February - it’s the month of love and hugs, right? When you have a teen in your life, hugs may feel in short supply.
"Why doesn’t my teenager want to hug me anymore? What changed? All I want to do is give her a hug so she knows just how loved she is."
Sil, mom of three, ages 8-14
Aw, yes, I remember clearly when I leaned into to give my oldest kiddo, who was 12 years old at the time, a hug, and he put his hand up to say, “Not now, mom.” Ouch. I kept thinking that there must be something wrong because, here I was, an adolescent specialist, and my son was resisting my hug. It didn’t help any that the article sitting atop my desk stated, “Teens Need More Hugs.”
To be clear, we all need more hugs. Research has shown that hugs are incredibly effective at healing illness, disease, loneliness, depression, anxiety, and stress. They not only relax our muscles but they lift our serotonin levels, elevate our mood,...
A few decades ago, the “like” culture consisted of a handwritten note read, “If you like me, check yes or no”. Today, it is much different. Chloe, 15, shared that she knows she is “good” based on the number of likes she will receive from a selfie. “If I get 50 likes then I know that I am a good person and that I have friends. If I get less than that, I feel awful. I usually end up deleting the post and then I won’t talk to anyone for awhile.”
From Instagram, Snapchat, and Facebook to Twitter (and every app in-between), social media has become a powerful and primary form of communication. It has also created a culture, a like culture.
So what exactly is the “Like” Culture?
Culture is a set of adopted and shared values that a group can hold. Those values can affect how someone thinks, feels, and behaves. It sets the criteria by which you judge situations, others, and oneself.
The like culture is the...
[Continued from Part I. This is Part 2 in a 3-part series)
In part one of this series, we discussed that it is imperative for adults to do three things when speaking with teens:
(1) Know that listening is an investment.
(2) Be willing + open to listen
(3) Pay attention to what they are saying AND doing.
I want to pause on that last point.
You must LISTEN to what they are doing.
Say wha? You must listen to what they aren’t saying, and you do that by paying attention to what they are doing, aka tuning into the non-verbal cues. Often an invitation to connect with your child doesn’t come with words, it comes through their actions and behavior, their body language and their facial expressions. Let’s break this down.
Actions and Behaviors: It isn’t what your teen says that always makes the impression; it’s what he does. Withdrawing, slamming doors, rolling eyes are all specific ways to send you a...
Do you ever notice that your teen’s eyes glaze over while you’re talking to them? This is a surefire sign you are talking too much and listening too little.
Solid, healthy communication is essential in any relationship, right? When we talk and share our feelings, we feel closer to one another. However, talking is only part of the equation. The other portion - the much larger portion - is listening.
Sadly, this often gets reversed because it is easy to talk and way harder to listen. When communicating with teens, most parents and adults talk 50% more than what’s necessary. If you’re verbose, you may even say 70% or 80% more than necessary.
Yikes! And, when you are busy doing all that talking, it, again, can be tough, really tough to listen. Anyone can talk, but not everyone listens.
*You* need to be part of the group that listens.
Without the capacity for effective listening, communication becomes irrelevant. This is often what happens with your...
She chose a therapist who was also a teacher at my high school I was reluctant, but I knew enough about her to feel that she didn’t see me as a pain-in-the-butt teen.
Despite my initial reluctance, I liked her. It seemed like we were a good fit – even though the selection process seemed to be based on complete convenience since she was right next to the school. (My mom says it was that she just “felt right”.)
Since that time, I have worked with many counselors – either doing my own work (yes, counselors need to do their work) or professionally. Over the years, I have learned two critical things when it comes to choosing a therapist: choose good over convenient and always trust your gut.
Good and convenient do not often go hand in hand. You want a therapist...
"Hi Julie, I have an interesting question for you. You see, my 12-year-old has no problems talking to me but I can't seem to talk with her. I hate to admit this but I just don't know what to talk about that doesn't feel so big, so serious. Any ideas?"
I love this question so much! And, you betcha! I have 225 ideas for you!
Sometimes we all get stuck in a communication rut, especially with teens. Their world can seem very different - even secretive - from our own "grown-up" world. Or, we are happy to talk but everything feels like it is way to serious, and we look for a lighter topic.
Since your daughter is already willing to talk with you, carve out moments when *you* are able to engage. The more you are able to talk, the more you will not only develop greater confidence and self-esteem in your daughter; you will also earn her trust. The more she can come to you with the little stuff, the more she will know that you will listen to the big things.
Today’s question is definitely one that hits close to home.
The question comes from Tracey, a mom of two: a 20-year-old daughter and a 14-year-old son. And she said:
“I feel like all my son does is sit around and do nothing after-school and on the weekends. I keep telling him that he needs to find an activity or a cause. If he doesn’t, I’m going to choose one for him. Is that okay, or should I just wait until he chooses his own interests?”
I’ve had many parents ask me this, and it’s a great question.
The short answer is yes and yes. Yes, you need to give him some space. And, yes, after you give him some space, you can give him some ideas.
For both parents and kids, there’s so much pressure. As parents, we want to create this perfect childhood experience for our little ones. And as kids, they want to please, especially us. It doesn’t matter if you’re 80, 45, or 14 — that pressure’s...
Around age ten, (sometimes earlier, sometimes later) communication begins to change. Without notice, kids may stop hanging onto every word — or sometimes, any word at all. After working with children and adolescents for almost three decades, one thing I have learned with absolute certainty is this: You really need to earn the right to be heard. Yeah, you read that correctly — you have to earn that right.
I know what you’re probably saying, “But I’m the parent, Jules. I mean, come on!” Or maybe you’re the educator and you’re thinking, “But I’m their teacher. Surely that means they need to listen to me.”
I get it. I really do. When you work and live with teens, those moments definitely pop up.
Here’s the truth we as parents, educators and adults need to accept: Assuming that your role in a teen’s life makes you worthy to be heard is a mistake.
It’s so hard to believe that this year is almost complete. I feel like it was just yesterday that I was wondering what the next twelve months would bring. Today, I’m a little in awe by all that it did bring. Some of it amazingly good, some epically eh and definitely a bit of “I wanna stay in bed with the covers over my head..” As I journaled about it all, I remembered a mentor who has once said, “Jules, the story of your life is being written every single minute” and “The days may feel long, my friend, but the years are oh-so-short.”
As a mom of three teenagers, I am ever so aware that time goes by too fast. From the time kids are born, it is so easy to get caught up in the chaos of naps, the tedium of tantrums, and drain of schedules. I’m the first to raise my hand and admit that I spent quite a bit of time in their early years wondering if fast-forwarding all the clocks in the house would get them to bed sooner. As they...
Do you remember when you were younger and thought anything was possible? Perhaps Superman was your hero, and you were convinced that draping a towel over your shoulders and jumping off the sofa made you just like him. Or maybe you loved Dorothy Hamill (yes, I’m dating myself now) and promptly got a cute haircut and skated around your house with your shoebox-inspired carpet skates. Do you remember when the possibilities in life were limitless?
Do you also remember when you convinced yourself that nothing was possible? Perhaps your parents said there was no way you could ever fly (breaking your wrist didn't help the case, did it?), or your best friend laughed at your now-not-so-trendy haircut. Whatever the case, mountains may have seemed too high to scale, and confidence no longer fueled your youthful naïveté. Those feelings impacted your choices, and they are impacting your child's, too.
You see, today's youth have those same feelings of power and powerlessness....