It had been a pretty hectic week for Maggie. This week alone, she ran two shifts daily with less than four hours of sleep. On her last shift, she became overwhelmed. The rent was almost due and her payment had been delayed due to an issue with her bank account. She had to pick up groceries but her car mysteriously broke down so she had to take the bus with two arms full of heavy groceries. Her daughter, Helen, had recently started acting up and it was concerning. She had been very defiant of late and they almost always ended the day with heavy confrontations where hurtful words were exchanged. Everything that could go wrong was going wrong and Maggie was feeling terribly stressed.

She sighed in relief as she put her key in the knob, thinking of the long shower awaiting her, only to get a call from Helen’s class teacher. Helen had not been turning in assignments and her performance was woeful in the few she did turn in. She also had a pending project that was due in two weeks, yet no draft had been submitted. This was totally unlike Helen so, she decided to give Maggie a call to clarify things. Of course, she thanked her daughter’s teacher for the information and ended the call. She was furious! Here she was trying to make life as comfortable as possible for her daughter instead, she’d been playing truancy! As she rushed to Helen’s room to give her a piece of her mind, she decided to practice the S.T.O.P. principle that she had learnt from one of our training sessions. 

Life is full of twists and turns. Some days, it’s all exciting and other days it’s gloomy. What do you do when life decides to skip the excitement and hands you the gloom? How do you deal with your emotions when everything that can go wrong is going wrong? How do you respond to such upsetting situations? The answer is simple, utilize the S.T.O.P. Principle.

The S.T.O.P. principle is the acronym for:

  • S – Slow down
  • T – be Thankful
  • O – Observe your emotions
  • P – Plan the next steps


This is an important principle to adopt if you ever want to become an emotionally intelligent manager or parent who is not ruled by emotions. Emotions in themselves are not the enemy. They’re like pilots that inform you about what’s going on in your body. How you handle that information is what determines whether you’re emotionally intelligent or not.

When something happens that jolts you out of your comfort zone, which is what upsetting situations do, the biological response is usually to react not respond. To react” is to respond through your emotions rather than logically thinking through situations. To “respond” on the other hand, is to rise above your basic emotion and delay your come-back until you can access the logical part of you.

It is human nature to react to upsetting situations rather than respond. This is the default biological design. Here’s how it works: When there is a trigger (i.e. the upsetting situation), the first part of the brain that receive these signals is the amygdala. The amygdala is the seat of emotions and it is responsible for every emotional reaction you give. Therefore, when you take an action while the signals are still stuck in the Amygdala, your responses are likely to be reactionary. The prefrontal cortex (PFC), however, is the seat of logical thinking and it takes some time before these triggers (i.e. the upsetting situation) make it to the PFC. The time frame is dependent on your mastery of Emotional Intelligence (EI) tips and applications. When you respond aggressively to an upsetting situation, it is most likely because you did not give your prefrontal cortex enough time to receive the signal before responding, hence, your reaction. 



The S.T.O.P. Principle gives you adequate time to recalibrate so that you can view the trigger objectively. Helen’s mom held back and decided to slow (calm) down, which is the first step in STOP. She refused to let her amygdala control her despite the intense stress she was under. So, delaying her response to the upsetting situation gave her time to gather her thoughts. Now, this time interval will vary for different people depending on the severity of the situation and (most importantly) how well they’ve trained themselves to respond in a logical manner above emotional responses. To engage the first “S” in the STOP principle, you could:

  • meditate,
  • count from one to ten in your mind,
  • take a stroll (away from the object of stress),
  • take deep breaths,
  • listen to soul music,
  • go to the spa, or
  • lock yourself up in a room and scream your heart out!

Just do something relaxing. Anything that takes you out of the “fight or flight” stance triggered by the upsetting situation works perfectly. In my moments of intense emotions, I try to watch a movie if my situation permits otherwise, I take very long strolls preferably around nature so that I can clear my head and return to my pre-stress state. 



Once you escape the clutches of an impulsive response, learning the art of gratitude is your next stop. Gratitude is a powerful calming mechanism It helps in the release of all your happy hormones. When you express gratitude, your brain releases dopamine and serotonin (they are the two crucial neurotransmitters responsible for happiness and ‘feeling good’), and they make you feel calm. Gratitude infuses your heart with love.  When you step into an aura of gratitude, your mountainous problem pales in comparison to the goodness in your life. Do you know that when a person is high on drugs, these “happy hormones” are usually released in excess. So imagine the powerful infusion of goodness that’s being evoked just by stepping into a state of thankfulness. These hormones enhance your mood immediately, making you feel happy from the inside out! This is an absolutely important process in the S.T.O.P. Principle because sometimes when you are calm from your walk [or whatever calming technique works for you], the emotions evoked by that upsetting situation may still be brewing underneath. Sometimes, it’s a false sense of calm you experience when you take that stroll. Thankfulness ensures that you truly let go of the pain and anger that has been triggered and it positions you to be empathetic and in charge of your emotions.



When you are done practising the “S” and “T” of the S.T.O.P. Principle, the next step is to observe your emotions. Are you calm enough to make a rational decision? Do you still feel clouded by your emotions? Are you able to understand why the other party behaved in that manner even if they’re wrong for doing so? If your answer is no, simply repeat the first two steps because we need you to ensure that you can identify the specific emotions you feel, understand why you feel that way and own those emotions. You need to be in a state of mind where you can accept whatever response you dole out as your unbiased thoughts not a reactionary mistake. When you react emotionally, chances usually are that the issues become forgotten and persons feel attacked. I know that when I do not practise the S.T.O.P. Principle, I end up going back to apologise for my actions or utterances even if I was not initially wrong. It is quite painful to apologize for acting rashly when you were the one who was attacked in the first place. I can assure you that when you do not observe your emotions before taking a step, you’re setting up yourself to be the “bad guy”.



If you observed your emotions and are self-aware enough to identify your dominant emotions, then it may be time to plan what your response should be. It’s your response, therefore, you’re under no obligation to hurriedly reply [except in the case of an emergency].  Take your time to think through your thoughts, the consequences of your actions and responses as well as the synchrony your response has with your value system. When all of these are aligned, then it’s time to take action. You’ll feel more at peace with your response when you do this.

So, what did Maggie do when she realized that her daughter was not just spinning out of control but truant? She simply went back to her room to vent off her anger. She screamed off her frustrations, pain, and anger. When she was done, she felt better. She was able to find things to be grateful for and as her hear swelled with gratitude for the beautiful memories she’d had with her daughter, love and empathy filled her heart. By the time she engaged Helen, it was from a place of connection, empathy and a desire to genuinely understand why her daughter suddenly flipped. They had an intimate conversation where she found out that Helen had been depressed lately which was why she skipped assignments, had emotional meltdowns, among other things. It was eye-opening. Imagine that Maggie had continued with the exchange of hurtful words during their ‘usual’ times of heated arguments, Helen could have become suicidal thinking (wrongly) that no one loved her.



Leaders, managers, teachers, administrators, counsellors, have all used the S.T.O.P. Principle to break down emotionally limiting barriers. This simple yet profound principle has the potential to not just make you an emotionally intelligent parent but an emotionally intelligent human as a whole.



If this article helped you in any way, do write to us at info@tsageandtbog.com and don’t forget to leave a comment



This free ebook teaches you the exact four-step strategy that THOUSANDS of parents have used to manage tantrums during adolescence.



AWe-Q is an acronym for Adolescent Wellness Quotient. It is the level of an adolescent’s holistic health across the dimensions of wellness, often represented by a score in a standardized test. To understand the Adolescent Wellness Quotient, we need to understand the concept of Wellness and its import on our adolescent’s day–to–day life. When taking this test, please DO NOT consider it an examination. Be as truthful as you possibly can be so as to get accurate answers that will definitely point you in the direction where your adolescents might be lacking. This is NOT a personality test.

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1. How regularly does your adolescent fall sick enough to require medical attention?


2. Is your adolescent actively involved in creative expressions like painting, colouring, writing, making music, making crafts or any other creative activity?


3. Does your adolescent engage in sporting activities or exercises?


4. Your adolescent is picky with food because of an intense fear of gaining weight despite being underweight


5. Does your adolescent perform above average academically?


6. Does your adolescent critically assess situations before making a decision?


7. Does your adolescent consciously take care of himself/herself in order to prevent things like body odour, mouth odour, etc


8. If you go into your adolescent’s room on a typical day, you’re likely to find it properly arranged and well taken care of


9. If you walked into a room where your adolescent was relaxing, would he/she stylishly relocate to another room?


10. Does your adolescent enjoy spending time at home with you?


11. If your adolescent is hurt by something you did, he/she is more likely to speak to you about it rather than giving the silent treatment


12. If you had a bad day at work, your adolescent is likely to notice


13. If your adolescent is faced with a traumatic situation such as the loss of a dear one or a break-up with a lover, how likely are they to bounce back from it?


14. Does your adolescent profess and/or practice any relationship with the Supreme Being?


15. Does your adolescent have a clear sense of purpose?


16. Does your adolescent show acts of kindness, empathy and other acts of compassion towards fellow humans?


17. Are you comfortable with the company your adolescent keeps?


18. Does your adolescent enjoy dinner time with the family?


19. Your adolescent is not afraid to voice out his/her opinions irrespective of the situation.


20. Your adolescent has basic knowledge of investment and/or savings


21. Your adolescent understands and/or practices the concept of budgeting


22. Your adolescent spends faster than he/she saves


23. Your adolescent has sustained an ability to manage academic demands with extra-curricular demands


24. Does your adolescent have a clear-cut vision of who/what he/she wants to be in the future?


25. How well do you know your adolescent?


26. Email Address:

Question 1 of 26



One particular lunch break, I realized that all my peers had noticeable breasts but me. All I had was a lump. The girl with the next smallest breast to me already wore top bras. I remember the shame I felt. I remember how withdrawn I was. I remember how embarrassed I felt. I was the tallest in my class but it did nothing to comfort me. I felt even more ashamed because my body ensured that even with my incredible height, my marker for womanhood was barely existent. I had begun my period at this time but my breasts just refused to mature. I admired how our uniforms fit the other girls and desperately wished my height could have been traded for my breasts’ size. Anyways, I had no such luck! The end result? All my classmates had boyfriends but me. It was a stigma for me for so long. Until I eventually gave in to peer pressure towards the end of high school and had my boyfriend. Need I say I was very insecure in my new found relationship because I felt I was not feminine enough to keep a boyfriend.

  That was my adolescence journey in High school. When I remember the emotional trauma it caused me, I sometimes cringe because we many times forget our own personal adolescence experiences when interacting with our adolescents. There is a general consensus that adolescence is an important stage in the life cycle. This is because our little humans are most vulnerable in this phase and understandably so. For girls who go through puberty early, the immediate consequences are that they tend to have greater independence, and they tend to be very popular with the boys. Unfortunately, it’s also a period of much more conflict than normal. Even though this can be totally minimized using our unconventional parenting tools available for free!!! We all know that puberty is not just the onset of height, for girls, they grow breasts, hips, and all sort of things like that. Early adolescence in girls predisposes them towards getting poorer marks in school, with some increased delinquency too. These girls tend to have earlier sexual experiences, and kind of like the boys, more substance use, more depression, and more body image issues. As parents, we strongly advise that before your female child hits puberty, ensure that you must have gone through all our TRAIN UP curricula [which is highly subsidized] so that you are better equipped to handle the demands that come with the early onset of puberty. On the other side of things, girls who go through puberty late, maintain their good marks in school, so they don’t seem to have that issue. They start dating later, possibly because they’re not as popular with the boys. Interestingly, this was my story. I was the best student right from Junior School till Senior School up until I got really deep in my relationship and lost my position to someone else. I couldn’t bring myself to focus on classwork because I was always wondering who else my boyfriend was seeing.

My grades dropped drastically as a result and I lost the position of the best graduating student. So, those are the immediate consequences that adolescents experience in the moment. As adults, girls who go through puberty early tend to have difficult social relationships, and lower levels of education completed. These girls tend to drop out of school earlier. And they tend to have more mental health issues and substance use issues. Again, some of this may have to do with where they were in the social hierarchy in high school, and if they carry those skills to the adult world, the adult world will kick them out. For girls who go through puberty late, one of the major consequences is that they complete higher levels of education. They maintain good marks in high school and then continue to do well academically later in life. How do you help your female child go through these pubertal changes with as much precision as you can muster?

  1. Be Open and Vulnerable: Nothing breeds trust and emotional safety like vulnerability.
  2. Be a Friend: It is amazing how the traditional model of parenting finds friendship with their adolescents as taboo. I have come in contact with parents who strongly believe that being friends with their adolescents water down the dominating effect they have over their children. While this is not only wrong, being domineering is one of the poorest ways to raise a child in the 21st-century social clime.
  3. Be Empathetic: Remember what your adolescence felt like. Bing back to memory what you liked and didn’t like. What you felt your parents should have done differently and weigh the consequences. Growing up in no way detaches you from your childhood and adolescence. The true art of ‘growing up’ is being able to make logical decisions without losing your sense of wonder.

As parents, what’s the biggest thing you’re struggling with right now that I can help you with? You can leave your comments or send me a mail at TBOG@tsageandtbog.com. If you enjoyed reading this, don’t forget to share it with other parents.



As a counsellor to adolescents and adolescent managers, I’ve seen it happen. Suddenly, the little boy you’ve raised and loved looks different. Changes in his body have him asking questions, or he may be seeing his friends changing and wonder when it will be his turn. I actually have friends who waited eagerly to grow beards! Even though we are familiar with the markers of puberty, are we well versed in the consequences of an early or delayed onset of puberty in the behavioural patterns of our teenagers? Of course, as parents, we all went through puberty ourselves — though it feels like eons ago! For children starting puberty, understanding the changes they will experience before they happen can be somewhat reassuring. In today’s article, we shall beam the light on how puberty affects boys (now and in later life) and how we can as parents be well–equipped to handle the demands of puberty on both our teens and ourselves.


Jones conducted a research that gave insights to the challenges boys face when they begin puberty earlier or later than their peers. Boys who go through puberty early [when compared to their mates especially within their circle] tend to have greater self-assurance. They tend to be rated as more attractive and more masculine, and they tend to be more popular with their peers. These are all bonuses for boys who go through puberty early. But it also turns out that the boys who go through puberty early tend to have increased substance use, more delinquency, and more psychological issues. So, there are some pros and cons to going through puberty early. This should serve as a guide for us as parents in gaining insights into the peculiar struggles our boys face with respect to their changing bodies and how we can act as guides as they go through.

Teenage boys in school uniform smilingAs a high school class teacher for a number of years, I have personally observed my shorter male students appear more troublesome than their taller peers. At the time, I had no scientific explanation for such segmentation but I was curious. Here’s what I found. For boys who go through puberty late, they tend to be socially awkward. They tend to misbehave in class a bit more than boys who go through early, possibly because they’re trying to get some attention, or trying to set themselves apart. And they do display some anxious behaviours. But, it’s not just the immediate consequences of early and late puberty that are important. There are some later consequences in adulthood that seem to be related to going through puberty early or late.


For boys who go through puberty early, later on, they tend to be more domineering but also more responsible. They tend to have a lot of self-control, but that can also make them rigid and a little bit conforming. They tend to be more advanced in their career but have some difficulty coping with stress, and they can tend to have more intimacy difficulties. Many studies show that most pre-adolescents want nothing more than to fit in so, anything that makes them feel conspicuous tends to have a subtle but definite long-lasting effect on mental health. It could also be that the anxious things they learn in the social hierarchy in high school do not work serve them very well the adult world. So, these boys have to come up with new ways of dealing with other people and social interactions if they’re going to participate in the adult world.


For boys who go through puberty late, later on in life, they tend to have a good sense of humour, clearer insight into issues, a sophisticated understanding of themselves, and good intimate relationships. It could be that not being the top of the social totem pole actually helps them out later in life. As parents, we need to be well equipped with the tools for navigating the 21st-century adolescent social space because what tended to work in our time, might be redundant in this clime.


How do we help our adolescents through this period?

  1. Listen: We should be curious about what’s going on in our teen’s life this period. Asking direct questions might not be as effective as simply sitting back and listening. listen to your adolescents. What they say and what they don't sayTeens are more likely to be open with their parents if they don’t feel pressured to share information. Remember even an offhand comment about something that happened during the day is her way of reaching out, and you’re likely to hear more if you stay open and interested — but not prying. This gives you a clear picture of the struggles they might be dealing with or insights into possible problems that might arise.


  1. Participate in TRAIN UP: There is an alarming outcry by many mental health organizations over the sudden surge in reported cases among teenagers. If nothing is done about this, the future of our society is in jeopardy. TRAIN-UP is a capacity-building exposure that unveils unconventional but foolproof strategies for adolescent engagement in the 21st-century technology-driven social space by equipping Parents, Teachers, Administrators and Counsellors (PTAC) with tools for creative adolescent management. We designed TRAIN UP as a free resource to ensure that all parents have access to cutting edge knowledge for unconventional parenting in the 21st century. In this course, you learn how to create a psychologically safe haven for your children especially adolescents among others.


  1. Validate their feelings. It is often our weakness as parents to try to solve problems for our teens and adolescents or to downplay their disappointments. But saying something like “She wasn’t right for you anyway” after a romantic disappointment can feel dismissive. Instead, show them that you understand and empathize by reflecting the comment back: “Wow, that does sound difficult.” And if possible share your heartbreak experience(s) and how you dealt with it (them) without outrightly telling them what to do or not.

  1.  Be Trustworthy: Yes that simple. Be worthy of being trusted! It is often easier for an adolescent to listen to another adult who they feel is on their side even if that adult is passing across the same message their parents have been trying to pass across for months to no avail. I know right?! If you recall your adolescence, it should come very clear to you how you would rather listen to another adult you trust and respect over your parents even though they were both saying the same thing. What’s the difference? Adolescents are emotional creatures. It means, to transmit instructions and values to them, you must target their emotional core. Many parents find this difficult because we have been wired to parent conventionally. We are in unconventional times, it will take an unconventional means to target your adolescent’s emotional core. You child will remain emotionally receptive to any adult who targets this core. Unfortunately, our teenagers many times believe that we [parents] are not on their side. It is one of the perks of conventional parenting and also a major reason that parenting teenagers seem tough! While it is very tempting to want to make them ‘understand’ why they act the way they do or to show them scientific reports on what’s ‘wrong’ with them, it’s best you place them in the hands of professionals who can in partnership with you, guide them.