Dr Vanessa Lapointe is a registered psychologist who has been working with families for more than 15 years. She spoke to the Calm, Connected Tweens and Teens conference about parenting through big life challenges. Here's my summary!

The challenging period of adolescence can be even more challenging when adverse experiences such a death, divorce and trauma are thrown in the mix. As parents, there needs to be a fine balance of maintaining boundaries, yet being a bit softer in some instances. The tween and teen years are not black and white. Sometimes rules need to be forgotten! Mental health needs to be the priority.

Kids are already putting pressure on themselves - socially, academically, future focus, we don't need to compound this. Nature has built kids (and adults) to survive the bumpy times - and to usually come out the other side thriving. We need to believe this!

Echoing other experts from this conference, strong foundational relationships are key for these tween and teen years. When things get tough, the foundations will provide stability (literally and figuratively!).

It's also important to help kids identify 'lighthouses' for connection in these years - coaches, mentors, aunts, uncles, grandparents, teachers, cousins etc. While it would be nice to think your child will confer with you on all things they are finding tricky - it is not realistic! Having others they (and you) trust is key.

Make yourself available when your kids are - that's when they are most likely to talk. If you are working at home - try to be physically present eg work in the kitchen if possible. Offer them lifts to where they need to go. That is when they are likely to talk. It's also great to prioritise one on one time with your children - to show that you actively see and hear them. They are then much more likely to connect and take our lead as role models.

Vanessa also gave great advice to 'parent the child in front of you' - not the child you envisaged you would raise, the child you were yourself, or their sibling that you raised previously. They are all individuals and they need to be treated that way.

Don't be afraid of your kids being dependent on you - they are still emotionally immature, even if they look like adults!

Finally... don't buy into the rhetoric that this age is a nightmare and all hard. Try to understand where our tweens and teens are coming from and develop your relationship from there. As I like to remind myself - these kids are our future. Let's nurture them.