to turn it in or he just decided not to, I think there's something going on where there's this
shame. And when we have shame, there's anger going in and anger going out. So there's anger towards
himself and anger towards his parents. And if we can find a way to strengthen that relationship
so they can talk about grades and homework and
other things too and build that relationship, we may have less of a battle with homework. Okay.
This next person writes in that like most teens, my 12-year-old daughter spends most of her
time with her head down staring at her phone. I try not to give her reasons to hate me, but I want
to put the kibosh on this to an extent. Every time I put limits on screen time, it falls by the wayside
in just a matter of days. Do you have any suggestions?
Yes, don't let those limits fall by the wayside. And what are those limits are? I think this daughter
should have a voice in them. She's not necessarily say, but a voice. She should be able to collaborate
with their parents on what those limits are. And I think whatever the limits are, the parents
should follow suit. If you say that screens have to be off by means parents should be o means what
are we all goi Well, why don't you guys do a puzzle or bake cooki a walk. But it's really I adults
walk the walk that to walk to.
Okay, that ca summer because yes, you k here for a lot of kids. Absolutely. All right, Kent, thank
you so much. You're
In this segment, Kent responds to questions about homework and defiance, how to limit screen time, and stopping depression medication without consulting a doctor.
Ask Kent - April 27th, 2018
Welcome back. Every month we take questions from parents and grandparents about how to deal
with their teens. Joining us now is licensed family therapist Kent Toussaint. Good morning
are you? I'm doing great, thank you.
Good, thanks for being here. You're very welcome. Okay, we have some questions that some viewers
have actually written in to us. We'll start with the first question. My relationship with my
daughter has changed for some time now. When I ask her what's going on, she says she thinks she
might be bipolar. How do I respond to this?
So, there's a couple things in this. First of all, what is bipolar? Bipolar is a combination
of severe depression and also with mania. Now what is mania? Mania is usually an elevated mood
that's abnormal, like an abnormal sense of happiness or excitement or irritability that does
not match the environment. It's a pretty serious diagnosis.
Right, because a lot of teenagers have mood swings.
Right, it's different than mood swings. So if you really believe that your daughter has bipolar,
you probably want to get tested. Get to a psychologist and get tested, and probably either have
medication and therapy. Therapy, number one, to help deal with the coping skills to deal with
bipolar, but also to help rebuild the relationship between mom and daughter, which is really
Okay. Next question. My son has ADD or Asperger's syndrome. He does not talk to me at all. He does
not want anything to do with me, but we live in the same house. How do I deal with this?"
So again, two really big diagnoses. Attention deficit disorder, which is, you know, hyperactivity
with impulsiveness. I mean, It's a broad range of symptoms, but I'm talking generalities here,
and also Asperger's, which is now part of the autism spectrum disorder, which is impaired social
interactions, repetitive or restricted movements or behaviors or interests. Two very different
diagnoses that can coexist. And again, you know, this is something we see a lot at Teen Therapy
Center. And we have a psychologist named Catherine Barrett who does testing for these things.
You want to figure out what this is because if it is something like autism, you can qualify for
Regional Center, which is part of the LA County, and get free services through LA County. So
with all that, again, you want to find out how to rebuild that relationship between mother and
son or father and son, whichever this may be, and therapy is a great way to help with that. Yeah,
so do it with the help of professionals.
I think so, especially with these kind of diagnoses.
Right, yeah. Okay, next question. How do I know when I should talk to my child or give her room
to just chill out and figure things out on their own? I know there's no real answer, but we all
face this dilemma as parents. I feel like this even with my three year old sometimes. Do I intervene
or do I just say, hey, I'm gonna give you five minutes and figure this out.
Right, right, because whether they're three years old or 13 or 23 or 53, sometimes people need
their own space. And people generally don't want advice. People want support. So it may be in
this situation, you go to your daughter and say, hey, I see you're down right now. Do you want
an ear to listen to listen to you and not we all get in that parent to save the day and we ca just should
get off for s And when they ask, well, I should do? That's a tri do you really want advice just want
me to listen? I I want advice. Okay, this can't save the day. We jus support, offer an ear and mom,
what do you think I trick question. Do you re now? Or do you just want say, yeah, mom, I want ad my
advice, but then don't your advice because somet do it.
Okay, next question My daughter doesn't have the ones she does have are mostly boys. It doesn't
seem to bother her at all but it worries me especially because she's an only child. Should I be
don't know. I'm not sure if she, this mom or father should be worried. I would encourage this
parent to get to know these friends. If these friends are healthy friends, it doesn't really
matter if they're boys or girls. You know, there may be a certain reason why this girl is connecting
with these boys. I don't know why. Maybe they all have an interest in Pokemon. I don't know. But
it's finding, you know, what is supporting this girl. And if she's happy and content, maybe
it's a good situation for her.
Right. So even as a teenager, whether they're boys, girls, yeah.
Okay. Wonderful questions and great answers. Thank
you so much. You're very welcome. We
appreciate your insight. And do you have a teen parenting question for Kent remember send those
questions to ask Kent at CBS.com Amy we'll send it back to you All right, thanks, Serene.
Kent addresses a variety of questions pertaining to Bipolar Disorder, ADD, Asperger’s Syndrome, knowing when to give your child space, and whether or not you should be concerned if your daughter only has male friends.
Ask Kent - March 17th, 2018
Title: Ask Kent (March 17)
Welcome back. It's time now for us to take your questions about how to deal with your kids and
specifically teenagers today. Licensed family therapist Kent Toussaint joins us now. Good
Thank you. Yes, last time I saw you I was going to have another child. So yeah, here we are. Congratulations.
Thank you very much. You're welcome. Let's get to some of our questions. Okay. So, one of the
questions, our son seems depressed. He works a night shift. He sleeps until late afternoon.
He stays in his room for most of the day. We've asked him to go to therapy. He seems unreceptive.
He recently had an episode with anxiety where he needed medical attention. Should we insist
that he attend therapy as a condition to continue living with us?
Well, I'm going to assume that this son is a young adult, 18 years old, 22 years old, something
in that realm because he's working a night shift, didn't see him at school. So he may be sleeping late in the day because he's got a late shift. I
don't know that. But staying in a room all day where it's dark, having anxiety attacks where
you need medical attention, this young man needs help. Is kicking him out the answer? I don't
know. You know he needs support and I would encourage these parents to really make sure they're
connecting with him as much as they can. If they think that this young man is a danger to himself,
they may need to consider an inpatient treatment facility and you can hire an interventionist
who comes to your house, talks to the family, talks to him and helps transition him from the house
to an inpatient treatment center where he can get the help he needs to find that balance so we
can get back into the world and function. Yeah, maybe using a third party if he's not receptive to there.It could be it could be that that that's necessary. Yeah
Okay, another question here. My son got into a fight at school. He was sticking up for a classmate
who was being bullied How do I encourage him to stick up for people who are picked on without getting
Yeah first I want to acknowledge this boy's bravery,
You know if everyone stood up to bullies, we'd have a lot
less bullies, right?
But we also don't want our kids getting into fights, so it's a little bit of both. I would wonder,
you know. Did he pick the fight? Is he turning into the bully? Or did he not have a choice? Was he
standing up for someone and he
was attacked and had to defend
himself? I would talk to him, get a feeling for how he feels about it, not from a place of shame
or punishment, but from a place of support as parents. I would get the school involved. How is
the school helping to prevent bullying and violence in school? I mean, they can't do it all the
time. There will be fights, of course, sometimes, but the school should be involved in helping
limit that as much as possible.
Okay, next question here. There was a social media threat at my daughter's school and she's
really worried about it. I am actually, too. So how should parents deal with our own fears and
help he their fears? This is so c
with the events at Stonev month. We
talking ab It's a big thing and more people are talking about it, which is good. We should be talking
about this. You know, we should be talking about it in ways where we make changes in our society,
in our government, or whatever we need to do. But the more we're talking about it, the more we
can come up with solutions. Now with this child, if you feel your child's in danger in that school,
you need to find a different environment for your kid to be in. If you can't do that, you have to
find some way to cope with the reality that this is a possibility. It's a slight possibility.
It's not the majority of schools that have this happen, luckily, but it does happen. So I think
it's important for us as parents that we are dealing with our anxieties. If we're anxious, we're
going to feed that to our kids. Exactly. We don't want to do that. We want to make sure that we are
staying calm so we can help our kids get more calm because if they're more calm they can focus
on arithmetic and vocabulary
and all these other things they need to do. I mean as I talked to a lot of my clients at Teen Therapy
center and some kids are not that concerned. Other kids are really concerned and the more they
talk about it, the more it helps him realize it's this is a scarcity. This is not the usual, and
if we can approach it from that point, we're not coming in from a place of the sky is falling and
we don't want that.
Okay, I think we have time for one more question. What do we do as parents when mom and dad don't
agree on how to discipline our teenager? One parent says our child's behavior is normal, the
other says our child should be better than normal. This is probably a question you hear a lot
I do, I do. So what can happen if the parents don't get this figured out, there comes a tug of war,
and the teenager or the child is the rope, and the parents are pulling, and the kid's the one who
suffers. Because what happens is the more lenient one parent is, the more strict another parent
becomes, and they get more polarized, and it creates more conflict than is necessary. So what's
important is the parents work together to find that compromise. This may not be perfect, but
find that middle ground where they can agree to, so they can shepherd their child together in
unison. And figure
that out together before going to the child. Right,
right. And the other thing is when we say I want my child to be better than normal. We all want that,
but we also want to recognize our children are humans and are flawed people just like the rest
of us. And they need to make mistakes to learn. That's where good judgment comes from is poor
Good advice as always. Thank you, Ken.
You're very welcome. Appreciate your time this morning.
Kent tackles questions about helping a depressed child seek therapy, teaching your child how to stick up for someone WITHOUT getting into a fight, how to handle fears around social media threats, and what to do when two parents have different disciplinary views.
Ask Kent - February 17th, 2018
00:00:07 Speaker 2
Okay, Amy. Well, lots of things going on in the world today have parents wondering how to deal
with them. Licensed family therapist Ken Toussaint joins us now this morning to Help us try to get
through some of these questions and a lot of questions about how we should talk to our kids after
these Fatalist shootings in Florida this week. We want to ask you. How do we talk to our kids all
ages? We've got elementary middle school high school. How do we approach this conversation?
00:00:33 Speaker 1
It's daunting. You know, it's such a horrible thing that happened. And, you know, we all worry
about our kids. Could this happen to our school? Could this happen to our community? And we can't
control that. All we can control is really how we approach each day and how we interact with our
kids. A lot of kids will be, you know, do we tell our kids? And my feeling is if you know your kids
are going to be exposed to this, you know they're going to hear about it at school, they're going
to hear about it on TV or the media, I think it's important that the parents talk to the kids first
and talk to them about, first of all, safety. If you feel that your kid is safe going to the school,
then it's important to communicate that feeling of safety to our kids because we can't control
whether a shooter is coming. But if we feel safe, then we should project that safety to our kids.
Because there's no point in having them be scared of going to school every day. If you don't feel
that your kid is safe,
00:01:27 Speaker 1
then you shouldn't send your kids to the school. You should find an alternative. But I think
most of us are going to send our kids to, you know, a school. It can happen anywhere. It can happen
anywhere. We can't control that, but the more we're talking to our kids like we would about earthquakes,
because earthquakes will happen here in Los Angeles, and it's important to talk about those
things and make sure that our kids are aware that there are safety plans and that the adults around
them are here to help protect them. At all ages, right? All ages, all ages. I mean, if you think
you're a third grader is going to hear about school shootings, then it's important that they
have that conversation with you as the parent. Right, right. Because we do say at all ages, at
00:02:02 Speaker 2
all levels as well. Yeah. Let's get to some of the questions we want to talk about as well. My team,
let's go with this one here. At what age should we stop shielding our kids from news and what,
and the news that we hear, These are some hard stories to listen to.
00:02:17 Speaker 1
Mm-hmm. You know, like we were talking about before, there's going to come, there's going to
be bad stories in the news. There's going to be things that, tragedies, natural disasters,
people taking action with their own hands and causing mayhem. If our kids are going to hear about
it, they need to be prepared. And they need to make sure that they feel safe, that they can talk
to their parents, they can talk to their teachers, their school administrators, their local
community leaders. It's important that they have an ability to talk about these things to relieve
that fear. And
00:02:48 Speaker 2
not be embarrassed or scared.
00:02:49 Speaker 1
00:02:50 Speaker 2
Next question, my teen vapes and despite being punished, it continues. I hear this a lot. What
can we do about this one?
00:02:56 Speaker 1
Vaping is huge. It's such a big phenomenon among teen culture. I wrote an article about this
for our website teentherapycenter.com about three years ago. That one page gets more hits
than the rest of my site combined. There's a lot going on with vape pens and there's not a lot of
research. There's a lot of laws. A minor cannot buy vapes, but they can possess it, they can own
it. So an adult can buy it and give it to them. There's not a lot of research on what vape pens do.
But there's a lot of chemicals that can be carcinogenic that are involved in here, but there's
no one regulating, there's no government body regulating vape pens unless it's specifically
for smoking cessation, but that's not what kids are using. Ken,
00:03:47 Speaker 2
thanks so much for coming in. We appreciate it. So many questions out there. If you have more
questions, please send them in to us. We'd like to hear from you as well.
Kent weighs in on how to talk to your kids about the tragic school shooting in Florida, vape pens, and shielding your kids from hard news stories.
Ask Kent - January 20th, 2018
Kent addresses the Me Too Movement and how parents can talk to their children about this important topic.
Ask Kent - December 23rd, 2017
Title: Family Therapist Kent Toussaint Answers Holiday Questions
Well, the holidays are here and as many of you know, it can pose some problems for teens and parents.
But here to help us out is licensed family therapist, Kent Toussaint. Good morning.
We've been receiving a lot of letters and the first one says, I have two elementary school daughters
and this will be their first Christmas without their grandparents. Both died within weeks
of each other. The grandparents were a big part of our family. So how do I help make sure they aren't
Yeah, this is a very sensitive issue. It's really important that these parents really take the time to honor the grandparents. I don't think it's something you want to avoid. I think it's something
you want to jump into and really celebrate the memory of these grandparents. I think it's important
to have grief, which is a normal reaction to a death, especially someone so close to the family, but you can have grief and joy in the Christmas
or any holiday season. I think it's really important that we remember them, whether through
old photo albums, because a lot of times kids will say, I can't remember what they look like,
I can't remember grandma, and going through those times where you look at the photo albums,
you remember, oh that past birthday party and grandpa did this funny thing. It's really important
to talk about that and keep those memories as a cherished part of the family. I think that's what
helps the grieving process go through and helps normalize those feelings of sadness.
Okay, another person wrote in saying, we have a big New Year party every year with kids of all
ages. I don't allow video games in my house of any kind. My kids are worried their cousins and
friends who do play with phones and other electronics won't have any fun if there are no video
games. So what should I do?
Well if this is the conviction of these parents, they should stand by their convictions. These
are their values. So the problem is a lot of kids don't know how to entertain themselves without
electronics. They have never had it. They've always had that iPod since they were iPads since
they were two or three years old.
So there's a couple ways to look at it. One is we need to help these kids entertain themselves
because they don't know how to do it themselves. So make sure there's lots of games and activities
for these kids to do. And there may be kids of all ages there, so you may have different activities
for different ages. Another way is throw them into this place of boredom and let them find that
creativity, because one of the things that video games can take away is a sense of creativity,
because you don't need to be creative. You have a video game. So it may be a balance of offering
activities, but allowing them to be bored and then commiserate with their board and find commonality
that way. And maybe they have a good time that way too. All
right, the next question. I have had my 16 year old niece since she was five. Her mom doesn't come
around or call. She doesn't understand why her mom didn't want her, even though she raises her
brother. What can I do?
Wow. There's a lot of family issues. There's a lot of family issues. And I really feel for this 16 year old girl, I would say the biggest things is make sure
this niece is a welcome part of your family. You know, there's no difference between her and
the other kids. Make sure she feels she's a part because there's a lot of abandonment going on
from her mother who has her brother and I don't we don't know why that's the case there may be some
legitimate reasons why we don't know but for her that's still got to be painful. Secondly, the
father's not there because it's not mentioned So I'm assuming her father's not there too. So
she's been abandoned from her point of view twice. So it's really important to really make sure
she is welcomed fully and wholeheartedly even if she pushes that away because she may reject
her aunt and uncle because the fear of being rejected again. It's really important to keep reaching
out no matter what and make sure that she's getting help and support she needs. That's a difficult
Yeah, it is tough. That's the answer. But thank you so much.
You're very welcome.
Certainly appreciate it and happy holidays to you.
Kent addresses a a few holiday questions, such as setting boundaries on electronic use at family parties, balancing grief with holdiay joy, and helping kids deal with abandonment during the Christmas season.
Ask Kent - December 2nd, 2017
From cell phone addiction to using sleep aids and energy shots, licensed family therapist
Kent Dussond is here this morning to answer your questions. Good morning Kent, thanks so much
for joining us. Alright, so the first question comes from someone who says that my 16 year old daughter is addicted
to her phone. She uses it for school, so it's a double-edged sword. She says we don't understand
that she has to answer her friends in a certain amount of time. Help! So what's your advice to
So teens have very dynamic brains. They're always looking for novelty, something new and exciting.
That is normal, that is healthy. The problem is, is the cell phone is, like we've talked about
before, it's not a neutral technology. It is designed to hook you in. And so, as a teenager is
wanting to be a part of it, because it combines both the technological stimulation, but also
the social stimulation. So they're getting this immediate feedback where you and I never got
when we were kids. I mean, we had one phone in the house, and we were just clamoring to have the
one phone, and you had to wait to get it. Where now with social media, you get it right away. And
it's too much. It's like, you know, I love chocolate ice cream. In fact, chocolate and peanut
butter is my favorite. And there's a reason why I don't eat it that much at home is because it's
not there. I can't, but if it's in the freezer, I don't have one scoop, I have three scoops. So,
here's the thing, you know, I much rather have a bowl of strawberries because it's healthier. It's not as tasty, but you know, hanging out with the family is that more, is the bowl of strawberries. And so it's important to find ways to limit
screen time and they're going to fight it, but it's important to limit it to some extent, and
that means for everyone, including mom and dad to, to have that connection.
Exactly, okay, that's great. Okay, so what are your suggestions on dealing with a son or daughter
who lies to their parents? Example, they take things from your office and then don't return
them and then when you ask them about it they deny it and you find those items in their room. I mean
it's kind of like those little white lies but a lie is a lie in my book.
A lie is a lie but we also don't want to get caught up in the lie. Because all teenagers will lie,
all kids lie, all humans lie from time to time. As adults we become better at it. You know, like
if you go to Thanksgiving and someone didn't make a very yummy dish, you still say, that was delicious,
right? Yes. Because we want to, you know, be nice. So, this kid who's stealing something from
his mom's office. Why is he doing it? I don't know And I don't know how old this kid is Is it a 10 year
old 15 year old 20 year old and you deal with it different ways? But we also don't want to set our
kids up to lie So when the kid takes the phone charger and says, where's the phone charger? I don't
know. And then you find it in his room. You say, did you take this phone charger? And then you're
setting up to lie. Instead, you say, hey, my phone charger is in your room. I know you took it.
Now, you know, these are the consequences, or let's have a talk, let's have a discussion. Again,
working on that relationship is really important. And the stronger the relationship is between child and parents, the more likely that kid is going to find ways to be more honest.
Okay, those phone charges are really tricky too. They do circulate around the house. I can say
that from experience. So next is, what suggestions do you have regarding a son or daughter that
is using sleep aids to sleep and energy shots to stay awake? Now that sounds bad for anyone, let
alone a teenager. Yeah,
I'm not a medical doctor, but common sense tells you that's not a healthy thing to do. And what
I would do is I would make sure this kid goes and sees a doctor and find out what is going on where
this kid needs to take Z-Quil to go to sleep at night and five energy shots to wake up. That's a
problem. That's self-medication. You know, and if left unchecked, what does that lead to?
Alcohol abuse, marijuana abuse, other drugs? What's going on in this kid's world, where this
kid needs to self-medicate to go to sleep and wake up. There's a lot more going on that I think
this question is saying and I think it needs exploration, whether that's with a therapist or
just sitting down with a family, something needs to be addressed there.
Mm-hmm, It sounds like a weekend of detox. Yeah. I don't know. That's rough. All right. Thank
you so much, Kent.
You're welcome. And of course, if you have a question for Kent, send us an email to askkent at cbs.com. Thanks again.
Kent answers questions about cell phone usage, what to do when your teen lies, and weighs in on the use of sleep aids and energy drinks with kids.
Talking to Boys About Sexual Abuse - Novemer 30th, 2017
With several men now in the spotlight for their behavior against women, how do parents talk
to their sons about this? CBS2's Amy Johnson is live in Woodland Hills and she talked to a therapist. Amy? Well, Pat and Rick, a lot of parents have been shielding their children
away from the news and stories about the sexual harassment in Hollywood. But the therapist
I spoke with today says that some children in middle school are dealing with sexual harassment,
some even in elementary school. So while you may not want to talk about what's happening in Hollywood, You may need to talk about what's happening in their world. The accusations of sexual harassment have recently plagued Hollywood.
I think it's been going on for a long time. So although it's uncomfortable, I think it's important
that people are speaking up. I think that's a really good, important first step. Experts agree
with Jimmy Lewis, a father of two, talking is key, not only to report the abusers, but it's important to talk to your children to help break
the cycle. I think we do need to be more mindful of how we teach our boys.
Kent Toussaint is a licensed marriage and family therapist. He started the teen therapy center
four years ago. The whole thing about sexual harassment and sexual
assault, it is the dehumanization of another person. It is taking that person's feelings and
values and disregarding them and the perpetrator's feelings are the ones that are important.
When that happens, you have a situation where people are objectified.
He says parents can combat some of that behavior.
We as parents really need to teach our kids empathy. And it's not just the words we use, it's how
we teach our kids, how we set the example. The
lessons aren't just for boys. Well it's definitely leading by example, obviously, but it's
also not making rules that are explicit for boys versus girls. It's just universal. Toussaint
says we should teach all children empathy and to respect authority but also to stand up
to what is wrong. Everyone needs to be educated more on sexual health, respect, empathy, consent.
This is across the board. It's not just a male issue, it's women too.
And again, Toussaint says it's never too early to start talking to your children about empathy
and respect to both your sons and daughters and perhaps these lessons will put an end to the problems. I'll send it back to you in the studio. All right, thank you Amy.
Kent addresses the topic of sexual abuse and what parents can do to teach help their children.
Ask Kent - October 28th, 2017
Well dealing with a difficult ex and kids who are too honest can be tough parenting Situations
and marriage and family therapist Kent Toussaint joins us this morning to answer your questions.
Good morning, Kent Hello. Thanks so much for joining us. Okay. So the first question is can you
say what? Repercussions my ex's verbal abuse of me in front of our 11 year old daughter and lying
about me to her will have? He refuses to go to court-ordered therapy as well.
It's a big topic. I do whole seminars on this issue. We actually, I posted a blog article on this on
our website at teentherapycenter.com called Co-Parenting with Your Hated Ex-Spouse. And
here's the issue with this. When one parent is disparaging another parent, especially in a
divorce situation, because divorce is hard enough as it is, the risk is it tears down the relationship with both parents. It tears down, in this situation, it tears down the relationship with the father because of how hurtful he's being. It also can tear down the relationship with the mom
because some way this little girl still loves her dad and there's something must be true about
that and it creates a lot So what happens is eventu turns into a 14 year old and says I'm done with
both of you.
And then goes to more unhealthy relationships leading to possibly you know drug use, alcohol
abuse, inappropriate sexual activity and what I would recommend for this family is get help,
get therapy. The dad may not be willing to be a part of the therapy and you can't control that.
The mom can't control it. She can get help for her daughter. And some people might say, well,
the father may not allow her daughter to go. At age 12 in California, a 12 year old is legally able
to consent to her own treatment. Oh. So that is something to consider if the father's getting
in the way.
Yeah, and I've never been through a divorce, so I can't really say anything, but it just seems
like talking bad about your ex is just hitting below the belt.
It is it. It doesn't get any worse because it starts to interfere with her own sense of self. Because
you know the whole thing. Yo mama jokes.
Yeah, well, there's a reason why people do that. Because it's hurtful. Yeah, and now when it's coming from one parent to another parent, it's even more hurtful because it's hurting herself exact and
hopefully this family label to turn this around and have a more respectful communication with
Okay,and the next one is we've taught our daughter to be honest, but she's reporting classmates for
really minor stuff, I'm worried, nobody will want to be her friend. What can I do?
So with this tuition I would want to talk this little girl about what is her intent why she kept
telling because there's the whole thing of the old snitches And it's a horrible thing to do because
kids should be able to go to parents or teachers or adults and say when something is wrong. Because
when something is really wrong, you want them going and getting help. So what is their intent?
Is her intent to get someone in trouble because it's fun? Is it because she thinks her friend's
in danger? Why is she doing it? She may not really understand how it's impacting somebody else.
So I would have many conversations with this daughter Excuse me about You know, what is her intent
and why is she trying to help and you know, it's different if Timmy over there is chewing gum in
class. Do you really need to tell him that? Probably not. But if Timmy is bullying somebody,
well that's when you wanna tell. And finding that balance is difficult. And that's what parents
and teachers should be talking to
Okay, the next one is, how do we decide what age our child should be left home alone? He's 12 and
I think he's old enough and mature enough, but I'm hesitant.
So I think this mom is probably listening to her intuition. She's probably thinking her son
is about ready to go, but she's not sure. So it is going to be dependent on the kid. You know, there
are some 16 year olds who can't be left at home. Exactly. But if she thinks her 12 year old is ready,
what I would do is I would have small instances where he can go a half hour at a time. But also talk about if there's something going wrong, how he can contact her or another parent or a grandparent or a neighbor or if there's an earthquake, what is the safety plan and
go from a half hour to an hour and eventually to a place where you feel comfortable leaving him
alone for a while. Exactly. Great dvice.
OK, sometimes I think getting my son a phone was the worst thing we have ever done. How
do we cut back after we've let the cat out of the bag?
So electronics is practically an epidemic in our society. And they're great fun, they're really
exciting, and they're wonderful tools, but it's not a neutral technology. And what that means
is the technology, and I have a smartphone, I'm sure you do too, and I check my phone often. You
know, it is designed to hook you in. But we're adults, and we didn't grow up with it, you know?
Digital natives, you know, kids who've grown up since they were two and had the iPad, they're
hooked in, and it's tied into the brain. We have seeking brains, and every time we find something
and something new we get hit a dopamine Which is a chemical in our brain that's like the feel-good.
Okay, you know and We're getting it all the time so every time you pick up that phone and you get
that like or That you know that text you get that hit a dopamine and if you're 12 years old or 1315
it's hard to regulate that and I think it's really important to set boundaries. You're not going
to take the phone away forever, but there may be boundaries where you can have the phone as long as you're in the living area, you're in the living room with family, or there are certain times in the family where no one's on the screen, including mom and dad. Exactly. And that's when you guys can sit there and play Monopoly, walk the dog, or do whatever.
Yes, yes, talk.
All right, Kent, Thank you so much for all of that. We certainly appreciate it.
Kent is back to answers questions on dealing with an ex who is verbally abusive, what to do with a kid who is TOO honest, handling electronics, and more!
Ask Kent - September 23rd, 2017
It is time to get your teen parenting questions answered and certified family therapist Kent
Toussaint joins us now live. Kent, thank you so much for being here. Yeah, so we first want to get to some of the questions that some of our viewers have emailed
in and one of those first questions is we're relatively new to the area and haven't truly experienced
an earthquake. So this is a very timely question. I'm wondering how it's best to discuss this
possibility and all other natural disasters with our Children. I mean, we've seen the earthquakes
in Mexico, we've seen the hurricanes. How do you talk to your kids about these things?
Openly and honestly, I think it's really important that we as parents are very prepared for
these things. We should have our earthquake kits. We should have a plan so when the earthquakes
do happen or the fires or whatever it is, we know what to do. And when we talk to our kids, we share,
yeah, these are possibilities, but we have a plan to deal with these possibilities, and this
is how we do it. You know, I have a very detailed plan. And there are books out there, there are
websites like the Red Cross that has a detailed plan of how to create an earthquake kit. And I
think it's more important that we as parents are planned and prepared, and we share that with
our kids, and that helps them reduce their anxiety. And so we bring it up whether or not they ask. I think so, because it's gonna come up. They're gonna see it in the news, they're gonna hear it at school. The more armed they are with real knowledge, the better prepared they are and the less worried they will
Okay, next question. At what age do you not look at your kid's Facebook page? I actually never looked
at their page, I just thought it was too personal, this woman says.
Well, it's really going to depend on the child. I would also say Facebook is probably not the
social media platform that your kids are using. It's probably Snapchat and Instagram, but
some kids will use Facebook. And something
we've probably never even heard of by now. Yeah, next week will be something new. And so what I would say is when you establish that
your kids are going to use social media, you should be, you know, have the password. You should
be on their pages to monitor them because it's a world that they're not ready for and they need
guidance. What if they're saying this is private? I deserve privacy. And you can have that privacy. You know, a private, that's a private phone call. You know, you
can say something on a phone call and it doesn't have the spider web effects that a post can. So
a 13 year old may not have the maturity to understand what this post could, how that could backfire
on her or someone else. So it's really important they have guidance. Now some kids will show
that they are mature enough to handle it. And that's up to you as the parent to decide when you
can back off.
OK. Next question. Why are girls so cruel to each other? And how do I help my teen make same-sex
friends when I've already done things like gotten them involved in sports, church, and other
outlets, and no friendships seem to really take.
So there's that stereotype of, you know, the mean girls. Yeah. I don't think it applies to all
girls. I think there are mean boys too, but they're also nice kids as well. And what that is a symptom
of is a lack of empathy and their own insecurity. And so kids will lash out at others to help themselves
feel better. And it's really important that we teach our children empathy and to find those
healthier relationships. And for the kid who's not finding those same sex friendships, I have
a lot of questions about that. Is like, are they finding different sex relationships? Like
if there's a boy having a lot of friends who are girls, and is that okay? You know, is he comfortable
having many friends who are girls or vice versa. And how do we help boys and girls have friends,
you know, across those lines? If sports is not working and church is not working, I would really
want to explore with that kid, what are his or her interests? You know, maybe it's robotics,
maybe it's coding, maybe it's dance.
Who knows what it is? And then we also have the impact of, you know, kids who are on the autism spectrum
disorder, which is a very prevalent issue in our society. And they will have difficulties making
those friends. Not that it's insurmountable, but they may need more additional support, social
groups and whatnot. Like at Teen Therapy Center, I run a group called the Guys Group for guys
struggling with self-esteem and social anxiety. We just had our 300th meeting. I'm very excited
about it. But we help guys connect and socialize and eventually go out in the world and socialize
there too. And then it blossoms organically. Absolutely. Okay, last question real quickly, Kent. How can
parents deal with cutting and other ways that teens try to hurt themselves? This is a serious
topic. It is a very serious topic. One of the things I want to say is cutting and suicidality are two separate
issues. They can occur together, they can occur separately also. Cutting is usually an attempt
to either block out feelings that are too terrible to really deal with, or to help feel because
they're so numb. And it's something we want to pay attention to as parents, and get help, get
therapy, get counseling, find a way to do it, because it's usually not something that just goes
away on its own. And you want to talk to psychiatrists, therapists, because it could lead to
bigger things down the line. But
it seems like it's a symptom of a deep issue.
I think so. Usually cutting is a symptom of something deeper, some kind of emotional pain or
hurt that is not being addressed, and they're using a maladaptive way to deal with that stress
and that that emotion. Very interesting.
Kent, thank you so much. We appreciate your time as always. You're
00:05:22 Speaker 2
Kent addresses natural disasters, monitoring on your kid’s facebook page, making friends, cutting, and more!
Ask Kent - August 19th, 2017
So now we want to get to ask Kent unconventional hairstyles and age appropriate TV shows. There
are lots of things that parents deal with these days and as I mentioned our licensed family therapist
Kent Dussault joins us again this morning. Thanks so much for waking up with us and getting things
going. So our first question, people have been sending in a lot of questions for us. A lot of parents
need a little help these days. So the first question begins with my son just started wearing
a man bun. He has never worn his hair this way, but the parents are a little surprised and they're
unsure what this is about. He thinks it's cool and doesn't care what people think. So what do
you think parents should do?
I think it's a great question. I think hair is a great way to express identity for teenagers. That's a big part of their development. So I know myself as a teenager in the 80s. I really rocked the
mullet well. Now, I don't rock it anymore. But in the 80s, I did. And I think that's just part of
expression. So whatever man bun or mohawk, wherever he's got going on, it's temporary. It's
just hair. Yeah, I think we allow teenagers to have a self expression of self. It helps them solidify
who they are. So when they're in their 20s and 30s, that's more solidified and it's. It's temporary.
It's not a tattoo.
Yes, exactly. A very good point there. Okay, so the next question came from another viewer asking,
what age do you think is appropriate for letting your kids see Game of Thrones? Do you have different
ages for boys and for girls?
Wow, So Game of Thrones, very popular show, very good show, but a lot of mature themes. So it's
really going to depend on that child or teenager. Just like, you know, rated R movies, this is
a rated R show. I think each parent has to decide, is my child mature enough to understand these
themes? And if so, then I would recommend the parents and teenagers watch a show together. If
the teenager can't watch a show with the parents, maybe they're not ready. Because if a parent
and a child watch something like Game of Thrones together, they can start talking about these
themes, these mature themes, and have a better understanding of how they relate to today's
society. Even though it's about dragons and knights and all that stuff, there's a lot of very
common themes that humans go through.
Okay, and the next question is that some kids are told that therapy is only for crazy people and
they refuse to come in out of fear of being labeled. What do you what do you tell parents who want
to bring their kids in for some therapy? So
I know myself and my staff at Teen Therapy Center, we deal with this question a lot because there's
a lot of stigma or misinformation about what therapy is. Therapy is not for crazy people. Hospitals
are for crazy people. But therapy is really for people who just need a little more support.
For example, if you wanted to improve your baseball skills, you would hire a pitching coach or a
batting coach. You know, if you need help dealing with emotions or understanding how what you're
thinking or how to communicate better, you hire a coach in that and that's what therapists do.
And really like for little kids, I often tell kids, a therapy is, it's like going to an expert
in growing up. All kids want to grow up and we really do help kids tr and healthy way and that' and
therapy is fun. I thin So the last question here bring up the sex talk to her teenage son?
Great question. Mothers should be talking to their sons about sex. Fathers should be talking
to their daughters about sex. And not just teenagers, but little kids. It should be happening
early on, especially when kids are not thinking about having sex. If you wait
till they're 14, they're already having these thoughts and feelings and it can be more uncomfortable.
But the most important thing is that the parent is comfortable. We as parents, we need to set
the standard. We need to lead. And the more comfortable we are, the more educated we are, the
more we can help our kids because the more educated kids are with sex, drugs, all these things
that scare us parents, the safer choices they make.
Okay and tell me a little bit about Screenagers. What's this?
So Screenagers is a documentary and we are with an association that's putting it on September
14th in Woodland Hills and if you go to Facebook, it's Communities for Families and you can find it there And it's going to be a screening of how screens, video games, social media,
TV affect our teenagers. And there's going to be a panel discussion. I'm one of the panel speakers.
Teen Therapy Center is one of the sponsors, along with Jordan Strong Foundation and many other
foundations as well. It's gonna be a lot of fun.
Okay, perfect. Thanks so much, Kent. Thank you. We appreciate it. And we appreciate all the
questions that people are sending in. And if you wanna ask Kent a question, just send an email
to askkentatcbs.com. Thanks again, Dan. You're very welcome.
Kent answers questions and explores issues related to teen style choices, how to talk to your teen about sex, Game of Thrones, and more!
Ask Kent - July 15th, 2017
Well, we all know that dealing with teenagers can be quite a challenge. but licensed family therapist Kent Toussaint is back with us this morning to give some
answers to the questions that you have sent in. Good morning. Hi. Hi. So our first question is
from someone who says that they have a 14 year old daughter who is entering high school and is
quite stressed about the transition. She's stressed about the new kids, the new school, the
new routine and finding her place. It says, how do I as a parent assure her and help her find her
So it's such a great question. Because so many kids really, there's a lot of anxiety going from
one stage to the next, going from middle school to high school. Social dynamics change, and
kids know this.
Maybe even a different school. Yeah. They may not know anyone there. You know, it can be really stressful. Or they do know friends
there, but they find they and their friends are diverging and finding new social dynamics,
new social groups. So what's really important is to not try to take those feelings away, not
try to convince your kid not to have those feelings because it doesn't work. But more to validate
those feelings and help them realize that it's going to be okay. Share some experiences that
you've had as a parent when you were a child or a professional as you have transitioned. Let them
know that these transitions are part of life as they will be in the professional world. But as
they go into high school, you know, most high schools will have an orientation where incoming
freshmen can come in, meet other freshmen, but also get involved in other activities whether
it's a sport, an artistic project, a group, something where they can find a place where they
can interact with the kids.
And find their niche.
Okay, another question that a viewer sent in. During summer break, we spend a lot of time with
the grandparents. They let my kids get away with whatever they want. Never heard that before.
And my kids know it. Convincing my parents to change is impossible. So how do I get my kids to not take advantage of this?
It's a tough situation because in this situation, the parents, they want the children to be in the
parental role, the adult role, and they're not qualified. The grandparents are, and I think
it's coming upon us as parents to educate our grandparents, as well meaning as they may well
be to give them the the extra toys or whatever our grandparents. And ins do this, teach the grandp
you can do. You can feed you bring the food to the grandparents' house. These are the apples and
oranges we can give our kids. Or these, if you want, there are certain toys. These are the toys
that are acceptable. So I think the more we educate the grandparents and take the kids out of
the role of being the parent and being responsible for something, they really are not capable
of doing. And what if those grandparents, though, say, well, that's what grandparents are for. We're supposed to spoil our grandchildren. What do you say then to them?
I think you start educating grandparents on parenting and how that interferes with the grand
scheme of, with the grand plan of raising kids. And if they want to be part of the plan, great to
have them a part of the plan, but we have to be advocates for our kids and we have to stand up to our
parents, which is tough because they're our parents, But we are adults, we need to stand up to our parents with respect, of course.
Right, and as summer is winding down pretty soon for some folks. One person sent in a question
that says, how do I get my children to transition from vacation mode to back to school mode?
Well, I think actually it usually works pretty well. The things like reducing video game time,
bedtimes, where they may go to bed at 11 o'clock now, you want them to get up to 8.30, you slowly
titrate down. Say going 11 to 8.30, you go to 11 to 10.30 for a while, then 10.30 to 10, then, you
know, slowly but surely. And you start getting them in that routine. If homework is from three
to five on weekdays, maybe that's time where everyone sits down and reads a book together or
does something. You start reducing some screen times for bedtime, things like that. And also
another thing, school shopping. Don't you remember when you were a kid and you go school shopping
and get new clothes and get new folders and new pencils? Yeah, it was exciting. Yeah, you
get excited for school.
that's a good way to get them motivated. I think so.
Alright, Dr. Kent, thank you so much. We appreciate
Kent answers a few of the questions parents have sent in about school, grandparents, and more!
Ask Kent - June 17th, 2017
Well, parenting teens can be tough, so we're bringing back licensed family therapist Kent
Toussaint to answer your questions this morning. Thank you so much for being here again.
You're very welcome. Glad to be here. I
know we had you on a couple weeks ago and I know it was quite popular. Parents always have a lot
of questions. Yes. So, you know, what can you tell your kids when you're having some trouble
with them those teenagers during those tough years?
Well there's a lot of things you can tell your kids. I think it's less about what you tell them
and more about how you help them feel heard and feel understood. Because you can tell your kids
a lot and they're not gonna listen. But if they're really feeling heard and understood, they're
more likely to tell you what's really going on. It helps open up the opportunity for them to really
identify and explore and express the feelings that they're having to alleviate the stress
or the drama they're going through as kids. And you know, kind of going to a little bit of a darker place here, but you know, some of the series
we've been seeing right now are dealing with teen suicide. It's getting a lot of buzz right now,
and it's a trending topic that 13 Reasons Why show that we've been seeing. What do you tell a teenager when they say things like they want to die? Well,
it's something you want to take seriously. Just because someone says they want to die doesn't
mean they're going to act on it. It doesn't mean you want to ignore it. But a lot of times you need
to help a teenager or a kid really communicate what is the feeling underneath it. Is it they want
to die or they just have a feeling they don't know how to understand or handle. And getting your
kid to better explore those topics, understand them, again, in a safe place where they can talk
to their parents, or their therapist, or their uncle, or their cousin, or someone where they
can trust and really talk about it, helps them get to a place where they can manage. Now, if it's
going to such an extreme place where you really are worried about the danger, it's really important
to get them help, whether it's in therapy, whether it's getting them on the right medication.
There's a lot of options, and it's really important to talk to the professionals to make sure
that your kid is getting the right treatment, what they need.
And we do have some questions that viewers have given us specifically that they want you to answer.
Sure. One says, I think my child will be nervous about coming to see you. I don't know how to explain
what therapy is. What should I tell my child? That's
a great question. I get that question all the time from parents. A lot of times kids think going
to a therapist is like going to the principal for detention or something like that, and it's
not like that at all.
Right, a punishment.
Right. Therapy should be fun, especially for a kid. Because the kid did not make the call, they
did not make the appointment, the parents made the appointment, it feels scary and nervous,
but when a kid comes into, you know, at Teen Therapy Center, where we are, you know, they see games
and art projects and a basketball hoop, it's a fun place to be. And we have those things because
the more we can connect with that kid and have fun with that kid, the more likely that kid is going
to be able to open up and talk about those difficult feelings. And what I often tell parents is
to help kids understand, especially if they're young, that they're going to see an expert in
growing up, because all kids want to grow up, and we want to make it feel more positive and empowering
instead of punitive.
That's a good way to put it. Another question here, Kent. How involved should I be in my child's
therapy and what does confidentiality mean when it comes to my child's relationship with their
Another great question. So parents should always be involved to some extent. It's going to
depend on that kid and that family and the family dynamic. What's really important is children
are allowed to have confidentiality. What they say in session when the parents are not there
is protected by state law.
HIPAA? Is that patient privacy?
So when I'm working with a kid and I think there's something that parents should know about,
I will help the child tell the parent. It may take a couple weeks or a few weeks to get there, but
it's more empowering for that child to tell mom or dad, hey I'm mad because of this or I'm sad because
of that. If I go over the kid's head, it's taking that opportunity away. Now obviously there
are reporting issues and mandated reporting issues, safety issues that we can't keep those
secrets. But aside from that, A child's confidentiality should be important, but in between sessions,
a child therapist and a parent should have regular communication.
Because that undermines your relationship then with the child if they think you're ratting
to mom and dad. Yeah, if I'm telling the parent everything the kid says, the kid's not going to
open up to me. Yeah. Interesting.
Well, you know, teenagers are going to be around more this summer, kids in general. Any last
pieces of advice for parents who are having kids more in the house a little bit this summer?
have fun enjoy your kids have fun do things even though the kids want to be on the electronics
and all that stuff. Find a way to get them off electronics and have fun with the kids, whether
it's at the beach, playing a board game, making cookies, going on hikes, do something and let
your kids know that you enjoy being with them and they will then in turn hopefully enjoy being
Good advice. Thank you so much. Thank you. Great answers today. And of course, Kent will be joining
us on a regular basis to answer all of your questions. And you can send those questions. We might
read them right here on the air and ask Kent. So you can send them to ask Kent at CBS dot com. Thanks
so much Amy.
First Segment of “Ask Kent” where he addresses a variety issues related to troubled teens and how parents can help.
Understanding Your Teens - May 6th, 2017
Well, parents of teens know it's hard to figure out why they do what they do. And Kent Toussaint
is here this morning to help us decode your teen. Thanks so much for joining us, Kent. You're
very welcome. This is certainly a very important topic for a lot of my friends who have teens.
I'm almost there. My oldest is 12. So, you know, a lot of parents feel like, you know, we spend
so much time nagging and yelling at our kids from, you know, brushing your teeth, doing homework.
But a lot of times you feel like you're getting nowhere. So what else can we do besides actually
yelling and nagging?
It's a great question because we know that yelling and nagging do not work. No kid has ever said wow
mom Thanks for yelling at me for 20 minutes. It just doesn't work. What really works is having
a healthy connection And what I'd like to say there's an analogy I like to use. And most people
watching right now have been in the workforce, and they've had different bosses. For the sake
of simplicity, let's say there are two different types of bosses. There's the one kind of boss
who only comes to your desk when you're doing something wrong, making sharp demands. You just
feel uncertain. The other kind of boss is more like a mentor. You know, someone who helps nurture
your career, helps you learn from mistakes. You feel like a valued member of that company. If
either of those bosses came to you and said, hey, I need you to come in on Saturday, your day off,
would gladly come in for that one mentor. The other boss, not so much. And when it comes to our
kids, I mean, I think we are more than bosses.
We are mentors. We are role models. We are guides for our kids. And I know from my own experience,
when I take the time to really appreciate and value my kids, they are more cooperative. It doesn't
happen all the time, but they are more cooperative and I think that's where you know all kids,
whether they're 2 or 12 or 18, they want to feel valued just like any other person does and when
we are valued we want to help out. But what are some ways that we can actually create that positive relationship? Because so often
you hear you're the parents not their friends. So how do you create that positive relationship
without crossing the line? Right.
Well again, I would say we are more than but we are more than parents we are we are more than friends
we are parents and What happens is there's a lot of things that get in the way of our relationships.
There's, you know, our jobs. We've got to manage the house. We've got to cook dinner. We've got
to drop them off at soccer practice. They've got things to do. And through all these busy things,
we wind up putting the most important relations in our lives, the ones with our kids, on the back
burner and that decreases the amount of cooperation and connection. What I would say is we need
to prioritize that connection and prioritize that like we would any other relationship. Like
if I was in a new dating relationship and that woman is really into ballroom dancing, I've got
to really take the time to take an interest in that. Doesn't mean I have to go wear a frilly shirt
every Friday night. It just means I have to make sure that it's important. And with our kids,
it's the same thing. So if your
daughter's really into anime, or your son is really into baseball statistics, or the twins
are into electro house music, it's really important that we appreciate the value they put on
it. And we appreciate that value, They're more interested in connecting with us and doing things
with us, whether it's playing a game, going to the park, going to grandma's house, and that's what builds that that cooperation is that strong connection.
Okay and you know a lot of parents say that their kids are just so reckless and they are often asking
what's going on with these teens. What is it that's really happening at this stage of their life?
That's a big question. So what we know is you know teenager hood does not start at 13. Starts at
maybe 10, 11, 12. The brain development is really expanding. And what's happening there is,
you know, well imagine like your kid, imagine the two-year-old face on that 13-year-old body.
And there's a lot of similar development going on. So, can I give you an analogy? Sbrocco Lee
Sure. Sbrocco Lee Okay. Everyone in America has been on a diet at one time or another, right?
And we've all failed in our diets. All of us. You know, we have the idea, all right, I'm going to
get the kale salad at the restaurant with the seared ahi and the reduced-fat vinaigrette. But
we get there, and the bread comes out. Like, oh. So, one piece of bread turns into four pieces
of bread. And then we see the special, the lobster ravioli with a decadent cream sauce, and we
go, ah, it's Friday night, let's get it. That impulsivity. Then we get the crab cakes and the
chocolate lava cake, and our diet is blown because we're
so impulsive. And someone says, why don't you blow your diet? We say, I don't know. And so the
next morning we get pancakes. And Sunday we get pizza. Kids and teenagers especially, that
kind of impulsivity is times 10 everywhere they go. And so, you know, when we say to our kid, why
didn't you do your homework? And they say, I don't know. It's the same reason why we ate the lobster
ravioli. We don't know, we just did it. And it's really important that we set healthy boundaries
around our kids to protect them from impulsivity that they can't control.
Okay, so keep the pizza away from them, yes, right away from yes, the pancakes. Yes. All right.
Thank you so much. And we certainly appreciate your time. And I hope that you have helped a lot
folks today. I appreciate it.
Kent helps to create a better understanding of kids and teens by giving insight into how their minds work.
If you have more questions or would like more information, please contact our Clinical Director, Kent Toussaint at 818.697.8555.