communication with teenager

    With teen mental health deteriorating over five years, there ’s a likely culprit November 14, 2017 2.36pm GMT (The conversation.com)

    Around 2012, something started going wrong in the lives of teens.

    In just the five years between 2010 and 2015, the number of U.S. teens who felt useless and joyless – classic symptoms of depression – surged 33 percent in large national surveys. Teen suicide attempts increased 23 percent. Even more troubling, the number of 13- to 18-year-olds who committed suicide jumped 31 percent.
    In a new paper published in Clinical Psychological Science, my colleagues and I found that the increases in depression, suicide attempts and suicide appeared among teens from every background – more privileged and less privileged, across all races and ethnicities and in every region of the country. All told, our analysis found that the generation of teens I call “iGen” – those born after 1995 – is much more likely to experience mental health issues than their millennial predecessors.
    What happened so that so many more teens, in such a short period of time, would feel depressed, attempt suicide and commit suicide? After scouring several large surveys of teens for clues, I found that all of the possibilities traced back to a major change in teens’ lives: the sudden ascendance of the smartphone.
    All signs point to the screen
    Because the years between 2010 to 2015 were a period of steady economic growth and falling unemployment, it’s unlikely that economic malaise was a factor. Income inequality was (and still is) an issue, but it didn’t suddenly appear in the early 2010s: This gap between the rich and poor had been widening for decades. We found that the time teens spent on homework barely budged between 2010 and 2015, effectively ruling out academic pressure as a cause.
    However, according to the Pew Research Center, smartphone ownership crossed the 50 percent threshold in late 2012 – right when teen depression and suicide began to increase. By 2015, 73 percent of teens had access to a smartphone.
    Not only did smartphone use and depression increase in tandem, but time spent online was linked to mental health issues across two different data sets. We found that teens who spent five or more hours a day online were 71 percent more likely than those who spent only one hour a day to have at least one suicide risk factor (depression, thinking about suicide, making a suicide plan or attempting suicide). Overall, suicide risk factors rose significantly after two or more hours a day of time online.
    Of course, it’s possible that instead of time online causing depression, depression causes more time online. But three other studies show that is unlikely (at least, when viewed through social media use).
    Two followed people over time, with both studies finding that spending more time on social media led to unhappiness, while unhappiness did not lead to more social media use. A third randomly assigned participants to give up Facebook for a week versus continuing their usual use. Those who avoided Facebook reported feeling less depressed at the end of the week.
    The argument that depression might cause people to spend more time online doesn’t also explain why depression increased so suddenly after 2012. Under that scenario, more teens became depressed for an unknown reason and then started buying smartphones, which doesn’t seem too logical.
    What’s lost when we’re plugged in
    Even if online time doesn’t directly harm mental health, it could still adversely affect it in indirect ways, especially if time online crowds out time for other activities.
    For example, while conducting research for my book on iGen, I found that teens now spend much less time interacting with their friends in person. Interacting with people face to face is one of the deepest wellsprings of human happiness; without it, our moods start to suffer and depression often follows. Feeling socially isolated is also one of the major risk factors for suicide. We found that teens who spent more time than average online and less time than average with friends in person were the most likely to be depressed. Since 2012, that’s what has occurred en masse: Teens have spent less time on activities known to benefit mental health (in-person social interaction) and more time on activities that may harm it (time online).
    Teens are also sleeping less, and teens who spend more time on their phones are more likely to not be getting enough sleep. Not sleeping enough is a major risk factor for depression, so if smartphones are causing less sleep, that alone could explain why depression and suicide increased so suddenly.
    Depression and suicide have many causes: Genetic predisposition, family environments, bullying and trauma can all play a role. Some teens would experience mental health problems no matter what era they lived in.
    But some vulnerable teens who would otherwise not have had mental health issues may have slipped into depression due to too much screen time, not enough face-to-face social interaction, inadequate sleep or a combination of all three.
    It might be argued that it’s too soon to recommend less screen time, given that the research isn’t completely definitive. However, the downside to limiting screen time – say, to two hours a day or less – is minimal. In contrast, the downside to doing nothing – given the possible consequences of depression and suicide – seems, to me, quite high.
    It’s not too early to think about limiting screen time; let’s hope it’s not too late.

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    Parenting Adolescents – Tips That May Help Your Parenting Experience To Be A More Positive One.

    Having worked with 8yr-18yr for the past 8 years, I have put together a few tips that may help your parenting skills. Learning what is going on in the heads of tweens and teens over the past number of years helps me to stay up to date on the many issues and problems they may face on a daily basis.

    I am also the mum of 4 daughters (12yr – 20 yr), there have been plenty of ups and downs along the way but I have learnt what battles to pick, what is most important to them, what may add fuel to the fire during the many disagreements along the way, and how important it is to keep communication open and to have mutual trust at any cost.
    Adolescents need to establish themselves as their own person – separate to, but yet part of, the family, connected to – but independent from their parents. I have learnt many lessons from my own mistakes – after all this is how we all learn!
    PICK YOUR BATTLES
    Parenting a tween/teen means facing many issues that can either result in all our war or maybe with a little less ‘reaction’ and a little more understanding, the result may be a more peaceful one. Try to remember what was important to you at their age, fitting in, feeling grown up and responsible, thinking you knew it all, believing your parents could not possibly understand what you are going through (they rarely believe we were ever teenagers). Try to pick the battles that really matter – take a breath before you launch in with your words of wisdom. I understand this is not easy but it really does make a huge difference.
    EVENT + REACTION = OUTCOME

    TRUST THEM UNTIL THEY GIVE YOU A REASON NOT TO.

    Without trust the relationship between parent and tween/teen is very tricky. Trust is the bond that keeps the relationship strong. I would suggest you trust your own child (regardless of other peoples opinions) until they give you a reason not to. Talk to them about the importance of trust within your family. When tweens/teens believe you do not trust them, they feel they have nothing to break, when they believe you do trust them they are less likely to break that trust. I see this over and over again – setting boundaries (realistic to their age group) and sticking to them, helps the child to understand their boundaries. You know your child better than anyone else, if they have never given you a reason not to trust them – why would you question their trust.

    COMMUNICATION
    Communication is vital to any relationship – this is the same for the parent-child relationship, try to keep communication open at all costs. When you cannot speak to them, text them, write to them – it does not matter how you communicate with them – once you do communicate. They are at a stage when they want to feel independent, capable of making decisions on their own, testing their boundaries – this is all ‘normal’ behaviour for a tween/teen. Their behaviour and the person they are is not the same thing. Try to separate the behaviour (typical to their age group) and the person. They are going through so many changes, physically, emotionally and psychologically, they are very often on emotional overload. This may cause the irrational
    behaviour, silly decisions – try to separate the two, let a lot of the irrational behaviour go over your head and try to understand what might really be going on;
    did they have a tough day at school
    did they have an argument with a friend
    has their skin broken out (big deal to them)
    are they over tired
    are they stressed over exams
    are they lonely/not fitting in with they peer group
    It is so important that you try to see beyond the behaviour and cut them a bit of slack. Im not saying accept rudeness or lack of respect but the general moodiness, lack of chat – try to ignore.

    EXPLAIN THE IMPORTANCE OF YOUR FAMILY VALUES
    What are your family values? Explain the need for values and what they mean. This is an area that I work on a lot when working with teenagers – it explains a lot of issues they face when it comes to;
    peer pressure
    family issues
    friendship issues
    Think of your relationship within your home like a tree:
    the roots are the things that hold you together;
    communication – love – trust – responsibility – traditions — whatever is important to your family, the branches are the many changes that will occur
    during your parenting years but whatever happens if you stick to your values, the roots will remain strong and in tact and will hold you together.
    Parenting is the most important job anyone will ever have and yet the only job that comes without any training – ask for help and support, it does make a difference.
    “The sign of great parenting is not the child’s behaviour.
    The sign of truly great parenting is the parent’s behaviour.”

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    “Don’t try so hard to fit in and certainly don’t try so hard to be different, just try to be you.”

    I recently ran a workshop ‘Have a Positive Transition from Primary to Secondary School’ with a 6th class mixed group. I wanted to share this with you as it can be a big worry for many kids. The things the kids were looking forward to about starting 1st year and they things they were worried about.

    Things they were looking forward to:

    Different teachers
    Lots of new friends
    Different subjects
    New uniform
    Having a canteen
    Discos

    Things they were worried about; (some overlapped!)

    Different teachers – having a teacher who didn’t like them
    Finding it hard to make friends
    Homework – nervous of not being able to cope
    Lockers – nervous about getting books from lockers on time
    Getting lost in a big school
    Exams (this came up a lot)
    Discos
    If you have an older child, try to get them to go through some of these points. They may seem trivial to an older sibling or parent but they are important to the 12/13 year old starting into a new school.

    Help them to understand the importance of doing ‘their’ best and whether that ‘best’ is a D, C, B or A is irrelevant – once it is their best. Academia is important but so is friendship, family, past-times, mental and physical health. President of UCD recently commented on the number of 11 A students finishing school who cannot cope with life, cannot communicate, have no interests and few friends – this is not the ideal scenario for any of our kids. Balance is so important – try to remember academia is only one aspect of your child’s life.

    Help them to understand that many kids don’t make friends straight away – that is normal. When I work with 5th year students and ask them when do they think students make their ‘real’ friends in secondary school, the answer is always the same – 3rd or 4th year. This is really important as kids feel there is something ‘wrong’ with them if they haven’t found their ‘group’ in 1st year.

    Your 1st year student may be totally stressed out in the mornings because their hair is not right or their uniform is dirty or something else we, the parent, may think is not important but PLEASE remember, to them it IS important or else they would not be upset about it. Try to remember when you were starting secondary school;
    what were you nervous about
    what was important to you
    it is very easy to forget what it is like to be a 13 year old starting into a new phase of life.
    For some kids this will happen without a hitch, for others there may be a few pitfalls along the way. This is an age group I work with a lot so feel free to email me with any concerns you may have and I will do my best to support you.

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    Is your child/teenager addicted to their phone? Does their phone rule or do they take control of their phone?

    I recently ran a workshop on Self-Development with a group of 6th year students in Co. Laois. I would like to share some of my findings which are very relevant to any parent with kids of any age. This was a mixed group – males and females aged 17/18 years of age.

    Question asked;
    Do you think your phone/gamine effects your study?
    Answers;
    Yes because once you start using it you never get off it and waste hours
    -Yes sometimes I loose track of time and I am then too tired or its too late to study
    -Yes it is distracting when your friends message you, you feel you have to reply straight away
    -Yes playing too much ultimate geam
    -Yes because you are constantly checking it which effects my concentration

    Up to 95% said their phones effected their study. We spoke at length about how they could change this and what would happen if they did/did not make some changes now. (4 months before Leaving Cert Examination)

    They really were very open to taking on change. They admitted they never really thought about the effects their phone was having on their lives – study, family, past-times, but they will now.

    Question asked;
    Do you think this workshop might encourage you to make any positive changes in your life?
    Answers;
    yes, to turn off my phone when I am studying
    -yes, to take my phone out of my bedroom at night
    -yes, to find a balance between my real life and my virtual life
    -yes, I feel motivated to study
    -yes, not to rely on my phone so much
    -yes, to set goals for myself and follow them through
    -yes, to try harder at training and switch off my phone

    My point is, in all the workshops I run, the students are so open to change. I really believe they do not think about the negative effects of their phones, as they have grown up believing this is the only way to live (phone constantly in their hands). They need to come to this realisation themselves, when they decide to turn their phones off themselves because they understand the negative effects of it, they have a good chance of sticking to it.  When they are ‘told’ to turn their phone off for study, this is when the battles begin.  We spoke about the effect of phones on family life, past-times, fitness, friendships, sleep, values and strengths – our kids need life skills, they need to learn how to control their phones, take control of their lives. We, their parents, can help them to do this from a very early age. We have to set boundaries for them and stick to them. Will there be arguments? yes. Will there be tantrums? yes. But this is part of our parenting job now. We have to support and help our kids to have a balance in their lives, to understand the world offline and to try to take part in it as much as possible.
    I would love to see Self-development modules become part of our curriculum from a very early age as our kids are growing up in a very fast paced, changing technological run world and they do need help and support to live in it in a more positive, healthy way.

    Please contact me should you have any questions relating to the above. Eileen

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    PARENTING ADOLESCENTS – TIPS THAT MAY MAKE A DIFFERENCE

    Having worked with 8yr-18yr for the past 6 years, I have put together a few tips that may help your parenting skills. Learning what is going on in the heads of tweens and teens over the past number of years helps me to stay up to date on the many issues and problems they may face.

    I am also the mum of 4 daughters (12yr – 20 yr), there have been plenty of ups and downs along the way but I have learnt what battles to pick, what is most important to them, what may add fuel to the fire during the many disagreements along the way, and how important it is to keep communication open and mutual trust at any cost.

    Adolescents need to establish themselves as their own person – separate to but part of the family, connected to but independent from their parents. I have learnt many lessons from my own mistakes – after all this is how we all learn!

    PICK YOUR BATTLES

    Parenting a tween/teen means facing many issues that can either result in all our war or maybe less reaction and more understanding, can result in a peaceful solutinon. Try to remember what was important to you at their age, fitting in, feeling grown up and responsible, thinking you knew it all, believing your parents could not possibly understand what you are going through (they rarely believe we were ever teenagers). Try to pick the battles that really matter – take a breath before you launch in with your words of wisdom. I understand this is not easy but it really does make a huge difference.

    EVENT + REACTION = OUTCOME

    TRUST THEM UNTIL THEY GIVE YOU A REASON NOT TO.

    Without trust the relationship between parent and tween/teen is very tricky. Trust is the bond that keeps the relationship strong. I would suggest your trust your own child (regardless of other peoples opinions) until they give you a reason not to. Talk to them about the importance of trust within your family. When tweens/teens believe you do not trust them, they feel they have nothing to break, when they believe you do trust them they are less likely to break that trust. I see this over and over again – setting boundaries (realistic to their age group) and sticking to them helps the child to understand their boundaries. You know your child better than anyone else, if they have never given you a reason not to trust them – why would you question their trust.

    COMMUNICATION

    Communication is vital to any relationship – this is the same for the parent-child relationship, try to keep communication open at all costs. When you cannot speak to them, text them, write to them – it does not matter how you communicate to them once you do communicate. They are at a stage when they want to feel independent, capable of making decisions on their own, testing their boundaries – this is all ‘normal’ behaviour for a tween/teen. Their behaviour and the person is not the same thing. Try to separate the behaviour (typical to their age group) and the person. They are going through so many changes, physically, emotionally and psychologically, they are very often on emotional overload. This causes the irrational behaviour, silly decisions – try to separate the two, let a lot of the irrational behaviour go over your head and try to understand what might really be going on;
    did they have a tough day at school
    did they have an argument with a friend
    has their skin broken out (big deal to them)
    are they over tired
    are they stressed from exams
    are they lonely/not fitting in with they peer group
    It is so important that you try to see beyond the behaviour and cut them a bit of slack. Im not saying accept rudeness or lack of respect but the general moodiness, lack of chat – try to ignore.
    EXPLAIN THE IMPORTANCE OF VALUES IN YOUR FAMILY

    Think about what are the values in your family. Explain the need for values and what they mean. This is an area that I work on a lot when working with teenagers – it explains a lot of issues they face when it comes to;
    peer pressure
    family issues
    friendship issues
    Think of your relationship within your home like a tree:
    The roots are the things that hold you together;
    communication – love – trust – responsibility – traditions — whatever is important to your family, the branches are the many changes that will occur during your parenting years but whatever happens if you stick to your values, the roots will remain strong and in tact and will hold you together.

    Parenting is the most important job anyone will ever have and yet the only job that comes without any training – ask for help and supportt, it does make a difference.

    “The sign of great parenting is not the child’s behaviour.
    The sign of truly great parenting is the parent’s behaviour.”

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