Topics for the ‘Teens’ Category


Refusal Skills

text: Just Say No!Kids are exposed to negative influences and peer pressure on a daily basis. Saying “no” to risky situations can be difficult for youth. Situations such as saying “no” to drugs or alcohol or saying “no” to texting while driving or cheating during an exam or doing something dangerous or breaking the law. There are so many choices kids have to make.

Encourage your child to develop and practice methods of saying “No”. Remind them to speak in a clear and firm manner and use confident body language to convey the message.

Here are several ways they can get out of undesirable situations and say “NO” in a more subtle way.

  • Switching topics (No, but hey did you see what happened in the game last night?)
  • Excuse (I can’t. I have to meet a friend in 10 minutes.)
  • Blame (I have a stomachache  or that stuff makes me feel horrible.)
  • State the facts (No thanks- I’ve read about what drugs do to your body.)
  • Give a friend a compliment that might make them think twice about their own risky decision (You’re so smart. Don’t risk hurting yourself.)
  • or, Just say “No”

The ADHD SOS Course Opens This Week!

I am thrilled to announce the launch of ADHD SOS, a digital parental skills training program designed to enable parents to help their children, who are struggling with ADHD, develop skills and strategies to tackle everyday instances at home, school or in social situations.

I developed this program so that you can have access to all the things I review in 1:1 sessions, on your time. The approach is strengths based as well as solutions oriented and focuses on promoting your child’s development in a manner that integrates seamlessly with your child and family’s lifestyle.

The program includes 8 modules that address key areas for turning everyday struggles into success. Each module is delivered on demand via audio, video or transcript format to facilitate a variety of learning styles.

The Curriculum:

  • Module 1: You, Me & ADHD
  • Module 2: Inside The ADHD Mind
  • Module 3: Emotions and Expectations
  • Module 4: Lifestyle Hacks
  • Module 5: Organization: Systems That Work
  • Module 6: Learning Styles
  • Module 7: The Art of Relating To Others
  • Module 8: Behaviors: The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

If you have been looking for a place where it all comes together – information plus strategies- guided by an expert who totally understands ADHD, then you have found ADHD SOS.

This Thursday, November 5th at 10am and at 6pm Pacific, I’m hosting a free online workshop, “8 Ways to Manage Your Child’s ADHD Symptoms” to show you what the ADHD-SOS program is all about.

Secure your spot, and learn more about the workshop here.

Here’s what you’ll learn during the workshop:

  • The importance of shifting your mindset and your child’s mindset
  • How to help your child identify and use their strengths to overcome their challenges
  • Understanding ADHD and your treatment options
  • How to help your child regulate their emotions
  • Lifestyle strategies to enhance your family’s functioning and well-being
  • How to incorporate a system of organization that is easy for your child & family to use
  • Parenting based on your child’s learning style
  • Tips for improving relationship skills
  • Behavior management strategies
  • And much more!

Click here to learn more and get started!

Back To School Stress Busters

A new school year can be an exciting, yet stressful time in your child’s life.
Numerous thoughts cross their minds about the Welcome backpossibilities that await them, both academically and socially. For parents, there are stressors too, such as adjusting to schedules, additional demands and having your child out of your care. As a family, this is a great opportunity to strengthen your connection as you support each other through this journey. Here are some tips to help you manage the stress:

1. Talk about their school day everyday. Ask questions and really listen. Sometimes, your child may want help brainstorming solutions to a situation and other times they may just want you to listen. During this time give your child your undivided attention. Also remember to share their enthusiasm for all the good things that they experienced.

2. Make sure your child has at least 8-10 hours sleep and all the electronics, including TV are shut off 30 minutes prior to bedtime. Mornings can be easy by creating a morning routine, having them set out their clothes or uniforms, getting backpacks ready and breakfast chosen the night before goes a long way.

3. The best way to immediately tone down your stress level is a few deep breaths. The breath is best inhaled through the nose and exhaled through the mouth. Try this as soon as you feel a stressor.

4. Have your child develop a new mantra “I’ve got this.” This mantra will be useful every time they feel uncertain about something. It is used as a simple reminder that it’s ok, they are going to be fine, they can do it! So, before that test that they studied for- “I’ve got this” – before they go talk to that new someone – “I’ve got this”.

5. Social concerns are high for kids. Remind them that not everyone is going to see eye to eye with them and may not even like them and that’s OK! We are all unique and special and the most important thing is that we like ourselves and are nice and respectful to others. Encourage your child to find a group of friends that they feel comfortable with and remind them that over time they can always choose to develop more friendships.

Teens “Hooking Up”

Romantic KissHooking up is a trend amongst teens that means “some sort of sexual activity with no strings attached.”  It is like “friends with benefits.” It can include anything from kissing and petting all the way to intercourse. It bypasses all the courting rituals and end eliminates the boyfriend and girlfriend relationship.

Research conducted by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention shows that the likelihood of sex increases with each school grade level, from 32 percent in 9th grade to 62 percent in 12th grade.

So why are teens doing this? Basically, because they like someone, they think it’s ok and everyone else is doing it too. So it comes down to sexual excitement and peer acceptance.  This is fueled by all the media sources portraying sexual provocative images that socialize teens to think of sexual activity as normative. In addition, dating apps such as Tinder make it easy for teens to match up with other teens for sexual relations.

So what do you do as a parent?

First, get informed and develop an on-going, open communication with your teen. Explain to them that sexual activity can have physical and emotional consequences. Most teens don’t think about the emotional consequences. Have an open discussion without getting angry or punitive.

Then, don’t assume your teen is not having sex. Ask. Sex can mean different things to a teen. “Oral sex” may not be considered sex by many teens. Make sure they understand what you mean when you talk about sex. Listen to what they have to say.

Teens “hook up” to feel wanted and fit in as part of what has become socially acceptable by their peer group. It is important to know who your teen’s peer group is and what they are doing and where they are doing it. The most common time and place for teen sex is after school in someone’s house.

Even though it is uncomfortable for many parents to have this conversation with their teen, it actually helps strengthen your relationship.  Ideally the conversation should begin before your child becomes sexually active in any way. Regardless, having insight in your teen’s social life and keeping the communication lines open by listening to them and asking questions is the best way to protect them, both physically and emotionally.

Parenting young teens

images (3)Kids need guidance and discipline as they grow into responsible, caring adults. Parenting young teens is not for the faint of heart. It’s hard work. As young teens become more independent your parenting style may change. They need to be given more choices and taught critical thinking skills.

Natural consequences help kids experience the outcome of their actions and learn to be responsible. It helps them discover the benefits of order and rules. As a parent you don’t have to threaten, argue or give in. Instead let them be responsible for what happens.

For example, a natural consequence to not completing their homework or project is having them face their teacher and explain what happened. If, however, you rescue them and help them do it then, they will not learn the lesson and most likely commit the same mistake again.

Logical consequences also work. A logical consequence takes the place of punishment and is practical, enforceable and related to a teen’s behavior. The consequences should be explained ahead of time in a calm, clear and respectful manner. It is important that you inform the child of the reasons for the expected behavior and wanted outcomes.

An example is a teen who arrives home past curfew must have an earlier curfew for a few nights or may lose the use of the car.

Keep in mind that timing is key to the use of natural and logical consequences. Do not try to explain the consequences when you or your teen is angry or upset. It is best to discuss consequences prior to them happening.

As young teens become more independent, they should be given more choices. Keep in mind, kids will make mistakes. It’s ok- that’s how they will learn. The important thing is to make sure they stay safe and to be consistent in your parental guidance and discipline.

Remember the three R’s: related, reasonable, and respectful. The consequence should relate to the behavior, be fair, and show respect for the young teen’s feelings and the right to choose how to behave.

Kids Wanting More

images-1 Are your kids suffering from a sense of entitlement?

Do they get angry when they don’t get what they want and when they want it?

Here are a few quick tips to help them come back down to earth.

  • Allow your children to see the real world. Serve on a mission trip to an underprivileged part of the country or the world. Go feed the homeless or volunteer at a shelter or soup kitchen. Drive around impoverished areas of your community (or a nearby city). Discuss what you see.
  • Don’t give them every new thing that comes along. Deny them some things they really want (but don’t really need) teaches them to delay gratification and appreciate things more when (if) they do get them.
  • Encourage them to work to earn their own spending money. The fast food industry is a great place to start. When they’re making $7-10/hour, they soon learn how many hours or work it takes to get a pedicure. They’ll appreciate every Starbucks frappuccino that much more!
  • Teach them how to save for things they want. If they want the latest iPhone, require them to put up half the money for the upgrade and pay you monthly for the subscription fee. It doesn’t really matter whether you can afford it. The real goal is to teach your children the value of a dollar and prepare them financially for the real world.
  • Refuse to get caught up in comparing your family to others. Who cares if the Joneses get their kids every new electronic gadget when it comes on the market? Who cares if the Schwartz’ buy their kids brand new cars? Make decisions that are best for your family, for your children now and for their future.
  • Give your child chores on a regular basis. In order for the family to be successful everyone has to cooperate. No exceptions. Once your child understands that we are all equal  and we help each other instead of serve each other , he will feel he deserves his place in his family.

How to be a parent on social media

imagesBeing on social media is a big part of your child’s life, and it may be a big part of yours too. These days, there’s always a cell phone or computer close at hand, and some kind online socializing is almost always happening, whether on Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, Tumblr, or Pinterest—it’s starting to seem like a new platform pops up every day.

Since social media is how today’s teens express themselves and stay connected, it’s important for you as a parent to supervise their online activities, just as parents should keep up with their kids’ grades, friends and other parts of life.

But how can you supervise your child online without seeming intrusive or, worse, getting blocked?         Here are some tips:

1. Ask your children to accept your friend request, then have a conversation with them about your need to monitor their safety. Be honest about the fact that you’ll randomly check in on them but assure them that you’ll stop short of being a “stalker,” which is what many young people in therapy complain about their parents doing.

2. Establish ground rules. That means telling them what you expect from them and what they can expect from you. You can promise not to post or comment on anything on their profile, if they don’t want you to. Know, too, that teens often hate it when parents post pictures of them, or tag them in updates. It’s also best to avoid using nicknames or making inside jokes online.

3. Try not to criticize your children or their friends for what they post. If something truly concerns you, have a calm conversation with your child (in person, not online!) about your concern without being overcritical about what you saw.

4. Examine your own social-media usage. Does it reflect your values and those of your family? Delete anything questionable, and don’t engage in posts or discussions that you wouldn’t want to see your child involved in. Remember that your children (and their friends) will see all that you do on social networks, so don’t allow your role-model behavior to drop just because you feel like you’re behind a screen

The Family Talking Stick

Screen Shot 2013-06-14 at 3.02.03 PMDid you ever have a talking stick when you were little? Sometimes teachers use them to teach children how to wait their turn before talking, but they are great tools for families too. A talking stick provides a simple and fun way to teach everyone in your family how to listen to other people when they are talking, as well as take turns. As with most activities I recommend, there is no one “right” way to do this…. Feel free to get creative.

  • To make a talking stick, I suggest using a plastic pole, like the ones used in plumbing from your local hardware store or perhaps the inside of a paper towel roll.
  • The next step is to gather basic art supplies. This might include permanent markers, glitter glue, foam stickers, or anything else that looks fun and creative. You might also want to add beans, rice or small pebbles in the inside of the stick to make some noise. You can cover the ends with cardboard and masking tape.
  • Sit down as a family and explain that you are going to make a family talking stick together. Invite them to decorate it, and as they do so, explain to them how it will be used.

The rules for the talking stick are simple enough that even very young children can understand them: whoever has the talking stick in their hands gets to talk. If you don’t have the talking stick, you need to wait to speak until you have it. This works well for dinnertime, car rides, or other circumstances where children may find themselves talking over each other (or fighting) a lot. The talking stick teaches them how to listen to others and wait their turn. I suggest having a time limit for how long someone can have the talking stick, and you might even keep a timer to moderate it. If you have other creative ways you’ve seen someone else use a talking stick, please feel free to share them!

Does My Child Need Therapy?

self-injury-therapyAs a parent, you’re only normal if you often wonder this: “Does my child need therapy?”

Your concern could be related to your child’s behavior—maybe you’ve noticed that your child is acting withdrawn. Or that he or she seems more aloof or prone to want to spend a lot of time alone. Perhaps he or she seems irritable, sad, or worried. Have you noticed changes in your child’s eating or sleeping habits? All of these behaviors are cause to consider whether counseling could help.

We all go through tough times, so not every situation requires professional intervention. The best advice you can follow is this: Trust your parental intuition. Still, there are circumstances when it’s clearer that you should indeed take your child to a psychologist. Here are the key ones:

If your child is obviously unhappy

If your child has experienced a traumatic event

If your child is acting out or being overly aggressive

If your child seems to be having difficulty handling everyday stress

If you see a significant drop in grades

If your child is complaining of stomachaches, headaches, or otherwise not feeling well, especially if doctor’s visits turn up nothing abnormal, or if these symptoms are interfering with your child’s day-to-day ability to function

If you suspect your child is using or using drugs or alcohol

If your relationship with your child has deteriorated

If you’ve tried other forms of intervention and nothing seems to work

If there is a true problem, chances are that it’s not isolated to your child. As a parent, you play a huge role in your child’s life. It’s understandable that at times, you’ll get stuck.

Even though you’ll mean well, you’ll make choices that are actually prolonging a problem—which means that you must be willing to look at yourself and become open to doing things differently.

By now, we’ve all heard Einstein’s definition of insanity: “Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” Heed the genius’s words and, if you want something in your life to be different, including your child’s behavior or state of being, then you have to do things differently.

Therapy can help families cope with stress and a wide range of emotional and behavioral problems. You don’t have to be mentally ill to benefit from going to counseling—your therapist’s office is simply a place where you can consider what’s working in your life—and what isn’t—and get guidance to develop strategies for change.

We all need help sometimes. Counseling is there just for that.


button RelaxThese days, stress is epidemic. But it doesn’t have to be. Regardless of what you’re dealing with in life, you can learn to manage your stress levels. Here are a few tips to remember the next time you’re feeling overwhelmed:

Your mind believes what you tell it to, so examine your perspective. Are you choosing your thoughts and words carefully? Or are you just letting the waves of stress wash over you without exerting any control over your mental situation? Try shifting your focus to positive thoughts. When you hear yourself having thoughts such as, “I can’t do this,” actively try to think this instead: “It’s going to be a challenge, but I can overcome.”

Ask yourself this: “What am I really stressed about?” Are you worried about things that actually exist? Or merely potential situations? The author William Ralph Inge wrote, “Worry is interest paid on trouble before it comes due,” and that’s a true statement. You wouldn’t pay your financial interest before it’s due, so why do that with your emotional state? Instead, think through whether your concerns are within your control. If you determine that your stress is coming from things that you have no control over, work to let go of those negative thoughts. Surrender. Take a breath and visualize a successful outcome.

To release your hold on negativity and stress, think and act positively. Ever heard the phrase “Fake it ‘til you make it?” That works. If you act as though you’re a person free of stress and unnecessary concerns – if you smile, socialize, take relaxation breaks, and so on – you’re more likely to become that person you’re acting like.

Create an environment that encourages you to relax and let go of stress. Put on music that soothes you or makes you feel good; use essential oils such as lavender, bergamot, or chamomile to ease anxiety; place calming flowers (like orchids) where you can see them. You can also light candles and take a warm bath, or just go out and take a walk in nature. Engaging your senses will quickly rebalance your system.

Exercise has so many benefits. One is that it releases chemicals called endorphins into your bloodstream. These give you a feeling of happiness and overall well-being. Some forms of exercise, like running and swimming, have meditative effects that help alter your consciousness though breathing patterns. Others, like tennis, boxing, and weightlifting, help you channel your stress or anger through exertion. So pick which feels best for you and start moving.

Remember to breathe. Breathing helps you let things go. Slow, deep breathing helps activates the parasympathetic nervous system, which helps us calm down. With each inhale, through your nose, allow your abdomen and ribcage to expand as your lungs fill with air. Exhale, though your mouth, allowing (but not forcing) the air to completely leave your lungs. Repeat. Practice this for a few minutes several times a day. Your body will adjust quickly and your stress will start to vanish.