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Tag Archives: Teens

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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Bullying And Being Bullied: A Growing Problem

Bullying has been a hot topic in the news recently as the case of Phoebe Prince was brought to light by the media. For those who have not heard about it, the Associated Press printed the story on May 9th.  In this story, they reported that “Phoebe Prince was a recently arrived Irish immigrant, 15 and emotionally fragile, when high school bullying over two boys she dated apparently drove her to hang herself with a scarf in her Massachusetts home.” While her story is severe, it brings to light just how serious of a problem bullying has become. Bullying was once thought to be a normal part of growing up, but it has come to light that it can also have dire consequences. While there are a lot of states that have laws and schools that have rules protecting victims of bullying, this is simply not enough. Parents, teachers, and the local community must make the prevention of bullying a priority.  Our commitment should start in the elementary school years and extending throughout our formalized education system. Getting involved to stop bullying starts with understanding bullying.

What is Bullying?
Education.com defines bullying as

  • An intentional act. The child who bullies wants to harm the victim; it is no accident.
  • Characterized by repeat occurrences. Bullying is not generally considered a random act, nor a single incident.
  • A power differential. A fight between two kids of equal power is not bullying; bullying is a fight where the child who bullies has some advantage or power over the child who is victimized.

Bullying may take place face-to-face, on the playground, or in the classroom. Bullying behaviors may be physical – kicking, hitting, spitting. The behaviors may be verbal – teasing, name calling, and threats or it can also happen online – this is considered cyber-bullying.

Bullying has no boundaries, it happens regardless of socioeconomic conditions, gender, race, religion.  With that being said, it tends to happen differently between the genders.  Boys, as with most of their interactions, tend to be more physical with their bullying.  Girls on the other hand, tend to be more indirect with their bullying, for example trying to ruin other girl’s reputations.

Even though boys and girls bully differently, the signs that your child may be the victim of bullying are the same. Bullying is something that kids often feel ashamed about so don’t share it directly with parents. As with other problems, parents know their kids and have to trust themselves if they feel something is not as it should be. Some of the signs parents can look for are anxiety and concerns about safety, general sadness, low self esteem, aggression, loss of items with no explanation, physical complaints (headaches, stomach aches etc.), avoiding recess or being at school during free times, and frequent unexplained injuries to self or property.

What can parents do if they suspect their child is being bullied?
  1. Parents need to listen to their child, be supportive, believe your child, and try not to be judgmental about the situation.
  2. Make school officials aware of the situation so they can ensure your child’s safety at school. They can also access information on bullying and add it to the the curriculum to help all students feel empowered to address bullying.
  3. Parents need to avoid aggressive responses and try to maintain a calm emotionally appropriate response. This modeling behavior will help your child to learn how to behave in these difficult situations.
What can parents do if their child is the bully?
  1. Talk with your child and help them to become aware that their behavior is hurting other kids. Talk to them about what they do with their friends, the games they play, how they treat one another. Work with your child to give them alternative ways to show their leadership and strength.
  2. Examine the behaviors in the home, are they aggressive? If so, work on new ways to communicate more effectively. Your child will model the behaviors s/he sees at home. Create rules at home to support this and create a zero-tolerance for bullying policy in the home.
  3. Talk with the school to get a better understanding of the behaviors they are seeing and how it is being addressed. Open communication is the best way to have an understanding so that home and school can send a consistent message.
If your child is bullying or being bullied, Prepare To Bloom, LLC may be able help.
Therapeutic and Educational consultants are professionals who may be able to help to locate appropriate resources for your family. To learn more, check out our website at PrepareToBloom.com or speak with a consultant now by calling us at (650)-888-4575. In addition, there are a lot of resources for parents and school officials on the web to learn more about bullying and prevention. Education.com is very comprehensive with regards to bullying and how to prevent it in your school or community. Also, to learn more about what the California Department of Education has to say about bullying, check out http://www.cde.ca.gov/ls/ss/se/bullyingprev.asp.
 
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Posted by on May 11, 2011 in Families, News, Parenting

 

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One of every Twelve Teens Suffer from Anxiety

The National Institute for Mental Health (NIMH) reports that in the U.S., about 8 percent of adolescents (13-18 years old) are experiencing a diagnosable anxiety disorder. They further report that while most of these teens have been experiencing symptoms since the age of 6, only 18 percent of them have received treatment for their symptoms. Some anxiety is quite normal, for example becoming anxious prior to an important exam. In contrast to this rather short lived experience of anxiety, the symptoms for teens who are experiencing anxiety disorders typically last at least six months, and may increase without proper treatment and support.

While there are a range of psychotropic medications used to help those with anxiety disorders: “The Child/Adolescent Anxiety Multimodal Study (CAMS), in addition to other studies on treating childhood anxiety disorders, found that high-quality cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), given with or without medication, can effectively treat anxiety disorders in children. One small study even found that a behavioral therapy designed to treat social phobia in children was more effective than an antidepressant medication.”

Parents need to know what to look for to identify that their child or teen may be struggling with anxiety.

What to look for:

  • Body Aches – Complaints of stomach aches, headaches, tooth aches or other body pains that do not have physical reasons. Always make sure you listen to your child and check out the possible physical reasons for the complaint.
  • Changes at school – When the “A” student starts to get in trouble, or refuses to go to school, it is time to look into the issues further
  • Attitude – Some moodiness is expected as children move into their teen years, but excessive mood swings or changes in attitude can signal a problem.
  • New Habits – Be aware if all of a sudden your child begins to bite their nails, or shake their legs, all of these nervous twitches and habits are their way of letting you know that something more is going on.
While teen anxiety can be confusing, parents can find resources who can help.  There are treatment options locally and nationally that work with teens struggling with anxiety disorders. 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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New Research About Teen “Sexting”

The National Campaign to prevent teen and unplanned pregnancy recently published the results from a survey they commissioned in conjunction with Cosmo Girl. The survey asked teens and young adults about their use of technology to send sexually explicit pictures and messages to one another. The survey included the responses of 1,280 teens and young adults ranging in age from 13-26.

In the findings, they reported that “A significant number of teens have electronically sent, or posted online, nude or semi-nude pictures or video of themselves.” They go on to report that “75% of teens and 71% of young adults say sending sexually suggestive content “can have serious negative consequences.”

Given these startling statistics, it is increasingly important that parents discuss “sexting” openly with their kids. 

  1. Talk openly – Although this is a difficult topic, it is important that your kids are aware that when sending pictures or sexually explicit messages the images are not truly private.
  2. Know their friends – Just as with all other friends, it is important that parents know who their kids are connecting with and communicating with online.
  3. Think long term, even when your kids can’t – Parents often have the ability to think of the long term repercussions of their actions.
  4. Stay up on technology – In order to be able to know what your kids are posting and sending out, you must be able to understand all of their technology.  Whether its Facebook, chatting, or “texting” make sure you are as savvy as your child.
  5. Communicate your expectations – by setting some expectations for what is appropriate online your kids will understand what is allowed.
If your child is misusing technology or posting explicit pictures of themselves or others, and this is disrupting their lives, we may be able to help. Whether you or your family are looking for therapists or treatment programs, Prepare To Bloom, LLC is just a phone call away. Please contact us at (650) 888-4575 or visit us on the web at www.PrepareToBloom.com.
 
 

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Transitions to Adulthood

I would like to remind parents about the risks of transition times. Increasingly, parents are seeing that the transition to young adulthood is not a smooth one. When I speak about transitions with parents I am often referring to transitions between activities such as going from English to Math class, from school to home, or from sports practice to homework times. But there are bigger transitions, life transitions, that demand special attention. I discuss with my clients that the struggle through high risk times such as the transition from middle to high school, having the parents go through a divorce, surviving a death in the family, or moving from the turbulent teen years to young adulthood need to be approached carefully.

The families I am working with are reporting that their children are not prepared to head into adulthood.  This is further supported by The Network on Transitions to Adulthood.  According to their reports, “Significant cultural, economic, and demographic changes have occurred in the span of a few generations, and these changes are challenging youths’ psychological and social development. Some are adapting well, but many others are floundering as they prepare to leave home, finish school, find jobs, and start families.”

As our society is becoming more technologically advanced, our daily living skills seem to be falling behind. There are real challenges that this generation of young adults must deal with. However, the skill set needed to successfully launch is severely lacking in many areas.

Many families struggle with what is the best route for their child. There are a wide range of programs all across the country that are designed just to support these needs.  These programs vary greatly in what they offer; from highly structured programs and curricula to support around building vital independent living skills. If you are looking for programs, therapists, and support for a young adult in your life who is struggling, Prepare To Bloom, LLC may be able to help.  You can learn more by calling us at (650)888-4575 or checking out our website at PrepareToBloom.com.

 

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A Plan for Summer

As Spring Break comes to an end, the count down to summer begins. Summer means family trips, summer school, camps, and lots of unstructured time. This leaves parents with the daunting task of figuring out what to do to fill three months of freedom. Proper planning is the key to a great summer.

Summer is a great time for kids to spend focused on areas they are interested in. There are a wide range of summer experiences out there for every area of interest. From theater to robotics, summer is a prime time to allow your child to explore their passion.

For some kids, summer vacation is a time to expand or rebuild a weak transcript. There are a wide variety of academic summer experiences ranging from the local public school to college campuses all over the country. Not only is this a way for students to enjoy time away from home working on their academics, it also allows them to begin dreaming of what college life may be like.

For others, summer is a focused time that can be spent giving back through community service based summer programs. The experiences available to kids is vast. If you are looking to plan your child’s summer, Prepare To Bloom, LLC may be able to help.  Please contact us at (650)888-4575 or on the web at PrepareToBloom.com.  We hope you have a wonderful stress free summer.

 

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Teenage Addiction

Josh* was introduced to me by his parents because he was struggling to find time for anything other than online gaming and smoking pot.  Josh’s parents were concerned that he had become addicted to marijuana and online gaming. “Who knows?” they thought “Maybe he’s doing other things as well…” His parents shared that their relationship with Josh was deteriorating as a result of this.  They said that when he did come out of his room, which wasn’t often, he would yell and be disrespectful towards them.

After meeting with Josh and his family it was clear to me that Josh did not know how to say to his parents that he was feeling very depressed.  Rather than dealing with his feelings, he was stuffing them away. Instead of talking through his emotions, he was spending more and more of his time in his alternate online reality.

This scenario is reported frequently by the families we work with. Families we meet with frequently report that their teen is an addict. We believe this to be true in a small number of cases. We tend to see that the majority of the clients we work with are using drugs, alcohol, video games, and other process addictions as a way to bring attention to their struggles. Often, teens and young adults are unable to effectively communicate their pain in another way, so they communicate through their actions.

Regardless of whether they are using drugs, alcohol, sexting, online gaming, gambling, or other process addictions, all of these unhealthy coping mechanisms are effective at relieving stress in the short term. The problem is that they are not effective in treating the underlying issue that is creating the pain. This is why our clients will continue to participate in these risky behaviors.

The solution is to identify and treat the underlying issues. This may happen in individual therapy, group therapy and or family therapy.  Whether you or your family are looking for therapists or treatment programs, Prepare To Bloom, LLC may be able to help you locate appropriate help. Please contact us at (650) 888-4575 or on the web at www.PrepareToBloom.com.

*All identifying information has been changed to protect the individual’s privacy.

 
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Posted by on April 22, 2011 in Addiction, Families, Self Harm

 

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