Preparing Our Children to Be Emotionally Healthy Teens (With Phinnah Chichi)

Janet’s guest this week is Phinnah Chichi, an author, lecturer, and parenting coach whose inspired ideas and worldview help to educate and empower both teens and their parents. Phinnah’s work and philosophy dovetail with Janet’s focus on infants and toddlers. Both prioritize communication, trust, and connection to encourage emotional and social skills, and ultimately to forge lasting parent/child relationships.

Transcript of “Preparing Our Children to Be Emotionally Healthy Teens (With Phinnah Chichi)”

Hi, this is Janet Lansbury. Welcome to Unruffled.

Today I’m welcoming a special guest to Unruffled, Phinnah Chichi. Phinnah is a parenting teens consultant and coach, and a life coach for teens and young adults. Her organization, Parenting Teens Solutions Limited, is dedicated to educating, empowering, encouraging, and equipping parents with the right tools to help themselves and their teens as they navigate through the changes and challenges of the adolescent journey. She’s also the host of the Parenting Teens Solutions Podcast and an Amazon bestselling author. Her most recent book is The Parenting Teens Navigation System.

I wanted to bring Phinnah to the podcast so that she could share all her wisdom for us as parents of younger children, to prepare us for the changes that happen in the teen years. And I think you’ll find that much of the work that you’re already doing is leading you in a positive direction.

Welcome, Phinnah. Thank you so much for being here.

Phinnah Chichi: I’m so pleased to be here. I’m excited.

Janet Lansbury: Me too. I just finished your book. You have this very comforting, encouraging voice that comes through your work. I know it’s in your podcast as well and in your courses, but I really felt it in your book. I felt the way that you talk to teens and children through the way that you were talking to us as parents in the book. And, you know, it’s respectful, it’s really honest, with a lot of empathy and care. And clearly you’re passionate about your work.

Phinnah Chichi: Thank you. Thank you so much. Yeah.

Janet Lansbury: I thought we could start by maybe bringing up the elephant in the room, which is this recent survey that came out, and it actually reflects a lot of recent studies that I’ve seen. That there’s this sharp rise in sadness and hopelessness, depression, and even suicide rates with, I guess it’s mostly girls and also lesbian, gay, and bisexual children and teens. What is your take on all this? Why do you think this is happening and what can we do to help our children in the early years so that they can manage the ups and downs of the teen years?

Phinnah Chichi: I think what’s happened over the years, you know, we’ve been hearing a lot, because I do a lot of coaching with young people, we’ve been hearing a lot about anxiety, depression. That’s all kind of been floating around. But I think something happened after Covid or something happened during Covid that then just made it worse. And there was an interruption in the social development of young people, their interaction with their friends. That is a very essential part of their growth. And what Covid did was just interrupt it. There was uncertainty. They’re not feeling safe. Parents as well, we didn’t even know what to do in the midst of all of that. So that was another contributing factor to it.

More than that, or just even away from that, we have issues with faulty thinking amongst young people, especially with teenagers, especially with girls. You know, teenagers are very quick to judge themselves, criticize themselves, and to speak very negatively about themselves. I have situations where I introduce affirmations to teenagers and I say, “Okay, you know what? Let’s start with saying, ‘I’m amazing.’” They go, “No, Phinnah, I can’t say that because I’m lying. I’m not amazing.” So there’s a lot of faulty thinking that’s happening within teenagers. They’ll be comparing themselves. Social media is not doing them a favor as well in that aspect. So they compare themselves. They think of themselves as, you know, worse than they actually are. And there’s no counteracting. Parents are not aware of it, so parents are not there to then give them the actual positive words to then use. So a lot of teenagers are thinking very badly about themselves.

I’ll give you an example. They might call a friend and a friend is busy, the friend doesn’t call them back in that second. Immediately, many teenagers will think, Oh, that friend does not like me anymore. Oh, there must be something I’ve done wrong. So they think of the worst-case scenario in those kind of situations. And you can just imagine that just building up, as time just goes on, it keeps building up. More and more negative thoughts coming through, coming through. And then it gets to a point where it’s uncontrollable. If you look at depression, if you look at suicidal thoughts, if you look at all that, a lot of it is based from faulty thinking. And this faulty thinking and these things that are not caught on time.

And then sometimes as parents as well, if we’re being quite strict on our children, like really, you know, down on the rules, down on the boundaries, you know, just being over-strict, it’s reaffirming those negative thoughts that our children have. And again, unfortunately we don’t even get to know that because they don’t tell us that in the moment.

Janet Lansbury: Right.

Phinnah Chichi: Unless we are really actively listening to them, unless we are paying so much attention. Can we find those loopholes? And sometimes what happens is that when parents then find those loopholes, the first thing parents will do is, “Oh, stop thinking that way.” That’s not going to help a teenager to stop thinking, that’s not the solution. We’re going to need to give our teenagers backup. Give them words to use, start to affirm them. You look for their strengths so that you keep on affirming them. The more they can hear the good things that they do, rather than the wrong things they’re doing, the better they can start to feel about themselves.

Janet Lansbury: Exactly.

Phinnah Chichi: A lot of times teenagers think, Well, there’s no point. I’m bad at this. I’m not good at this. I’m not this, I’m not that. And it’s almost as if the world is affirming those negative thoughts that they already have on the inside.

Janet Lansbury: Right. So they’re getting hooked into these stories about themselves.

Phinnah Chichi: Exactly. And it just goes on and on. They make up these stories based on the experiences they have around them. A friend disappoints them, a friend doesn’t call them, something happens, or a friend is hanging out with another friend. They start to make up all these stories about themselves.

Janet Lansbury: I think also, before we even validate, we’ve got to understand what’s giving them that impression, right? Is it because your friend didn’t call you back right away? Or, you know, I love how you always focus in your work on that active listening and how important that is. I work with parents on this in the early years, too. It takes us having to calm the reactive part of ourselves, calm that part that wants to fix it, that’s really uncomfortable that our child is feeling that way. Because by doing that, we’re shutting down the conversation instead of hearing what’s really going on. And having that openness and kind of saying less at first really helps. You also talk in your book about, it may not be the time in that moment to offer advice. I call it braving the silence, where we just reflect back, This is how you feel, ah. And not putting that fix on it that we all want to put on there. Or I do at least.

Phinnah Chichi: No, we all do. We always want to fix, because we’ve been helping them since they were young. It happens even with my 16-year-old. You know, during the Covid, she was really depressed. She just shut down. And as she would share with me –you know, sometimes– when she would share with me in tears, I’m tempted to fix the solution. Don’t think that way! But in my mind, I would tell myself, Okay, Phinnah, just shh shh, just be quiet. Just kind of listen, just listen. Just let her say everything. Even if what she’s saying does not make sense and you’re thinking, Wait, why is she thinking like this? Just let her say it all out and keep saying, I hear you. Thank you for sharing that with me. Thank you. Very uncomfortable because I want to help. I’m desperate to help.

Janet Lansbury: It’s a practice, it’s a constant practice that we have. And yeah, as I said, I believe in trying to start this as early as possible with young children too. And most of the parents listening here have younger children. And I so much wanted you on the podcast to help them stay on the track that I think I’m trying to help them be on. And to also see where maybe they need to even shift more as their children get older, and what to expect. And I remember when I had little ones– I have three that are all adults, young adults, now. How many do you have? You have four?

Phinnah Chichi: I have three.

Janet Lansbury: And your youngest is 16?

Phinnah Chichi: Yes, she’s 16.

Janet Lansbury: You’re a veteran of the teen years also.

Phinnah Chichi: Yes.

Janet Lansbury: When my kids were really young, I even thought a 10-year-old seemed really together and, you know, almost tough on the outside. But especially teenagers, I just had these images of them that they are kind of scary, these selfish people that won’t want to talk to you or won’t want to be open, that don’t need you anymore, maybe. And then when your child gets to that age, you realize, Whoa, they’re so vulnerable. I mean, it’s always the people with the harder shell on the outside, right, that are the most vulnerable. And that’s sort of what a teen is to me. You have to practice that seeing beyond to the person.

Phinnah Chichi: Mm-hmm.

Janet Lansbury: And that can be a challenge in the beginning because we can tend to, like you say in your book, see them as irresponsible, selfish, dependent on tech, disrespectful, always moody, lazy, badly behaved, don’t listen. And you suggest, divorce ourselves from these negative reports and claim better for your own teens.

Phinnah Chichi: Totally. It’s so important because if we don’t, then we actually talk to them like the labels that we call them. Just very unconsciously. And they know the labels that the world has on them. They know that adults think that they’re this way. And so they’re having every day to actually be defensive, fight off those labels. So they’re going through a lot as well.

Janet Lansbury: Yeah. And what that does is, as you said, it makes this divide between us. It’s harder to connect, right? It’s harder to empathize because we’ve decided this is this whole other kind of person now. It’s not the same little baby that we had or the same little toddler that we had. It’s this other thing. And we have to combat it and you know, keep it in line.

Phinnah Chichi: Exactly. I always tell parents, think back to when we were teenagers and you’ll get a bit of more understanding to your teen when you can reflect on how you were as a teenager.

Janet Lansbury: I noticed just today that you have a course, I guess it’s for the children, you have a webinar about transitioning from primary to secondary school. And I was thinking, Would I have loved that! We call it middle school out here, but how painful and just so self-conscious and awful everything was, and everything felt such a big deal. And you know, This is me forever.

Phinnah Chichi: It’s a tough period for young people. That stage is very tough, very tough.

Janet Lansbury: Yes. I think there are a lot of similarities to the toddler years, which is more my specialty. And it’s even harsher because they kind of need to be so outer-directed in a lot of ways. You know, it’s healing for them to have those social interactions that are beyond us. That’s so important, but that could also be a source of their anxiety too. But they need that so much.

What do you think about this idea that teens need to keep secrets from us, you know, not share certain things, have more privacy and things like that. Do you feel like that’s valid?

Phinnah Chichi: Yeah, in a way. What I feel is I’m very aware and I’m very open to the fact that I may not know everything about my teenagers. And that’s fine with me. When I was growing up, I didn’t tell my mom everything. So I will think that yes, they have some things that they won’t tell me. But my belief is that the important things, I will get to know. And it’s okay for them to share, you know, little things with their own friends. My desire for them is to have the right people that they can talk to and it’s to help them to build that healthy friendship.

So one of the things that I do, and I always share this with my daughter is, A good friend, what are the qualities that you want in a good friend? And so we talk through that because for me, once I know that she’s surrounded with good friends, then whatever she shares with these friends, there will definitely be a healthy conversation going on. It won’t lead her astray. And she knows that I’m there if she needs to talk to me about main things. And we’re quite close because I’m very big on the relationship. I focus a lot on our relationship over the rules that we have in the home. Actually, I never call them rules, I just call them agreements that we have.

Janet Lansbury: I love that about you. It goes beyond connect before you correct. The whole thing is about connecting. Even when you’re giving advice or having boundaries or you want to help your child do something differently, it’s got to all be couched in this connection. And it’s great that you value that and your book definitely values that because that’s everything, right? That’s what we leave teenage years with, is a relationship.

Phinnah Chichi: Yes, exactly. I speak to a lot of young adults as well who are not in great relationships with their parents because their parents focused more on the rules, Go and study, Go and do this, rather than the actual relationship. So now you hear a lot of estrangements, parents and their children. The kids have moved away not really communicating with their parents or thinking back to what their parents said when they were younger. So all these things are things that now, for parents of younger children, we are always encouraging them to stay focused on the relationship. This is the time to build this relationship, before they become young adults. So that in the young adult stage you enjoy the relationship.

And I was talking about friendship because there’s lots of changes of friendship groups in the teenage years. And so knowing for themselves who is a good friend and then attracting themselves to people who have those qualities. Of course, they need to share those qualities with their friends as well. I tell teenagers that the qualities you love about a friend are the qualities you should be giving as well as a friend. And so teenagers being equipped with knowing the right kind of friends to have, it really is a game-changer for them. Because they go through the middle school years and the high school years with that healthy sense of belonging. A lot of times when you see teenagers who are going through depression, anxiety, if you really break it down, they’ve had some friendship issues. They’ve had some friends that have disappointed them. And you know, that sense of belonging has kind of been interrupted for them. And so they internalize it and they start to think more negatively about themselves. So friendships is another big key for parents of young children to start to talk about to their children before even their children become teenagers, because that’s one area that really puts them down a lot.

My daughter as well, she struggled with friendships in the first year, we call it here, year seven. She had a bit of issues with friends and that really, you know, put her in a state of mind that she didn’t really want. And we had to keep talking about that. And actually the key, as a parent, you hear about the things that maybe the friends are doing, is not to speak against the friends. Because a lot of times when we talk against their friends, they’re very defensive. Even if their friends are saying wrong things to them, they’re quite defensive and protective of their friends.

Janet Lansbury: Oh, that was one of the big lessons my oldest daughter gave me. I knew, because I had been practicing this since they were little, not to judge my child. Because that’s going to put this wedge between you and then they’re not going to share, they’re not going to open up to you. Even if we say, Oh, don’t cry, don’t cry, it’s okay, in a way that’s saying, You can’t share that with me, and You shouldn’t feel that way, and so there’s something wrong with you for feeling that way. So even those tiny things. So I’m very aware of that. But then, yeah, when she was navigating an issue with a friend and she was complaining to me about the friend and how the friend had done this really hurtful thing and I did say something against the friend and my daughter said, “Don’t judge my friends, ever.”

I learned from that and I’ve mostly been able to follow that now. But yeah, that’s a big one. Not only can we not judge them, but we can’t even judge the people that they’re sort of complaining about. And I remember reading about this a long time ago, that it’s that safety in numbers that they feel, and it is a balm for them, for all their kind of open sores that they walk around with as teens and this vulnerability and all the fears and everything: Well, I’ve got my friends. And that is a lot of validation for them and in a positive way, usually.

Phinnah Chichi: In a positive way, yes. And a sense of belonging.

So one of the things that I will encourage parents, especially, you know, your audience of parents of younger children, is to introduce affirmations. Having our children to start speaking positively about themselves. It actually prepares them for those years ahead where, as the teenage brain is thinking, Oh, I’m not good in this, I’m not good in that. Having, I call it a tank full of positive affirmations, which will then increase their positive emotions, will help them in those times when those negative thinking and thoughts come through. So building that habit. Sometimes when we leave it until their teenage years, teenagers are like, Oh no, do I really need to say that? Oh, is that really true? But I don’t feel that way. But starting at a younger age to just increase the positive things that they think about themselves, how they know themselves, positive affirmations, building up things that increase their positive emotions will help them in those 10 years.

Janet Lansbury: Yes, that makes sense. And then coming from us too, when we notice things, trying to remember to say, Wow, that was so patient of you to wait for me while I had to take care of your sibling or whatever, and, Thank you. Or, You figured that out all by yourself! Noticing all those things.

Phinnah Chichi: Yeah, the listening part is a big part as well. We talked about that earlier. But yeah, that’s a key part because, you know, I’ll hear young people tell me, “Oh, you know, my mom doesn’t love me or my dad doesn’t care about me.” And I’ll be like, “But did they say that?” “No, but just the fact that they didn’t listen to me the way they reacted when I said something, it just makes sense. Very obvious that they don’t love me.” So there are a lot of conclusions that our children make.

Janet Lansbury: Right. And we know the parent wasn’t intending that message at all.

Phinnah Chichi: Totally not, the parent wasn’t intending that. The parent didn’t even know that they’d made such a conclusion. We’ve got to listen to them very actively.

Janet Lansbury: I love in your book, and I wish I would’ve done this as a parent of teens, I love how you offered this “new teen conversation” to have. It’s this beautiful kind of rite of passage, a connecting, acknowledging speech or communication that you would give. And you gave an explicit example. Wow. I would’ve loved to have that as a teen and I wish I would’ve given that to my teens, although they did all right. They navigated it all pretty well because I think I had prepared them for emotional intelligence and our relationship has always been solid and I feel really grateful for that. But boy, just all that acknowledging of what a difficult time this is. Difficult, but also positive. But you mentioned all the challenges. Can you talk a little about that?

Phinnah Chichi: Yeah, that was a game changer. With my daughter, I just remember that the night before her birthday, she was a little bit down. I was thinking, It’s your birthday, we’re going to do lovely things tomorrow. Why was she down? So I just kind of offered her like, you know, “What’s going on? It’s your birthday tomorrow.” And she goes, “I’m worried.” And she opened up to me, she said, “I’m worried. I don’t know what kind of a teenager I’m going to be. I heard so many things about teenagers.” And so I came in, sat down, and I just kind of heard her, listened to her. And then I started, I said, “Do you mind if I share some things with you?” And she said, “Yeah, go for it.” And then I started to talk her through this. And it was the feedback she gave me that made me realize, she said, “Mom, thank you. I needed that.” So teenagers are worried about their teen years. She said, “I needed that and that’s really, really helped me.”

And I could see through the years, there’s some things, when she goes through some challenges, she will note it down that, Yeah, Mom did talk about that. So then what do I do about these challenges? Sometimes I tell her, “Okay, go think through it.” Because sometimes I want her to have the solutions rather than me solving it for her. But that made me realize that this is something that is so vital. And so I started sharing that as well with my sisters who then shared it with their own kids that were turning 13 and we found out that this was something, it really just opened their eyes and prepared them for the teen years. So yes, it worked because there’s validation in it.

I always tell teenagers to go out there and look for at least three to five values that you want to hold onto. And actually go Google about the values, you know, what are the kind of things that you need to do to actually showcase that you are practicing those values? So if you choose commitments, what are the kind of things you do in a day to show that you are committed? Just to get them also used to choosing the things for themselves. It’s not about parents choosing the values for them now that they’re teens. It’s about them taking the responsibility and choosing it and saying, You know what, this year I want to be more courageous, or This year I want to be more determined, or This year I want to be more hardworking. They get to choose it and they get to be accountable for it. So it’s definitely been something that has helped lots of teenagers. So yeah, I’m so happy that I got that.

Janet Lansbury: And were you already working with parents and teens professionally?

Phinnah Chichi: Oh yes, yes, yes. I was already doing that. Yeah.

Janet Lansbury: So you were basing it on everything you knew about teens?

Phinnah Chichi: Everything I knew and everything I was practicing at the time. And the thing is, when I get these ideas and it works, I then share it with parents. Like, Okay, you know what, why don’t you try this? Why don’t you try that? But one thing I noticed about parents of new teenagers is that we come in with, I won’t call it more threatening, it’s more like, Now that you’re a teenager, don’t do this. Now that you’re a teenager, don’t do this, don’t do this, don’t do this. So there’s a lot of, don’t, don’t, don’t!

Janet Lansbury: All the things that we did, right?

Phinnah Chichi: Exactly. In the book I wrote about disempowering conversations and empowering conversations. So every time when we’re talking to teenagers about the things they shouldn’t do, don’t do this, don’t do this, don’t do this. It’s like, Okay, then what should they do? They don’t have the skills that they need. We need to actually empower them with the skills, rather than all the don’t dos, don’t dos.

Janet Lansbury: Exactly. And it reminded me of, one thing I work with parents is to prepare them, even with your toddler or your one-year-old, to just tell them in simple language what’s going to happen when they go to the doctor or go to a new situation of some kind and without putting any value judgements or this is going to be great or anything like that. Just saying, Oh, so this is what you can expect and this may happen and this part may hurt. You know, all the things. And how empowering that is for them because then they can come into the situation sort of knowing, which is a great feeling to have when you’re going into this scary new situation, right? Like the teen years. To know and to know, Oh, all these feelings that I’m having or that I might have are to be expected.

Phinnah Chichi: Exactly.

Janet Lansbury: What a gift that is.

Phinnah Chichi: Beautiful gift, beautiful gift. And it also helps them deal with uncertainty. They’re able to manage any kind of uncertainty because we’re being open. I love what you shared there because sometimes parents will think, Oh, but do they need to know all that? But it’s important for them to know. It actually increases their vocabulary, it increases their sense of self and their confidence about what they know. You know, they’re going to the doctors, they kind of know what to expect. Those are all the things that actually help to build a confident child. So that’s great. I love what you shared there. That’s great.

Janet Lansbury: And then they can actually even almost, maybe not look forward to all of the hurtful parts, but they can look forward to, Okay, how am I going to handle that? Because I know that might happen, but I can handle that. Underneath it all it’s like, I can, because this is par for the course. This is what everyone goes through. Gosh, I really wish I would’ve thought of that about the teen conversation. I mean, your book alone for that is worth it.

And also the teen success tips. I was so moved by these, I thought, I need these for myself. Like, for example, I wrote a couple of these down, so this is number three: “Do not base your expectations for today on what happened yesterday. Today is a totally new day and it can only be totally different if you expect it to be. Play your part today. Expect the best from yourself and do your very best. Remember that you’re amazing.” And, I love number five, too: “The key to failure is trying to please everyone. The key to success is doing the right thing, no matter what else others are doing. Today, choose success because you deserve it.” Yeah. I kind of get teared up reading some of these. Because I need them for myself. What a gift. Really.

Phinnah Chichi: Thank you. It was teenagers I used to work with first, years and years ago, and then I realized that I’ve got to talk to parents as well, through talking to teenagers. So yeah, I’ve got a big passion for them. I’m very passionate about teenagers.

Janet Lansbury: Yeah, it’s a beautiful time. I mean, I feel that way about the toddler years and I feel like there’s a part of me emotionally that relates so much to that. But checking out your work and reading this book, it’s made me feel that in myself about the teen years. That I have those same yearnings, I have some of those same insecurities and needs and yeah, I feel like I’m still navigating some of this. And maybe it is just a life journey that just sort of comes on very harshly in those certain years. But it’s beautiful too.

Phinnah Chichi: It’s a beautiful time for them. Yeah.

Janet Lansbury: I also love in your book how you break everything down, your advice down, into what you call “codes” for relating to our children, giving them the boundaries they need. You call boundaries “agreements.” And these are parenting navigation codes: the helpful codes, the unhelpful codes, and then the mental health and wellbeing codes, which are for us, right? As parents. Because you’re not leaving us out here, and what we should do with teens. You remind us we cannot give what we don’t have. Yeah. So that’s obviously a really important part of this, that we can’t just be the parent that we want to be unless we fuel ourselves.

Phinnah Chichi: Totally. And those are practices that I do. These are things that I do myself. Because we can’t pour out from an empty cup, as they say. The priority so much amounts to take care of ourselves first. And then we have what to give to our children. We have the compassion, the empathy, the calmness, you know. So sometimes things can happen. And if you are not in a state of calm, if you’re not in a place where you’ve practiced self-control, then you won’t have the right tools to actually pass on to your children.

And children watch us. There’s a quote that says, “A lot of things are caught more than they’re taught.” You know, so they catch things from us. That positive energy that we have, that calmness and gentleness, that compassion that we have. But we have to take care of ourselves to be able to give that, that doesn’t just come out automatically. With all the things that are going on in the world today, self-care is so vital for every parent. It’s actually number one. And from that, you can then give yourself.

Janet Lansbury: Can you talk a little specifically about your recommendations for self-care?

Phinnah Chichi: Yes. One of my first things is gratitude. I fill out a gratitude journal. The main thing for me is in the mornings, I spend time meditating. If I spend time with myself, just get myself to a place of, Okay, what have I done? What do I need to do better? What do I need to do for today? Also, my expectations about my children, as well. I bring in, you know, in my thoughts, my expectation of my kids. Just wishing them well and also just staying positive about them, whatever it is that they’re doing. Just being positive about that. And so that’s how I start my mornings. I make sure that I do that. I take care of myself. I do my exercises, I’m trying to be more consistent with it. But those kind of things, they keep my mind very settled.

I’m very intentional about how I am when I go out there. Making sure that I’m kind, I’m compassionate, that I’m positive. I told someone this the other day, I said, I’m very allergic to negativity. I can’t deal with negativity, I’ll just walk away. So that positive energy that I intentionally equip myself with every day is what I take out when I go out, is what I take out when I talk to parents and talk to teenagers. Then in the evenings, I write in my journal, you know, what was good about today, what I could have done better. But I always end it with, I’m grateful for today. I’m just grateful. Pick one or two or three things that I’ve done today. I’m grateful. Like this podcast is going to be part of my things in my journal this evening.

Janet Lansbury: Aw, well, I hope it’s on the good list.

Phinnah Chichi: Oh yeah, totally on the good list.

Janet Lansbury: I’ve loved connecting with you. This has been really fun. And you know, I’m a new fan of yours, but I’m a definite fan.

I just want to share one more thing from your book, which is where you give this list about parenting teen quotes that will help guide you on your journey, A to Z. So B is “Believe in your teens.” This again, to me, starts from birth. Believing in your child as a basically capable person who’s very different from you. It’s not going to be a mini-you, it’s somebody else that we’re going to see unfold in all these different ways. And in the teen years, wow, you really see them branching out and it’s so, so fascinating. If you could see it that way and not be threatened, you know, be interested and be open to it. But I especially love Y, which is, “Remember your great example is not by being perfect. Your teens prefer You. The imperfect you, the growing you, the you who makes mistakes and apologizes. The you who listens to them. The you who is joyful and forgiving. The you who speaks to them with respect, they’re learning respect from you. The you who will never give up on them, no matter the mistakes they make.”

It’s a good letter.

Phinnah Chichi: I remember when I wrote that, I remember it was first thing in the morning. It just came up in my head and I just wrote it down so quickly. It’s a big one for me, yeah, it’s a big one. Because it puts us in that situation where we have to be so conscious about what we are doing as parents. We have to be very conscious because we are their great example. And that’s how we stay connected with them. That’s how our relationship with them, you know, blossoms and evolves. Just remembering that we are that good example to them. So it’s vital. It’s everything.

Janet Lansbury: Talking about your morning routine, what can parents do if they’re so busy? They have to go to work. They’ve got all these other maybe children or challenges going on. And what if they have hardly any time or energy for any of this? What should they focus on?

Phinnah Chichi: I would say they should make the time because it’s priority. And it doesn’t have to take long. It can even just be waking up about 10 minutes earlier than normal and just having that time for themselves. Even if it’s two or three words that they repeat to themselves every morning for five, 10 minutes or even five minutes, even probably over a cup of coffee. Just say something to yourself. It’s about what you tell yourself, because we want to keep on building those positive emotions. So prioritize that, create it, even if it’s five minutes to yourself. It could even be when you’re brushing, just say some things. I have some little affirmations on my mirror in the bathroom, so when I’m brushing I can just look at those words, you know, and just say some things to myself.

Again, what we’re trying to do is just build up those positive emotions. Because we’re going to need it throughout the day. Rather than give so much time to all the stresses out there in the world, let’s create some time. It’s priority. Create some time to look after you. It doesn’t have to be an hour. It can be a few minutes. You’ll find out that if you’re spending five minutes on it, because you then see the results of what’s going on. You’ll want to spend more time, just to really, really enjoy that space for yourself. Really good. And it helps you with how you then interact with people out there in the world, once you get up in the morning. Your relationships, your spouses, your friends, your work colleagues, you’re kind of in a better frame of mind because you’ve looked after you first. So it’s really key.

Janet Lansbury: I love it. I want to call you first thing in the morning.

I wanted to also mention to everyone that on March 24th, Phinnah’s going to be releasing her new online workshop. It’s a self-paced workshop called Parenting A New Teen. And that sounds wonderful. I’ve been talking a lot about Phinnah’s book, The Parenting Teens Navigation System. So you’ll definitely want to check that one out. And yeah, thank you so much again for sharing with us today and hanging out with me. I really appreciate it.

Phinnah Chichi: I appreciate it too. Thank you so much. I’ve enjoyed our conversation. As you said, we can go on and on.

Janet Lansbury: We could.

Phinnah Chichi: It’s been beautiful. Thank you so much. And thank you for what you do as well because it’s so important. Just toddler years, those early years, is actually key. So yeah, thank you so much for what you do and for the lives that you are transforming and changing as well. We appreciate you. Thank you.

Janet Lansbury: Thank you.

You can learn more about Phinnah and her work through her website, And I’ll also be linking to her book The Parenting Teens Navigation System in the show notes.

Thank you so much for listening. We can do this.

I have good news! Finally, all in one place, you can get the whole picture on my respectful, empathic discipline approach. It’s right here at The feedback from parents and professionals has been incredible and I’m so excited to share this with you!


1 Comment

Please share your comments and questions. I read them all and respond to as many as time will allow.

  1. Any other suggestions for “graduates of Janet Lansbury?” My oldest is 8 so not quite a teen but I’m curious if there are other parent educators who share your philosophy and approach but talk about using it with older kids.

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