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Category Archives: Quality of Life

Is 18 really a Magic Number?

As people around me are celebrating their birthdays, I have had a moment to reflect on what birthdays really mean. Most of the celebrations I am attending at this point have shifted from large gatherings with large masses of friends and acquaintances cake and ice cream to smaller, more intimate groups. Groups where we carefully count out the appropriate number of candles to top the cake, and then hope the smoke detector doesn’t get set off. There are other shifts that have happened as my peers and I continue to age, namely we have realized that the morning after our special day we wake up and feel the same.

This doesn’t seem to be the case when the clients I am working with turn 18. There is a sense of entitlement that once they reach this age, they are allowed to treat their parents as peers. I realize the government has determined that turning 18 is significant and that is when one reaches adulthood. An adult by the government expectation means that one can now vote and purchase cigarettes. But, there doesn’t seem to be an understanding that with adulthood comes many more responsibilities and challenges.

There are also shifts for the parents of these young adults. The parents are unsure if they should accept their son or daughter as a new adult and therefore no longer have expectations and rules for them, or if things should be maintained as they were when their child was still a teen.

I often highlight for the parents that I am working with that their child turning 18 can be a turning point in their relationship, if the child is ready for it. For those families who are not ready to have their young adult launch for any number of reasons, then 18 is just another number. This can be a very challenging position for parents to be in when our society says otherwise.

The vast majority of the clients I am working with are not prepared to enter into young adulthood in a successful manner. These young adults have never thought twice about running their own lives and they don’t have the skills to take it on. This creates a lot of fear and uncertainty for parents by not knowing how, when, or where they will truly be able to launch their young adult.

This doesn’t have to be the path your family goes down. There are ways parents can begin preparing for this transition early.

  1. Give your child age appropriate responsibilities around the house.
  2. Allow your child to feel the consequences of their actions.
  3. Be clear and consistent in upholding the house rules and consequences.
  4. Provide a safe place to listen to problems but do not provide the answers.
  5. You are a role model for your child. They see how you handle struggles as well as successes.
  6. Don’t provide so much structure your child doesn’t have time for fun.
While this is not an exhaustive list by far, it is a good start in preparing your child for the challenges and responsibilities of being on their own. If your child is not prepared to be on their own there are now a range of options that exist to help with this transitions. Parenting a young adult can be a challenge. If you are looking for resources on this topic, Prepare To Bloom, LLC may be able to help. Please contact us via our website at PrepareToBloom.com or call us at (650) 888-4575.
 

Family Communication is the Key

I’d like to write today about my first meeting with families, and how communication plays a vital role. The process generally goes something like this: After discussing the reason they have sought out help, we discuss how the family currently functions. We talk about the parents’ relationship with their children and with one another. We talk about how the kids relate to their siblings and how they relate to their parents. I then ask the parents something along the lines of “Tell me a little bit about your relationship with *Johnny*.” Some parents are confused by this question.  Most parents answer with something like “Things go well when *Johnny* is in a good mood, but when he is in a bad mood, we all have to watch out.” There can be further details about the relationship and sometimes they will highlight all the fun activities that they enjoy doing with their child. All of this information is very helpful as I begin to understand the family’s struggles. What it does not always address is how communication is happening within the family.

I find that the families I work with frequently neither possess nor know how to acquire ways to communicate effectively with one another. Many of the families describe that they feel manipulated by the communication with their children. This pattern is one of the most difficult changes we ask families to make. We look to break the cycles of years of built-up patterns of communications.

There are lots of ways to work on changing these patterns. Finding the method that works for you and your family is key. Over the past weekend, I had the good fortune of attending the One Change Group’s Real Change workshop. This two day workshop focused on changing communication patterns as well as teaching additional communication and parenting skills. The two day workshop was filled with a mixture of moms, dads, children, single parents, families, and professionals. We shared our stories and asked lots of questions all in the hope of changing our patterns of communication.

In order to change the patterns, the pain of the way things are going has to be greater than the fear of changing. As with everything in life, changing communication patterns is difficult work and takes practice. We have to be forgiving of ourselves that we will get it right one hundred percent of the time. We also have to become aware of our patterns as a means to break them.

To change these patterns there are some simple changes that can make a huge impact on communication.

  1. Check yourself – During conversations that are highly emotional everyone involved needs to try and be aware of their emotional state.  When we get highly emotional our brain shuts down and we can not be rational.  So it is OK in those moments to take a timeout.  The key to effectively using a timeout is to schedule a time when everyone is going to come back together in the next twenty-four hours to finish discussing the topic.
  2. You have two ears and one mouth, so listen twice as much as you speak – What you and your child have to say is equally as important. Make sure that you listen and repeat back what you hear your child saying, and ask them to do the same before having them respond to the topic of the conversation.
  3. Share the love – we hear the negative far louder than the positive. In fact, for every negative comment we hear it takes forty positive ones to cancel it out. It is easy to point out all the things that others are not doing, but keep in mind that we all need positive reinforcement. This is true for ourselves and others.  We need to continually give ourselves positive reinforcement as well.

Start with changing these pieces of your communication at home and you will see the ripple effect. These skills can be used in every aspect of your life, work, home, school, friendships and beyond. My suggestion is to try one skill for thirty days and see how it goes. If you are looking for more information about parenting skills and increasing the communication in your home, Prepare To Bloom may be able to help. Check us out at PrepareToBloom.com or call us at (925) 526-5685.

 

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The Facts about ADHD

What is ADHD? The National Institute of Mental Health defines Attention Hyperactivity Disorder(ADHD) as ” a term used to describe a group of behaviors that most often appear in young, school-aged children.”

How is ADHD diagnosed? There is no one test that can diagnose ADHD.  A trained mental health professional, or physician can assist in ruling out the symptoms and diagnosing your child with ADHD.  This is typically done in the early years between ages 3 and 6, but can happen much later even into adulthood.

What are the symptoms of ADHD? Impulsive behaviors,day dreaming, difficulty staying focused on tasks in comparison to peers, and frequently struggling to stay organized with school work and at home.  While everyone has moments of being distracted, it is when this becomes a pattern that is interfering with the child’s day-to-day functioning that these symptoms should be looked at more closely.

How do you treat ADHD? There are several medications that can assist in reducing the symptoms of ADHD.  When using medications patients should be closely monitored by treatment professionals.  There is not one treatment that works for everyone.  There are also non medication related changes that can be made to help alleviate symptoms.  It takes time and energy on the part of the entire family to determine what works best for the patient.

Additional resources: Additional information about ADHD can be found on the National Institute for Mental Health website http://www.nimh.nih.gov/topics/topic-page-adhd.shtml.  Whether you’re looking for a therapist or a treatment program or would like more information about therapeutic and educational consulting, Prepare To Bloom, LLC can help. Please give us a call at 650-888-4575 or visit PrepareToBloom.com for more information.

 

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Happier Teens are Healthier Teens

According to a study at the University of South Florida completed by Emily Shaffer-Hudkins and her team, happier teens are healthier teens.  Her findings were reported in Springer’s Journal Applied Research in Quality of Life.  Shaffer-Hudkins’ used a sample of 401 students in grades 6-8 from a suburban southeastern middle school in the United States.  She had the teens rate their overall satisfaction with life.  They were asked to rate their feelings both positive and negative about their lives.  After going through these criteria, the teens discussed their physical health.

The study concludes: “Findings from the current study underscore the importance of attending to positive wellness-focused indicators of mental health among youth. Subjective well-being is a significant, unique, and primary predictor of important physical health outcomes in youth and is more strongly associated with physical functioning than is psychopathology. Examining only psychopathology may lead to an underestimation of the relationship between mental health and physical health in young people.”

If your family needs help returning to the balance of physical and emotional health, Prepare To Bloom, LLC may be able to help you create a plan.  You can learn more about how on the web at PrepareToBloom.com or call (650)888-4575.

 

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