Surviving homework, revision, exams and the stressed teenager!

stress and teenagers

This next session for parents whose children go to Healthfield School will be on Monday 29 February 6:15PM- 8PM

*Please note that this session is slightly longer as we feel this topic is particularly important.

Surviving homework, revision, exams and the stressed teenager! This session aims to help you to support your pre-teen/teenager in the preparation for GCSEs/school exams and will cover:

• What is learning and what we can do to help them learn without knowing anything about the subject!
• Motivating your teenager, including finding the best way of working for your teenager
• Different styles of revision
• How you can help your teenager to manage their stress including an introduction to mindfulness
• The delicate subject of how to encourage your pre-teen/teenager to get enough sleep!

To book your place go to:

This will be followed by a session on Monday 14 March, 6:15 PM-7:30 PM which will be the first of 2 sessions on managing behaviour – these sessions are particularly practical and you will have the opportunity to ask any questions you may have on managing behaviour etc.

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, it’s the HOW!
• Successfully negotiating and managing boundaries
• Tips on improving consistency in terms of maintaining boundaries etc!

To book your place go to:

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Surviving Teenagers awarded national CANParent Quality Mark

Cllr Lawrence with Ruth James 06

Cllr Christine Lawrence, Chairman of Somerset County Council with Ruth James

Quality Marsk




I am delighted that I am now one of only 48 providers nationally to have achieved a new national CANParent Quality Mark for the workshops I develop and deliver for parents of teenagers.

Having 3 daughters between 13 and 20 I understand the pressures on families so make sure my workshops focus on helping parents to build resilient teenagers.

“I would like to congratulate Ruth on achieving the CANParent Quality Mark. I can see real benefits resulting from her work, understanding how to build more positive relationships between parents and their teenagers can only be a good thing for local families.” said Cllr Christine Lawrence, Chairman of Somerset County Council.

“We have been pleased with the feedback from parents about the difference Ruth’s workshops have made and we are looking forward to continuing with the workshops in September.” said Karl Husband, Assistant Head, Heathfield Community School.

“I love working with parents and hearing about the positive difference that coming along to one of my workshops can make in family relationships. With this Quality Mark parents can now be confident that my workshops will give them the right advice and support they need in parenting their teenagers.” said Ruth James, Director, Surviving Teenagers.

The CANParent Quality Mark is the only Quality Mark developed for the parenting sector by the parenting sector. It is only awarded to programmes and courses meeting the highest standards, it confirms Ruth’s Building Resilient Teenagers workshops meet the following standards:

  • The workshops can be relied on by parents to make a positive difference, is evidence based, and is monitored and evaluated to improve parent/child relationships.
  • Parents can rely on the integrity of this class provider, its professional conduct, competence, financial and governance systems, and data protection/confidentiality, to ensure suitability to deliver a class.
  • This workshops are recommended by other parents.
  • This workshops are responsive, warm and relational, engaging with parents and builds on these effective relationships to meet their needs.




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Is your child going to Heathfield Community School in September? If so, read on…

Heathfield community schoolI remember when my eldest daughter moved to Heathfield and if I had known then what I know now, we both would have spent a lot less time and energy worrying about the change over the summer.

Heathfield wants to help to make the change  as smooth and straightforward as possible   for both parents and children so they have invited me to run a session for parents on Monday 6 July, 6:30 PM-7:45 PM, in the Staff Room at Heathfield, in this session I will be covering:

  • What I wish I had known when my children started Heathfield
  • Preparing for the move to Heathfield and the ups and downs!
  • Building new friendships
  • How you could help your child manage their worries/concerns
  • There will be an opportunity for you to ask any questions you may have

This is what some parents said about the last workshop I ran in April:

  • Very worthwhile – would definitely recommend!
  • Good to see we are not alone with teenage issues!
  • Very helpful – like the rest, they are great!

You can book your place by clicking on the link below:

I look forward to seeing some of you 6 July.

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Thank you to Heathfield Community School and parents

Heathfield community school

I have thoroughly enjoyed working with Heathfield Community School over the last few months and meeting a number of parents. Since September we have had monthly sessions and talked about how to manage behaviour, talk so teenagers will listen and build their self-esteem.


Last Monday, we had over 40 parents for “Surviving revision, exams and the stressed teenager!”. This is what some of the parents said about the session:

  • This has been for me/my child’s needs the most informative session so far
  • I had heard such positive results from other parents who said they were really helpful and they are
  • It is an interesting reflection of what sometimes should be blindingly obvious, but isn’t when you are in the moment and heat of battle!
  • Definitely worth coming along, any help is valuable
  • I found this very helpful in finding out what other parents go through and their ways of coping

I will be running more sessions at Heathfield Community School starting on 22 September, more information to follow!

If you think your school might be interested in the running sessions for parents of teenagers, please contact me, Ruth James at


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Surviving revision, exams and the stressed teenager!

managing stressAt this time of year, I get out and polish those necessary skills we parents need at exam time i.e. the ability to walk on eggshells.

I have every sympathy with parents whose teenagers are preparing for any type of exam at the moment – it is tough for them and as parents, it is often hard to know what to do for the best, how to support them and sometimes it just feels like whatever you do you can’t win, I know!

This session is about giving you support and practical suggestions on how to help your teenager both revise, manage exams as well as cope with stress.

The session will be covering:

  • What is learning and what we can do to help them learn without knowing anything about the subject!
  • Motivating your teenager, including finding the best way of working for your teenager
  • Different styles of revision
  • How you can help your teenager to manage their stress

These sessions have been popular with parents, this is what some of them have said:

  • You must go!
  • Highly recommended “lots of food for thought”
  • Good opportunity to hear other parents views and situations and to realise you are not alone
  • Excellent and very thought-provoking about how I am with my children…

To book your place by going to the following website:


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Building our teenagers’ self-esteem (session 2) on Monday 27 April, 6:30 – 7:45PM, Heathfield Community School

Building self esteemIn this session, I will be focusing on helping our teenagers to learn to fail well – if we are going to have resilient teenagers, they need to learn how to cope well with failure.

We all have a perception of ourselves, how we think about ourselves and how we think others think about us!   I want to explore this further to give you insights into how we can help our teenagers to become more resilient and hopefully learn to see  failure and challenges as opportunities to learn.

I will also be getting you to think about your teenagers’ strengths and talents as well as having an “Any Questions” session at the end – so please come with any questions you may have about self-esteem and what you could do to build your teenagers’ self-esteem.

This session if for parents with children at Heathfield Community School

To book your place, please click on this link:



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‘Building your teenager’s self-esteem’ workshop – Heathfield Community School, 23 March

Building self esteemSelf-esteem is something many teenagers struggle with so the next workshop I will be running for Heathfield parents which will focus on “Building your pre-teen/teenager’s self-esteem”. This workshop will cover:”

  • Helping parents understand what self-esteem is and what influences it.
  • How self-esteem changes over time (& why Year 9 is so challenging!) and, most importantly,
  • How we, as parents, can help to build and strengthen our teenager’s self-esteem

This will be the fourth workshop I have run at Heathfield so far and the feedback from parents has been very positive, this is what some of the parents who’ve already been to a session would say to others:

  • Worth coming along and very helpful
  • Come along, it makes you stop and think
  • It’s encouraging and makes you realise that you, as a parent, can make a difference
  • I would definitely recommend the sessions

If you are Heathfield parent, you can book your place online by clicking on the link below.

If you are a parent at a different school in Somerset, and think your school should run similar workshops, please speak to your school and I would be very happy to talk to them!

Ruth James

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Thank you for your lovely feedback!

Building self esteem

I wanted to thank all of you who came along to the “How to talk so teenagers listen…” session at Heathfield on 2 February for your feedback. I thoroughly enjoyed the session and your feedback is really helpful – here it is, on the Heathfield website if you would like to have a look.

The next session will be on “Building your teenager’s self-esteem”

Parents are often concerned about their teenagers’ self-esteem, either they think their teenager has too little or too much! But, what is “self-esteem”, where does it come from and what can we, as parents, do to improve our teenager’s self-esteem?

I will be running a session at Heathfield School on 23 March, 6:30 PM-7:45 PM focusing on helping parents to build their teenager’s self-esteem, the session will cover:

  • Helping parents understand what self-esteem is, where it comes from (I found this fascinating!)
  • How it changes over time (& why Year 9 is so challenging!) and, most importantly,
  • How we as parents can help to build and strengthen our teenagers’ self-esteem

I know what I cover in this session works because research I have done on self-esteem has challenged and changed me, it has made me rethink how I think about myself and enabled me to grow my self-belief. As parents, we often struggle with our own self-belief in how we parent so you might find this helpful for yourself as well as your teenager!

To book your place, please go to:



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My love bombing day with my daughter…

love bombing

Love bombing as I discovered was easier to recommend to parents than necessarily doing myself!  At the last Managing Behaviour 2 session at Heathfield School I recommended “love bombing” as a way of building a more positive relationship with your children.  The psychologist Oliver James recommends it as a way of resetting the emotional thermostat so I thought I would give it a go.

Anyway, it was harder than I thought, perhaps this was more about my need to be in control than I thought!  Oliver James recommends 24-48 hours of one-to-one time with your child where they have control over what you.  You then go on to have weekly “love bombing” time to keep things going in the right direction.

I could only give my daughter 12 hours and she wanted to go shopping in Bristol, and she was in charge!

Her highlight was spending hours looking at make-up in Debenhams, not exactly a subject I know much about.  I thought Urban Decay was about inner-city challenges – but no, it is very expensive make-up, I nearly collapsed when she wanted an eyeshadow palette for £37 – talk about manipulative advertising… I was not convinced, even though she kept saying “But this is my day…”.  We then visited and queued in all the usual teenage shops and she was delighted with things she decided to buy.

Love bombing is definitely worth the effort.  It gives you an insight into your teenager’s world and in my daughter’s case, how retailers manipulate our teenagers through slick advertising.

The constant messages were “you can’t be happy until you have purchased…”, “If you buy… you’ll be so much more confident and popular.”  And yet our teenagers fall for them every time, and to some degree it is necessary as they do like to fit in, but we need to encourage them to see through what they are being bombarded with by clever and manipulative retailers.  At this point I won’t even mention the £15 we paid for a Sacconejoly’s 2015 calendar… don’t ask.

She has a ready said she wants another love bombing day next year in Bristol and will now save up enough to buy the eyeshadow palette… she has a year to convince me!

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The NAGGING index!

consistency and naggingConsistency, consistency, consistency is one of the keys to successfully parenting pre-teen/teenager’s so why is it so hard…

In an ideal world, where pressures and stress don’t exist and, as parents, we have an unlimited supply of energy and determination, consistency could be relatively straightforward.

However, life just isn’t like that and sometimes we are just too tired/too many other things going on or it is simply too hard to be consistent so we sometimes eventually cave in.  We may start off by saying “no” but eventually, after being worn down by a nagging teenager it is all too easy to go for the peaceful life… But is it?

As I mentioned at my session with Y7 parents at Heathfield Community School on Monday, the problem with this is that we teach our teenagers that if we initially say “no”, they nag, moan, strop and “go on”, eventually wear us down and we say “yes” and so the cycle continues, we by default are teaching our teenagers that nagging works and this can be exhausting for everyone in the long term.

Harry Barry in his ‘Flagging the Screenager’ book mentions the ‘Nagging Index’. So, if you want to use this to measure how consistent you are with your pre-teens/teenagers, the next time you say no, count the number of times they ask again and again before they finally accept the no or you say yes!  The more nagging by your teenager, the higher the likelihood of you being inconsistent.



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