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Love and communication important during teen years

News Herald – Juliann Talkington

Juliann

Parents and teenagers live in different worlds with different pressures and perspectives, so communication between adolescents and parents can be strained. Here are a few strategies you can use to minimize conflicts during this challenging time.

Use humor.
Humor is an effective communication tool, because it breaks down barriers and commands attention. Disguised as fun, humor can be used to teach, introduce new ideas, share beliefs, and implant knowledge.

Listen.
Perspective and practice make a big difference. The way an adult perceives a problem is often very different from the way a teen views the same issue. What seems like a life catastrophe to 16-year-old may seem insignificant to a 40-year-old.

As a result, teenagers often have things to say to adults, but get frustrated because they do not feel like they can express their concerns and feelings. Epictetus, a Greek philosopher who was born in the 1st Century, might well have been instructing 21st Century parents when he said, “We have two ears and one mouth so we can listen twice as much as we speak.”

Keep it short.
Teens are perceptive and smart, so a few words go a long way. No one wants to feel like they are being lectured, so it is best to say it once.

Compliment.
The way we speak can often result in the outcomes we are trying to avoid. Comments and instructions couched in negative language, with excessive use of words like “don’t”, “never”, and “no” may lead to poor behavior. Instead try to focus on the positive things your teen does.

Prepare and Allow.
It is easy to view your kids as younger than they are. As teens age, they need more responsibility. Adults who continually enforce rules that do not acknowledge demonstrated capacity for independent and responsible behavior, can alienate teens.

Wait.
If it isn’t an immediate health or safety issue, it is sometimes better to wait for the right moment to discuss a problem rather than force a discussion at a poor time.

Connect.
Your kids internalize and interpret everything you do. They read your face, posture, voice, and stance. They subconsciously search for physical cues to what you really feel about them. Make sure they know they are loved, respected, and appreciated.

Even though the transition from child to adult can be challenging, love and open communication can make the journey easier for everyone.

Preparing kids to change the rules

News Herald – Juliann Talkington

Juliann

U.S. children are less creative than they were 30 years ago. Many people attribute this decline in inventiveness to over-scheduling of organized activities and emphasis on high-stakes testing and rote learning. These factors may be part of the reason children are unimaginative, but minimal exposure to “failure” and limited life experiences also keep U.S. kids from reaching their full creative potential.

To create, a person must be comfortable “failing” because “trial and error” is part of the innovative process. Many U.S. children are uncomfortable with “failure” because they have little exposure to it. In many cases, well-intentioned parents shield their kids from life’s tough lessons, because it is easier to solve problems for their children than to spend the time and energy necessary to help their children learn how to solve problems on their own.

Among other things, parents negotiate with coaches to get their children places on the best teams rather than encouraging their kids to work hard and talk with the coaches themselves. Parents talk with principals to negotiate grades rather than forcing their children to take responsibility for their performance. Too frequently, parents complain about “bullying” when another kid says something unkind on the playground rather than teaching their children how to overcome negativity.

As a result, the first thing parents need to do is set expectations and let their children learn by doing. This requires letting go and being available to coach as their children work to recover from life’s setbacks. Through this process children learn that there are consequences to actions, “failure” is a part of life, and success requires perseverance. Specifically, when things don’t work perfectly the first time, one can make adjustments until “failure” becomes “success”.

Another problem is parents are so worried about safety, that kids are isolated. This means children often lack the exposure required to come up with innovative solutions to a problem. Parents can easily address this issue by encouraging their children to take on activities outside of their peer group. Simple undertakings like participating in discussions with adults, welcoming a foreign exchange student, attending a history lecture, teaching a class, volunteering at the hospital, or working on a special project for a politician, all help broaden exposure.

Once children know how to recover from “failure” and have a broad understanding of how the world works, they should have the skills and the self-confidence to innovate.

Let your child learn about manipulation

News Herald – Juliann Talkington

Juliann

Manipulation is rampant in the digital age. It is easy for young people to be sucked into toxic personal relationships, political and social causes that are fronts for individuals and/or corporations that are attempting to gain power and money, and job situations where bosses or coworkers take advantage of them.

Most parents want to shelter their kids from these situations. Sheltering kids, however, may not be the best strategy. Instead it is better to empower kids, so they are not victims.

First, parents need to make sure their kids are confident, since it is harder for self-confident kids to be manipulated. Self-confidence is earned, not given, so is important to encourage children to explore many things and urge them to continue the activities that they enjoy and do well. In addition, it is essential that they learn the value of hard work. Also, it is imperative that the activities they selected are building self-confidence. Sometimes kids need to change activities as they grow to maintain healthy self-confidence.

The next step is to teach children how to identify a manipulative person, how to keep an emotional distance from such a person, and how to avoid personalization and self-blame. Then children need to learn how to turn the tables by asking probing questions and using time as a delay.

Finally parents need to allow controlled exposure. As counterintuitive as it sounds, kids need exposure to manipulators in safe environments, so they know when someone is trying to control them. In addition, kids need practice disarming a manipulator.

This means parents need to create learning opportunities. For example, a parent could consciously avoid speaking to school officials when a child’s classmate is “mean” on the playground, and instead help their child figure out how to handle situation him/herself. This playground practice should help prepare the child with more insidious manipulation that occurs when he/she is older.

As the child becomes more skilled at detecting and diverting manipulation, parents can gradually provide more exposure. By the time kids reach the teenage years, parents should expect them to discuss absences, homework, performance, and goals with coaches and teachers. In these conversations where will be many opportunities for the child to experience subtle and overt manipulation and to learn ways to remain in control.

Obviously there will be times parents have to step in, especially as when kids beginning interacting with adults, but parents should not be so protective that kids do not have an opportunity to learn.

How Social Bias Can Transfer From One Generation To The Next

KQED News Mind/Shift – Deborah Farmer Kris

“From an early age, children are sensitive to social cues from adults, peers, media and their surrounding environment. A closer look at adults’ nonverbal signals — including their tone of voice, facial expression and body language — found that children can “catch bias” simply by observing adult actions, according to a new study out of the University of Washington.”(more)

Teach your children to THINK

News Herald – Juliann Talkington

Juliann

Efforts to control the minds of children are at an all-time high. Most kids spend a lot of time learning “what to think” and very little time learning “how to think”. As a result, parents need to take a proactive role to make sure their children are not manipulated.

Mind control has been an issue since the beginning of human existence. The difference today is a new communication medium, the Internet. At first it was a relatively unbiased source of information. As it has matured, governments and companies have learned to control it.

Now Internet searches are based on the preferences of the owners and employees of the search engine companies and paid advertisers. In addition, social media companies have started censoring dialog. Twitter and Facebook recently deleted accounts from people who were promoting ideas that were not popular with company management. While most people do not agree with the viewpoints presented in these accounts, it does not mean it is wise to remove these dissenting voices. If companies can cut these accounts, what prevents them from cutting other accounts when it is political expedient?

History is written by the winners and is often sanitized to support specific political agendas. As a result, school history is generally far from reality. The problem is compounded because standard textbooks are rarely complemented with materials that include opposing viewpoints.

In addition, journalists and writers have prejudices that are based on upbringing, education, and access to information which means most news stories have a significant slant.

In higher education, professors tend to promote similar perspectives, because the tenure and publication system discourages alternative thought. This uniformity of ideas is dangerous, because it can lead to myopia. Some people argue that theories having to do with manmade climate change, technical capabilities of ancient civilizations, and brain differences between genders have not been properly vetted because of this bias.

Fortunately, it is possible for parents to circumvent the mind control efforts. First kids need to learn discipline. Then they need to be taught how to research, respectfully question conventional thinking, and present alternative viewpoints. After that it is important for parents to make sure schools are using textbooks and supporting materials that cover subjects from a variety of perspectives.

Finally, it is imperative for families to discuss classroom topics at home. This way parents can expose their children to viewpoints they may not be hearing at school.