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How to Effectively Communicate with Your Teen: 7 Parenting Tips

16 Feb

GirlwithUnhappyMother In my clinical work with troubled teenagers, it is often the case that there is a real communication breakdown between these adolescents and their parents. These teens often feel that their parents do not understand or respect them, do not listen to what they have to say, and cannot relate to their experiences. They may report feeling isolated and closed off from their families, rejected, hurt, angry, anxious, sad, and lonely. In general, these adolescents have built up a “protective wall” between them and their parents (and sometimes the rest of the adult world) behind which they retreat. Because of problems with trust, these teens do not easily let their walls come down or let others see their vulnerabilities and insecurities.

It is important for you, as a parent, to keep the communication doors open with your teen. There are steps you can take to help maintain open communication. Continue Reading

Does My Child Have Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)? (Revised)

09 Feb

Confused EmotiguyAs a clinical child psychologist, I often get asked by parents, “Does my child have Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)?” Usually parents will inquire about ADD or ADHD because they have received complaints from the teachers about their child’s behavior. Similarly, some of the teenagers I work with question whether they have ADHD because they have difficulties concentrating and focusing at school. And parents occasionally wonder the same thing about themselves. That is, parents sometimes see similarities between their child’s attention problems and their own, whether as adults in the workforce or in terms of difficulties they had when they were their child’s age.

It is important to note that while attention, concentration, and focus problems can be an indication of ADD or ADHD, these problems can also occur for many other reasons. Continue Reading

Steps for Taming Your Child’s Anger

26 Jan

What is Anger?

character-kicking-shows-stress-and-anger

Anger is an emotional reaction to a real or perceived threat. Anger signals to us that something is wrong. Anger is a normal feeling we may experience when our personal DANGER alarms are turned on. Anger helps to prepare the body to “fight” when the “fight, flight or freeze” response of the autonomic nervous system has been triggered. That is, anger gives us the energy we need to right wrongs or combat threats. The problem with anger is that it can get too big and out of control very quickly. This is what happens when the little spark becomes a flame and then a raging fire. And, in general, it does not feel good in your body to be mad or to have someone be mad at you.

How we learn to cope with our own anger and teach anger management to our children is a different story. Continue Reading

How You and Your Teen Can Quiet the Inner Critic

19 Jan

fireheadbysalvatorevuonoWhy is it that we are our own worst critics? Why do we say such mean things to ourselves and call ourselves names (e.g., “fat”, “ugly”, “stupid”, “not good enough”, “failure”, etc) when we would never dare to say such awful things to our closest friends or acquaintances? Unfortunately, we often allow ourselves and somehow give ourselves permission to be so self-critical. We tend to be more understanding and to have more compassion for others than we do for ourselves. Indeed, it seems a lot easier to give compliments to others than to accept and to believe the compliments we hear.

Is there a purpose to this self-criticism? Yes. The answer is motivation. The reason we can be so judgemental and critical is to motivate us to change. Continue Reading

Recommended Books for the Anxious Child

11 Jan

In an earlier post about help for the anxious child, anxious teen, and anxious parent, I discussed building your toolkit and building your child’s toolkit of strategies to help cope with anxiety. I focused on learning breathing techniques and then teaching them to your child or adolescent in order to provide you, your child, and/or your teen with the foundation and starting point for your toolkit.

In my clinical practice with young children, school-aged children, and teenagers, I often recommend to my clients and/or their parents different books that can support and reinforce the work we do together. These books about anxiety are helpful resources that can enhance learning and the therapeutic process. I thought I would share five recommendations for young children and school-aged children Continue Reading