Serving You & Your Teen

Does it feel like no one understands you, or takes your view into account as you plan for a future that seems unclear? If the answer is “yes,” there’s good news—you are not alone, even if it feels that way sometimes. And, there’s a good chance that the person who popped into your head when you read that question also answered “yes.” The research is in when it comes to challenges, studies show that everyone faces them. But, not everyone faces the same challenges, or needs to face them similarly.

Encouraging Teens, founded by Desiree Panlilio, is dedicated to changing and improving the relationships between teens and their parents, their communities, and their peers as they plan for the next steps toward the future—no matter how unclear it may seem. Instead of believing teens are challenging, let’s encourage the realization that teens are facing challenges. Instead of giving teens the same roadmap for a collective path, let’s give them the tools and support needed to create their personalized roadmap for the path of their choosing. With this approach, we can turn challenges into opportunities, confusion into conversation, and ambivalence into self-motivation to create…

Clear and Focused Futures.

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Join other teens in learning how to be your best self for the future—all in an authentic, inspiring environment.

1:1 Coaching

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Prior to its official founding, Encouraging Teens was the passion and brain-child of Desiree Panlilio. As a former nurse, medical manager, and spousal mentor at the U.S. Navy’s Command Leadership School in Newport, RI, Desiree honed the skills needed for her future role as a mother and community leader. It was through her own teen-rearing experiences that she began developing the tools and communicative framework that would be employed in Encouraging Teens’ effective seminars.

From Parents 

Alan Jarrett

Last year in the midst of COVID and imposed isolation on our nation, our son lost his academic focus at college and his grades suffered drastically.  In the past when this had happened in school, he had been able to course correct with a little advice from us, his parents.  Not this time.  Emotions of guilt, anger and shame hung over him and colored any interaction with us on the subject of school.  We did not know how to help him.  However, we knew Desiree Panlilio of Encouraging Teens.  We had seen her success with her own daughters and heard how she had helped numerous other teens.  We hoped she might be able to help our son.

She did.  It has been a true game changer.  Desiree didn’t judge; she helped him focus and realize HE is in control of his destiny.  She then equipped him with a path and framework for him to plan to and execute that control, and for us to effectively engage with him for support and accountability.  With her guidance, he created, refined and actively owns his plan. It has been quite empowering for him.  We see it clearly through the change in his communication, his confidence and his attitude.  He recently commented that “I wish I’d known this from the start, it would have made college so much better.”

Make no mistake:  Desiree gave him something much more than a tool for success at school; she equipped him to own and maximize his success at any stage in life.  Thank you!

Nancy Anderson

Parents rest assured you can entrust your child to Desiree Panlilio. When our daughter was a very young cadet at the Coast Guard Academy, Desiree and her family became a sponsor to her. Beyond giving her much needed respite from the demands of a military academy, Desiree became a mentor, coach, confidant, surrogate parent, and devoted friend. The bonds of this special relationship have extended well beyond the four-year sponsorship at the academy, throughout our daughter’s tours in the Middle East, Southern Florida and beyond. Desiree’s ability to incorporate skills and experiences from her medical, military, academic and parenting realms make her uniquely qualified to listen to, encourage, counsel and guide youth and young adults through the gauntlet of life’s challenges both on and off campus. As an educator and administrator for more than 40 years, I do strongly recommend Desiree Panlilio as a highly qualified professional. Parents can be comfortable entrusting their son or daughter to her counsel. Desiree Panlilio is truly one of the best!

Tara Dribble

2020 was such a bad year for all of us, but for high school seniors losing out on their final months of school activities and then being expected to march off to adulthood in the midst of a pandemic was a perfect recipe for chaos in my daughter. Desiree was great at helping her realize that while it felt chaotic, it wasn’t as bad as it seemed and helped her reframe her experiences. She worked with my daughter to get herself organized and focused, which helped her self esteem and lead to setting reasonable and realistic goals. She now has a clearer map for her future. We all know there’s no manual for raising children. There’s no definitely no manual on helping them to transition to adulthood while navigating a pandemic. Desiree took time to get to know my daughter and then was able to enable and encourage her to find a balance with school, home, family, and work. My husband and I are very pleased with Desiree’s approach and effort in working with our daughter and highly recommend her.

Jen Williams

Desiree is amazing! She’s a wonderful coach and understands teens very well. She’s organized and communicative with emails and appointment reminders. My son has great respect for her and appreciates the skills she uses to help him succeed academically.

Crystal Clark

Desiree has been a wonderful mentor and leader in her various roles within the community. She has always exhibited great moral values and has been a wealth of knowledge and guidance.

Meredith Anderson

 I was beyond blessed to have Desiree and her family enter my life while I was studying at the Coast Guard Academy. Then, and even now, she and her family have provided me the best counsel and life advice for navigating the military I could ever have asked for.

Kate Robinson

This is the perfect job for Desiree! I’m so very glad to hear she is branching out to share her gift with others. Our daughter is now a well rounded successful sophomore in college and still leans on Desiree as a life mentor.

Summer Fun.

One benefit of summer was that each day we had more light to ready by. (Jeanette Walls).


– Desiree Panlilio


The start of summer and an opportunity for teens to unwind, relax, refocus and take a deep breath. For other teens it is racing around at a summer job or a college internship, or even starting that first job out of school. Whatever the summer looks like for your teen and for you as a family, I always feel it is an opportunity to read an extra book, sit on the beach a little later watching the sunset and spending time with those loved ones since the days are longer.
What are some great books to read over the summer….Well I often struggle with that. I enjoy reading books that challenge my perspective and I enjoy reading escape books that let me think about nothing but the story of the novel in my mind. However, I will share a few books that would be great summer reading for teens or parents. Perhaps even a family book club where you both read and discuss the same book.

One of my favorite books is The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People By Stephen Covey. The book discusses values, principles, the personal mission statement and to always begin with the end in mind. I encourage you to read this book. It is one of those books that you can read and reread and learn something new or remind yourself to do better in some area of your life.

A book that all the members of my family have read is, Rich Dad Poor Dad: What the Rich Teach Their Kids About Money That the Poor and Middle Class Do Not! By Robert Kiyosaki. A great foundation book for beginning to improve your financial intelligence. This is great for teenagers to read as they begin to earn money or to start their first job out of college. Our copy is old and worn but a great way to start learning about money..

I really enjoy the author Philippa Gregory novels and her series about the Tudors of England. She mixes loose historical facts within her story to make her novels “believable” and entertaining. The first book in the series, The Lady of the Rivers. The intrigue of this novel encouraged me to read the series and it was entertaining and from a different era so I enjoyed it. Much like a more sinister Lady of Bridgerton series that we all watched on Netflix. So an escape from reality.
I always enjoy hearing when people reach out and share what they are reading. I enjoy reading new authors and learning new things. If you have a book I should read please share and I would enjoy the recommendation.








Enjoy the Transition.

Encourage and support your kids because children are apt to live up to what you believe of them. (Lady Bird Johnson)


– Desiree Panlilio


As our teens graduate high school or college, we as parents need to give ourselves grace. We need to remind ourselves that we did a great job and that our teenagers are able to handle what the world has in store for them. But as a parent, we always want to be involved, provide our teens with advice. We want to “manage’ our teens in order to see that they succeed in our own vision. As a parent, I have to do this as well. Stop. Yes, stop. Enjoy the transition your teenager is going through. Encourage, love, mentor and coach them but do not manage, direct and push them in your own vision. Here is how you can help your teen.
Encourage your teen to bet on themself. Yes, your teen is incredible. Encourage them to discover their purpose and the passion that goes along with that purpose. Encourage your teen and your new college graduate to contribute to the conversation of our culture and time and to help shape the direction of our culture into what they hope to see in the future. If they need a resource to further develop their critical thinking and communication skills a life coach is the best resource. Allowing you to be the parent and enjoy the success and support the struggles they have as they navigate their new environment.
Encourage your teen to be kind, be generous, and to trust their inner voice. All of these traits will allow for your teen to be resilient, to grow their self esteem and self confidence. Do not underestimate the capability of your teen. Instead, be their biggest cheerleader as they grow into who they are. Remind your teen that hurdles and disappointment are part of the journey. The journey and learning that accompanies hurdles and disappointment are a way for them to gain experience, grow as a person and to develop skills they did not realize they had. As a parent, listen to your teen’s frustration around their hurdles and disappointment but do not solve it and do not allow them to be trapped into a victim role. Teach them that they are the author of their story, empowering your teen to become that author.
Of course there is always some sage old advice to share with your teen. Such as going to the bathroom when you can, not when you have to. You never know when a bathroom will not be handy. Be kind to the elderly, they were once you, young full of fire and ideals. Be generous with your time to others you can help. Call your parents, we miss you more than you will ever know. Always write thank you notes, the personal time it takes to write and send will never be forgotten. Lastly, always floss.


Teenage Transitions.

There are far, far better things ahead than any we leave behind (C.S. Lewis)


– Desiree Panlilio


As our teenagers look to the future, from moving up to high school or graduating from high school or college, it is important to remember that this is a natural progression with some intense emotions as your teenager (and you as a parent) work through this period of growth and change. These moments of intense change are called transitions.

Teenagers and tweens go through a series of transitions. Transitions are a natural progression of youth and growth experiences as they mature into young adults and beyond. In fact, there are numerous transitions, from job loss to marriage, but the ones I want to focus on are those that are encountered by the clients I work with: teenagers. Youth experience an educational transition as they move from middle school to high school and again as they move to college.

A secondary transition that occurs alongside the educational transition is an identity transition. A life skills coach is an invaluable resource in helping teenagers navigate these transitions. The coach provides purpose, connections, empowerment, and successfully helps the teen navigate these transitions to create resilience and confidence as the young client grows in maturity. The life skills coach asks challenging questions, teaches them the tools to make personal choices and develop their autonomy. This coaching is not therapy. It is about helping youth to learn the skills they need to be successful and to help them gain confidence in their own capability to create their own solutions. It is important to remember a life coach is goal- and future-focused and not a therapist.

Each life transition disrupts established routines as new ones must be established. The life transition then shapes the long-term life trajectory of the youth. It is beneficial for youth to have a coach to share this journey and ensure that a positive outcome is found in each life transition. The two most common transitions for teenagers are education and identity.
Our youth experience an educational transition from middle school to high school and once again as they graduate high school and start college. This educational transition involves a move from one school to another, a larger school which includes a larger student body population, new learning environments, and change in academic expectations and social interactions. For our college graduates the population becomes their new work environment and learning the company policies, procedures and unwritten expectations. These changes, all of which are life transitions, will shape the youth’s trajectory. This educational transition along with biological and social changes can affect the teenager’s self-esteem, confidence and self-worth. Life and skills coaching can be utilized to create mental toughness by having the teenager participate in goal setting, defining their principles and values and creating a personal mission statement. As for the skills part, the life coach helps teach time management skills, organizational skills, and if needed, develop communication skills for self-advocacy which are often required in high school and a new work environment.

The life coach helps the teen achieve success by helping the student write SMART goals and the objectives to make the goal a reality. This helps to encourage autonomy and the teenagers will gain self-confidence and be able to create their level of success. The life coach is responsible for holding the teenager accountable to their goals and helping to realign a goal that has been difficult to obtain. During transitions it is important to work with the teenager and facilitate their comfort into the new environment and role to which they are adjusting and growing into.

As the teenager moves from middle school to high school and from college to the working world, friends are scattered and often the teenager has to forge new friendships. This disruption to the teenager’s social network impacts who they are and how they see themselves. The life coach in this role provides the reality that change is always occurring and helps the teenager gain mental toughness to deal with this transition. The life coach is helping the teen develop goals to help them establish a network of positive social connections and to monitor the progress of the attainment of these goals. A life coach can also be the “first responder” if this or any part of the transition is not going well and involve the correct mental health professionals to help navigate this process. It is a great benefit for teenagers to have a life coach during this transition because there is a consistent check-in of how they are progressing through this transition and, if required, professional intervention can be done early.

There are four distinct areas the life coach focuses on to help the success of these transitions. The first is empowerment. The coach facilitates the teenager’s empowerment and control over their transition. This is done by helping the youth find their intrinsic motivation which promotes their autonomy to make decisions guided by the challenging questions put forward by the life coach. Together the teenager and life coach are defining goals and objectives which encourages confidence and competence in the teenager. The teen will gain a sense of accomplishment that encourages and empowers the youth even more, resulting in positive risk-taking, assertive youth. Second is purpose. Purpose inhibits impulsive decisions and is guided by a mission statement, goals, and objectives. It creates focus for the teenager. By having the teenager create their mission statement, goals, and objectives, they are more reflective on their actions, which promotes self-awareness. The third is creating connections, specifically healthy relationships where the teenager feels safe and can express their creativity and thoughts with no judgments made on them. This encourages critical thinking, and prepares them for the adult world. The last concept is forward thinking toward the future. The life coach creates accountability and thereby ensures the teenager meets their goals. By meeting their goals, they gain confidence and will accept new challenges and be more willing to leave their comfort zone to experience the growth that success creates.








Senior Graduation.

Oh the places you will go (Dr. Suess)


– Desiree Panlilio


Big transitions – high school graduation and college graduation. As parents we are wrapping up a school year of our teenager saying, “This is the last time I will (fill in the blank).” Parents are also wrapping up a series of lasts, watching your teenager compete in their last sporting event or their last school performance in drama, band, or robotics competition. You have communicated with their teachers for the last time. That last empty space in the frame on the wall which you saved for the school photo from each year has been filled. Bought the last prom dress or rented that tux for the last time, called in their last absence, signed their last permission slip, and monitored the last semester of grades. Experiencing senior nights and senior gatherings all to remind both parent and teenager that some dramatic changes are about to unfold. Life will change, perspectives will be challenged, and the teenager will grow and mature.

With each milestone, your teenager moves closer to independence and less reliance on parents. For college parents, it is watching your college student slowly shift focus from college life and their social life to resume writing and job interviews. The carefree days of college are slowly coming to a close. It is easy as parents to think about the past, to remember that little person, dropping them off at preschool, watching them finish elementary school and participating in their first sporting or cultural event. A world of wonder and awe as the little person grows into an amazing adult right before our eyes. It is an exciting time but still as the end approaches we often focus on the last time.

I encourage parents to take another route. It is easy to focus on the series of lasts, but I encourage parents to focus on all the lovely firsts that also happened this year, as well as for those still to come. For the first time, parents send out graduation announcements for our children and plan a party to celebrate their academic accomplishment. For high school seniors it is having your teenager enroll in their first college and have their first roommate. Being able to register to vote and the responsibility that accompanies such a rite of passage. Your teenager will soon live away from home for the first time. As parents you will miss them like crazy and adjust to a new family dynamic and look forward to the sweet reunion over their first holiday break. Your teenager will make their first friends as an adult and meet new professors and experience a new culture. Your teenager will have a new intoxicating sense of freedom that will help to further their independence and growth into adults.

Or if your teenager is not going to college, they are taking that next step into the independent future that your teenager has designed for themself. To see your teenager walking forward into an amazing future with endless opportunity. Watching your teenager move out, find roommates and navigate the many challenges of the working world is full of firsts. Where as a parent we become a mentor, an opportunity to encourage and build on the strengths and foundation we spent years nurturing as parents.

For teenagers finishing college, it is finding that first job, the first apartment and understanding the world in which they are now entering. Making decisions about their career, meeting deadlines and building a foundation of their own and creating their own path. It is an exciting time full of challenges that lie beyond the academic world. As parents we get to watch to encourage and see that the foundation provided has created an amazing young adult.
After all, a “last” only means a new “first” is just around the bend. Your teenager will soon do many other things for the first time that will surprise you, enlighten you, mystify you, bring you joy and make you proud. It is realizing that as parents you did your best at providing a solid foundation built on principles and helped to establish the values that your teenager will hold onto and reshape as they gain knowledge and insight into the ever changing world. But hold fast that the principles and foundation you provided have not gone unnoticed, and will make you proud during countless opportunities as you watch your teenager continue to grow.

I encourage parents to enjoy the moment of the “last”, because this last is opening the door to an amazing first that as parents you get to watch and enjoy. Be excited for the new journey, the new challenges. Provide encouragement when a challenge comes up in their life, remind them of their past resilience and how they overcame a similar situation and that they have the tools to make the right decision. To continue to empower your teenager, to listen with the intent to understand and ask the questions to foster their independence and own critical thinking skills. Don’t be sad that something is over. Be glad that it has occurred and that the future is ahead and many lasts and firsts are still to come.






Yes, You Can Be Happy For Others!

We rise by lifting others. (Robert Ingersoll)

– Desiree Panlilio


Recently I was looking through my Facebook newsfeed (Well, I will be honest. I was lost in social media.), and I came upon something that made me stop and caused a series of emotions to wash over me. I did not respond to the post, mostly because I felt a private message was far more appropriate. A friend had posted her son’s college acceptance and the scholarship they had offered him. I was elated, so excited that her son’s academic rigor had paid off. What was so alarming were the numerous negative comments. As Taylor Swift may say, “the haters gonna hate hate hate, hate hate” (Shake if off). The negative remarks on the newsfeed were something that made me angry and sad. I was angry that friends, her village members, could be so hurtful and negative. The comments were that the college was not a great school for her son’s particular field of study. The commenters were instant college experts on what schools offer the best programs. I know! It is impressive the amount of experts that come out of the internet woodwork on a topic that they have not studied. I know people are quick to offer their negative opinion and thoughts, but is it really necessary? Another comment was that someone else’s son had also received a scholarship for more money. I had to read and reread the comments from her friends. I imagine that on social media we should go with the old saying, “If you have nothing nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” It is easy to hide behind the comments of a newsfeed, to fake an apology, to not accept responsibility for the mean words that you have written. However, words hurt. Not only was the mother going to see the feed of comments but so was her teenager. The best college for one teenager may not be the best college for the next. Each of us has our own unique attributes, our own unique story that works for one person but may not always work for another. I had to wonder why these individuals were writing negative comments and not providing the uplifting encouragement and celebratory message that such a post requires.

Is their first reaction a pang of jealousy to that post? Where these friends so caught up by their own jealousy that they couldn’t be happy for anyone, specifically a teenager who was going to college. Is it that self-pitying, “why-not-me” response? How about this one: It’s not fair that someone I know just got what I wanted my teen to get. Were they threatened by the success of this teenager, erroneously believing that this teen’s success would somehow undermine their success, especially if their teenager had similar goals or even applied to that college? Were these adults that insecure, that this success would make their own teenagers’ success less valuable? I was curious and amazed at what the reason would be behind the negative posts and the narcissistic responses of others to this post.

However, I was not going to be caught up in the battle of emotions and words on social media. I was not going to try and provide therapy to any of the individuals since that is not my area of practice or expertise. These questions I posed to myself and now here. Perhaps it can give a justified pause for all of us to stop and think about our motives behind our response to a post we read on social media. If our response is not genuine, does it really need to be posted? I go back to the old saying, if you have nothing nice to write, perhaps it is just easier to scroll past that post on social media. Or perhaps it is the opportunity to have a conversation in person, and to listen to the meaning behind the post. To listen with the intent to understand the other person, not to respond. It is an opportunity to grow, challenge our perspective, and to be a better version of ourselves. I, of course, did respond directly to my friend.

My personal response to my friend was congratulations! My belief was that we should raise each other up and not show jealousy. I wanted her son and the family to enjoy this moment of glory. I feel that as parents we work so hard to help our children achieve their goals and as a member of a village, we all need to encourage, inspire, challenge, and learn and grow. As friends, when another friend shares great news, it is their great news and should be celebrated. We need to find those pom poms, a cheer song and be in that person’s corner, to celebrate the accomplishment. I feel if you are not a valuable contributing member to the village eventually you find yourself not a part of that village, perhaps ostracized from a group of people that you really do enjoy.

The interesting thing about this celebratory and encouraging business is that when we practice it consistently, we end up genuinely feeling excitement for our friend. When our best friend succeeds in his or her career, we can genuinely share in that excitement. When our friend’s teenager gets into a college, or gets that acceptance letter it is not just our friend’s victory; it is our victory. As a village member, you feel you may have contributed to this success over the years. Perhaps it was by listening to your friend struggle with how to help her teenager, or perhaps it was driving or picking the teen up when the teen was hanging out at your house. Whatever the role in someone’s life, it is the role of a member of the village and we need to focus on what is right and good in the village.

Embracing someone else’s happiness will bring you happiness. Celebrating the joys in life is exciting, uplifting, and can help us to see all that is right in the world instead of focusing on what is wrong.





Take Time to Pause.

Take time to listen to others and to your own thoughts. It is wonderful what you can learn. (Desiree Panlilio)


– Desiree Panlilio


As a parent, I often gather my thoughts at the end of the day and decide, “Was this a good day or a great day?” As a parent, what did I do well and well, what should I have not done or said and how will I do better tomorrow. I have to say from our first child to our second, I learned a lot and made numerous mistakes along the way. I learned that I should listen to my husband more often when it comes to our girls. I was amazed that he knew stuff about raising girls. I know other moms are out there relating to those words. I also realized that with a few less awesome parties and a little less drama I could be one of the Bad Mom’s from the movie. However, our daughters survived and have some important takeaways about parenting and how they will do it differently. Afterall, I think every teenager makes the decision that they will not be like their parents when they have children. Through it all I have learned a few nuggets of wisdom for parents deep in the teenage years.

Parent pressure – I wish I had dealt with it better. It is the pressure that we as parents feel from other parents. Especially with the college admissions race. From about sophomore year to senior year, it seems I had far too many discussions about college and where my daughter was looking to go. As a military family, I was just excited that she had a friend, not how she was working on her resume to attend an Ivy League college. Other parents were focused on what college, who was recruiting their son for football, and how many scholarships their sophomore was offered. A fast learning curve for me to realize that scholarships are a senior year only situation. It was the competitive nature of the parents that created pressure and unnecessary stress on their high school teens.

I decided that the discussion about college could wait until much later. It was not a Zen approach, but I found that I could sleep at night if I realized that everyone has their own path, and everyone should do what they think is right for their high school teen and their family. It doesn’t matter what anyone else is doing. The only person that matters is your teen. I believe that if your teen wants to go to college, they will, and it will be the right fit and experience for them. It is about focusing on your family values and that your teen’s success is not a parenting competition. It is about raising a teen that will become a functional adult in society.

Social anxiety – not my teen’s, but mine. Crazy as that seems, I worried about how my girls were fitting in socially. All that time and worrying about their social lives! Do they have enough friends? Are they the right kind of friends? Why aren’t they going out on Saturday nights? Why aren’t they going to Homecoming? I worried that, since they were military teens moving every few years (our oldest daughter attended three high schools), they would fall behind socially. Our girls did not date a lot in high school, and I wondered, “Don’t any of those boys realize how wonderful and beautiful my girls were?” Are they missing out on some critical aspect of their teenage growth by not dating? How will they learn to talk to the opposite sex? Will they ever get married? Now I can say that worrying about my daughters’ social lives was a waste of time and exhausted me mentally. I should have enjoyed having them at home because, apparently, they are doing just fine in college interacting with the opposite sex, thank you very much! I really needn’t have worried.

Screen time – that is a hot topic and the answers are many, and I would have to say that not one of them is a perfect solution but rather just my thoughts as a parent. I thought my teenagers would go to bed when they were tired. I didn’t realize the addictive pull of texting, Snapchat, and Facetime calls at 2am. My girls were exhausted in high school partly from the amount of homework, and athletics, but also because of the phone interfering with their sleep. If I could do it again, I would have them dock the phone in the kitchen far far away from them. I would also learn the mastery of cell phone parental controls for our teens, since that would have been our go-to assistant. It would have been easier to create better boundaries on the use and storing of electronic devices in their room. It would have meant fewer “fierce” conversations about the appropriate use of electronics.

After having discussions with so many parents on parent pressure, parent social anxiety, and the design of screen time, I felt that sharing my own personal story would help parents to realize that in the end it is important to focus on your family values and do what is right for your family. Each teen is different and each conversation about college, social life, and screen time will need to reflect the uniqueness of your own personal situation. I encourage you to do just that. Remember it is your own personal experience for you and your teenager.






Perspective is a changing lens.

It’s not what you look at that matters. It’s what you see.                 (Henry David Thoreau)

– Desiree Panlilio


When a photographer can not change a scene, the photographer can change the angle or the lens on the camera to capture the best possible picture. Similarly, when you cannot change your situation, perhaps what you need to change is your perspective. A new perspective, a new approach, may make you see an angle you did not see before. Perspective is how we view a situation and is based upon our past experiences, education, values, culture, preconceived notions, present circumstances, and values. There is a lot of background knowledge and emotion that goes into constructing our perspective, and that influences our reality. Our response to a situation is shaped by our perspective, and some situations challenge our perspective and allow for our growth as an individual.

Is our perspective always right? Should we challenge our perspective and question if our perspective is the correct one, or the only one? Challenging our perspective and looking at other viewpoints is critical in developing a large base of knowledge and creating and having successful relationships. Part of the success of a relationship is being able to be open to another perspective and being willing to accept and understand the other person’s perspective. When you are open to another person’s perspective you are demonstrating compassion and empathy, and respect for their reality and who they are. You are building a relationship. This all sounds so easy but being able to stop and focus on another person’s perspective is much easier said than done. It is like the photographer who is changing the angle or the lens of the camera to capture the best photograph. It may take many angle changes and lens changes before the perfect scene is captured on film. It also takes practice in listening to appreciate another perspective other than our own. Afterall, my perspective is my reality, and why would it not be the right one? Perhaps, each individual wants to keep their own perspective and can agree that from their point of view their individual perspective is correct, or perhaps, as is less common, each person gains some new insight, knowledge, and their perspective is altered just a little. It is called growth.

Teenagers are having this happen constantly, and are trying to understand why their reality is so quickly changing. A teenager is developing metacognition (awareness and understanding of one’s own thought processes) and critical thinking skills. Now they must learn to adapt their perspective at an alarming rate as new information is presented to them and challenges their past reality. For example, the five year old who could not go to sleep without their special blanket that would keep them safe. That was part of their reality. Now as a teenager, they would not be caught dead taking that same blanket to a sleepover, or to a baseball tournament. The perspective of the safety blanket has shifted.
As parents and mentors of teenagers, it is our responsibility to facilitate their understanding of perspective and how it is changing as our teenagers have new experiences, gain knowledge, education, shift in values, and some of their preconceived notions are challenged and replaced by new ones. What are some steps we can do to facilitate this growth of perspective and the encouragement that their perspective will change and grow throughout their life?
One way to help a teenager understand perspective is to help with problem solving. Helping a teenager realize that there is more than one way in which to solve a problem teaches social awareness. Different people based on their perspective may have a different way to solve the same problem. The idea that there is more than one way to solve a problem can directly encourage the conversation of perspective and how each of us has a unique perspective that must be valued and respected.

Encourage conversations. Most people speak indirectly, which requires us to guess the actual meaning of what they are trying to say. This creates a lot of room for misinterpretation, especially through text or email. We all know too well that what a person says is not always what that person actually means. By encouraging conversation, teenagers learn the art of communication. That it is important to listen to understand what the other person is saying, and to respect the reality that is held by that person. It is by open, honest communication that we understand another individual and their perspective. Communication often allows for us to clarify our own perspective and even grow and change our preconceived notions, allowing for our own personal growth.

A great opportunity for teaching the diversity of perspective and to respect one another’s perspective is to discuss a movie or a book. A great book is Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White. The story is told by the spider, Charlotte. Imagine if the story had been told by a girl scared of spiders. The story would have been very different. You can see this illustrated in the movies “The Lion King” and “The Lion King 1&½” where Timon and Pumba share the story from their perspective. Opportunities are endless in teaching what is perspective and how to respect an individual’s perspective on a situation. It is about communication.





Words Have Power.

Creating and integrating an empowering personal mission statement is one of the most important investments we can make.                   (Stephen Covey)



– Desiree Panlilio


What is a personal mission statement, and why does my teenager need to have one? It is a question I am asked on a frequent basis. After their teenager has written a personal mission statement and created goals and objectives to follow, the next question I often find myself answering is, do you work with adults to create their personal mission statement? The answer is yes, of course. However, the first question, what is a personal mission statement? When I work with clients, I define a personal mission statement as a statement of no more than twenty words that reflects how you want to do things in your life and your behavior that facilitates you achieving your future goals. It is how you live your life. For teenagers it involves looking at principles and values.

Teenagers inherit their principles and values from their parents and those who provide the most influence in their lives, such as teachers and family members. Teenagers’ brains are developing, and they are gaining metacognition and critical thinking skills. It is a great opportunity for the life coach to help them understand what their principles and values are and how they define them to themselves and to others. For a teenager to write a personal mission statement these two words, principles and values, are very important.

Principles are rules or beliefs that define our behavior and the consequences of our behavior. Principles have a cause and effect and in reality have been woven into the fabric of human society. An example of a principle is integrity and honesty. If you lie or steal there are personal as well as societal consequences. An example is if you steal a candy from the candy jar and lie about it, your integrity and ability to be honest is compromised. As an adult if you steal a car there is personal loss of integrity but society also holds you accountable through the laws of the land. I have teenagers. Think about the principles that matter most to them and encourage them to use these principles to create a measuring stick which they can refer to whenever they need to evaluate any particular opportunity, behavior, or situation. As a life coach and parent, we must encourage these principles to be a part of the fabric in which the teenager uses to make decisions and to construct their personal mission statement and goals. Principles are guiding tools that do not change with age.

Values are a belief and opinion that an individual holds in reference to a specific issue or idea. Values are emotionally charged. Therefore they are subjective, internalized to the individual. Many arguments are based on a person’s current values and not taking the time to see the other perspective and not working at listening to understand. Values can be argued either for or against. It all depends on how you view the value. The great opportunity values present is that they change over time. Values will change as the teenager gains knowledge, education, life experience, and perspective. An example I discuss with teenagers is that of gangs. I ask if gangs have values, and most often the answer is no. It leads to a great discussion that in fact gangs do have values, but they are not principles. Values drive the behavior of the gang, and because their values are not based on long standing principles valued by society as a whole, they often pay the price by going to jail when they are caught doing things that are against the principles of human society.
As a life coach I like to share with teenagers that this is all reflected by personal accountability. It is defining those principles and values so that they begin to understand who they are and what is important. I tell the teenager that they are free to choose but not free from the consequences or reward of their choice.

The process of writing a personal mission statement is easier to begin once the teenager has an understanding of principles and values. The most important thing for a teenager writing a personal mission statement is that it has to be short and easy to remember. The initial personal mission statement is long and together the statement is broken down into something catchy and short that they can remember. I have the teenager write the short catchy phrase on an index card that they keep, or some create a screensaver with their catch phrase, so that they are constantly reminded of their personal mission statement, principles, and values. It makes it easier for them to then measure all activities against these and helps to stay focused on their goals and objectives. The steps to writing a personal mission statement are many but I like to have teenagers do the following. I have them think of their ideal self, what others would say about them. This gives them the starting point using their principles and values to guide the development of their ideal self and start of a personal mission statement. I ask them to define their purpose and understand what their strengths are and to incorporate that into the statement. This is enough material to get started and allows for discussion and refining of their personal mission statement. I do believe that teenager personal mission statements are constantly evolving as they grow and their values change. I have the teenagers reassess their personal mission statement every semester, as their values and their ideal self is still evolving as they are growing and trying to find the best version of themselves.
An example of a teenager’s personal mission statement may be, “To pursue dance and gain admission to New York University for dance. Change the world and increase tolerance through dance. Love my family and friends and be present. Listen more.”

Another example is, “To push myself to be the best that I can in school, the soccer team, and student council. I want to encourage and support my mates. I do not want to be jealous of their success but to raise them up.”
As you can see for teenagers it incorporates who they are now with the principles and values of where they are and where they want to be. The time to create a personal mission statement for a teenager allows them to reflect on who they are, what they want to change and how they are going to do that. Teenagers are a chameleon of sorts, trying to understand the world around them and how they are best going to fit into it. The exercise of writing and re-evaluating their personal mission statement allows for this opportunity and discussion to help them to keep moving forward toward their goals.






It’s not hard to make decisions once you know what your values are. (Roy Disney)



– Desiree Panlilio


Values drive behavior. Values are your beliefs regarding specific issues, Values are internal and specific to you, emotional, arguable and can and should change as we gain knowledge. What you valued ten years ago is not what you value today. It is important to share what your personal values are, what your family values are and then to help your teen decide what their values are. As a parent it is important to let them decide the value and how they define it. How we define a word changes as we grow. Let your teen work out their own values. You will see that they are similar to yours.

After all, the whole point of values is that your teen adopts their own values for themselves, not because their parents told them what to value. Our values are constantly reflected in the way we choose to behave. Values are extensions of ourselves and they are what define us. An example is your teen makes the varsity football team, you feel good—as though this happened to you.

Values are the fundamental component of our psychological make-up and our identity. We are defined by what we choose to find important in our lives. We are defined by our prioritizations. As a parent If money matters more than anything, then that will come to define who you are. For your teenager if playing soccer is the only thing that matters then they will prioritize that and value anything to do with soccer. All of this requires balance. Values must be something we can control, not something that controls us. Big learning curve here for all of us. We may value money but we can not control how much we have, the economy, loss of a job and many other factors control that “value” . Your teen may value, live and breathe soccer but they can not control if their team wins, if they play or if another player comes along that is better than them. So we must be able to control the value.

What are some good values that we can encourage and embrace as parents. A few examples: honesty, vulnerability, standing up for oneself, standing up for others, self-respect, curiosity, charity, humility, creativity and intelligence.

Values along with perspective and a personal mission statement help to create a strong resilient young adult who will go and create personal success. Once your teen has decided on their values it is easier to write SMART goals that align with their values. It is easier to push back against peer pressure that does not agree or support their values. By your teen understanding what their values are they are more likely to make decisions that align with their values and to the goals they are wanting to achieve. For example if your teen values their academics but also values partying, eventually one of the values will be tested through life circumstances and your teen will have the opportunity to grow, redefine their values and correct the pathway that they are on.

So for each of us, it is important to know what we value, why we value it and how to make sure we stay true to our values and achieve the success we want. We are our teens biggest role model and it is important that we role model values we can control, and that are helping us to be better people in our community.


Alan Jarrett

Last year in the midst of COVID and imposed isolation on our nation, our son lost his academic focus at college and his grades suffered drastically.  In the past when this had happened in school, he had been able to course correct with a little advice from us, his parents.  Not this time.  Emotions of guilt, anger and shame hung over him and colored any interaction with us on the subject of school.  We did not know how to help him.  However, we knew Desiree Panlilio of Encouraging Teens.  We had seen her success with her own daughters and heard how she had helped numerous other teens.  We hoped she might be able to help our son.

She did.  It has been a true game changer.  Desiree didn’t judge; she helped him focus and realize HE is in control of his destiny.  She then equipped him with a path and framework for him to plan to and execute that control, and for us to effectively engage with him for support and accountability.  With her guidance, he created, refined and actively owns his plan. It has been quite empowering for him.  We see it clearly through the change in his communication, his confidence and his attitude.  He recently commented that “I wish I’d known this from the start, it would have made college so much better.”

Make no mistake:  Desiree gave him something much more than a tool for success at school; she equipped him to own and maximize his success at any stage in life.  Thank you!

From the Blog

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Teenage Transitions.

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Sometimes my children think I’m getting on their back.
What they don’t realize is that often times
I’m the only one who has their back.
– Anonymous