Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Cell Phone Addiction-Lets Work On It As A Family!

Reading an article today in the New York times, I came across a new app called Moment. Here is the article. really interesting reading. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/07/12/style/joy-of-missing-out-summer.html?fb=1&recb=home-living.control&recid=17TEnCPiOPzng6dYaMF3rfhVf7S&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&clickSource=story-heading&module=smarter-living&region=second-column-region&contentCollection=smarter-living&mData=articles%255B%255D%3Dhttps%253A%252F%252Fwww.nytimes.com%252F2018%252F07%252F12%252Fstyle%252Fjoy-of-missing-out-summer.html%253Ffb%253D1%2526recb%253Dhome-living.control%2526recid%253D17TEnCPiOPzng6dYaMF3rfhVf7S%26articles%255B%255D%3Dhttps%253A%252F%252Fwww.nytimes.com%252F2018%252F07%252F12%252Fsmarter-living%252Fdifferences-perfume-cologne-fragrance.html%253Ffb%253D1%2526recb%253Dhome-living.control%2526recid%253D17TEnCPiOPzng6dYaMF3rfhVf7S

This app is available in your app store on your phone. It is your own private personal cellphone addiction coach. I just downloaded it today and I am excited for the data to start coming in. This app tracks your daily phone usage, and what apps you spend your most time on. And then, if you are so motivated helps you to set both limits using the app and strategies that require discipline the old fashion way...self motivation!!!

I was thinking that this would be the most amazing app for families to do together. Next family dinner, everybody brings their phone to the table and downloads the app. Now you're all in it together. It's not you telling your teen they spend too much time on their phone, and you've had it!! It's a family affair.....WE ALL SPEND TOO MUCH TIME ON OUR PHONES!! Lets help each other. There is nothing teens like better than a little healthy competition!! Teens are always feeling criticized and judged by the adults in their lives, and often to them, it feels hypocritical! " Yeah, you're always telling me I spend too much time on my phone...what about you!!!" Which of course puts you in the defensive position of saying, "I'm an adult and you don't get to tell me what to do !!"
But when the family takes ownership together for working on this, it de-emphasizes the, you're a child and I want to control you, aspect of it all.

Getting your teen to buy in, might be a bit hard. But again do it all together so no one feels singled out, and let them know downloading this is a condition of having a phone. This is not a parent control, this is an app about self-awareness. Most people including teens, completely underestimate how much time they are spending on their phones and apps. It can be a rude awakening to see in living color that the actual hours you engage with your phone  are wayyyyyy more than you think. Adults and kids alike have magical thinking when it comes to self awareness about phone use. "Oh I'm not on it THAT much!!!" Until you find out that you are, there might not be much motivation to change.I'm guessing that many of you wear fit bits, and have now become more self-aware of walking and moving more. Using an app like this is akin to a fitbit!  Have a regular weekly family check in. How many hours did you use this week, or which app did you spend the most time on. This by the way does not supplant parental controls. This is a way to plant seeds for all of you about mindful phone use. This is a life skill. This is a way to counter denial, yours and your kids about how much actual time you are on your phones. Teaching self awareness skills translate to every area of our lives. It is as important as teaching them their ABC"s!

Thursday, July 12, 2018

How important Is "The Summer Experience" In College Admissions

I am all for keeping teens busy in the summer. Too much time, and no structure is definitely a dangerous combination. But how much, and what and where this summer structure takes place has taken on epic proportions as parents and teens feint and parry in the game of college competition.

The article below is a must read if you have been spending both time and money researching, investigating, and deciding what the impact of one program or another, one internship or another, or one super-sized academic summer program or another, will have on your teen's college acceptances. According to the colleges......not much.

This is not to say that a summer spent building latrines in a small village of Indonesia isn't worthwhile, but if you and your teen's goal in toilet building is that it will provide fodder for the requisite college essay, than read on.

As you will read in this article below, colleges are not stupid. If they see an application padded with "meaningful" experiences it might raise more questions than it answers. If your teen is interested in latrine building because for example they are passionate about sewage and engineering, and every summer is packed with experiences related to this passion, then OK than latrine building seems like a valuable experience for "that kid." Sending your teen off on any experience because it causes them to see the world in a new way, see themselves in a new way, and gain some much needed independence, are all worthy goals. But that should be the conversation and the motivation; personal growth, not how it will translate to a college admission's imagining of your teen.

Intrinsic motivation is what gives those feelings of self satisfaction, and what in life motivates you to take on new challenges. Extrinsic motivation, doing something because it gets you somewhere or something makes these experiences become shallow exercises in creating persona, and rarely have lasting impact. In order to grow, experiences have to be real and meaningful in an internal way. Make sure that whatever your teen chooses for a summertime experience, it is because it has meaning for them....not for you. A summer job at McDonald's can be as meaningful as a summer building latrines in Indonesia. They both teach responsibility, self-reliance, independence and taking care of people other than themselves. Isn't that really what is most important?

PS: Hey readers: I'd love to come and speak at your middle/high school. Have talks will travel!!!Call or email me for info about topics and pricing!!! joani@joanigeltman.com 781-910-1770

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

A Go-To Parenting Strategy

Thank god for television, comic strips, news, and AOL or where oh where would I come up with all these blog ideas. I was watching a rerun of 30 Rock, it's hard not to since they seem to be on every channel. It seems "Jenna" (it doesn't matter if you don't know the show or the characters) was having a hard time dealing with her very manipulative, user mother. "Jack" who has experience dealing with his own manipulative user mother was advising "Jenna" on a foolproof strategy in dealing with her mother's outlandish requests of her. As soon as I heard it, I wrote it down so I wouldn't forget. Three perfect steps to "winning" an argument.


Perfection! So your teen comes to you with a request to do, go, or buy something. I think that covers all the bases. This is the kind of request for which there is no compromise. Its either too expensive, too unsafe, or too unrealistic. Your teen, unfortunately does not agree.  You state your case in a kind and clear manner, hoping to ward off an argument. Sometimes that works, but if your teen is extremely invested in a YES, I'm guessing you get put on the defensive after being accused by your teen for being overprotective, overbearing, too strict, and the worst parent ever. It's tough not to get hooked. After all you have to protect yourself. But here is the thing, once your teen has heard the word NO, and you mean no, it doesn't matter how loud or how long you argue to the contrary, you will not win. PERIOD! And it will only deteriorate into a place you really don't want to go with your teen. So here is the "Jack Doneghy" strategy.

Say NO in a calm but controlled voice

Stay low, as in keep your voice in a low, soft, controlled register. Once you hit the high notes, you've lost. This means NO SCREAMING NO YELLING

Let It Go: There really is nothing else to say after you have said no. Given that you have explained your rationale for the no.You might end with an "I get it moment. " I get you're angry with me, and don't understand and don't want to hear this answer. I'm sorry, I know how disappointed you are."  and you are done. Do not re-engage.

Thursday, July 5, 2018

My 4 year old...10 years later

Teens are: unpredictable, aliens, explosive, risk-taking, and temperamental. So say hundreds of parents when I ask them to throw out adjectives that describe their teen at my seminar: Adolescent Psychology-The Parent Version. You ask yourself, who is this person? I don't know what's going to come out of his/her mouth next. This is unsettling to say the least because what has worked in the past to calm your kid down so you can have a civilized conversation seems to have flown out the window. Not to mention, the way he wants to spend his time, the kinds of kids she likes to hang with, and what about how school used to be the most important part of his life. This isn't my kid, who is this kid?

Well actually deep down inside those tiny tank tops or baggy jeans and untied sneakers is the kid you raised, and all those characteristics you thought sweet or funny as a toddler, now in a taller, more filled out body...not so funny and sweet. For example, maybe you had that 3 year old who had fantastic verbal skills, and you thought it was so cute when they were able to talk you into reading just one more book at bedtime, or just one more cookie for dessert, or just one more episode of Sesame Street. After talking baby talk for 3 years, how refreshing to have these adult like conversations with your "little man". Well your "little man" has grown up and his verbal skills have grown with him, and he wants to share them with you! Now he understands that these verbal/negotiating skills can wear you down to the point that he is able to get exactly what he wants. And how about that adorable little 4 year old girl who had the energy of a rabbit, bouncing from one activity to the next. Running instead of walking, climbing the highest slide or jungle gym with you standing below, screaming, "honey be careful!!! Now at 14 she wants to run out of the house, hang with her friends, doing what and with whom..."Honey be careful"
Or maybe you had that shy 5 year old, who clung to your leg and didn't want to go into the school, or to the play date or the birthday party, and now as a 13 year old seems overwhelmed with the expectations of the 8th grade social strata.

See, they aren't really so different. What your teen brings to the table in terms of temperament and personality is biological, sorry,you can't change that. But you can be aware of it, and help your teen to see what their natural inclinations might be to keep them safe during this time in their life when their world is so inviting and exciting.  So if you have that risk-taking 4 year old all grown up now, it's important to have this kind of conversation; "You know honey, when you were little, you used to make me crazy with worry because you were always the kid who wanted to climb the highest tree, or ride your bike down the steepest hill, you were an excitement junkie. I loved how confident and fearless you were about things, always wanting to try something new. And I love that about you now, but because this is the essence of you, now as a teenager, you will also want to drive the fastest, party the hardest, take the biggest risks, and that worries me. We just need to make sure that you are safe, knowing that won't come naturally to you." Or if you have that verbal kid who has the skills of the slickest lawyer on TV, your job is to avoid getting into a verbal volleyball match. You won't win! Or maybe  you have that shy teen who has friends he wants to party with, and ends up going because he want to fit it. This shy 5 yr old grown up may be especially vulnerable to drinking or drugs because after the first experience with a few beers they feel the confidence and comfort in a group that they never felt before. That is a seductive feeling. So you need to say to this teen, "I know being in groups has always been hard for you, and now you have friends, which makes me so happy, and they want you to hang and go to parties where I know there is going to be alcohol and drugs. I worry that because those situations initially are hard for you, your friends might encourage you to drink to "loosen up" and that you might become dependent on alcohol or drugs to have fun in these situations.

Embrace the person your teen is and is becoming. Recognize the strengths in their personality and temperament, and give them the tools to manage them. Your legs won't be there to hold on to, and you won't always be waiting at the bottom of the slide.  They need the confidence and know-how to do it
"all by myself".

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Fabulous New Summer Movies To Share With Your Teen

"We're Having a Heat Wave, a tropical heat wave." What better excuse to go to the movies....every day.... and not feel like a loser!!!! That would be me! I love the movies and the heat gives me a good cover for indulging myself.

This weekend I saw three movies I absolutely loved. Two of them, Hearts Beat Loud and Leave No Trace, though extremely different and each very unique, explore similar themes.

 In Hearts Beat Loud, a single dad with a teenage daughter struggles to let go and recognize his daughter's need to define herself and her future. Both dad and daughter are musicians, and this bond has been something that has given each of them a means of expression for both their individual and collective deep wells of emotion, as well as a shared connection. Sam an 18 year old young woman now finds herself torn between her father's expectations and her own dreams and aspirations.

In Leave No Trace, a single father dealing with war related PTSD chooses to raise his daughter off the grid, living in the wilderness of Oregon. They are a well-oiled machine and team as they survive and thrive living in the wilderness. With quiet and solitude and enormous love and respect for each other they move through their life together, until the "real world" intervenes and challenges them both to decide what's is best for their "survival." Tom, a 13 year old girl, just discovering her "self" as separate from her dad, and in the throes of developing her own identity finds herself having to make difficult life choices. For those of you in the boston area, there will be a special screening on July 6th at the Coolidge theater in Brookline with a Q&A with the producer of the film Linda Reisman and Boston Globe columnist.Meredith Goldstein.

Both of these movies are powerful, emotional and absolutely exquisite, and address a fundamental element of Adolescence. A major task of Adolescence is to develop a personal identity; what are my values, my interests, my passions, what are the qualities I look for in friends and lovers, what is my sexual identity, what are my goals? etc.  Part of this process is also to look closely at the people who raised them, and analyze how they are both different and the same from them. I always say that having a teen in the house is like having your own personal therapist. With this new brain of theirs, they are able to really look at you without the cloud of perfection that hovered over you in their childhood. Why the hell do these kids have to grow up?????? They are now free to share with you their thoughts and ideas about you! Unfortunately much of what they share is the stuff we already don't like about ourselves. Having them be so honest can be very uncomfortable. But if you can listen without hurt or defensiveness, you might learn something new and potentially useful about yourself. More importantly it is part of the process of figuring out who they are.

As teens start thinking for themselves, they might start to go down paths that parents aren't comfortable with. I'm not talking about unsafe or risky behavior, but life choices about what they like to do, where they might want to go to college, and ultimately what they want to do with their life. Most parents have dreams for their kids. In healthy families, parents keep those dreams to themselves waiting to see what path their children seem most interested in, even if it means parents giving up their own dreams for their kids. In some families, parent's dreams for their kids is more of a requirement than an option. We call that Identity foreclosure, when the option of choosing one's own identity is taken away from them.  Both of these movies look deeply at this issue. I think it would be heaven to go with your teen and share these movies with them. As always they may or may not choose to talk about them afterward, but sometimes just sharing special moments and experiences is just fine, no heavy sharing required. If your teens seem resistant, then please, you go see them. Grab your partner, your friend, your parent and allow these movies to envelop you.

The third movie I absolutely loved was Won't You Be My Neighbor. For those of you raised on Mr. Rogers or used him as an in-house babysitter this will resonate. I literally was crying so hard at the end that I had to lock myself in a bathroom stall and let it all out!!! But then again, I am a bit of a crier!!! I never really understood what the mission of this man was. I just remember plunking my daughter in front of the tube hoping his sickly sweetness would keep her occupied so I could do whatever. But, it turns out that Mr. Rogers was a teacher, a philosopher and a lover of humanity. What he really wanted to do was make all children feel understood and accepted. He addressed difficult feelings and life issues like divorce and death and bullying, 9/11, segregation...you name it. He was a man so ahead of his time and so misunderstood. There are many many many powerful moments in this movie, and it left me thinking, that literally, if every person in the world saw this movie we would have world peace!! Yes this movie is that monumental.

So OK, we're in a heat wave,  go buy some popcorn and a soda and lose yourself in these films. They are guaranteed to move you!!!!