Teen Dating in the Digital Age

Wednesday, March 29th, 2017

By Erica Rood, M.A. Ed.

Now more than ever, teens are connecting through digital technology, and their romantic relationships are being impacted. They are sexting and taking provocative selfies, plus their screens provide access to an overwhelming amount of misleading messages about what is cool, sexy, and fun.

Consider this: Sexy selfies, including “nudes,” are the new normal. There is pressure from boys, and often from other girls, to take and send sexy pictures. Girls are taking pictures of themselves in their bras and underwear, or less, and thinking nothing of it. Many share these photos without considering that they may fall into the “wrong hands,” open them up to ridicule and shame, or worse, to danger and possible blackmail.

Many parents don’t know how or when to talk with their daughters about dating in the digital age. It is new and unfamiliar territory. Parents face a challenging choice. They can set strict boundaries and rules, which will likely be broken, or they can create an environment where their daughters can safely explore relationship values, sexuality, and awareness of a healthy relationship. With the right guidance, your daughter will create her own inner guide, or moral compass. She will learn to stand up for herself and make choices that are empowering rather than defeating. She will understand how to identify a healthy relationship from one that is harmful or inappropriate.

So, how do you start?

Listen. Parents often listen with the goal of rescuing or providing an answer. Try to step back and listen from your daughter’s point of view. Step into her shoes and ask yourself, “What’s it like for her?” Without overdoing it, ask open-ended, non-judgmental questions. Even if you get no response, questions that start with, What do you think… and What if… will provoke contemplation. When you ask genuine, neutral questions and listen with an open mind, you provide space for her to process her experiences and develop her own perspective. You also gain insight into dating terms, timelines and stages, and your daughter’s developing expectations. With this insight, you can further guide her toward connecting with her values.

Stay neutral. Although your skin may crawl when your daughter responds honestly to one of your open-ended questions, don’t react. Stay calm and poised. Teenagers are much more likely to stay in uncomfortable conversations when they feel supported and heard.

Use the media to your advantage. Television shows, movies, songs, and social media are easy springboards into meaningful conversations. As you watch TV or listen to music together, ask your daughter what she thinks of the messages that are being sent. Inquire about your daughter’s opinion of how the women on TV are dressed or how they behave. Ask her to consider their motivation, the message they convey, and what would happen if they were acting or dressing in another way. Point out conflicting messages about sexuality and beauty. Help her see the truth in the confusing messages and identify the artificiality in the images.

Talk about digital pressure. When it comes to sharing inappropriate pictures, your daughter may think, if everyone else is doing it, it must be OK, even if she has an underlying sense that such behavior is not in alignment with her values. When you make her aware that you know about the digital pressures she’s facing, and help her recognize that this behavior is not in line with her values, you are validating her own inner-guide that she had been questioning. Yes, she might roll her eyes or walk away in embarrassment but by talking about it, you will have sent a powerful message that although she may be in a minority, when she does not give in to digital pressure, she is not acting crazy; she is acting wisely.

Bottom line: When it comes to dating in the digital age, girls need safe, supportive adults to help them navigate the maze of mixed messages and confusing expectations. When parents approach this delicate topic with ease and empathy, they create an environment where their daughters can discover what is important to them in a romantic relationship and how to stand strong in this sexualized, digital dating landscape.


Teen Romance and the Hook-Up Culture

Tuesday, February 14th, 2017

By Erica Rood, M.A. Ed.

Sex and dating may be one of the most difficult topics of conversation for both parents and teens. Many families avoid the topic altogether. Some skirt around it, others tackle it head on. Whichever scenario is playing out it your family, the truth is, teens are having sex. They are curious, experimental, and whether ready for it or not, they are becoming sexually active as early as eighth grade. As a parent it’s important to understand this “hook-up culture” and keep an ongoing, open dialogue around sex and dating. Whether they show it or not, teens are desperate for information and guidance.

  1. Relationships and dating. Teenage girls are in the prime of identity formation. They are also beginning to understand the building blocks of healthy relationships. During this time, it’s important to talk with your daughter about the components of a healthy relationship. You can start this conversation even before a romantic relationship is in play. Talk about what makes her friendships and family relationships strong, safe, and happy. When she can understand what makes these relationships strong, she will better understand how to identify and experience a healthy romantic relationship.
  2. Handling conflict. When in a romantic relationship, your teen’s moods may be even more extreme. She’s added a new dynamic to an already emotionally rocky stage. In her relationship, she may panic at the first sign of conflict. You can help by supporting her in understanding how to handle disagreements in a confident and empowering way by encouraging her to share her feelings with her partner, listen and try to understand her partner’s point of view, and recognize if and when it’s time to walk away.
  3. How a friend becomes a boyfriend. There are several stages teens move through before a friend becomes a boyfriend. First, teens express their interest in one another, then they may start “hanging out,” finally, they start “dating” and the labels boyfriend and girlfriend come into play. Each of these stages can last from a few days to a few weeks, and each carries a very different meaning to your teen. Be sensitive to these stages and supportive of your daughter’s choices, challenges, and experiences. In other words, don’t laugh off her longing, love, hurt, or disappointment. Each of these stages is an opportunity for her to develop her emotional strength and identity.
  4. Sex vs. Intimacy. Teenagers need help in understanding the difference between sex and intimacy. Intimate relationships are safe. They welcome open, honest communication and provide nonjudgmental support. Intimate relationships do not have to include sex. Point out that sex does not necessarily lead to an intimate relationship.
  5. The Sex Talk. As you engage in these conversations about sex, share your values, expectations, and concerns. Listen to her perspective with an open-mind. Refrain from judging or reacting to a worst-case scenario, and instead ask open-ended questions that get her thinking about her motives for having sex, the social and emotional ramifications, and the impact on her personal, family, or religious values. Also, address these sub topics:
    1. Boy vs. girl sex.  Girls are more likely to develop emotional attachments than boys. For boys, sex may simply be a sense of conquest and physical release. While many boys do develop emotional attachments, their motivation for having sex is often quite different from the girl’s.
    2. Pregnancy and sexually transmitted disease. Rather than preaching facts and statistics, use real life scenarios to drive home the seriousness of teen pregnancy and disease.
    3. Contraception. Research has shown that discussions of contraception postpone sexual activity and reduce high-risk behaviors.


The Bottom Line

You will not know everything your daughter does, nor will you have direct control over her choices, but you can take steps to maintain a positive relationship during the teen years. Remember that nothing shuts a teen down more than the rants and raves of her parents. Instead of coming from a place of fear, stay cool and keep the lines of communication open. Support your daughter through honest, frank, and ongoing discussions. This is the key to sustaining influence on her choices, especially as they relate to sex and dating.

Need more support? Click here to set up a complimentary Discovery Session.

How to set goals with your daughter, plus free guide booklet

Wednesday, January 4th, 2017
Did you know that goal-setting is a key contributor to a teen’s motivation and achievement? Moreover, when teens explicitly outline their goals and actions, they are more likely to achieve their desired outcomes, leading them to feel responsible and successful.


But, goal-setting can be hard for teens. Often, the process feels to abstract. They don’t know where to start or they give up when they think their goals are unreachable. Parents are a powerful influence on the way girls approach their future.  So, as you create your personal resolutions and goals for 2017, consider empowering your daughter to do the same. Start by asking open-ended questions that encourage her to reflect on her past year’s wins and areas of growth. Celebrate her revelations because they lay the foundation for her future.  Next, download my Goal Setting Guide. It will help her uncover what’s important to her and design a realistic plan to make her dreams a reality.  Last, support each other and as always, have fun making 2017 the best year yet!


Click here to download your daughter’s free Goal Setting Guide.


Need some extra support? Email me.


The Gift of Appreciation

Friday, December 2nd, 2016

By Erica Rood, M.A. Ed.

Appreciation means a lot to a teen.   In her mind it resonates as support, and when she is assured that her parents’ support is unwavering, she is likely to be more receptive and communicative. She will also begin to understand how to convey her own appreciation.

But what exactly is appreciation?

Appreciation is defined by the Oxford Dictionary as “the recognition and enjoyment of the good qualities of someone or something.”

Gratitude is the foundation for appreciation.

Gratitude is defined as “the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.”

Appreciation requires going beyond gratitude and recognizing the quality something or someone brings into your life. It requires bringing to mind what it is about someone or something that promotes feelings of lightness, love, happiness, or energy, no matter what.   One of the hardest things about being a parent is the nagging feeling that no one, especially your teen, appreciates you. It’s easy for teens to get so caught up in their own lives that their parents’ efforts, sacrifices, and support go unnoticed.

So how can you instill a sense of appreciation in your teen?

  • Ask her. How do you like to be appreciated? Ask yourself the same question. Engage in a conversation that will provide you both with insight. How do you each show your heartfelt appreciation for one another?
  • Show her. Instead of focusing on what’s not being done, acknowledge the things that are going well. Say “thank you” when your teen helps around the house.   Explicitly state your appreciation when your teen remembers to put her dishes away or fold her clothes. Catch her doing the right thing and remind her how much you appreciate her effort. “I appreciate you. I’m so grateful that I get to be your mom or dad.”
  • Say it…. Often. Make a point of extending your appreciation to all family members, friends, and colleagues. When you slow down to notice and appreciate the quality someone or something brings to your life, you set a positive tone for your own life and provide a powerful example for your daughter to follow.

What gratitude means to your daughter

Monday, November 21st, 2016

By Erica Rood, M.A. Ed.

If you have a teenage daughter, chances are there’ve been times when you’ve had to help her work through negative self-talk and self-doubt. It’s very common for teen girls to get caught in a cycle of “not-good-enoughness.”   When this happens, the “I’m not…” messages begin to wreak havoc on an otherwise optimistic teen. I’m not pretty enough, I’m not thin enough, I’m not smart enough, I’m not athletic enough. It’s important that parents be on the look out for the “Negative Nag” that is influencing their daughter’s behavior, and offer her positive alternatives.

Fostering a mindset of gratitude is a powerful antidote to the Negative Nag.

In my coaching practice, I spend a lot of time helping girls understand their Negative Nag, minimize its power, and replace its unkind, unhelpful messages with those that are empowering, energizing, and compassionate. These are often messages of gratitude. When girls bolster their capacity to notice and appreciate the positive in their world, their outlook begins to change. They naturally turn down the volume of their Negative Nag, their anxiety lowers, and their focus and energy increase. Study after study proves that increasing gratitude paves a way to positive emotions. And, when your daughter feels good about herself, she is able to see the good in others.

Robert Emmons one of the world leading gratitude researchers says:

“We’ve studied more than one thousand people, from ages eight to 80, and found that people who practice gratitude consistently report a host of benefits:


  • Stronger immune systems. Less bothered by aches and pains
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Exercise more and take better care of their health
  • Sleep longer and feel more refreshed upon waking


  • Higher levels of positive emotions
  • More alert, alive, and awake
  • More joy and pleasure
  • More optimism and happiness


  • More helpful, generous, and compassionate
  • More forgiving
  • Feel less lonely and isolated
  • More outgoing”

Gratitude literally changes thinking patterns. It helps girls get control of their Negative Nag and naturally lends itself to healthy relationships with themselves, with friends, family, and their world.

So, how can you bolster a sense of gratitude in your daughter?

  • Make every day one of Thanksgiving. Express your gratitude to your daughter and other members of the family. Share your sincere gratitude for who they are, not what they do. This means highlighting their qualities over their accomplishments or actions.
  • Make gratitude a family practice. Get crafty with your daughter and make a family gratitude jar. Transform an ordinary mason jar into a container for your gratitude and appreciation.   Decorate the jar with stickers, positive words, symbols and pictures that represent gratitude. Place the jar in a common area in the home, along with a stack of mini post-its. Each day, write a gratitude on a post-it and place in in the jar. The jar is also an effective visual reminder to be grateful.
  • Gratitude texts. It’s no secret that teens love technology. Make the most of their phones by sharing gratitude texts. Each day make a commitment to sending your daughter at least one gratitude text. You’ll inspire her to start seeing the positive in her world and spark her to respond with her own gratitude.
  • Nix the Negative Nag. When your daughter starts to express the comments of her Negative Nag, ask her how she can replace those thoughts with something more helpful and positive. Inquire with open-ended questions like, “How can you turn that around?” or “If you chose not to listen to the messages of the Negative Nag, what other message would you hear?” This encourages her to think out of the box and creatively discovery more positive ways of thinking, and responding.


Does your teen feel unpopular?

Wednesday, October 12th, 2016

By Erica Rood, M.A. Ed.

When you are a teen, popularity matters… a lot.

Teens derive a great deal of self-worth from their friends. Because the teen years are a time of huge transition and change, teens rely on their friends for validation, acceptance, and camaraderie.  Thus, being “popular” takes on a high degree of importance.   In fact, many teens believe being popular equals being happy.

As a parent, you might feel anxious, or even angry, if your daughter is not part of a group, if she is left out, or stays home on Saturday night. Your parental instinct may drive you to do something. But what can you? Gone are the days when you schedule play-dates. You are beyond your role as parent-as-administrator, and now need to take on the role as parent-coach, guiding and supporting your teen to understand and manage the delicate boundary between having friends and being popular.

Start here:

Affirm your teen’s strengths and values.

Despite their natural tendency to test the boundaries and resist parental influence, teens have a deep desire and need to receive affirmations from the adults in their lives. This means looking beyond their accomplishments and praising them for who they are, rather than what they do. When your teen receives respectful acknowledgements, her sense of self strengthens and she will be less inclined to rely on her friends for validation.

Talk to your teen about the difference between popularity and friendship.

Shed light on the misconception that being popular means being happy. Start a conversation about what it means to be authentic. Then, ask your teen: What does it mean to be a friend? What do you value in a friendship?   What are the qualities of a true friend? Challenge your teen to consider the problems with popularity.   Very often being popular requires teens to behave in a certain way, rather than exploring and sharing their authentic self. Maintaining a popular status can lead to stress, anxiety, and pressure. Conversations such as these will help broaden your teen’s perspective and understanding of popularity and genuine friendship.

Allow them to feel.

Acknowledge what your teen is going through. Whether she is striving to fit in with the popular crowd, feeling left out, or somewhere in between, her feelings are real. Validate her feelings of disappointment, sadness, anger, or loneliness.  Let her know that you are there for her and ready to listen when she is ready to talk. When she’s ready to talk, ask her open-ended questions that help her uncover solutions and best next-steps. In doing so, you will demonstrate your understanding, encourage her social problem-solving skills, and ultimately help her feel less alone.

4 ideas to discuss with your daughter about leadership

Tuesday, September 27th, 2016

Recently, there’s been a lot of attention on what makes a strong leader. It is an important question and extremely relevant in the lives of teen girls. More often than not, girls shy away from leadership roles. They fear they will be seen as bossy or controlling. Lack of confidence can steer girls into being followers rather than leaders. Even though they have leadership abilities, they may be afraid of being judged, ridiculed, or even worse, outcast.

Perhaps that’s why so many organizations have been requesting my workshop on leadership. When I teach girls about leadership, I start by sharing a simple premise: being a leader means being able to make decisions with confidence and assurance. It’s about setting a personal standard for behavior, which inspires and has a positive influence on others.

In my workshops I emphasize the importance of understanding personal values, habits and paradigms. Girls learn that choices, based on their values, influence the outcome of a situation, whether as ASB president, starting a club or simply finding their way through the maze of adolescence. As leaders, they develop a sense of integrity that gains respect without being labeled as bossy.

Use the following four ideas and questions to start a thoughtful and introspective discussion on what it means to be a leader:

  1. You are the choices that you make.  Ask: How is this true for you?
  2. Paradigms are perceptions, how you see things, people, and experiences. Ask: How do your perceptions shape your choices?
  3. Habits are powerful and important. Ask:  How do your habits impact your life at school? With friends? In sports?
  4. Values inform your choices. Ask: What are your values? What choices have you made based on your values?


Remember: Lead by example and share honestly.   You are your daughter’s model leader.


3-Ways to Help Your Teen Deal with Rejection

Wednesday, September 7th, 2016

By Erica Rood, M.A. Ed.
Hardships often prepare ordinary people for an extraordinary destiny. C.S. Lewis.


Sometimes it’s hard to see the extraordinary destiny that can lie within rejection. It is often accompanied by powerful forces, including blame, disappointment, and self-doubt. Coping positively with rejection requires a strong sense of self, a broad perspective, and resiliency. Many of these traits that are still forming in preteens and teens, but with a few simple tips, parents can teach their children how to turn a setback into an opportunity.


Honor their experiences.
Show your teen that you value her unique experience by listening to understand, rather than problem solve, and validating her unique point-of-view. When your teen feels understood and affirmed, she will feel more confident and prepared to handle challenges that come her way.


Try: Listen with an open mind and open heart. Do not interrupt or jump to conclusions. Instead give her space to talk and try to relate to her point of view. Validate the feelings you see her expressing, by saying “That must have been really hard for you. I’m sorry you had to go through that.”


Celebrate failure.
It sounds strange but when you view failures as opportunities for growth, your teen will do the same. Very often “failing” is an indication that we need to refocus or redirect. Failure is a valuable learning experience.


Try: Broaden her perspective around failure by asking open-ended questions like, “What could you do differently next time?” or “What do you think you’ll do next?”


Let go! Support vs. rescue.
This may be the hardest step. It’s natural to want to rescue your teen when she’s in a sticky situation, but she will never develop her resiliency muscle if she thinks you’ll solve all her problems. It’s important to become aware of the difference between support and rescue.


Try: Find opportunities to let her take the lead, then honor her experience, including if she fails. Bonus: Examine your experience with support vs. rescue. Notice when you tend to step in to “save” her in situations that perhaps, she could handle herself.

3 Ways to Coach your Teen in the Game of Life

Monday, August 22nd, 2016

By Erica Rood, M.A. Ed.

Adolescence is not a stage to simply get over, it is a stage of life to cultivate well….. If we see the adolescent period as just a time to wade through, a time to endure, we’ll miss out on taking very important steps to optimize the essence of adolescence –Dr. Daniel Seigel, author of Brainstorm.

How can you cultivate your son or daughter’s “essence” during the teen years? How can you truly optimize a stage that is so often filled with challenge?

Become your teen’s Parent-Coach!

As a Parent-Coach, you celebrate your teen’s budding independence and view your teen as an “adult in training.” As a Parent-Coach you provide the understanding and support your teen needs, leading to mutual respect, better communication and more compromise. You and your teen find the ability to embrace rather than fear the changes and challenges of the teen years.

Three Practices of a Parent Coach

“It’s who you are, not what you do that is important to me.”
Parent-Coaches understand the difference between pride and respect.

Showing pride in your teen can come across as patting yourself on the back. Showing respect for your teen is empowering. It solidifies her sense of self and boosts her self-esteem.

Action: Write down ten qualities that describe your teen’s strengths and values. Rather than expressing your pride in her accomplishments, try using the words “respect” and “honor” in acknowledgements of her unique qualities. For example, “I really respect your dedication to your friends. They are lucky to have someone so loyal.”

“Give me a moment to think about that.”
Parent-Coaches refrain from judging and resist the urge to immediately share their opinions and solutions.

Listen to your teen’s experiences with an open mind and open heart, and then take time to respond with consideration.

Action: When your teen shares, practice taking two deep breaths before responding. This allows you time to consider how to respond thoughtfully and non-judgmentally, and a moment of pause models calmness and non-reactivity, two skills she can practice in her own life.

“You’ve always been responsible so I believe I can trust you to stay out until 11:00.”
Parent-Coaches meet their teen’s needs by being fluid and flexible.

Your teen is wired to seek novelty and adventure. Learning from experience is key to becoming responsible and independent, but your teen also needs structure to help her cope with the new adventures in her life.

Action:  Calibrate with your teen to provide appropriate limits and set guidelines, and be ready to recalibrate as she becomes more responsible and capable. By honing your listening skills, you will recognize when she is ready for more freedom and independence.

Studies have shown that teens expect their parents to play a pivotal role in their lives. They need (and secretly desire) additional support and guidance. When you become your teen’s Parent-Coach, you become the trusted adult with whom they can openly ask questions and talk about problems, hopes, and dreams. Moreover, you create a relationship that supports their willingness to be open to your wisdom and influence.

Need more parenting action steps?

Email Erica to set up a free Discovery Session.


Four reasons why your daughter needs yoga

Tuesday, July 19th, 2016

By Erica Rood, M.A. Ed.

Brace Yourself

According to an NYU Child Study Center survey of 5th-12th grade girls, 59% were dissatisfied with their body shape and 47% said they wanted to lose weight because of photos they saw in magazines. Dove’s Global Study, The Real Truth About Beauty, found 72% of girls feel pressure to be beautiful. Teens Before Their Time found that satisfaction with body image decreases as girls move into adolescence.

Young girls face overwhelming pressure to be perfect. For many, the media shapes their definition of perfection. Girls are constantly exposed to images that suggest being perfect is entirely about outer appearance. They are persuaded to think that in order to be perfect, they must be thin and sexy, wear trendy clothes, use certain beauty products, and make it all appear effortless and natural. It’s an uphill battle and one that is compounded by a natural inclination for teen girls to compare themselves. Girls frequently size themselves up to their peers, digitally altered images they see on social media, movie and TV stars.   The mix of perfection and comparison can have detrimental effects on a teen girl’s self-esteem. In my coaching practice, I have seen it time and time again. Teen girls are dissatisfied with their looks, hyper critical of their body shape, style of dress, and even their abilities.


This preoccupation with perfection and competition undermines a girl’s confidence and devalues her inner-beauty. When girls start placing greater importance on how they look rather than what they are capable of, their sense of self-worth weakens. When they start comparing themselves and striving toward an unrealistic, and therefore unattainable, ‘ideal image’ their self-esteem suffers. They feel bad about themselves when they can’t meet an idealized expectation. When a girl’s self-esteem drops, it negatively affects her behavior at school, at home, and with her friends. She is less likely to speak up in class. She is more likely to be reactive or defiant at home. She is also more likely to engage in harmful activities with friends, such as experimentation with drugs and alcohol.

According to Dove Research: Rebuilding the Foundation of Beauty Beliefs,  When girls feel bad about their looks, 70% disconnect from life—avoiding normal daily activities including attending school or giving their opinion—which can put their dreams on hold, and jeopardize their potential as future leaders, decision makers, and role models.

Four ways yoga helps

1.  Yoga encourages a strong, confident attitude. Yoga promotes self-acceptance, non-judgment, and community. It teaches teens to respect themselves and make self-empowering choices.

Poses to try: Warrior 1, Warrior 2, and Mountain Pose.

2.Yoga embraces the uniqueness of every body. Yoga attracts people of all shapes and sizes and reminds us that strength comes in many forms. On the mat, girls are reminded that each day is different and their bodies are always changing. They are encouraged to find gratitude for what their bodies can do. 

Poses to try: Eagle, Tree, and Warrior 

3. Yoga is free from competition. Yoga is not about winning, nor being the best. Rather, it is about honoring yourself and being open to others’ points of view. Yoga encourages compassion, kindness, and non-violence.

Poses to try: Bridge, Wheel, and Camel

4.  Yoga reduces stress. Yoga offers time and space to find balance and peace. On the mat, girls learn to use their breath to calm their bodies and relax their minds. Almost all yoga classes end in a motionless pose called Savasana, which improves the skill of non-action and enhances the ability to relax.

Poses to try: Child’s Pose, Seated Twist, and Savasana.

All of my yoga workshops combine the physical practice of yoga with creative coaching exercises. Girls learn the benefits of yoga, while developing self-awareness, practicing life-skills, and finding their inner and outer strength.   Click here to learn more.