About Dr. Heather Tedesco
I am a licensed Applied Psychologist with a specialty translating psychological research on motivation, behavior, and development into actionable information for parents. I am passionate about helping parents navigate the complexities of raising happy and successful children in a culture that can be damaging to their healthy growth and development. I understand the pressures facing children and parents in our area and I have developed effective strategies to combat these challenges. My goal is always to make family life less stressful, more effective, and more enjoyable now and in the future. I have a Ph.D. in social psychology from the University of Maryland at College Park, where I studied motivated social cognition – basically, how people’s thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are affected by others. I have a broad base of academic, research, and applied experience, having worked as a psychologist for the United States Census Bureau and General Electric Corporation. I am a member of the American Psychological Association and the Virginia Psychological Association. I frequently speak at public and private schools ranging from pre-K to high school on a variety of parenting topics.
As the mother of three children, I know firsthand how incredibly challenging and rewarding parenting is as well as how easy it can be to stumble and to get back on track. We work so hard to provide our children with all the tools, advantages, and opportunities for success, but in reality one of the best ways to help our children succeed is to get the information and support we need as parents. As I have tried to instill the characteristics into my own children that I know to be strongly related to happiness and authentic success, I have both succeeded and failed repeatedly. Along the way, I have seen a tremendous need for parents to understand many aspects of psychological research relating to child rearing – topics such as motivation, reinforcement, resilience, self-esteem, stress management, self control, coping skills, emotional intelligence and regulation, independence, executive functioning, identity formation, and persistence that are routinely overlooked or misinterpreted. I have also been alarmed at the increasingly poor mental health of adolescents and young adults and feel compelled to help families understand the ways in which parenting techniques can mitigate or contribute to this enormous problem. I have immersed myself in current research on parenting and child development, have created tools to help parents clarify their goals, values, and dreams and have developed ways to help them learn how to parent toward them. The end result is a unique ability to explain the key research on child development and human behavior in a way that parents can use to make their parenting more effective and more rewarding. My mission is to share this critical information and to provide support to parents as their children navigate the school years.
In my spare time I serve on the Safe Community Coalition's Board of Directors, the Children’s Science Center STEM Advisory Council, and am the immediate past chair of the James Madison University Honors Alumni Council. I live with my husband and children in McLean, where I can usually be found at a variety of school, sports, and community events.