How To Get Your Family Unstuck

Get your family unstuck

If you are a parent of a teenager then you are intimately familiar with feeling stuck.

There are many potential roadblocks in the obstacle course that is raising teenagers. This leads to many frustrating feelings and difficult questions. How did we get here and what in the world do we do next?

Here are some ideas to consider for you and your family this week.

1. Identify the relationship problem(s)

In my experience, the problems in a family are rarely the result of just one person. It is never just “my crazy Mom” as the teenager might say or just “my stubborn teenager” as a parent might say. Instead of putting blame on one person, it is important to identify where the main relationship struggles are, i.e. my marriage is good, but my relationship with my son is really falling apart.

Often times there are multiple relationships that need work. It is always a good idea to make the problem the problem and move away from thinking someone else is to blame.

2. Connect with your trusted friends/family for good advice

Long before psychotherapy was invented, people received help and healing from many sources. This would include extended family members, close friends, community elders, tribe leaders, pastors, priests and other spiritual leaders. You get the idea. Reach out to people in your support community who will listen and be helpful to you. Of course, this can be done in person and also online via email, texting & Facebook.

3. Gather your family to discuss and problem solve the issues

If you know me at all, you know that I am a fan of family meetings. Having regular family meetings has been one of the best changes I have made in my family in the last year. Even if you don’t have this habit it can be effective to plan a family summit ahead of time.

Of course, you have to be thoughtful and strategic about this. No one wants to attend a “meeting” that is going to be unproductive and end in a bunch of finger pointing. However, if you can facilitate a conversation that helps your family to creatively problem solve you will be in a much better place.

4. Find a helpful book that speaks directly to your family challenges

I will be the first to admit that parenting books are not always helpful. There are so many to choose from and often they have conflicting advice. However, if you can find a book that speaks specifically to the challenges your family is having it can make a huge impact.

For example this book might apply to you and your teenager – Overcoming Teen Depression: A Guide for Parents. Amazon.com is your friend. Feel free to ask me if I can recommend a book for your specific situation as well.

5. Get help from a neutral third party

Sometimes your best efforts do not lead to getting your family unstuck. This can be a frustrating experience for sure. You have talked to your people, tried to apply the best advice and you are getting nowhere fast. You may need some focused support from a experienced counselor. It is a good idea to find a trained teen counselor who can also do family therapy.

7 Ways to Limit Technology Stress in Your Family

Technology and Family Stress

I am sure you have noticed that technology has weaved itself into the fabric of your family. This reality brings many wonderful opportunities as well as no shortage of stressful situations.

You know what I am talking about. I am sure you can fill in the blank as to how technology is affecting your teenager and your family.

So, how can you limit the impact of technology stress on your family?

Here are some ideas that I want to share with you today. Please feel free to leave comments with your thoughts. I would love to get your input.

1. Sign a media and/or smartphone contract with your teenager

Take the time to sit down and look at a media and smartphone contract with your teenager. This will not guarantee a smooth ride, but it will make sure the expectations are clear and everyone is on the same page. Also, make sure you are willing to follow the rules you lay out for your teen. :)

2. Set up protection software on computers & mobile devices

This may or may not be necessary, depending on your teen and your particular concerns for him. However, he may need an extra layer of protection to make sure he doesn’t get himself in trouble. I recommend Mobicip as a good option.

3. Have regular family meetings

It is always good to have set times to talk about how things are going in the family. You can use the time to talk about current events, relationship conflicts and other important issues. This is a perfect forum for discussing how family members are using technology and what is working versus not working.

4. Create digital free zones in your house

You can set up times and places where the family does not use technology. An obvious place to start is at the family dinner table – no texting, no smartphones, etc. You can even consider making certain rooms of the house tech free or having a family digital fast for a day or more.

5. Show interest in your teen’s life and their relationship with technology

Whether it is computer use, video games or the overheating smartphone, there is a good chance that technology is impacting your teen in significant ways. The more you can be curious and just listen to your teenager the better. If he can talk to you without fear of judgment or getting in trouble then you can support him.

6. Use your wireless carrier’s smart limits features

You can use these services to manage a variety of things. You can block unwanted calls and texts, limit data usage, limit texting, limit purchases and limit phone use by the time of day. It is very important how you implement these limits and that you do it respectfully and with clear communication.

7. Don’t take away the technology as a punishment for everything.

This is an understandable response. Technology may be the main thing that your teen values and need to sustain life (or so he thinks). It may feel like taking these things away is the only way you can discipline him. However, this approach is often ineffective. It is a better idea to use logical consequences instead, make the punishment fit the crime.

Please leave a comment and tell me how you manage technology stress in your family. I would love to hear your take on this important issue.

A Parent’s Guide to Being Smarter than a Smartphone

Police Dog Sniffing a Phone

I am very excited to let you know about a special opportunity coming up soon!

I will be a speaker at an upcoming online parenting conference. I will be sharing helpful and practical info on the topics of parenting teens and smartphones. There are also 6 other speakers and topics that you may find interesting and helpful as well.

I am teaming up with one of my professional friends to offer you some excellent strategies for parenting success, just in time for the new school year.

If you are a parent and you want to increase your connection with your kids, without feeling too strict, guilty or constantly worrying that you’re letting them down, then this is for you.

Happy Parents, Happy Kids: How to Parent Positively with Less Stress
September 8-14, 2013

For one week, you are invited to join a special online conference geared towards families. Each day, there is a live one hour call where you can hear expert tips that are simple and down-to-earth.

You can also join the conversation, ask questions and interact with the speakers in our private Facebook community. If you can’t make the calls live, there is an option just for you (along with some special bonuses that you will really enjoy).

A Recipe For School Success

Recipe for Success

The school year is officially starting. This can be a truly crazy time and a big adjustment for everyone in the family. There is just so much going on.

My question for you is this . . .

Does your teenager have what they need to be successful this year?

Here are a few important ingredients to include in a recipe for school success.

Physical & Mental Health

One of the most important factors for academic success is good physical and mental health. It is very hard to perform in school when a teen is not getting enough quality sleep, good food and exercise. Or when they are overwhelmed with stress or anxiety.

The constant presence of smartphones, fast food and energy drinks certainly make it challenging for teens to take good care of themselves. They can also lead to some pretty bad habits.

**Note: good self-care habits lead to good mental health as well, including less stress and anxiety.

Check out this quick online quiz to answer the question . . .

Are you raising a healthy teen?

Setting Goals

One of the important things that I do with my teenage clients is set manageable goals and find creative ways to achieve them. Goal setting is important in business life, home life and academic life.

Consider taking the time to sit down with your teenager and talk about their goals for the school year. Write them out and find out how you can best support your teen in reaching them. Make sure to ask good questions and really listen.

Take a look at this short, practical article on . . .

Setting Goals for High School Students

Emotional Support

Along with setting achievable goals, it is important that your teenager feels like they have the support they need to face their social, emotional and academic challenges.

Having strong family relationships, good friends and other supportive adults involved makes a huge difference. Does your teenager know where to go when they need emotional support?

If you are not sure ask your teen, “Who do you feel comfortable talking to when things in your life get hard?”

Counseling and teen support groups can be excellent resources when your teenager is stressed, anxious or struggling to cope.

This is one reason why I am offering three support groups in my therapy office this year. This includes one for Middle School guys and two for High School age guys. All three groups are starting in just two weeks.

You can find more information at helpthiskid.com/groups

I sincerely hope that you and your family have a fantastic school year.

Photo Credit: Flickr Creative Commons

Nature is Cheaper Than Therapy

nature

Does your teenager need to get outside and get some exercise?

Maybe a bike ride, walking the dog or going for a hike would do him some good.

There is no doubt that exercise can boost his mood, improve his energy and help him sleep better.

I just got back from a wonderful backpacking trip in the Kings Canyon wilderness area. While I am still recovering from hiking 32 miles of trail, the trip really did help me in so many ways.

I was able to clear my thoughts, disconnect from all my technology and think about my life and relationships.

If your teen is like most, he is spending a fair amount of time with his phone, his XBOX and his computer. Especially during summer it is tempting to allow teens too much screen time.

Helping him find some balance in this area of his life may be challenging, but it is worth the effort.

Consider making the effort to get your teenager outdoors today or this weekend. I guarantee it will do you both some good.