Saturday, April 14, 2012

stress balloons demo

This is a video of teens making stress balloons in an effort to reduce the stress teen may feel during their adolescent years.  Making stress balloons is a fun activity to do with the  teens in your life and a great way to spend some extra time with them.  Stress balloons are easy to make, just follow the simple instruction on the video.  Enjoy!

Book Review - Get Out of My Life

     In the book Get Out of My Life, but first could you drive me and Cheryl to the mall, Anthony E. Wolf discusses some of the challenges that teenagers go through and how to handle them.  Wolf originally wrote the book in 1991, but then revised it in 2002 since much has changed in the way teenagers are now raised. Wolf has his Ph.D. and works with children and adolescents. He is a practicing clinical psychologist and does many lectures on parenting topics. Wolf has also experience raising teenagers of his own. Unlike some parenting books, it does not list a set of rules for raising teenagers. Instead, Wolf provides concrete suggestions on how to deal with a wide range of teenage issues.  Wolf describes issues that teens go through such as why they do what they do,  friends,  dealing with daily life, communication, controlling a teenager, conflicts, divorce, school, sex, drugs, suicide, and the electronic world. In each section it gives examples of conversations and situations that may come up between a teenager and their parent. The book also discusses the different ways in which girls and boys act.

     I think this is a great book for parents who are getting ready to raise a teenager or who is raising a teen.  Because there are so many situations played out, it helps parents to relate their situations with their teens so they can get ideas on how to react and what to do.  The situations that Wolf discusses are definitely ones that happen between many teenagers and their parents. There were several times that I would laugh because I would remember how I was as a teenager and some of the things that I would say to my parents. In one section that discussed how teenagers take parents for granted the mom said, “What am I, a robot parent” and the daughter simply replied, “You’re my parent.” There were many times that I felt like my mom should do everything that I wanted her to just because she was my mom and that was her job.
     This book is very well written and has a nice flow to it. The book begins describing how the teenager has changed in the past couple of decades. It then goes into the various sections giving scenarios, how to handle them, and what a teenager is thinking.  Overall this is a great book to read. Teenagers have changed over years between the situations that now come up, such as the digital world, and how teens have become entitled.  This is a great book for parents to relate to their teen and know how to handle the various situations they are given.


Monday, April 9, 2012

Help Teens Develop a Positive Identity

Reader Question:  "What do you suggest parents do to help their teens develop a sense of identity? I know this is an important part of their development and there are probably some things parents should NOT do as well. Can you tell me what the research says?"

One of my favorite books to reference, for so many parenting subjects, is John Gottman's book "Raising an Emotionally Intelligent Child."  In it he states:

     "The teen years are a period marked by great concern with questions of identity:  Who am I?   What am I becoming?  Who should I be?  Don't be surprised, therefore, if your child seems to become totally self-absorbed at some point in adolescence.  His interest in family matters will wane as his relationships with friends take center stage.  After all, it is through his friendships that he will discover who he is outside the familiar confines of home.  And yet, even within his peer relationships, a teenager's focus is usually on himself (Gottman, 1997)."

How many of us parents get totally frustrated with our self-absorbed child?  I love that this reminds us that this is part of their development and finding of self and that we as parents need to realize this and help to guide them through the process.  "Teens are on a journey of self-discovery and they are constantly steering, first in one direction and then another, trying to find a way that's true.  They experiment with new identities, new realities, new aspects of self.  Such exploration among teenagers is healthy (Gottman, 1997)."

Parents roles need to change from being a "manager" to their teenage child to the act of being a consultant.  The following are John Gottman's suggested ways we can do this:

1.  Accept that adolescence is a time for children to separate from their

Because the teen years are a time of individuation, know that your teen may choose styles of dress, haircuts, music, art, and language that you don't care for.  Remember that you don't need to approve of your child's choices, you only need to accept them.

2.  Show respect for your teenager.

I would encourage you to avoid teasing, criticism, and humiliation.  Communicate your values to your child, but do it in a way that's brief and nonjudgmental.  Nobody likes to be preached to, least of all teenagers.

3.  Provide your child with a community
Because we cannot be all things to our children - and especially not during adolescence - I advise parents to give their children the support of a caring community.  It may be through a synagogue, a church, a school, or a neighborhood group.  It may simply be through your extended family or an informal network of friends.  The point is, be sure your kids have access to other adults who share your ethics and ideals.

4.  Encourage independent decision making while continuing to be
     your child's Emotion Coach.

Express confidence in your child's judgment and resist speculating about possibly disastrous outcomes as a warning.  Allowing your teen to make unwise (but not unsafe) decisions from time to time.  Teens can learn as much from mistakes as they can from their successes.  Stay aware of what's going on in your child's life.  Accept and validate your child's emotional experiences  When there is a problem, lend an ear and listen empathetically, without judgement.  And be an ally when he comes to you for help with a problem.



Gottman, J. (1997). Raising an emotionally intelligent child. (pp. 208-213). New York, NY: Simon & Schuster

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Positive Youth Development

In this presentation I am going to discuss positive youth development. Positive youth development is used to help youth reach their full potential. Research shows that the more exposure adolescents have to positive experiences, the more likely they will develop positively. Physical and institutional resources, such as family support, are essential for positive youth development. Also individual assets, such as skills, talents and resiliency are also important. These provide adolescents with routines and structure to help achieve. This presentation is going to go over the "Five C's" of positive youth development. It will also go over the "6th C," which occurs when a child is thriving. Eating dinner together as a family and having a child participate in after school activities is important in positive development.


Zarrett, N.,  & Lerner, R. (2008). “Ways to Promote Positive Development of Children and Youth.” A Child Trends Research Brief.