Wednesday, October 16, 2019

It's Not What You Say, But ........

I am sure that many of you could complete that sentence, hearing you parents or elderly aunt's voice in your head..."It's not what you say dear, but how you say it." When you heard it, it was probably because you had talked to your elders in a tone that was unacceptable.

I am sharing this saying with you not so you can teach it to your teens, but to teach to you.  Often as parents,  much of the "feedback" that we share with our teens is said either in a voice of authority as in " I know better than you squirt, so listen up," or in a voice full of exasperation as in "how many times do we have to go over this..," or in a voice full of judgement.."how could you have...." In all of these examples, most likely the response you get from your teen is to either ignore you, get defensive, or give you attitude. None of these pave the way for meaningful communication or closure.

As I have mentioned before, the emotional center of the teen brain is in overdrive most of the time, hence the roller-coaster of emotions you are likely to experience with them just in the course of a single day. Once that Amygdala is in activation and firing, it is pretty hard to shut it down. Think of a stove top burner that has been on high. Once you shut it off, it takes a good amount of time before you can touch it without being burned. Such is the Amygdala of the teenage brain. So one of the goals then, is to not get it activated, especially if you have an end goal in mind for a conversation you want to have with your teen.

If you blame your teen's over-reaction on biology, rather than on something they have much control over, it frees you up to not blame them, thereby avoiding the double whammy of the actual issue you are concerned over + the aforementioned over-reaction.  That is why arguing with your teen is so frustrating. Because you often never really get to discussing the core issue, too busy getting pissed at them for getting pissed at you.

So what to do. Listen to the sound of your own voice. Would this be THE voice that used to piss you off as a teen? If it is, can you work on saying it another way. Of course my suggestion is to use an "I get it" statement. Rather than starting with a lecture or accusation, think ahead of time of what might have motivated the particular behavior you are now needing to talk about with your teen.

For example:

FROM " Get off your damn phone and computer and finish your homework." TO; I get it's important for you to stay in touch with your friends, but we need to figure out a way for you to get work done, and stay in touch with your friends."

FROM: "If you talk to your brother again like that, I am taking away that damn video game. That kind of disrespect is unacceptable in our family." TO; I get how hard and annoying it is to have a younger brother who always wants to hang with you and use your stuff just when you want to use it. I know he pushes all your buttons, let's figure out a way for you to get your privacy."

FROM: "I am sick and tired of the absolute mess in your room, you are a slob and are disrespectful of the money we spend so that you can have all these nice clothes." TO: I get cleaning your room is absolutely the last thing on your mind. I know getting ready in the morning is stressful and finding the right outfit means trying on a bunch of stuff and just discarding what isn't right. We gotta figure out a better system."

At the least, you haven't antagonized your teen to shut down. You are showing him/her that you understand what might be going on, rather than just criticizing them yet again for not doing..x y z. Give it a try, you might be surprised at how well it works!




PS: Getting my speaking schedule up and running for the 2019-20 year. Email me at joani@joanigeltman.com if you are interested in having me come and present one of my seminars at your school, company, church, temple, community group or on a street corner in your neighborhood!!   Or book an Ask The Expert Party. Invite your friends, or the parents of your teen's friends to your house and I'll spend two hours giving you all tips and strategies, geared specifically to your needs.

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Arguing 101

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.

SAY NO
STAY LOW
LET IT GO

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.

PS:
Did you know I do very short term (one session) parent coaching by phone! Maybe there was an incident that happened over the weekend and you're not sure how to handle it, or you see a pattern emerging with your teen that is concerning. Let's talk it over!!! I'll send you on your way with a concrete plan. call 781-910-1770 or email joani@joanigeltman.com for more info.

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Your Teen's Personality and Temperament: A Key To Understanding Drug and Alcohol Use

Understanding your teen's personality and temperament can be a key to understanding their vulnerabilities when it comes to drug and alcohol use  At the end of the post is a great article about from the New York Times that reinforces this .


When we are born, we bring into the world our temperament and our personality. It is our parent's job to understand what we bring to the table, our nature, and then help us to develop to our fullest. If our parents misunderstand or don't want to accept this part of our nature, we can forever feel misunderstood and at odds with them. Your kid's too bring their temperament and personality to the table. It is what drives their choices, their interests, their emotional reactions, their motivation,  and their ability to connect with you and people outside the family. Understanding your teen's personality and what drives their behavior will be the key to keeping them safe as they navigate all the scary, risky choices that present themselves during Adolescence.

I have targeted 4 major personality styles and how these interact with all the temptations that teens encounter, specifically drugs and alcohol. Who is your teen?

  • The Risk-Taker: Those of you with these teens will have memories of your teen as a 3 year old running instead of walking. These were the kids that showed no fear. A big slide, can't wait. Climb to the highest rung of the monkey bars, race you! Gets on a sled or puts on a pair of skis, the faster, the steeper, the better. Roller coasters, scary movies, you name it, they are always game. That's what makes being around them so much fun, and of course terrifying. Your parent mantra...BE CAREFUL!!! Now as teenagers, with a brain tuned into risk-taking, the drive for dangerous fun is a powerful motivator. But now it's not steep slides, but fast cars, and power drinking, and being up for trying and doing just about anything. Obviously this "nature" puts them in a vulnerable position. You can't tame this beast but you can teach them. Here is your "I Get It" conversation: Honey, you know what I love about you. I love that you are always up for a new challenge, you're always game for anything. And in life, that can be a wonderful quality, it means you will have an exciting challenging life. Unfortunately right now as a teen, that "up for anything" could put you in a lot of unsafe situations. You really need to understand this about yourself, so that you can put the brakes on before whatever you are "going for" gets out of control. I do worry about how you will manage drinking and driving and drugs and sex. All those exciting things that can get unsafe really fast if you get caught up in the awesome-ness of it all. Lets come up with some ways that can keep you safe."
  • The Shy and Anxious Teen: Those of you with teens like these will remember them as being very cautious children. They had difficulty in new and unfamiliar situations. They stuck to you like glue in group settings, feeling uncomfortable around a lot of people. They probably spent much of their time at home with their siblings rather than out on play dates, and needed encouragement to make friends. Over the years you might have seen this child grow more comfortable through involvement in activities like sports where the activity gave them a purpose. But now as teens, the expectations to be social, and chatty, and charming can be overwhelming. These teens are usually well liked. They are easy to be around and make great loyal friends, especially when they are with the kids they feel the most comfortable with. But now there are new expectations, dealing with romantic feelings, flirting, acting cool, these do not come naturally to the shy and anxious kid who lives in their head. Add to that the normal hyper sense of self-consciousness that all teens feel, exaggerated in the shy and anxious teen. This makes these teens very susceptible to drugs and alcohol. Pot mellows them out, and alcohol gives them a false sense of confidence in the situations where they may feel lacking. Your "I Get It" conversation. "You know honey I get that when you are in large group situations where you are least comfortable, you might feel that drinking will make you more comfortable. That worries me, that you might feel that to fit in and be relaxed you will have to drink or smoke pot. That can be a dangerous precedent to set in your life. It is more important for you to learn some strategies to make yourself comfortable rather than relying on alcohol or drugs to do that for you. As an adult, you will be in many situations through work that will stress this part of you. I have confidence that you can figure how to be in groups and be comfortable. Things like finding one person to hang with in the beginning that you feel good with, or be the designated care taker, it gives you an important role to keep your friends safe, and they will really appreciate that. There are lots of things we can come up to help. Lets work together on this."
  • The Fun Loving Teen Who doesn't love this kid. This is the kid everyone wants to be around. They are fun, easy to talk to, gets a crowd into action, a leader, loves to have a good time. These are wonderful qualities, and as an adult will help them to be extremely successful. This is a kid with high emotional intelligence. Getting along with people is her/her specialty. As a teen, this kid will ALWAYS be up for a party!!! Your "I get it" conversation. "You know what I love about you honey, everybody always wants to be around you, including me. You are one hell of a fun person. I only worry about that now, because you are always up for a good time,and I know that sometimes can mean alcohol and drugs, whatever enhances that "good time." We are going to need to come up with some strategies to keep you safe, when your party hearty head takes over."
  • The impulsive teen These teens as children were the kids you had to remind a thousand times to "look both way before you cross" or they would have bolted across the street to chase a lost ball, or, your shoes are untied, don't run unless you tie them. This teen interrupts, shouts out in class rather than raising her/his hand, and has little patience for waiting around for anything. As a teen being asked by a friend: "Hey you wanna.... will always garner an immediate yes. This teen will not want to take the time to think much through. Now this is on top of the already teen impulsiveness that all teens have due to a developing frontal cortex. This teen is faced with a double whammy. Not only the nature he brings to the table, but also the nature that is part of his newly developing teenage brain. A potentially lethal combination. Educating your teen about his/her nature potential is extremely important here. Criticizing them over and over again for not thinking things through will not be productive. Understanding with them how this can be for them is comforting. Your "I get it" conversation: You know honey " I totally get how hard it is for you to put the brakes on something when you want to go full force ahead. You mind and your body just say GO. This worries me because now that your life is presenting you with lots of choices, your natural tendency is not think it through before acting. Maybe we can start at count to ten rule. When someone says: "hey lets do....." rather than just going for it, you take a second, take a deep breath and literally count to 10 before you act. This may truly save your life one day!"
The last category I want to mention here is what happens when teens are facing a crisis. Maybe there is a divorce or separation that is weighing on your teen, maybe a death in the family, or an ill grandparent, maybe family financial problems or a parent's job loss. Maybe a recent break-up with a beau, or a feeling that he/she has disappointed you yet again with low grades. There could be a million things that your teen might be good at masking, making you think that they are handling it. Trust me, they are probably not handling it, and low grades, nasty temper, low energy, room hibernation, never home, all can be signs that whatever the stress is, has consequences. This can be a particularly vulnerable time for a teen and drug and alcohol use. They feel bad, and booze or drugs makes them feel better, end of story. Your job is to help label the feelings given the behavior you are seeing. Making observations, not asking questions. " You know honey, I'm guessing that (fill in the blank here with your guess) that this divorce is really hard for you. I notice you spend more time in your room, and want to avoid hanging with me. You seem to be sleeping a lot. I really get that this is a tough time. I know sometimes when people go through tough times they might find some comfort from drinking or smoking pot, and I worry that when you are out with your friends, that this might become a way for you to cope with this all. I get that can be an easy way to feel better, but ultimately you have to deal with what is making you feel bad. You know you can always talk to me, but that might be hard for you right now, so I am going to set you up with some counseling to get you through this crisis. "

The bottom line here is you have to give voice and words to the underlying motivators that make your teen vulnerable to teen temptations. Just saying don't do it or else, is not a game changer.

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/04/well/family/the-4-traits-that-put-kids-at-risk-for-addiction.html?hp&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&clickSource=story-heading&module=mini-moth&region=top-stories-below&WT.nav=top-stories-below

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

A Bad Day Or Depression, With Teens It's Hard To Tell

I have had a number of calls recently from parents worried about their teen, trying to figure out whether their teen is just having growing pains, or is in a real depression. Teens love to dump on their parents, giving them their most angry, their most sad, their most anxious and fearful feelings. This is the good news. Think of it as colic. When the bad stuff gets expelled, then sleep and peace can come...until the next time.

Teens are feeling their feelings in ways they have never experienced them before. The intensity comes from an adolescent brain that is over activated in the area responsible for emotion, and literally from having some of these feelings for the first time. Without experience and a history that would have given them a game plan to deal with these feelings that are overwhelming, they are vulnerable to feeling like they might never go away. The first break-up, a humiliation on a soccer field, or a stage, the embarrassment of doing something or saying something impulsively stupid in front of your peers, the disappointment that someone you like doesn't like you back, the worry that they are disappointing you in some way, or any one of a million other things can feel like a catastrophe.

So your kid comes to you in a rage, in a tantrum, sobbing uncontrollably and you feel helpless. But they are coming to you. Like a sponge, you absorb every drop of emotion. You can't sleep, you can't eat, you live with a pit in your stomach that your kid is in pain. But here is the thing, now that they have dumped it all on you and you have so graciously sopped it all up, they are free to go out and enjoy life again. Rinse and repeat!

When is it time to worry? The dumping is a good sign. The emotion is a good sign. They are working it out.  It may be hard on you, but at least they have an outlet. The worry should start, if they are not talking, isolating themselves, and really seem to have lost the up and down nature of teen life. Up and down is good. Staying down is not.  If you see your teen spending increasing amounts of time alone, in their room, avoiding family and friends, you might say something like this: " I have noticed recently that you seem more down than usual. You seem to be spending a lot of alone time in your room away from us and your friends. I get life can be complicated and difficult and sometimes overwhelming, and you might like just getting away from it all. I used to do that to sometimes. But I worry that you are not giving yourself a chance to talk about it. If you don't want to talk to us, I understand, maybe it would be helpful to talk to a counselor. I don't want to bug you, but I love you, and want you to work out what seems to be bothering you. I'll check back in with you in a few days, and we can talk about a plan." You will probably get a "leave me alone!" but don't let that deter you. Keep checking in, and letting them know that you are concerned. Eventually, you may just have to make an appointment and make them get in the car.

Seeing your teen be in pain is the worst. Giving them a safe haven to express it is a gift.

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Social Media Made Me Crazy...Literally!

Read and watch and them we'll talk:
http://time.com/4096988/teen-instagram-star-essena-oneill-quitting-social-media/

It was heartening to read and watch this young woman come to terms with how destructive this social media game can become, and to take steps to turn her experience around and help younger teens avoid falling into the kinds of popularity traps that she did. Having said that, I have mixed feelings about having young teen girls especially, watch this video. My fear is that they will pay more attention to how beautiful those photos/videos are, and how many likes/attention/money/popularity/celebrity she did get for posting them. Older teens, like Essena may have the maturity to see through the addictive qualities of Essena's life, and weigh the issues of popularity VS anxiety and depression. Younger teens like her own "12 year old self" might not. So think about that before you show this to your teen. Older teens 16 and up developmentally have the ability to be more self aware and introspective and might heed Essena's message.

Regardless of whether you choose to watch this with your daughter, heed the message she shares!!!
The only way to curb the obsession with popularity is to limit the opportunity to make it one in the first place!!!! If I've said this once, I've said it a million times, your younger teens DO NOT need access to their phones 24/7. Treat the phone/ipad as you would have done with TV when they were four years old. " No you can not watch cartoons all day!!!!  Addictive behaviors develop when the brain chemical dopamine surges when you do something pleasurable, and you seek to replicate that pleasurable feeling over and over again until the brain stops producing the dopamine and lets the outside stimuli do the work. Getting that "high" takes more and more effort. Hence the need to obsessively check instagram for likes. As Essena described quite accurately, 100,000 likes wasn't enough, she needed 200,000 for that "high," or taking 100 selfies to get just that perfect shot!!

Please use parental controls either directly on your teen's phone/ipad or go to this website for information. No phone during school; a few hours after school; and an hour in the evening. Anymore than that, and you will be aiding and abetting the possible kind of addiction you see this articulate 19 year describe.http://www.bewebsmart.com/parental-controls/comprehensive-list-phones-computers-tablets/

I am booking my presentations for this school year. I'd love to come and talk at your school or company!
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, September 11, 2019

Vaping and Juuling: "My Kid Would Never" Is Not An Option

The news about vaping and Juuling is now downright terrifying. Kids are dying!!! There is no time to waste. Whether you have found Juuling evidence or not ,you're pre-teen and teen need to be educated...OFTEN! This is not a one and done conversation. The news is ripe with videos and articles with recent stories about kids diagnosed with serious lung disease following regular juuling. It seems the oil in the vape pen can leak into the lungs on inhale and then can reek havoc in the lungs. not to mention nicotine addiction. This is a blog a wrote recently, it's time for a repeat posting!

Read this article with your teen!!!! Read this article with your teen! Read this article with your teen!!!   Download and share at the dinner table.
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/11/16/health/vaping-juul-teens-addiction-nicotine.html?action=click&module=Top%20Stories&pgtype=Homepage

How is this happening? I thought your kids had dodged the bullet with the whole smoking issue that plagued my generation. We all worked so hard to teach the next generation of the ills of smoking and it worked!!!! Just like teaching a new generation to wear seatbelts and that worked!!! Now we have to work really hard again to teach our kids that vaping and juuling is bad!!!

This is a really really tough one. No smelling cigarette breath or smokey clothes. No hidden packs of cigs in their coats or backpacks. This juul thing is a tiny, harmless looking piece of hardware that looks like a zip drive which you may think holds your kids final project for chemistry!

This is going to have to be one of these conversations that you have to have regularly with your teen, ignoring the eye-rolling and sarcastic grunts and annoyance that will be directed towards you.
Did you know that kids are ordering their juuls and vape pens on Amazon and then having them  delivered to the Amazon lockers at Whole Foods away from parents prying eyes! Oh yes they are!!!

You may have to monitor how your teens are spending their money. These smoking devices don't come cheap (see article). Someone has to pay for them. Beware of giving your kids cash, get them a debit card and if it seems like they are going through a lot of cash withdrawals start asking for receipts and limit the amount of cash they can withdraw.

The conversations you have with your teen must always start with" I Love You and this julling and vaping thing is scaring the hell out of me!!! I know you don't think it's dangerous, and the fruit taste and vape is cool but honey this is massively addictive!! (see article) I get many of your friends may already be addicted, and who knows maybe you are too, please please let us help you to strategize how to be with your friends and choose not to take a hit. I get that that will be really hard. But lets' work on it together."

You must read out loud this article with your teen. The story of this young man is compelling and I think in the short term they will be interested. But this is going to be one of those conversations that happens over and over again. The bug you put in their ear about this has to be constant so that when they are in situations when juuling and vaping is present they will hear your very loud voice in their head. It's the only way!!!

If you have friends with teens, chances are they have tried juuling and vaping, please share this blog and help them help their kids!!

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

The Gift Of Independence


I found this wonderful comparison on facebook. I am older than almost everyone being a baby boomer so the "moms then"  was my absolute childhood! Probably not for most of you Gen Xers, but  you probably did not grow up with the moms now column either. I'm guessing you grew up with parents somewhere in the middle. Anyway have a good laugh!





I know the world can be a scary place. God knows we are bombarded with it these days by bombings, and opiod addiction and vaping and politics and climate change and scary stories about teens.  These are crazy making for parents. It makes us want to hold tight to our kids and keep them as safe as we can. Sometimes that holding tight for safety has mixed messages. Often parents say no to giving their teens the independence to safely navigate the world that will soon become their life when they leave home for college. But they give them access to drugs and alcohol in the house and technology that can potentially create addiction, contact with questionable people and way way too much access to cell phones, media and distractions with no supervision. But when their teen asks to take public transportation to go into "the city" parents quake in their shoes and say no.

I am always so shocked when I ask teens to describe their "world" to me. It is a world of being chauffeured by parents or UBER to friends houses, activities and parties because many teens now show little interest in getting their license. It is a world of houses and hangouts that never change from week to week. Rarely do I hear teens talk about getting on the "T" to go to "the city." I have talked to a lot of college students who go to schools on suburban campuses who never leave their campus to investigate the wealth of culture and energy that a "city" can provide, even when colleges provide shuttles to the closest public transportation. Somewhere along the way we have scared our teens.

Taking risks, safe ones mean doing something new and challenging. It means figuring out directions, destinations, and making decisions without knowing the outcome. When is the last time your teen came to you for permission to do something like that. When my daughter was a senior in high school her group of friends wanted to go on a vacation after graduation together. My daughter asked if she could go. My answer was if you have the money and the will, go for it. I remember many of the parents wanted and did take over the planning of the trip for these girls, suggesting destinations, getting them the best price, finding the best airline etc. There was even a "parent meeting" to discuss the trip. Always the rebel, I refused to go. What is the point of an adventure, or can you even call it an adventure, if mommy and daddy do all the planning.What lessons are learned?

I remember my own post-high school graduation vacation I took with my 8 best friends. The planning was actually more fun than the week we had in Hyannis. Looking for the cottage, doing comparative pricing, and deciding which cape destination had the potential for the most boys took months of planning. And when we opened the door that June day to our very own cottage rental we felt euphoric. We had planned and talked and argued for months, and now here we were.

Open the door and send them out to play! Encourage your teen to take safe risks, to venture out of their comfort zone without your help. The confidence and competence they will feel and take away is worth it....for both of you.

PS If you work for a large company or corporation perhaps you'd like to talk to your HR or work/family department and investigate whether they would like me to come and do one of my lunchtime seminars for their employees. Here are some of the seminars I offer to companies!!

Understanding Your Child’s Temperament and Personality
Strategies For The Future

Is your child:

·      The adventurer
·      The lawyer
·      The child who always says no
·      The anxious/shy child
·      A combination of all 4

 This one-hour seminar describes these personality styles and gives parents the strategies to bring out the best in their child both in the present and implications for their development from childhood through their teen years.

 Audience: Parents of all ages

Sibling Rivalry 
Learn the development impact of age differences in sibling relationships and rivalry
When to intervene and when to let nature take its course
Strategies for healthy sibling relationships
Audience: all ages

Positive Discipline
·      Use the Power of Understanding to get your children ready to listen and accept.
·      Learn when and how to use "I get it" moments. No more arguing, no more fighting!
·      Learn how to be clear and consistent and manage your own frustration.
·      Learn how to set a limit and make it stick
·      Learn to Use a variety of techniques to manage troublesome behaviors.
Audience: all ages

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


 FOR PARENTS OF TEENS

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

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 28, 2019

UBER Parenting... Is It Worth The Risk?

Read and then we'll talk!

https://www.today.com/news/uber-driver-kidnapped-15-year-old-girl-after-sweet-16-t161301

This 16 year old girl took an UBER from Long Island back to Brooklyn after a sweet sixteen party at 11:15 at night. As a parent you should never allow this. If in an emergency you can't get your teen late at night, they should NEVER be allowed to be alone in an uber. Doesn't matter whether it is a boy or a girl. They are vulnerable in different ways. I have only had lovely experiences with Lyft and Uber, but I am not a teen who is not aware of their surroundings, and with their heads down in their phone. They could be prime targets for sexual assault or theft. Or you could have a teenage girl or boy whose UBER driver is young and hot, and before you know it information is being shared and they are "best friends!" If and when they need to use an UBER/LYFT they should travel in pairs, and have you on the phone with them, so the driver is aware that you are "present."Supposedly there is an actual restriction on unaccompanied minors in an UBER/LYFT just so you don't think I am just being a nervous nelly.

  DO NOT give your teen an UBER account. I know on face value it sounds like a sensible idea. How great that your teen will have a safe mode of transportation when they or their friends are otherwise compromised. YOU ARE THEIR SAFE RIDE!!!! When your teen chooses UBER over you, you have ceded complete control for their safety. They can now freely move from party to party, continuing to drink/use drugs/vape without fear of consequence. And if they are going to houses with no supervision and on to a sleep over and no responsible parent driving them, or awake when they get there, how will anyone ever know if they are close to being passed out!

A parent called me last spring about her 15 year old daughter who had been at a sleepover, a home this parent felt completely comfortable with. This mom had a sister who lived on another coast and time zone who was up early doing an instragram catch-up with her morning coffee. Low and behold she is seeing a live instagram feed of her niece at 3:00 AM in an UBER with her sleepover buddies coming back from an all-night diner run!! Sleepover parents none the wiser!!! She called her sister later in the morning and said hey, I saw Brunhilda at 3 AM in an UBER, was she on her way home from a prom or something?

No there was no prom!! Just a bunch of 15 year old girls who at 3 AM were STARVING. Having an UBER account at their disposal, why not head out for some chow!!! This is scary on so many levels. Immature kids out at 3 AM with a strange UBER driver, out at an all night diner with who knows who, and thinking the whole thing is HYSTERICAL!!! Out goes any judgement they might have had! UBER accounts are for you, and if there is a special occasion you are unable to pick your kid up, you order the UBER from your phone and make sure all is safe. THAT IS YOUR JOB!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I have heard from a number of parents that some teens have used their UBER account as a money maker. A teen will offer to use/share their UBER account for friends to go hither and yon and collect an agreed upon sum of cash for that privilege. This means the UBER account holder is walking around with a wad of cash having double dipped their parents generosity of an UBER/LYFT account . They are smart little buggers!!!

Another tactic is that one kid has an UBER account, and transports he/she and their friends everywhere. You may love this because your teen never asks you for a ride through the unbelievable generosity of another kid's parents. Oh the calls I have received from parents who have ended up with UBER sized UBER bills.

Or another parent whose daughter didn't feel like walking the mile home from school and regularly called an uber to take her home. LAZY!!!!

I get UBERS/LYFTS are wonderful new conveniences, and in a pinch they can be a a savior. But again I emphasize that checking in with you, being picked up and delivered by you, are important ways of staying in touch with your teen. Maybe they don't talk in the car  most days, but there may be that one day, that bad day, when having mom or dad in the car opens them up for a good old fashion "car talk." They may be few and far between, but that is the point. You want to be available and there when they happen. Driving, car-pooling, the bain of most parents. But truly, the relationships I formed both with my daughter and her friends by being the driving mom(all now 36) was priceless. They are now among the wonderful group of women I call my friends, including my daughter!!  Time with your children and their friends can never never never be replaced!!!
https://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2017/10/06/where-boys-are-ubers/Nh1j0q4WnZgXCZeFltYdcP/story.html

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

A NEW SCHOOL YEAR...ALREADY!!!

I know just how the kids feel. After having the summer off from teaching, I get back in gear in a few days with my first day of classes full of new college freshman!  I feel groggy, anxious, excited, and impatient, with just a touch of dread, knowing that class prep, exam and paper grading in combination with blog writing, speaking engagements and parent coaching is all in front of me!

The most fun your teen is having now is picking out just the right outfit to make just the right new impression for this new school year. Thinking about academics....not so much. You on the other hand are obsessed with who their new teachers are, what are their expectations of the students, how many clubs/athletic teams your kids will sign up for,  and are your teens using the agenda books the schools so generously gave to your teen to stay organized? You are full of goals for your teen: honor roll, good citizen of the year, most valuable player, early to bed early to rise, etc., etc., etc. They on the other hand, are wondering who their best friend will be, will they find a fun party to go to on the weekend, worries that they won't make the team, get a part in the school play, or win election as a class officer. Homework, grades, pleasing teachers, getting to bed early enough to get up on time are not taking up much space in the old noggin.

Asking a thousand questions at the end of each school day will yield scant results, and instead your teen will probably reward you with more of the "leave me alone" responses. Your teen is overwhelmed as this new year starts. As a new middle schooler, high schooler, 10th grader or whatever "grader" there are a new things that are expected of him/her. Be more mature, grades really matter, college is getting closer, what if no one likes me, what if I can't get a boy/girl friend are just a few of the things that consume him/her. Asking a thousand questions just makes them feel more overwhelmed. Be patient, you will get the answers to those questions, just one at a time, and in a more casual way. When you bring in their laundry maybe say "hey so whats the deal with tryouts, or that English teacher, or History class? Pick one area of interest, and in a non-desperate tone, ask your question.

But here is the thing, they do need your help in setting limits on themselves as it relates to homework and sleep. They have had a summer of excess, too much sleep, unlimited friend access,  and texting/video games/instagram time. Like all addictions, any limitations will make them a little crazy, but crazy they must get, cause limitations they must have.

PS Just a reminder, I am booking now for seminars for this school year! Invite me to your school/church/temple/business to speak about raising teens!

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