Tuesday, December 6, 2016

It's Not A Crazy Idea!!!

Wanna know why your teen gets so mad at you after you say no to what seems like the most ridiculous idea ever? Because in their head, in the fantasy they have created, they are already doing it. Your saying no is a fantasy-interuptess!. Think about this metaphor: You are sitting in your cozy family room ready to watch the season finale of your most favorite TV show. You have been looking forward to this all week, having the "water cooler" conversations with your friends and colleagues who follow the show, dissecting potential plot lines. It has all been leading up to this moment, and then, BAM an unavoidable but must take phone call comes in and your are torn from your set. 

You are an adult and you get over it, but I have seen grown men and women weep and tantrum, when there is an interference with a world series game, or super bowl, or Stanley cup, whichever  is your pleasure. 

Now times that by a million and you get your teen whose fantasy has just been erased, no matter how ridiculous or unrealistic. In these situations it is completely unnecessary to get into a huge whoopla. Somewhere in your teen's brain, they know this is ridiculous too, but once you engage in an actual argument over how silly this is, than the engagement itself is reinforcement that maybe they can change your mind. 

 I have coached parents who end up getting into huge arguments with their teens over things that don't merit argument. Maybe your teen is in 9th or 10th grade and they make some grandiouse statement about not needing college; "I can get a job and make money right away"... I have heard this one alot. And the parents get hooked right away, and start to treat this statement as if it is fact. WHICH IT IS NOT! It is simply a musing by a young teen who is anxious about the future. But when taken seriously, goes haywire. Sometimes it is better in these situations to use humor; " that sounds fabululous, love that, no college tuition and you can pay us rent. We actually make money instead of spending it. Go for it!!!"

When you don't engage in these fantasies, they become just what they are fantasies. The same one you may have had last week when you bought a superball lottery ticket and had already thought of all the things you would do with the $545 million dollars you would win!

Here is the link to my Sunday Facebook live broadcast: Teen Proofing Your Home!!! Share it with you Facebook friends and enjoy a free 15 minute parent coaching session with me!!! 

Also scheduling my seminars for the winter/spring. Think about bringing me to your middle/highs school, community group, church or temple!!! I travel!!! Seminars include: Adolescent Psychology The Parent version; Social Networking, Whats A Parent To Do? Understanding Your Teens vulnerability to Drinking and Drug s; Joani's Top Ten Parenting Tips. contact me at joani@joanigeltman.com for more information

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Take This Parenting Quiz

A Parenting Quiz

  1. When your teen walks in the door after school, do you ask these three questions? How much homework do you have? How did you do on your quiz? Did you talk to your teacher about...?
  2. Do you spend your weeknights walking in and out of your teen's room asking? When are you going to put this laundry away? Have you finished your homework? Did you take the trash out?
  3. Do you spend your post school hours telling your teen multiple times to: Get off facebook and do your homework! Stop texting and do your homework! Get off that video game and do your homework!
  4. At least one time per week, do you find something that your teen has done that you can compliment?
How did you do? If you had 4 yes's congratulations!!! If you answered with 3 no's and a yes congratulations!!!! if you answered no to the last question, lets talk!

Obviously when parents come to me for coaching they are usually struggling with the first three questions. How can I get my teen to do what I want them to do? Why doesn't my teen listen to me? Why doesn't my teen tell me anything?  I have found that there is a direct correlation to the non-listening, non-action taking of teens to the amount of positive feedback they are given by their parents, there isn't much given.  Most parents are so worried that if they don't stay on top of everything their teen needs to do to be successful, then they will be at a disadvantage when  it come to the important thing, like getting into college for instance. This approach to parenting can be extremely time consuming, exhausting and mostly unrewarding. Putting yourself in the role of CEO of your child's life, automatically puts you in that secluded corner office worrying about the success of your "company" and out of touch with your "employees".

I was watching a news story recently about the online company Zappos. The CEO of that company
did not have a corner office, in fact, he didn't have an office at all. He "lived" in the same cubicle as the rest of his staff, right in the middle of the action. The work-life atmosphere at Zappo's is designed to promote hard-work while providing their employees with food, fun and lots and lots of kudo's for jobs well done. They have found that it is the food, fun and kudos that make their employees want to work their asses off for the company. Nobody minds the long hours and the cubicles because they feel understood and appreciated.

I think this is a model that can translate well to parenting. You probably aren't having much fun anymore with your teen, as they stay as far away from you as possible, worried that every time they see you it means you are on them about something. Kind of like that worry you feel when you see the "boss coming." Uh oh, now what did I do wrong, you might think. Gotta turn this around. Try making your nightly rounds without questions or comments. Maybe bring up an unexpected treat or snack you know is a favorite of your teen's and saying: "Thought you might like this treat..love u" and walk out the door.

I talked with a parent recently who is all over her teen, worried that he just wasn't "working" hard enough. His attitude towards her was becoming toxic as a result. The good news was this kid was a really good kid. But she had forgotten that in her worry that he wasn't on top of everything academically that he should have been, ie missing homework assignments that were resulting in lowering of his grades, avoidance of college essay and application writing, that she was not paying attention to the good stuff he was doing. He was not drinking or taking drugs, though most of his friends were. He was managing a part-time job. He was saving money, not squandering it away like most of his friends. Lots of good stuff.

I sent her home to put a little "fun, food and kudos" back into their life together. At a dinner out at his favorite fast food restaurant, rather than asking a million questions and lecturing him about his "future", the mom told him how proud she was of the decisions he made in his life that must be hard, like not drinking when he was with his friends, like how seriously he took his sport, like how conscientious he was about his job even though it meant getting up wicked early on a Saturday morning. She told him she was going to back off with all his college stuff as she had confidence in his ability to follow though if this was something HE really wanted for himself. I think this boy thought he had died and gone to heaven. As soon as she understood and appreciated what good stuff he was doing, he then accepted responsibility for what he wasn't doing, and they had one of the most honest, and fulfilling conversations they had ever had.

This Zappo's CEO is on to something. If you want to get the most out of your relationship with your teen you have to keep it balanced. Stay on and interested in those things you know are important but never ever forget the fun,  the food and  the kudos!

Joani's Ten Minute Teen Troubleshooting is back!!!! Join me on Facebook live at 8 PM on Sunday night when I talk about how to TEEN PROOF YOUR HOME. Just follow me on Facebook to catch the broadcast. And again anyone who shares the broadcast to all their Facebook friends gets a 15 minute coaching session with me!




Tuesday, November 29, 2016

The First Report Card This Year

Just like the first frost that appears on our last surviving plants on the deck announcing the end of summer, so do the first fall report cards appear, announcing another kind of reckoning. Parents hoping that this year will be better, easier, their teen another year older and wiser, having learned from last years lessons, open the envelope with trepidation and anticipation. Some glance quickly, scanning for standout grades in either direction, others take their time, each grade at a time, each comment at a time. Until...THE comment, THAT comment, that when parents read make their veins pop, and their hearts pound. " Johnny is a good student, BUT he is missing 3 homework assignments and because of that his grade is a C instead of a B.

For some parents this might be the first time they have seen this kind of report card from their teen. Perhaps in previous years their kid led a quieter, less social life than other kids, and studying hard and striving for good grades was their true mission. But what is this, where are the A's and B+'s they have grown accustomed to seeing? And then for some parents, who had been hoping for a fresh beginning, a new year full of promise, feel disappointed that its same old same old.

Though your first impulse might be to barge into your kids room, or start in on dealing with this as soon as they step into your car or into the house, I encourage you to take a moment, and take a deep and cleansing breath. You are probably feeling somewhat duped by your teen, having asked over and over and over again: "Did you finish your homework?", and the answer was "YES". You probably asked over and over, "did you make up those missing homework assignments? " And the answer was "YES!"
But here, in living proof is the evidence of that lie. You are storming.

Your kids are expecting the storm. They are primed and ready with excuses, and explanations, and promises for change. Consider this an opportunity to approach this in a new way. Rather than starting the conversation with: "This is what happens when you spend too much time on your phone, and on your computer and with your video games. In this house, schoolwork comes first!  Instead try this: "Hey honey lets go over your report card together. Let him/her read it out loud. After each grade and comment is read, say "so what do you think about what your teacher said and how she graded you?" Refrain and I know that this is really hard, but just let them talk. You might hear some complaining, some "its not my fault the teacher is mean",  and some denial, "I didn't know that was missing." The goal here is to use this report card not as an indictment on bad study habits but as a road map for moving forward.

Using an 'I get it" moment, you might say: "I get first terms are always hard. Getting back into a routine is hard after the summer, and I know keeping up with friends, and sports and all the stuff you like is important to you lets figure out a way for you to do both. If you don't put your teen on the defensive and focus more on I want you to feel successful, you will find them more willing to have a conversation with you, and figure out a plan of action.  This is not about the grades!!! This is about your kids mastering material and developing a curiosity for learning. And this goes for the kids who come home with the straight A report cards. If you focus on the "A" rather than, "I am so proud for all your hard work, and how much you learned this term," you have a kid who is motivated to learn because of the external motivator of making you happy, rather than the power of the learning itself.

Fall is a time for new beginnings. Maybe you can see that your teen has a really hard time settling in and developing good study habits. For kids 6th-9th grade, sometimes hiring a college student as a homework buddy/mentor can be very helpful. This is not a tutor, this is someone who grabs your kid, takes him to your library, helps him get his homework done, and then goes out for an ice cream. It reframes homework from being a lonely, isolating boring experience, to something more to look forward to. Hanging with someone cool, who helps them, and understands them. This also gets you out of the power struggle of getting them to settle down and finish their work. If you are worried that this homework thing is a chronic problem, make sure you communicate regularly with the teacher. E-mailing at the end of the week to find out about missing homework, gives you a leg up on the "I did it" avoidance technique many kids use. (Read post on the homework avoider for more suggestions).  The most important message is not to label your kid as lazy, or unmotivated, this does not change behavior. Providing them with motivation, structure, and understanding does.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

A Little Love Goes A Long Way

There is something about the Wednesday before Thanksgiving.  Maybe its the embedded memory of a half day at school and the anticipation of four days of freedom. I know for me its also the anticipation of my favorite meal ever, looking forward to savoring every morsel of turkey and stuffing. But what I look forward to most is the minute my beloved daughter walks in the door on Thanksgiving day. There is nothing more special, more delicious, than that first hug with your child, no matter how grown up. Thanksgiving is a day to be treasured. All the worries of daily life, messy rooms, bad attitudes, disappointing grades, worries about money, job, family responsibility all put aside in order to cherish and preserve the present; family, food, and football. ( I personally hate football, but I get it's importance to some)

 I know sometimes for parents this is no easy task. Maybe you have had a hard week with your teen, arguments, hurt feelings, parents feeling ignored and abandoned by their kids. I wanted to share especially for these parents a poem that a parent shared with me. She and her son had been at odds at what felt like forever. She was so saddened by the change in their relationship, and was working really hard to find some common ground with her son in this battlefield. One morning, going into her son's room to grab his laundry, she found this poem on the floor. This was not a school assignment, but an impulsive pouring out of thoughts. He did not hand his mom this poem as an olive branch, but instead, left it out for her to find. It is a tribute to the love a son has for his family. Know this, that what you often see on the outside, is not what is really going on the inside. Thanksgiving day is a day for you to share those feelings with your kids. Take the inside love and wear it on the outside, at least for the day, and maybe they will too. 


Where Am I From

I am from long nights lying on the grass
I am from days packed with sports
I am from burnt rice and undercooked hot dogs
I am from arguing about the stupidest things
I am from Love
I am from listening to my ipod late at night
I am from turning on my fan just for the noise
I am from letting facebook turn 1 hour of work into 3
I am from tiptoeing to the bathroom so my mom thinks I'm still asleep
I am from prayers said with the rest of my family over wine, even though I can’t drink
I am from Love
I am from Life


Like this teen did, share some thankful moments with your teen. Maybe a text, or a card left on their bed with a " I get things have been hard between us over the last few months, but I am so grateful that you are my son/daughter. I cannot imagine my life without your (insert some of the good stuff here, here are some examples: humor; getting me to watch movies I never would have picked but loved; forced me to learn about..., you get the idea.) I know we will get past this other stuff. I love you."

Don't look for a response or a thank you. This is a selfless gift you are giving with no expectations. Teens need to know that with all the crap they hand out, you will always love them, plain and simple.

Treasure these days.

PS:
Here is my facebook live broadcast of Joani's Top Ten Teen Troubleshooting Parenting Tip:S-E-X . I use the language of sex in this broadcast so be prepared!!
https://www.facebook.com/joani.geltman

Thursday, November 17, 2016

The Real Deal On Peer Pressure

I read an interesting article Teenagers, Friends and Bad Decisions. http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/02/03/teenagers-friends-and-bad-decisions/.

 I love when articles confirm what I already know, but in a new way. It makes me feel so smart. This referenced a study that was done at Temple University looking at the effect on teens brains while they are making decisions when they are alone versus when they are with their friends. The experiment was so interesting. Ask a bunch of 14-18 year olds to do a simulated driving game for which they will be rewarded with cash if they finish in a certain time frame. Embedded in the game are choices to be made like running yellow lights to finish more quickly. However if you "crash" you get penalized and delayed.  Scores were compared with a group of college students and a group of young adults.  "Half of the time each person played alone, and half the time they were told that two same-sex friends who had accompanied them to the study were watching in the next room." The results, no change in game playing or risk-taking for college students and young adults when told about people watching their play, but for the teens they ran 40% more yellow lights and had 60% more crashes when they "believed" their friends were watching. Remember these "phantom friends" were not even in the room with them, they only believed that friends were watching. 

This is pretty powerful documentation of the effect of what we call "the imaginary audience", a term coined by Psychologist David Elkind that refers to the heightened sense of self-consciousness in teens. This occurs because of the newly developing and growing teenage brain that is working on overtime to make teens aware that not only do they have thoughts about themselves but that other people have thoughts about them. Think of this as opening night jitters that starts the second teens awaken and ends when they have posted their last facebook message of the day. What will I wear today, how will people see me? What will I say today, what will people think about what I am saying? and so on. The study supports the thinking that when your teen is on their own they are more likely to make responsible decisions (no imaginary audience) but give them a real or perceived audience and lets get on with the show! Because often times it is all for show, just like the teens in the study who took more risks when they thought their friends were watching. 

This would be a great article to read with your teen. Here is scientific documentation of all your worries. Let them know that you are not crazy, even the scientists can see that when you are with your friends you are more likely to put yourself in risky and potentially unsafe situations. Your job here is to use that power of understanding with your teen " I get how important it is to not embarrass yourself in front of your friends, but I know that sometimes you might make a different decision when you are alone than when you are hanging with your friends. Lets try to find some ways that you can both save face in front of your friends, but make sure that you are safe. This is the kind of conversation you might have every weekend just before your teen leaves the house. This is NOT something you can change about  your teen. It is literally chemistry, but you can make your teen aware of it and provide them with strategies, scripts and alternatives to keep them safe. 

Don't forget Joani's Top Ten Teen Troubleshooting Parenting Tip on Facebook live this Sunday at 8 PM EST. I'm talking about SEX!!! Follow me on Facebook, or just put my name in the search and there I'll be! Tell all your friends and if you share the broadcast you get a free 15 minute coaching session with me. A bunch of people took advantage this past Sunday night, and I  loved getting to know some new parents. When I see your share, I'll PM you on Facebook to schedule a time to talk!

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Those Things Your Teens Won't Do That Drive You Crazy

And on the lighter side.
Laundry:
This might be one of the major hurdles that parents and teens just can't get past. Forget drugs. alcohol, sex, cellphones, computers; why can't they just put their damn laundry away?????? It is this question that has plagued parents since the concept of clean clothes was born. The answer is that kids don't give a s**t about their laundry. They just like the magical laundry fairy to deliver their clean laundry all folded up nicely to their room. They don't really think about the real person who has done it,  or that putting away this beautiful folded laundry would make the laundry fairy happier than almost anything else. The Laundry fairy, however, is being driven quietly insane by this basket of nicely folded laundry that is emptied out on the floor as their teen scrounges through it looking for their favorite white tee shirt, leaving the beautifully folded laundry in a heap either hanging off, inside or outside of the laundry basket. What's a laundry fairy to do?

There are two easy possible solutions:

 First just do it yourself. It will take 5 minutes of your time, and it will be one less thing to argue with your teen about. Consider it a gift of parenthood. Also, and not of minor importance, it gives you access to your teens drawers where you might potentially find contraband of some sort or another that gives you insight into your teen's life!

Second, if your teen won't put this beautifully folded laundry away, then STOP FOLDING IT! Do the laundry as always, and bring to your teen a basket of clean but unfolded laundry. If they aren't happy with this new adjustment, you can calmly say: " Since it didn't seem important to you to put your laundry away to keep it unwrinkled, I figured it didn't need to be folded at all. If you feel differently, I would be happy to fold your laundry when you decide that putting it in your drawers keeps your clothes they way you like them. Just let me know what you decide."

Dirty Dishes and food wrappers
This is another one of those issues that drives parents absolutely crazy. "Why can't my teen bring his dirty dishes, glasses, food wrappers etc up to the kitchen and put them in the dishwasher????" Why, because they absolutely could not give a s**t!! It doesn't bother them, and as soon as they are finished with whatever foodstuffs they have consumed, it is out of sight out of mind!

Here is a solution: Buy cheap paper plates and cups. New rule, any food consumed out of the kitchen is to be eaten or drunk from the paper products now available on kitchen counters everywhere. This includes bedrooms, family rooms, and basements. Your job is to provide ample trash receptacles in every location, strategically placed next to coaches, chairs, cushions or other lounging areas. The more wastebasket availability the better. Don't just leave it at that. Have a training session. Bring some snacks to your trash toting teen using said paper products, and when they have finished eating, practice putting the trash in the available trash receptacles. 

Sometimes it's better to problem solve than nag. If they can't, won't, don't, bring the dishes upstairs, then figure out other ways for them to consume. Many parents worry that if they don't "teach" their kids how to clean up after themselves than as adults they won't know how to do it. This is not true!!! If you have provided a good model from the get-go on a keeping a well-ordered home then that is the model that will be present for them when it is time for them to have their own home. Trust me I know this from my own experience with my daughter and all the young adults I have watched grow up. They all are wonderful keepers of their homes, but as teens they were just like yours!

This article I wrote for The Boston Globe was published in Saturday"s Paper. Some very practical tips on helping your teen with sexual harassment.
https://www.bostonglobe.com/lifestyle/2016/11/10/the-best-defense-against-sexual-
harassment/5kqnx1QstmVZDXH9TC8tbK/story.html

Sunday's Facebook live broadcast: Joani's Ten Minute Teen Trouble shooting Parenting Tip: Teaching Your Teen To Think For Him/Herself!https://www.facebook.com/joani.geltman
Share this link with your Facebook friends and receive a 15 minute free parent coaching session with me. When I see your share I will PM you on Facebook and we can schedule our time!

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Parenting When It's Hard



Now that this election is over, our kids will be watching and learning from what we say and what we do from here on into this new administration. I'm sure that you are full up of feelings, I know I am. Remember that in any crisis your children look to you for clues on what to do, and how to act. It's a complicated dance, and they are watching and listening to your every word and action.

I was driving around on Saturday morning listening to my favorite Show Tunes radio station, (yes I am a musical theater geek) and heard Stephen Sondheim's "Children Will Listen" from his brilliant musical Into The Woods.( lyrics below)  It reminded me of one of the most important jobs of parenting which is modeling and living the life of values and behaviors you most want your children to learn. As I have said on numerous occasions, actions speak louder than words. If you want your kids to treat people kindly, make sure that they see you treating people kindly, that includes your spouse, partner, mother, sisters. brothers, neighbors, gas station attendant, police, teachers, and the list goes on. I was watching a bunch of grown men play basketball on Saturday at my gym while I was spinning away. Many of their sons were watching them act like 10 year olds. They yelled each other, swore at each other, stormed away, throwing the ball at the wall, and were generally pretty unsportsmanlike. I wondered what their sons were taking away from this display. 

When you talk on your cell while driving, or text away at your kids sports events, or scream at them to stop arguing with you, you are modeling. When you sit in the living room reading your favorite book you are modeling, when you make a meal for an elderly neighbor and walk it over, you are modeling. You don't always have to tell your kids to be kind, read more, or stop being disrespectful, you just have to do it yourself. I can't say it any clearer than Mr Sondheim. Remember, children will listen!

How do you say to your child in the night?
Nothing's all black, but then nothing's all white
How do you say it will all be all right
When you know that it might not be true?
What do you do?

Careful the things you say
Children will listen
Careful the things you do
Children will see and learn
Children may not obey, but children will listen
Children will look to you for which way to turn
Children learn what to be
Careful before you say "Listen to me"
Children will listen

Careful the wish you make
Wishes are children
Careful the path they take
Wishes come true, not free
Careful the spell you cast
Not just on children
Sometimes the spell may last
Past what you can see
And turn against you
Careful the tale you tell
That is the spell
Children will listen

How can you say to a child who's in flight
"Don't slip away and i won't hold so tight"
What can you say that no matter how slight Won't be misunderstood
What do you leave to your child when you're dead?
Only whatever you put in it's head
Things that you're mother and father had said
Which were left to them too
Careful what you say
Children will listen
Careful you do it too
Children will see
And learn, oh guide them that step away
Children will glisten
Tample with what is true
And children will turn
If just to be free
Careful before you say
"Listen to me"



I hope you will all join me on Sunday night at 8 PM EST for my Facebook live broadcast. Joani's Ten Minute Teen Troubleshooting Parenting tip: Teaching your Teens To Think For Themselves. Just follow me on Facebook.