Two Simple Approaches to Get Out of the Power Struggle with your Teen

positive-parentingPlenty of parents call me this time of year, exhausted and tell me, “my teen needs therapy stat!” or “I was fine raising my child but now that he/she’s an adolescent I’m at a loss”. Parenting a teenager is a new and scary experience for most, and to shift how you interact with your children can be a difficult. The good news is there are some parenting techniques for teens that can help you successfully build family harmony and a healthy, independent young adult.

As children get older, they test boundaries much more often. This can be challenging at times, and that is why it is extremely important to build structure when parenting a teenager. They need someone to guide them without being smothering. So, instead of constantly guiding them by the hand on a path that should be their own, you can see yourself to be like the railing of a bridge. You can be there to make sure they don’t crash over the side while also being the guiding force that they desperately need.

Teenagers thrive with a positive method of parenting so they feel independent, as well as heard and supported. They may not voice it, but the support and guidance you provide as a parent is appreciated. When I hear kids say their parents are ‘getting in their face’ and ‘nagging’, they often become resentful and will refuse to cooperate simply to win.. The more they feel confronted or attacked, the more they will retreat away from you. Building structure for any child often means setting boundaries and being there for them in the way that they need. As you play the role of the railing of the bridge, keeping them on the right track but not guiding them by the hand, they will figure more out on their own and gain valuable life skills.

How do you Become the Rail and Stay off the Road?

As a parent coach, here are a couple of skills my clients have reported as the most effective ways to communicate with their kiddos:

The When/Then Technique

 Using the when/then parenting skill in situations that would normally end in a power struggle and screaming match. The when/then technique was popularized by Amy McCready, founder of Positive Parenting Solutions, and works as a way of replacing the word if, with when, while directing your child to do what you request of them. “If” gives a teenager the illusion that they have a choice, while the word “when” implies that they have no choice but to comply with what you’ve told them to do. For example, saying, “When you do the dishes, then you can go out with your friends.” There is a reward built into it, which is also useful as positive reinforcement. Using this method means there is no yelling, just a simple restructuring of phrases. They will understand that when they do what you want them to do, then they can do what they want to do.

The Broken Record Technique

Applying the broken record parenting technique, especially when you want to keep your teenager safe. Instead of debating or arguing with them, you repeat the same instructions over and over until they do what they are told. This shows them that you know what is best for them, and that they need to comply before they get to do anything else. If you don’t change your request, they will come to realize that you mean business and they aren’t going to be allowed to break the rules. You are keeping them safe and happy, and showing them that you mean what you say.

Yelling and battling is exhausting- it may produce short-term results, but in the long term won’t move your child towards success. Building structure, creating boundaries, and utilizing positive reinforcement can go a long way in helping your teen become a better person and have a smoother life all around. They need your love and guidance more than anything else at this time in their lives, as they figure out who they are and what their purpose is. So in focusing on your role as the railings of a bridge as a tool for positive parenting, you will give them exactly what they need to shape themselves and learn how to function in the world.

Hypnotherapy for Teenage Anxiety

How Can Hypnotherapy Help My Child?

Teenagers suffer from anxiety in much the same way as their parents and other adults, even when living in loving homes and surrounded by supportive family and friends. While the actual concern that brings about the anxiety may be different, many of their emotional and physical symptoms are similar and oftentimes, quite frightening. This is especially true when the anxiety results from a first time experience, such as changing schools, watching parents divorce, losing a loved one or moving to a new town, and she or he has not yet had the opportunity to learn effective coping skills to help them manage.

Stress and anxiety can be treated with a mix of CBT and hypnotherapy

Hypnosis is one of the best treatments for anxiety; the intervention not only provides suggestions on how to decrease anxiety but also provides a new answer in how to relax at the same time.

The good news is that anxiety is one of the most treatable mental health conditions, and there are even many strengths inherent in the anxiety-prone temperament.

The Long Term Value of Learning How to Manage Anxiety

Learning to manage anxiety in teenage years is an important skill. Developing effective coping techniques can prevent anxiety from continuing into adulthood and manifesting into phobias, physical health problems or in ways that permanently alter the individual’s ability to achieve success, socialize with others, form relationships and reach short and long term goals. One effective strategy for helping a teen to work through anxiety is hypnotherapy.

How Hypnotherapy Can Help

Hypnosis is a popular therapeutic intervention for teenagers because it is both safe and effective. It does not rely on medications that may have the potential to cause adverse side effects and are often only a short term answer. Hypnosis based interventions empower teenagers to develop beneficial coping skills and find their own solutions that can be used throughout a lifetime. This has the powerful effect of allowing them to move forward in life, increase their feelings of hopefulness and realize endless possibilities for themselves.

The exact method used to treat anxiety in teenagers will vary from patient to patient, but most combine both positive imagery and powerful suggestions to replace negativity, doubt, and fear in the subconscious mind. A skilled hypnotherapist guides the client through various suggestions while the client is in a trance-like state and open to different and more helpful ways of thinking and reacting. This helps to release stuck beliefs within the mind and break the cycle of feeling anxious, fearful or lacking self-esteem.

Affirmations – Tools for Life

Part of the hypnotherapy practice involves providing the teenager with tools that they can

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take with them long after the sessions are over and use in the future when facing their fears. These often come in the form of affirmations. Affirmations are statements that are repeatedly made while the teen is in a deep state of relaxation. They might include things like “I am cool, calm and collected”, “Let time pass”, “I am brave” or “Accept this moment”. In most cases, the therapist will start by saying several of these phrases slowly during a session and ask the teen to repeat them one at a time. This allows positive, peaceful and calming thoughts to flood the sub-conscious mind and replace negative self-talk that may be at the root of the anxiety.

Using Visualizations

Teenagers may also be taught to visualize calm and peaceful places to help them relax in the earliest stages of an anxiety-induced panic attack. The image should be one that the client is comfortable in and wants to escape to such as the beach, mountains, a quiet reading nook or a favorite childhood home. Oftentimes, a word is used when the vision is created and while the teen is in a deep hypnotic state. The teenager is then taught that when the word is heard or said during full consciousness, it is a cue to mentally escape to their happy place, breathe deeply, relax and let go of tension. This provides teenagers with a powerful coping mechanism that manifests in both physical and mental ways and can be used anytime anxiety strikes.

Trusting the Hypnotherapist

One of the most important characteristics that improve outcomes during hypnotherapy sessions is trust. If the teenager is comfortable around the therapist, he is more likely to have positive expectations about the outcomes from each session, open up about his feelings and provide information that can help the therapist get to the root of the problem causing anxiety. A therapist can then use that information to target the exact needs of the teenager, bring forward any stuck emotions that the sub-conscious mind may be repressing and create the most effective affirmations, visualizations, and positive suggestions. Teenagers are also more likely to feel relaxed around a therapist they trust, and this can lead to a deeper state of hypnosis and a higher level of success throughout the sessions.

Anxiety in teenagers is a condition that can develop at any time and have a life-altering impact on their physical and mental well being. The good news is that it is treatable. For many, the solution lies in hypnotherapy. If your child is unusually stressed, fearful, isolated or anxious, I am a licensed therapist in San Diego and here to help. Call my office to schedule your teenager’s consultation and begin the path toward hopefulness and healing.

Other articles of interest:

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) In San Diego

Clinical Hypnosis and CBT in San Diego

Positive Parenting in San Diego

8 Ways Hypnotherapy Can Help You

The Role of Media in Vicarious Trauma

When You or Your Children Are Upset by News Reports

The Role of Media in Vicarious TraumaMedia coverage of a crime, natural disaster, war, act of terrorism, or other disturbing event provides us with vital and helpful information. News reports can keep us informed about what is happening and things we may need to do.

But too much exposure to media coverage of frightening events can add to our distress and make us and our children feel anxious. Continual reports on burglaries in our community may be as disturbing as accounts of far-off disasters, because the local news stories involve events that are closer to home and may affect us more personally. Below is information on ways to keep media coverage from adding to feelings of stress for you and your family.

Stress reactions to media coverage

Today, with live TV and radio broadcasts from around the world and instant news online, news of traumatic events comes streaming into our living rooms and onto our computer screens as never before. The growing use of cell phones that connect to the Internet has made media coverage even harder to avoid.

We witness frightening events in color and it can feel as if we are really there. Graphic and disturbing images and nonstop coverage of traumatic events can cause us to feel traumatized even if we were not directly impacted by the trauma or tragedy. Experts call this “vicarious trauma” or “secondary trauma.”

The signs of vicarious trauma include

• prolonged sadness and crying
• inability to concentrate
• nausea, headaches, and muscle aches
• fear and anxiety
• sleep problems
• distressing dreams
• a general sense of uneasiness
• isolation and withdrawal from others
• outbursts of anger
• depression

Overview

How media coverage can add to feelings of stress and fear.

• Stress reactions to media coverage
• Taking a break from media coverage
• Resurfacing feelings of grief and anxiety
• irritability
• disorientation
• exacerbation of chronic medical conditions

The signs of vicarious trauma in children include

• daydreaming
• separation anxiety
• regressive behavior, such as bed-wetting
• not wanting to go to school

Taking a break from media coverage

If you are experiencing stress reactions to media coverage or if the news is making you feel anxious, do the following:

• Take a break from listening to or watching media coverage of stressful events. Avoid reading news stories about the events or watching news or documentary programs on TV. Avoid going online to follow the coverage.
• Find ways to fill the gap. Watching the news can be a habit, so find other ways to spend the time you usually watch TV news. For instance, go for a walk, spend more time planning and enjoying meals, listen to favorite music, or read a book.
• Take a break from talking about stressful events in the media with friends and relatives.
• Talk with a professional if your symptoms persist. Your employee assistance program (EAP) can help.

Resurfacing feelings of grief and anxiety

Some people may be especially affected by media coverage, including those who have experienced a loss and those who have experienced a violent crime, natural disaster, war, catastrophe, or personal crisis. Traumatic events may trigger memories of past losses or events even if they happened many years ago, and may bring back images of previous traumas, nightmares, and feelings of grief, fear, and sadness. Below are suggestions if you or someone you love is experiencing
feelings of grief or anxiety that may be triggered by extensive media coverage of a traumatic event.

• Realize that graphic images and stories on TV can affect your mood and feelings. If you feel sad, overwhelmed, or more angry or irritable than usual, limit your exposure to news coverage of the traumatic events and spend extra time with friends or family. Do something that you find relaxing.
• Talk with someone you trust about the recent events and about past losses or experiences that may be affecting you now. 3 z When You or Your Children Are Upset by News Reports

• If your work is affected, talk about your fears and concerns with a professional. Your EAP can assist you in finding help.
• Try to keep to a regular pattern of eating and sleeping. This gives you the strength to cope with stress.
• Get as much exercise as possible. Many people find that exercise makes it easier to cope with painful emotions.
• Seek support from your faith community. During difficult periods many people find comfort and solace in their faith communities.

Media coverage and children

Children who repeatedly see images of violence and trauma on TV or in newspapers may have continued fears about their own safety and that of their family. Children who have lost a pet, experienced a separation or divorce, or lost a friend or relative may be deeply affected. You can protect and support your child by doing the following:

• Limit exposure to news coverage of disturbing events. Closely monitor what your child is seeing on TV or on the computer and what he or she is reading in magazines and in the newspaper.
• Be present if your child does watch TV coverage of disturbing events. That way you can answer your child’ s questions and talk about concerns. It is important to be present even if your child is a teenager. Again, limit the amount of coverage your child watches.
• Take extra steps if the coverage involves a crime or other frightening event in your community. Find out what your child knows or has heard from friends so you can correct any mistaken ideas that he or she may have picked up.
• Spend extra time with your child.
• Keep to family routines.
• Plan a family outing or activity your child enjoys.
• Try, as much as possible, to be together during difficult times. The program that provided this publication has additional resources on coping with stress and disturbing events.

When You or Your Children Are Upset by News Reports

Media coverage of a crime, natural disaster, war, act of terrorism, or other disturbing event provides us with vital and helpful information. News reports can keep us informed about what is happening and things we may need to do.
But too much exposure to media coverage of frightening events can add to our distress and make us and our children feel anxious. Continual reports on burglaries in our community may be as disturbing as accounts of far-off disasters, because the local news stories involve events that are closer to home and may affect us more personally. Below is information on ways to keep media coverage from adding to feelings of stress for you and your family.

Stress reactions to media coverage

Today, with live TV and radio broadcasts from around the world and instant news online, news of traumatic events comes streaming into our living rooms and onto our computer screens as never before. The growing use of cell phones that connect to the Internet has made media coverage even harder to avoid.

We witness frightening events in color and it can feel as if we are really there. Graphic and disturbing images and nonstop coverage of traumatic events can cause us to feel traumatized even if we were not directly impacted by the trauma or tragedy. Experts call this “vicarious trauma” or “secondary trauma.”

The signs of vicarious trauma include

• prolonged sadness and crying
• inability to concentrate
• nausea, headaches, and muscle aches
• fear and anxiety
• sleep problems
• distressing dreams
• a general sense of uneasiness
• isolation and withdrawal from others
• outbursts of anger
• depression

Overview
How media coverage can add to feelings of stress and fear.

• Stress reactions to media coverage
• Taking a break from media coverage
• Resurfacing feelings of grief and anxiety
• Media coverage and children 2 z When You or Your Children Are Upset by News Reports

• irritability
• disorientation
• exacerbation of chronic medical conditions

The signs of vicarious trauma in children include
• daydreaming
• separation anxiety
• regressive behavior, such as bed-wetting
• not wanting to go to school

Taking a break from media coverage
If you are experiencing stress reactions to media coverage or if the news is making you feel anxious, do the following:

• Take a break from listening to or watching media coverage of stressful events. Avoid reading news stories about the events or watching news or documentary programs on TV. Avoid going online to follow the coverage.
• Find ways to fill the gap. Watching the news can be a habit, so find other ways to spend the time you usually watch TV news. For instance, go for a walk, spend more time planning and enjoying meals, listen to favorite music, or read a book.
• Take a break from talking about stressful events in the media with friends and relatives.
• Talk with a professional if your symptoms persist. Your employee assistance program (EAP) can help.

Resurfacing feelings of grief and anxiety
Some people may be especially affected by media coverage, including those who have experienced a loss and those who have experienced a violent crime, natural disaster, war, catastrophe, or personal crisis. Traumatic events may trigger memories of past losses or events even if they happened many years ago, and may bring back images of previous traumas, nightmares, and feelings of grief, fear, and sadness. Below are suggestions if you or someone you love is experiencing
feelings of grief or anxiety that may be triggered by extensive media coverage of a traumatic event.

• Realize that graphic images and stories on TV can affect your mood and feelings. If you feel sad, overwhelmed, or more angry or irritable than usual, limit your exposure to news coverage of the traumatic events and spend extra time with friends or family. Do something that you find relaxing.
• Talk with someone you trust about the recent events and about past losses or experiences that may be affecting you now. 3 z When You or Your Children Are Upset by News Reports
• If your work is affected, talk about your fears and concerns with a professional. Your EAP can assist you in finding help.
• Try to keep to a regular pattern of eating and sleeping. This gives you the strength to cope with stress.
• Get as much exercise as possible. Many people find that exercise makes it easier to cope with painful emotions.
• Seek support from your faith community. During difficult periods many people find comfort and solace in their faith communities.

Media coverage and children
Children who repeatedly see images of violence and trauma on TV or in newspapers may have continued fears about their own safety and that of their family. Children who have lost a pet, experienced a separation or divorce, or lost a friend or relative may be deeply affected. You can protect and support your child by doing the following:

• Limit exposure to news coverage of disturbing events. Closely monitor what your child is seeing on TV or on the computer and what he or she is reading in magazines and in the newspaper.
• Be present if your child does watch TV coverage of disturbing events. That way you can answer your child’ s questions and talk about concerns. It is important to be present even if your child is a teenager. Again, limit the amount of coverage your child watches.
• Take extra steps if the coverage involves a crime or other frightening event in your community. Find out what your child knows or has heard from friends so you can correct any mistaken ideas that he or she may have picked up.
• Spend extra time with your child.
• Keep to family routines.
• Plan a family outing or activity your child enjoys.
• Try, as much as possible, to be together during difficult times.
The program that provided this publication has additional resources on coping with stress and disturbing events.

Written with the help of Alexandra Mezey, LICSW. Ms. Mezey has a master’ s degree in social work
and has completed postgraduate training in family therapy and advisement for Employee Assistance
Professional certification. She has worked as a family therapist and as an employee assistance program
counselor,

© 2001, 2011 Ceridian Corporation. All rights reserved.

Parenting a Teen? Let’s Talk About Bridges….

Parenting a Teen? Let's Talk About BridgesAs children approach those dreaded teenage years, their parents are forced to confront new challenges. Some parents liken themselves to the hand that guides a toy car across a bridge or even a bystander watching the car go by, but in reality, the ideal place for the parent is the railing of the bridge. Parents can provide guidance for children without smothering them. Can you imagine driving a car across a bridge with no railings? One simple movement could send you soaring through the air, ready to crash into the unknown. A simple guiding force can change all of this.

Adolescents need some semblance of independence. Identity is important, especially in these vulnerable years. Adolescents who do not understand their own identities struggle more than those who do.  If your child needs some support, sometimes talking to a therapist can help them figure out his or her place in life while still maintaining a good relationship with their parents.

  • Pick your battles. If your teenager has a messy bedroom but is otherwise a great student, nit-picking can do more harm than good.
  • Get involved when it matters, offering yourself as a source of support.
  • Getting caught stealing, failing courses and refusing to communicate are matters that require more intervention.
  • Be flexible. Sometimes you have to adjust rules and consequences. Curfew, bedtime and allowances are reasonably changed throughout the years.

In addition, parents must understand which punishments may actually hold water. For instance, sending a teen to her room when she has access to a computer, phone and television is no longer a punishment. Limiting driving privileges and taking away the cell phone are more effective.

Just as punishments can make an impact, positive reinforcement can too. Use praise to show how proud you are of your child for excellent grades and impressive moral fiber. When the only words a child hears are negative, it strains the relationship.

Parenting is no cake walk, but that does not mean you cannot have a healthy relationship with your teen. Remember your role as the railing of the bridge. This helps you focus on providing guidance for your teen.

Related Articles

Positive Parenting in San Diego

Hypnotherapy for Teenage Anxiety

Understanding How The 1:5 Ratio Can Benefit Your Relationships

Understanding How The 1:5 Ratio Can Benefit Your RelationshipsHave you ever heard that accentuating the positive can benefit a relationship? Have you ever tried to remain completely positive in a personal or business relationship, only to find that it is impossible to always avoid saying anything negative? What if I told you the key to happiness comes in the form of a balance between positive and negative. This approach is known as the 1:5 ratio, and it is more powerful than you might believe possible.

What is the 1:5 ratio?

The 1:5 ratio basically states for every one negative comment there should also be five positive comments. A negative comment grabs someone’s attention, makes them rethink actions and helps to change their attitude, while positive comments boost morale and offset any feelings of resentment. Using these guidelines, a couple can continue to argue when necessary, but they also need to remain compassionate and show empathy toward each other. Research shows this approach leads to healthier, more productive and longer lasting relationships.

The 1:5 ratio extends beyond love relationships too. This approach will work with business associates, friends, roommates, in academic circles and even when dealing with siblings or children.

In summary, let someone know you do not agree with him or her. Just be sure to bank a few positive comments along the way by saying I love you, expressing verbal appreciation for a strength or offering praise for a job well done. Taking this approach will go a long way toward building the important personal and business relationships in your life.