Exciting new workshops for parents of teenagers in 2019

Family life can be tough, particularly when you have teenagers. No two days are ever the same, one day life can be amazing and then the next it isn’t, you can feel overwhelmed, unable to cope and have no idea what to do…

New for 2019

I am so excited that in 2019 I will be launching a new series of workshops focusing on “Building Resilient Families” through Taunton Doctors.

Having had 3 teenagers, I am already including topics like managing behaviour, building your teenager’s self-esteem, managing screen time, dealing with rudeness, how do to talk so teenagers listen etc.

But, I want to make sure that my workshops answer your questions and deal with the issues you are facing, so, please let me know what your biggest parenting challenge is by emailing me at ruth@tauntondoctors.co.uk

So what is my new approach to parenting?

Families, whatever their shape, influence everything we do. Ask any parent what they want for their children, and no surprise, they want their children to be “happy” – but what is “happy”? Having positive family relationships is an important part of “happy” but, as we all know, that is easier said than done with teenagers.

Since I set up Surviving Teenagers in 2012, trying to understand what is behind teenager behaviour has absolutely fascinated me, I must have now read over 60 books as well as spoken to well over 500 parents! Using this research I have put together a new, innovative approached parenting which aims to transform family relationships.

I couldn’t do this if I didn’t practice what I preach, so I have been developing my approach to parenting over the last 10 years with my children (the oldest of which is now 23!)

As my daughters will tell you, I am far from perfect but my research and learning over the last few years has made a significant difference to how I parent and I can genuinely say that we do have positive family relationships and we all enjoy spending time together.

All my children are very different so using a different approach for each one has been key and I have been able to develop a personalised approach based on a better understanding of who they are and who I am as a parent and why I parent way I do using a model I have developed.

Family life is hectic so keeping things simple and practical is my mantra, so my workshops focus on how I can better support parents cope in your busy day-to-day lives.

My new approach is different to anything I’ve come across, it focuses on understanding ourselves, our children and the 3R’s of family life, relationship, relationship, relationship.

It is often the simple things which make the biggest difference in relationships. All too often it is our emotions and assumptions that get in the way of building positive family relationships and we don’t or can’t see the wood for the trees i.e. we focus on struggling with day-to-day relationship challenges rather than standing back and changing how we approach our children.

Helping parents to understand how you could start opening the door to new ways of building more positive family relationships is my reason for doing this, helping and encouraging families to bring new perspectives and understanding of each other will hopefully allow you to transform your day-to-days.

If you would like to know more, please email me at ruth@tauntondoctors.co.uk

Ruth James

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Making 2018 a “Happy New Year”

building resilient mumsWhen I ask most parents what they want for their teenagers, they want them to be “happy”.

Happiness does not necessarily mean having more money or stuff, the evidence suggests that more money does not make us happier. We all have an “optimum level of happiness” and even though we may experience temporary euphoria with a job promotion, financial gift or even winning the lottery, after a period of weeks or months we get used to this new money and life continues as before as we strive towards the next anticipated goal which will make as “happier”.

Interestingly, giving to others and spending time with people is more likely to make is happy than money or things.

So what will make our teenagers happy? Ironically, part of this answer is having a good relationship with their parents even though they may do everything to sabotage this. Often, their behaviour is driven out of a lack of self belief and this is so clear to me when I talk to parents.

The problem is parents often misinterpret their teenagers’ reaction and perceive them as being rebellious or difficult. Whereas, if you look behind the behaviour their teenager is clearly struggling with GCSEs, friendships, body image, a comment on snap chat etc. You can usually trace back shifting behaviour to something going on in their lives.

Unfortunately, we can get into a habit of constantly reacting to our teenagers, even using a particular tone of voice, which of course never ends well and undermines our ability to build a positive relationship with our teenagers.

Perhaps in 2018, our New Year’s resolution ought to be to look behind our teenager’s behaviour, to try to understand what is really going on in their world and perhaps be a little more patient with them.

On the positive, in 2018 I would encourage you to do what you can to build them up, affirm them, complement them – catch them doing something positive for a change. They may not show a positive reaction to any of this but trust me, they do appreciate it, it can make a difference and even open the door to a more positive relationship your teenager.


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Some phases in life are harder than others…

Tough phases

Doesn’t life goes in phases and the latest phase of my life has been tough for a number of reasons, hence no blogs for several months. However, sometimes it’s about hanging in there and just carrying on despite what is going on around us.

Being a parent when times are tough can be hard because if we are struggling with a difficult situation we can be tired, grumpy and inpatient, and unfortunately, often take our stress out on those nearest to us.

Equally, it is important that our children recognise that life is not straightforward, and we need to remember that because they watch us cope with our day-to-day this will influence how they cope. They are acute observers and often mirror our attitudes and behaviours.

I realise it is about my mindset, how my attitudes and behaviour come across when times are tough is so important for my teenagers, they need to learn from me and this can be challenging as I can enjoy my own “pity party” like the best of us. However, I constantly remind myself that this never gets me anywhere and often makes me feel more miserable… which always has a knock-on impact for my family and never for the positive!

It is all about the choices we make, do we moan about things, are constantly negative or  choose to be more  positive/optimistic…?  I know it isn’t easy but I would rather show my children how to be optimistic and teach them to be grateful regardless of what is going on rather than teach them how to moan and always see the negative.

Ultimately, I would like my children to be happy with who they are, able to build positive relationships, cope with the never ending pressures from education/the workplace as well as the 24/7 social media.

Therefore, for me, it is about helping them find their own way through whatever they are going through and hopefully show them that when we do go through tough times we make choices about how we cope with the day-to-day pressures.

I know, throughout my life that tough phases eventually do come to an end and I always hope that the next phase will be more positive, mine certainly feels more positive at the moment which, in turn, will hopefully have a positive impact on my family!



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We all need more encouragement… particularly after a tough week

Feedback from Wellington School

Some weeks are just harder than others and this one hasn’t been great… at the moment I am living through GCSE stress as well as actively supporting a daughter who is doing her NQT year as a Y3 teacher, however much she loves teaching it is tough, who else would have to do a 60 hour week just to keep their heads above water.

Such is the life of a mum trying to juggle supporting family issues with pressures at work – I don’t know about you, but sometimes I just find it hard going.

Fortunately, I did have a bright spot this week, it came in the form of encouraging feedback from parents at a workshop I delivered at Wellington School, Somerset on Monday (above). I love delivering these sessions so it is good to know parents find them helpful.

At the moment, particularly if our teenagers are doing exams, they need loads of encouragement – it is suggested that we should use 6 words of encouragement to 1 word of criticism. However, I think we all need more encouragement so this week I am going to focus on encouraging those around me because I know the difference it made for me this week.


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Surviving maths GCSE!


I have every sympathy with parents of teenagers struggling to revise maths GCSE,  I feel your pain…

So, I  thought you might be interested  something I have found helpful, Corbett maths cards.  These cards are great,  there is 1 card per topic and on the back, there are 3 Q codes taking you to a short video summarising the topic, one for past exam questions on the topic and one for the answers! Therefore, parents can  support their teenagers without understanding anything about maths.

My daughter has been going through these cards, each topic takes from 15 to 45 minutes depending on how difficult  the topic is. Working through these cards is a great way build confidence in maths and I would definitely recommend them. I only wish there were similar cards for science etc.

To get hold of the cards go to:  https://corbettmaths.com/revision-cards/


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Building your teenager’s self esteem!

Heathfield community school

I am looking forward to the next sessions for parents at Heathfield Community School, Taunton.

This sessions will be in the staffroom from 6:30 PM-7:45 PM when we will be looking 

Monday 27 March: Building your teenager’s self-esteem

This session will cover:

•    Understanding why teenagers think about themselves the way they do.
•    How self-esteem develops over time and why Year 9 is so challenging!
•    Practical ways in which parents can build their teenager’s self-esteem.

To book your place go to: https://building-your-teenagers-self-esteem.eventbrite.co.uk

There will also be opportunities for you to ask any questions you may have at the session.

I look forward to seeing some of you at the workshop.


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Looking forward to visiting Perrott Hill School, Crewkerne

I am looking forward to visitmanaging teenagersing Perrott Hill School, Crewkerne  in January to run the first of 2 workshops on “Building a positive relationship with your pre-teen/teenager”

This workshop will help parents to understand:

  • Why your pre-teen/teenager behaves the way they do, including insights into the development of the teenage brain
  • The impact of different parenting styles on the behaviour of their pre-teen/teenager
  • How to talk so pre-teen/teenagers will listen
  • How to manage behaviour, conflict and negotiate boundaries

There will also be an opportunity for parents to ask any parenting questions they may have.

I have been running these workshops at Heathfield Community School, Taunton for the last 2 years and they have been popular with parents, this is what some of the parents have said about them:

  • It is very helpful in better understanding how the teenage mind works
  • Very worthwhile – would definitely recommend
  • Good to see we are not alone with our teenager issues

I want to make this a relaxing and enjoyable evening, it is an opportunity to find out more about teenagers, meet other parents and hopefully get some new ideas on how to approach different situations.

I am really looking forward to this!

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Keys to managing your pre-teen/teenager’s behaviour



I thoroughly enjoyed the last session I did at Heathfield Community School, Taunton, when we looked at how to communicate with teenagers so teenagers will listen! We had a very helpful discussion and concluded that the next session should focus on managing behaviour. Therefore, the next 2 sessions will focus on the whole subject of managing your pre-teen/teenager’s behaviour.

Each session will focus on practical ideas and suggestions for making a difference at home.

Managing behaviour 1.  This session will include:

  • Planning for better behaviour
  • How we all have different styles of parenting and the impact these styles have on our children
  • It’s not what we say, it is how we say it!
  • Managing boundaries
  • Tips on improving consistency in terms of maintaining boundaries etc!

To book your place please go to:  https://managing-behaviour-session-1.eventbrite.co.uk

Monday 30 January, 6:30 PM-7:45 PM

Managing behaviour 2. This session will include:

  • The nagging index
  • Managing conflict
  • Negotiating with our teenagers
  • Finding the hidden goals behind behaviour
  • What are appropriate punishments & rewards and how you can use themt

To book your place please go to:  https://managing-behaviour-session-2.eventbrite.co.uk

There will also be opportunities for you to ask any questions you may have at both the sessions.

I look forward to seeing some of you at both of the sessions.

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Invitation for parents to workshop on “Understanding why teenagers behave the way they do!”

managing teenagersThe next workshop for parents whose children go to Heathfield School, Taunton is on Monday 26 September, 6:30 PM-7:45 PM.

At this session I will give you insights into why teenagers behave the way they do, the development of the teenage brain and an opportunity to ask any questions about parenting pre-teens and teenagers.

This talk is the first of monthly workshops we ran last year to support you in parenting your pre-teen/teenagers, the sessions were popular with parents, this is what some of the parents said about them:

  • It is very helpful in better understanding how the teenage mind works
  • Very worthwhile – would definitely recommend
  • Good to see we are not alone with our teenager issues

At the workshop, we will be asking you which areas of parenting you would like Ruth to cover over the coming months.  Last year parents asked her to run workshops on subjects like managing behaviour, building self-esteem, surviving homework, exams and the stressed teenager.

We want to make this a relaxing and enjoyable evening, it is your opportunity to find out more about teenagers, meet other parents and let us know which topics particularly interest you.

If you would like to come to book your place please go to:


If you aren’t able to come but would like to know more about what we are planning to do, please complete the slip below and we will contact you.  The next workshop will be on Monday 19 October if you would like to put that in your diary.

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Why does my teenager never listen to me?!


“Learn to listen to hear rather than listen to reply” Now, therein lies my problem, I am basically quite an impatient person and often interrupt conversations because I’m bored or want the person to get the point or, reluctantly admit, I want my input as my views are, of course, more important than theirs.

Listening is probably the most important and undervalued skill we have and one I struggle with daily.  Listening is about giving the person who is speaking your full attention, showing them with your body language that you are listening and empathising with that person.

How teenagers say things to their parents can be more important than what they say – frequently, it is the emotion the teenager is trying to communicate which we need to be listening out for but this is often hidden beneath a whole load of “stuff” i.e. attitude, hostility, negativity etc.

When my daughter was at her most difficult, the issue she was most upset about frequently wasn’t the issue that she was ranting about, it often went much deeper – often associated with rejection/feeling rubbish about herself and I had to learn to listen carefully so I could help her process what was actually going on.   So, as a parent of a teenager, don’t just listen, try to work out what is really going on and learn to listen behind the words – sometimes you need the skills of Poirot!

There is no quick fix for building a good relationship with your teenager – it takes time, effort and loads of patience but it is well worth the effort (although it may not always feel like it!) so next time your teenager wants to talk to you, try to listen beneath the words and work out what is really going on – be patient, try not to react to their attitude and immediately start giving them a solution just listen (and show you are listening!), empathise, say as little as possible and see what happens!


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