Ep. 82: How to Foster a Teen’s Independence with Nicole Kaplan and Peggy Oram

May 24, 2022 | 0 comments

Does your teen have the necessary skills needed to achieve autonomy? If not, how can we build these skills through empowering rather than enabling? As parents, we often think we are doing the right thing by jumping in and helping with tasks and responsibilities, especially if they seem challenging or uncomfortable. But we may be doing more harm than good.

On the Diverse Thinking Different Learning Podcast today, we have two guests, Nicole Kaplan and Peggy Oram. Both guests are members of the ChildNEXUS provider community, which is a tool you can use to search for providers of various expertise. Today, Nicole and Peggy share their expertise on the topic of executive functioning skills and independence in adolescents. If you are the parent, educator, or caregiver of a younger child however, they also share ways to avoid codependency by starting this skill development early on.


Show Notes:

[1:53] – Welcome to the show, Nicole and Peggy! 

[2:58] – We want to foster independence so adolescents are less reliant upon adult assistance.

[4:02] – Sometimes we think we are doing the right thing by doing things for our children, but we may be causing more harm than good.

[5:01] – There are some tasks that aren’t chores, they’re real responsibilities. By doing so many things for them, we set them up with bad habits.

[6:16] – This is an ongoing process for teens and young adults.

[7:10] – There is an important link between executive functioning skills and autonomy.

[8:40] – Nicole and Peggy describe biological age and executive functioning age.

[10:31] – Keep in mind that this is a rule of thumb. Every child learns differently.

[11:35] – Executive functioning skills are only taught in school through academics. Many schools do not teach them at all.

[13:13] – Just because you are intelligent doesn’t necessarily mean you have the executive functioning skills to succeed in everyday life.

[14:51] – It is human nature to jump in and take over to make things easier for your child.

[15:45] – Peggy and Nicole explain the difference between empowering and enabling.

[17:09] – Learning to manage frustration is key to learning EF skills.

[18:41] – The framework in helping and stepping back is called scaffolding.

[20:34] – The hardest part for the parent is to sit back and watch. 

[22:06] – Take tasks apart and look at each step. Using laundry as an example, teens might not know how to fold laundry because they’ve not thought about it.

[24:45] – Knowing why each step is important is something adolescents need to understand.

[27:14] – If we jump in too soon, we’re sending the message that we don’t think they can do it.

[28:40] – These skills are teachable at any time. It’s never too late to help build autonomy.

[30:11] – Sometimes these skills feel very unnatural.

[30:42] – Peggy and Nicole share some resources that are also linked below.

[31:49] – We should start teaching kids to capitalize on their strengths.

[33:10] – Keep in mind that these skills are not always easy for kids. Modeling is important, but kids need to move from observer to active participant.


About Our Guests:

Nicole Kaplan received her undergraduate degree in English Literature, with an emphasis in Education, from the University of California, Los Angeles.  She went on to earn her Master's degree in Special Education with a specialization in Educational Therapy from California State University Northridge. She is also an active member of the Association of Educational Therapists. For over two decades, Nicole has seen clients in a private practice setting collaborating with students, parents, teachers, learning specialists, psychologists, and neuropsychologists to create a game plan tailored to her client’s specific academic and emotional needs. She works from a strengths-based perspective, helping students from age 6 through adulthood to overcome or compensate for learning challenges. She is the founder of empowerED Learning, which provides holistic, comprehensive services for neurodiverse students and parents. Nicole and her team work in-person and virtually, depending on the students’ academic needs. 

Peggy Oram graduated with a Master’s Degree in Special Education with an emphasis in Educational Therapy. She has worked with neurodiverse students of all ages, from pre-K to young adults, for almost 30 years. Her primary focus is one-on-one remediation of various types of learning issues: reading, writing, mathematics, language skills, processing skills, social skills, and executive functioning skills. Through her practice and personal experience, she takes a special interest in children and teens with ADHD and/or diagnosed as being on the autism spectrum. These students need a strong foundation and important tools to succeed in an increasingly complex world, and she is excited to share how parents can learn how to support their children every step of the way. She recently moved from Los Angeles to the greater Nashville area, where she is seeing students in person and virtually. 


Connect with Nicole Kaplan:

Connect with Peggy Oram:

Links and Related Resources:


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The Diverse Thinking Different Learning podcast is intended for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for medical or legal advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Additionally, the views and opinions expressed by the host and guests are not considered treatment and do not necessarily reflect those of ChildNEXUS, Inc or the host, Dr. Karen Wilson.