Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Parent Teen Communication: Is There A Translator In The House?

Zits comic:
Mom and Jeremy in a typical parent teen standoff. Each with arms crossed and sneering at each other. Dad looking on.

Mom: Yelling: ALL I SAID WAS "HAVE A NICE DAY"!

Jeremy: Yelling back: YOU'RE ALWAYS TELLING ME WHAT TO DO!

Dad: I think I hear a glass of wine calling my name.

Are there some days you feel like you and your teen speak different languages? You say something simple and maybe even nice to your teen (at least you think it's nice) but the response you get is completely incomprehensible. Let me explain how that might happen.

The first disconnect is that adults live in a thinking brain, and teens live in a feeling brain. And I mean that literally. Brain research has shown that when teens and adults are shown the exact same photo of a human face expressing an emotion, their brains respond in very different ways. An adult brain uses the frontal cortex (the thinking brain) to interpret the emotion, and the the teen brain uses the amygdala (the emotional center of the brain) to interpret emotion. This is a set-up for constant miscommunication between teens and parents. Teens literally see things in the human face that adults don't see, and hear things in human voices that adults don't hear. It's kind of like dogs that hear the high pitch sounds that no human can hear. Dogs...teens..

I am sure you have had the experience of saying something to your teen in a neutral voice and with a neutral expression. It may be something very inconsequential. But the reaction you get from your teen is crazy! Maybe something like "are you mad at me? They have heard something in your voice or saw something in your face that no one else apparently can see or hear...just like the dog.

A compounding problem is that teens carry every teeny tiny emotional experience that has happened to them over the course of their day in that amygdala of theirs. Perhaps they posted something on instagram and they didn't get enough likes or maybe they said something embarrassing in class and their fellow students laughed at them. Park it! Maybe they wore the wrong outfit, or did something stupid at a partyl and felt like everyone was judging them. Park it! Maybe they saw their crush talk to another boy/girl and feel dejected. A thousand things may have happened that day, or in the morning between when they woke up and you pass each other in the kitchen before school or out with friends. Basically their parking lot of a brain is always full. You know how frustrated you get when there is no place to park. Times that by a hundred, and that is your teen.

So when you get a response to a simple question or comment that seems crazy and completely incomprehensible, assume that their parking lot is full. Probably best to just walk away with a let's talk later. This is one of those times that it just isn't about you.

Booking now for speaking engagements this school year. I would love to come to your community. email me for more info: joani@joanigeltman.com
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!
Audience: All ages

Adolescent Psychology: The Parent Version 
·     Understand teen stressors and anxieties
·     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 child gets “turned on” by social networking.
  • Understand how the “Imaginary Audience” influences your child’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.
  • Understand the addiction of gaming
Audience: parents of 4thgraders through High school

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

With over 40 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

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Consequences Of Parenting Too Hard!!

This provocative article "ripped from the headlines" caught my eye: Overparented and underhappy. To summarize, the article cites a study done with  college students who were asked how much they agreed with with the following statements: "My parents supervised my every move growing up. It was very important to my parents that I never fail in life" The study found that the students who agreed most with these statements, also felt less psychological well-being and needed more medication for psychological well-being.

The work of parenting is to raise children into adults who are; resilient and able to recover from life's challenges; are able to sort through options so that they can make decisions that are healthy and growth promoting; and can build strong, loving relationships that can sustain them through the ups and downs of life. This is a tall order.

This study supports what my college students share with me. Many feel unprepared for life on their own as they start college. The first day of my fall semester,  I always ask them what they think their biggest challenges are going to be as they start this new journey as independent college students. Almost all of them say that they are worried they will not be able to get their work done without mom and dad telling them to do it, afraid that their phones, their computers and that the distractions of friends around 24/7 would take precedence over getting to class, getting to sleep and getting to work.

It's not that college students overwhelmed as freshman is a new phenomenon. I remember feeling the same way. Its just that I didn't have as many distractions as students do today. Hall phones, and TV in the student lounge took care of that piece. But I still had the kids in the dorm, walks into Harvard Square for coffee and muffins to distract me. I think the most important piece for me was that my mom had given me increasingly more responsibility for my own life as I worked my way through the experience of high school, and ultimately I knew that I was responsible for me by the time I left for college.  I was ready to take that  on, I wasn't afraid of it, and I was excited for it.

I think this study underscores this point. Parents who take on the responsibility of making their decisions for their kids rather than with their kids risk raising young adults who feel terrified of making their own decisions. Parents who rescue their kids from failure, risk raising young adults terrified of going into unfamiliar territory and instead rely on the familiar even if it makes them unhappy.

Of course we want our kids to be happy, healthy and successful. But making decisions for them, protecting them from failure, and not making them responsible for their behavior in the long run is not protecting at all.

So when it comes time to making rules about social networking and social life, or decisions about what classes to take or activities to join or where to get a job, or consequences for their actions, make them a part of the discussion. Instead of  saying: "if you don't do X , or I think you should, start with a "what do you think should happen if you don't....?, and what do you think you should do.....? Put the ball in their court, it might take longer, you might get more frustrated, your teen might get more frustrated, but the confidence they will begin building will make them a stronger, happier more confident adult.

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

You've Got A Lot To Look Forward To!!

I just returned from spending a weekend with my all grown up daughter at her new home! It was such a special and wonderful weekend, that I wanted to let you know what is coming down the pike with your now teens. Though some days it might feel like you are stuck in the hamster wheel, repeating the same words and lectures over and over. Picking up the same pair of socks, sneaks, and sports equipment day after day no matter how many times you remind your teen to do it. Reminding your teen to do homework, get to bed on time, get up on time, it all gets to be too much sometime. So I thought I would tell you what you have to look forward to, help you see the forest through the trees.

Your teen will eventually:

  • Have a place of residence that they feel proud of and take care of.  A place that communicates who they are, and what is important to them. It may be a place that is full up of all the values that you are teaching them now but that you don't think they get. Oh they get it!

  • Incorporate into their lives what you practiced in your life, spirituality, love of music, books, friends, food, exercise, passion for work and play, and of course family.

  • Share their work life with you, share their friends with you, share their passions with you. Thank you for doing and giving all you did to help bring them to this time in their life.

  •  Make you so proud of the adult they have become, that you burst with love and anticipation for the many years you have now to share with your son and daughter.  

Here are the things that you can teach them now so that can get to this place later:

  • Self Awareness: What are the feelings that can push their buttons and the behaviors that could sabotage their success.
  • Taking responsibility: What can they do to take responsibility for their decisions and their actions.  
  • Be independent: Develop confidence in their ability to do for themselves whether in thought or in action.   
Your job now is to give your teen the opportunities to practice. Doing for, and protecting them from, will not help them to become the self-aware, responsible and independent adults they all have the capacity to become.

I am currently scheduling my seminars for the 2019-2020 school year. I have spoken at hundreds of middle and high schools across the country, for corporations and religious and community groups. For info about booking contact joani@joanigeltman.com

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!
Audience: All ages

Adolescent Psychology: The Parent Version 
·     Understand teen stressors and anxieties
·     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 child gets “turned on” by social networking.
  • Understand how the “Imaginary Audience” influences your child’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.
  • Understand the addiction of gaming
Audience: parents of 4thgraders through High school

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

With over 40 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

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

The Curse Of Summer Reading

OK, the summer is almost half over, and crumbled up summer reading lists are being found and resurrected by parents everywhere. Most kids have spent the summer avoiding your queries about the reading by saying, "I'll do it, I have the whole summer, just leave me alone!!!" Well the whole summer is now down to 4 weeks and the books have been bought, Kindled or Nooked depending on the summer bribe. "If I buy you a Kindle/Nook, will you do the reading?" Your kid, panting like a dog who sees a new treat coming his/her way has promised that yes yes yes I will do the reading if you buy me off, I mean buy me a Kindle/Nook. But listen, it doesn't matter what form the book is in, it is still reading and might/could be way less exciting than say sitting on the couch texting/facebooking/videogaming/tv or movie watching or studying one's navel.

So here are a few strategies to get the reading done before school starts before you have to resort to the threats of no phone, no computer no life until you finish your reading.
  • Sit with your kid and add up the number of pages that need to be read by the start of school. Get out the old calculator and number of pages from each book and add together. Divide that number by the number of days left before school and you now have a PPD (pages per day) your kid needs to complete. When you break it down this way, it is far less intimidating. Most kids avoid the summer reading because it seems daunting. Maybe they have 3 or 4 books to read, and the image they have is just hours and hours of reading to complete it, so pretending it doesn't exist is much easier. Having to read 20 pages a day may not seem as bad.
  •   Set aside a reading time. Not on your schedule but a time of day that your kid feels is do-able. Get your book, take your kid to Starbucks, get him/her a Mochachino and read together for 30 minutes or an hour. Pair the reading with something pleasurable.
    • If your kid continues to be resistant to follow-through, pair reading with favors. For example, if the PPD has not been completed and your kid asks for a ride, some money, clean laundry etc you can say: "I would love to help you out, but I noticed you haven't done your PPD today, and I don't really feel like complying with your request until you do. I get this reading stuff is hard for you, but it's just something you gotta do.
    • Get the reading list books on tape. Some kids might be more motivated if they were hearing them rather than reading them. Put them on in the car while you are driving. Put it on an old CD player and let them listen with earphones, bring it to the beach and they can tan and "read" at the same time.   
    Get creative.  Just hucking your kid to do the reading is not going to get the job done. You have to "understand" their resistance, rather than criticize it, and help them to develop a plan that makes the impossible seem possible. 

    PS. I am now booking for this upcoming school year seminars. Have Joani will travel..anywhere!! Last year, I spoke in California, New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire. Below are the seminars I offer. Talk to your PTOs, religious organizations, community groups or businesses about presenting one of these to your community. I promise it will be fun and informative! Contact me for pricing and availability

    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 social networking and gaming
    • 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
      

    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!


     Joani Geltman MSW     781-910-1770    joanigeltman.com

    Tuesday, July 2, 2019

    Solutions For Two Teen Issues That Make You Crazy!!!

    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!




    Wednesday, June 26, 2019

    Teens and Porn 101

    Read and then we'll talk
    https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/07/magazine/teenagers-learning-online-porn-literacy-sex-education.html?hp&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&clickSource=story-heading&module=second-column-region&region=top-news&WT.nav=top-news

    I know this is not a fun topic. But it is a topic that must be discussed. In the olden days (when I was a teen) boys coveted their Playboys, and Penthouses, usually retrieved from their dad's trash. In today's world, those magazines seem so sweet; nude, beautiful, airbrushed, large breasted women..perfection personified. Ah, the days of yore.

    Today's porn is live and in-person. As you will see on the video below, 25% of Internet searches are for porn, and I'm sure many of those searches are conducted by teenage boys. Unfortunately, the porn they are watching is not sweet. It is full of women being taunted by men,  and the sex is violent and disrespectful. These video images can shape a young boy into thinking that this is the way girls like sex, demeaning, humiliating and forceful. The number of calls I get from parents of girls who are being harassed sexually by boys is scary. And even scarier is the world we now live in with daily accusations of sexual assault and harassment about the people in our lives who are supposed to be our role models!!

    Because of teen's easy access to porn on smartphones, IPADs, and laptops, parents are very much out of the loop. It used to be parents could check the history on their teen's laptop and see what they were up to, at least giving them the opportunity to have a discussion with their teen about the dangers of porn. Masturbation is not one of them. Thinking that women liked to be controlled is one of them. And in the link I have included, porn addiction is another.

    Let's not leave girls out of this. A new favorite pass time at sleepovers is to go on sites like chatroullette to watch live, men masturbating. I know, icky!  This is a video social networking site in which you live chat with someone you do not know. Many men are on this site trolling for girls to have video sex with. I have had a number of calls from parents who go down to the basement to bring the girls some food, and lo and behold there is some guy on the computer screen moaning and groaning, and a gaggle of girls egging him on.

    If there was ever a time for a sex talk, this is the time. Teens need to hear another side! It is not OK to be exploited, it is not OK to expect a girl to do whatever you want her to do, or for a girl to think she has to do whatever a boy wants. College campus's, high schools AND middle schools are now awash in sexual harrassment cases and date rape. The research is showing that this onslaught of easily accessed porn, unsupervised by parents is behind some of this behavior. This is an uncomfortable topic. But in our current culture we are now learning that respect for women is not something that is a given. It needs to start being taught at a young age, and never stop. It is modeling what goes on your own home, and with your friends, and it is using the daily barrage of news stories as teaching lessons. It is talking and talking and talking until maybe you are blue in the face.

    Watch this video with your boys. Talk with them again and again and again. The second link is a fantastic website with a tutorial about how to talk with your teen about porn. Great summer reading!!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Ya67aLaaCc&feature=player_embedded

    https://parents.culturereframed.org/course/parents-of-tweens/

    Wednesday, June 19, 2019

    Rascist Texts=Serious Consequences

    Kyle Kashuv is an extremely bright 18 year old graduating senior from Stoneman Douglas High School in the Florida suburb where the horrendous school shooting of 2018 occurred. Kyle had high hopes of attending Harvard University. And yay!!!! Kyle was admitted to Harvard!! A dream come true!! Until his offer of admission was rescinded. What could Kyle have done that made Harvard change their mind. It seems when Kyle was 16, two years ago, he and his friends were letting off steam on Google docs, texting each other back and forth. (texts that are unknown and impossible to read from a parent's point of view. (see blog link at bottom of this post for help on this topic) Kyle's texts in particular were extremely colorful, replete with repeated N words and other racial slurs as well as anti-Semitic language. According to Kyle, in retrospect, they were just stupid 16 year old boys trying to be as outrageous as they could be with each other, privately. Except it was not as private as he thought it was.

    As usually happens with teens and social media, this conversation was passed around to various friends, cause hey....it was funny!!! and someone screen shot the texts. Cause... you know it might come in handy some day. Well that day came, maybe it was a fellow friend or just another student who did not get into his/her dream school, and was pissed and jealous that Kyle gets into Harvard, an amazing privilege, and how is that fair, after all the heinous and terrible racist and anti-Semitic things he wrote, this student might have thought. And so this student goes back into the texts and photo screenshots he/she has saved for just this kind of thing and sends it off to Harvard thinking/hoping that this might effect Kyle's acceptance. It did! Harvard has been quite consistent in the past when they are presented evidence of questionable moral character of an incoming student. A similar instance happened a few years ago when it came to the admission's office attention that a bunch of accepted boys were making sexist and misogynistic comments about the accepted girls whose pictures they found on some incoming student list. This kind of conduct does not fit with Harvard's expectations.

    Kyle is pissed to say the least. He says this is unfair treatment. He was a stupid 16 year old boy, and especially after the shootings he has taken a good hard look at himself, and he is really really sorry. That may be true, but Harvard doesn't care, this is an expectation that is spelled out pretty clearly in admission policy, moral decency and the right to take away the privilege of attending when a moral lapse has been identified.

    Has Kyle changed? Does he deserve to be un-admitted? Maybe yes, maybe no. For my purposes it doesn't really matter. What really matters is that kids need to understand that WHATEVER they write, WHATEVER photos they have taken are not and will never be private!!!! This is a very hard lesson to teach, but teach it you must. Revenge is so sweet. And though a teen might have shared these texts or photos with their "absolute best friends" those friends can turn on you on a dime. And when those questionable texts and photos are revealed to people who have the power to make decisions about their lives, the gig us up. It is now out of their control. It goes without saying that all parents hope that the values of respect for all people they have taught to their kids would translate to not writing these kinds of horrible things in the first place. But yet they do!

    Ah the unexpected consequences of trying to be funny and impulsive, as many teens are. They do not think before they "speak." Social networking has turned us all into aspiring stand-up comedians. One important lesson though is you gotta know your audience!

    Here is the article about kyle and Harvard.
    https://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2019/06/17/harvard-rescinds-admission-parkland-massacre-survivor-kyle-kashuv/20bxvExuuedU3uTDmrXeZN/story.html?p1=HP_TrendingBar


    "Nearly 80% of employers research job applicants and 70% have rejected candidates because of their online profile." Let the parent lectures begin!!!

    If your teen is starting to think about getting a job or internships they need to beware. Or how about looking to become a camp counselor? Perhaps that camp director is social media savvy, and goes on your teen's twitter, or instragram. (you know how teens are so selective about friending people)  If your teen has been posting obscenity laden quips, sarcastic rants or drunken exploits or sexy pics, you better tell them that might not look so good to that pizza store owner or to a camp director, who is looking for a wholesome camp counselor. Or, how about that highly competitive internship, looking for Mr or Ms responsible? I don't think they want to read that "man I got wasted and ....."

    Perhaps your teen is will be applying to colleges in the near future.  This is a tough college market. And sometimes that decision might come down to what admission officers have found during their social media sleuthing! Hello Kyle!

    This is definitely something that is not on your teen's radar. Someone has to put it there, and it is you!!! As Crosby Stills Nash and Young sing...."Teach, your children well."

    Below are more articles about social networking gone bad. Here is how you might use these to teach your kids about cleaning up their act!

    http://www.foxnews.com/us/2015/02/10/texas-teen-tweets-herself-out-pizza-job/

    http://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/15/magazine/how-one-stupid-tweet-ruined-justine-saccos-life.html?hpw&rref=magazine&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&module=well-region&region=bottom-well&WT.nav=bottom-well

    You might have them read these articles, and say: You  know honey, I get that posting outrageous stuff on instagram is fun, and reading all your friends crazy stuff is also fun, but the reality is that it makes your life an open book to college admissions people, potential jobs and internship employers. I wouldn't want something you think is funny but maybe insensitive or offensive to an objective reader, get in the way of getting what you want. I think it's time to do some "housecleaning." As you go through all your postings, think like a potential boss, or admission counselor, and ask the question: "What impression am I getting about this student, employee from their sites?" You wouldn't want them to say:"wow this kid seems to party a lot, that would probably affect their ability to work, or they use a lot of foul language and sexually explicit language, they don't show much respect for woman or men, I wouldn't want them interacting with my staff, or they seem kind of sarcastic and mean" Help your teens to ask the right questions and send them on their way with a Mr Clean power eraser! And teach them that their friends can be their own worst enemies. Just because they are good friends today does not mean they will be good friends tomorrow. Revenge is sweet!

    Here is my blog on google docs! https://joanigeltman.blogspot.com/2019/04/and-you-thought-google-docs-was-just.html

    So you have a lot to read. Luckily it's vacation time!!!

    Wednesday, June 12, 2019

    When A Punishment Causes More Harm Than Good!!

    A recent story garnered my attention regarding the effectiveness of "laying down the law." Parenting a teen is particularly challenging when it comes to finding consequences that both communicate to your teen that certain choices they make come with consequences, and at the same time giving consequences that don't destroy the relationship that you have with your teen. Because truly, in the long run, it is the relationship that you have with your teen that will ultimately motivate their behavior. If a teen feels that everything they really care about has already been taken away, there is no motivation for them to change their behavior.

    For example, one parent recently told me that in order for their kids to get cellphones, they must bring home all "A" report cards. Their younger children (not teens) for whom pleasing their parents was still an underlying motivator, rose to the occasion. The older teen, 14, not so much. Getting all "A's in middle school or high school is an unrealistic goal for most teens. Their lives are generally full of many things, friends, activities, and the need to just veg to take care of their overloaded brain full of too many thoughts, too many feelings and too many worries. For this teen, knowing that getting all "A's" was not a goal he had for himself, and knowing that the all-important cellphone was completely out of reach, just gave up with his academics. After all, what was the point? His anger at his parents, and his need now for a "fine, don't give me a phone, I'll just do no work, and get crappy grades. and show you! Which he did! And the kicker here is that this kid is extremely bright. So here we see that a motivator for one kid, is a complete disincentive for another, and a backfire for the parent.

    I want to give you a few tips on setting consequences that have a chance of working.

    1. Any consequence should be time-limited and short. Teens make mistakes, millions of them, it is a truth of this stage. If you choose to use grounding, or taking away computer/phone. Keep the time short. One weekend, or one week, and let your teen know, we get you made a mistake, there was a consequence, now lets start fresh. Part of the conversation needs to include, lets figure out what you can do differently so you don't find yourself having to stay in or not have access to your phone/computer. This problem solving phase is actually wayyyyyyyy more important than the consequence. Punishment alone never, and I mean this, never is what changes behavior. Otherwise why do we have such a high recidivisim rate in our prisons. 
    2. Do not set your teen up to fail. Make sure that your expectations are realistic, remembering that teens are impulsive, emotional, risk-taking, and inexperienced, do not think things through, and do not like to be told what to do.  
    3. Most importantly include your teen in decision making, rather than you being the rule-maker. When your teen can take ownership of the process, they are more likely to follow through. Let's take curfew for an example, if you set the rule, "you have to be home at 10:30, and literally all their friends really do stay out till 11, you may be setting you and your teen up for coming in late. Rather have this converstion: 
    Teen: What time do I have to be home?
    Parent: What time do you think is fair ? (trust me your teen will not say some ridiculous time, it might be a little later than you initially would have given)
    Teen: 11:30
    Parent: What do you think I will be worried about if I say yes to 11:30
    Teen: Will probably say something like, "you're worried, I will be late, or out doing something you don't won't me to do.
    Parent: Yes those things do worry me. What are YOU going to do to make me feel OK about those things? (This is where your teen has do some thinking. and that is a good thing. He/she is motivated to think, because they see some room for compromise here.
    Teen: How about if I call you 1/2 hour before at 11 to let you know I will be home by 11:30 (if they don't say that, you can help them come up with this or another plan)
    Parent: That sounds good, so what will the consequence be if you don't call me at 11
    Teen: They will probably say, I can be grounded for the next night or one night the next weekend. (the consequence is in place, and it is now the teens responsibility to follow through)

    This whole process is designed to help teens take responsibility and ownership of their decisions. Now you just have to sit back,and if they are successful, you can praise them with  a job well done, and if they don't follow through, you don't have to say anything, no lecture needed, just a "sorry it didn't work out for you tonight, I look forward to spending the night with you tomorrow or whenever the next weekend night is. That's it, no fighting , just a little shrug of the shoulders, over and out.

    PS Is your teen home for the summer? Why not host an Ask The Expert Party and I'll come over for coffee or a glass of wine and help you and your friends learn how to get through the summer without going crazy from your teen. call 781-910-1770 for more info!

    Wednesday, June 5, 2019

    Why Is My Teen Demanding and Full Of Entitlement?

    Teens are by definition demanding, narcissistic, and spoiled. Why? Because they do literally think about themselves almost exclusively all the time. Their newly developed brain can be held somewhat responsible for this. As the teen brain grows, it allows teens to think in ways they have never thought before. For the first time teen's are spending hours and hours thinking about themselves and the people in their lives. Being introspective is like a drug. There is no right answer, and there are endless possibilities to explain their behavior and the behavior of their friends. If I do or say this, than maybe this could happen, but if I do that, than that could happen. They have become the center of their own universe, which is a major shift from when you their parents, were the center of their universe. And like all good narcissists, they only see the world in terms of how it affects them. So if you are late picking them up from school, and they had to hang around by themselves, because all their friends had already left, than you have perpetrated a heinous crime, even if the cause was traffic beyond your control, a meeting that went late, or a flat tire. Honestly, they have no sympathy, no empathy, just anger at you making them feel like a loser somehow for leaving them standing alone for someone to see what a loser they are.

    The good news, is that this is temporary insanity, unless, and this is a big UNLESS you fall victim to their accusations.!  DO NOT feel that you have in any way screwed up because guess what...shit happens, and you are not to blame, and you do not have to accept blame and then feel that for some reason you have to make up for all your supposed inadequacies by giving into the insatiable demands your teen, in a narcissistic haze put on you. On the other hand, and equally important, is you don't have to lecture your teen ad nauseam about their lack of empathy etc etc. And here is the best tip I can offer in these situations when your teen accuses you of something you absolutely know is not true, and is a function of this acute case of me me me me. You simply look at them, give a little smile, a head tilt, and shoulder shrug. No more no less. Nothing you are going to say will be heard anyway. They won't be this way forever unless you reinforce the behavior with feeling and acting guilty.

    Free at least, free at last.. No worries, your kids will eventually shed their self-centered skin and become the loving, caring, kind person you know to be in there!

    Do you work for a large company? I'd love to give one of my mini-seminars to you and your fellow staff members. My lunch time talks are extremely popular and can be tailored to meet the needs of parents with kids of all ages. email me: joani@joanigeltman.com or call 781-910-1770