How to Talk to an Angry Teenager

August 19, 2019

It’s well known that the teen years can be a trying time for parenting. It may feel like their rebellion is a personal attack and that they are determined to make your home life miserable, but in reality, this is a natural process. Your teenager is maturing both physically and emotionally, and while they may […]

How to Talk to an Angry Teenager

August 19, 2019

It’s well known that the teen years can be a trying time for parenting. It may feel like their rebellion is a personal attack and that they are determined to make your home life miserable, but in reality, this is a natural process. Your teenager is maturing both physically and emotionally, and while they may look like an adult by this stage, their brain is still developing. When their frontal cortex develops in a few years, their brain development will finally match their bodies and you may feel like you are dealing with a different person. Until that time, here are some tips for talking to your angry teen.

Change Your Parenting Style

If you have an authoritarian parenting style, “My way or the highway,” you’ll benefit from switching styles. An authoritarian method of parenting will cause you to butt heads with your teen, resulting in increased anger and chronic fighting. If you can switch your style to an authoritative style, you will get better reactions. An authoritative parent deals with their child in a manner that takes in to account their development stage and circumstances. That means explaining your reasoning, giving consequences that take your child’s feelings and circumstances into consideration, and overall putting the relationship with your child first. Not that your responses will make them happy all of the time, but they should know that you are acting with love and to teach them something important.

Frame the Conversation

When it’s time to have a conversation with your teen, first frame the conversation so they know that while you might be displeased with their choices, you are not rejecting or hating them as a person. If you come at your teen with anger, they are more likely to get defensive or shut down. Since their frontal cortex isn’t finished developing,  they’re unable to fully control their emotions or foresee the consequences of their behavior. This can make teens highly reactive and appear irrationally angry. To avoid this, let them know that you are irritated, disappointed, or upset with their choices or behaviors, but that you’re not angry with them as a person.

Listen

Overall, it’s important to keep lines of communication open with your teen. You can turn anger into dialogue by simply making an effort to listen to and understand your teen. Use reflection to ensure that you heard them and understand their feelings. “What I heard you saying is…” Trying to give advice or enforce rules can break communication down when you need it to stay open.

Your teen is trying to figure out their identity as they go through many hormonal, growth and development changes that are out of their control. Try to understand that their anger is about asserting themselves or trying to separate themselves as an individual. This is a difficult time, and your teen needs empathy. Stay your child’s safe and secure base, so you can help them through it.

If you’re a parent having a difficult time with a teenager, a Psychologist or therapist can be a great resource for parenting support or to help your teen through this challenging time. Contact me today if you would like to set up a free consultation.

A Parent’s Guide to Teen Depression and Suicide

April 1, 2019

According to the Centers for Disease Control, an average of 8% of American teens will attempt suicide each year. Suicide is currently the second leading cause of death for kids aged 10 to 24. In fact, it is believed that more teenagers die from suicide than from cancer, pneumonia, birth defects, AIDS, influenza and heart disease combined. According to […]

A Parent’s Guide to Teen Depression and Suicide

April 1, 2019

According to the Centers for Disease Control, an average of 8% of American teens will attempt suicide each year. Suicide is currently the second leading cause of death for kids aged 10 to 24. In fact, it is believed that more teenagers die from suicide than from cancer, pneumonia, birth defects, AIDS, influenza and heart disease combined.

According to studies, teens who have presented with a mood disorder or who abuse drugs are at the greatest risk of attempting suicide. While research suggests girls attempt suicide more often, boys more often die from it.

Unfortunately, there is still much stigma surrounding depression and suicide. This leads to kids often keeping their emotional pain to themselves instead of asking for help.

So, what can you as a parent of a teenager do to keep your child safe and healthy?

Talk to Your Teen

Many parents believe that trying to speak with their kids about their feelings will only push them farther away. This is plain wrong. In reality, teenagers need their parents to check in with them to know that they are safe and loved.

It’s best to check in with your child on a regular basis. Ask general questions about what’s going on in their life and more specific questions about how they are feeling and coping. When the time feels right, make sure to ask clearly if they have ever had thoughts of self-harm or suicide. It is also good to ask if any of their friends have talked about or attempted suicide. Also, be aware of any suicides at your child’s school, as that increases the risk of other teens attempting.

Validate Their Feelings

Once you’ve begun this sensitive conversation with your teen, it’s important to actively listen and validate your child’s feelings. You want to keep the conversation going as long as needed to really understand what is going on with your child. Try to stay calm and show a genuine interest to understand. You need to convey that you are a) hearing what they’re telling you and b) recognizing the importance of it. Focus on listening without judgement. This is your chance to gather information about your child’s inner world to help keep them safe.

Clarify the Situation

If your teen confides they are having thoughts of suicide, it’s incredibly important that you remain calm and ask questions that will help you clarify the situation. You will want to determine the nature of these thoughts and the level of danger to your child. Here are some examples of what you might find out.

Passive suicidal comments like,”I just want it all to stop” or “I just can’t take it anymore,” generally indicate your child is feeling overwhelmed and doesn’t know how to cope. You can help your child by offering increased supports. This may include spending more time with them, helping them work through a stressful situation, and offering to get them set up with a therapist to work on increasing their coping skills.

Other times, suicidal comments can be a means of getting something they need, like attention, or getting out of a situation that is causing them pain. With these comments, it is important to let your child know that you hear the need and try to redirect them to asking in a less extreme manner. Still asses for plan and intent, just in case you misread.

If your child does have a plan and indicates that they want to carry it out or that they don’t know if they can stop themselves, you need to get more help quickly. This is the time to take your child to the hospital or call for an ambulance. This is when it is most important to err on the side of caution and take your child’s warnings very seriously. Even if it turns out to be an extreme cry for help and not a serious threat, your child will know that you are listening and care. They will also get an intense dose of coping skills training at the hospital.

Seek Professional Guidance

Any talk of suicide is a serious matter and requires professional guidance by a trained therapist. It’s important not to force your teen into any treatment plan unless you feel that they are at immediate risk. Some of their depression might stem from the sense of lack of control they feel in their life, so it’s important you let them have a voice in the direction of treatment. That said, they might feel overwhelmed by trying to work out all of the details on their own, so try to find a balance. For instance, you might research therapists (be sure to call and make sure they are accepting new patients) and then show your teen the websites of your top 3 choices and ask them who they would be like to meet with.

It can also be helpful for parents to seek out treatment for themselves to work through your feelings and learn how to support your child through this difficult time.

I work with both teens and parents. Please feel free to contact me to discuss treatment for you or your child.

How to Lovingly Parent a Depressed or Anxious Child

September 24, 2018

Being a parent is the hardest job ever! However, being a parent of a child with a chronic illness can feel unbearable at times. When your child is dealing with a serious mental illness, it is very important to provide the support they need in a loving and patient manner. All parents want to do […]

How to Lovingly Parent a Depressed or Anxious Child

September 24, 2018

Being a parent is the hardest job ever! However, being a parent of a child with a chronic illness can feel unbearable at times. When your child is dealing with a serious mental illness, it is very important to provide the support they need in a loving and patient manner.

All parents want to do what’s right for their kids, but when your child is sick, physically or mentally, the desire to “get it right” becomes even more intense.

If you are the parent of a child with serious depression and/or anxiety, there isn’t one “right way” to parent them, but you can be a great support and advocate. Here are some ways you can show love and support for your child as they find their way back to health.

Accept Your New Reality

For many parents, accepting that your child has a mental illness is very difficult. It is natural to want to deny the seriousness of situation and pretend that everything is the way it was before the diagnosis. However, this attempt at self-protection can feel invalidating and shameful to your child. Accepting the reality of the situation allows you to focus on getting the right help and to treat the illness effectively, without you child feeling at fault.

Communicate Openly

Your child needs you now more than ever and to know that they can talk to you about anything, even the scary parts. Sit down with your child and tell them they can come to you at any time for any reason. Tell them that it is especially important that they reach out when their world feels dark and hopeless or overwhelming. Let them know you would never be angry at them for how they feel. When they are ready to talk, listen closely, and really hear them with an open mind and heart. You don’t need to “fix it,” rather to show that you understand and will be an ally in helping them to get better.

Help Their Body

The health of the body impacts the mind, especially when the mind is already stressed with depression and/or anxiety. Help your child’s recovery by encouraging healthy eating habits by limiting sugar, processed foods, and caffeine intake. Also, encourage them to get exercise at the level that they can handle. Start with a walk around the block or doing some light yard work as a family. Sleep is also an important foundational support. Help you child get enough rest each night by setting firm bed times with no screens in their room.

Talk to Them About Suicide

It’s a conversation no parent wants to have. Unfortunately, these days all parents need to be aware of the risk, and for the parent of a depressed or severely anxious child, the risk of suicide is an important issue to deal with head on. Start the conversation with your child by asking if they’ve ever thought about suicide. Be mindful of keeping your voice and comments non-judgemental and not overly reactive. Asking these questions in an objective way allows your child to speak candidly with you and share their true thoughts and feelings with you.

Some parents worry that bringing up suicide will increase the risk, by planting the thought in their  child’s head, but there is no risk of that. However, hearing about others committing suicide can increase the risk, so make sure to check in with your child if there is a suicide at their school or one that is getting a lot of media coverage.

Get Help

When your child is dealing with a serious depression and/or severe anxiety, they will be best helped by a team approach. You are on the front lines and can be a big support in your child’s life, but you don’t need to figure how to help them alone or carry all of the burden.  Having the guidance of a trained mental health therapist or psychologist and psychiatrist, if needed, will be very beneficial. Your pediatrician, local support groups, friends and family can all be good sources of referrals. You can also check with your insurance under the “Find a Doctor” section and research providers on-line.

If you or a loved one has a child suffering with depression or severe anxiety, you are not alone. Please contact me for a free consultation to discuss parenting support or therapy for your child.

Why You Should Limit Phone Time For Your Teen

June 18, 2018

Why is Your Teen Glued to Their Phone? When your child was small, they might have needed their favorite “blanky” or stuffed animal to feel safe. Well, just because your child is “all grown up” doesn’t mean teenagers don’t still seek comfort items. For most teens today, their phone has become their security blanket. They […]

Why You Should Limit Phone Time For Your Teen

June 18, 2018

Why is Your Teen Glued to Their Phone?

When your child was small, they might have needed their favorite “blanky” or stuffed animal to feel safe. Well, just because your child is “all grown up” doesn’t mean teenagers don’t still seek comfort items. For most teens today, their phone has become their security blanket. They can’t seem to go to bed, or anywhere else for that matter, without their precious smart phone by their side.

Why is This Phone Dependency a Problem?

The University of Maryland conducted a study as part of The World Unplugged project where researchers evaluated students from 10 different countries to see what would happen when the students had to forgo their phones for 24 hours. Their results were eye-opening, as they found that the majority of students experienced distress during this time without their phones.

Another large-scale study involving more than 2,500 college students found that 60% of them admitted to being addicted to their phone.

The danger is that this addiction can sometimes be linked to unhealthy mental behaviors. For instance, researchers at the Catholic University of Daegu in South Korea found that teens who used their smartphones the most showed troubling psychological issues such as aggression, depression, anxiety, and tended to withdrawal more.

Also, adolescents need a high level of peer interaction, but now even though they still go out in groups, they all have their heads down with their eyes glued to their phones. So, are they really getting the peer support and interaction that they need to help them through this difficult developmental stage?

While more research is needed, and cellphone addiction is not yet categorized as a real disorder, it is clear that teens are having trouble putting their phones down even for their own good.

What Are Some Signs That Your Teen May be Addicted to Their Phone? 

How do you prevent your own kid from experiencing the aggression, depression, or anxiety associated with overuse of a smart phone? First, you must recognize signs that there may be a problem:

– Does your child feel the need to respond to everything immediately?  Do they seem unable to resist that urge?
– Does your child constantly check their phone, even when it isn’t ringing or vibrating? This behavior actually called ‘phantom vibration’. This is a definite sign that your teen may have an addiction.
– Does your child seem disconnected from the real world and ignore what is happening right in front of them?
– Does your child express or show symptoms that feel anxious or angry when they are away from their phone?

What Can You Do To Help?

First, try speaking with your teen about their phone use and your concerns. Changing this behavior is easiest if you can get your child to understand that making rules about phone use is to protect them. They may or may not be receptive to the talk, but it’s a good idea to invite your adolescent to be part of making the rules and regulations.

Next, set some rules, preferably with your teen. Understand that changing this behavior will be difficult, so try to start slow. You may want to start by saying phones are not allowed at the dinner table.  Of course, you as a parent must follow your own rules if you want your teen to.

Next, you might want to enforce a “no bedtime” rule. Studies have found electronic equipment like laptops and cellphones hinder sleep. Try and encourage your teen to leave their phone out of their room and try some quiet time before bed by reading or listening to music. Some families find a charging station in the kitchen or living room is a good way to get everyone to unplug before bed.

What’s Next?

Once the new pattern is established, encourage your teen to start regulating their own behaviors. That’s what growing up is all about, but know that your job as a parent is to enforce healthy rules until your child is ready to take over. Check in and help them as needed to stay on the right path to cell phone use, not dependence!

If you are worried that your teen is getting into trouble, a trained therapist can help you get on the right track. I work with adolescents and adults to help you figure out how to find balance in this fast paced world.

Mass Shootings: How to Talk to Your Kids

June 4, 2018

After the shooting at Columbine High School in Littleton in 1999, no one imagined that over the next 20 years, 200 more school shootings would be perpetrated. In the first 79 days of 2018 alone, there were 12. Unfortunately, this is an epidemic in the United States and we have to figure out how to […]

Mass Shootings: How to Talk to Your Kids

June 4, 2018

After the shooting at Columbine High School in Littleton in 1999, no one imagined that over the next 20 years, 200 more school shootings would be perpetrated. In the first 79 days of 2018 alone, there were 12. Unfortunately, this is an epidemic in the United States and we have to figure out how to parent our children though these tragedies.

Choosing the best way to talk to your kids about school shootings varies by age, maturity, and how impacted your family or community was by the event.  It’s important to take note that both the American Psychiatric Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend avoiding the topic with children under 8, if possible. Since kids under 8 have difficulty telling the difference between reality  and fantasy, any exposure to violence can cause great fear and anxiety. This is good to keep in mind when choosing whether to expose young children to any violent content real or imaginary.  Of course, if your child asks questions, it is important to reassure your child that they are safe and that the adults in their life are working hard to keep them that way.

Experts also recommend that children under 11 avoid watching the news entirely, since at this young age, children’s brains are more vulnerable to long-term impact of exposure to violent tragedies. Also, it is good to consider how much is exposure is helpful for any of us and to be very mindful of what children might overhear. Adults often feel that they need to keep aware of what is happening when there is a tragedy, but we may be over-exposing ourselves, and inadvertently our children, to a high degree of intense emotion by leaving the TV on.

For children over the age of 8, or if you believe your child might hear about the incident from others, first summarize the event as briefly as possible (think one or two sentences). Keep in mind that your child will use your words to tell the story to themselves in their head, so choose your words carefully. Children are very tuned in to emotions, so speak in a calm and matter-of-fact tone of voice and put this event in context with your family values. Your child might have a lot of questions, so try to not give too many details and stay focused on positives, such as the people who helped and the support of the community. Also, reassure your child of what is being done to keep them safe at home and school.

For pre-teens and teens, start by asking what they know. Ask how they feel, and listen carefully to what they say. If they don’t want to talk about it, that’s okay too. Just let them know that you are available if they ever want to.

One way to help your child cope, is to let them do something to help. Discuss what you can do together to help the victims’ families, the school, or the community. Volunteering can help us cope with tragedy as we feel the positive effects of contributing and doing good for people in need.

If you or your child are struggling to cope emotionally because of an incident of mass violence, a licensed mental health professional can help. Please feel free to call me to discuss a free consultation and how therapy might help.

5 Signs Your Teenager is Asking for Help

April 17, 2018

Adolescence can perhaps be best described as a time of physical, emotional, and social upheaval. Changes happen so rapidly in the teen years, that it can be difficult for the child or parent to keep up and know how to cope. Teenagers often become more detached from their family during this time. A adolescent’s peers […]

5 Signs Your Teenager is Asking for Help

April 17, 2018

Adolescence can perhaps be best described as a time of physical, emotional, and social upheaval. Changes happen so rapidly in the teen years, that it can be difficult for the child or parent to keep up and know how to cope.

Teenagers often become more detached from their family during this time. A adolescent’s peers become their primary social connections, making parents become less important in their teenager’s eyes.

While this is a normal and healthy part of development, it is not an easy place from which to parent effectively. Parents must try to let their children grow and become more independent while still monitoring them for signs of distress that require support or intervention. It can be difficult to detect concerning instability, because some moodiness is normal during the teenage years.

Here are 5 signs that your teen may be suffering from a serious mood disruption, like depression, and asking for help.

1. Mood Swings

Thanks to the cocktail of hormones suddenly surging through a teenager’s body, it is quite normal for them to have mood swings. So how can you tell what’s normal and what is a sign of a problem that needs help? You have to trust your parental instincts here about when to intervene and when to let your child work it out. You know your child better than anyone and should be able to recognize any significant shift in mood. Particularly look for mood shifts that are severe and last more than a few days, especially if they seem to have no root cause or are a severe and persistent over-reaction.

2. A Change in Behavior

It is normal for a teenager to have a certain kinds of behavioral change. Normal changes include some  challenging of authority and claiming of their independence. They may also experiment with different looks and interests. What’s not normal is for your child to suddenly start presenting as a different person to you. Not just trying on a new style, but changing core attitudes and beliefs. This can be a sign of depression or that your child is struggling in a major way and needs help.

3. Substance Abuse

A lot of teens experiment a bit with drugs and alcohol to some degree. However, red flags are if your teenager is chronically abusing substances and coming home drunk or high on a fairly regular basis. Dropping grades at school and giving up long-term activities, like sports or hobbies, are also warning signs. Talking to your child about drugs and alcohol in an open non-judgmental, but concerned way is a good approach.  It is especially important to discuss your worry about chronic problems if your family has a history of substance abuse.

4. Self-Harm

Those teens who are experiencing significant emotional turmoil may choose to take their emotions out on themselves by cutting, hitting, or hurting themselves in some other manner. This is a sign that your child is overwhelmed and looking for desperate ways to manage their emotional pain.  Teens can sometimes experiment with self-harm after a friend shares their experience, so noticing early and finding out if your child is really struggling or copying a behavior can be helpful in stopping this pattern before it gets established.

5. Talk of Suicide

While teenagers can definitely be prone to drama and overreacting to events, no parent should ever ignore talk of suicide. With teen suicide rates on the rise, particularly among girls, any mention or attempt should immediately result in professional help. A trained therapist, can assess your teenager’s comments and help you find the appropriate supports to keep your child safe while they learn how to manage their emotions.

If you or someone you know has a teenager who is showing one or more of these signs and would like to explore treatment options, please call to schedule a free consultation session. I would be happy to discuss how I might be able to help you support your teenager from a parenting perspective or work with them directly to learn healthy ways to manage their emotions.

Parenting the Highly Sensitive Child

March 19, 2018

If your child seems to have more intense emotional reactions, shows a high level of sensitivity to other’s emotions, and easily overwhelmed by changes or transitions, you may have a highly sensitive child. Parenting any child is demanding, however, parenting a highly sensitive child can present additional challenges. With a few simple strategies, you can […]

Parenting the Highly Sensitive Child

March 19, 2018

If your child seems to have more intense emotional reactions, shows a high level of sensitivity to other’s emotions, and easily overwhelmed by changes or transitions, you may have a highly sensitive child. Parenting any child is demanding, however, parenting a highly sensitive child can present additional challenges. With a few simple strategies, you can support your child to better manage everyday problems and create a more peaceful home for the both of you.

Change Your Viewpoint

First, it’s important to check in with your perspective and assumptions. It’s easy to want our children to be “normal,” so your initial reaction might be to see your highly sensitive child’s special needs as a problem, rather than an asset. However, highly sensitive children tend to be more creative, insightful, and empathic. With proper guidance, understanding, and patience you can support your child to grow into a successful and happy adult.

Encouragement and Praise

Your highly sensitive child will maintain sensitivity into adulthood. Therefore, it’s very important that your child learns to embrace and manage emotions. Feeling shame about sensitivity could cause your child to develop anxiety and depression later in life.

Validate by encouraging your child to express how they are feeling and really listen when your child speaks. Encourage your child to manage emotions, rather than suppress them. Don’t ask or expect your child to “toughen up,” rather to understand their emotions and make choices about how to handle these “big feelings.”

Your sensitive child will also benefit from praise on a job well done, as this will help to develop confidence. Even better than telling your child that you are proud, encourage your child to make choices that make them feel an internal sense that they are doing the right thing. Building a strong internal sense of integrity and self-worth will help your child prosper, even in the face of challenges.

Help Them Prepare

Sensitive children can become easily overwhelmed by new environments and people, so a little preparation can be helpful to both of you. Help your child by physical or mental exposure to the new situation. This may mean going to a new school and walking around before classes start or imagining with your child what new situations they may face and coming up with coping strategies to prepare. Reassure your child that it’s natural to feel anxious with change, and that the other children are nervous as well.

Create a Safe Space

It’s often important for highly sensitive children to retreat to a quiet place to calm and sooth. Having a cozy area for your child to read, draw, or snuggle with stuffed animals can be helpful. Some children respond well to certain sensory soothing items, so you might try giving clay, kinetic sand, or a weighted blanket to help your child sooth.  Having a smaller version of their soothing items to take out of the house may also be helpful, like a soft blanket, stuffed animal, or silly putty.  You can redirect your child to use these items when they are overwhelmed and need help calming down.

Get Involved

If you notice that your child tends to isolate or have great difficulty in social situations, try volunteering for field trips or as an occasional recess or lunch monitor. Encourage your child to participate by interacting with the other children. When your child sees you having fun, they might join in and you can help coach them in social interactions.  You might also be able to advocate for support from the school staff to help with encouraging your child in appropriate social interactions and helping to understand and manage any conflict.

With love and gentle guidance, your highly sensitive child will develop a confidence and self-acceptance that will carry into adulthood. I often work with adults and older teens who started as highly sensitive children and did not always get the support they needed, leading to developing anxiety, depression, and/or relationship issues. If this sounds like you or if you are parenting a highly sensitive child and would like some support, feel free to call me for a free consultation.

6 Signs Your Teen May Be Depressed

March 5, 2018

As teens struggle through the tough transition period of childhood to adulthood, it can be difficult to know how to support them. Are the over the top emotions and behaviors your teen is exhibiting normal for this age or is it something more serious? According to the National Institute of Mental Health, in 2016 approximately […]

6 Signs Your Teen May Be Depressed

March 5, 2018

As teens struggle through the tough transition period of childhood to adulthood, it can be difficult to know how to support them. Are the over the top emotions and behaviors your teen is exhibiting normal for this age or is it something more serious?

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, in 2016 approximately 3.1 million adolescents between the ages of 12 to 17 experienced at least one episode of major depression. Depression is a serious mood disorder that, if left untreated, can cause serious short and long-term mental and physical health problems. Of course, the most serious is that depression increases the risk of suicide.

Below are six signs you can look for to determine if your teen could be experiencing depression.

1. Excessive Crying and Sadness

While emotions tend to run high in most teenagers, excessive crying and sadness that persist for more than two weeks could be a sign of depression.

2. Loss of Interest and Motivation

When a teen is depressed, they may have trouble concentrating and staying in positive emotions. This will cause them to lose motivation and interest in activities they once enjoyed.

3. Problems at School

The loss of concentration and motivation could also result in problems at school. Skipping school, plunging grades and a lack of participation in school and extracurricular activities are all signs that could be pointing to teen depression.

4. Changes in Weight or Eating Habits

Has your teen’s eating habits changed? Are they skipping meals or eating larger portions more frequently? Eating more or less, as well as dramatic increase or decrease in weight, is one of the signs of depression.

5. Withdrawal

Depression causes people to isolate themselves. It’s not uncommon for a depressed teen to begin to withdraw from friends and family, choosing instead to spend time alone or locked in their room. If your teen is depressed, you may notice them begin to avoid spending time with friends and loved ones.

6. Suicidal Ideation

Thoughts or expressions of death or suicide should never be taken lightly. Threats or even jokes about suicide are a cry for help from your teen. If your teen expresses thoughts of suicide, react calmly, and then seek immediate help. Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

If you suspect that your teen is experiencing depression, it’s important that you seek professional help from an experienced mental health professional that specializes in treating teens. I specialized in working with teens who have anxiety often along with depression. Call me today to set up a free consultation session to discuss your needs further.

Helping Your Teenager Transform into a Happy, Well-Rounded Adult

December 19, 2017

Keeping your kids safe and healthy is no longer enough according to research, now they have to be happy too! So, you are already doing one of the toughest jobs on the planet and now it is even more challenging. It turns out that happiness is a big advantage in the real world for success. […]

Helping Your Teenager Transform into a Happy, Well-Rounded Adult

December 19, 2017

Keeping your kids safe and healthy is no longer enough according to research, now they have to be happy too! So, you are already doing one of the toughest jobs on the planet and now it is even more challenging.

It turns out that happiness is a big advantage in the real world for success. According to this  study, happy people are more likely to earn a college degree, land a good job with better pay, and get promoted more quickly than unhappy people.

So, how exactly can you help your teen transform into a happy and successful adult?

Build Resilience

Part of being happy comes from knowing your own resilience; knowing that when life knocks you down, you’ll get right back up. While some innate factors like being attractive and intelligent might make life easier, resilience is a skill that can be developed and fostered.

You can help your child build resilience by teaching them how to put things into perspective and be cognitively flexible. Being able to face challenges and adapt to constant change means recognizing the significance, or insignificance, of life events. Teach your kids not to sweat the small stuff and choose their battles wisely. Also, to look at problems from multiple angles to avoid tunnel vision.

Instill Productivity

Feelings of accomplishment naturally lead to happiness and we feel good about ourselves when we are productive individuals; as long as we learn recognize our effort and accomplishment.  You can instill this sense of worth by allowing your child to take on more decision-making power and encourage them to feel proud of their hard work and accomplishments.

It’s also important that you help your teen discover their interests, talents, and abilities. People that know their passions and what makes them tick are well prepared for reaching goals.

Encourage Independence

It may seem counterintuitive, but teenagers cannot gain independence on their own. They simply don’t have the perspective or experience necessary to separate from you. Independence is actually a gift you give to your children. You can help your teen become more independent by:

  • Teaching responsibility – Help your kid have a clear understanding of what is expected of them at home and at school as well as the consequences for not fulfilling those expectations.
  • Demand Accountability – Make sure you follow through with consequences. If you don’t hold your child accountable for their own behavior and actions, how will they be able to hold themselves accountable as adults?
  • Practice letting go – It’s important not to send mixed signals to your teen during this time. As you help them become more independent, practice letting them go. Be open to stepping back as they step forward.

You and your teenager are embarking on an exciting journey; one with many ups and downs. The best thing you can do is to let your kid know you are there for them and that they can talk to you about anything. Good communication is essential during this time.

Therapy can help support parents and teens through this challenging time. For parents, it can help to have someone outside of your circle who you can talk through your parenting struggles without judgement. For teens, it can help to have another adult perspective and they are often more willing to listen to adults outside of close family members. If you think therapy might be helpful for your parenting worry or to help your teen, give me a call to schedule a free consultation.

5 Ways to Cope with Anxiety as a Parent

December 14, 2017

While having kids can be the greatest joy in the world, the hard work and unpredictability cause also a great deal of anxiety. Here are some simple ways to bring yourself to a place of calm. Make a To-Do List Being a parent means that you are always “on.” It can be easy for your […]

5 Ways to Cope with Anxiety as a Parent

December 14, 2017

While having kids can be the greatest joy in the world, the hard work and unpredictability cause also a great deal of anxiety. Here are some simple ways to bring yourself to a place of calm.

Make a To-Do List
Being a parent means that you are always “on.” It can be easy for your mind to get stuck in overdrive and think about the never-ending “to-do” list items over and over. Help yourself by writing down an actual list, so that you can prioritize more easily and not feel the need to keep rehearsing. When new items pop up add them to the list and remind yourself that they won’t be forgotten, so you can let go for now.

Watch Your Language
Many times parents believe things will get better when their children move on to the next phase of their maturity. However, the truth is that the worry will continue until you change your thought patterns. You deserve to enjoy your life now and so do your children. Let yourself focus on what you value and how to build more of that in to your current situation.

To do this, watch the language you use to describe things. Try and avoid extreme or rejecting language phrases such as, “this will be a disaster if I don’t get it done on time” or “I can’t wait for the terrible twos to be over.”  Instead, re-frame to neutral or positive, “this is important to me to complete” or “this phase has many wonders and challenges.”

Also change thoughts of “I have to” to “I want to”. For example, instead of saying “I have to sign the kids up for karate” say, “I want to sign the kids up for karate because it will enrich their lives.”

Get Some Fresh Air
There’s nothing like some fresh air and sunlight to ease anxiety. Put your baby in a stroller and go for a walk around the block, to a neighbor’s house, or a local park. Take your kids to an outdoor mall or sit on the patio of a frozen yogurt shop and share a frozen treat. Your local library may also have outdoor patio areas where you can read with your kids.

Practice Mindfulness Exercises
If your anxiety is difficult to control, try deep-breathing from your belly. While you do this, concentrate on five things you can see, four things you can touch, three things you can hear, two things you can smell and one thing you can taste. This can help calm you when you’re feeling a panic or anxiety attack start to arise.

Use Your Support Network
Call your friends or family to chat or ask for advice. It may also help to vent with a Facebook parenting group or other online message board. You can also call your therapist and make an appointment and work through your challenges.

Try these tips to control and cope with your anxiety, and enjoy the time with your children without anxiety getting in the way. If you find your anxiety to be impacting your ability to be a happy, successful parent, it might be time to speak with a professional who can help. Please contact me today for a free initial consultation session.