Posts

Why You Need to Know Your Values Now, Not During

What’s the first thing you do when you open up a new game that you’ve never played before?  Read the directions!  We want to know how to win, what rules to follow and any tips and tools the creator of the game is willing to give us.  This is what life is supposed to be like but often is not.
 
Most of us go into brand new life situations without a set of directions… or core values.  We don’t identify and commit ourselves to the things we say we want and believe in most.  Whether it be parenting, dating, marriage, looking for a job, choosing a hobby, making a close friend we need to know what our must-haves are and what our deal breakers are BEFORE we go in to it.
 
Many people think of an idea, decide it’s a good idea then jump in.  While there are qualities to jumping in versus talking about something to death and never jumping in having a guide that we commit to (our list of values) is critical for any new life decision to be a pleasant experience let alone a success.

If you’re parenting you don’t just hand over the keys to your teen and say “have fun!”  No way.  You have a conversation and lay out expectations, boundaries, and safety protocols.  If you’re looking for a job you know how much money you need to earn, what hours you can work and sure it can sustain you before accepting.  When going into a relationship, or even thinking about a relationship you need a list of must-haves and deal breakers.  

The reason for identifying core values before making a decision or starting a new life chapter is to ensure your own happiness and success.  The problem though is that many people don’t want to hold themselves accountable to these values.  It’s harder this way.  It takes intention and requires time, sometimes sacrifice, forethought, and even self-discipline.  But it usually keeps us out of trouble.

The other side of this coin is not identifying core values and allowing people and circumstances to influence your decisions.  If there are no convictions there at the very beginning then there doesn’t need to be follow through.  We can do what feels good and what seems easy.

But here’s the thing… while living life according to a set of values does take discipline, intention and forethought it protects us.  For example, when we consider parenting it’s critical we consider what kind of home we will raise our kids in, what kind of example we want to be, what expectations will we have for our kids.  If we don’t consider these values we end up in a home of confusion, chaos, miscommunication and tension.  We end up thinking “how did my family get here?!”  It’s because you didn’t start out with your values to lead the way.

If we go in to life situations with our set of directions (just like playing a brand new game) we have a much better chance of figuring things out and knowing how to end on the winning side. 

I understand that this sounds simple but it’s not easy.  I am always here to help.  Don’t hesitate to reach out if you have questions!  
Give us a call at (562) 537-2947.

Written by Lisa Smith

The Deadliest Mindset of All and the Cure

It’s the worst disease a human being or an entire society can catch. It’s a disease that rips the soul out of a person yet leaves the heart still beating. It leaves people alive physically but broken mentally. It leaves weakness instead of strength. It leaves dependent individuals instead of independent ones. It results in playing a game of “pass the blame” when things don’t go as planned. It’s a disease I would not wish on anyone. It’s called “entitlement mentality.”

The online definition states, “An entitlement mentality is a state of mind in which an individual comes to believe that privileges are instead rights, and that they are to be expected as a matter of course.”

It just sucks the initiative, the self-determination and self-esteem right out of a person!  I have seen it in many of the thousands of families I have worked with.  And it just kills me!

A hardworking, self-made person pulls themselves up by the bootstraps. They work hard. They never give up. They fail many times before they succeed. They have a family. And, often driven by love, blinded by love, these parents desire to ensure that “my kids don’t go through what I had to go through.” They seek to shield their kids from the pains they had to endure. 

But what many parents fail to realize is that by depriving children of hardship, we deprive them of the very experiences and learnings that shaped the parents! If a child grows up getting everything they want, having every sharp corner in life covered by Mommy and Daddy, then suddenly this is how life really is in their belief system. A good life is no longer a privilege, but a God-given right. They shouldn’t have to work for it. Living in luxury is an expectation. And there is anger if one doesn’t get it, and get it easily.

So what is the vaccine for this deadly entitlement mindset? Adversity. Many people who suffer from entitlement simply don’t understand reality — the reality of how the world lives. That life is about largely suffering and overcoming that suffering. That life’s greatest moments are in the achievement of something that took effort. There is no lasting joy in getting everything in life handed to you.

The role of adversity in developing a person’s full potential has been well documented. Renowned blind mountain climber Erik Weihenmayer (the only blind man to summit Everest) even wrote a book on it called The Adversity Advantage.  

So, what’s my point?  Let your kids suffer!  Allow them to feel pain, disappointment and even regret.  (Don’t confuse this with inflicting suffering or pain, the world and life do enough of that.)  Remember that need is the greatest motivator of all.  If they need something, get out of the way and let them figure out how to get it.  Don’t give it to them.  Raising happy kids is not the goal!  This leads to entitlement.  Raising resilient, content, responsible kids is the goal and by default they will be happy in life because they will be happy with themselves.

I understand that this sounds simple but it’s not easy.  I am always here to help.  Don’t hesitate to reach out if you have questions!  Give us a call at (562) 537-2947.  

Written by Lisa Smith

Teach Your Child To Apologize

We have all seen parents in a standoff with their child saying, “Now Peter, I need you to say you’re sorry” and the child just silently stands there or states in an angry voice “I’m sorry”. Is this how it is supposed to be? Can’t we do better than this? How is it done?

One reason why children don’t like to apologize is because it doesn’t make things better and it is miserable. Often times the parent will hear the apology and then follow up with a lecture about what the child did wrong. They may say, “That’s good that you apologized but I want you to think about …” and “Are you really sorry? I’m not sure you are.” It goes on and on. The child may feel like it is a sermon about the them being thoughtless or selfish. Children will try to avoid this experience if possible. 

What a parent can do to improve this experience;

Let your child calm down. It is hard for a child to see the hurt they have caused when they are emotional themselves. Allow them to take a timeout and then talk about what happened after.

Help your child see the experience from the hurt parties perspective. I think this could be the key to a true apology. Can your child learn to empathize? You could say, “How do you think you would feel if that happened to you?” This would be a start. 

Ask your child, “What can you do next time that would be better? Maybe instead of hitting they could come to a parent or teacher for help or they could walk away, for example.

Accept the child’s apology. Once they do apologize then let’s move on. You can get to other teaching points at a different time. 

Be a role model.  Some parents hesitate to apologize because they feel the child will see them as weak or lacking authority but this is not the case. It shows your child that it is OK to admit that we have made a mistake. Children can see that something is not right and if the parents can acknowledge that a mistake has been made and they are going to fix it, the child will actually see the parent as being fair and honest. Someone to be trusted and respected. 

Praise them. As an adult we know that an apology is not always a pleasant experience but in order to encourage our child to do something that is unpleasant we can praise them. 

Each child is different so these points are suggestions and something for a parent to consider. You each know your child, some are very sensitive and others may be strong willed, some are young while others are older.  Yet teaching your child the importance of a sincere apology will help them to maintain healthy relationships so it is a valuable skill for them to understand. 

If you need any guidance or support, you can call us at Save My Family Today, 562-537-2947.

Written by Lisa Strong

The Secret Every Parent Needs to Know

Here’s the one thing every parent of every child needs to know.  Are you ready for it?  Your kid wants to be validated.  That’s it.  

Validating the feelings of your children helps them to feel understood. To help your child feel understood, it means you keeping your ego and desire to lecture in check. Validating your child’s feelings also means that you don’t judge him or her. Instead, you simply acknowledge his or her feelings. This takes focus and discipline as parents. As I share with my clients, the best discipline you can give your child is having the self-discipline to be patient, empathetic, and loving—especially when he or she is not acting lovable. Contrary to what many frustrated parents may think, particularly during those stressful times of conflicts, validating feelings is not condoning bad choices or giving in to defiant behavior.

“Validating” means giving your child or teen that all important, and seemingly elusive, message that “Your feelings make sense. I not only am giving you permission to feel what you feel but I am also welcoming and accepting your feelings in a non-judgmental way.” Validating your child coveys deep empathy. This will help build your child’s self-esteem and reduce his or her defiant behavior, which is often the languange choice of children who do not feel understood.

Dr. Jeffrey Bernstein lists the following three most effective ways to validate your kids.

-Communicate your intent to listen without judging or blaming or shaming and calling yourself out if you stray from this empathetic stance.

-Be sensitive to, and acknowledge how difficult and even embarrassing it is to be “different” when he/she wants to be like everyone else.

Acknowledge the problems in his/her life and that they matter. Many children and teens I counsel repeatedly share that their parents minimize or dismiss their struggles.

To do these things you must be intentional.  You must want to grow closer to your kids.  You must have a desire to build them up.  No matter what age.  Start now, be consistent and observe the change.

I understand that this sounds simple but it’s not easy.  I am always here to help.  Don’t hesitate to reach out if you have questions!  Give us a call at (562) 537-2947.  

Written by Lisa Smith

5 Things Your Kids Don’t Need Even in a Pandemic

It’s likely our kids aren’t pondering the direction of their life and what it should and should not entail during this pandemic.  To some degree, it’s our job to do it for them especially when they are young.  Instead of focusing on what more to give them, I encourage you to focus on not giving them these 5 things with the guarantee that it will change their life for the better.  And, full disclosure, I borrowed some of this from bigger blogger, Jenny Rapson.

Your kids do not need…
1. A personal servant: your job is not to raise children but to raise adults.  Most adults do not have someone following them around picking up their stuff, doing all their laundry and magically making meals appear.  Most adults, even the really busy ones, do these things for themselves.  It’s your job to teach your kids time management so they can take care of their stuff and become independent.  

2. A Participation Trophy: your kids don’t need a ribbon or a trophy for showing up. They deserve a ribbon or a trophy for preparing and working hard.  Giving our young ones awards for just being somewhere, no matter the amount of work they do or don’t put in encourages entitlement and takes away motivation to do their best.  They are thinking, after all, no matter what they will get an award, right?  What we want them to feel rewarded for is commitment, hard work and contributing to those around them.

3. An Overloaded Schedule: Iknow as adults you are busy and your days are full and at times you can barely manage it all even during a pandemic.  News flash… your kids might feel the same way and they haven’t even finished high school.  Kids need to learn how to incorporate down-time and self-care in to their schedules.  So many of them have anxiety and it’s no surprise because they are going from one event to another, almost seven days a week on top of school.  This takes away from family time and rest.  This time of shelter-in-place can be a great time to reset.  A time to revisit what your family needs as a new normal unfolds.

4. Custom-made Meals: brace yourself because for some of you this is going to be a tough one.  Your kids need to eat what you make for dinner or go hungry.  Back to the point of them not needing a personal servant.  No more making different meals for each different family member.  

5. More Real-World Knowledge Than They Are Ready For: there is a danger in sheltering our kids too much.  There is also a danger in telling them too much about our harsh world too soon.  As much as is possible, allow knowledge of the world to come in age-appropriate waves.  A healthy way to expose them to the “real world” is through community service to those less fortunate than themselves.  It’s good for them to know that there are people who need help and are suffering and that, even as kids, they can make a difference.  But they don’t need to know about the atrocities, tragedies and heartaches happening in the world because they don’t have the emotional skills to cope with that information yet.  

So, there you have it.  Your kids will have happier, healthier and less stressful lives without these 5 things.  Don’t give your kids too much, too soon.  Even with the best of intentions, it’s not good for them now or for their future.  

I understand that this sounds simple but it’s not easy.  I am always here to help.  Don’t hesitate to reach out if you have questions!  Give us a call at (562) 537-2947.  

Written by Lisa Smith

What Your Teen and Child Needs From You During Pandemic

Are you concerned about your child or teenager during this time of social distancing? I am sure you are and I want to offer some support. As a child grows there is a need to assert their autonomy, to become independent of their parents. This is a good thing and as their parent it is your job to help them transition into an independent functioning adult. But now, during this time of Covid-19 your family may be challenged by extreme inter-dependence. Families have been thrown together 24/7 and it may not be going well for you. Children no longer can get away, they don’t go to school, they can’t visit friends, they can’t play sports or other extra curricular activities. Instead they are stuck at home with parents who may be stressed, fearful, and challenged in their own ways. Parents face new work demands, financial stresses and a complete change of routine. 

How can families manage this challenge and continue to be sensitive to a child’s need for a growing independence? How do we care for young people whose wings have been clipped? I have a few suggestions to consider.

Nurture the relationship. 

As the parent it is easy to focus on your role as the one who sets the rules and keeps things running but don’t forget that parenting is not only about the managing aspect but it is about a relationship and you don’t want to loose sight of this. I suggest making time for one-on-one interaction with each of your children. It makes your child feel secure and important. Listen to them, offer empathy, your child has a right to be sad, angry and frustrated about their losses. Make space for the disappointments. Kids are giving up a lot. School is not only about lessons and learning, it is about social interaction, fun and activities. Kids may feel like what is left is the vegetables with none of the dessert.but there also may feel some relief or even joy because they can avoid some challenges that  they were facing at school. A hard group project, peer pressure, or awkward and embarrassing social interactions. Don’t shame them for feeling this relief. Recognize that for them there may be an upside of the disruption as well. Whatever it is that they are feeling, you want to give them time and let them know you care and you’re listening. 

Recognize comparison. 

You may be requiring social distancing while other parents are still allowing their kids to hang out as usual. Talk to your child about this discrepancy, you could say, “I know that other parents are still having kids over, but we can’t support that choice, we want to support what the experts are recommending.” Tell them that when they have to turn down an invite that they are fee to blame you, the parents. When your teenager can’t see their friends in person, it seems only fair to loosen the rules on how much time they spend connecting online. But all bets aren’t off. There still needs to be clear guidelines so that other concerns are considered like school assignments, physical activity, sleep, and face-to-face interactions.

Treat Teenagers as Problem-Solving Partners

Don’t hesitate to recruit teenagers’ help. Instead of presenting them with a suggested daily program, Talk to them about what you see as important and then ask for their input as well. Once you each share your concerns then negotiate with your teen and show them that you are considering their needs as well. When doing this remember to be realistic and keep it positive. Being realistic involves looking at your child as an individual and knowing what they are capable of. If they are not a reader then it would be unrealistic for them to read a book quietly in their room for an hour each day. Think about who they are.

Allow Privacy and Time Alone

Teenagers are going to need some privacy and alone time. Don’t take it personally if your teenager wants to close themselves off in their room for some time. While you are free to request or require your teenager’s presence, think about approaching your teenager with an extra measure of consideration when making requests. For example, saying, “We’re going to need you to supervise your sister for a couple of hours, but we know that you have plans too. How should we do this?” might be a good place to start.

It is a lot to handle right now and these are challenges that none of us could have predicted. Let us know at Save My Family Today if we can help.

Written by Lisa Strong

Kids to College: Survival Guide for Parents

Parenthood has two big transitions, when your children arrive and when they leave.  Both can be terrifying.  And after saying goodbye to your college student on move-in day, one of the hardest things to come to grips with at home is the sudden lack of information. You’re excluded from your student’s experience in a new way, and no one can invite you in except your student — and that’s only if they want to. That doesn’t mean you disappear from their lives.  But it does mean you play a different role.  You’re going from manager to consultant and supporter.

Here are some things parents and other professionals suggest to make the transition better and healthier for everyone.  The following tips have been collected from several articles and books that are proven to be effective and trustworthy.  Give these ideas a try.  

Give them space. College students need a grace period to meet people, get involved in campus life and focus on their new environment without constant reminders of home. No matter how eager they are for college, it’s not easy to get used to new surroundings and sleeping in a new bed. This is hard for some, extremely hard for others and super easy for a few.  Give them the space to figure it out. That doesn’t mean you don’t have conversations, but follow their lead. One of your kids may text constantly, while the other might not touch base for weeks on end.  

Be prepared to listen then let go. Often kids call or text when they’re feeling low, and trust me, you’ll hear about the roommate drama, the rotten exam or the malfunctioning laundry machines. But once kids have unloaded, they move on, leaving you to worry into the night about a problem that likely doesn’t exist for them the next day. Or if it does, it’s their issue to solve. Try not to let their download ruin your day. It’s probably not ruining theirs.

Offer guidance, not a quick fix. If your child is struggling with a normal issue, such as not finding people they like, hear them out (see above), because a sympathetic ear is helpful. But don’t leap to offer a fix, such as contacting a resident adviser on their behalf. We want our kids to become competent and independent, and they need to develop problem-solving skills. They also won’t learn to get comfortable with discomfort and build resilience if we handle things for them.

Point them to resources. When your student complains about homework or a dorm challenge, ask them about resources on campus, and nudge them to pursue those avenues. You should no longer be their one stop shop when it comes to solutions.  They need to seek out other avenues.  Colleges have staff ready to help students. Resist the urge to micromanage. If students don’t know where to start, suggest they check with their resident adviser. Resources include the tutoring center, academic advising, career services center, student health clinic, financial aid office, multicultural center, first-generation center and more. Engaging with other students and professional staff is the best way to adjust. Keep pointing them back to campus.

Ordering groceries for them? Stop. You’re paying for a meal plan, after all. And no, your student doesn’t need a laundry service. Campuses provide washing machines. Students need to develop life skills, and now’s the time to start. Their roommates and future partner will appreciate your not making life too easy for them. Hold back on all the extras.

Know when to get involved. You know your child best, and no one is paying attention like you are. If you suspect a mental-health condition is sending your student into a tailspin, or if they’re experiencing a recurring illness or unfamiliar allergy that doesn’t sound normal, it’s okay to ask questions and follow up. When a health or safety issue isn’t being addressed in a timely way, a phone call from a parent can make a difference.

I understand that this sounds simple but it’s not easy.  I am always here to help.  Don’t hesitate to reach out if you have questions!  Give us a call at (562) 537-2947.  

Written by Lisa Smith

6 Ways to Raise Awesome Teenagers

Really, the first thing that I will tell you is to disbelieve the myth that teenagers are sullen, angry creatures who slam doors and hate their parentsSome do that (that’s when parents call me), but the overwhelming majority do not.  I’ve worked with thousands of teens so I can testify to this.  Expect more from your teen than a lousy attitude and lazy work ethic.  Teens are awesome so expect awesomeness!  Here’s how, according to Christie Halverson but with my commentary.

1. Love Them Fiercely

Yes… fiercely.  As in everything about them as much as you can imagine loving another.  Love their whit, their quirks, their messy hair, their scattered minds, their funky style, their type A, B or C personality.  Love it all because they are growing in to glorious humans and you get to be a witness to that and you get to profoundly influence what they are growing in to.  But just loving them isn’t enough.  Love them so much that they are overwhelmed by it, inspired by it and  propelled by it.  Love them so much that they can’t help but experience it and be comforted by it.  Demonstrate this love regardless of their performance.  Love them fiercely just because they are yours.

2. Listen Extravagantly
 
When they walk in the door after school, you have a precious few minutes when they will divulge the secrets of their day with you.  Be excited to see them. And if that is hard or impossible because of bad behavior then call me and we can work that out.

Put down the cell phone. Don’t waste this time making dinner or taking a phone call or working on the computer. Look them in the eye and hear what they are saying. Be empathetic. It is really hard to navigate high school and middle school. Don’t offer advice at this time unless they ask for it. Don’t lecture. Just listen. It makes them feel important and valued. We all need to feel that way.

3. Say Yes More Than You Say No

The world is forever going to tell them no. For the rest of their lives, they will be swimming in a stormy sea with wave after wave of “you’re not good enough” and “you can’t do this” crashing down on their heads. As adults, we experience this often.  It’s draining, discouraging and defeating.  Don’t be that voice in their life.  Of course, there are things they can not do.  But do you need to be the one to point that out?  Or can they learn that on their own with you still being their cheerleader?  If nothing else, instill in them the belief that they are not limited and they can do anything if they’re willing to work hard enough for it.  Be the YES, YOU CAN in their lives. Help them leave the house every day feeling invincible.

4. Say No Often

I know.  I’m killing you with “say yes” then “say no”.  There’s a reason so stick with me.  This is more about saying no to experiences that will be harmful to them or expose them to too much, too early in their life.  

You need to say no to experiences and situations that will set your child up for harm or unhappiness. Don’t let them go to the parties where they will be forced to make a choice about alcohol at age 16 in front of their peers . Don’t let them stay out until three in the morning with a member of the opposite sex… or anyone for that matter.  Teenagers need to be home and asleep in the middle of the night.  Be the parent. Set up rules for their safety, both physical and moral. You would think this rule goes without saying, but trust me, I’ve known a shockingly large number of parents who don’t. 

5.  Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff

When living with teenagers, it can be so easy to see the backpack dropped in the middle of the living room or the socks on the sofa as laziness. Or the bedroom scattered with dirty clothes as irresponsible. And sometimes it is.  But sometimes it’s not.  Instead, and before you open your mouth to yell at them, put yourself in their shoes. Find out about their day first. Maybe they are feeling beaten down, and they just need to unwind for a minute and tell you about it. Ignore the mess for a bit and put your arms around that big, sweaty kid and give him a hug. Talk to him about his world. Find out what he did, wants to do, and dreams of doing. THEN, and only then, ask him to pick it up and put it away.

That being said, do you completely ignore the state of their bedrooms all the time? No, you do not. But pick your battles, and and pick the appropriate time to fight them. Once every seven to 10 days or so, tell them their bedrooms need to be picked up. Which they will do more happily because it’s not the running loop of a nagging mom. They know when you  ask, it needs to be done.

6. Stand Back and Watch the Magic Happen

If you let them, these glorious creatures will open their hearts and love you more fiercely than you could possibly imagine. They are brilliant, capable, strong spirits who bring with them a flurry of happiness. They are hilarious and clever. They are thoughtful and sensitive. They want us to adore them. They need us to adore them. They love deeply and are keenly in touch with the feelings of others.  I know, I know… it doesn’t always feel that way.  But it’s almost always that way.  If you go at it from that perspective you will find yourself responding differently to them, embracing them instead of trying to remake them.  Imagine the power in that and the impact it will have on them as a human and on your relationship!  

I understand that this sounds simple but it’s not easy.  I am always here to help.  Don’t hesitate to reach out if you have questions!  Give us a call at (562) 537-2947.  

Written by Lisa Smith

When Your Teen Isn’t Ready to Go Back to School

I hear the sighs of relief and the shouts of joy from parents as the first day of school draws near.  I also hear the groans and the tears from the teens who are experiencing the back to school blues.  

This time of year brings a mixture of frustration and excitement for teens. They love getting new school clothes, seeing their friends again and driving themselves to school, for those who have a license. But they don’t relish the returning structure of earlier bed times, homework and the possibility of getting Mr. or Mrs. Meanest-Teacher-Ever for a teacher.

Even though our teens have been through the going-back-to-school scene for years, they still need our help to make that transition as smooth as possible.  Consider these practical things you can do as a parent.

Express expectations clearly. Now is the time to establish expectations and goals for the coming school year.

  • Do they need reminders about who can be in the car with them when they’re driving?
  • Are you revisiting curfews?
  • Are you creating space for homework? It’s a great idea to set up a special area for kids to do their homework — not in their room where they are isolated and have too many distractions. Talk through the what, when, where and why. That will cut any arguments during the school year over getting his work completed.

Have those conversations before school starts so your teens understand your expectations.

Go over their schedule with them. Several weeks before school starts, your teens will probably receive their class schedule. This is a good time to talk with them about their classes and teachers, along with any potential problems or concerns. Then together, strategize ways they can respond to those issues in a healthy way.

Help them get organized. Sometimes the stress of the new and unknown can overwhelm teens. By guiding them to take baby steps, you can help relieve some of that stress. I know one family who together pulled out all the notebooks and binders and put them in order of class schedule, marking each subject and period number. So simple, but it dramatically reduced their teen’s stress. Help your teens think through how they’d like to organize their locker, supplies and clothes. By brainstorming with them (not for them), you can bring a sense of excitement to an otherwise mundane task.

Once you and your teens have eliminated possible stress points, you can focus on making sure stress stays at bay by balancing school, social and personal time.

Encourage sleep. Teens need sleep — and a lot of it. But with smartphones, Netflix and extracurricular activities, sleep often gets pushed aside. And when teens are sleep deprived, they’re cranky and don’t handle stress well. All the adults can relate to this!  Since a regular bedtime is healthy and necessary for academic success, start at least a week before school by making sure your teens get to bed at a decent hour. (Studies suggest they need at least nine hours of sleep a night.) That also means they disconnect from technology. Have them leave their mobile devices and laptops outside their bedroom at night. I know parents who have a technology “box” where everything gets stored by 9 p.m. Why let your teens get distracted through the night with texts and other temptations to stay awake?  And trust me when I say they DO get distracted throughout the night by technology even if they swear otherwise.

Limit extracurricular activities. No, your teens don’t have to be involved in everything. This could be a whole other blog but don’t get me started on that.  Let them pick an activity a semester. If the activities are adding to their stress load, however, you don’t have to feel guilty about saying no.  This is a life lesson about balance. One that, as parents, we need to be modeling.  

Milton Berle was probably thinking about teenagers when he said, “The human brain is special. It starts working as soon as you get up, and it doesn’t stop until you get to school.” Of course he was kidding (or was he), but parents can do a lot for their teens by teaching them that with school, along with so many things in life, it’s the pain of discipline or the pain of regret. Starting on the right track with good back-to-school decisions can help teens, and parents, adjust to a new school year.

I understand that this sounds simple but it’s not easy.  I am always here to help.  Don’t hesitate to reach out if you have questions!  Give us a call at (562) 537-2947.  

Written by Lisa Smith

Can Your Child Learn From Observing If Their Eyes Are Always On a Screen?

Screen time is no substitution for observational learning. As our society is changing the overuse of electronics is a concern in regards to children’s learning at each age of development. Children learn so much about their world through observation and copying behaviors they see and the use of electronics is limiting their observations because their eyes are on a screen instead of watching the world around them. 

Consider young children, as new parents we see that when our children are very young they are watching us and learning from our behavior. We call this observational learning or modeling. Children will pick up a behavior and reproduce it and we as parents can often see ourselves in their behavior. Hopefully they are picking up on the good behaviors and we are trying to be good role models for them. We will hear them saying words that we say or reproducing mannerisms of ours. 

This is exciting to see how quickly they learn and how observant they are. But my concern is that very young children are watching us with our phones, they see how the phone is coming into the relationship. Some parents are constantly taking pictures of their child which distracts from the moment. So in this instance with very young children the phone is interrupting the interaction between parent and child.

As the child gets older the ability to learn through observation continues to be blocked by the phone or other electronic device. When my own children were young, before cell phones, I took them to a restaurant as an opportunity to teach them how to behave in that setting. Now parents go to restaurants and everyone at the table has their own device and no one is interacting. The observational learning is no longer happening. The child is missing the opportunity to engage in face-to face interactions with adults and peers. This is how social skills are learned and when they miss this lesson it can result in social anxiety as they get older and lower quality relationships overall. They need to learn how to read non-verbal cues, communicate effectively with others and develop relationships with others.

Then comes the teen years and this is when they become consumed with their own phone and miss so many opportunities to learn and experience the world around them. Continued use of the electronics results in a need for continued stimulation and an inability to delay gratification. According to Dr. Nicole Beurkens;

     “Because of the continual stimulation they tend to get bored more easily when life is not fast paced enough. This leads to a lower frustration tolerance and  the tendency to give up on tasks and situations without persevering or problem solving before moving on to the next thing.”

We need to remember what is important in parenting and what is the goal? I believe that  teaching our children to function in the world so they can hold a job, have relationships and handle the challenges that face them as they grow older is a goal. So it is our job to give them an understanding of how to interact with others, how to handle frustration, how to delay gratification and problem solve on their own. They need to be interacting with their world in order to learn these skills. Make sure you are creating an environment that allows this to happen and they will have the tools they need when it is time to leave home.

Written by Lisa Strong