How ‘Calm the Chaos’ Became My Lifeline when Parenting Teens w/ Danielle Rossi

Inside: In this episode, Danielle Rossi, a mom of three teenagers and Calm the Chaos coach, opens up about how applying the Calm the Chaos program saved her family during the hardest times of parenting teens.

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  • “Wait til they are teenagers!” 
  • “The teen years are the worst”
  • “Argh, teenagers. Am’i’right?”

We’ve all heard the horrendous stories of drugs, sex, truancy, friendship drama, and urgh homework. And it all seems worse in the face of modern society’s constant barrage of social media, influencers, and YouTubers that our kids encounter daily. 

I’m not sure there is a parent out there who feels confident, let alone excited, about the teenage years. 

But apart from exchanging war stories after it’s done, we rarely talk about it. Being a mom of teens, especially those who are struggling and getting into trouble, can be an incredibly isolating experience. 

That’s precisely why today’s podcast episode is so special. Joining us is Danielle Rossi, an Australian mom of three teenagers who was grappling with some alarming situations with her teens. 

Think school suspensions, drug issues, risky behaviors, police run-ins, and deep-seated emotional struggles, including self-harm and anxiety. It was a period full of slamming doors, constant yelling, and family members avoiding each other.

Things were really going to hell in a handbasket until she discovered Calm the Chaos four years ago. 

Fast forward to today, things couldn’t be more different in Danielle’s family. They are comfortable just being in the same space, they trust each other, they have each other’s backs, they are a true family team now. 

Danielle’s home now feels warm and inviting, something she never thought her family would experience.

The turning point came when she discovered the Calm the Chaos program – especially its You-CUE framework. 

In this episode, Danielle opens up about how she just couldn’t think when emergencies happened until she had just the 4 simple steps of the You-CUE to get her through the hardest parenting times (and believe me, she had a fair share of them).

For all of you feeling like you are drowning in the chaos of parenting teens, this Danielle Rossi interview is a lighthouse. 

You’ll not only find comfort in knowing you’re not alone but also gain practical insights into employing the You-CUE framework through the toughest years of raising your teenagers.

Let’s dive in!

Struggles With Teens Are Universal

When you’re scrolling through Pinterest and social media, it’s easy to get sucked into those picture-perfect moments of family life: the awards, milestones, celebrations…

You might start to wonder, “Is it only happening in my family? Are the tough moments only shown in those gritty documentaries about off-the-rails teens or families not ‘like us’?”

This leaves us feeling sooo alone. 

But the truth is, behind those shiny pictures, there are real, not-so-photogenic challenges.

Just because we don’t always see posts about the big blow-ups, the unexpected calls from the police, teens experimenting with drugs, or slipping into not-so-great relationships doesn’t mean they don’t exist.

Trust me, they’re happening – way more often than you’d think. Every time I’ve opened up about my own bumps in the parenting road, I’ve found a whole crew of parents nodding along, saying things like,

  • “Me too.” 
  • “Been there, done that.” 
  • “Sounds like a regular Tuesday at my place.”

Parenting struggles don’t know borders or cultures. I remember a heart-to-heart with six moms in Kenya, sharing our teen-related headaches. And guess what? Their stories were just like mine.

Yep, mamas from continents apart, navigating distinct cultures and environments, wrestle with strikingly similar concerns when it comes to parenting teens.

It’s not just me. It’s not just you. It’s universal.

And I think just realizing that you’re not alone is such an important first step.

Danielle’s 4-Step Plan to Calm the Teen Chaos

Before Danielle found Calm the Chaos, she felt truly desperate and lonely. Her kids were those “off-the-rails” teens, and she had no idea how to get through to them. She was certain she’d completely failed at this parenting gig. 

Until Danielle discovered the Calm the Chaos program and eventually became one of our coaches, she would panic every time some new disaster happened and react badly – even when she knew she shouldn’t. 

Now Danielle has You-CUE framework, she relies heavily on the YOU piece to help her stop before she dives into “reprimand, berate, fix it” mode. 

(If you haven’t heard of the 4-step You-CUE framework and the Road Map you can watch the full episode on YouTube and get familiar with the concept.)

You Piece – Yes, You Have 3 Secs to Stop, Breathe, and Anchor

When some teen catastrophe happens, like the police call or you find your kid taking drugs, it’s hard not to go straight into panic mode.

You react immediately and without thinking it through. But the truth is, in a real emergency (think someone is robbing your bank), it’s much better if you keep your head and don’t do anything rash. 

This is why it is essential to pause before you react. 

That’s the heart of the Calm the Chaos basic technique: “Stop, breathe, anchor”. Even if it is a real, urgent emergency, you still have 3 seconds to pause. This is the shift we have to make so we can stop being reactive and continue to try the same thing over and over again, hoping for a different result next time.

(To learn more about this technique (and many others), grab a copy of my Calm the Chaos book.)

This brief stop provides Danielle the space to recall her anchor. 

An anchor is a memory or thought that brings up a powerful and positive emotion. Danielle’s anchor is to remember her teens as curious four-year-olds. Wide-eyed and curious about everything, exploring the world around them. Because teenagers are also exploring who they are and how they fit into the world around them.

So, when they push boundaries, it’s not because they are evil. They don’t want to manipulate or hurt you. They’re merely exploring and testing the limits, just as they were when they were 4-year-olds.

Now, I get some people might say, “There’s no time to pause in a crisis!” It might seem weird to stop and breathe while you’re talking to the police or if you catch your teenager doing drugs.

But if you just jump into action, you could do something really stupid. Yes, you need those few seconds of pause. Even if it feels like there’s no time, there is. That quick pause is enough for your brain to be disarmed. Only then can you proceed with a clear plan.

Yes, situations might be urgent, worrying, and undeniably tough. Yet, by taking a few seconds to stop, breathe, and anchor yourself, assuring your brain that you have the tools and strategies at hand, you’ll for sure handle things way better.

Connection – Sometimes You Don’t Need Words

Building a connection with teenagers who are often pulling away from us isn’t easy. They’re holing up in their rooms, avoiding conversations, and often just wanting their own space.

When Danielle began her journey with Calm the Chaos, her 15-year-old son felt entirely disconnected from the rest of the family. In fact, each person in the family felt isolated and alone. 

In such situations, it’s super important to make an effort, even if it feels like you’re merely treading water. 

It’s not about making grand gestures but those small moments of connection – making eye contact, lightly touching their shoulder, or sending a simple text message.

For a while, you might need to lighten up on disciplining or pointing out what they’re doing wrong or their unfinished chores. Instead, it’s about recognizing them as human beings. Over time, these moments of connection start to make all the difference.

In fact, you can also rebuild connection in the toughest times. After a really troubling incident, we are tempted to jump in, find out the details, and fix it for them, tell them what they have to do. Which is what we do with little kids, but a teen might require a different approach. 

It’s about giving them space and time to respond. 

Instead of bombarding them with questions like “What were you thinking?” or “Who was with you?”, it’s more productive to be with them (even if it means just sitting in silence), offering an open environment if they decide to share something.

(During the interview, Danielle shared concrete situations when she used each of the CTC framework steps, so check out the full episode on YouTube and find out more.)

parenting teens, Calm the Chaos, Dayna Abraham

Understanding – Layers Beneath the Surface

When those big, scary things happen to your teen, it’s easy to start catastrophizing. We see their doomed future laid out before us, we see it as character flaws or a failure of parenting. 

But the truth is, the reasons that led up to this situation are many and varied. Nothing is set in stone. It’s essential to remember that understanding your teenager is key. And it’s often a multi-layer puzzle.

When things go wrong, how many of you go into a ‘savior’ mode – swoop in, set rules, and talk about the family’s reputation? 

But stop for a moment and remember your own teenage years. Think about the complex and confusing social dynamics, the emotions you felt, and the stupid decisions you made. Does any of it look familiar? Was any of it “simple”? 

And so, in order to help her uncover some of the layers under the surface, Danielle uses the behavior funnel (another simple but ingenious CTC tool).

Recognizing the myriad factors influencing behavior helps us approach them with more empathy and understanding. Recalling our teenage angst, missteps, and pressures allows us to approach our teens with a sense of understanding and curiosity rather than reacting out of pure panic.

But we also need to keep in mind that today’s teenagers face challenges we didn’t. Greater school pressure, information overload, and the constant buzz of social media can lead to insecurities, comparison, and feelings of disconnection.

It’s not always the big things; sometimes, even a tough day or simple exhaustion can set them off. Recalling moments when our mood soured over a bad day or an irritating shirt can help us understand that their reactions may not always be as monumental as they seem. 

Using tools like the behavior funnel helps us better understand the visible behaviors and the hidden triggers, paving the way for stronger connections and open communication.

(The behavior funnel has been explained in my Calm the Chaos book, so if you want to explore more about it, get your copy now.)

Empowerment – Allowing Them a Voice and a Sense of Control

As our teens grow up, they start demanding more and more control over their lives. This feels scary for parents who just want to protect them, and we feel ‘we know best because of our life experience.’

And so we try to regain our own control by turning to what we know – grounding, setting strict limits and rules, closely monitoring activities.

The pull to regain control is natural. But as it only ends up in a power struggle between you, it’s worth considering a different approach.

Instead, give them space to communicate what they need from you. 

Simply giving them the option to decide for themselves how you can help can shift their thoughts towards a calmer, more open place so that they’re not as defensive and reactive. 

And, of course, your teen might respond with the characteristic “I don’t know” sigh. However, allowing them a voice and a sense of control opens up the possibility of seeking advice.  And the best bit? Advice they have asked for, they are FAR more likely to take. 

Sharing our own teen stories can also help bridge the generational gap, making them feel seen and less isolated. (The bonus is it also makes you look human and like you might actually know what you are talking about). 

By shifting the dynamic from being an obstacle to being a supportive figure, you also set the stage for more collaborative problem-solving in the future. The next time they face challenges, they’ll see you as a partner in their journey rather than an enemy.

Such a relational investment can significantly smooth the path of teen parenting.

Support Is Just Around the Corner

I hope that as you’re reading this (or listening to the full episode), you realize you’re not alone in navigating the challenges of teen parenting. Danielle and I have only scratched the surface of the numerous issues teens face – there’s so much more to explore. 

We have experts lined up to dive deeper into topics like navigating puberty and other challenges. Moreover, guests will be joining us to discuss how they used the Calm the Chaos framework specifically for teens. 

So, if you ever have questions or concerns about your teenager, don’t hesitate to reach out on social media. 

Or you can order my Calm the Chaos book, which offers insights and tools for every parenting situation. Whether you’re tackling big challenges or everyday moments, this guide reminds you that there’s always a way forward. 

Remember, support is just around the corner, and no matter what…

You’ve got this!


– – –

Calm the Chaos Parenting is a podcast offering parents practical tools and strategies to navigate the challenges of raising strong-willed, highly sensitive, and neurodivergent children.

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