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Helping Teens Become Their Own Person

By Danny L. Ross, M.Ed., CSC, LPC-S, NCC

Who am I?

That's a difficult question for adults, children, and teenagers to wrestle with as they navigate the tumultuous waters of self-identity. It's more of a gauntlet for teenagers because they are biologically changing due to puberty. They are also experiencing the transition from one phase of life to the next - child to teenager - simultaneously. As adults and parents, we tend to reduce adolescent struggle or dismiss it entirely, but we must create a safe environment for them to explore their developing personalities.

Try these two questions to allow your teenagers to explore themselves while being safe and continually moving forward.

Ask them:

What are your values?

It's crucial to discuss values because these are the personal beliefs that will become the foundation of their character and their guiding north star in times of trouble and growth. Our values drive how we react, internalize, and interpret the world. It's never too early to discuss things like character, integrity, honesty, and exploring what's important.

Who do you want to be?

Have them imagine the person they want to be - their ideal self. What do they look like, what do they do, how do they act, etc.? Once they have their values and that image, they can begin creating a road map and game plan for success.

These questions help us create a clear vision while being intentional about ourselves and our actions. Moving into the teenage phase can and will be chaotic, so when teens define their personal values and have an image of their ideal self, they possess the much-needed anchor to remain grounded even when everything around them is changing.

Danny L. Ross is a certified/school counselor and a Licensed Professional Counselor Supervisor in Texas with over 20 years of combined experience in teaching, school counseling, social services, and clinical counseling. He has authored five books related to diversity, education, and grief.

I recognize that educators have been challenged to create effective supports to assist students when they experience adversity and are challenged academically and behaviorally. We have tried blanket treatment plans based on ineffective textbook scenarios that do not help move students forward.” “

This is why My Messages for Teens (ages 13 to 18) and My Messages for Children (ages 8 through 12) were created.

These interactive online supports are based on ASCA standards and focus on understanding individual students' spoken and unrevealed thoughts, feelings, and emotions.

To learn more, visit

For more information, call our office at 817-989-6332 or email us at

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