What if your teen willingly faced challenges even when things felt hard?

“… my teen had a full-on meltdown after attempting challenging math homework that she is super behind and told me she will just give up and not even try. I tried the statements Aly taught me and left her alone… After dinner my daughter asked me ‘Is it okay if I don’t help with dishes, but I start my homework?’, and I said, ‘Good job for giving it another try. I am proud of you’. This is for me a huge win….” – S. H.

Teens are naturally more withdrawn and quieter, or insecure and freaking out about everything… 🤷‍♀️🙄

 … but, what if they aren’t doing ANYTHING, passing on even small opportunities to learn, grow, or just have fun?

This is part of a conversation I had with a parent recently that’s becoming very familiar:

“I have two teens, and they’re not motivated to do anything except maybe be on their devices. They don’t want to play any sports and not interested in anything. My husband and I work hard to get them to do things, … only because we make them. We have given them a nice life…

I think I tried too hard when they were younger and now it’s backfired.… I know motivation comes from inside but how do I start that?

I try and make them work for stuff but what happens is I get it for them and they will pay me back and do chores.

My son will say, ‘I want to play basketball’. We sign him up and … he does not go. He did the same thing with football. I don’t know where to go with this…”

You fear your teen’s future is looking like an unemployed adult living at home and hiding in their room with all your dishes 🤦‍♀️

… unless you know WHY they’re avoiding life and proven ways to turn things around without nagging, cajoling, cheerleading, consequences, shaming, guilt, controlling, etc.

“…I wonder if it feels like a weight of expectations on you?”

An immediate, ‘YES!!!!’, response from my son. We talked the whole way to school this morning. He shared the pressure he feels and sometimes not wanting to do soccer anymore. Very helpful conversation for me and I hope for my son!!” – Laura H.

Your teen isn’t avoiding life, they’re avoiding the risks of living life to build a life.

As their brain goes through a massive development during the teen years, their self-esteem drops up to 30% 😮, and the domino effect is tangible: lower confidence, increased anxiety, and fear of failure, and more.

When you see your teen struggling with school, social outlets, skills, or activities they once exceled at or willingly engaged with, it’s normal to offer support by lowering or removing barriers so they ‘get back on track’.

This helicopter or lawn mower parenting that paves the way so your teen overcomes a one-time or situational hurdle doesn’t address the emotional root of their resistance or avoidance, so instead of building confidence, it backfires and becomes learned helplessness. This cycle is the new workforce epidemic with young adults wanting their parents to speak with employers after performance reviews to buffer constructive feedback, lack of promotions, wage increases, etc.

On the flip side, telling your teen to ‘pull up their bootstraps’, ‘put on their big girl panties’, ‘suck it up buttercup’, or ‘figure it out’ themselves amplifies fear and anxiety because they don’t have the emotional resilience or skills to ‘hop to it’.

Resilience is the process and outcome of successfully adapting to difficult or challenging life experiences, especially through mental, emotional, and behavioral flexibility and adjustment to external and internal demands.

Here are my three proven tools for raising a resilient teen regardless of where you’re starting from:

Affirm their character – When your teen’s self-esteem and confidence is in their boots, they focus on what’s not working and their weaknesses. By offering short, daily affirmations of character traits or strengths (even if they aren’t using them), your outer voice becomes their inner truth. This is more important than ever in a digital world of 24/7 comparison where they rarely come up on the winning side. You’re not convincing them of anything or use this as a back handed attempt for motivation so be authentic and let go of whether they agree.

Encouraging Effort Over Outcome – One of the key factors in resilience studies is understanding that external results will NEVER define internal worth. The profound impact of encouraging trying and effort over performance and perfection is reinforced in multiple studies where outcome-based praise increased anxiety and lowered motivation plus future results. Redefine success as the courage to try, to engage, to give one’s all regardless of the outcome by focusing on the learning and experience without having to like it or be good at it. This lowers your teen’s risk of disappointing you and losing your love or affection.

Normalize Failure – Research shows our brains MUST struggle and fail as part of learning any new skill whether it’s behavioural, emotional, or mental mastery (remember when your toddler was learning to walk and failed 1000x?). Embracing the messy, beautiful process of growth by sharing your attempts and failures regularly, along with what you learned along the way removes the perception of needing to be perfect on the first try. This builds frustration tolerance and adds humor to an otherwise scary experience.

“I can already see a huge difference! I can see he’s really trying and I’ve let him know how much I appreciate his efforts.” – Becky S.

These 3 tools are amplified when combined with empathy, validation, and understanding to build a resilient, growth mindset where your teen feels seen, heard, and supported.

Raising a resilient teen won’t shield them from hardship, or you from the discomfort of seeing them struggle, but…

… by acting now you’ll equip them to emerge stronger, more capable, and more confident to adapt to life’s challenges, with you as their greatest support.

Click below to join my upcoming masterclass for my proven tools to taking your teen from anxious and risk avoidant to resilient, responsible, and independent as they take on the world.

See you soon,


P.S. You’re already a great parent. Now it’s time to get current, science-backed tools so your loving intentions create more of the relationship you want with your teen before they leave the nest.