#24 Tools for Raising Thriving Teens Transcript



Mandy Fontaine  00:00

But that sweet spot is when you can find those things that kids are really good at and what they love, and they’re putting in that effort for it. It’s gonna feel effortless when they’re doing it. That’s your that’s your wheelhouse, right? Like, yep, that’s what you’re really good at doing. I just helped them find those strengths. What are your gifts I want to build into that and build that competence without the doubt in there. So cultivating growth mindset at home, I tell parents to praise the process.


Lisa Marker Robbins  00:32

former collegiate athlete and Licensed Professional School Counselor Mandy Fontaine knows from both a team perspective and a professional perspective the difference a growth mindset can make. When we sat down to talk, she provided important insights into the developing brain that are based on neuroscience research, learning what the 16 to 25 year old mind can do and isn’t yet ready for can be a game changer for development and success. Mandy is now a life and personal development coach working specifically with teens, and she shares tools she uses that you can use at home too. I’m Lisa marker Robbins and I want to welcome you to College and Career Clarity, a flourish coaching production. Let’s dive right in to a great conversation. It is my pleasure to welcome to the show this week. former collegiate athlete Licensed Professional School Counselor high school athletics coach and now life and personal development coach for teens. Mandy Fontaine leaning into her 20 plus years as really an educator at heart, doing all things routines, we first met when she was a high school counselor and I have loved watching her develop those skills and kind of change the daily work that she’s doing. And to her absolutely fantastic coaching with girl thriving Mandy, Welcome to College and Career Clarity.


Mandy Fontaine  02:11

Thank you, thanks for having me. I’m excited for this.


Lisa Marker Robbins  02:14

I am too. As I’m working with families, I work with both the teens and their parents. And I know you do a bit as well, as I’ve got them in my community or those that are in my course. mindset. I always feel like is 90% of the game, right? I’ve got the proven path, the tools, all of that. But when true transformation happens, it’s really rooted in that mindset, a growth mindset of things that are possible. And you have really just doubled down on that piece of work with teens. So I want you to share with our listeners. Well, first of all, why did you get into this? Like, what’s the why behind changing from school counselor to coach of


Mandy Fontaine  03:02

teens? Yeah, that’s a very good question. I really felt just kind of called to do more. I loved being in schools and being with the students. But my last few years were at an all girls school. And I just saw the need for more tools, and more focus on their mindset, which connects to confidence levels, I saw so many strengths and gifts in them that they didn’t even see in themselves that need along with tapping into the neuroscience which I’m a nerd at heart, I love the brain. And I had an awesome mentors there. Hi, Sue. She’s actually in Cincinnati, she owns why gray matter. She was my mentor. And she’s an neuroscience trainer and leadership coach. And we both talked and said this would be really powerful for teens. And so I matched those two loves and ideas together and said it’s time I need to do this and girl thriving began.


Lisa Marker Robbins  04:05

That’s fantastic. And we’ll talk a little bit more about girl thriving a little bit later. But I want to start with like the fundamental piece of this is we first I think of myself as a parent, my regular listeners know that my husband and I together have five now young adult children. And I worked with 10s of 1000s of teens as a professional as a parent, how vital it is for us to understand the developing brain and what is developed into and what work it still has to do. And so when you go to that idea of the developing brain, what are the essential components that you know our listeners are mainly parents, sometimes teens, what are the essential components of understanding the brain that you would suggest we all need to know?


Mandy Fontaine  04:58

One of the first things is defining adolescence, right? So some people say that teens or tweens, different people define different ways. Stanley Hall. He’s the one that coined the term adolescence. And he originally had it from like 12 years old to about 25. Right. And so one of the neuroscientists I love is Sarah Jane Blakemore. And she has an amazing book I recommend for all parents called inventing ourselves, and titled all about the teenage brain, she talks about adolescence is this period between puberty, and the end of adolescence is that age when you start to obtain more of a stable independence from your parents, okay, so it’s first of finding that time, and that’s kind of why I chose the age just that I work with, because the research shows that their brains are developing so quickly, in that amount of time. And just in the 90s, you can go back to the books, and the research was saying that our brain stopped learning at about 12. And now with all the new science, the MRIs, and the fMRI is the functional MRIs, they’re finding that our brains don’t stop learning, and they’re always learning. But there is a distinct period, where there is a lot of growth from 12 to 25. And so it’s important to teach your teens that learning their brains in this period, they’re like a sponge, so they are soaking everything up right now. And it’s also a time where their brains are pruning things. So they’re not losing it and practicing it. Their brains are pruning that learning away as well. So one of the things I really focus on is neuroplasticity. And it sounds like this really complex term, but it’s not it, it essentially is our brains are like plastic, right? They’re, they’re moldable. And I really work with our teams and teaching them that when you continue to practice and practice and practice, new ways of thinking, feeling and doing, you’re creating new ways of doing and the old way of doing thinking feeling and doing is being pruned away. So there’s a new pathway, neural pathway that’s being grown and ingrained, I explained it in a way of, if you’re sledding down a hill, you go down that first time, it’s kind of a slow path, but you go pretty slow, but on that hill, and the next time you go down the hill, it’s a little bit faster, and most likely, you’re going to go down that same path. And then the next time and the next time it gets faster and faster and faster, because you’re digging into that. And that’s the same way with learning.


Lisa Marker Robbins  07:48

You know what I love about that? When I’m working with that same age group. So my launch Career Clarity course, I always say is for 16 to 25 year olds love that age group as well. I’ve been working with them for over 30 years, I see kids who when something goes wrong, or there’s a failure, or something doesn’t work out, they might want to throw in the towel, or they become highly discouraged, or that lack of resilience to get up and try it again. Right. So that messaging of neuroplasticity is hopeful, right? For all of us. I mean, but particularly this age, I mean, I in my 50s Listen to that. And I’m like thank God, it’s not set in stone. And even though I have less of that neuroplasticity, then 17 year old that I working with, like, Thank God that we’ve got that opportunity for growth. And I teach nothing’s a failure, if you’ve got a lesson from it, and you can identify what you learned that is not a failure. And so I love the positive psychology behind what you’re doing. Like can be a huge game changer. Now as you do that neuroplasticity work, and you’re creating hope you’re gonna work with them and creating new pathways and habits and pruning off the bad and highlighting the good. How does that build into I know, You’ve told me like this builds into the importance of self awareness. So how do those two begin to how do they relate? We


Mandy Fontaine  09:29

kind of start with this wheel of life for teens, you have your family, your friends, your school, and I include sun in my wheel because I think fun is very important for all of us and your physical health. Your emotional health, which is more of your feeling brain, we talk about your mental health is your thinking brain, and then your spiritual health. And we’ve got each one of those areas that we really focus on and we dive into those. On top of that, there’s level of working through a will of emotions as well, because we all have a very low EQ, the average adult knows about eight emotions as their go to emotions that they can verbalize. So if you can increase their social emotional learning to be able to express what is important to them, right? Like, how am I really feeling in this moment to use the language around that can be powerful, just like when you go to a doctor’s office, you have to be able to explain what’s hurting, right. And if you can’t explain to doctor, it’s really hard for the doctor to help you. And just like our social and emotional side of things, you have to be able to explain that. And I believe that all of us adults, and teens need that education,


Lisa Marker Robbins  10:53

says you’re working through what you call that wheel of life, then they’re becoming more self aware in each one of those domains.


Mandy Fontaine  11:01

Right. And there’s a couple other assessments we use, just to help them give the language you know, like you had mentioned, the positive psychology piece is so important, because I always believed and I saw it working in the schools, when you can build into their gifts and their strengths. They just grow quickly, and they glow. Like you just see it. And it goes back to our brain has a negativity bias. So our brains automatically, those things that are negative stick to us like Velcro, and the positive experience, they fall off of us like Teflon, right? Like they don’t stick to our brains. And it takes the research has shown it takes five positive experiences and five positive compliments. To get rid of that one negative experience or negative comment. You feel like you don’t want to keep pushing into I don’t want to pump up their ego. But you need that, especially in an adolescent age.


Lisa Marker Robbins  12:02

Okay, so let’s talk about that. Because I’ve raised teenagers, it is not for the faint of heart. And and we as parents, you know, talking about failing like a failure sometimes that living with teenagers, parenting teenagers, I’ll just say like, I failed many times over. How do we build into like, give them the five I’m sure there’s right ways and wrong ways to give them the five positives in a right way to help grow that growth mindset for them. What are some of the tips and tricks and tools that we can do as parents?


Mandy Fontaine  12:42

Just to kind of recap, growth mindset is defined a lot by Dr. Carol Dweck,


Lisa Marker Robbins  12:49

look right behind me her books right over there on that. It’s actually our we’re recording this in May, and we don’t have our published date yet. So this will probably be done by then. But our florist book club, we do a quarterly parent book club. And the book of this quarter is for the April, May, June 2022. Is Carol’s mindset. It Yeah. So we can get together as parents and talk about it.


Mandy Fontaine  13:18

Yes, you will get so many more great tips on that book


Lisa Marker Robbins  13:22

that made that amazing book, I’ll link to it in the show notes. And you mentioned another book earlier, inventing ourselves, I’ll be sure like, you’re giving great resources. So we’re gonna link to these in the show notes. Okay, so go back to mindset and what you’re gonna say about Carol’s work,


Mandy Fontaine  13:38

growth mindset is believing that growth and learning is always possible. And it’s not limited. Whereas the fixed mindset is things are limited. And you either have talent or intelligence, or you don’t. And that effort is only for people who do not have the talent.


Lisa Marker Robbins  13:55

Second idea that you shouldn’t have to work. If you’re talented. Riho falls? Yes. And we’ve gotten our teenagers,


Mandy Fontaine  14:05

right. But imagine if you have a kid that’s really talented in science, or really talented, and you know, in a sport or performing whatever it is, and they just put more work into it. They put a same amount of work. Perfect example. You want to go to medical school. Okay, Lisa, you’re really good at science. It just comes naturally to you, and you love it. I love it. But my aptitude for it is probably not not the same level as yours. So I have to work hard. It doesn’t mean that we both can’t go to medical school. It just means that I’m going to have to work harder. And that’s okay. I’m probably going to have to I’m going to fail a little bit more than you and get back up and we can both do it. But that sweet spot is when you can find those things that kids are really good at and what they love, and they’re putting in that I’ve heard for it, it’s gonna feel effortless when they’re doing. And that’s your, that’s your wheelhouse, right? Like, yep, that’s what you’re really good at doing. I just helped them find those strengths, what are your gifts, I want to build into that and build that confidence without the doubt in there. So cultivating growth mindset at home, I tell parents to praise the process, praise the hard work, notice the amount of studying the time they’re putting into it, notice their their effort on feel, notice their commitment to get up and go to practices, and then come home and do their homework. Now, they may not be getting the grades that you want them to. But it’s not about that. It’s about the process. So really focusing on the work and the effort that they’re putting in, and their ability to tap into the toolbox.


Lisa Marker Robbins  15:52

So our first tip is like being aware of these things, right? As a parent. So us, you’re talking about building self awareness and our teen. So we also need to work on awareness of like, the process, the showing up on the part of our kids, what’s the right way to praise that? Because I would have to think that there are right and wrong ways to acknowledge that, to instill this mindset.


Mandy Fontaine  16:21

Absolutely. So it’s not praising the grade, right? It’s not praising the award, or the achievement in the end. So it saying you really studied hard for that test. And your improvement really shows proud of you. I really liked all the different strategies that you incorporated to try and figure out that math homework, or to figure out that new concepts and math that you really struggled with, I even had a student last night that I was working with, and she was scared to go back to her math teacher, because there was one time he responded to her and said, we talked about this in class. Well, she knows that they talked about it in class. But she still didn’t understand the concept. We talked about the negativity bias of holding on to that I said, was there other times you went to that teacher? And he gave you positive feedback or really helped you? And she was like, yeah, like was that more often than that, like that negative experience? She was? Yeah, with a little smirk. And so right


Lisa Marker Robbins  17:27

there, he took something out. And he withdrew and needed five deposits. But he wasn’t to five deposits yet. So she forgot,


Mandy Fontaine  17:38

right? And the teacher doesn’t know that doesn’t understand that piece of the adolescent brain. And even as a parent, they come home and you’re frustrated, because they didn’t do their homework, and why didn’t you do this? Or you’re harping on them for something? And it’s like, okay, are you seeing in taking that second to see all the other things that they are doing? Right, so I always say, I teach this to my students, too, that our brains are like a super computer, right? So what we program it to think about, it’s going to think about or to focus on is what it’s going to focus on. So I encourage students and parents, and I use the quote, what appreciates appreciates. So when you are really appreciating the fact that they did do their homework, you’re gonna continue to harp on that, you’re gonna get more of that, that’s where your, your your brain and your, your frustrations, all of it’s going to go to, but if you can choose to stop and choose to appreciate the things that are doing now, you’re going to see more of that versus the other. Then there’s the other piece, your child fails, and you just want to say, Oh, you did such a good job. Don’t worry about it, you’ll get them next time, right? I’m very guilty of this, because we want


Lisa Marker Robbins  18:51

to encourage them, we love them and we want to help them feel better. Or scoring up. I know you’re gonna tell us we’re scrolling up when we do that. So what do we need to do?


Mandy Fontaine  19:01

And I’m right there right there with you. I have I myself have to be more intentional about choosing the right words in the right language at the right time. So in that moment, it’s acknowledging how they’re feeling. Alright, so your child has a soccer game and she just doesn’t do a good job. She really wanted to win that the team lost. She’s super disappointed. And you just sit, sit with her and say, I get it. I know you’re disappointed. Or maybe she can say she didn’t get as much playing time as she can you just say it’s okay. If you want more playing time, it just hasn’t happened yet. The word yet needs to be in all of our vocabulary. Looking around and saying okay, Sarah comes before practice or stays after practice and does her Footwork Drills or another teammate is sitting there with the coaches doing extra things outside to build that skill that they’re wanting to learn more of? In a It’s It’s okay, that you’re not there yet. But if you really, really want it, you have to put more effort in. Right? And that sounds really harsh. It’s hard to say as a parent, but it’s, I believe in stating the facts around you, right? Like, what are the things that other players are doing? And yes, there’s gonna be other players that are just more talented. That’s life. Right? If that’s a goal, one of the things that you can do to get to where you want to be, and how can you put that?


Lisa Marker Robbins  20:29

Yeah, that’s recently in our launch, College and Career Clarity, Facebook, parent community, we were talking about that same thing, like, sometimes we’re instilling a mindset and our kids just great things or like the make it all better or, but if we, it sounds again, harsh, but if we’re setting them up with a mindset of expect that you’re going to fail along the way, expect to your point that somebody else is going to have better whatever, in soccer, then it’s building in that resiliency. So we need to resist that urge to be fixing everything,


Mandy Fontaine  21:11

allow your child to fail right now. I mean, especially in adolescence, I would rather than fail now, learn those skills and those tools and how to I always say grow through the experience now versus later, because the consequences of failure are worse later than they are right now. And on top of that, you’re teaching them the skills and the coping skills to know how to handle those things. When they’re an adult. One of the topics I I work a lot with is students with anxiety. And you see, when they were younger research really shows with students who have anxiety, you really, even though it’s really hard as a parent, when they’re little little, to want to take that away from them. And not to feel that just what you feel with anxiousness, right, and the anxiety, this all come along with anxiety, it’s exposing them little by little along the way. So that way, they know that we’re okay. And they can cope. It gets worse as an adolescent, when the parent has taken it all away and saved them. And now they don’t have the coping skills themselves to do it.


Lisa Marker Robbins  22:23

You’re at great company, because episode two of the podcast and I’ll link to it in the show notes, New York Times best seller, we had the author of How to raise an adult on and she sent out that same message like you are in great company because she was a dean of freshmen students at Stanford. And so this idea of letting them try it and fail and navigate these things while they’re still at home instead of just shooting them out there into the world.


Mandy Fontaine  22:54

So Dr. Julie, like, come on, I was one of my books I was gonna recommend to She’s wonderful.


Lisa Marker Robbins  22:59

She’s wonderful. So yeah, we had her on, she was on episode two of the podcast. So we’ll link to it. Yeah, feel free to share it with your community. So I want to talk a little bit about your communities as we’re closing up, because you’re giving us great tips for us as adults working with teens or as parents of teens and young adults and that 16 to 25 year old space. So tell us a little bit about girl thriving. I have a question. Your last school counselor job was at an all girls school. Was that why you double down on working with female adolescents? Or did you see something else that you felt like girls needed this more? I don’t even know the answer to that question as well as I know you in Honestly,


Mandy Fontaine  23:46

my career has kind of gone full circle. So when I graduated college, I graduated it was gonna be teacher. I landed a job working with at risk teens and mainly at risk girls, and it was a mentoring program. And it was that mentoring program that I saw these girls needed a solid mentor role model in their lives. And I went back for school counseling, fast forward, never had any intention of working at an all girls school. I’ve coached along the way I’ve done to that basketball, volleyball, all the things, and I loved all of it. I think the piece I’ve pulled away that I enjoyed the most was the empowerment piece as a coach not necessarily teaching the technical side. It was the just building them up and reminding them what they’re capable of achieving was like my favorite part. And so then fast forward I’m working at this all girls school never intended to working on and you


Lisa Marker Robbins  24:40

worked at a co Ed public school prior to that. So let’s insert that so then you go to this all girls school?


Mandy Fontaine  24:48

Yeah, I kind of thought like, I never understood the all girls school thing. Kind of always had collegiate like college roommates that went to all girls schools and I thought why would you even want to do that? But once I was there, I got it. It made sense. Like, it’s a sisterhood. Like when you can get women together to empower one another and just to build each other up. Oh my gosh, I get chills, I get chills just even thinking about it. The empowerment is so important. And it builds confidence in there’s all these less distractions around you with the boys out there not saying they’re still not cattiness, right between girls, it’s just normal, but there is something special about it. And that’s where I just felt like, I love these young women. And I just want them to stop criticizing themselves, and stop beating themselves up and see themselves for who they are, and be strong and confident and be the best version of themselves because they can achieve so much.


Lisa Marker Robbins  25:55

Oh, you are doing that at girl thriving. And I am so excited for you and the young ladies that you’re working with, where are you most active? I know I got here, we’re gonna put it in the show notes all the ways that people can connect with you and you’re giving tips I see you very active on social like you’re giving you gave us great tips today, but you’re giving above and beyond more and more on social. Yeah, where do you want them to follow you


Mandy Fontaine  26:25

on Instagram? That’s where I put most of my stuff. I try to put out tips events that are coming up. And that’s probably the most the most awkward spot right now. Okay,


Lisa Marker Robbins  26:35

well, we will put that along with your website and the resources we mentioned today in the show notes, Mandy, thank you for sharing with us for empowering us as parents of those 16 to 25 year olds and keep doing the great work.


Mandy Fontaine  26:52

Thank you. You too. Take some balance. Yeah,


Lisa Marker Robbins  26:55

that’s for sure. Take care of Mandy. My reading list just grew after talking with Mandy, I really encourage you to head to the show notes to grab the links to the book she mentioned in our conversation. This week’s college bound action is really for all stages of life, and an exception to my task to complete by the end of the next weekend. Instead, I’m going to encourage you to start doing something now and begin to practice it ongoing, not only in parenting your teen and adult children, but for yourself at work and with friends. In your conversations and mine. Let’s shift to a better praise process that Mandy taught and adopt that powerful word yet. Today’s episode might just be one that you want to share with not only those with teens, but friends of all ages, including those with younger children who can start early. I know I wish I had this information when my children are younger. At floors coaching we grow our reach to positively impact the next generation through the podcast. When you share follow the podcast rate and review and helps us to increase our impact. I have a special favor to ask this week. If you listen on Apple podcasts, please take a minute and write a review. By doing so it’s a small step for empowering the next generation and being a way maker in the world. Thank you for listening to the College and Career Clarity podcast, where I help your family move from overwhelmed and confused to motivated clear and confident about your teens future