Confidence is not a lack of failure. Confidence is not letting failure affect your self-worth. -Joey Mascio

Episode 026: Villain to Mentor – Becoming the Person Your Teen Turns to Instead of Fights Against with Joey Mascio

You’ve heard people say it…You may have said something similar yourself…

It’s a negative judgment on teens, especially parenting teens.

“Oh, just look out for when they’re teenagers!”

Teens are just moody…just confrontational…just tough to parent.”

Etc. Etc. Etc.

I’ve said it too, and I feel regret!

Turns out, most of the time, I puffy-heart-love parenting teens. They’re spectacular! They’re inquisitive! They’re deep thinkers!

And they’re a joy to be around.

Parenting teens is not without its challenges, but what in life is?

Joey Mascio has been an actor and a middle school teacher, not much difference there. 🙂

Today he joins us to inspire us to be our teens’ mentors, not a villain, and I know your mind will be challenged (in a good way). We discuss:

  • Why parents and teens have such trouble understanding each other (spoiler: it’s not the teen’s fault)
  • Whether parenting was more difficult for our parents or now, and one (reversible) reason WHY that’s so
  • The way you’ll talk to your teen once you start thinking about your teen the right way
  • Why teens have trouble starting conversations
  • The 3 things teens NEED to be successful (and how parents can use those elements to do better at our job and build our teens’ confidence)
  • How teens can go from a sidekick mentality to a hero mentality
  • The importance of failure and telling our own imperfect stories

I feel like that only scratches the surface – if you’re a parent of a teen or will be someday, get the foundations right with the strategies in this interview!

Video or audio? For the first 5 years, this show “The Healthy Parenting Connector” was a video interview series. You can still watch the video, but NOW it’s also a podcast, renamed “Healthy Parenting Handbook.” Find all the episodes here or listen on your favorite podcast player:


Can’t see the video? Watch to learn about mentoring teens here on YouTube!

No time for the video? Here are the notes!

  • 2:32: Joey tells us his story and how he got into teen life coaching

Understanding Parent-Teen Relationships

  • 5:09: Let’s talk about why parents and teens have such trouble understanding each other. Parents have unhelpful judgments of their teens like they are ungrateful and disrespectful. The teens in turn think their parents don’t know what they’re talking about, want to control them, and want to stop them from being happy. 

Parents and teens have trouble understanding each other due to unhelpful judgments about each other. -Joey Mascio

  • 6:57: What can parents do to understand their teens better and bridge this gap? Joey uses cognitive behavioral therapy with the students he works with. CBT says that how we think affects how we act. How we think about other people will affect our relationship with them and how we treat them. Joey gives a little example of this playing out. 

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  • 8:57: Instead of slapping labels on our kids when we feel a pause over something they do or say, look at that with curiosity. What are they actually thinking or feeling? Why do they think that? What did he/she actually say? Don’t be biased towards giving them negative motivations as a reflex. 
  • 10:02: Asking questions starts conversations, and making judgments stops conversations. 
  • 10:52: Joey shares a little more of his background with us and tells us about his own experience in middle and high school. 

Parenting Teens in the Digital Age

  • 13:42: Parenting teens has always been difficult. Joey sees parents today, making decisions that make parenting teens even harder.  One big one is giving teens smartphones. Parents are almost scared to not let their kids have smartphones now. They don’t want to create a big explosive argument, they feel pressured by their social group, or they’re just unwilling to make the hard choice. Here are the episodes with Andrea Davis that I mentioned: helping kids thrive in spite of screens, helping teens build a healthy relationship with screens

Teens and smartphones are not a smart combination, but we don't know how to not give teens smartphones. -Joey Mascio

Developing Conversation Skills for Teens

  • 16:57: Starting conversations is mental work. You can’t teach a teen how to start conversations by telling them exactly what to say every time. Teens have a hard time starting conversations because they’re judging themselves, worried they will be judged, and judging the other person.  They aren’t focused on listening to the other person, they’re focused on getting the other person to like them.
  • 19:39: When I was in high school I tried to fit in and look cool, but I was always teased anyway. At some point, I decided I would just dress really weirdly as a shield. It didn’t bother me as much when people made fun of me for being weird because I knew I was doing it on purpose. 
  • 20:45: In order for a teen to be successful, they need three skills. They need to be able to own their own results, they need to be able to write or rewrite their stories and they need to be able to tame their emotions.

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  • Kōkua Suncare with tons of antioxidants and my kids’ favorite scent and application
  • 3rd Rock Essentials rubs in well and reliably prevents burns in our tests (use the code KITCHENSTEW for 20% off!)
  • Raw Elements for so many reasons, including their tinted stick for adult faces (all styles, use KS10 for 10% off!)
  • Maelove, which I call the best “transition” sunscreen when moving away from chemical ‘screens
  • Others that make the top-recommended cut: Badger, ThinkBaby, Kabana

If you’re worried about the white cast on your skin from zinc oxide sunscreen, check out my video on how to apply mineral sunscreen correctly to minimize it.

  • 21:05: Owning their results is taking ownership of what they’ve accomplished. If they’ve worked hard to achieve something, they can take on the next challenge too. If they don’t like how something is going, they can work to change it.
  • 22:08: When they feel in control of their results, they don’t need to control the people around them. They can write their own story or rewrite things they want to change.
  • 22:29: Most teens think that if something feels unpleasant that means something is wrong and unpleasant emotions need to be eliminated. They don’t need to be eliminated they just need to be tamed. 

The Roles of Sidekicks and Heroes in the Teen Journey

  • 25:47: In Joseph Campbell’s, The Hero’s Journey you have a sidekick and a hero. Every story ever told fits into that pattern. The hero is the one in the story who rises up and changes the end of the story. The sidekick in the story is the one who doesn’t. The sidekick has the same goals as the hero and could make a difference, but they don’t.
  • 27:20: Many teens are thinking like a sidekick. They can rewrite their stories and thoughts to start thinking like heroes.
  • 27:49: Parents can be the mentors in the story. Think the Dumbledore or Yoda character. In many cases, the teens view the parents as the villains, not someone to turn to for advice. 
  • 28:16: Here are some of the things that put parents into villain mode. Teens can’t learn to own their results if parents hold onto their results. When parents tell teens all the answers instead of leading them to find the answer themselves, the teens can’t write their own stories. If parents don’t tame their own emotions they are perceived as unsafe or unstable. 
  • 29:38: A parent should be the teen’s mentor. To do that, you need to be able to let go of the results. You need to be able to let them figure it out on their own by asking guiding questions. You need to set up a system of clear and consistent consequences.

Paleovalley Meat Sticks

It can be hard to find healthy snacks that you can take with you on the go. When I want the convenience of a jerky stick, but want a healthy, protein-packed snack option, I grab Paleovalley meat sticks. Paleovalley ingredients have these high standards that you can feel good about:

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*With the exception of Teriyaki, which contains 2 grams of sugar from Organic Honey.

These beef sticks and turkey sticks taste delicious! My favorite is the Jalapeño but my kids love Summer Sausage.

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Effective Parenting as Mentorship

  • 30:22: What about the parents who really struggle to let their kids fail, to let their kids feel pain and make mistakes? We need to let teens fail. They need to learn from mistakes, know where their value lies, and gain confidence to try new things. 
  • 31:37: Let your kids see you fail. Don’t be afraid to admit mistakes to them. Talk about mistakes you made when you were a teen and young adult. Tell your teens that you made mistakes and it wasn’t a bad thing because it made you who you are. 
  • 32:52: Being loved and connected to your parents plants the seed of resilience in teens. 
  • 33:21: You don’t want to just use cliche phrases because that will bounce right off of teens. You need to back it up with connection and story. You can say “Your failures don’t define you,” but it won’t mean much until you can share some failures you’ve made and they see that you didn’t let it define you. The emotional tie-in with the story is what gets the lesson to stick. 
  • 34:38: When kids help in the kitchen they feel ownership over what they make. The confidence they gain cooking and sharing their food with others bleed into other areas of their lives. 

Sidekick to Hero: A Gamified Approach to Teen Resilience and Confidence

  • 36:38: Joey has a training app for computers called Sidekick to Hero. Teens can learn emotional processing, social skills, and how to stop procrastinating and achieve their goals. It’s almost like a resiliency curriculum. 
  • 38:56: We leave you with a practical step you can take today. Start looking at your teen and telling yourself this sentence. “They are the hero of their story.”

Resources We Mention for Mentoring Teens

Joey MascioJoey Mascio is a certified life coach who helps tweens & teens build self-confidence, manage their emotions, and achieve their goals. He has a Master’s in Education and a background as a professional comedian and stage performer, including being a character actor at the Disneyland Resort. During his seven years as a middle school teacher, he volunteered to be the teacher in the discipline office. His principal thought he was crazy (and she wasn’t entirely wrong). That’s where he started coaching teens on confidence, emotions, and goals. He started his own private coaching practice in 2020 and now runs that full-time. He is the creator of the new gamified mindset training app for teens, Sidekick to Hero. He and his wife live in Salem, Utah with their four children.

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About Katie Kimball

Katie Kimball, CSME, creator of Kids Cook Real Food and CEO of Kitchen Stewardship®, LLC, is passionate about connecting families around healthy food. As a trusted educator and author of 8 real food cookbooks, she’s been featured on media outlets like ABC, NBC and First for Women magazine and contributes periodically on the FOX Network.

Since 2009, busy moms have looked to Katie as a trusted authority and advocate for children’s health, and she often partners with health experts and medical practitioners to stay on the cutting edge. In 2016 she created the Wall Street Journal recommended best online kids cooking course, Kids Cook Real Food, helping thousands of families around the world learn to cook. She is actively masterminding the Kids’ Meal Revolution, with a goal of every child learning to cook.

A mom of 4 kids from Michigan, she is also a Certified Stress Mastery Educator, member of the American Institute of Stress and trained speaker through Bo Eason’s Personal Story Power.

Unless otherwise credited, photos are owned by the author or used with a license from Canva or Deposit Photos.

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