7 strategies for highly successful teens

Vanessa Van Petten is the founder, CEO and lead writer for Radical Parenting.

Hi! Happy New Year! I’m so excited to announce a new life-changing program I have created for teens. In this fun, entertaining and inspirational talk I go over the 7 strategies for highly effective teens. This is nothing like your typical high school presentation. Here are some highlights:

  • Groundbreaking research insights about the teen brain and behavior
  • Hilarious and inspiring videos
  • Immediately applicable action steps to motivate and encourage teens from all levels
  • Relatable stories for teens to feel engaged and understood

I can’t give too much away, but in this talk we delve into both the lighthearted and serious issues teens face including:

  • Effective communication with peers, parents and teachers
  • Mastering the online environment — preventing cyberbullying, staying savvy online and building a digital reputation that lasts
  • School — life balance, reducing stress and finding the right outlets
  • How to have healthy relationships with the important people in a teen’s life
  • Planning for the future, smart college applications, resume building and finding your life passions

I am stoked about this new talk and have already booked out January, February and March at High Schools, youth conferences and Parent groups around the US. Please contact our manager Lynn Campbell for pricing and date availability at manager@radicalparenting.com.

Find out if we might already be coming to your city! And yes, of course, we have tween, parent and teacher versions!

“With Tourette, your dreams can come true as well”

Last week, I was in the biggest newspaper of the Netherlands — again! I finally got the time to translate the article, so here it is! The interview was done because a journalist saw the videos of my speeches in Athens, so I’m very proud of that. :)

Happy Holidays!

I’M ALIVE! – ‘With Tourette your dreams can come true as well’

Laura Beljaars has Tourette Syndrome. Her goal is to show other young people that with this disorder, your dreams can come true as well.

By Marion van Es

Many people think that all Tourette patients constantly swear, while in fact it’s just a small part of Tourette patients who have this tic. There are tics that are way more common, but those are apparently not interesting or ‘funny’ enough. Which is too bad, because Tourette is different for every person.

For me it’s hard to filter all the things that go on around me, I have concentration problems and most of the time I’m very tired. When I was twelve, I had about 300 tics every 15 minutes, mostly twisting my eyes and tensing my muscles. Luckily I have never been bullied, probably because I’ve always been very open about my Tourette. Everybody can ask me anything they want.

I’ve always thought that I had to accept that I just couldn’t do everything. I wanted to help children so I started to study psychology, but I had to stop, because it was too much for me at that time. Later I realized that there are a lot of different ways to achieve a goal. I can do anything I want, I just have to take a detour sometimes.

At the moment I’m almost graduating college, to become an elementary school teacher. I would love to help children who have a difficult time at school, for instance because they have Tourette, ADHD or autism. I want to show them, that even with a disorder like this, your dreams can come true.

In April of this year, I had the opportunity to speak at an international conference about Tourette Syndrome. You can see the videos of those speeches at www.tourettelaura.nl. It was very special to show the human side of Tourette like this. Of course it was a bit scary to speak in front of this many important researchers in English, but the message I had, was more important than my nerves.

A lot of young patients hate their Tourette. That’s too bad, because that means you hate something within yourself. There is way more possible for you, then you might think.

I’ve taught many different grades at elementary school, but never did someone make a problem of me having Tourette. If you don’t make a problem of it yourself, most others won’t do that as well.

A lot of people think live is over when you have Tourette, even my mother thought that, back when I was just diagnosed. She says I taught her that this is not true.

Are emotions real?

Sometimes I feel that my emotions aren’t real. I feel nervous about something or unhappy about something or stressed, but I feel like I try to block that emotion out and not feel it. I think I’m just so used to blocking my emotions about things that it’s actually only rarely that I feel an emotion to its full extent.

In my life, I have had to do so much emotion blocking and distancing myself from a situation that it is almost second nature. I had to distance myself when I was bullied in elementary school about my tics and when after I was diagnosed my parents didn’t really accept or want to believe that I have Tourette’s. I have to distance myself from the stares when I am ticcing, washing my hands for too long in the bathroom, or panicking and having anxiety in a store and am not acting like myself at all.

Distancing myself and blocking my emotions is something I do on a daily basis without even consciously thinking about it. Today, though, is one of those rare days where I cannot distance myself or block out my emotions. I am nervous, scared and worried about going back to college and having to meet new people and be in new classes and have to educate over and over again about my Tourette’s for gosh knows how long.

I am nervous and scared and worried in a real way that I can’t block out. I don’t want to go out of the house today, which is really the opposite of what I am usually like because I am usually always wanting to be on the go or always doing something.

When an emotion like this hits me hard, I feel like I am “stuck” in a way and don’t really want to do much of anything. Even writing this blog post is something I originally didn’t want to do. It feels like someone flipped a switch in my brain and put me in a completely different mental state than I was yesterday.

Yesterday I was so excited about going back to college and seeing my friends and was actually excited about getting to educate about my Tourette’s. I still feel that to some extent, but mostly I feel scared and anxious now.

I wish I could flip the switch back to where I was yesterday, but it’s like I can’t find the switch right now. I know though that this, too, will pass and that probably in a day or two I will find that switch. It will help a lot when I actually move back in with my friends from college and start getting into it.

The worst part of anything for me is the anticipation, and I have to keep that in mind in times like these. The anxiety and emotions that come with anticipation of something that’s coming up is always 100 percent worse than the actual situation itself.

When I’m in the situation, I tend to be fine, but it never feels like it’s going to be that way. I just want someone to rip of the band-aid right now though. I am fed up with the anticipation and the waiting! Four more days, though, until I move back, which feels both like a very long time and a very short time.

Against Bullying and Suicide

1002111_222158214575267_1012190192_nHi everyone! I have a favor to ask of you. One of my friends started a page called Against Bullying and Suicide on Facebook and is needing more people to like her page. If you could please go over there and like her page, it would mean both a lot to her and to me. Also, you can share your stories on their and reach out to other people. Thank you all so much! :)

2013 NJCTS Children’s Scholarship Award Essay: “Tourette Syndrome – My Story”

This is the essay I submitted to the New Jersey Center for Tourette Syndrome & Associated Disorders (NJCTS) for their 2013 Children’s Scholarship Award contest. I hope you enjoy it! And here is my profile on the NJCTS website.

Weinfeld, BenjaminSince the 2nd grade, I have been diagnosed with — among other things — Tourette Syndrome. I’m one of the lucky ones, if you can say that. I don’t blurt out obscenities, and I don’t convulse violently. I have minor things. So what if I whistle from time to time, grimace, jerk my neck, chirp, blink or stick out my tongue? I live with these tics all of the time.

Do I get jeered from time to time? Yes. Do I get odd looks when I walk into a room filled with new people? Occasionally. I don’t like to think of myself as a kid who has been smitten by an illness, but someone who — like everyone else — has his own definition of normal.

Back when I was diagnosed with TS, I was in the 2nd grade and I could not stop whistling in class. I got in trouble multiple times, and my parents were called in. A doctor then diagnosed me with TS.

I have to be honest here: I was bullied in elementary school because I was different, and it wasn’t until around the 7th grade that I became confident with who I was and began to take everything in stride. Continue reading