What’s Your Real Problem?

I get calls from concerned parents all time. They are worried about the behaviors their kids are engaging in. What parent wouldn’t be concerned if they see their child struggling? Maybe your teen is avoiding school because they are anxious. Maybe your child is in college and drinking and partying too much led to them not returning for second semester. Maybe your teen is isolating or self-harming. Regardless of the behavior, I have to tell you, the behavior is NOT the problem, it is the SOLUTION.

I know, you probably think I am crazy at this point, but just keep reading. The problem is that they lack coping skills! Your kids don’t know how to feel intense or difficult emotions and they don’t have any real coping skills to manage them in the moment.

So, what do they do? They find another way. The “solution.” For each child, teen, or young adult (and let’s be real some of us as well), this might look different, but the concept is the same. They are all managing their feelings or essentially avoiding their feelings because they don’t know what else to do!

GOOD NEWS, There is a better way! 

There are coping skills that very effectively help teens learn to manage their feelings in the moment! Your teen can learn them today! You can learn them too and how to help your teen put them into practice on a regular basis. Any day now you can be on your way to having a happier healthier teen.

We help your teen envision a life worth living and imagine that they can be in control of their emotions. We help them to identify what their current behaviors are doing for them and teach them how coping skills can help them reach their same goals without the negative consequences (such as shame).

Sound good? Schedule your free 15-min phone strategy session to learn more about how coping skills to help you and/or your teen start the year off right!

4 WAYS TO TEACH YOUR CHILDREN PROBLEM-SOLVING SKILLS

Children from toddlers to teens face a variety of problems every day, ranging from

 confusion to emotional crisis. Yet, few children have solid problem-solving skills. Children who lack problem-solving skills are more likely to avoid facing their problems. Rather than putting energy into trying to solve their problems they avoid the situation. That’s why many kids fall behind in school (or stop going all together) or struggle to maintain friendships. This leads to increased crises and decreased responsibility and independence.

Children who lack problem-solving skills often blame others for their problems and expect others to solve the problems for them. That’s why many kids struggle to take responsibility for their own behaviors. As your kids avoid dealing with problems it can lead to an increase in intense emotions and a poor ability to manage them.

Kids who are feeling overwhelmed or hopeless often won’t attempt to solve a problem.  But if you give them tools to understand how to tackle their problems they are more likely to try.

Here are some ways to teach your children problem-solving skills:

  1. Don’t Be A Helicopter Parent.

Whatever age your kids are give them room to make mistakes and find their own way. Give them space and allow them to feel independent from you as they are growing up. This will create a sense of confidence and trust in their own decision making.

  1. Don’t Rescue Your Children

Allow them to experience natural consequences. If they didn’t study for a test, don’t call the school and ask that they be allowed to retake it.  If they spend all their money on one shirt don’t give them extra money.

  1. Ask Solution Focused Questions

Whatever age your kids are asking questions that teach them to come up with solutions teaches problems solving. Try not to rush in and give them answers when they are faced with a problem. Instead try asking…”What are you going to do next?” “How are you going to handle that?” “How can you get that done?” “What will you need for that?” “What did you learn?” “What do you think will happen next?”

  1. Routinely Ask Your Children For Help

Make sure your children understand that you respect their problem-solving skills. Chances are with IT problems your kids know more than you do anyway.

 

Throughout your child’s life there will always be problems, challenges to face and decisions to make. For more parenting support email me to register for a space in my Parenting Workshop on June 30th or click here for more information.

SMART PHONES: FRIEND OR FOE?

Teens today are growing up in a different world than any of the generations before them. They are the first generation to be born with Smart technology already completely in existence. Even the millennials to some extent grew up as the technology advanced. Though tech is always advancing, for the iGens internet, apps, FaceTime, and more have been at their fingertips from birth. I have watched my 2-year-old niece know how to unlock a cell phone and by 3 know how to use YouTube for kids.

There is a growing mountain of research that shows a correlation between the rise of smartphone usage and rates of depression, suicidality, and anxiety in teens. The pressure of always being connected to your social life doesn’t allow teens time to relax and decompress after school. Not to mention that social media is not an accurate representation of a teens social world. The pressure to “fit in” or be “perfect” is unrealistic (but I could probably fill a page on social media alone). So the downside of smartphones/technology seems overwhelming apparent:

  • Social media pressures
  • Seemingly unavoidable access to damaging or dangerous apps
  • Argument inducer between teen and parent
  • Increases rates of depression and anxiety/decreases ability to cope
  • Can be addictive

However, nothing is ever one-sided, there are positive aspects of smartphones. There are apps that help with mental health issues and teach coping skills. Many of them are FREE: Calm, Moodpath, SuperBetter, and Happify for example. There are also apps that help you as parents organize your life, which can make things less stressful. As a parent of a teen this can make a big difference. I personally use apps tracking grocery lists and weekly recipes, such as Yummly or Anylist. Taking as much work out of chores as possible is a lifesaver in any busy household. Teens often feel the same way, they use apps to help them study and organize their school/homework.

Sometimes, I think to myself, I wish there was app to make me want to work-out or stop me from eating sweets late at night. However, that is some of the downside again. Smartphones can do so much for us we stop practicing doing things for ourselves. That is where parenting comes in. Not only do the iGens, your teens, have it harder now than ever, as parents so do you. You have to set limits around screen time. You have to teach them how to wait and be patient; how to feel distress, how to fail and how to succeed. You have to teach them how to be in the moment not just take pictures of the moment, how to have a conversation not IM in code, how to enjoy activities and relax not just engage screen time to distract.

I was talking to one of the parents I work with the other day who stated that she feels that kids shouldn’t have phones until at least 7th grade. I don’t know that would ever happen. Kids today often have smartphones in elementary school. Then I heard about this school cell phone pilot program in Boston:

At the City on a Hill Circuit Street charter school in Boston, students entering school in the morning are met by administrators fanned out at the front door with their hands out. One by one, they take students’ phones, slip them into a soft pouch, and lock them closed with a snap that works like the security tags you find on clothing at department stores. Students take their pouched phones back, but can only unlock them with a special device at dismissal time, nearly eight hours later. 

Naturally, the students were outraged. How could this be happening? How can they live without their phones? How will they socialize? Connect? Communicate?

However, much to their surprise it turned out to freeing for them. Forced freedom!

One student reported that” she doesn’t reach for her phone as much anymore because if you don’t feed the habit; the habit eventually slows.” Students reported having more conversations and paying attention more in class.

Smartphones are a part of our lives. There is no way around that. As parents you can help your teen learn to not feel tethered to their phone. Ironically, there are apps that help limit screen time.

If you need help support your teen with screen time or other parenting issues I can help. Contact us to schedule your parent screening today!

5 FUN OUTDOOR ACTIVITIES FOR BUSY MOMS

“The phrase working mother is redundant” – Jane Sellman. For many mothers, this rings overly true. For any mother time with your children is precious, especially when balancing with the demands of a career. With the weather warming up and plants in bloom, kids are anxious to get outside. You want to be a fun and exciting mom, but it can be hard to plan and prepare for entertaining activities when you are pressed for time.

This list of 5 outdoor activities that are perfect for mothers that are short on time. They are simple, creative, fun ideas that don’t require a lot of planning or preparation.

1. Go On A Picnic

Grab a blanket, pack their favorite lunch, and head to your local park to enjoy the weather with your kids. In today’s fast-paced urban lifestyle a picnic is a great way for some family bonding.

2. Side Walk Chalk

Take your artwork outside! Sidewalk chalk is a stable of spring and summer activities. This is a great item to have on hand for when your children get bored. You can draw stories together, make superheroes, take turns tracing each other, etc. You can develop your child’s motor skills by playing hopscotch or four-square. Depending on your child’s age you can also work on shapes, numbers or animals with sidewalk chalk. Don’t forget about hangman. It’s an all-inclusive educational, fun idea!

3. Blowing Bubbles

Children love bubbles. Best part, you don’t even have to purchase bubble solution, which can go quickly with spills or losing the bottle. DIY bubbles are easy and fun, plus it saves you a bit of cash.

One recipe is to use 2 cups of warm water, 1/3 cup of dish soap, and ¼ cup of corn syrup, combine the ingredients in a large dish or bowl and stir gently. You can use a hanger as the wand to make the bubbles. Have large cookie cutters available? Those are fun to make bubbles in different shapes.

4. Sensory Scavenger Hunt

This is an exciting twist on a scavenger hunt and doesn’t require preparation. Identify smells and sounds or nature together! See what you and your children can find, the scent of flowers, sounds of birds.

5. Make a Bird Feeder

What better springtime activity is there than a DIY bird feeder? Bird feeders are great ways to enjoy wildlife at its best. It’s so much fun to sit back and watch all the wonderful birds. Not to mention that making bird feeders with the kids is a fun activity to get them outside and loving nature.

There are several DIY ways to make a bird feeders. A simple way is withplastic soda bottle and a couple of wooden spoons. You just have to make holes in the bottle for the spoons and be sure that you angle the spoons downward so that the birdfeed will drizzle onto them.

Quality time with your family doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive. After a long stressful day at work relax and enjoy some family time with these fun activities.

This article was orignially written for The Lady Project in March 2018.