Parenting a troubled teen book

parenting a troubled teen: manage conflict and deal with intense emotions

using Acceptance and Commitment Therapy



Table of Contents:

Part 1: Getting Started

  1. “Why is so Hard?”: How ACT Can Help
  2. “My House is a Stress Machine”: Your Struggle as a Parent

Part 2: Being Real

  1. “She’s So Manipulative”: Judgmental Thoughts
  2. “He Just Shouldn’t”: When Rules become Rigid
  3. “My Time-Traveling Machine”: Worries and Ruminations
  4. “I Suck as a Parent”: Mind Stories
  5. “It’s an Emotional Rollercoaster”: Handling Those Intense Emotions
  6. “What Type of Parent do I want to be?”: Your Parenting Values

Part 3: Making a Shift

  1. “I’m Here, Fully Present”: Mindfulness Skills
  2. “I See You”: Appreciation Skills
  3. “I Get it, It’s Hard”: Empathy Skills
  4. “Let’s Talk”: Assertiveness Skills
  5. “Stop Nagging, Start Rewarding”: Behavioral-Management Skills
  6. “Let’s Deal with This”: Conflict Resolution Skills
  7. “Taming the Demon”: Anger Skills
  8. “I Don’t Know How to Let It Go”: Forgiveness Skills
  9. “Why Do I Need to be Kind?”: Compassion Skills

Part 4: When Things get Rocky

  1. “Let’s Drop the Feminine Crap!”: For Fathers and Male Caregivers
  2. “Am I Wiling?”: Moments of Choice

why is this a good book for you, the parent or caregiver of a teen?

Because this is not a theoretical book or written from the office of a researcher. This book is the direct result of my clinical experience, first as an educational psychologist and later on as a clinical psychologist, working with teens, parents, and families affected by mild to severe emotion dysregulation problems in one form or another.


As parent or caregiver, you cannot choose what shows up under your skin; you cannot choose how your teen feels, thinks, or behaves. But you can choose how to respond in that moment.


This book is about showing you how to choose what matters to you as a parent,  what skill to choose from, and how to do apply the skill to one of those sticky moments you encounter with your teen.

“As a psychotherapist and author, I am in awe of Zurita Ona’s capacity to accurately explain the principles and practices of acceptance and commitment therapy in such a down-to-earth manner, without jargon. As the parent of a teenager, I appreciate her empathic understanding of parents, and their teens, which comes across in her amazingly familiar examples. Parents who read this book and do the practices at the end of each chapter will definitely find greater freedom in experiencing difficult emotions without being controlled by them, and will be encouraged to bring cherished values alive in their parenting. This book is a precious gift.”


Charles Swenson, MD, associate clinical professor of psychiatry at the University of Massachusetts Medical School

“Profound and compassionate, Parenting a Troubled Teen affirms real-world tools for caregivers. This book includes important information that offers new possibilities in parenting—challenging assumptions about adolescents while illuminating a fresh perspective on how to forge a meaningful connection that goes beyond ‘fixing.’”


Timothy Gordon, MSW, RSW, social worker, peer-reviewed acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) trainer, and coauthor of The ACT Approach

“Patricia Zurita Ona offers thoughtful guidance and straightforward tools to help parents remain present for their struggling teen while learning to ride the push and pull of their teen’s emotional tides. However, this book is not just for parents with troubled teens. Every parent will find something useful in this book, for what parent and what teen has not felt the pull of strong emotions?”


Michael A. Tompkins, PhD, ABPP, codirector of the San Francisco Bay Area Center for Cognitive Therapy; assistant clinical professor at the University of California, Berkeley; and coauthor of My Anxious Mind


“If you’re parenting a troubled teen, you almost certainly feel like a troubled parent who has a troubled parent-child relationship. If this sounds familiar, read this book! Zurita Ona comes to the rescue with this revolutionary guide for breaking unhelpful patterns of interacting with your teen, becoming the parent you truly aspire to be, and having a rich and meaningful relationship despite the emotional challenges.”


Jill A. Stoddard, PhD, coauthor of The Big Book of ACT Metaphors, and director of The Center for Stress and Anxiety Management in San Diego, CA


“As a certified school psychologist working in high schools for many years, I genuinely wish I had Parenting a Troubled Teento give to the parents and guardians of the students I was helping. Zurita Ona outlines very practical steps for adults who would like to help their teenager thrive during the chaotic times in their lives. Because the book is filled with real-world vignettes and useful exercises, parents and guardians will find Parenting a Troubled Teen to be a valuable resource for fostering stronger and more mature relationships.”


D. J. Moran, PhD, BCBA-D, founder of Pickslyde Consulting and the MidAmerican Psychological Institute

“As every parent knows, having children brings both joy and pain. But nothing prepares parents for the unique trials and tribulations of a troubled teen. Fortunately, help is at hand. This book is an incredibly practical guide to helping your child reduce suffering, build richer relationships, and become more successful in the face of life’s many challenges. No matter how bad things may have gotten, it’s never too late to turn the tide; and step-by-step, in a compassionate and respectful way, this book will show you just how to do it.”
Russ Harris, author of The Happiness Trap and ACT Made Simple

“Parents of teens who struggle with emotion regulation often describe feeling confused and overwhelmed by their teens’ behavior. Zurita Ona has come to the rescue with her beautifully crafted guide on how to apply acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) to the challenges experienced while parenting highly sensitive teens. This book will help parents manage their own intense emotions, and interact more empathically and effectively with their children. I look forward to recommending this book to the parents of my clients!”
Jamie A. Micco, PhD, ABPP, clinical psychologist in private practice in Concord, MA, and lecturer in psychology at Harvard Medical School