5 Ways to Teach Your Middle Schooler How to Handle Their Emotions

Offering your child skills and strategies for handling emotions is a crucial undertaking for any parent. Verbalizing emotions can be tricky. Coping with the negative effects of emotions is hard. Especially for kids in middle school! Middle schoolers who struggle with these skills will often place blame on an outside source for how they feel, act out when emotions get the better of them, or find it difficult to self-soothe. And without learning how to manage emotions early in life, these issues can carry on into adulthood.

Luckily, according to a 2011 study published in the journal Child Development, these skills can be taught. The study reviewed research on social-emotional skills of over 200 thousand students from kindergarten to 12th grade and found learning social-emotional skills increased attitudes toward school, social behavior, and grades. Teaching the students emotion management also decreased their likelihood of getting in trouble and emotional problems.

Below, we explain 5 ways to help you practice the principles of emotion management with your children in middle school –

  1. Ask questions. When your pre-teen/adolescent is exhibiting negative or uncomfortable feelings, stay curious! Ask them to tell you about their feelings. Instead of saying, “You have nothing to be upset about,” ask “I notice you’re acting upset, want to tell me about it?” While your intentions for brushing off their emotions as inconsequential may be to make them feel better faster, to your child it might feel like they’ve received a scolding simply for feeling down.

  2. Teach that emotions come and go. Emotions come and go and it’s important for your middle schooler to understand the way they are feeling isn’t permanent. There are a ton of metaphors you can use when discussing the fleeting nature of negative emotions — weather, seasons, the rising of the sun and the waxing and waning of the moon. You can respect your child’s feelings in the present while also reminding them that it’s not forever.

  3. Talk about feelings every day. Every day, spend some time going over the good and bad feelings you both felt throughout your day. When did you feel “happy,” “grateful,” “proud”? When did your child feel “frustrated,” “angry,” “disappointed”? The focus here is less about the details of your days but more about the feelings themselves. This not only helps kids learn about verbalizing their emotions but helps to normalize the range of feelings we, as humans, experience every day. Mom and Dad feel frustrated sometimes, too.

  4. Create a list. Sit with your middle school student and help them make a list of all the things they could do when they’re feeling negative emotions. If they’re having trouble, bring up past conversations from the tip above! Ask, “Yesterday, you talked about being angry. What would make you feel better when you’re angry?” Their list could include writing in a journal, playing outside, listening to music, drawing, talking to a friend or family member, writing a letter, the possibilities are plenty. Now, post the list so they can access it next time they’re feeling negative emotions.

  5. Rate feelings. When your teen is expressing negative emotions, and they’re unable to self-soothe, spend some time with them. Ask them to rate their feeling on a scale from 1 to 10 and then hang out. Spend some time doing something positive that your child enjoys (see their list for ideas!) or just go outside and get some exercise. Then, after a little quality time, ask them to rate their emotion one more time. Congratulate them when their number has lowered.

If your pre-teen is struggling with emotion management, and you feel as though you are struggling to help them, offer yourself grace. There are always more chances to teach them. If you feel you approached the subject poorly in the past, apologize and show yourself forgiveness, too. After all, how you handle your own emotions will most likely be your children’s most important example.

For more strategies regarding your child’s emotion management, contact the licensed professionals at Doorways for information about family counseling. Our team can help families learn how to communicate with each other in a caring, nonjudgmental environment. We teach families how to resolve conflict, show love, improve communication and more.

Now Hiring: Eating Disorder Specialist (Licensed Psychologist or Licensed Professional Therapist)

Doorways, LLC. is a faith-based counseling organization in Phoenix, Arizona, that provides comprehensive outpatient treatment focused exclusively on adolescents, young adults and their families.

Providers at Doorways specialize in treatment for eating disorders, mood disorders, anxiety disorders, OCD, trauma, ADD/ADHD, self-harm, suicide prevention, and family counseling.

We are seeking a full time Eating Disorder Specialist (Licensed Psychologist or Licensed Professional Therapist (LMFT, LCSW, or LPC)) to work with individuals and participate in our Eating Disorder Intensive Outpatient Program with adolescents ages 13-18.

Position requires a desire to work in a multidisciplinary practice with adolescents, young adults, and their families in an outpatient setting. We are a collaborative, motivated, integrative group of professionals who enjoy working together!

Minimum Qualifications:
• Three or more years experience treating Eating Disorders with Adolescents, Young Adults and Families
• Specialized expertise and certification in Eating Disorders
• Current license to practice in the state of Arizona (Psychologist, LMFT, LCSW, or LPC)
• Three or more years’ experience in the delivery of mental health treatment for adolescents and young adults
• Current CPR & First Aid Certifications
• Empanelled with at least one major insurance carrier in Arizona preferred
• Able to support a faith-based holistic, integrated model of treatment
• Energetic and passionate regarding working with the 13-25 year old population
• Possess excellent interpersonal skills and the desire to grow with a rapidly expanding practice
• Team Player willing to work with a multidisciplinary team of professionals in treatment planning and provision of care

To apply, please submit cover letter and resume to [email protected]

Help Your Teen Stay Stress-Free During Exams

That dreaded time of year is fast approaching. You know the one. As the school semester winds down, your kids are in a whirlwind of never-ending projects and exams. As soon as one paper gets turned in, they are hard at work on the next. You start to worry about the amount of sleep they’re getting, if they’re feeling overwhelmed, and if other aspects of their lives are getting overtaken by the academic onslaught.

At the end of the day, you’re proud of your students’ successes. You recognize that to excel in school they have to put in some hard work. However, the last thing you want is for this hard work to jeopardize their happiness. After all, our culture rewards productivity and often sweeps discussions about mental well-being under the proverbial rug. So, how can you help your teens stay stress-free as they work towards that glowing report card?

According to a survey by USA Today, the number of students who experience “extreme stress” more than doubles during the school year, versus in the summer. As a parent, you can step in and make sure mental health is a priority this exam season. Here’s how —

Recognize your teen as more than a student.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, adolescents spend an average of seven hours each weekday (and an hour each weekend day) on their education. It’s easy to see how they might define themselves as a student and little else. But your child is a complex human being with principles and goals. They are sons and daughters, brothers and sisters. They could be voracious readers, dancers, pizza aficionados, skilled soccer players, babysitters–the list of possibilities goes on and on. Whittling them down to a single facet of themselves places tremendous pressure on that one aspect. However, taking time to celebrate their strengths and roles outside of the classroom can go a long way.

Help them to understand the importance of well-being over grades.

It’s not that good grades don’t matter. But when a student’s mental health is floundering, their grades tend to follow. It can be tempting for students (and parents, too) to address one without the other. A student gets a bad grade so they study harder, stay up later, pile on extra work and extra tutoring. Without addressing the root cause, this added work (and added stress) could cause the student to slide even further. Instead, continue to remind your child that they’re worth isn’t dependent on their report card — even when they’re struggling. This reminder may be all it takes for your child to recognize their well-being matters…and the grades will follow.

Make time for your student’s self-care.

This is a busy time of year, not just in the classroom, but in all aspects of your family’s life. Which is why it’s important for you to assist your student in making time for their self-care. Talk with them about how to squeeze in a self-care ritual during the school week. Help them check their busy calendar for free pockets of time–whether that be an evening off from extracurriculars or a quiet 15-minute break to themselves each afternoon. Here are some extra self-care ideas for you to encourage:

  • Make time for activities they’re passionate about.

  • Write in a journal.

  • Spend time with animals. (If they have pets – great! If not, they could always volunteer at a local animal shelter.)

  • Get eight hours of sleep each night.

  • Talk to friends, counselors, teachers, etc. when they’re feeling overwhelmed.

  • No studying during meal time.

  • Go outside for walks.

  • Practice breathing exercises.

If stress is getting the best of your student,  our counselors can offer strategies that can help. If you have questions, feel free to contact us HERE or give us a call at 602-997-2880.

Doorways LLC. is a faith-based counseling organization in Phoenix, Arizona, that provides comprehensive outpatient treatment focused exclusively on 13-25-year olds and their families.

How a Parent Can Support Their Teen with an Eating Disorder

When your child is diagnosed with an eating disorder, your natural inclination is towards more information. You want to know: How long? Why is this happening? When will it stop? What can I do? But these answers, frustratingly, may be slow to surface. You want to understand what your teen is experiencing to offer the necessary support for their improvement. Yet, they may hold feelings and experiences close to their chest like cards in a game of poker.

Perhaps you’re aware how complicated and bewildering eating disorders are. Perhaps the symptoms of bulimia or anorexia have been plaguing your child for years, and now, along with an official diagnosis, you are feeling pangs of frustration and guilt. Maybe you’re angry or scared. These emotions are ALL completely natural responses. It’s hard and often scary to see someone you love suffering. Their journey to recovery will not be an easy process, and as you walk alongside them in this journey, neither will yours.

Transformation is a process, and as life happens there are tons of ups and downs. It’s a journey of discovery – there are moments on mountaintops and moments in deep valleys of despair.”

Rick Warren

So what can you do? How can you support and walk alongside your teenage child in this difficult time?

1. Educate yourself.

The first step you can take is to learn as much as you can about eating disorders. Remember that natural inclination towards more information? Use it. By educating yourself with facts, first-hand accounts, and helpful tips you’ll start to feel a weight lift as your fears begin to diminish. Much of your anxiety is probably a result of the not knowing. So learn what you can so that you do know.

2. Get help from professionals.

You don’t have to travel this road alone. According to the National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA), professional treatment can reduce the chance of significant psychological and health ramifications. Simply put, identifying and treating an eating disorder as soon as possible can save lives. Professional intervention can help you both understand the disorder and why it exists. Doorways offers outpatient treatment in Phoenix, Arizona for teens and young adults (13-25) with eating disorders, as well as family counseling. If your teen or young adult is struggling with an eating disorder, contact us for a free consultation. 602-997-2880.

3. Don’t over-simplify.

The solution may seem simple to your non-disordered brain. “Just eat.” However, this advice isn’t helpful and only serves to isolate your loved one further. Instead of oversimplifying, use meaningful communication to express your concern and your willingness to see the situation from their eyes. In fact, voicing your own mistakes or weaknesses will go a long ways in allowing your child to feel comfortable in doing the same.

4. It’s not your fault.

Finally, an eating disorder isn’t caused by a single factor. They are incredibly complex. So, this eating disorder isn’t your fault. We’ll say it again. This is not your fault. Your shortcomings as a parent didn’t produce an eating disorder. But we understand you may be feeling like they did. However, we encourage you to set these feelings aside and focus on presence. Stay involved. And continue to walk alongside your loved one through this deep valley…helping them to reach a new mountaintop.

Runaway Prevention Month: 8 Ways to Show Support

November is National Runaway Prevention Month. Chosen by a number of nonprofits as a chance to spotlight the issues surrounding youth homelessness and runaways, Runaway Prevention Month started in 2002.

The aim is simple. To increase the community’s understanding of homeless youth and runaways, as well as the hardships these children face, and offer solutions. The National Runaway Safeline has spearheaded the campaign for years and encourages the public to play an active role in ending youth homelessness.

According to the National Runaway Safeline website: In a year, 1.6 to 2.8 million youth run away from home, these numbers are unacceptable.

Yet, showing your support for this campaign can help bring a much-needed awareness to these numbers and the stories of the real children they represent. All too often, we stigmatize runaways and homeless youth. We perceive them as “bad kids” or “lost causes.“ When they’re often good kids attempting to escape a bad life, situation, or abuser. We might never know the reasons why these youth choose to run, but that shouldn’t stop us from trying to help. It shouldn’t stop us trying to prevent other children from enduring this plight.

If you would like to get involved this month, here are 8 easy ways to show your support and get involved:

  1. Wear Green. Green is the color chosen by National Runaway Prevention Month to bring awareness to runaways and youth homelessness. Wear a green ribbon pinned to your outfit. Use questions from friends and acquaintances about your new accessory as an opportunity to discuss the issues.
  2. Book Club. If you’re a member of a book club, consider selecting a book about runaways and homelessness. Then, spend the subsequent meeting educating yourself on the facts. Check out this resource for reading recommendations. Brainstorm solutions you can implement in your community.
  3. Attend Events. Check with nonprofits in your area to see if they have planned any events or programming for Runaway Prevention Month. From talks given by former teen runaways to fundraising dinners, there’s a ton of ways to publicly show support.
  4. Write! Submit a letter to the editor of your local newspaper about how the homeless youth crisis impacts your area. Have a blog? Write a post to educate your readers about Runaway Prevention Month and why it is so important.
  5. Movie Night. Host a movie night for your church/youth group. There are a ton of great movies and documentaries to choose from that deal with youth homelessness and runaways. Here are a few ideas to get you started.
  6. Posts on Social Media. Prepare a few posts to go out throughout the month letting followers know about the month and what it means. Share ways they can get involved, too.
  7. Create a Display. Ask your work, children’s school, church, or local library if you could create a display or bulletin board in honor of Runaway Prevention Month. Include statistics and facts about the youth homelessness crisis, as well as stories of runaways to attach a narrative to the numbers.
  8. Host a Fundraiser. Set up an opportunity to raise money for this important cause at your church, office, or club. Find an organization or nonprofit in your area that is working with runaways or doing their part to curb the crisis. Donate the money you raise.

For more information about National Runaway Prevention Month visit National Runaway Safeline and National Network for Youth.

How to Help Your Family Prioritize Mental Health After Disaster

In light of the recent hurricanes, earthquakes, and fires which wreaked havoc on our globe; we thought it was important to discuss why and how to help your family focus on mental health after disaster strikes. The victims of these unprecedented weather events remain in our prayers. Their strife serves as an important reminder about disaster preparedness. No doubt families around the world watched the news with heavy hearts but also found opportunity to discuss the details of their emergency plans. Physical safety is of the utmost importance when it comes to natural disasters. Evacuation is often necessary and heeding warnings from authorities is key. But as people trickle back into the affected area, and news crews pack up and go home, the real work begins. This road to recovery is often overlooked.

After a natural disaster, recovery starts as businesses and schools begin to reopen. Returning to a normal routine is a great first step for prioritizing mental health. Your family’s routine, along with making sure everyone’s basic needs are being met (plenty of sleep and enough food) will go a long way. However, healing is a process and we have a few more recommendations that could help:

A mix of emotions is normal. After a natural disaster, your family will likely experience an abundance of emotions. You are grieving for your town, your house, or your own sense of normalcy and safety. You might feel shocked, sad, angry, anxious, or all of these (all at once!). But you don’t have to sit with these feelings in silence. Talk about how you’re feeling.

Take breaks from the news. Has your family been glued to the news for days? Take a break. You’ve been living and breathing this natural disaster 24/7 and keeping up-to-date too. It can become overwhelming. Especially when the news focuses on tragic outcomes and horrific effects. So give yourself a little space each day. Lead by example and put your phone on silent, close down your laptop, and turn off the television. Instead, do something that brings you joy. Encourage other members of the family to do the same.

Get out of the house. If it’s safe to do so, remove yourself from the lure of news channels and spinning thoughts. Whether your family is feeling physically trapped, by loss of power or a long stint indoors as the weather rolled through, or emotionally trapped, by sadness weighing heavy on their hearts, offer a way out. Visit a friend or a business that’s reopened. Even a walk around the block will work wonders to help all of you feel less cooped up and to begin processing.

Help out where you can. As each of you processes your feelings, you may feel called to give back. Helping out where you can is a great way to turn hopelessness into hope. Research ways you can give back to your community as a family. Is a shelter in need of bed linens? Could a blood bank use donations? Was there a call for volunteers to help with cleanup efforts? Anything you do will not only prioritize your mental health but the mental health of the people in your community too. Any act of giving, even if it’s just being there for someone who is feeling down, will feel good. But keep in mind, you can’t take care of others without taking care of yourself.

No one wants to experience a natural disaster. However, being prepared in case you do is key and being prepared for the recovery process is just as important. By prioritizing your family’s mental health in the wake of disaster, it is our hope that your road to recovery will feel a little less difficult.

Now Hiring: Licensed Counselor or Psychologist Trained in Treating Adolescents with OCD

Doorways LLC. is a faith-based counseling organization in Phoenix, Arizona, that provides comprehensive outpatient treatment focused exclusively on 13-25 year olds and their families.

Providers at Doorways specialize in treatment for eating disorders, mood disorders, anxiety/OCD, substance abuse, depression, ADD/ADHD, self-harm, suicide prevention, and family counseling.

We are looking for an OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) specialist to be part of our growing OCD/Social anxiety Adolescent Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP).

Doorways offers the only OCD IOP for adolescents age 13-17 in the State of Arizona. We desire further growth of this vital program and opportunities to help kids and families heal.

The ideal candidate will have the following qualifications:

  • Fully licensed Behavioral Health Counselor or Psychologist in the State of Arizona
  • Minimum of one-year experience working with adolescents with diagnoses of OCD or social anxiety disorder as well as experience in Exposure Response Prevention (ERP) treatment
  • BTTI trained through the International Obsessive Compulsive Disorders Foundation (IOCDF) preferred
  • Desire to work in a collaborative, multidisciplinary environment
  • Enthusiastic and positive personality and someone who likes and engages well with adolescents!

To apply, please submit a cover letter and resume to [email protected]

What Parents Need to Know to Keep College Kids Healthy

By Elizabeth Berger

As I visited my Alma Mater last weekend to celebrate Homecoming, I imagined what it would be like to see my future kids on their own college campuses. While we have some time until that day comes, imagining them amidst the landscape of my own University gave me a glimpse at that future. I thought about classes they might take, clubs they could join, and the lifelong friends they are sure to make.

No matter what season of life your family is in, it’s never too early to start thinking of ways you can foster mental and physical health for your kids on campus. They’ll be college-bound before you know it!

Because college students are away from home, perhaps for the first time ever, their support system can be drastically affected. “When there is a big test, bad day or confusing situation, family members and old friends are not readily available for support and if they are, it’s through a telephone or computer rather than in person,” says Melissa Cohen, a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and Certified Coach in New York City. Parents need to understand that this can be a difficult adjustment.

Moreover, the ways in which your student chooses to navigate issues as an individual can play a huge role in, not just how their time at college play out socially, but also the efficacy of their education. And these choices can range from how long to study for a test and what to eat in the dining hall to relationships and social pressures regarding alcohol and sex. “For students to be able to learn at their peak capacity, they need to be physically, emotionally, intellectually and spiritually well,” says Louise Douce, Ph.D., special assistant to the vice president of student life at Ohio State University. And as parents, we need to do our part.

Here are some ways we can pave the way for our college-bound children to make the most of their college educations and experiences:

  1. Make sure your child has a physical and up-to-date vaccinations and immunizations. Nearly all universities will require this medical information, especially if your child is living on campus in a dorm.
  2. Do a little research about the health services offered on your child’s campus. Talk with them about who to call/where to go and for what. (They could even take this time to program a few numbers in their cell phone!)
  3. If your child has any chronic conditions, ask their primary care physician to draw up a written medical history that you (or your child) can have on file in case of an emergency.
  4. Look over the details of your insurance coverage as it pertains to your child. Will they have access to providers in your network where they’re at? Are the on-campus medical providers covered?
  5. Your 18-year-old is no doubt familiar with their own daily prescriptions, allergies, and the headaches and colds that crop up now and again. But they may need a crash-course in some other, less frequent, medical issues. Help them to create a first-aid kit that they can bring with them. Explain the contents and their various applications. You could even sign them up for a first-aid class before they leave!
  6. Ask your child, “What’s your plan for prioritizing a healthy diet, exercise, and sleep?” and help them come up with an answer. Whether you need to explore the menu of your student’s dining hall or discuss the power of a thirty-minute power nap on days they have an eight-a.m. lecture, you can help direct them towards healthy habits.
  7. Make your new college student aware of the plethora of support they can expect to encounter once moved in. From academic tutoring if they’re struggling with a class to residential advisors if roommate problems crop up, as well as counselors who specialize in the mental health issues of young adults. Many students struggle with anxiety, stress, and depression in silence throughout their four years simply because they were unaware these support systems even existed.

As parents, you always want to keep your kids healthy, and sending them off to college can seem like a scary prospect. You can’t see them every day to make sure they’re ok. You must rely on the support of others.

You pray they make great choices and stay safe. A few thoughtful conversations can go a long way in making sure they do.

Now Hiring: Licensed Professional Counselor or Psychologist

Doorways LLC. is a faith-based counseling organization in Phoenix, Arizona, that provides comprehensive outpatient treatment focused exclusively on 13-25 year olds and their families. Providers at Doorways specialize in treatment for Eating Disorders, Mood Disorders, Anxiety Disorders, OCD, ADD/ADHD, self-harm, suicide prevention, and family counseling.

We are seeking a full time or part time Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC, LMFT, or LCSW) or Psychologist. To apply for this position please submit cover letter, resume and salary requirement to [email protected]

Doorways provides a supportive, family-focused environment, flexible schedule, competitive salary and benefits, and a fun place to work!


  • Position requires a desire to work in a faith-based multidisciplinary practice with adolescents and their families in an outpatient setting.
  • Expectation of empaneling with at least one insurance company prior to start of employment.
  • Current CPR & First Aid Certifications
  • Fully licensed behavioral health counselor or psychologist in the state of Arizona.
  • Minimum of three years experience working with 13-25 year old clients and their families.
  • Enthusiastic and positive personality!

Desired Skills and Experience:

  • Experience working with eating disorder clients and families preferred
  • Experience in treating OCD /Social Anxiety and use of ERP therapy preferred
  • Experience in leading DBT groups and working knowledge of DBT skills preferred
  • Energetic and passionate regarding working with the adolescent and young adult population
  • Possess excellent interpersonal skills and the desire to grow with a rapidly expanding practice
  • Team player willing to work with a multidisciplinary team of professionals in treatment planning and provision of care



Doorways New Address

Doorways New AddressWe have moved!

Our new location is in Central Phoenix south of Camelback, north of Indian School, on the east side of the street.  We are across from Brophy.

Our new address is

4747 N. 7th St., Suite 450

Phoenix, Arizona 85014