Helaina Altabef

A Note From Helaina…

When I became a parent, I thought I would be a natural. I was already a successful middle school teacher. I loved my students and understood how to get through to them. I thought parenthood would be like how I felt as a teacher, but more. 

It didn’t quite go like that. I was used to relating with teens, not little ones! Much to my surprise, I was clueless and overwhelmed. I felt isolated. I couldn’t sleep and my nerves were shot.

Luckily, I found (and hired) mentors to guide me. They taught me how to communicate and set boundaries and how become a better parent who feels in control more of the time. They also helped me chill out, a most important skill in parenting.

Simultaneously, I had transitioned from the classroom to working one-on-one with middle and high school students. Though their parents called me to help their kids with reading and writing, I approached them with my coaching skills as well as my teaching expertise. I learned their strengths and weaknesses and how to coax out their inner worlds.

Soon enough, I found myself sharing my perspective with their parents about who they were as people. I was strategizing with them about how they could connect with and support their teens without fighting all the time.

This was a surprising turn of events: I was both learning and teaching how to parent. I was in need of help raising little kids, but I also had a lot of insight and tools about older kids. I really understood what has been said about raising kids: it takes a village.

This process of learning from some while teaching others about parenting is what inspired me to create Tame the Teen. In the age of interconnectivity, no one has to struggle alone. I certainly benefitted from the mentorship I received. I know that a lot of parents would welcome some of the same judgment-free support because many of them feel about their teens the way I felt about little kids: clueless about how to get through to them.

And I happen to LOVE teens. I love their awkwardness and beauty. Their keenness and cluelessness.  They are full of becoming energy, not quite formed but so alive!

know that children are growing up in a completely new world. But as parents, we are unsure of what that means for the hows: How do we help teens engage with real life, not just screen life, and communicate clearly, face-to-face? How do we teach them to problem solve and think for themselves? How do we nurture independence and accountability?

How do we raise people with enough grit to thrive in a complicated world?

Now that I am a parent, I believe that how we parent them is a big part of how all these questions get answered.

Tame the Teen is a whole-person approach, fifteen years in the making that relies on us, the grownups. to be the change we want to see in our kids.  It is a community of parents who are simultaneously leaning in to our children’s perspective and undergoing our own transformation. By being both strong and vulnerable, we are more likely to reach them and give them what they need to thrive both now and in the future.

 About Helaina

Helaina began her career in 2001 as a New York City Teaching Fellow, which provided the foundation for the role of teacher and mentor. Her teaching career is diverse, and she has worked in both public and private schools in New York, Oregon, and New Jersey. Her expertise is in writing and reading.

Since 2011, Helaina worked privately as an educator in the New York metro area through Pique Learning, which aims to prepare students with the tools necessary to thrive in an increasingly competitive world. Her method incorporates reading, critical thinking, communication, organizational and problem-solving skills. Though clients are initially drawn to Helaina’s promise to help with their child’s writing skills, this whole-child approach leads to improved performance across the board.

In 2010, Helaina earned a coaching certification from the International Coaching Academy to complement her skills as an educator. This training has enabled Helaina to partner with parents who struggle to understand and relate with their children. Her experience is that by fostering greater understanding, establishing boundaries and expectations and increasing clear communication, families become less stressed and remain connected. Ultimately, she strives to bring out the personal best of each student and family she works with.

Helaina received a Bachelor’s degree with honors in English from the State University of New York, Fredonia, and a Master’s degree in Education from Pace University. She lives in New Jersey with her husband Morry, their two children, Leela and Sophie, and Harry the dog.

Helaina Altabef

New York Metro Area


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