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Balancing Love and Limits with your Ever-Changing High Schooler. John Walker, Ph.D., LMFT. They Grow Up Fast! . Scrappy, hyper and forgetful Academics not important: class clown, immature Grew up fast Goal oriented; money, girlfriend, car Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, and the Who.

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Balancing Love and Limits with your Ever-Changing High Schooler


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Presentation Transcript
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Scrappy, hyper and forgetful

Academics not important: class clown, immature

Grew up fast

Goal oriented; money, girlfriend, car

Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, and the Who

Thrived on attention from friends

At any expense

Girls were wonderful and magical

Tried to defy puberty

Love the honesty, insight, willingness to be immature, and awkwardness of flirting

getting in touch with your inner high schooler
Getting in Touch with Your Inner High Schooler
  • What were you like at 15 and 16?
  • What is your most salient memory of that time?
  • How did you handle puberty?
  • How did you think about adults and peers?
  • How about the opposite sex?
  • What did you feel most awkward/insecure about?
  • Were you under a lot of pressure?
  • How were you acting like a child, but wanting to be mature?
  • What is it about the age of your high schooler that you like?
high school a developmental roller coaster
High School: A Developmental Roller Coaster
  • A lot of work to do: cognitive, physical, and psychosocial development
  • Most important characteristic is “uneven development”
  • Behavior may swing from childlike to adult-like
  • Physical characteristics may be adult-like while behavior is childlike
  • Lack of fit between adults’ expectations of teens, teens’ expectations of themselves, and teens’ capabilities
  • Peer oriented, but still need parents (e.g. values)
  • Makes it confusing to them and frustrating to adults
normal developmental challenges annoyances
Normal Developmental Challenges & Annoyances
  • “I am SPECIAL” Personal fable (David Elkind)– belief in own uniqueness
  • You’re not so perfect”: Welcome to de-idealization
  • “It’s all about me” –
      • They assume others are thinking about them all the time
      • Highly sensitive to judgments/opinions: Imaginary peer group is far more critical than actual peers (who are preoccupied with own selves)
  • Idealistic: Can think about abstract ideals, but lack actual experience and are often unable to accept failure of school, family, and society to live up to ideals
  • “It won’t happen to me”: Don’t fully understand cause-effect structure of world due to lack of experience; often feel it doesn’t apply to themselves
what is different in the world of today s teens
What is Different in the World of Today’s Teens?

What was normal then, is not “normal” now

  • Child oriented
  • Over-scheduling; parents become agents
  • Perfection Trap; school, sports, body image, etc.
  • More parent friends
  • Fast tracked sexuality
  • Accessibility of drugs and alcohol
  • Difficulty delaying gratification
what is different in the world of today s teens1
What is Different in the World of Today’s Teens?
  • Internet/texting:
    • Less inhibition, fewer boundaries, less pressure from the conscience, more exploration of alternative selves
    • Cyber-bullying
    • Violent media
    • Harassment and bullying
    • False self
    • Social skills
    • Physical danger/exploitation
connection and limits our biggest challenges
Connection and Limits: Our Biggest Challenges
  • Technology isolates: I-pods, internet, cell phones, my space, etc.
  • Disconnection from extended family and community
  • Disconnection/isolation among teens
  • Teens can feel empty and with no purpose or mission
  • Entitlement: Our kids expect more than we did
  • Parents can feel guilty, overwhelmed, and tired
limits button pushing starts early
Limits: Button Pushing Starts Early
  • Children... the masters of process
    • Who is controlling the mood and direction?
    • How does the parent’s age drop?
    • Who is bringing out the worst in whom?
top 10 teen button pushing tactics sells 2001
Top 10 Teen Button-Pushing Tactics (Sells, 2001)

1) “You never let me do anything”

2) Lying

3) “You don't care about me.”

4) “You're not my real mother/father.”

5) A disgusted look or improper gesture

6) Finding your most vulnerable area and preying on it

7) “ You play favorites.”

8) “ I hateyou! ”

9) “I’ll do itlater …... ”

10) Chronic, unbearable whining

top 10 parent button pushing tactics sells 2001 walker 2004
Top 10 Parent Button-Pushing Tactics (Sells, 2001; Walker 2004)

1) Preaching or Using Clichés

2) Talking in Chapters

3) Labeling

4) Futurizing

5) Instant Problem-Solving

6) “You’re so moody!”

7) Not tolerating experimental behavior (e.g. clothes, hair,etc)

8) “When I was your age…….”

  • Collecting criticisms
  • Hovering
strategy 1 button busters managing the mood sells 2001
Strategy #1: Button Busters: Managing the Mood (Sells, 2001)

“Discipline problems decrease as the overall climate of the family improves”

1) Don’t take it personally

2) Exit and wait

3) Short and to the point

4) Deflectors

  • Nevertheless; regardless; the rule still stands

5) Secret Signals

6) Unpredictables

strategy 2 couch criticism
Strategy #2: Couch criticism

A. Make positive intention known

B. Give the criticism

C. Make sure they hear your confidence in them

  • Remember to Privatize it!
strategy 3 family agreements
Strategy #3: Family Agreements
  • In-home accountability training
  • Encourage responsibility with teen input
    • Involve choices
  • Focus on behavior, not person
  • They are easier to accept than punishments
  • Helps teens build internal locus of control
family agreements

STEP 2

Parents & Teen negotiate

  • Top 10 things teens care about
  • Negotiate Rewards and Consequences
  • Troubleshoot
Family Agreements

STEP 1

.

Parents Unite

  • Rank order the problems
  • Check your gas gauge
  • Convert problem into a rule
  • (Family Agreement sheet)
strategy 1 assess your connection steinberg 2004
Strategy #1: Assess your Connection (Steinberg, 2004):
  • Can you name all of your teen’s teachers?
  • Do you know how your teen’s best friends are?
  • Do you know what he/she likes to study in school?
  • Do you know what book he/she is reading, favorite u-tube video?
  • Can you name your child’s favorite athletes, celebrities, movies, music, TV shows?
  • Do you know how she/he spends time after school, in the evenings, & on weekends?
  • How does he/she spend their money?
  • Do you know if you child is happy, sad, popular or lonely, anxious or untroubled?
  • What are they most worried about?
  • Who does your child go to when they are upset? Ask them why. ( it’s a roadmap for what you can do).
strategy 2 slow down the race to maturity
Strategy #2 Slow Down the Race to Maturity
  • Relieve the pressure to be perfect
  • Provide opportunities to achieve competence and success
  • Support and accept bouts of immaturity
  • Monitor dating
    • Encourage group dates
    • Friend them on Facebook
    • Casually meet the girlfriend/boyfriend
strategy 3 befriend their friends
Strategy #3 Befriend their friends
  • Get to know them
  • Make sure you spend time with them
  • Make your house the place to be
  • Get to know the parents
strategy 4 monitor the computer
Strategy #4 Monitor the Computer
  • Put it in public
  • Limit time
  • Check history
  • Get access to My Space, Face Book, etc.
strategy 5 insist on tech free quality time
Strategy #5 Insist on Tech-Free, Quality Time
  • In the car
  • In the hot tub
  • During a meal and 20 minutes after
strategy 7 find a mutual interest
Strategy #7: Find a mutual interest
  • Unconditional one on one time
  • Prioritize it and schedule it
    • Special Outings Handout
strategy 5 accept feelings
Strategy #5: Accept feelings
  • Separate behavior from feelings
  • “I know you feel that way”
  • “I can see why you think that”
  • “No wonder you feel that way”
  • “Oh, I get it, that makes sense”
strategy 6 praise in public private
Strategy #6: Praise in Public & Private
  • Nurturing notes
  • Positive reports
discussion

Discussion

John P. Walker, Ph.D.

Hockessin Center for Change

(302) 354-1078