Thursday, January 12, 2017

Things Teenagers Do!!

  • Love their friends more than they love you, at least temporarily
  • Love their friends more than they like school, at least temporarily
  • Talk back
  • Not talk at all
  • Think they know everything
  • Think you know nothing
  • Think they are always right
  • Think you are never right
  • Has a messy room
  • "Forget" to do their chores
  • Go places and not tell you with whom, where or when they will be home
  • Get in car accidents
  • Runs out of gas
  • Have friends drive with them even though they're not allowed to
  • Maybe drink
  • Maybe smoke some weed
  • Maybe have sex of some kind
  • Want to go to parties, especially at houses where the parents aren't home or are clueless
  • Sneak out at night
  • Lie
  • Appear lazy and unmotivated
  • Never want to spend time with the family
  • Is mean to their younger brothers and sisters
  • Argues and picks fights
  • Is sarcastic and can be mean
  • Are funny
  • Are sweet
  • Are loving 
  • Are kind
  • Are passionate
Sound familiar? These are all normal testing behaviors of teenagers. Having any or all of these behaviors does not make your teen a sociopath or a bad kid, just a kid who's learning about the world, what it has to offer, and what kinds of consequences there are when you act that way. 

Don't be too accepting and don't be too critical.  There is some nice space in the middle, understanding what's within the "normal" but still making kids accountable.

I was playing solitaire on my phone last night. I thought the game was over. I couldn't find any more moves and was about to close it out. My eye caught that one move that changed the whole game, and I won!! Life with a teen is kinda like that. It might seem that you can't take anymore, and then something shifts, and you can finish and move on. You gotta have patience. I'm still learning that!

Don't forget that barring any technical glitches I will be back on Facebook live on Sunday at 8 PM for Joani's Ten Minute Teen Troubleshooting Parenting Tip! The Gotcha fights!

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Building Resourcefulness and Resilience In Your Teen

Parents, take this short quiz:
  1. T  F  When my kid has a paper to write, I love when I, I mean when he/she gets a good grade.
  2. T  F  When my teen is having a problem with a teacher, a friend, a coach or the other "parent" I love to provide the solution to make his/her life easier, and have them benefit from my experience.
  3. T  F  When my teen is looking for a job, a summer program, or community service, I do everything I can to help by calling everyone I know.
  4. T  F  Now that my teen is ready for the college process, I do all the research about the colleges, visits, and requirements, because I know how busy my teen is.
  5. T  F  When my teen doesn't know how to do something, I love telling him/her how to do it, because I know they appreciate and expect my help.
So, how did you do?? If you even had one "T" you might unknowingly be preventing your teen from developing resourcefulness and resilience, two personality traits that are present in very successful adults. Getting straight "A"s", graduating at the top of the class, or even going to an Ivy League college is not what guarantees success in life.

Most teens demand to be in charge of their social life, not wanting help from you at all. But when it comes to the parts of their life, they feel less confident in, they may demand your help. And what parents doesn't love it, when your teen asks for your help. It's like a drug. It may not happen often, but when it does, you are primed and ready for action. If feeds your need to feel like a competent and supportive parent, especially if your relationship with your teen has been going through a rocky spell. But what makes kids feel confident and competent is moving past frustration to success.

Think of it this way. Perhaps recently you bought a coffee table for your family room from IKEA. In the store the table looked pretty simple to put together; A few slabs of wood, some glass, a couple of screws and bolts...piece of cake!! Then you get the big brown box home, enthusiastically throw all the stuff on the floor, with the expectation you will have your beautiful table up and usable in an hour or so. 5 hours later, sweat pouring off your brow, swears emanating from your mouth, you kick the stupid wood, throw the screws against the wall, ready to "cry uncle". You get up, stomp around your house, curse IKEA and the directions that seem to be written for someone with a PHD in engineering, and then you get back down on the floor, and start again. And finally, because the only choice was to figure out how to put the damn table together, the table comes together, almost magically. And you stand up, puffed up with pride and look at your "baby". And every time a new person walks into your house, and they compliment you on your cool coffee table, you say proudly.. I put that table together. And honestly it feels as important to you as almost anything else you have accomplished in your life. And why is that? Is is because you persisted through your frustration, your feeling of incompetence and what felt like the impossible, to your ultimate success. It is a feeling you don't forget.

When you solve your teen's problems for them, even if they ask you too, when you give into their frustration because it feels unbearable to you, you take away the opportunity for them to have their IKEA moments. The ability to delay gratification, develop frustration tolerance, and figure it out,  is something that will follow them all the way through their life. Through relationships that go through hard times, to jobs that aren't working out the way they anticipated, money problems, housing issues, and their own ability to parent. An A in English will not be helpful in those situations. There is truly nothing more important to teach your teens than the ability to accept and deal with disappointment, that they can't have or do anything they want to have or do just because they want it, or that when something feels just too hard, that you will rescue them from their pain.

So the next time they come to you for help, start first with a "so what do YOU think you should do? The process will take a lot longer, but when you can say to your teen, I am really proud of you,I know that was really hard for you to do, but you stuck with it, and "just look at your table!"

PS: Had some technical difficulties with my Facebook live broadcast this past Sunday. All made up, dressed up, (at least from the waist up, love me my sweat pants!) and the video wouldn't go live. So I will try again this Sunday with the Gotcha Fight!!! Please tune in!!!

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Why Does My Teen Have To Act Like A Teen????

I am on twitter, but  I don't seem to have very much to say. It is really hard to be interesting, topical, funny, charming, and not boring. So for now I have just been posting my blogs. But just because find Twitter painful, doesn't mean there aren't some amazingly entertaining and informative people out there writing.

Here is one I particularly love: "Dad keeps saying that I am acting like a cliche of a teenager and I don't understand why that's surprising."How brilliant is she? How many times have you thought that same thing about your teen. When the stereotype behavior of eye-rolling, snide comments, laziness, messy room, distracted by technology to the max, etc etc etc just get to you, and you think those exact words, why are the so much like a teenager? Why can't they act more like an adult?  Because....they ARE teenagers. Everyone of those behaviors is completely normal. They roll their eyes, and speak with a snarky tone, because you are probably unbelievably predictable. Your kids know exactly what you are going to say to them, how you are going to say it, and what you want their answers to be. The eye-rolling is the, "here we go again" short-cut. If you look at yourself honestly, you probably do repeat yourself a million times a day, because, they just don't seem to be listening, cause if they were..THEY WOULD JUST DO WHAT YOU ASK!!!! Right?  The laziness, and technology is a teenagers way of showing you what is the most important thing in their life right now, and it isn't a neat room. It is doing everything they can to stay in contact with their beloved friends, or the friends they are hoping to have, or dissing the friends they don't like anymore. Anything to do with friends is definitely their number one priority. You have got to accept that, and understand that, but you still have to set limits around it, but I'm just saying, they will never wrap their arms around you and thank you for saving themselves from their friends.

So how to survive all the annoying traits of a teenager. First it is just a stage. They truly will not be like this for the rest of their lives, Really I mean that most sincerely. Just remember how your terrible two year old turned into the sweetest human being on the earth around 7, and couldn't show you enough love, so will this terrible teenager. This too shall pass. Try not to judge, set the limits you need to and when the eye rolling and sarcasm gets the better of them, just give them a smile, a hug, and know that in just a few years they will turn into the sweetest human beings on earth.

Remember to tune in Sunday @ 8 PM for my Facebook live broadcast. You can just follow me on Facebook or type my name into their search engine, and because it's public you'll find me. Joani's Ten Minute Teen Troubleshooting Parenting tip! The Gotcha Fights!

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Getting Back To Work!

Happy New Year. Yesterday was a busy day, a record number of calls from parents anticipating troubles in the new year. Perhaps there was "trouble in River City" over the holiday week. Maybe some incidents of drinking or drugs threw you for a loop, or realizing that the last 3 weeks of the term are closing in and there are assignments still unfinished, or maybe you are smack in the middle of the final weeks of college apps, and you and your senior are feeling the anxiety of deadlines. Take a deep breath. Getting all crazy, and starting back on the nagging train will not help. Best to just ease into it slowly, that's what your teen will need to do.

Rather than starting right in with the "did you finish/start/do your__________________? How about using this "I Get It" moment. "Hey honey, what are you dreading most about going back to school?" Just a simple question like that let's your teen know that you get how hard it is to transition back to the daily grind. A little empathy goes a long way.  And when they walk in the door after school today, rather than getting right back into the multitude of questions that have plagued you all day about homework, projects and meetings with guidance counselors, give them some space. The first day back pretty much sucks. How many of you were dreading the rush today of alarm clocks, lunches, carpools and that's just the kids stuff, then add to that your work, and your deadlines. See, you and your kids are not all that different. Misery LOVES company!

A few things:

1.This Sunday, Jan 8th I'm back to my Facebook live broadcast Joani's Ten Minute Teen Troubleshooting Parenting Tip. This Sunday is the first in a series of The Four Ways Of Fighting: the Gotcha Ones.

2. Just to remind about my parent coaching services. We can do a phone consult or meet in person if you are in the metropolitan Boston Area. Often parents have a single issue they need help with, and one meeting or phone call does the trick. email me at joani@joanigeltman.com

3. Scheduling seminars for winter/spring. Below are the description of the seminars I have to offer. I speak at schools, for community groups, church and temple groups. I have spoken from coast to coast so location is not a problem! I also speak at many companies and corporations for 1 hour lunchtime seminars for employees. email me at joani@joanigeltman.com

4. Invite me to your house with a group of your friends or the parents of your teen's friends for an Ask The Expert Party. We eat, laugh and and talk about your teens!! email me at joani@joanigeltman.com for information

Joani's Parenting Seminars


Adolescent Psychology: The Parent Version


  • Learn how the brain affects your teen’s behavior. It’s the battle of the thinking brain VS the feeling brain.
  • Learn Effective strategies for arguing-The Four Ways Of Fighting.
  • Develop effective strategies for keeping your teen safe as they explore the new world of teen life.
  • Learn how to teen-proof your home and cell-proof your teen

Sexting. Texting and Social Networking: What’s A Parent To Do?
  • Understand how the “emotional brain” of a teen gets “turned on” by social networking.
  • Understand how the “Imaginary Audience” influences your teen’s performing on social media.
  • Learn which apps are safe and unsafe
  • Learn strategies to monitor and set limits around phone and internet use
  • Learn how your own behavior with phones and computers can positively and negatively influence your teen.

Drugs and Alcohol: How Does Your Teen’s Personality Style, and Your Parenting Style impact their experimentation with drugs and alcohol?
  • Identify your teen’s personality style and risk-factors with drugs and alcohol
  • Identify your parenting style and how it influences your teen’s drug and alcohol use
  • Learn effective strategies and scripts to keep your teen safe
 College Bound:

  • Understand the emotional journey of your college bound high school student
  • Understand the emotional journey of a parent of college bound high school student
  • Learn strategies for making this process successful and positive

 Joani’s Top Ten Parenting Tips
The secret to parenting is to keep it simple. Learn 10 simple, concrete practical tips useful in those daily moments of stress as a parent when you wish you had the "right thing to do and the right thing to say!



With over 30 years of experience working with families, Joani's approach, using humor, storytelling and easy to use tools make the job of parenting just a little bit easier.
Joani Geltman MSW     781-910-1770    joanigeltman.com


Thursday, December 29, 2016

One New Years Resolution At A Time

Happy New Year! On your way to the gym, and after you have only eaten healthy food in order to lose 10 pounds, and when you have cleaned out your closets and gotten rid of all your non-essentials, and when you have finished your salad, no dressing for lunch, and then walked for 30 minutes instead of having a hostess cupcake(does anyone eat hostess cupcakes anymore), and then did everything on your "to-do" list at work or at home before your kids come home, and made sure that you accomplished everything on your new years resolution list, then take a deep breath and say thank god this day is over.

The problem with New Years resolutions is that we make too many of them, and then never really follow through on any of them. The same thing also happens with parenting. I might meet with parents for an hour, and in that time we come up with a game plan that includes a number of strategies to improve whatever situation brought them in to see me. I always caution them to pick one issue, and one strategy, stick with making that one change, integrating it into their parenting bag of tricks before they take on something else. Imagine trying to teach you dog how to sit, come, and roll over all in the same training session. Eventually they just look at you, with that adorable cocked head, and know you are absolutely crazy. Teens are the same way. If a new regime takes over, and you start changing all the rules at the same time, your teen will look at you with that adorable cocked head, and say,"What are you crazy?"

Perhaps over this vacation, you have had time to reflect on your relationship with your teen, or thought about some areas you think you need to help your teen with. Maybe you want to be less negative and focus less on what they don't do and more on what they can do. Maybe you are worried about homework focus and cell-phone use, or their organization and time-management issues, or their attitude and how they talk to you. I am sure there are a million things that could go on this list. Pick one and only one, and then think of a simple strategy to address it, and then follow through on it, consistently!

Teens hate change. They resist it, and will fight you every step of the way. This is not really their fault. So much of adolescence is about change; changing bodies, changing moods, changing relationships, changing expectations. They are so overwhelmed by all these changes, which for the most part are out of their control, that they tend to hang on to those things that have become almost ritualistic whether they are good for them or not. So before you institute any changes in rules, or expectations first make sure you acknowledge with them that change is hard. You can say: "I've been thinking about ________________, and it seems like we need to work on this. I know you are used to ________________, and doing it a different way will be an adjustment, I get it. Lets figure out a way together to make it work.  Including them in the strategy building helps them to take ownership of it. Nobody likes to be told what to do, especially teens. The key here is not the choosing of whether or not there will be some change but how it will make it easier for them to be successful at adjusting to it.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

The Twelve Days Of Vacation

On the twelfth day of vacation my teenager gave to me
the back to school of "leave me alone, I'm getting up"
11 moans of vacation is to short 
10 straight hours of sleeping
9 texts of "can I stay out a little longer" 
8 different plans for New Years Eve
7 hours of playing video games
6 kids sleeping in the basement
5 minutes of peace
4 hugs and thank you's for great gifts and dinners
3 ride requests
2 loads of laundry 
and mornings free of "get up you're going to be late."

Thursday, December 22, 2016

A Great Holiday Gift For Your Teen

Living with a teenager can be glorious (yes it can) and hellish. The ups and downs can be nausea producing like the scariest roller coaster you can think of. Unfortunately, because the negatives are often louder, and I mean that both metaphorically and literally, think slammed doors, and screaming fights, the smaller, more subtle successes go unnoticed or fade into the background. I'm not talking here about good grades on a report card, or a turn as the star of the school musical or a great play on the soccer field, but a nice moment with a grandparent or sibling or with you. Maybe a time when your teen was challenged in a new way either academically, or with friends and the frustration gave way to a meaningful resolution. Often these very special moments are drowned out by the multitude of daily life crisis, that your teen doesn't have the opportunity to integrate them into their developing personal identity:Not " I am someone who can rise to a challenge!" but rather  "I get so frustrated and can't do it!" They cannot see the forest through the trees, and they need an objective 3rd party to remind them. Now this is not always easy for parents to do, because maybe your patience has been sorely tested, and those nice moments have slipped by you as well, as you deal with your daily frustrations with your teen.

Here is a tonic for that frustration. How about starting a new holiday gift tradition. There are Year In Review segments everywhere you look, best books of 2016, best movies of 2016, etc. How about your teen's best moments of 2016. Sit down with an old fashion pen and paper and write your teen a letter that comes straight from the heart. Emphasis the small moments that you either observed or were party to when your teen surprised you, delighted you and reminded you about what a special and unique person he/she is.  This will serve two purposes, first to let your teen know that no matter what, no matter how difficult life gets during these teen years, you love and admire them. You are the most important person in your teen's life, and especially if they feel they have disappointed you this past year, a letter like this can totally turn things around. Who doesn't love to be told they are special and wonderful. Write the letter, and leave it on their pillow some night, don't ask or expect anything in return. Because the moment they sit with your words and feel your love in the privacy of their own room will be the best gift you could give. Have a wonderful holiday!