communication

Help is Around the Corner For Your Teen and Their Social Media Addiction

By | February 16th, 2019|Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

Generally speaking, I like to write my own blogs, it’s what makes me a blogger, right? But sometimes, you don’t need to reinvent the wheel. When I came upon this article in Psychology Today I realized I’m tired of reading the same thing with a few words jumbled around. Susan did a great job offering some tools for parents to use with their children. In fact, my thoughts of rewarding with more time with family…already used! So today I’m giving credit to a well-written article. For my readers, if you would like help implementing some of the ideas that you read today in a behavior plan you know how to reach me! www.ourbreakthroughs.com.

13 Parent Assists to Help Children Become Tech-Savvy Users

From phone addiction to Fortnite, how to protect kids from digital missteps.

Posted Feb 06, 2019

Like many lately, my friend Alice’s son is addicted to Fortnite, the video game of the moment. Unsure of what to do, Alice offered her 12-year-old several hundred dollars to abandon Fortnite for a month. He refused without hesitation. So a few weeks later, when I asked a young man in his 20s to explain the sensation to me, he instantly likened Fortnite to “crack.”

For many parents, who might already have to nag their children to put down their phones or log off social media to do homework, this kind of tech dependence—where parents must pry their seemingly bewitched children away—is at a new level of alarming.

In a The Wall Street Journal article about Fortnite, calling it an “unwinnable war,” Betsy Morris wrote: “The last-man-standing video game has grabbed onto American boyhood, pushing aside other pastimes and hobbies and transforming family dynamics.” Even for parents who concede that technology can be powerful learning tools for children, the family conflicts arising from the Fortnite phenomenon or incessant texting are frustrating reminders of what technology has become for users of all ages: a mind-numbing distraction and time suck. Is it possible for families to achieve balance—between raising their children to be savvy and tech literate, but not face developmental harm?

Mountains of research reveal all the ways technology influences children’s and teens’ language skills, their brain development, their social interactions, their sleep and more. Common Sense Media found that 50 percent of teens feel “addicted” to their phones. The Pew Research Center discovered that 59 percent of US teens have been bullied or harassed online. Negative reports make it tricky for parents to find a happy medium and accept technology as beneficial especially when trying to protect their children or simply get their attention.

A Look on the Bright Side

As parents, we are so worried about our children’s addiction to their devices and the negative effects of technology that we overlook the positives. A study in American Psychologist, “The Benefits of Playing Video Games,” concludes that the skills learned while playing video games translate into positive social behavior with friends and family members.

The Family Institute at Northwestern University also shines a brighter light. In a review of numerous findings on digital effects, it found encouraging news for parents: “Several studies have suggested that digital forms of communication do not dictate the quality of interaction and relationships [for children and teenagers]. Rather, the quality of the pre-established relationships often determines what effect using digital forms communication will have.”

Be it developing social skills, fine-tuning time management, or simply learning to use technology wisely, parents have an important role.

Enter Parents

Tech is ubiquitous and a teaching tool used increasingly in schools and for homework assignments. Similarly, texting, Facebook, Instagram and the like are not going away. In spite of excessive hours spent on technology, parents can teach children and teens to strive for balance, to harness technology so they are not harmed by it.

An important caveat: Beginning at very young ages, taking devices away or using screen time as a reward is likely to increase time spent on screens by 20 minutes a day for children age 5 and younger, according to a study in BMC Obesity. The same probably holds true for older children and teens.

Approached with acceptance and understanding, parents can encourage children to be sensible technology “users” in all its forms. Diana Graber, the founder of CyberWise and an International Digital Literacy Advocate, has an approach that will help parents relax. Although technology is relatively new to many parents, kids, on the other hand, have grown up with it, but Graber is confident that we can help our children “build a healthy relationship with technology.”

13 Parent Assists to Help Children Become Tech Savvy

Graber makes these useful suggestions to help build social skills:

  • Teach children and teens to look people in the eye when talking to them.
  • Have consistent, unplugged family time.
  • Set up an email account for younger children and practice writing emails with subject lines, greetings and sign-offs.
  • Engage in kindness online with them: review a book or rate a restaurant you liked; “like” someone’s photo or Facebook post.

Early on, be sure you and your children understand the scope of media and how information can spread far more widely than intended. Graber believes it’s vital for both parents and children to know the meanings of:

  • Social media site
  • Tagging
  • Screenshot
  • Upload
  • Post
  • Drive home the fact that what they put online is very difficult to erase.
  • Be sure they understand who will look at their social media in the future: college admissions personnel; potential employers; prospective dates.
  • Guard your present and future digital reputation by being selective in what you share.
  • Share community service, involvement in a cause, commitment to a project or idea you created.

 

Given the many potholes to avoid, with a small time investment, parents can turn their children into savvy digital users. While the jury is still out and studies on many aspects of kids and technology often produce conflicting results on privacy, time spent on devices, games, and computers, no one can disagree: technology puts knowledge at everyone’s fingertips. Following Diana Graber’s lead goes a long way in calming parents’ many worries.

For more, see Raising Humans in a Digital World: Helping Kids Build a Healthy Relationship with Technology.  

Copyright @2019 by Susan Newman

In other words, “for children and teenagers who already have well-developed social skills, using digital media to interact does not harm their relationships or social development. In contrast, if a child or teenager does not have strong social skills or an in-person social network, that child or teenager should be encouraged to continue exploring ways to build these skills and to balance time towards that goal with their screen time.”An essential lesson to get across is the importance of the digital footprint a child may have left online that will affect her in the future. Graber recommends these reputation-saving lessons: In her book, Raising Humans in a Digital World, she explains the role parents play to assure kids have the skills they need to act responsibly. Parents can guide their children to think critically about how they use technology and what they put out in the world.

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Helpful Hints of Healing

By | February 9th, 2018|Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , |

We all haven’t faced the easiest of lives. Unfortunately along for the ride are our little ones. As much as we try to protect them, their experience is undeniably different from that of their friends. It isn’t your fault. You might be able to look back and see things you could have done better, but isn’t that true of everyone? You do the best you can with the hand you’re dealt. As a result, your child may start to display some poor coping strategies and behaviors. There are positive methods that you can do that support your child.

The first step is Acceptance. Accept the idea that your child is acting out because they are getting attention. This is true for many if not most people. During times of trauma, it is easy to overlook everyday events. Traumatic experiences take precedence and events like growing up get overlooked. The need for attention is a result. For some people, this may only go on for a short time and long-term behaviors never emerge. For the child who experienced traumatic events over a longer period of time, they may have started to accept the role that is assigned by adults and peers, i.e., troublemaker, class clown, bully…, etc. 

The second step is to be Available. Now its time for the parent(s) to be available and figure out what activities to do together. It could be something as simple as a card game or making dinner together. Don’t just try to be part of their lives…let them be part of yours. I’m not under any assumption that life has changed for you so dramatically that your calendar has opened up. As your child ages, they are more interested in what you do with your time. Things that you wouldn’t think of might appeal to them, i.e., the gym, your friends, your work. The trip to the grocery store could include a quick stop at the ice cream parlor. A long wait at the DMV could be a chance for them to show you their favorite YouTube video. The point is you have to make time even if it overlaps with your busy day.

The third step is Identity. You can’t shake a role assignment that your child has taken on, it is now part of their identity. However, you can add extracurricular activities to their agenda to help them discover different facets of who they are. Provide them with different groups to support a different role opportunity. Leave leaflets around the house and see which one sparks their interest. No point in pressuring them. Try to make it their idea. Some ideas are art, photography, sports, volunteering, coding, dance…, etc. Your child shouldn’t get the idea that you don’t like their identity or that you want to change them.  Remember these steps are taking care to help your relationship and grow as parent and child. Change is inevitable. 

The fourth step is Reward. Communicate with your child and discover some trouble areas. Identify them and write down positive alternatives to replace negative behaviors. Reward when they are completed. Best to identify the poor coping strategies that have been used such as yelling, hitting, ignoring, slamming, lying…, etc. If your child has experienced a lot of trauma it is best for them to experience reward on a more frequent basis until there is a level of trust. (Using a game like Vlinder, www.ourbreakthroughs.com is helpful in having some consistency and structure in your reward system.)

The fifth step is Celebrate. Look back at all you have accomplished. Go out to dinner and celebrate that you are working on your relationship and that you have made it all the way through the five steps! Think about how far you have come. Before you started you hadn’t accepted that your child needed attention and you weren’t looking at being available in a way that involved you both opening up your lives to one another. By recognizing your child’s assigned identity you opened up avenues for your child to re-invent themselves. Finally by talking about your child’s problem area’s and rewarding positive behaviors you have reinforced your expectations.

These steps should not take the place of counseling or medical attention if needed. There are different levels of trauma and we all experience them differently. I advocate for families that want to work on their family relationships and provide many tools to help them do so including Vlinder and Consultations. www.ourbreakthroughs.com

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Why Does Vlinder Work? Behavior Management

By | September 2nd, 2017|Tags: , , , , , , , |

Good question! Something that I, as the creator, should be able to explain to you.

For those that have never read my blogs…Vlinder is a behavior management game or program that uses positive reinforcement to reward clearly set expectations. For more information visit the website.

This is not about how to play or even how it works…this is about WHY it works. The ABC’s of behavior management rests on three aspects: antecedents, behaviors and consequences. Antecedents are events that occur before behaviors present themselves. If a child doesn’t have a good meal, didn’t get enough sleep, and got news that they weren’t going to their friends house then those are the antecedents to the temper tantrum that followed. The tantrum is the behavior that you are trying to discourage. Parents generally have a built in consequence for poor behaviors which can be anything from avoidance to a time-out or even worse.

Taking this example and using Vlinder means that you set the expectations before the antecedents have a chance to impact behavior. Clearly the child is in no shape for a play date. Expectations are set for what is reasonable for them to achieve the goal either later in that day or the next day. What can they do to earn this time? Have a rest or eat more breakfast? Complete some of their morning responsibilities. Note that in this example they are not losing their playdate…they are working towards it. You have gotten the same result without a tantrum.

That is the simple explanation of why Vlinder works. We looked at the ABC’s of behavior management and we took control at “A” (antecedents).

There are times of the day that are typically more stressful than others. If you use Vlinder to structure time you will be amazed at how much smoother time will play out. Not only will you have more cooperation but you will have more time for yourself as your players know what they have to do…as their expectations have already been laid out for them.

As with any behavior management program, results will vary. I am the first to admit that the first couple of times that you try this new approach it can be confusing for your child and a tantrum may still follow. Habits are hard to break. As they come to see that you follow through with your promises they will begin to work hard. Stay positive as you see them trying. When they question just acknowledge that this is not earning their “stamps” (part of the game) to go to their play date.

For more parenting tips or information on using positive reinforcement visit my website at www.ourbreakthroughs.com!

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Take 5

By | August 22nd, 2017|Tags: , , , , , , |

Today I’m here to help you be more mindful the next time you are angry with your child and trying to give a lesson in the moment. The problem is that we are tunnel visioned when we are angry and less rational. Why is that a problem? Your child is learning more then one lesson from you during this interaction.

First they are learning how to communicate. They may not yell at you, but they may start yelling at their siblings to express their anger. They may point their finger, ignore whats being said, shake their head, any number of mannerisms that you portray. Kids model what they see. If you want to raise a child who is respectful to loved ones, even during argument, best to cool down before preceding with the lesson. 

Second they are learning about respect. My husband tells our sons they have to respect him because he is their father. In the same conversation we teach them that respect is earned. It is a confusing message. I make every effort not to correct my husband in front of our children, so the only way that I can make sure that I am earning their respect in my conversations with them is to be sure that I am heard and then listen back.

Finally they are learning about consistency. If you allow yourself the time to think about your course of action then you are allowing yourself time to be consistent with your parenting.

It’s easy to fly off the hook when you get angry and yell at your child for something they’ve done. Im just asking for you to stop and think for a moment.  You’re providing more than one lesson in the moments following an event than you may think. It’s worth a five minute breather, to collect your thoughts, get a sip of water and then tackle the problem.

For more parenting tips or information on using positive reinforcement visit my website at www.ourbreakthroughs.com!

Barriers to Communication

By | May 11th, 2017|Tags: , , , , , , , |

We go through life doing our best to be understood. But lets face it, it can be difficult. So many people coming from so many different walks of life. Each person having their own experience filter which has the ability to distort a message. The best we can do is be aware of the challenges of effective communication and do our part. As parents we do a little more by teaching our kids.

Communication is a skill. Spoken communication relies on three personal factors. First, self-concept, which impacts how you organize your world, which in turn affects how you communicate. Second, the ability to give information clearly and finally being able to listen effectively. Without understanding a message communication cannot take place.

These eight barriers to communication impact all three of the above personal factors. As you read through the list think about how often you are the donor or the recipient. Later you can think about how you can do it differently.

1. Perception and interpretation  It is not possible for two people to experience the same thing the same way. We all come from different genetics, backgrounds, education, experience, etc which all impact the way we take and interpret information.

2. Generalizations and bias  We are used to seeing things a certain way and it takes effort to open our minds.

3. Jumping to conclusions  We often get to the outcome before we have been given all of the facts.

4. Assumptions  The idea that perceptions are unique is all but ignored when someone presumes that others thoughts are like their own.

5. Multiple meanings  All messages can have different meanings when viewed from different angles or different perspectives.

6. Dilution  A message loses its intended meaning the more interpretations or people it passes through.

7. Message sent, but not received  This is a selective listener, picking and choosing parts of the message that they want to hear but filtering out the rest.

8. Physical barriers   These are all of the physical and verbal barriers around you every day; noise, delays in transmissions, length of message, restrictions in asking questions, and/or the attractiveness of the message.

We have just touched on some basic difficulties in communication. Look forward to more blogs on communication in the near future. For now take these common barriers and see what you can do differently in your own style to make a difference in the way you hold a conversation with others. In particular the way you speak with your kids. I know I perceive things differently then they do and I certainly jump to conclusions when I hear something crash!

For more information please visit www.ourbreakthroughs.com. I would love to hear your comments.

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Is Your Child Really Sick? Are They Trying to Tell You Something?

By | March 22nd, 2017|Tags: , , , , , , , |

Does your child fake being sick to get out of going to school? Recently I have been confronted with this challenge. I wish if they are going to get sick they would get a good old dose of the flu, it takes the decision making out of the equation. A fever means staying home quietly with a good book. It’s more concerning to me when my child delivers a performance, feigning illness to avoid the classroom. What is he really saying?

Perhaps nothing is going on. Perhaps your child is in the middle of a good book and can’t wait to finish it. But inventing stories to avoid school could also be a shout out for help. This is a good opportunity for you to ask if there is anything going on with friends or schoolmates. Perhaps he needs help with some homework. It may also be a larger problem such as bullying.

Children worry about life at home. If your child is feeling an unnecessary stressor due to events in the home they may feel like they need to stay close by.  This may be an important time for you to do an inventory on your own home life and reassure your child that they are safe.

As busy parents we often run on auto-pilot and it is good to slow down and look for the meaning behind our children’s actions. Patterns are created because the action works over time. If your child continues to create stories to get out of going to school, better to nip this in the bud early. Discover the reason and solve the problem before it turns into a behavior.

I encourage conversation on my Facebook support group, Parenting With Intention…I also welcome your comments. For more parenting advice or to learn more about behavior modification visit us at www.ourbreakthroughs.com.

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Are You Listening?

By | December 19th, 2016|Tags: , , , , , |

Kids constantly complain that their parents don’t listen.  How can that be true?  We navigate our children through danger and away from harm.  How can we do that without hearing their stories and demands?  Of course we listen.  We listen to the same story endlessly.  We listen at the injustice of elementary school.  We listen and listen and listen.  The fact is they are right, we are not really listening! 

What many of us consider to be the traits of a good listener, in fact, turn out not to be. How many of these listening habits do you fall under? 

  1. Trying to commiserate with similar stories of your own.  How can this be a bad thing?  All you are trying to do is share with your child that they are not alone and that you have been in the same situation.  Well, fact is that you have shifted the conversation to be about you rather then keeping focus on your child.  Better to repeat the feelings that are being shared and let your child know that they are heard.  Who knows what other details they will divulge as the conversation stays about them. 
  1. Shifting the mood of the conversation to be about happier events or times.  I know you are just trying to cheer up your child.  Parent hates to see their child in distress.  Because of your discomfort of seeing your child sad, stressed or angry you are not allowing them to fully express their emotions.  Sit with them in their sadness, stress and anger.  You will gain more insight as to what drives their emotions by practicing good active listening skills.  Repeat what you hear and allow your child to correct any misunderstandings so they feel fully heard. 
  1. Provide solutions or suggestions on how to make things better.  As parents it is part of our job description to help direct our children through life.  That includes allowing them to learn from our mistakes.  WRONG!  If we are to be good listeners then we need to put the teacher hat away and listen to what is being said.  The fact is while we are coming up with solutions we are missing a lot of important information that is being shared.  Problem solving and working together will come in later steps of the conversation, preferably when your child asks for help. 
  1. Correct misunderstandings or misinformation.  Our children have been telling incredible stories all of their lives.  That includes times of high emotion.  As they are sharing their troubles, no matter how misinformed, without allowing them their truth, their reality, you are not truly listening.  You are putting a stopper in their sharing and telling them that their feelings are not valid.  Listening without correcting is truly a gift and one that your child will benefit from in the long term.  After you finish listening to your child they will have a good example of what to do when it is your turn to share your frustrations.  It shouldn’t be about who is right it is about the gift of listening. 

If you begin to listen to your child focusing purely on their needs are as a communicator, then you will be amazed at what you learn about your child.  Good listening skills include repeating what is heard and keeping quiet you feel some of the above habits creeping in.  Sometimes the only solution to your child’s problem will be to have someone who listens to them 100%, just for them. 

For more information on parenting and behavior modification visit us at www.ourbreakthroughs.com or call at 707 773 7654.

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