Tips to help your teen relieve stress

Today, more than a quarter of teens say they experience extreme stress, and more than a third say they expect their stress levels to increase in the year to come. Parents agree: nearly 40% of parents say their teen is experiencing high levels of stress from school.

Often parents respond to the stress levels of children by wanting to manage or alleviate their stress. In reality, not all stress is negative. A healthy level of stress can motivate students to learn to manage tasks, prioritize, and get things done. However, chronic stress during difficult seasons can pose long-term challenges for teens. Experiencing stress for extended periods of time can lead to depressive thoughts and behaviors, and teens may turn to unhealthy coping methods. Here is how you can help.

1.) Identify the root of the stress: Is this short-term stress, or a long-term problem?

Short-term stress — like finals week, for example — is temporary, and the stress levels will go back to normal shortly. A little bit of stress occasionally is to be expected, as teens take on more responsibilities and prepare for their next steps after high school.

Long-term stress, in contrast, is not sustainable and points to the need for change. Is your teen’s course load unreasonably demanding? Has your teen taken on too many extracurricular endeavors? Or, is the root of the stress time management? Does your teen tend to procrastinate? Maybe your teen has too much screen time and is not spending enough time on homework? For other teens, stress is unrelated to school work and connected instead to peer pressure or social worries. Getting to the root of the stress is the first step in creating a plan to relieve it.

2.) Look at how you respond to stress in your own life.

Teens pick up on our cues. How do you react to stress? Do you make lifestyle changes to alleviate it, or is your response to your own stress unhealthy? Your teen may respond similarly.

Use your own stress as a platform to begin the conversation with your teen. Be honest about how you handle it, and acknowledge where you could approach stress differently. This opens the door to authentic connection, and lets your teen know you are here as an ally when stress feels unmanageable. When your teen responds, offer undivided attention and really listen.

3.) Partner with your teen to develop a stress relief game plan.

Come alongside your teen to navigate the root of the stress. Resist the urge to micromanage; instead, be present for your child as a resource. If the stress is part of a larger theme, like problems with time management, struggling with perfectionism or taking on too much, discuss the needed changes. Consider helping your teen make a schedule for studying, or plan a lighter course load for the next semester.

Then, get tactical. What are some small ways that your teen can relieve stress in the moment? How can your teen draw on a support system for help? What brings your teen joy? How can your teen use physical activity to relieve stress? This could be as simple as taking the family dog for a walk, playing a favorite game, sport or aerobic activity. Plan activities that you and your teen can do together, too.

For some teens, stress may be a symptom of a larger problem. If you are in the middle of a challenging season with your teen, it can be tough to determine what to do next. Consider Shelterwood Residential Treatment Agency. Shelterwood combines boarding school excellence with the best in therapeutic care for real transformation. At Shelterwood, our desire is to create an environment where teens know they are loved, valued and have purpose.

Take the first step for hope, real heart change and real restoration for your teen. Reach out today: 866.585.8939.

Five ways to help your teen release stress and relieve anger

Of all the emotions your teen faces, anger can pose a unique challenge. Releasing anger in heated moments is no small feat. Anger is a difficult emotion, particularly when coupled with stress. Show your teen how much you care by coming alongside them, helping them to relieve anger and release stress. Here are five ways to guide your teen towards a healthy response to relieving anger and releasing stress:

1.) Model healthy habits for your teen when you are angry.

Even when we may not realize it, teens are watching how we respond to challenges. So, in moments of frustration and anger, seize the opportunity. When you take responsibility for your own emotions, you show your teen what a good response in a tough moment can look like. Anger can be a healthy reaction to an injustice, and personally, anger can be good when it’s expressed in a focused way instead of using it to harm or punish others. Take a break from the situation to cool down, or channel your anger into something productive, like exercise. If you do overreact — after all, we are only human! — own your emotions and use the moment as a springboard for discussion.

2.) Table the conversation for the moment.

We all know the feeling: sometimes, when all we feel is outrage, we simply need to cool down. Give your teen space in a moment of anger. This shows your teen that you respect their emotions enough to wait until they are ready to share. A few minutes of quiet can deescalate the situation. Particularly if the anger is in response to a conflict between you and your teen, taking time to cool off can turn the tide. Once the tension has lifted, maintain an open mind as you enter into conversation.

3.) Acknowledge the root of how your teen is feeling.

More often than not, there is something deeper beneath your teen’s anger. Chances are, something stressful has happened and this angry moment is a delayed reaction, or the “straw that broke the camel’s back,” so to speak. Particularly if your teen is rebelling, the key is in getting to the root of the cause. Parent from a place of love, engage a support system when you need it and communicate with consistency. If you worry that your teen may be in the middle of a difficult season, here are some signs.

4.) Truly listen to what your teen has to share.

Listening can be a difficult aspect of communication, especially with a struggling teen. When your teen does share, take the time to be present and listen well. Reserve your own opinions for the moment; simply showing your teen that you can be a trusted sounding board can help your teen calm down and relieve anger.

5.) Be aware of patterns in anger, because it could be a symptom of something bigger.

The National Alliance on Mental Health reports that a staggering one in five children ages 13 – 18 live with a mental health condition. Although your teen may appear angry on the surface, this emotion could indicate a serious problem, like anxiety, depression, suicidal thoughts, drug abuse or alcohol abuse. If you suspect this could be the case, expand the conversation past the moment at hand and start the conversation about mental health.

If you are worried about your teen’s anger, it may be time to get help. Consider Shelterwood, a  residential treatment agency. We combine boarding school excellence with the best in therapeutic care for real transformation. At Shelterwood, our desire is to create an environment where teens know they are loved, valued and have purpose. Today can be a turning point for your teen and your family. Take the first step towards real restoration. Contact us now: 866.585.8939.

How to encourage your teen in a difficult season

All of us, your teen included, are entitled to have tough days now and then. From academic setbacks and conflicts with friends to just waking up on the wrong side of the bed, no teen is immune to life’s ups and downs. When a simple bad day stretches into hard weeks and difficult months, however, it could be more than just a rough patch. How to recognize when your teen is facing a truly difficult season:

  • A longer-lasting, pervasive bad mood that they just cannot shake:
    More than feeling a little down on occasion, this could indicate depression. This could look like feeling sick often, feeling tired often and struggling to find motivation.
  • Withdrawal from people and activities that used to bring joy:
    “A really troubling sign is when your teen turns away from things that used to be enjoyable and isolating from others,” says Ed Lowder, a therapist at Shelterwood. “Your teen could also be pulling away from friends who used to be close, or frequently wanting to stay home from school.”
  • A sense of hopelessness:
    “Pay attention when your teen is saying that life feels overwhelming or hopeless,” Ed says. Teens in a difficult season can feel that the future is bleak and things are not going to get better, ever.
  • Mentioning the possibility of self-harm:
    “Even if your kid mentions the possibility of self-harm or suicide, intervention needs to happen immediately,” Ed says. Whether you are certain these threats are credible or not, issues like these should not be taken lightly.

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What your teen needs in this season is encouragement and support. “Your child needs to know that you are there for them and that they can depend on you as their root base for safety,” Ed says. How to encourage your teen in a difficult season:

  • Focus on time in, not time out:
    Our initial reaction to troubling behavior might be to punish our teen for a bad attitude or negative actions — but kids facing difficult seasons need more time together with you, not less. Think of it as time in, not time out. “How available have you made yourself to your child? When was the last time the two of you spent time together? When was the last time you had a one-on-one connection?” Ed suggests. “We get caught up in the day-to-day stress of work, managing our home and managing our life and we can forget to deliberately create quality time with our kids.”
  • Look beyond the surface behavior to the needs behind it: “The challenging season may be due to an unmet need,” Ed suggests. “You teen might be feeling not cared for by others, feeling pressure to be perfect, having a difficult time at school, or stressed and in need of a respite.” Bridging the gap between the outward behavior to the inward need shows your teen that you care about their heart.
  • Take an open approach to communication:
    “It is important for your teen to know that you genuinely want to meet them where they are, and you want to work together to get through this time,” Ed says. Instead of dismissing your teen’s struggle, ask, Help me understand. Rather than putting your teen on the spot to fix the problem, say, We can work together on this. Ed recommends a helpful acronym for this kind of communication — LUVER: Listen, Understand, Validate, Empathize and Respond.
  • Express your own vulnerability:
    “Vulnerability can be a very powerful thing for teens and their parents,” Ed says. “Open up with your own experiences. If you faced something similar as a teen, let your own child in on those struggles. If you realize something you wish you had handled differently, sharing that with vulnerability can strengthen your relationship.”

Worried that this is bigger than a challenging season? Concerned that your teen may need a longer-term residential treatment agency program? Shelterwood offers real hope, real heart change and real restoration for struggling teens. Contact us to see if Shelterwood could be a fit for your teen. We are here to help.

What to do when your teen is rebelling

Teens rebel for many reasons. Some rebellion is natural, as teens adjust to their place in the world. “The key is knowing your teen and identifying the specific rebellion going on,” says Ken DeBlock, Shelterwood Director of Substance Abuse Prevention and Recovery. “Where is your teen emotionally? Is your teen just figuring it out? These questions can help you get to the root of the rebellion.” Discover these tips to help you navigate your teen’s rebellion.

What to do when your teen is rebelling:

1.) Shift your mindset.

As your teen develops autonomy, you have an opportunity to shift into a consultant role as a parent. “Making all of the decisions for them can build walls between you and your teen,” Ken explains. “Help your teen make smart decisions independently.”

When your teen rebels, it is also important to remember your own emotional triggers. For example, Ken says, if your parents gave you a very strict curfew as a teen, you may perceive your own teen pushing curfew as a rebellion, when it’s actually a relatively normal way for teens to rebel. Look at the information objectively and make sure you’re not making a decision from a place of hurt.

2.) Communicate consistently.

Consistent communication is essential in your relationship with your teen. When your teen rebels, keep open lines of communication. Be a safe person who your teen can confidently ask about what is going on, and offer love and support in return. “If you and your teen never talk, it’s harder to know the real cause for the rebellion,” Ken says.

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3.) Utilize a support system.

During a rebellious season, many parents tend toward secrecy because they are ashamed of their teen’s behavior, Ken says. “You do not have to do this alone,” Ken says. “Reach out to a trusted friend, counselor or pastor. Get a trusted opinion from an outside source. They can help you make a decision from a smart place and offer an objective perspective.”

4.) Pick your battles.

Ken recommends parents determine the open-handed items and closed-handed items for their family. Which areas are up for compromise or conversation? Which boundaries are firm and non-negotiable, no matter what? Whether it is curfew or drugs, Ken acknowledges many parents struggle to decide what is okay and what is not. “Pick your battles based on your values,” Ken says. “Determine where there is room for conversation and where there is a hard boundary line.”

5.) Parent from a place of love

Parenting from a place of love means recognizing that rebellion is part of your teen growing up, Ken says, and not your teen’s anger towards you. “The rebellion is not about intentionally defying you or upsetting you. It is about your teen trying to figure out life and their place in the world.”

“Even though some of their decisions might impact your life in a negative way, do not take it personally — then you’re making decisions from a place of hurt instead of a place of love.”

As a parent, if you feel you’ve been pushed to a place of emotional unhealthiness, consider Shelterwood. Our residential treatment center program is designed to be a safe space for your teen, a place of real hope, real heart change and real restoration for struggling teens. Our goal is to bring heart change to teenagers and restoration to families. Learn more about how Shelterwood can restore your teen here.

How to teach your child responsibility

All parents want to raise responsible, caring children — but teaching your child the value of responsibility takes time. Sometimes, doing less in your child’s life can spur greater responsibility. Explore five tips to help you along the way.

1.) Lead with action.

Teaching your child responsibility begins with you. Be a trustworthy role model for your child: set a strong example by following through on your commitments to your family and children. Be dependable and accountable, and your child will see responsibility in action every day.

2.) Give your teen a role.

Give your child a role in the family and set expectations. Whether the role is preparing a dinner or helping a younger sibling with homework, your teen needs opportunities to learn and demonstrate responsibility. Be there to encourage and guide, but let them take the lead. If you see opportunities for improvement, point them out; at the same time, remember to commend your teen for taking steps in the right direction.

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3.) Do less.

As your child grows older, you want them to succeed while knowing they are loved. Doing less for your child is difficult, but it teaches responsibility. Instead of micromanaging, give your teen the freedom to take ownership of actions and consequences, both good and bad. This shows your teen that their contributions are valuable and that you trust them to make smart decisions and follow through on their commitments. Ultimately, doing less teaches your teen to be responsible so they can thrive in adulthood.

4.) Broaden their responsibility.

Give your children opportunities to learn responsibility beyond themselves. This includes responsibility to siblings, neighbors, community and more. Let them demonstrate responsibility in new ways they will enjoy. For example, your teen can participate in a community service with your family or become a volunteer for a local animal shelter with friends. Your teen also gains a sense of perspective through these activities, learning that they are part of a larger community.

5.) Be patient.

Every child is unique and grows to value responsibility in his or her own way. Be patient as he or she learns. Share expectations for your teen with both confidence and compassion. Also, remember to be patient with yourself as you learn the best way to teach responsibility effectively.

Shelterwood Residential Treatment Agency is committed to bringing heart change to teenagers and restoration to families. At Shelterwood, our desire is to create an environment where teens know they are loved, valued and have purpose. To learn more ways to teach responsibility in your home, contact Shelterwood.

How to set boundaries, guidelines and consequences for your teen

Setting rules, boundaries, guidelines and consequences can be a challenging aspect of parenting a teen. The ultimate intention behind boundaries and guidelines is to build relationship and connection, says Julie Faddis, Assistant Clinical Director at Shelterwood. “Boundaries help foster trust, and the end goal is for parents and teens to come together and develop boundaries as a team.” Here are five tips for creating boundaries and guidelines that work for your teen and work for you:

1.) Center boundaries and guidelines around love and trust.

It is important to understand the difference between rules and boundaries, Julie says. “Rules are fear-based, but boundaries and guidelines are more relational,” she says. “If you and your teen are struggling to have open communication, work on solidifying the foundation of trust and forming that positive relationship.

Setting appropriate boundaries, guidelines and consequences for your teen can actually add safety to the relationship, Julie adds. For example, Julie says, consider how we offer meal options to a toddler. “We do not ask, What do you want for dinner? Instead, we ask, do you want a hot dog or macaroni and cheese? Too many choices can be overwhelming. Guidelines create structure and security, as well as learning opportunities to cross boundaries, make mistakes and learn from them.”

2.) Create realistic boundaries and guidelines.

One common roadblock parents face is setting unrealistic boundaries that are not possible to reinforce. “Setting up boundaries and consequences that are not manageable or attainable is overwhelming for both teens and parents,” she says. Julie recommends defining consequences in detail ahead of time; for instance, how will your family define being grounded? Does being grounded mean your teen cannot go to soccer practice, or are only social activities prohibited? Answering these questions ahead of time makes sure you and your teen are on the same page.

As you establish guidelines, work on creating boundaries and consequences that are realistic for each of your children. Consider your teen as a whole: developmentally, physically, emotionally, spiritually and intellectually. The standard you set for an older sibling may not be the right fit for a younger sibling, for example. Plus, unique consequences show your teen that you view them as an individual.

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3.) Set consequences that are congruent with the behavior.

Another common obstacle for parents is creating consequences for the sheer sake of having consequences. “We fall into the trap that because the behavior is unacceptable, it needs a consequence,” Julie says. “The consequence needs to connect to the severity of the behavior.” An incongruent consequence is grounding your teen for a month when he or she arrives home 20 minutes after curfew. “A better consequence would be having to come home early for the next several nights to demonstrate consistency and trust.”

Teens who are developmentally able to do so should be involved in coming up with consequences. “Sometimes, teens come up with creative and often more severe consequences,” Julie says. “It can be as simple as asking your teen: What do you think the next move is? If you were in my shoes, what would you tell your teen?” This is also a good exercise in critical thinking skills, Julie says.

4.) Remain consistent in enforcing boundaries and guidelines.

Once consequences are in place, following through is key to success. “Lack of enforcing, or enforcing without consistency, shows your teen that you may not follow through with something else in the future. It becomes confusing for teens,” Julie says. Furthermore, consistency shows your teen the importance of keeping your word.

If you determine a different course of action than the original consequences, have a conversation with your teen about why you chose a different path. “There is room for grace, but explaining the reasons behind the changing consequence is key,” Julie says. “You can be open with your teen, and this builds trust. If parents consistently listen and empathize, reacting with support and understanding, it demonstrates investment.”

5.) Keep an attitude of love, no matter what.

Always separate your child from the behavior, Julie says. “If your teen makes a bad decision, it is so important they understand that you are unhappy with the behavior, but you love them so much, no matter what. Their action may be disappointing, but they are never a disappointment.”

“If parents consistently listen and empathize, and offer teens the support they need, that demonstrates investment and engagement. This shows your teen that you are someone they can come talk to. Your teen will know that even if you are disappointed, you will still act in love and they will still feel valued.”

Boundaries and guidelines do not have to be a source of conflict and frustration, and can actually bring you and your teen closer together. If breaking the rules is becoming the norm, we can help. Contact Shelterwood to learn more and start the admissions process.

How parents stay involved at Shelterwood

At Shelterwood, we know that the decision to place a teen in a residential treatment agency is a difficult and life-defining one . . . but it is a decision that is caring and courageous. Ultimately, our goal is family restoration, and parent involvement is critical every step of the way. During a teen’s time at Shelterwood, parents are continuously engaged.

Every teen begins at Shelterwood in our Rebalance 120-Day Intensive. Designed to initiate the real transformation your teen needs, our goal during this phase is to help parents determine what is best for their teen and their family. The only way to know the answer is to begin — and parents are engaged continuously. During a teen’s first 30 days, the Shelterwood team conducts in-depth assessments to pinpoint the root of the struggle, from behavioral to neurological factors. We analyze brain function, strengths and weakness and how he or she processes information. Shelterwood parents love how our assessment helps them understand their teen like never before.

From the start, Shelterwood parents have access to our Parent Portal. This online hub is a key resource in family communication, with a wide variety of features built to move families forward in the treatment process and prepare for a smooth transition back home. The user-friendly portal includes a team blog, parent resource library, messaging system, photo album, calendar, therapeutic and academic reports and more. Combined, these resources make certain that parents stay up-to-date on their teen’s progress.

Twice a year, Shelterwood sponsors parent weekends. These weekends are opportunities for one-on-one connection here on the Shelterwood campus. Designed for family restoration, these weekends are moments of transformation and encouragement for both parents and teens. Parents tell us that getting to really know the staff who care for their teen is a highlight of the weekend. Moms and dads are engaged in many activities, such as seminars, small group meetings and family counseling. We also have meetings with the teaching staff from our school, testimony from Shelterwood grads and parents, meals with staff, meals together with teens and a wonderful closing chapel service. In addition to these special weekends, parents are also given the opportunity to visit their teen on and off campus throughout the school year in accordance with the student’s individual treatment plan.

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Communication is key at Shelterwood. Shelterwood therapists provide parents with weekly updates on their teen’s progress in therapy, as well as interdisciplinary reports from the treatment team. Additionally, we extend an invitation for parents to attend quarterly meetings with the various department heads to determine general satisfaction and resolve any issues or concerns that might be emerging.

Our efforts at Shelterwood always drive towards a smooth transition back home, and that is why we make sure that parents are deeply involved in the development of their teen’s aftercare plan. To encourage parents and keep them equipped for the journey, we also offer support in a variety of ways post-graduation. Teens are invited back to select mission trips and spiritual retreats, which are great refreshers for the work done at Shelterwood. We also hold periodic Family Intensive Retreats as refreshers for you as parents. Our Family Program also offers you important, ongoing topics to navigate the first year home.

All of these components combine for strong parent involvement throughout a teen’s time at Shelterwood. Together, we experience the transformation of a lifetime for students and families.

Introducing the Shelterwood Parent Portal

Everything we do at Shelterwood is focused on restoring families. Placing a teen in a therapeutic boarding school  is one of the most difficult decisions a parent can make, but it’s a decision that is courageous and loving — and one way we support families is by keeping them engaged and informed every step of the way. One tool we use to keep parents connected to their teen’s progress is our Shelterwood Parent Portal.

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The Parent Portal helps families stay connected to their teen’s progress at Shelterwood.

This online resource is the hub for family communication, with features designed to move the entire family forward in the treatment process and prepare for a successful transition back home. “Parent Portal is an online tool that helps us interact with parents better than ever,” explains Stephen Hobson, Shelterwood Director of Accounting. “This is a tool that helps us not only engage with parents while their child is in the Shelterwood program, but also empower parents for when their child returns home.”

The Parent Portal was designed specifically for therapeutic boarding schools. The program was spearheaded by Tim R. Thayne, PhD., author of the how to boost teen’s success in and after treatment book, Not By Chance. “The portal has built-in assignments for parents based on this book, so parents are equipped for their son or daughter’s transition back home,” Stephen explains.

The user-friendly portal has a wide variety of features, including:

  • A team blog, where parents and therapists can communicate and share announcements
  • A parent resource library, with educational and encouraging parent assignments
  • A message hub, so parents and therapists can communicate seamlessly
  • A photo album, where family can see what their teen is up to each day
  • A calendar, including upcoming Shelterwood events
  • Academic and therapeutic reports, so parents are always aware of their teen’s progress

The Parent Portal offers pathways for engagement for more than just parents — it is a resource for everyone on the “home team.” This includes anyone who might be involved in the treatment process: other family members, therapists at home, pastors, educational consultants, doctors, case managers, coaches and more. This offers a way to stay updated and informed, bolstering the family support system for when a teen returns home.

Best of all, the parent portal keeps the family at the center of treatment. Stephen sums up the benefits of this powerful tool this way, “This parent portal keeps parents connected to what’s going on with their child, and encouraged as their teen makes progress at Shelterwood.”

“Coming to Shelterwood . . . is a gift that I wish more teens got.”

“I truly wish that 90% of the teens who I talk to in America would come to Shelterwood for a year. This is not a punishment — this is an opportunity. . . . This is a gift that I wish more teens got.”

— Jessie Minassian, leading author, speaker and creator of, on why she is proud to recommend Shelterwood

This fall, author and speaker Jessie Minassian visited Shelterwood for a weekend intensive with teens, challenging students to not see Shelterwood as a punishment, but as the opportunity of a lifetime.

“This is a perfect opportunity for kids to get away from the demands and pressures of their life. Shelterwood is a perfect environment to ask questions and reflect on their life — where has it gone so far, and where do they want their life to go?” Jessie says. “It is the right place to make the changes they need to make. This is why Shelterwood sees so much transformation take place.”

For more than 10 years, Jessie has been writing and speaking to teen girls and has a passion to see young women grow in God. Especially after the release of my book Unashamed, I wanted to provide resources for teens who were coming clean about their struggles for the first time. That is how I began learning about residential treatment centers and where students can go to get a re-start.”

Shelterwood President Jim Subers invited Jessie to Shelterwood after hearing her speak on Focus on the Family. Jessie began her time on campus with an evening focused on the teen girls. “It was a great time and the girls asked the best questions. It was the liveliest Q-and-A I’ve ever done!” Jessie says. “A lot of them are hurting very deeply, but it was clear they knew Shelterwood is an environment where they can ask those hard questions.” The next day, Jessie was the featured speaker during the weekly Shelterwood Chapel.

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“So many ministries think that if you just pray a little harder or just stop being so stubborn, things will work out — but there is so much pain these students are facing, and Shelterwood is a place that is unparalleled in how they care for students therapeutically and spiritually. Shelterwood does a wonderful job of balancing cutting-edge clinical care with spiritual truth.”

The men and women serving Shelterwood students also made a mark on Jessie. “I was so impressed with the leadership at Shelterwood,” she says. “Everyone here cares deeply about the students and they truly have teens’ best interests at heart. As a parent myself, you want to know that these adults are going to take care of them and care for their hearts. From the leadership at the top down to the mentors and staff, everyone is empathetic and caring.”

This is the hardest time in history to be a teenager, Jessie says. “Some challenges are universal, like the struggle to fit in and the pressure to feel wanted by your peers, but all of these difficulties are amplified by this digital age, and teens are feeling the pressure of that. Teens are facing so many pressures and temptations that our grandparents wouldn’t have dreamed of,” she explains.

“My heart goes out to any parent considering Shelterwood. This is a fresh start for you and for your child. Your child will grow and change in ways that will probably surprise you,” she shares. “Shelterwood is such a unique combination of really excellent therapeutic treatment, but also that strong commitment to ministry.”

How we Manage By Strengths at Shelterwood

Mercedes Benz, Delta Airlines, The American Red Cross, Garmin, Hallmark . . . and Shelterwood. What we share with these leading organizations is our commitment to Management by Strengths, a transformational tool in fostering better communication than ever.

Management by Strengths (MBS) is similar to other temperament protocols, like the Myers-Briggs and the DISC assessments. Its focus on strengths, however, sets it apart from others. The extensive list of MBS clients includes national nonprofits and Fortune 500 companies.

“MBS is different from personality tests and assessments because it is based on the simple idea that people are biologically wired with a communication style they prefer,” explains Jeremy Lotz, Director of Training and Leadership at Shelterwood. MBS features four temperament traits — directness, extroversion, pace and structure — but limitless combinations. “Personality can be informed by your faith, education and integrity, but temperament is hard-wired.”

Jim Subers, Shelterwood CEO, was introduced to Management by Strengths creator and owner Mike Postlewait through a friend. “Mike was overcome with conviction about what Shelterwood does and our vision for restoring families through Christian relationships,” Jeremy says. “Mike felt such a conviction that he decided to make MBS services and consultation available to Shelterwood for free, forever.” This act of generosity has paid dividends for Shelterwood staff, teens and parents.

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Jeremy points to a clear example of how MBS has changed interactions with Shelterwood students. “It’s common for adults to face power struggles with teenagers. If you know that student’s temperament, however, you can quickly develop a disarming approach with that teenager,” he explains.

“We have found through MBS that many of our students who seem oppositional and volatile are actually results-driven and independent. These are real strengths, and understanding them influences how we communicate,” Jeremy says. “Teens who are very direct in their temperament want choice, freedom and autonomy,” he says. For example, those teens can be empowered by tying responsibility to results and offering choices.

MBS has been equally significant in enhancing how Shelterwood staff work with each other. “This has given us many revelations regarding how people want to be engaged with, and it has allowed us to get the best out of ourselves and others,” Jeremy says. “When we are working well as a team, then we are serving our students better than ever.”

Furthermore, when Shelterwood parents take the MBS assessment, the results can influence how teens and parents interact. “We tend to have quite a few students with the directness and extroversion temperaments, and quite a few parents with pace and structure temperaments,” Jeremy says. “One of the ways I’ve seen MBS help teenagers the most is that they develop an understanding of their parents’ temperaments. This increases the harmony in their relationships.”

Jeremy shares a recent example of how a teen’s understanding of her parents’ temperaments helped her better interact with her parents. “She is high in extroversion and her parents were high in structure. They experienced her as being intense and pressuring. So when she was planning a recent visit home, she presented her parents with a prioritized list of the top three things she wanted to do back home. This showcased so much maturity.”

MBS is one more Shelterwood distinctive, influencing how we help transform teens and restore families. “There are quite a few theoretical foundations, philosophies and behavioral techniques we employ at Shelterwood, but nothing has revolutionized how we work on a daily basis like MBS,” he says.