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Tracey Burns – Helping Teens Build Confidence, Resilience & Strength

Content by: Tracey Burns

Watch the full interview below or listen to the full episode on your iPhone HERE.

Stu: This week, I’m excited to welcome Tracey Burns to the podcast. Tracey is the founder of Unstoppable Girls, which provides coaching and programs to support girls on their journey to become more confident and resilient. In this episode, we discuss the telltale signs of teenage trauma, strategies to manage volatile parent-teen relationships and guidelines for the use of digital devices. Over to Tracey.

Audio Version

Some questions asked during this episode:

  • What are the tell-tale signs of teenage trauma?
  • How can we manage a volatile parent-teenager relationship?
  • What are your thoughts on social media use with teenagers?

Get more of Tracey

If you enjoyed this, then we think you’ll enjoy this interview:


The views expressed on this podcast are the personal views of the host and guest speakers and not the views of Bega Cheese Limited or 180 Nutrition Pty Ltd. In addition, the views expressed should not be taken or relied upon as medical advice. Listeners should speak to their doctor to obtain medical advice.

Disclaimer: The transcript below has not been proofread and some words may be mis-transcribed.

Full Transcript

Stu

(00:03)

Hey, this is Stu from 180 Nutrition. And welcome to another episode of The Health Sessions. It’s here that we connect with the world’s best experts in health, wellness, and human performance in an attempt to cut through the confusion around what it actually takes to achieve a long lasting health. Now I’m sure that’s something that we all strive to have. I certainly do. Before we get into the show today, you might not know that we make products too. That’s right. We are into whole food nutrition and have a range of super foods and natural supplements to help support your day. If you are curious, want to find out more, just jump over to our website, that is 180nutrition.com.au and take a look. Okay. Back to the show.

Stu

(00:44)
This week, I’m excited to welcome Tracey Burns to the podcast. Tracey is the founder of Unstoppable Girls, which provides coaching and programs to support girls on their journey to become more confident and resilient. In this episode, we discuss the telltale signs of teenage trauma, strategies to manage volatile parent-teen relationships and guidelines for the use of digital devices. Over to Tracey.

Stu

(01:12)
Hey guys, this is Stu from 180 Nutrition and I am delighted to welcome Tracey Burns to the podcast. Tracey, how are you? Good morning.

Tracey

(01:19)
Hello. Good morning. Well, I’m good. I’m good. A lot of my family are hit with COVID, so they’re not so good.

Stu

(01:28)
Are you self isolating? Are you in the family room?

Tracey

(01:35)
Yeah. Steering clear of everyone. It’s quite nice.

Stu

(01:36)
Perfect. Perfect. Well, look, first up thank you for offering some time. I know that you’ve got lots to share today and I’ve got lots of questions that I want to ask you, but before we get into those questions, I would love it if you could tell our listeners a little bit about yourself, please.

Tracey

(01:52)
Yes. Sure. So I am a teen and family life coach. I have a business called Unstoppable Girls, which actually I’m going to change to Unstoppable Teens because I think there is just as much of a need for boys as there is for girls.

Stu

(02:10)
Yeah.

Tracey

(02:11)
So really I partner with parents and work with the parents and the teens, I guess, to develop their mindset, to help them overcome anxiety. If they’re unconfident, I help them to become confident. Work on self-esteem. So yeah, lots of mindset tools and coaching for teens and the parents.

Stu

(02:36)
Brilliant. Okay. Yeah. We’re much needed in this crazy digital world of distractions. So, question then, Unstoppable Girls or Teens, in your opinion, in order to become unstoppable, what traits would you consider to be required for youngsters at this point in time?

Tracey

(02:58)
I think for me, it really does come down to mindset. And it’s interesting because I always ask the teens that I’m working with, “What does it mean to be unstoppable for you?” And the two common things that they tell me is that I like myself and I stop worrying about what other people think of me. Which is really interesting because I guess for me being unstoppable was having that really strong sense of self, which actually I find teens do struggle with, which sounds kind of crazy, but there’s a real struggle with their identity and sense of self, and there’s a real lack of self belief. So I think if you can have strong sense of who you are, strong belief in yourself and then the courage to be you, that for me is what constitutes being unstoppable.

Stu

(03:51)
Do you think that is something that is more required now? Because I’m just thinking, I’m child of the ’70s and the ’80s. And if you rewind back to those days, when I was a teen, I wasn’t thinking about anything like mindset and any of these traits, the confidence. So I just kind of got out and did Stuff. And I don’t know whether that is a consequence of the way that we communicate now with social media that’s delivering a constant message that perhaps we aren’t good enough, and here is a picture of what good enough looks like 24/7. I don’t know. Is this a new thing or was it always been here, but perhaps not addressed?

Tracey

(04:36)
I think it’s always been there, but I think as you mentioned that with technology, the internet, social media, it’s just like 10X in terms of today. Being a teen today, I think is way more challenging than what it was like to be a teen in our day. But also I think to your point, when I was a teen, I was kind of just left to get on with it.

Stu

(05:06)
Yeah.

Tracey

(05:06)
And I’m not so sure that’s a good thing because I know then in my adult life, the kind of struggles I’ve had with mindset, with self-belief, with self-esteem and I’m far out. I wish I’d been taught this when I was younger because then I might not have struggled so much. And I see that struggles too with the parents I work with. That what I’m teaching the teens, often the parents need to work on too. So from that standpoint, the parents are the ones that were teenagers in the error that we were. So yeah, for me, interesting.

Stu

(05:48)
So tell me then about perhaps the telltale signs of teenage trauma. Now, for our listeners, we know each other. You’ll know that I’ve got two 13 year olds and a 16 year old. It’s a mad house, 24/7. But I don’t know whether I would know the signs of trauma versus just the signs of teenage madness.

Tracey

(06:17)
Yeah. And that’s really interesting because well, first let’s talk about trauma because trauma can be as a one-off incident or event that’s happened, that’s a traumatic event or experience, or it can be ongoing. And trauma can take so many different forms. There’s physical abuse, domestic violence, sexual abuse, even natural disasters. The floods that we’ve had in this area is considered a traumatic experience and can cause a trauma response in not just teens, in adults too. Similarly, with the pandemic and COVID. There were so many, or a messy divorce.

Stu

(06:59)
Yeah.

Tracey

(07:00)
There’s so many things. And what’s interesting, I think I was reading up and I’m not sure what the Study is. So I can’t quote that, but I was reading that 61% of teens have experienced at least one traumatic event in their life, which is pretty huge. And also the teens I work with, I do see trauma in the teens that I work with for all of those reasons that I’ve just mentioned.

Tracey

(07:27)
And I think coming back to your question in terms of what are those telltale signs, there’s a few. But I think one in particular, if they start to have really diSturbed sleep, night terrors, you’re noticing panic attacks, anxiety and depression can be a telltale sign of trauma. Really big emotional outbursts, particularly anger, or getting physical and violent can be a sign as well of trauma. But again, it is interesting.

Tracey

(08:07)
I think you’ve got to know your teen and know when… withdrawing, that’s another sign. Withdrawing from social interactions, from the family and being withdrawn generally. Yes, that can be a typical teen behavior. But I think as a parent, we’ve got to see, well, what changes are you seeing in your teen that all is kind of sudden and a surprise, like fears coming out of nowhere, anxiety coming out of nowhere, panic attacks. All of those things are warning signs to parents to try and go, “Okay, what’s really going on here?”

Stu

(08:44)
Yeah. Now that you make a good point, I’m just likening every one of those points to what’s happening in our household right now. And then at the same time, I’m thinking, what about the parents? I’m traumatized just by raising three kids.

Tracey

(08:57)
I think that’s an interesting point because I do think there is a lot of trauma in parents. And so, if parents actually haven’t addressed trauma themselves, then that will get passed on to the kids.

Stu

(09:13)
Right.

Tracey

(09:13)
And another of thing with trauma and I speak from my own experience, I had quite a traumatic childhood, is quite often you will disassociate from that traumatic event or experience. So it can be a few years before it really shows up.

Stu

(09:29)
Right.

Tracey

(09:30)
Because then there’s a sense of actually this did happen. And then the younger comes, it’s like all these stages of trauma before they finally accept what’s happened. So it can be even harder for parents to notice when trauma has happened, because there might be a period where you’re not really seeing any of the signs.

Stu

(09:49)
Yeah. Totally. And like you said, we have experienced so many events over the past two to three years that it’s kind of hard to even pinpoint perhaps whether it’s trauma or just our reaction to what’s happening around us at any given time, because the world has gone so crazy.

Tracey

(10:09)
Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. Just almost existing today.

Stu

(10:11)
That’s it. Just going because you just got to get through [crosstalk 00:10:13]. Exactly right. So if we do think that there is signs and symptoms of trauma in our household with our teens, because they are manifesting any of the given points that you outlined before, where would we start? Because obviously, a teen just being a teen is kind of this mixed bag of emotions and hormones and growth and confusion. I wouldn’t know where to start.

Tracey

(10:49)
Yeah. And I think that really comes down to then the relationship that you have with your teens and the connection you have. Because ideally, if there’s a strong relationship and a positive relationship there, and you have a strong connection, your teen will feel safe in coming to you to talk about what’s happened. However, if the teen doesn’t feel safe to share, if they feel like that by opening up, they’re going to be judged, criticized, shamed, not acknowledged and not taken seriously, then they’re not going to open up to you.

Tracey

(11:28)
So the first thing for me with any teen is making sure you’ve got those foundations right. That you do have that strong relationship. Otherwise, they’re turning to peers for support. And the problem is that often the peers are going through the same. Maybe the peers have gone through a traumatic experience, so they’re not equipped. They don’t have the wisdom or the life skills to be able to support each other. They really do need that caring adult in their lives. So yeah, connection is key.

Stu

(12:00)
That’s right. Yeah, it’s very, very tricky. Isn’t it? Because obviously, oftentimes they’re turning to their friends and their friends are influenced by what they’re out online and they have personalities that they follow on whatever social channel that may be, that they aspire to be, which are perhaps in and of themselves potentially quite damaging because it doesn’t seem to be real. It’s like it’s almost the internet’s lens on healthy is different to one what my perception of healthy is.

Tracey

(12:36)
Yeah. Absolutely.

Stu

(12:38)
Volatility then with a parent teenager relationship, because obviously, and I’m laughing. I’m laughing because-

Tracey

(12:48)
Do you need some help too.

Stu

(12:51)
Just come in and just move in or clear out at the spare room. But you know what it’s like, the age old joke of the moment, your 12 year old becomes a teenager, that’s it. The brain switches off and it’s just anger and rage, and there’s no logic or rhyme or reason. How do we manage that? If you just, if you’ve got stroppy teenagers that just feel like they’re entitled and the world owes them everything, but we still have a life to run as well. Right?

Tracey

(13:21)
Yeah. And I think you mentioned the brain quickly there. With the teens, and I think it’s important to know this, their emotional brain is fully formed from that. So the prefrontal cortex that we have fully developed as adults, that kind of reasoning, judgment, sound decision making is not fully formed in teens. So hence why you see these. I mean, some parents will say to me, it’s like having toddlers again and tantrums. Is why you see these big emotions. And I think when there is volatility in the home, often it will be a power struggle between the parents and the teens. So when I’m working with the parents, I’m always talking about understanding their triggers because we need to be the ones who remain calm.

Stu

(14:12)
Yeah. We got to be the adults. It’s funny that you should say that because we always, a few weeks ago, we had a debate in our house and we got lots of back chat from our eldest daughter. And I did say, “Well, look, we just understand that your brain isn’t fully developed. So this is probably why you’re reacting this way.”

Tracey

(14:32)
Oh, that would’ve triggered her.

Stu

(14:34)
Didn’t go down too well.

Tracey

(14:37)
Yeah. I’m not surprised.

Stu

(14:39)
Is that a strategy that you would use?

Tracey

(14:40)
No. And I think what’s really interesting with, teens are getting critical judgment every minute, every hour of every day. They’re connected 24/7. They’re getting critical judgment from peers, from social media, from the internet, from their teachers. And so if we want to not… if we want to have a calm relationship with our teens in the house, I forgot my train of thought there, where I was going with that. [crosstalk 00:15:16] hate that?

Stu

(15:16)
I do.

Tracey

(15:17)
Yeah. Then that’s I think it comes back to building positive relationships. So if they’re getting this criticism and judgment constantly, often we parents always telling our teens where they’re going wrong. They’re told who to be, what to do, how to be all the time. So if we can shift, I guess, from that negative focus with our teens to more positive interactions where we are focus on encouraging them. And I’m not talking about just praising them for their efforts, but encouraging them.

Stu

(15:55)
So that was going to be my next question, because that for me, is it a fine line between over parenting because you have this potential narcissist set up that could occur. If you are prepping your child, you are the queen, you’re the king. You cannot fail. You can do everything right. Everything that you have done is the best it can ever be. And then they go out into the workplace thinking that they are, “Here I am world, give me everything that I deserve.” And they realize that the world is not that. It’s not easy. And I do start at the bottom of the ranks.

Stu

(16:32)
And I know that coming from, when I was younger where if you played a sport, there were winners and there were losers. And if you weren’t good enough, you didn’t get the medal or the certificate. But nowadays, is like there is a certificate for everyone and there are no losers. And I don’t know whether that’s a good thing. And so for that, that over parenting versus resilience and setting up the child to realize that they have to work hard and everything isn’t just going to fall in their laps. Fine line.

Tracey

(17:07)
It is a fine line. But when I talk about encouragement, it’s encouraging efforts. It’s encouraging them to get out of their comfort zone. It’s encouraging them to try new things. And with over parenting, I think often the mistake we can make is wanting to protect our teens from anything bad happening. And to jump in and to fix for them, to be the problem solver. We have to help them become critical thinkers. We have to help them creatively solve problems. And we have to help them make mistakes. Let them make mistakes.

Tracey

(17:47)
They’ve got to learn from their mistakes. That’s what builds resilience. So yes, there’s a fine line, but it’s almost like the role of parenting. You’re going from that kind of helicopter parent to more of a supportive and a guiding role, and taking on more of a coach’s role when you are parenting them.

Stu

(18:10)
Yeah.

Tracey

(18:11)
And just on parenting styles. There are certain parenting styles and approaches that will create more confident, more resilient kids. And those that don’t. So if you are quite authoritarian in your parenting approach, which is that probably how you were parented, it certainly was how I was parented. It was like, you’re seen and you’re not heard. You do as you’re told. You blindly obey. And that doesn’t help with confidence. It doesn’t help with self-esteem, it doesn’t help with building resilience.

Stu

(18:57)
Does it help though with building independence? Because I would put myself in more of that old-school authoritarian style because I want the kids to be independent, i.e., you’re cooking dinner tonight. You are going to do this. You’ve got chores to do. We all live in this house, you’re going to help out. Because now that you’re 16, guess what, you can wash clothes, you can tidy up and you can cook a meal outside of just eggs on toast.

Tracey

(19:29)
Yeah.

Stu

(19:30)
Because that strict traditional style parenting compared to modern day strategies where your kids having a [tenty 00:19:39] and it’s all about the naughty corner and all of this kind of craziness, I look at perhaps doesn’t foster the same amount of respect as it used to, although there is that fine balance of respect versus fear because-

Tracey

(19:52)
Yeah.

Stu

(19:53)
So I don’t know. But prior to, many years ago, I worked in schools and I worked in a Catholic school that was very strict and traditional, and there was a lot of respect, but probably fear based. And then I worked in just a standard elementary school and it was just, it’s like hell. Kids, there was zero respect. Kids knew that they had… they could get away with pretty much anything. And I think that translated to maybe their home life and parenting styles, things like that. So I guess question is traditional versus modern day. Is there a right and wrong? Is better than the other?

Tracey

(20:33)
Oh, look, I don’t know if you… there was a program recently. I think it was on channel 9. And it was kind of overproduced, but it was looking at different parroting styles and seeing which one was the best. Look, and I think there’s no right or wrong. You have to parent the way that feels right for your family, for your values. But understanding, I guess the positive and the negative impacts that a particular style can have. When I hear you talking about getting your girls to cook and be independent, that’s teaching them important skills. That for me is not authoritarian.

Stu

(21:15)
Right.

Tracey

(21:15)
And there’s a difference. Because you kind of got that authoritarian, which is just, “You do as I say. I’m the parent. I’m in control. You do not matter. Your opinion does not matter.” Versus authoritative, which is having, I guess, consistent boundaries in place and consequences. And that is encouraging. What you are doing is you are encouraging your kids to be independent. If they’re cooking for themselves, a great skill. It’s quite different. So I think authoritative for me is, it’s still a strict style of parenting, but it takes into consideration the needs of the kids too. And it’s more positive. Authoritarian is punishment. I authoritative is more positive discipline and using natural consequences.

Stu

(22:15)
Got it. Got it.

Tracey

(22:16)
Does that make sense?

Stu

(22:16)
Yeah, it does. No, absolutely it does. And I see that there is a fine balance between the two.

Tracey

(22:22)
Yeah. And here’s the thing, right. Stu, what’s really interesting is when we are triggered as parents, we will always default back to how we were parented.

Stu

(22:35)
Right.

Tracey

(22:35)
So for example, my parents were very authoritarian. And so when I became a mom, I was really clear on the type of parent that I wanted to be, which was everything my parents weren’t because there was no relationship or connection really there. And… Oh, I keep doing this, keep forgetting my train of thought. Where was I going with this?

Stu

(23:01)
You were mentioning that we back to the type of-

Tracey

(23:11)
Yeah. So here’s the thing. So if I get triggered by my kids or I see this particularly with my husband. You default back to that authoritarian, that sense of, “You do as I say. I’m the parent. You don’t tell me. Don’t you dare speak to me in that manner.” So it’s really interesting because we’ve got to have the awareness ourselves to know the best approach when it comes to, I guess, getting the best out of your kids. And here’s the thing, we all want the best for our teens, but then how are we showing up? Are we giving the best of ourselves to our kids too?

Stu

(23:52)
Yeah.

Tracey

(23:53)
What are we role modeling to them? Because they’re watching everything and they’re learning from us. I have a parent say, “I want you to help work on my daughter’s confidence?” Then the question is, are you confident as a parent? Are you confident in life, in how you show up? Because you have to role model the behavior you want to see in your kids.

Stu

(24:20):
So is that a [tag 00:24:21] teen? Then if somebody were to approach you and said her daughter isn’t confident, would you discuss together?

Tracey

(24:29)
Yeah. It’s interesting because coaching them with me is if I’m coaching one on one with a teen, then there’s always follow up with a parent. So it’s all well and good me giving these tools and strategies and tips. But if the parents aren’t on board, and know how to best help their teen, then it doesn’t work. It doesn’t work if it’s just between me and the teen.

Stu

(24:57)
And how long would you typically need? And I understand that is whole gamut of differences here with children and behaviors and parents and things like that. But how long would you need to typically coach a child into changing or I guess into a better space than they were previously?

Tracey

(25:19)
Oh, God. That’s like, it really depends on what you are working with. Some teens I can get results really, really quickly. They’re 100% on board, 100% committed to change. It’s like anything.

Stu

(25:40)
Right. Yeah. You got to want to.

Tracey

(25:42)
They see that they want… they want to improve or they want to work on something. They’re committed. Then you’ll see great results. If you have a resistant teen that’s there because the parents have told them to be there-

Stu

(25:53)
Yeah, forget it.

Tracey

(25:54)
That is going to take longer. And just so you know, I’ve worked with teens with social anxiety versus general anxiety versus confidence. So it really depends. If it a more anxious teen, then that would take potentially longer. So there’s no kind of hard and fast rule.

Stu

(26:15)
And what are the most commonly shared traits then of the teens that you are coaching? You mentioned anxiety and confidence. I mean, is there any one or two that are just, yes, I’ve seen this across the board?

Tracey

(26:31)
I think that, I guess the common trait I see, which if you unpack that you get to something else, is fear. So fear of judgment, fear of fitting in, fear of failure, fear of rejection. They’re so driven by fear that they’ll often change who they are just to fit in with a certain group. But really when you start to unpack that fears too, underneath what comes down to with every teen is their beliefs about themselves. Because underneath of fear of judgment is a sense that I’m not good enough or I’m not as good as them, or I’m not smart or I’m not pretty enough. Or I’m not… So really under everything with a teen, that’s working on their self belief and then it’s working on their, those five key negative emotions. So if I can work on their belief and their emotions, then you’re going to see a shift in behavior and a shift in-

Stu

(27:38)
Why would you think that they feel this way when… And again, I only have myself to relate to, but thinking rewinding to my teenage years, I wouldn’t have even-

Tracey

(27:53)

Thought about it.

Stu

(27:53)
… thought about self-evaluation. I just got out and did Stuff. Just where’s my bike? I want to get out.

Tracey

(28:01)
But here’s the difference and it does, it’s that being connected online 24/7.

Stu

(28:09)
That’s right. Yeah.

Tracey

(28:13)
And there’s good and bad with that, but there’s a lot of negatives. And so if I compare, when I was a teen growing up and you had super models to aspire to in the odd magazine. Yeah, that was kind of out of reach, out of touch and unattainable. But now it’s in their face every day in terms of, like I mentioned before, how to look, what to wear, what food I should be eating, how much I should weigh. It’s just there bombarding. I think they call infor, a bit. It’s just like coming at them from all angles.

Stu

(28:49)
Yeah. I see. I see it in my household. Even with phrases now. The girls are coming out with these kind of crazy phrases and they’re talking to each other, “What did you say, girlfriend?” I’m like, “What? Where’s this coming from?”

Tracey

(29:06)
And you know what, here’s an interesting thing. I mean, actually I was reading, I’ve got it here in front of me, this book by, and it’s Oprah Winfrey and Bruce Perry. And they talk about conversations on trauma and resilience and healing. But one of the things they mention in here is that disconnection is the biggest disease in our society. So even though our teens are connected, it’s such a shallow hollow connection in terms of this online world. And as humans, we’re so relational. We need to have that human connecting of, we need to have real life connections. And I saw, I’ve ran a workshop with a group of year nine, year 10 Students and I had to hand in their mobile phones and it was disconnected, sharing stories and really diving deep into what’s going on for them.

Tracey

(30:01)
And the amazing thing at the end of it was the teens, even though this was a group of friends, they actually had no idea what was going on with each other.

Stu

(30:10)
No.

Tracey

(30:10)
They had no idea that one over there has anxiety and is on medication or they had no idea that there’s problems at home here or there’s suicidal thoughts. I mean, it was… You’re like, wow, you are on group Messenger chat. You’re chatting every single day and yet really you’re not connecting.

Stu

(30:29)
No.

Tracey

(30:29)
And at the end of it, they said the best thing about the day, apart from the sharing and connecting was not having their phones with them.

Stu

(30:40)
Yeah. Isn’t that funny when you hear comments like that? Yet the perception is that it’s almost like a second lung. You remove that thing and I’m going to die. I always liken, when we had the floods up here and the internet went down and my kids were suffering from post TikTok withdrawals syndrome. Just couldn’t function. “Well, what’s with this? Is the internet back? Is the internet back?”

Tracey

(31:03)
Yeah. I know.

Stu

(31:03)
Some guidelines then for the use of these devices. I mean, obviously it’s like a loaded gun because you’re giving… Well, teens have access to this device that is the biggest and best encyclopedia on the planet. But then also is this massive collection of really mind-altering content that they can just access on the fly 24/7 when they’re laying in bed at midnight in group chats or whatever they’re doing. Do you have any specific guidelines there to say, “You know what? You got to turn that off between X and Y. Or we’re only going to use… we’re not going to use it in certain ways.” Because it just seems to be unstoppable.

Tracey

(31:55)
Yeah. And I actually think the key is before giving your teen a phone or access to social media is that there is an agreement in place, which sounds weird. Right. But it’s like your social media, your phone agreement contract. But it’s something you do with them. So it’s rather than that kind of sense, you’ll do… If you put at them and it’s all from you, they’re just going to reject it. If you actually sit down with them and have an adult conversation, share what your concerns are, why you’re concerned about them having access to certain apps on social media or too much time on their phones. If you talk to them about the negative impacts in your concerns and that you want to work with them to figure out how you can have this, that is so important to them, but that it’s not going to work against them. It’ll work for them. So there’s basic Stuff to like, the obvious one is screen time. Agreeing how many hours per day, when. Is that before school, after school, weekends?

Stu

(33:10)
I did that. I did that. I did that with the oldest and put screen time on and it was two hours a day and she could on the bus and on the way back and a little bit in the evening, and she just transferred all the apps over to a laptop and she used the laptop instead.

Tracey

(33:25)
Yeah. Well, that’s the thing with teens. They get really resourceful.

Stu

(33:30)
Yeah. They’re not silly.

Tracey

(33:30)
Really resourceful. And actually just done that with the laptops. So that whole, no devices in the bedroom at night. Because I have spoken to teens who have had phones taken away, and guess what? The laptops in the bedroom.

Stu

(33:44)
That’s right. The laptop comes out.

Tracey

(33:45)
So they’re protect. They’re going, “I’m doing my work.” But when it’s lights out, that should be lights out. No laptop, because I have known teens to be having relationships online, on FaceTime calls. As you said, transferring apps across. Yeah. I mean, and again, you’ve got to come to an agreement that they agree to too.

Stu

(34:07)
Yes.

Tracey

(34:09)
Yeah. And what apps? But also I think what’s missing is, I think as parents, we can just go, “Here you go. Here’s your phone.” And there’s no conversation.

Stu

(34:18)
No, there’s no rules.

Tracey

(34:20)
No, there’s no rules. There’s no guidelines. There’s no sense of… they’re not critically thinking about the content they’re consuming, about how that makes them feel. If you’re going through the, scrolling through the news feed, how does this feel? Who are you following? Why are you following that person? What are the positive role models that they’re engaging and following? Not this mindless, endless scrolling of TikTok.

Stu

(34:47)
Well, and I guess that in and of itself is an issue because what they don’t understand is that these endless, never ending feeds have been engineered for a purpose and critically to monetize someone somewhere.

Tracey

(35:02)
Yeah.

Stu

(35:03)
But to suck us in and to give us these little hits, to keep us on this real, that then builds more information about us and serves as more relevant content to keep us on this device. Again, to serve ads and monetize and somebody gets rich somewhere along the line. And ultimately, I think it just desensitizes this child. Almost [crosstalk 00:35:23] them into just losing hours of their time on the phone. Are there any particular apps that you have found to be more problematic than others?

Tracey

(35:34)
Look, I’m not a massive fan of TikTok because I think it has that facial scanning technology and it will determine based on what you look like, what content to serve you.

Stu

(35:50)
Yeah. Funny.

Tracey

(35:51)
And I have I’ve seen the really negative side of TikTok, where a teen who may be interested in say health and wellbeing and fitness is suddenly served up content, which is how many calories that you eat in a day? And suddenly that kind of a healthy mind around health and fitness suddenly becomes an obsession. And they’re counting calories, they’re weighing themselves. They start to then develop these eating disorders. I’ve had teens tell me that, “I had to get off TikTok because it became so toxic.”

Stu

(36:27)
Wow.

Tracey

(36:27)
So that kind of the innocence of TikTok and the creativity and the dancing, that for me is probably the worst, the one that you kind of really have to have those conversations with your teen about. Because if they do lose hours on that.

Stu

(36:45)
Fascinating. Yeah. So just thinking about takeaways from a lot of the strategies that you would offer, are there any quick fixes that we could work on perhaps with our teens to say, and it may be just mention something positive every day to one of your teens, something along those lines? Are there any things that you think would be little seeds that could grow to be much more positive and beneficial that we could all do today?

Tracey

(37:21)
Yeah. I mean 100%. One thing I work on with my girls and they’re not teens yet, but is them really understanding that thought feeling behavior cycle, and how the thought impact their feelings which impact their behavior. And it kind of goes the other way too, because they need to develop an awareness. As a parent, you can catch them in their thought cycle and see like, “Well, how does that make you feel?” So for example, I remember trying to get Stevie to try jiu-jitsu. In fact, she wanted to try it. Came down to it. She was scared to try it. So the thoughts in her mind was everyone’s going to laugh at me. I’m going to make a fool of myself. I don’t know what I’m doing.

Tracey

(38:09)
And then, so I spent some time with her then going “Well, how does that make you feel when you have those thoughts?” “I don’t feel good. I don’t feel very brave. I don’t…” And then how does that impact her behavior? Well, she’s not going to give it a go. So as parents, if we can kind of help navigate that and help them to understand that and get them to think of different perspectives, that’s going to be massive. It’ll be a huge win because it always comes from the thoughts first then impact.

Stu

(38:38)
Okay. So if she didn’t want to do that because she was thinking that she wouldn’t feel good, what strategies do you use to change that pattern?

Tracey

(38:48)
That to me, then it’s like a mindset. It’s a conversation with her. I start to ask some unpacking questions to her, like what are you scared of? And what else… “Well, what’s the best case scenario? What’s the best…” “Ah, that I go and I love it. And nobody laughs at me.” Okay. “What’s the worst case scenario?” “That people laugh at me and I’m no good.” Okay. And then you question, “Well, is that really true? Do you really believe people are going to laugh at you?” Jiu-jitsu’s about respect, it’s about discipline. It’s about…

Tracey
(39:23)
So it’s kind of, it becomes a conversation where you start questioning their thoughts and essentially you are helping them to see different perspectives.

Stu

(39:35)

Got it.

Tracey

(39:35)
That’s kind of one. But yes, like building self-esteem is… In February, I did the 28 days of Feb 28 reasons why I love you, and that I focused on their strengths and their character. Nothing to do with their appearance. So to help them feel good at about themselves, but it wasn’t giving them an overinflated ego or sense of brilliance, but just to highlight strengths. Focus on your girl’s strengths, not their weaknesses. That shift from negative to positive makes a massive difference.

Stu

(40:15)
And thinking about strategies to quickly diffuse a situation when you can see it happening in terms of I’m coming home and I’m angry and I’m moody and I’m rude, disrespectful. Instead of snapping and reacting, what would be a better strategy to deal with that?

Tracey

(40:40)
As the parent?

Stu

(40:41)
As the parent. Yeah.

Tracey

(40:45)
I think quite often not to take things personally. So if your teen comes home and they slam the door, they go into the cupboard and it’s like, “There’s never any food in this house. I hate you. My life’s shit.” And then you’re like, you heard reaction, you want to go, “How dare you talk to me like that?” And follow them into wherever they’re going to discipline them and tell them off. But if you can just stop and pause in that moment and not react, it’s like take some breaths and allow them time to calm down got it. Allow them to go into their room, calm down, and then have a conversation with you when everyone’s calm. But that takes awareness of when you’re being triggered and to not. Don’t take it personally, don’t react, take some breaths. You got to calm yourself down and be the adult in it.

Stu

(41:37)
Yeah. And oftentimes I think just the process of thinking about why you are feeling the way you are, takes you into a different mindset and takes you out of this fight or flight mentality anyway.

Tracey

(41:52)
Yeah.

Stu

(41:53)
Just by-

Tracey

(41:53)
I mean, the teens are in that fight or flight so often. And I think as a parent, just recognizing that. They always say never get into an argument with your teen at night because really that’s when prefrontal cortex completely switched off.

Stu

(42:09)
Right.

Tracey

(42:10)
And that’s when online bullying can have happen in the evening, when everyone’s highly emotional. So I would say never tackle it face on with your teen at that time. Just allow them to calm down, come at it in 24 hours.

Stu

(42:27)
Yeah. Okay. That’s good enough.

Tracey

(42:31)
When everybody’s calm. And think, because I think underneath too. Underneath, there’s always something going on. And I think our job as a parent go, “Well, what’s going on here that’s creating this response or this reaction or this emotional outburst?” Because there’s always something going on a need to not be a met or-

Stu

(42:50)
Well, I tell you there’s always something going on in my house.

Tracey

(42:56)
There’s always something going on in everyone’s [crosstalk 00:42:58]. I always say we have to come at parenting with a lens of curiosity and a lens of compassion.

Stu

(43:07)
Yeah. Boy. Oh boy.

Tracey

(43:08)
Yeah.

Stu

(43:09)
I like it. I like it. So we’re kind of coming up on time, but I’m just to hear about, a little bit more about the services that you offer in terms of consulting packages, parent-child relationship groups as well. So just run us through what it is that you actually do in terms of helping anybody of them might want to get in contact with you from today thinking, you know what I want to talk.

Tracey

(43:41)
Okay. So there’s a number of ways in which I work with parents and teens. So I have a very limited number of one-on-ones that I reserve for teens, and I have an online group coaching program for parents. So that’s really working with the parents and working on them to create a bit of calm and connection in the home with their teens.

Stu

(44:10)
Yeah. Right.

Tracey

(44:11)
So there’s a group coaching model. I have a free Facebook group called Raising unstoppable girls. And in that group, generally weekly, I’m in there with live training. There’s tips and tools and strategies on parenting. So that’s a great resource for parents. And I run workshops in school holidays, and I co-facilitate at The Rites of Passage Institute, running mother-daughter and mother-son camps, and also run school programs. But specifically for parents wanting help with their teens, generally it’s one-on-one coaching with the teen and then group coaching with the parents.

Stu

(44:53):
Brilliant. Brilliant. And If I wanted to find out more about this and reach out to you, where would we send them?

Tracey

(45:05)
Well, I would definitely search out the Facebook group, Raising Unstoppable girls and connecting with me there. There’s my website, unstoppablegirls.com.au. And they can make contact there. Or they can just DM me on Facebook. A lot of parents just reach out with-

Stu

(45:26)
In desperation.

Tracey


(45:27)
Yeah.

Stu

(45:31)
So just last question before we finish, and this more relates to you, which would relate to me as a parent and all of the other parents that are listening, and that is about your daily practices, your non-negotiables that allow you to win the day, that probably put you in the better state of mind to be able to deal with all the teen craziness that’s happening at home. So what are the things that you do that you need to do to make sure that you win the day before you start the day?

Tracey

(46:00)
Yeah. Well, I mean your own self care is like critical, right? Because if you are stressed out and your cups off empty, then you’re not going to be able to parent well. I think for me every morning it is meditation. It’s only 20 minutes meditation. And then I will do 10 minutes breath work. Now that for me sets me up. But I think really then I’m thinking about what’s my intention for the day, where do I want my focus to be? Because what’s the saying? Where focus goes energy flows, is so true. So really that’s it. It’s really simple. And another daily non-negotiable, which is not before I start my day, but during the day, is I have to get out in nature. I have to hit the beach. I have to do some form of exercise and be outdoors.

Stu

(46:54)
Yeah. No, that’s good. That’s good advice. Absolutely. Otherwise, you wake up and you’re in the flow and the flow might not be the right one. Yeah.

Tracey

(47:08)
But again as parents, how are you waking up? What are the thoughts that you are having? Where is your focus? Because if you are focusing on the negative, I guarantee you that that’s going to be the result you’re going to get for the day.

Stu

(47:21)
Yeah, totally. And I think if we are waking up and switching on the news, it’s more than likely we’re going to be focusing on the negative because it’s-

Tracey

(47:30)
Yeah. I actually don’t watch the news for that very reason.

Stu

(47:35)
I don’t blame you. I don’t blame you.

Tracey

(47:38)
Dog barking.

Stu

(47:39)
No, that’s okay. Needs a walk. Needs some sunshine. What’s next? What’s on the radar?

Tracey

(47:46)
What’s next is I am going to shoot the dog.

Stu

(47:50)
Strangle the dog. Yeah. Strangling always works well.

Tracey

(47:55)
What’s next, is look, I really want to build a online mindset academy for teens, where basically I am teaching essential life skills, helping them build a positive mindset, growth mindset so they can build their confidence. And really just keep coaching the parents. I want to build like be the NLP coach for parents and families.

Stu

(48:25)
Brilliant. Fantastic. Well, look, what we’ll do is we’ll put all of the links and the information that you shared with us today on the show notes. So everybody can check you out at Unstoppable Girls and jump onto Facebook and DM you if they need assistance, which is fantastic because you, who knows what’s going through teen minds at the moment? And I was actually reading, I like I do dip in and out of the news, but they were putting quite heavy focus on anxiety and depression in teens today and because of pandemic and isolation and things like that. So I guess it’s a really important time to have this conversation.

Tracey

(49:06)
Yeah. I mean, just quickly so you know, that comes back to that disconnection being a disease we have gone through. However, many years have been totally disconnected-

Stu

(49:14)
Totally.

Tracey

(49:14)
… because of what’s going on. And it has a massive impact on their anxiety, particularly social anxiety as well and how they want to interact with the world.

Stu

(49:25)
Yeah. It’ll be interesting to see what happens when they grow up. Who knows?

Tracey

(49:30)
That’s why they need life coaching.

Stu

(49:33)
That’s right. And I’m going to learn jiu-jitsu. I need self defense.

Tracey

(49:36):
Brilliant.

Stu

(49:39)
Brilliant. Well, look, thank you so much for your time. Really appreciate the conversation and loads of information that I’m looking forward to sharing with our audience. So thanks again, Tracey.

Tracey

(49:47)
Thanks Stu. Good to see you.

Stu

(49:49)
Take care. Bye-bye.

Tracey

(49:50)
Take care. Bye.

Tracey Burns

Tracey is the founder of Unstoppable Girls which provides coaching and programs to support girls on their journey to become more confident and resilient. Tracey was inspired to create Unstoppable girls as she reflected on her own childhood and teen years. After suffering trauma as a young girl and realising... Read More
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    2 Replies to “Tracey Burns – Helping Teens Build Confidence, Resilience & Strength”
    Theodora Bogiou says:

    perfectly said! well done and thank you so much for sharing this video.

    Christina Alliance says:

    Love this podcast Tracey! More to go! 🥳😍

    Comments are closed.