Empowering Teens: Improving Your Relationship With Your Teen - Jill Avery Henderson

Empowering Teens: Improving Your Relationship With Your Teen - Jill Avery Henderson

Empowering Teens: Improving your relationship with your teen

In this episode, we explore youth empowerment and healthy family relationships.

Jill Avery Henderson is an empowerment educator, and igniter for teens, young adults, and families.

In the last 30 years she's created multiple award-winning empowerment businesses.

The cornerstone of Jill's success is her innate ability to illuminate new paths, possibilities, and fresh perspectives for others. Jill holds a bachelor’s and Master’s in Communications and is also a mom of 2 young adults; A certified Hypnotherapist, Reiki instructor, Ironman, and an animal advocate.

To connect with Jill; https://www.lifelaunch.us/

Speaker 1 (00:00):

Parenting in the Digital Age Podcast, many parents are concerned that their child might be falling behind. Others are just looking for ways to help their children thrive, not just in the classroom, but socially and well into their future careers. Each episode, we explore the challenges facing parents in the modern world, from behavior, education and nutrition, to device and gaming addiction. We interview a range of leaders in the area of childhood development to help you successfully navigate parenting. In the digital age, here is your host, Jamie Buttigieg.

Speaker 2 (00:34):

Hello parents. Uh, welcome to another episode. Uh, it's Jamie here and I've got Jill Avery Henderson, who is an empowerment educator and ignited for teens, young adults and families. And in the last 30 years, she's created some multiple award-winning empowerment businesses. Now the cornerstone of Jill's success is her innate ability to illuminate new paths, possibilities, and fresh perspectives for others. Jill also holds a bachelor's and masters in communications. She's a mother of two young adults, certified hip therapist, Reiki instructor, Ironman, and an animal advocate. Wow. That is impressive. Now, in this episode, we will be exploring youth empowerment and healthy family relationships, but Jill, before we touch on any of that, why don't you share with our listeners, uh, in your own words, what you do, what you're passionate about and, uh, what led you to this point?

Speaker 3 (01:25):

Well, thank you for having me first, Jamie, this is such a wonderful show. So I'm so excited to be here. Uh, I'm an empowerment, uh, educator of teens, young adults and parents, or really families. And, uh, it's something that I was, I would like to say that I was just born with because I have always been excited about getting people. I can kind of zero in on their potential and get that untapped to be kind of wide open and get them really, to step into their lives, kind of leaning into it and facing forward. And it's just, it's been something that I've always done kind of naturally. So what a wonderful thing for me to be able to do as I've evolved in my life to keep on doing it. So

Speaker 2 (02:11):

That's yeah, that, that is wonderful. Now on your website, uh, in my pre podcast research, I took a look around and you talk a lot about empowerment. Can you explain what that means to you for our listeners?

Speaker 3 (02:25):

Yeah, I think that's a really good question because empowerment means a lot of different things to different people. For me and people who know me empower is the dynamic duo, which is taking your desire and your discipline and making that being kicked into action. You are responsible 100% for the quality of your life. And that's what I believe. The 10 most powerful two letter words that I was taught when I was eight years old, "If it is to be, it is up to me". I live and breathe that, and that's what I bring to the people that I work with is that, you know, you can't be looking outside for help. You have to look right inside to make any change. So that's, that's what I'm all about. The desire and discipline.

Speaker 2 (03:09):

Yeah, absolutely. That, uh, almost self accountability, isn't it?

Speaker 3 (03:12):

Oh, 100%. That's right. There's no one to blame. You can't be like looking over your shoulder and nope, it always goes back to you.

Speaker 2 (03:21):

Yeah, most definitely. Now I'm a little curious, was there a particular defining moment in your life that made you commit to a life of empowering teens, young adults and families, cuz you do that also?

Speaker 3 (03:32):

Yes. I, uh, you know, I am a mom of two and they are young adults now, 24 year old son and a 21 year old daughter. And so they have launched into their adulthood. Um, but when they were in high school is when I started noticing the ecosystem of the kids, uh, at their school, walking to school, riding their bikes to school. And it was this complete, uh, layer of depression. Their body language was, their shoulders were down their backpacks. They, there was absolutely no joy. I didn't see any joy. And I just remember, I mean, I'm, I'm almost 58 years old. So I was, back high school back in the, uh, early eighties. And, uh, it was kind of a joyful time. I know it was a completely different world, but when I saw that layer of depression and I heard about the suicide rate of being at that time, it was the third leading cause of death in, in the United States.

Speaker 3 (04:27):

Um, and now it's the second leading cause of death in ages 10 to 24. So when I started learning about what was going on, the anxiety, the depression, the self-harm, the suicide ideation, I said to myself, you know, I've done it almost for 30 years, empowered people. But I said, when my last child graduated from high school, I was going to find a solution or at least be a part of the solution to contribute. And that's when I dedicated, I just stopped doing everything and just put my whole life into empowering teens, young adults and making sure that the parents are on board because if the parents aren't on board with it, if there's not that alignment hard to, to make things happen.

Speaker 2 (05:11):

Yeah. Yeah. And, um, this may follow on from that. So in your work, you talk about a health crisis that's impacting our youth. Can you describe what that is and you know, what you believe to be the main cause or culprit?

Speaker 3 (05:25):

Yes. Um, it's really quite, uh, it it's really quite concerning and it's, uh, we need to talk about it. A lot of people it's very uncomfortable. Parents feel like they're failing. If they're, if they talk about their children are struggling. And the bottom line is it's an epidemic of what we are seeing of the anxiety, the stress related, stress related disorders. Um, I actually work with a lot of doctors because it's been, since COVID even pre COVID we've had, it was an epidemic. C just absolutely blew everything out of the water. And the doctors that I had been working with, the cardiologist, the rheumatologist, the nephrologist, they said it's profound devastation of what's happened to our youth during, um, during COVID. And it was already not so great kids struggling this. And I believe the culprit is technology. That's one of the biggest culprits is we are in the age of technology.

Speaker 3 (06:25):

We're in the age of connecting with our devices. We are losing our social skills. We're losing the face to face time that we spend together how to develop relationships. It's all about doing selfies and being online and connecting in a way that is not real. And kids, they feel lost. They don't feel connected. And if you look, if you go anywhere, a restaurant, an airport, I don't care where you are. Everyone is looking down, right. Everyone is looking down and I, technology is, it's not the only culprit. That is the main culprit that has changed in the last 25 years. For sure. That's everyone has. I mean, I see two year olds scrolling through their phones. I see four year olds already knowing how to program the phones. I mean, and I'm not being funny. I mean, this is, this is serious stuff. They were born with technology in their hands.

Speaker 3 (07:19):

And if we know anything about the brain, which I, I do is the brain develops on how it's used. So we're using our brain in a very different way or the teenagers they've grown up with only, I, I would say under the age of 25 with technology, a part of their everyday life. And, um, we're seen because we can study the live brain. Now the technology that our brains, the teen brain is very different and we have to be very careful with this technology and learn how to put boundaries on it. And it's tough because addiction is a business. I'm addicted. Yeah. Yep. I'm addicted. So, you know, we have to figure this out together.

Speaker 2 (07:58):

Yeah. Yeah. That's, uh, it's, it's interesting that the conversation's gone down this path, as you know, I'm associated with Skill Samurai who are the sponsors of the show also. And we, we work very hard, um, where we, we teach bus, we teach kids coding. That's our, our business effectively, how to, but, but one of the things that we pride ourselves on and certainly is part of our mission, the, the four parts of our mission is to help kids build a healthy relationship with technology. Yes. And, uh, and as parents, I'm a parent of four and, uh, uh, we, I struggle, you know, even, even being in this business and trying to make a difference much like yourself, uh, I struggle to, um, find that healthy balance. And we had a really interesting conversation, uh, a couple of weeks ago with Sheila Degotardi, she's a, a specialist in this, and I'm gonna ask you the same question. We're going off script a little bit here. But, uh, I asked her what she felt was, is there a right age to introduce technology to kids? Uh, and, uh, just, you know, what is your general view or sense on this topic?

Speaker 3 (09:00):


Speaker 2 (09:00):

Gosh. And there's no right or wrong. I'm not this, I'm not trying to see one way or the other.

Speaker 3 (09:05):

Yes, no, it's, it's a, it's actually a really good question that I think is going to have a lot of different answers because I think depending on the maturity of that child, um, what kind of technology you're talking about? I, it's almost hard not to have kids be introduced because they feel that they are, um, you know, it's that whole FOMO fear of missing out and everything is done online now, right? Teachers, you know, Facebook groups for the kids, all the projects are done on, on, on their, their laptops. Everything is really geared toward technology. So that's a really, I don't know if I even really have an answer because, um, I would want to wait as long as possible and to kind of stairstep it because I actually believe that we don't need, okay, this is, let's just go with phones for technology. I'm not talking about computers.

Speaker 3 (10:08):

I don't believe that kids should have phones at school. I think that, um, it should be in their locker. Maybe they can, may, may, at some point they can have access to it, but we, the kids have lost connection. They have lost the ability to learn how to socialize. If they're uncomfortable, they just grab their phone, you know, and they, they don't have to go meet people to go have lunch with. They can just, you know, be so terrified and live in their fear that they'll just go play a game. They'll just pretend that they're on Instagram. They'll just, they'll do whatever to, to avoid having eye contact and having these social skills that, you know, life is about people. Life is about relationships. So I know I'm all over the map because about the technology question. Yeah. But I, you know what, I'm gonna have to process that and really think about that because I just think the longer that we can wait or that we can instill boundaries at a very young age, that we can, it can start evolving and opening up as they become a little bit more responsible and a little bit more skilled at life skills of self competence versus, you know, technology competent.

Speaker 2 (11:16):

Yeah, you're right. And, and this, isn't an easy question for parents and, and we're all wrestling with this and yes, one of the things that came outta that last conversation was it's, it's sometimes less about when you introduce it, but how you introduce it and you mentioned stepping it, and that's, that's an important part of technology introduction. Uh, but you know, it's also as a parent being more active in that techno, uh, in the device usage. So if you're gonna introduce a tablet or a computer or a piece of technology or a game or an app to a young child, it's perhaps taking a greater interest and doing something that involves interaction with you, that is also social combines, that social aspect. And that's one of the things we do very hard try, very hard to do in our learning centers is, you know, teach kids what's behind the technology.

Speaker 2 (12:02):

So rather than being consumed by that game and being, uh, constantly addicted to the game, we teach 'em to be curious and teach 'em to understand the languages and what what's gone behind that game or that piece of technology, or that app, or that robot to, to, to develop or build that. And so we think that, uh, um, helping them understand that and how we introduce 'em to that technology is fundamentally more important than when we do that. So it's, uh, but it's something that we'll continue to discuss no doubt throughout, uh, uh, adult lives. Yeah. Um, yeah. So

Speaker 3 (12:37):

Go ahead. Yeah, just to add one thing to that, that, you know, we get one childhood, that's it, and you're an adult for the remainder of your life. And these kids are gonna have so many more opportunities to, to learn, uh, different parts of the technology and what to do with it. And I just believe that we should focus on giving children far more time downtime to be outside, to connect with mother nature, to, to be away from devices because in school they're already have the devices in the schools, they have computer labs and whatnot, but to really get them to want to connect and learn how to make friends and learn how to be connected to their parents and understand their family values and all of these things. So they have that strong foundation. So when they start getting introduced to technology and coding and, you know, um, video game creation or whatever it may be, um, that they already have a solid foundation of, you know, knowing how to be caring and compassionate and curious, and imaginative and inventive and, and, and being giddy and giggly, and having, having that childhood, because you just can never, ever recapture that.

Speaker 3 (13:58):

So I, I want them to have fun and folic and, and to be, to be imaginative without having to have a, a computer or a phone to do so. Right. It's like, yeah. I mean, I'm probably much older than you, but think about back in the day on, you know, family, car trips, traveling across the country or traveling, you know, there was nothing, you know, you roll down the window and, you know, there was no even have music in your ears. You barely had the radio and you just looked outside or, you know, what you were bored. And my mom always said, you know, encourage boredom, because when you, when you do that, you really have to think let's your mind do something else. So those are my beliefs is getting back to the basics though.

Speaker 2 (14:43):

Yeah. Yeah. That's important. And, and it's almost like the, the cards are stacked against parents in that case, because if we try and withhold that technology and I, and I know, and speak to many parents who, uh, don't introduce technology until the kids are much older, but then there's this almost social isolation or social anxiety that occurs because their friends have it and they're almost socially outcast, you know, why don't you have it? You know? And then there's this other stress and this other pressure that mounts on these children, because they don't have access to it. And their parents are trying very hard to do the right thing and do all those things. Um, so, uh, yeah, it's a, there's no, there's no easy answer. And we've got a, certainly a tough road and long road ahead of us. Um, one question I wanted to ask, uh, we, we try and also incorporate a practical aspect to what, you know, what we give out on these podcasts. And, um, you know, you've got a lot of experience in parenting and empowerment programs for both, uh, youth and parents and families. Uh, but what's one thing, or, you know, maybe you could be a couple of things, but what's one thing you tell our parent listeners that could, you know, perhaps that instantly help their relationship with their kids.

Speaker 3 (15:51):

So I would say, yeah, the one thing is the tough one thing, but I would say maybe three things that kind of go together is to really evolve, to really embrace the evolving, the ever evolving role that you, and that you're, that you have in your child's life. It's, it's ever evolving, it's ever changing and really having that mindset to go from being there, the authority and their manager into really wanting to turn that into. Cause I'm talking about teen parents right now, teens and young adults is to be, you wanna be more of an influencer of your, of your children's lives. You want them to, to hear what you have to say and to really actually take it into account. So going from manager to really being an influencer and just learn how to listen, because kids, I don't care. Well, this doesn't matter what age humans, when you really listen.

Speaker 3 (16:51):

I mean, truly listen. And that's a skill in itself is that you people tell you exactly where they are and who they are at that moment. So it's really important to be a really good listener, be the influencer. Don't be the authority. You already have that role of being the parent for the rest of your life and to, and to be really comfortable in shifting and morphing into that. And the last thing which I have incorporated, um, I first first do it to yourself before you do it to your family, but ask yourself three questions. And you may, you may already know this, Jamie, I, I, I heard this years ago and I use it with my relationship with my family and well actually with everybody in my life is I ask myself three questions before I respond. But right now let's put it in the framework of, of family relationships.

Speaker 3 (17:44):

So parents out there, when you're frustrated, when you're fed up, when there's friction, when you are just exasperated, whatever it may be, ask yourself three things before you speak to your children or to your spouse. One, is it kind, is it true? Is it necessary when you ask yourself those three questions? Is it true? Is it kind, is it necessary nine times out of 10? You're not gonna say anything because you're gonna realize like, gosh, you know, uh, if it hits one of those, you need to reframe it. You need to rework it. You maybe need to take pause, but those three things really, really help a relationship like that. If, if you can just take pause, run that through your mind really quickly. Cuz often as parents, we just, we just want to, we just get it out. We, we, we react and um, and we catch ourselves. So ask yourself those three questions. Is it true? Is it kind, is it necessary before you respond?

Speaker 2 (18:46):

Yeah, that's a, a great lesson. Something you're right. I've heard, but uh, something I certainly do need to work harder to apply. So thank you for the reminder.

Speaker 3 (18:53):

Try it. It works.

Speaker 2 (18:55):

Yeah. No doubt. No doubt. Um, okay, so here's a fun little question we'd like to ask all of our guests. And uh, if you could go back, uh, in time and uh, talk to your 10 year old self what's, perhaps one piece of advice that you would give yourself.

Speaker 3 (19:10):

Oh my gosh, I loved my 10 year old self. So carefree, I would say don't change too much. You're so, so behave that inner child, that child like self, but to really become skilled in self-care and self love and putting your oxygen mask on first, because we all have to understand the most powerful truth is that when we are well, the whole world benefits. So I would say, "You've got everything. Life is an inside job. You have everything that you need with inside. You, you just have to be skilled at your ever evolving self".

Speaker 2 (19:55):

Yeah, that's fantastic. That's a great piece of advice. And uh, for those listeners that want to get in contact with you, how can they do that? Where can we find, uh, Jill Avery Henderson online?

Speaker 3 (20:04):

You, I would love to be, um, connect with me anytime my website, you can easily contact me. It's um, lifelaunch.us and you can email me Jill life launch.us, feel free to contact me. I have different services, but it's all about empowerment and making sure that you know that you are in charge and you are responsible for the quality of your life.

Speaker 2 (20:32):

Absolutely. Jill, um, we've got a couple of minutes left, so I'm gonna ask you, yeah. Why don't you share with our listeners, uh, a little bit about one of your most popular program, one of your most favorite programs perhaps that you, you run there?

Speaker 3 (20:43):

Oh my gosh. Well, there's, there's two. So I, I really love teens and young adults, but the reason that I work with parents is because if you don't have the two of them together, it's just not really gonna work out. So my program for my parents is my parent coaching course, which is phenomenal because it really helps parents understand themselves as people. And it helps them build those life skills and those relationship skills with their kids for a lifetime. We're not talking about just for the summer or just because they're teens, but for a lifetime. So these kids wanna come back and they have these great relationships. And then for my teens, I have a program called "Go Big" and big stands for, um, blaze in greatness. And it's all about teaching kids. How to really truly become self competent to become, you know, the, the captains of their own, their own fate to really know how to make wise decisions, to understand how to be, you know, uh, anything in life it's it's from interviewing skills to social skills, to healthy relationships, to, to know how to, um, navigate almost any circumstance that has gone awry because life is messy and kids need to understand everyday life skills in order to build that thriving life.

Speaker 3 (21:59):

So I call it go big. So those are two of my favorite programs.

Speaker 2 (22:04):

Thank you so much for sharing that Jill and, uh, uh, above all this. Thank you for your time and generosity today. I know I got a lot outta today's, uh, podcast, so I know our, our listeners and our parents will do the same. Um, thanks again for your time.

Speaker 3 (22:17):

Oh my gosh. Thank you for having me and keep doing what you're doing. I really appreciate it. And remember when you're well, Jamie, your kids are even better. Absolutely.

Speaker 2 (22:26):

That's great advice. Thank you, Jill and bye for now.

Speaker 3 (22:28):

Okay. See you later.

Speaker 1 (22:33):

If you enjoyed the show, please connect with Jamie on LinkedIn or Instagram. You'll find links in the podcast. Description parenting in the digital age is sponsored by Skill Samurai, coding and stem academy for kids. Skill Samurai offers after school coding classes and holiday programs to help kids thrive academically and socially while preparing them for the careers of the future. Visit skillsamurai.com.au

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