Parenting My Teen

The Parenting My Teen Podcast is a show all about you and your teens.
Subscribe

Archive for 2012

Parenting Teenagers – Getting Them to Talk

By: Aurelia Category: Parenting A Teen

A sullen, non-communicative teenager. A frustrated parent.

Is that the way it is in your home living with your teenager?

Parenting teenagers is a demanding job, no doubt about it. Teens have the natural ability to challenge us on every level. Whereas once they simply accepted our authority as parents, no more.

Many parents fight against this normal developmental phase. As a result, their homes become tense battlegrounds as they stand ready to defend their positions at a moment’s notice. Usually, in this environment, a teen starts out yelling and ends up silent.

Because he or she has found somewhere else where their voice can be heard. And appreciated.

While some teen frustrations are firmly rooted in parenting issues from the child’s younger years, if you have an otherwise well-adjusted teenager who simply has stopped talking to you, there are practical things you can do that will help.

I am currently parenting my third teenager and these communication tips are what we use in our home everyday to keep talking alive and well.

 

Listening comes first:

Trite but true, your teenager will tune you out if you never *really* listen to what she has to say.

You want to get your teen’s attention? Then learn to listen with your whole being. Use your body language and lean closer when he’s talking. Make eye contact. Repeat back what you hear so you’re sure you understand every ounce of what your teenager is telling you. Ask clarifying questions. Empathize. Give him your undivided attention (no cell phones, newspapers, no half-hearted ‘uh-huh’s’).

In other words, listen to your teen the way you wish you were listened to.

If you do this one step regularly, your teen will seek you out, yearning to talk to you.

Imagine that.

 

Respect is king:

It’s easy to be condescending when parenting teenagers. As parents, we know more than they do, right? We’ve been around the block numerous more times than they have. Heck, compared to them, we are wise!

However, here’s the real deal. If teens don’t feel respected by us, they don’t accept our influence.

And all that wisdom goes down the drain.

That fact is not limited to teenagers, by the way. That’s the way we’re all wired as human beings. And it helps a lot to remember your teen is perilously close to being an adult and feeling the way adults do. Your teenager is not all grown up yet, but close enough to give you clues as to what they need.

Like respect. Earn their respect and they will trust you with their lives.

 

Teamwork means everything.

Teenagers often feel like they’re carrying the weight of the world on their shoulders. It’s easy for us who are parenting teenagers to look at their day-to-day lives and say, “that’s nothing! Wait until you have MY responsibilities!” But what we as parents forget, is that our teen is new at these types of responsibilities. So problems that we can see obvious solutions to, our teens find overwhelming. Challenges that would slide off our backs, they get lost in.

As a person, it’s humiliating to admit you’re overwhelmed and lost. So you don’t. And neither does your teen.

Teamwork changes that. For example, a parent who’s noticing their teen is struggling with academics has two choices. Yelling (ever noticed how often yelling works?). Or leading the way providing training on how to make a positive change.

A parent could say something like “I see you’re finding your current schoolwork challenging. That’s good because it means you have the chance to learn something new here. I have some methods that have worked for me when dealing with challenging work and I’d be glad to show them to you. When’s a good time for you?”

For some teens, that conversation is all they need in order to acknowledge they need help. Others will take more coaxing. Still, the point is valid. Don’t just tell them what to do…work with them, empathize with their frustration, show them how to set a goal, overcome obstacles and come out the other side. Then celebrate with them. They’ve earned it! And you’ve earned their respect.

 

Show them you understand…them

While parenting teenagers, we often lecture as opposed to discuss. That’s only natural for us as parents. Usually we can see their glaring error in judgment and we realize it’s our duty to correct them.

Right idea. Wrong method.

Humility works big time with teenagers. Have you ever made a mistake that your teen seems to also be making? Probably more frequently then you would like to admit. Well, admit it. When you explain the boundaries you are placing on their behavior, let your past example (mistake) be the “here’s what I’ve learned from this problem myself” part of the conversation.

Believe me, you’ll have their attention when you admit to not having it all together. ‘Cuz guess what. Everyday your teen ACTS like he has it all together to cover up the fact that he KNOWS he doesn’t have it all together. And he’s worried and scared.

Your admission you’ve been where he is and you found a way out will be welcome news. That you cared enough about him to share your vulnerabilities won’t be lost on him, either.

Obviously, this parenting tip only applies to age and situation-appropriate confessions. But do you get the point here? Your teen is longing for someone who knows her and is willing to be on her side. Ideally that needs to be you.

Parenting teenagers effectively means building relationships with them, listening when it’s convenient for them (not you), working with them to help them overcome challenges, earning their respect so it’s YOU they think of when they need to talk.

This will take patience, an open heart, thick skin and daily time. Things that all prove to your teenager that you think they’re worth it.

And they are.

Colleen Langenfeld has been parenting for over 26 years and helps other moms enjoy mothering more at http://www.paintedgold.com. Visit her website and learn more about parenting teenagers today.

 

5 Common Parenting Mistakes

By: Aurelia Category: Parenting A Teen

Let’s face it – children don’t come with instruction booklets. What they do come with is years of experience from those who have done it before. Utilizing the advice and assistance of experienced professionals and other parents can help you avoid the most common parenting mistakes.

No one wants to admit that they are a “bad parent.” Technically, we are all just feeling our way through. It can only be chalked up to being a not-so-good parent if we fail to use the resources available to us in order to keep our children on the right track.

Common Parenting Mistakes

Below are five of the most common parenting mistakes that we all make. But, don’t worry. We’ll also talk about what can be done to fix them.

#1 – “Do as I say but not as I do”

This one gets a lot of parents in trouble. You tell your arguing child not to smoke or that cursing is wrong, but then they catch you at it. For a young child, conflicting behaviors can be confusing. For a teenager, it just gives them more ammunition to throw at you during an argument.

The solution: Correct your behavior. Instead of defending your right to be contrary, follow the example you want to set for your children. Apologize for cursing and take steps to quit smoking. Now, children learn that adults make mistakes too, but they also work to correct them.

#2 – Comparing one child to another

Children have enough pressure to “find” themselves without their parents adding fuel to the fire. Pointing out one child’s good points or lack of them in comparison to a sibling increases sibling rivalry. It can drive a wedge between them and cause problems all around in the family.

The solution: Kids need their parents to always be in their corner. Instead of comparing, point out what makes each child unique. Give praise to a child for who they are in their own right.

#3 – Doing nothing

When a problem arises, resist the urge to bury your head in the sand. Ignoring an attitude problem or the fact that your child is still bed wetting at seven years of age could mask a serious issue that needs to be resolved.

The solution: Be proactive. Get to the bottom of the issue before it gets any worse. Talk to your child and set ground rules. Visit your pediatrician for a thorough check-up to make sure your child is fine.

#4 – Bribes

Every parent gives their child a piece of candy or lets them stay up late once in a while. The problem comes when you use bribes constantly to get them to follow the rules. Children will learn quickly that they can manipulate parents.

The solution: Give privileges as a reward for good behavior instead of as a way to gain compliancy.

#5 – Great expectations

Each child is different. Just because the textbooks say that they should be forming words at 10 months doesn’t mean that your child is abnormal if they are behind that curve. Frustration leads to pushing your child too hard which can also lead to behavior and self-esteem issues.

The solution: Have a doctor evaluate your child. If there is nothing physically or mentally wrong, exercise patience and allow them to develop at their own pace.

Parents aren’t expected to be perfect but we can learn from our mistakes.

October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month

By: Aurelia Category: Teen Education, Teen Must Read Articles

(ARA) – Most kids associate October with the scares related to the traditional Halloween standbys – ghosts, witches and zombies. But, the month also marks National Cyber Security Awareness month, calling attention to frightening things like online identity theft, cyber bullying, viruses and damaging malware.

If your teen is among the 93 percent of 12- to 17-year-olds using your family’s laptop, smartphone or tablet to surf the Internet, they are vulnerable to multiple cyber threats, many of which could be detrimental.

Moreover, teens do not realize the abundance of threats awaiting them, nor do they recognize a tweet or photo upload can impact not only their reputation and future, but their safety, as well. Microsoft’s research shows that 55 percent of teens say they give little or no thought to the consequences of posting something online.

And, according to a recent survey, 1 in 4 parents are overwhelmed by technology and just hope for the best.

“As hackers continue plotting attacks, the increase in vulnerability among teens is likely, but parents may not realize they are actually the first line of defense in keeping their families safe online,” says Linda McCarthy, cyber security expert, former senior director of Internet safety at Symantec and author of Own Your Space: Keep Yourself and Your Stuff Safe Online.

The increase in prospective cyber threats provides opportunities in the career field of cyber security. If your teen enjoys spending time online, it’s never too early to begin discussing the education required to enter this field.

Cyber security related fields are projected to grow more than 28 percent by 2020, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. DeVry University, which has partnered with McCarthy to provide complimentary copies of the Own Your Space eBook to parents, teachers and teens, recognizes the growing need for professionals with the skills required to protect individuals and organizations from cyberattacks. By also partnering with technology leaders like Cisco and Microsoft, its students are provided with a mix of relevant theoretical and hands-on education.

For concerned parents and teachers, McCarthy offers the following advice to help protect teens online:

1. Protect equipment. Install and update antivirus software, spyware protection and firewalls.

2. Realize social networking sites are here to stay. Review your teen’s Facebook and Twitter profiles. Make sure they do not display personal information such as full names, addresses or school names.

3. Boost password strength. Utilize a mixture of letters, numbers and characters. And most importantly, never share passwords with anyone.

Cyber security is a moving target, and as threats develop daily, it’s imperative for parents and teachers to educate teens about these dangers. “The goal is to inform and educate teens, not scare them about the dangers of sharing information online,” says McCarthy. “By protecting your family’s devices and empowering teens with the information needed to recognize impending threats, cyber sabotage is avoidable.”

To download a complimentary copy of Linda McCarthy’s eBook, Own Your Space: Keep Yourself and Your Stuff Safe Online, visit DeVry.edu/OwnYourSpace.

Read more about National Cyber Security Awareness Month Here

When To Seek Help For Out Of Control Teens

By: Aurelia Category: Parenting A Teen, Teen Emotional Health

It may be hard to tell when  parents should seek professional help for an out-of-control teen but one thing is for sure, parenting teenagers can be challenging.  A lot of adults and parents become incredibly strict when they begin to catch a drift of defiance in teens. Many parents and guardians are totally baffled with how to handle an out of control teenager and when to seek help for out of control teens.

(ARA)  Adolescence can be a tough time for children and their parents. While it is a natural part of childhood development to test boundaries and explore autonomy, how can a parent tell when to call in a professional for help with an out-of-control child?

It can be difficult to tell what is normal development and what is beyond the pale, especially between 12 and 16 years of age. There is an established rise in difficulty in the parent-child relationship in the late middle school and early high school years, says Devin Byrd, Ph.D., dean of the College of Health Professions at South University.

“Around this age, children are developing abstract thought and autonomy,” says Byrd, who holds a Ph.D. in clinical psychology and is an expert in child and adolescent psychology and development. “Children and teens are finding that their friends have opinions they may want to agree with, which can lead to a loss of authority for parents.”

While some level of boundary-testing is natural, Byrd says that there are signs that parents can look for to tell if their child needs help.

“Some children exhibit externalizing behavior: acting out in school, fighting, stealing and being less tolerant of others’ behavior. Some will internalize things. They will become anxious or depressed, withdraw from friends and family, and be less interested in activities and schoolwork,” he says.

Other signs could be bad grades, a change in peer groups, and a tendency toward daring, high-risk activities. Sometimes these changes can be tied to a life-changing event, such as divorce or the death of a loved one. But the changes may also occur so gradually that a parent may not be able to recognize how bad things have become.

Byrd suggests talking to your child’s teachers and even your friends and family members to gauge whether a child has gone too far. Overall, don’t be afraid to ask for help. It is better to get help too early than too late.

Once you have decided to seek professional help, you may be able to find a referral for a therapist from your child’s doctor, or from school or church officials. Another option may be to go through your health insurance provider or workplace employee assistance program.

When you have chosen a therapist, Byrd offers a few suggestions for your first visit:

* Talk to your child about why you want to seek help, and be open about the process. Don’t think you can trick your child into therapy.

* Take any notes you have made about your child’s behavior, along with any drawings, poems or stories that the child has created.

* Go in with your child for the first visit. It will show your child that you are committed to the process. After that, the therapist may or may not invite you back for future sessions.

* Be ready to talk in an open, honest manner – and be prepared to make changes alongside your child. Byrd says to remember that “you are not dropping your child off to be ‘fixed.’ You may well be part of the problem.”

Depending on the issues involved and the style of the therapist, the length of time your child may spend in therapy will vary. But in general, be prepared for a commitment of two to three months or longer.

Therapy can and does help adolescents through what can be a very difficult period in their lives, and you can demonstrate a healthy pattern for living by addressing issues with the help of professionals.

“As with any therapy, having a professional take an outside view at the situation can be quite beneficial,” says Byrd. “It is much easier for someone else to see what is going on with us than it is for us to see what is going on with ourselves.”

For more tips on dealing with and  for learning when to get help for out of control, visit My Out Of Control Teen: A online parent-program for those who are struggling with their out-of-control teenagers. learn cut-to-the-chase parenting strategies that work immediately rather than months or years down the road.

College Funding Advice

By: Aurelia Category: Teen Education

(ARA) – Back-to-school shopping season means big sales for retailers selling pencils, backpacks, clothes and tech gadgets. Young parents know that as children get older, their back-to-school list grows with them. Eventually for many, that list will grow to include dorm necessities, textbooks and yes, college tuition.

Parents, if blunt scissors and crayons are still on your child’s school supply list, now could be the right time to start planning your college funding strategy. Patrick Egan, national retirement spokesperson for Thrivent Financial for Lutherans offers this list of “school supplies” to help you and your student, prepare for college.

529 plan

529 plans are a tax-deferred way for anyone to invest in a child’s education. These accounts are controlled by your state or by a manager your state has appointed. Anyone can establish a 529 savings plan naming anyone as a beneficiary. Investments may be used at any approved private or public school. Earnings in this account are tax-deferred until withdrawn, and distributions to pay for qualified higher education expenses are exempt from federal and sometimes state income taxes. Check with a financial professional in your area to find out how a 529 plan in your state could be helpful to your college funding strategy.

Custodial account

This type of savings account allows you to build savings for any child. This means grandparents, relatives and friends could also set this up. While the child’s name is on the account, the adult custodian is responsible for overseeing it until the child turns the age of majority, usually 18 or 21. Once the child assumes control of the custodial account it can be used for any reason, meaning that if your savings exceeds the amount needed for tuition, your child could use it for living expenses or save it for something else.

Coverdell accounts

The savings accrued in a Coverdell account can be used for approved expenses before your child goes to college, on K-12 expenses for students in private or public schools, as well as eligible post-secondary education expenses. A child can receive up to $2,000 in annual contributions to a Coverdell account until age 18.

Other types of accounts:

Trusts

Contact an attorney to see if a trust could be right for you. Trusts can be used for education and other purposes and contributions to a trust have no minimum or maximum amount so saving can be done in many different ways.

IRAs

While traditionally used for retirement savings, traditional and Roth IRAs allow you to withdraw funds penalty-free if used for qualified education expenses. Your contributions may be tax-deductible and grow tax-deferred until withdrawal. Contact a financial representative about using IRAs for college funding, as this could affect your retirement strategy and financial aid eligibility.

Permanent life insurance

If something should happen to you, a permanent life insurance contract can help ensure that goals like education can be met, even if the unthinkable happens. In addition, permanent life insurance contracts accumulate cash value that can be used during your lifetime and also provide additional flexibility for other funding avenues as well. Visit Thrivent.com for more information on types of life insurance to help you pay for college.

With so many options for college funding to choose from, selecting the best set of tools for your child can be difficult. A financial representative can help you decide which options are best for you to meet your family’s needs. Visit Thrivent.com to contact a financial representative, learn more about college funding options and even estimate your needs with a College Savings Calculator. College funding strategies, like back-to-school shopping, are all about preparation.

Hop on the bus to financial preparation by starting or building your college funding strategy today.