Are smart phones good for teens? What parents need to know.

The introduction of smart phones to an entire generation of children has made some very significant changes that all parents should know about.

Are smart phones good for teens? Or are they causing significant problems?

Here’s some good news! 

The number of fatalities by car accidents involving teen drivers has dropped in half from 2005 – 2015.

Teen homicides have dropped about 40% since 2005.

In fact, mortality rate for teens is down 20% from 1999.

The number of sexually active teens has been cut by almost 40 percent since 1991.

The average teen now has had sex for the first time by the spring of 11th grade, a full year later than the average Gen Xer.

The teen birth rate hit an all-time low in 2016, down 67 percent since its modern peak, in 1991.

and some more changes…are they positive or concerning?

The percent of high school seniors who work during the school year has dropped 20%. The number of eighth graders who work for pay has dropped in half.

Only about 56 percent of high-school seniors in 2015 went out on dates; down 30% from previous generations. In fact 2015 seniors were going out less often than

eighth-graders did as recently as 2009.

The number of teens who get together with their friends nearly every day, dropped by more than 40 percent from 2000 to 2015; the decline has been especially steep recently.

Fifty-seven percent more teens were sleep deprived in 2015 than in 1991. In just the four years from 2012 to 2015, 22 percent more teens failed to get seven hours of sleep.

By the end of high school, more than one in four teens today still don’t have their driver’s license.

Forty-eight percent more girls said they often felt left out in 2015 than in 2010, compared with 27 percent more boys.

The more time eighth-graders spend on social media, the more likely they are to say they’re unhappy.

Here’s the big concern…

Rates of teen depression and suicide have skyrocketed since 2011. Jean M. Twenge, professor of psychology and author of iGen, says, “It’s not an exaggeration to describe iGen as being on the brink of the worst mental-health crisis in decades.”

For the first time in history, suicide is the second leading cause of death, closing in on car accidents.

Teens’ feelings of loneliness spiked in 2013 and have remained high since.

Boys’ depressive symptoms increased by 21 percent from 2012 to 2015, while girls’ increased by 50 percent—more than twice as much.

Teens who spend three hours a day or more on electronic devices are 35 percent more likely to have a risk factor for suicide, such as making a suicide plan. (That’s much more than the risk related to, say, watching TV.)

Three times as many 12-to-14-year-old girls killed themselves in 2015 as in 2007

 

Here’s what parents need to know about smart phones and depressed teens:

Smart phones seem to be playing the biggest role in these positive and negative changes. Teens who spend more time than average on screen activities are more likely to be unhappy, and those who spend more time than average on nonscreen activities are more likely to be happy.”

Here are Jean Twenge’s important findings, as published in the September 2017 article, “Has the smart phone destroyed a generation” of The Atlantic,

“If you were going to give advice for a happy adolescence based on this survey, it would be straightforward: Put down the phone, turn off the laptop, and do something—anything—that does not involve a screen. There’s not a single exception. All screen activities are linked to less happiness, and all nonscreen activities are linked to more happiness.  The opposite is true of in-person interactions. Those who spend an above-average amount of time with their friends in person are 20 percent less likely to say they’re unhappy than those who hang out for a below-average amount of time.

The more time teens spend looking at screens, the more likely they are to report symptoms of depression. Eighth-graders who are heavy users of social media increase their risk of depression by 27 percent, while those who play sports, go to religious services, or even do homework more than the average teen cut their risk significantly.”

 

Why trying to make your kids happy, will make you miserable.

Seek purpose, not pleasure

As parents, we all seem to want one thing: our kids to be happy. Sure, we want them to have good friends, good grades and a clean room, but the reason we want those things is because we believe it will lead to a happy life. There is a cultural paradigm that says “You can only be as happy as your least happy child.”

I’ve heard clients say to me, “I’m happy if my kids are happy.” or “When all three of my kids are happy, then I can relax.”

THIS IS NOT A GOOD PLAN!

Happiness is not a sustainable emotion. Humans are not wired to be happy all day, every day. In fact, humans normally operate at a 50/50 rate when it comes to positive or negative emotions. Sadness, loss, separation, anger, rejection and illness are all part of the human experience. When we label these things as bad, we cause unnecessary stress, anxiety and depression.

Our brains are wired to feel negative emotion, but we are also wired to seek pleasure. So when Facebook ads tell us that whiter teeth and chocolate truffles will make us happier, our brains think, “I need that.” When TV commercials tell us that there’s a pill to take if you feel uncomfortable in social situations, we believe something is wrong with us. Constantly seeking pleasure and avoiding natural, negative emotions is making Americans miserable. Between us wanting our kids to be happy, and the media implying happy is the only allowable emotion, what do we aim for?

What’s the goal for our lives, if not happiness?

Purpose, meaning and fulfillment is a kind of happiness that is longer lasting. It’s not about seeking pleasure, but about living life according to one’s values. When we engage fully in our activities and take action on the things that matter to us, we feel connected and aligned with our highest selves. Growth, meaning and forward momentum help us believe we are moving in a positive direction which is key to living a fulfilling life.

The sun didn’t shine in Seattle for three months last winter. The collective depression was subtle but it wasn’t until the day the sun came out that everyone noticed the contrast. Suddenly people were smiling, whistling, singing, SO HAPPY! It wasn’t the sunshine that made people happy, if so, Californians would have been giddy after 7 years of drought. It was the contrast. Californians react the same way when it rains! Seeing sunshine, after so many cloudy days, made Seattlelites stop and engage fully in the moment. It helped them be optimistic and think positively about the future months to come.

So think about giving your kids a contrasting experience to increase their ability to engage the moment. Nothing makes you appreciate a hot shower like a camping or backpacking for a few days. Sugar tastes so much sweeter after not eating it for a week.

Instead of indulging every item on your kid’s Christmas list this year, to try to make them happy, appreciate the joy and contrast in yearning for and not having. Anticipation & delayed gratification are human experiences that increase meaning.

You might be disappointed that the kids and teachers at school don’t treat your child they way you’d like, but try using these experiences as an opportunity for growth, purpose and to create a more meaningful future. It’s hard to teach your kids to appreciate good friends until they’ve had some bad experiences. We can help our kids think about how they want to treat people and believe the changes they make will help create a kinder world.

And most importantly parents, we’ve got to live it, to give it. Kids learn by imitation so we can’t expect them to live meaningful, fully engaged lives if we aren’t modeling how to do it. If you would like to feel like you are making positive forward progress and living according to your values, instead of getting stuck in the pleasure seeking cycle, schedule a free life coaching session today.

How to help your child increase confidence

It’s so hard to watch your child temper herself, hold himself back, not want to try new things, even turn against things she loves just to fit in with her peers.

Our encouragements of “just be yourself” seem to fall on deaf ears. I had a client call the other day worried because her SIX-YEAR-OLD stopped wearing flowery headbands, bracelets and crazy tights because the other girls were making fun of her. She was already developing a separate persona at school; the quiet, well-behaved, rule follower who blended into the background. Luckily, at home, she still allowed herself to be silly, goofy and relaxed.

The risk kids face when they try to create a perfect self-image, is they lose touch with their inner, emotional life. As Simone Marean from Girls Leadership puts it, this inner emotional life is our GPS. It tells us what is right for us, what is wrong for us, what feels yucky that we should avoid. When we try to be perfect, we’re not allowing ourselves to be human.

The good news from the research of Challenge Success and Girls Leadership, is how much influence parents have to help kids release perfectionism and stress, access their full range of emotions, and gain authentic confidence.

Where do YOU find yourself scared to take risks?

To try something new that you won’t be good at right away?

To go against the crowd, knowing people will judge you?

When do you worry about what people will think?

Do you have a hard time apologizing or losing?

Do you try really hard not to make a mistake and then beat yourself up when you do?

The number one way kids learn is by imitation so if want our kids confident: to be free to take risks, make mistakes, go against the crowd and not care about other’s judgement, it starts with us.

These tips from Girls Leadership will help your perfectionistic sons as well.

  1. Celebrate mistakes. Go around the dinner table and talk about who made the best mistake. Let your kids see you trying new things and bombing, embarrassing yourself, and forgiving yourself.
  2. Let your kids see you experiencing uncomfortable emotions: mad, sad, embarrassed, disappointed, proud, contentment, jealousy, confidence, apologetic, brave. Show them by example what it means to be a whole human being.
  3. Let your child see or hear you having conflict and resolving it. Kids don’t realize it, but all healthy relationships have conflict. Learning how to ask for what you want and talk about your feelings is such an important thing to learn. Demonstrate how to resolve conflict and apologize with your kids, your partner, your extended family and friends.

If you think you might be mired in perfectionism, but yearn for confidence, check out my Supermom is Getting Tired coaching program and show your child by example how to be their best, most confident self.

How to stop yelling at your kids

3 steps to stop yelling at your kids and end morning mayhem.

Do you know this scenario?

“COME ON, HURRY UP! It’s time to GO! Stop playing around, you’re going to be late for school. For the last time, GRAB YOUR DAMN LUNCH! You’d forget your head if it wasn’t attached to you! I’m LEAVING NOW. Get in the car already!”How to Stop yelling at your kids

The first five minutes of the car ride is angry and nagging, justifying our frustration, but by the time we get to school we’ve calmed down enough for the guilt to start creeping in. We might even squeeze out an “I love you” or “Have a good day” before they leap out of the car, happy to get away from such a cranky mommy. For the next hour, we feel like shit. “Why am I such a bitch?” “What a horrible way to start the day.” “What’s wrong with me and why can’t HE JUST HURRY UP so I don’t have to yell!”

The first step to stop yelling at your kids, is to understand why you do it in the first place. Yelling releases tension and energy. Keeping our feelings of frustration inside doesn’t feel good, so like steam escaping from a boiling pot, we release it by yelling. We feel better in the moment, but worse later on.

The second step to stop yelling at your kids, is to find the thought that causes your feeling of frustration. Emotions come from our thoughts. We can’t change our feelings but we can change the thoughts we think. If we find that a thought isn’t true, helpful or is resulting in something we don’t like, we can replace it with something more helpful.

Some of the more common thoughts Moms have that cause yelling are…
“He should move quicker” “He’s doing this on purpose” “Yelling is the only thing that motivates her.”
“We’re going to get in trouble” “This is embarrassing” “I can’t be late” “I’m never late” “I should have gotten up earlier” “You are trying to drive me crazy.”

The truth is, everyone is late sometimes. Some kids are naturally fast movers, and some kids naturally move slow. It’s human nature to move even slower when we don’t want to go somewhere. I notice that I move slower whenever I feel pressured. I don’t do it on purpose, but it explains why I was always chosen last in P.E.

To argue that kids “should move faster” isn’t helpful. It’s like arguing with human nature.

The third step to stop yelling at your kids is to accept things as they are. “My kid moves slowly in the morning.” “I get up later than I want to.” “Even when I try my best, sometimes I will be late.” How do you want to feel about these facts? You get to decide. You can feel frustrated, or you can choose an emotion that doesn’t lead to yelling, like peacefulness. Try the thought, “I want to be peaceful and efficient in the mornings” and see if it affects your emotional state in a positive way.

Once you are feeling calm and accepting about your mornings, your mind is more open to new ideas. Try these yell free life hacks to get kids into the car in the mornings:

Have a morning soundtrack. Play the same music set every morning so kids know that when Michael Jackson starts singing, it’s time to be dressed and eating breakfast downstairs. When Pharrell starts singing “Happy”, it’s time to get your shoes on and into the car. Practice on the weekend so they know the routine and reward them (and yourself) after three consecutive days of yell-free mornings.

Keep a “late happens” kit in the car so there’s no excuse to stress. This ziplock bag can contain a hairbrush, hair band, granola bar, sunscreen, deodorant, sugarless gum (for bad morning breath), a pen for signing last minute permission slips and a few dollars for buying lunch.

Have fun helping the kids create a morning routine poster. Include funny photos of them pretending to brush teeth, eat, or use the toilet. Encourage your kids to decide what would work best for them in the morning (maybe they need to go to bed earlier in order to take more time in the morning)? Buy them an old fashioned alarm clock so they can be self motivated and rely less on mom. Learning to switch your thinking will keep you plenty busy. 

Make the car a nice place to be. My daughter loved her chewable vitamin so I only let her have them in the car. A frozen waffle folded in half with peanut butter and a glass of milk makes for a quick & easy breakfast to go. Get the heater going, play some nice music and give your kids the happy, relaxed mommy you want them to have in the mornings.

If you want to stop yelling but haven’t been successful, schedule a free discovery call at www.LifeCoachingforParents.com/work-with-me

 

 

What’s your currency?

I was reading Amy Poehler’s biography, “Yes, Please!” and she talked about a moment of awareness in middle school that I loved and have been sharing with my summer camp girls. I’m roughly paraphrasing, but it was something like, “I realized I was never going to be the girl who turned heads, the girl all the boys wanted to be with, the most popular, the most athletic, or the smartest. But I was funny. So I decided my sense of humor would be my currency and I focused on building that.”

Middle school is the time kids start turning to the world around them and noticing what’s in, what’s out, how to blend in and not get made fun of. Kids 11-14 are trying to figure out who they are and who they are “supposed” to be and they look to peers and media for the answers. This often creates a perfectionistic image of the ideal look (height, weight, hair, skin, clothes, etc.) to the ideal friendships (outgoing & extroverted but a deep connection with a best friend, constant fun activities surrounded by friends, published on social media) to the perfect intelligence (smart but not too smart, confident but humble, get good grades but don’t work too hard). Yuck!

When kids buy in to this perfectionistic ideal they spend all their time and energy striving towards something impossible and exhausting.

This is why I loved the idea that kids could just chose their currency. Choose ONE THING they are going to focus on, expand on, and take pride in. Instead of trying to be perfect in every area, kids could decide they are already good at this one thing, and not worry about everything else.

What I found at my Launching Girl Leaders camps is that this was a really hard thing for the girls to reflect on. It was SO EASY for ME to identify their special skills, gifts and talents but it was hard for them to see in themselves. 

Here’s an example of some “currencies” these girls came up with

  • I’m really good at telling stories.
  • I like to ask questions and answer questions and am the first to volunteer, this seems to put other people at ease and helps them feel comfortable.
  • I’m really good at trying new things and physically pushing myself to the limit.
  • I love children and think I’m good with them.
  • I’m super determined. When I decide I want something, nothing will get in my way.
  • I really love animals and am inspiring my family to eat less meat.
  • I’m a good listener. People like to open up to me.
  • I’m nice to everybody. When someone’s friends are being mean, they know they can always sit with me at lunch.
  • I love playing games: board games, sports, video games. If I turn homework into a game, it makes it so much more fun.

Here’s your homework Mamas: I want you to help your sons and daughters, identify their currency. Give them some suggestions and ask them, “Which of your personality traits are you most proud of?” “How does this trait benefit others around you?” “Which of your talents would you like to focus on this year?” 

Then identify your own currency. I know that you have lots of traits that make you amazing. Pick one that comes so naturally to you, it’s like breathing. Think about what your friends and family praise you for. How does it feel to focus on this one thing that you already good at, instead of any shortcomings? Remember that without even trying, you are already good enough.

Would you like a career that is more in line with your natural currency? Schedule a free discovery call and lets talk about some new possibilities for you.