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.

How to Work with Me

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

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MEET DESIREE

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.

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.

 

 

 

 

Values.

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!

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.

From the Blog

Read up on the latest events and musings through a positive and life-applicable Encouraging Teens’ lens.

Words Have Power.

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...

Values.

Values.

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...

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