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Teenage Tango How to understand, talk to, support, guide and love your teenager.

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1 Teenage Tango How to understand, talk to, support, guide and love your teenager

2 Michelle Keeley Parent, Teen & Life Coach Great Expectations Coaching 416-450-0371 *my parent/teen website is under construction so you can find Great Expectations Coaching on my Fruition Strategies business coaching website

3 Main Task: This time of life is solely about defining themselves in relation to others so they can choose their true self from an array of possibilities before them. It is about finding and choosing their identity. Trying to answer the question- Who Am I? In order to do this teens begin a process of separating from their parents. In order to stake out their independence, to discover who they are apart from their parents and family. They need to start thinking on their own, to discover their values and to make their own decisions

4 We now recognize that teens are not by nature especially focused on or equipped to assess consequences of their actions. In the heat of the moment the limbic system (where the amygdala is) lights up like a pinball machine and the “good angel”-the prefrontal cortex, (in the frontal lobes) which tamps down intense feelings & helps us navigate through emotional situations, is essentially asleep. Good judgment comes from experience and experience comes from bad judgment.” -Mark Twain

5 What Does this Mean? This helps to explain teens often hair-trigger responses They are having emotional responses essentially unmediated by judgement & reasoning. The prefrontal cortex is the home of “executive functions” -planning, organizing, judgement, impulse control and reasoning. Teens simply don’t have the pre-frontal cortex development, the judgment, to consistently and appropriately regulate themselves. Kids know this, and know that if their parents don’t, they simply aren’t paying attention. In spite of the seemingly endless capacity of teens to be contrary, when parents are clear about their expectations and set up consequences for noncompliance then teens are actually more capable of adhering to parental standards. Kids experience their parents’ lack of limit setting and lack of follow-though as a lack of concern.

6 Sleep  Inability to wake up in the morning is just their biology not passive aggression!  The Circadian Rhythm (brain’s timing system) of their brain has changed from when they were young children and their circadian rhythm dictated them to sleep at 8 or 9 p.m. Now their internal rhythm impacts them so they can’t go to sleep before 12:00 or 1:00 a.m.  Melatonin (the hormone which induces sleep) levels kick in much later in adolescents & sometimes don’t peak until 1 or 2 a.m.  Adolescents need 9.2 hours of sleep on average whereas adults need 7.5-8 hours (1988 study from Brown Univ. Med. School.)  The production of growth hormones is most intense at end of REM cycle of sleep. REM stage only comes after intervals of non-REM sleep. Teens need more REM periods because of their intense growth so therefore they need more sleep.  Now known there is a burst of brain growth in adolescence and this impacts their need for sleep.  Teens are chronically sleep-deprived because they are waking when the world dictates. Sleep deprivation not only affects moods but current brain research tells us that new knowledge and skills are committed to memory during REM sleep cycles. It also affects concentration and reaction time, motivation, behaviourial control and exacerbates emotional issues & challenges.  Go to school tired and unfocused. Since nobody wants to eat when they’d rather be asleep they are often unfed.  Teachers tell you that late in the afternoon they begin firing on all cylinders!

7 Oh so Sleepy! It’s Not Easy To Fight Nature Don’t insist that they go to bed at a set hour-help them establish boundaries so they get the sleep they so desperately need Slowdown activity in late evening- set a time to be in your room Establish a routine-hot bath/shower, listen to quiet music or read to signal the body & mind that it is time to sleep. Keep technology out of the bedroom or turn it off at least 30 minutes before sleep time. No caffeine Catch up on weekends Don’t let them push their limits with too early school starts, busy schedules and late night cell phone usage. Check in to see if late night is the only time they can carve out for themselves. Make peace with long sleep-ins when they happen. Getting them Up: Go in at least an hour before they have to get up and open curtains-natural light is a gentle way to bring someone around from a deep slumber Very loud alarm set for 30 minutes before have to get up & place it somewhere they have to get up to switch it off 5 minutes before stern voice tell them it is time to get up & tell them you will not be coming in again. Then leave them to it.

8 Girls in Adolescence Girls, in response to the call inside of them that it is totally unacceptable to feel attached/dependent on parents choose a different tactic than boys. Girls do not withdraw instead they fight. In doing so they feel: “I am demonstrating, to both you and myself, that I am NOT dependent or loving Though she is disagreeing and criticizing she is nonetheless staying in contact Girls new sexuality does not work against them. It does not have an “in the air, all the time, waiting to be attached to anything” quality. Own sexual feelings do not intrude much on parents Usually the tie is stronger to the Mom and therefore requires more negativism to deny it It is especially with girls that parents tend to fell the supreme disruption of adolescence Girls can talk about their feelings-better at it, more comfortable with verbal interaction Argue to establish distance but takes away their security blanket & makes them so much less confident on outside. They fight in order to maintain an ongoing relationship

9 Boys in Adolescence Boys seek to achieve a state of perfect passive pleasure Go to his room, turn on music & come out 4 years later! Primarily because of his sexuality he chooses the absenting method to deal with Mom & Dad Keeps his sexuality separate from parents but it is very much a part of who he is so he keeps HIMSELF separate Boys are private-do not like to talk Boys rarely develop skills or emotional capacity to stay with strong VERBAL scenes punch a hole in a wall instead! Boys learn the trick of saying “yes” but doing “no” Boys are often absent even when present-terminal lethargy, sleeping sickness Answers are shortened to “ya” or “huh” or “wha” Future hangs over them like a dark cloud Asks himself: “Do you really think you can make it on your own?” These thoughts are disturbing so they seek to avoid them and you.

10 Boys’ & Girls’ Thinking in Puberty. Puberty does have an impact on how teens think. Boys fairly predictably base their decisions on the question : “Will this lead to sex?” When girls make decisions they are more likely to keep the social group and their place in it, in their mind. Researchers found an onslaught of testosterone in both boys and girls at puberty Which literally swells the Amygdala the brain centre associated with emotions Wild behaviour is predictable part of identity-formation process which accelerates dramatically in adolescence Teens have a higher level of dopamine-the neurotransmitter connected to pleasure, movement and sexual desire. This increases their need for extra stimulation through risk-taking

11 Two choices-to deal with your child turning from a dog to a teenage cat 1. Continue to behave like a dog owner-after all your heart still swells when you look at your dog. You still want its company and when you tell it to stop digging you expect it to behave. Only now you’re dealing with a cat so everything that worked before now produces the exact opposite of the desired result. Tell it to sit and it jumps! The more you get upset the more it moves away from you. 2. Learn to behave like a cat owner. Put a little dish of food by the door and wait for it to come to you. Do remember cat still needs affection. Be there to open the door for it, sit still and wait. Take up things that interest you and be cool as a cat yourself. One day someone taller than you will be in the kitchen and offer to make you a sandwich and a cup of coffee just the way you like it. You will realize that you raised a fine human being. *Margaret Bonnano

12 Adolescence Unlike any other Period in Life How wonderful is that! “You don’t have to suffer to be a poet. Adolescence is enough suffering for anyone.” -American poet John Ciardi Time of transformation Not a single event, but a number of major changes coming in a relatively short period Changes seem sudden- One day a child & next something quite different It is the start of true sexuality Sexual feelings are unavoidable & these feelings change everything The way they experience the world is changed forever. World becomes infused with incredible power & poignancy Everything takes on a more desperate quality such as successes & failures at school & with friends Thinking processes jump to a whole new level Understand abstractions and the world becomes more complex Feel exposed and vulnerable Adolescent has not had much experience in life. See only day-to-day existence. No long term perspective-NONE Their feelings have undeniable power. A power that makes adolescents, however troubling, very, very special “You don’t have to suffer to be a poet. Adolescence is enough suffering for anyone.” -American poet John Ciardi

13 Your Teen’s All Consuming Task Your teenager’s main task is separating from you NOT offering you support. The continual push/pull between adults and adolescents comes not so much from disaffection as from their chief task. Teen behaviour makes sense if you appreciate the role identity plays in determining that behaviour. Understand that the way he/she behaves can be a window onto their emerging identity-who they are. Their identity is evolving, it is not fixed in concrete, it is open to change, it is a work-in-progress. Their behaviour is not self-destructive, crazy or dysfunctional. Parents may have to contend with all kinds of annoying posturing every time they ask “Where are you going?” “When will you be back?” he payoff in terms of maintaining a healthy connection, as well as helping to ensure their safety not only seems evident but is well- documented. Actively monitoring, by parents, has shown to result in less drug use, less risky sexual behaviour, and higher self-esteem. It is simply asking, keeping tabs and anticipating their return. Keep in mind that flexibility is a very important component of a healthy parent-teen relationship. Flexibility is a form of communication not lax parenting or an opportunity to be manipulated. As parents, we need to hand over some of the responsibility and decision-making power to our teens. If we do our job really well, eventually we will be out of a job!

14 To Promote a Resilient Identity You, as a Parent, have to BE a Model of a Resilient Identity Resilient Identity Aware of personal talents & abilities Accepts personal limitations. Enjoys challenges & new experiences. Persists in the face of difficulty or frustration. Optimistic Generally happy & friendly. Respects adults Tends to be a leader or an “individual.” Trusts others. Believes life has meaning & purpose. Able to prioritize needs and desires & willingly makes sacrifices at times. Regards personal crises as a normal part of life & does not take them personally. Fragile Identity Aware of personal limitations & failures. Ashamed of personal limitations. Fears challenges, avoids new experiences. Gives up easily. Pessimistic. Angry or depressed much of the time. Alienated from adults. Tends to be a follower or an “outsider.” Distrusts others Sees little meaning or purpose in life. Tends to perceive all needs & desires as equal and finds sacrifice painful. Tends to feel victimized. *In handout

15 Adolescence is an entirely different game. The rules and goals have changed drastically. You cannot do more of what got you through the previous 13 years of your child’s growth-functioning as a manager. Often continue with more gusto and fervour which is met with resentment or become passive & virtually abandoning any role with the teen. No role=Minimal conflict Many of the adversarial aspects of the relationship stem from both the parent and the adolescent not understanding and appreciating the essential shift in roles. You are simply fired, without notice or consensus, as a manager. You must work your tail of to get hired as a consultant and that is how it should be! It is a vital and essential shift as they embrace their independence. The shift to the consultant role will allow you to have a meaningful influence on your teen’s life. Manager:Consultant: Arranging rides, appointments, play dates -offer advice & give input about decisions Planning activitieswhen asked, don’t take over their business Ensure child makes best decisions -help to develop their “decision-making muscles” Helping and checking with homework -willingly give up the illusion of power Closely informed about school lifein favour of real influence -consulting parent is NOT laissez-faire First person your child seeks out for answersoften consulting is more demanding *now no longer focus of their admiration rather a scapegoat & time consuming yet rewarding for for their confusion both the adolescent & parent -do not take feedback personally, it is more about them than it is about you *Michael Riera from: Uncommon Sense for Parents with Teenagers

16 Parenting Styles Moderate Coach: Support teen’s decisions to take on challenges & even encourage him/her to do so Leave final decision to teen Offer advice or suggestions but usually only when asked Keep eye out for potential problems that might place your child at risk Can be aggressive at times about protecting teen when you perceive a dangerous situation brewing

17 Two Most Common Errors in Parenting Teenagers: 1. Treating them like children(over-parenting or over-managing) 2. Treating them like adults (under-parenting or abandonment) Avoid #1 by understanding your new role involves much less doing. Avoid #2 by being present and actively listening.

18 Tips for Getting Your Teens to Talk Listen more talk less (10 x’s more) *1200 teens asked: If your parent did one thing differently that would make the greatest positive difference what would that be? Most common answer from 13-19 year olds Ask specific questions (particularly about feelings) e.g. How do you feel about___? Make eye contact with girls and talk sideways with boys Soften your voice Ask for more information Get curious, not defensive-if they say something negative about you “I want to understand you but to be honest I am not sure I do YET. Empathize with how they are feeling. Don’t challenge how they are feeling. Offer empathetic body language-nod your head, put hand on shoulder Don’t attach your meanings to their words. “You’re so mad all the time Mom”-teen “Well, sure I’m a terrible parent!”-parent Get comfortable with silence Restate what you are hearing-ask if you’ve got what they are saying right. Ask them if they feel understood Once they feel understood, let them know how you feel-only after they feel fully understood. Ask if they agree/disagree to keep them engaged not tuned out. Thank them-affirm your appreciation of them sharing with you Show affection Talk solutions-THIS IS THE LAST STEP! Encourage them to think of ways to resolve their problems. Negotiate a boundary with them. You have final veto but you want them as involved as possible in developing solutions to their problems. *Karyn Gordon, The Teen Years *IN HANDOUT

19 Who Were You When You Were a Teen? This exercise will help you come up with a thumbnail sketch of the identity that was forming inside of you when you were a teen. For each of the following dimensions, make a mark at the point between the two extremes that best describes your sense of who you were: *in handout Competitive_______________________________________Noncompetitive Athletic___________________________________________Nonathletic Aggressive________________________________________Docile Rebellious_________________________________________Compliant Confident_________________________________________Anxious Social____________________________________________Loner Risk-taker_________________________________________Cautious Popular___________________________________________Unpopular Attractive_________________________________________Unattractive Optimistic_________________________________________Pessimistic Adventurous_______________________________________Homebody Strong____________________________________________Fragile Special___________________________________________Ordinary Happy____________________________________________Sad Energetic_________________________________________Sedentary Motivated_________________________________________Unmotivated Creative__________________________________________Uncreative Talented__________________________________________Untalented

20 “As you think about it, connect that emerging identity with how you behaved, with your expectations for yourself, your goals and aspirations. Perhaps you saw yourself as a creative, adventurous and competitive person, and this led you to try new things and take chances. Conversely, if you saw yourself as someone who was not particularly creative, uncompetitive in most situations and cautious you may have chosen to play it safe most of the time, regardless of whether that strategy really worked well and made you happy, or left you feeling empty and frustrated. As you reflect on it, you may also see how your view of yourself along any of these lines was not fixed in concrete, but was something that evolved over time. Your teenage daughter or son now is where you were then; his or her identity is open to change.” *In handout *Taken from: Joesph Nowinski’s The Identity Trap

21 6 Critical Life Messages to Pass onto Your Child I believe in you I trust in you I know you can handle life's situations You are listened to You are cared for You are very important to me *In handout

22 What I Know for Sure *In handout Adolescents need space to play things out in & a private life. Give it to them Let them brood! They have to fall down and get hurt in order to learn. Let them experience adversity. Need to stretch themselves in sometimes risky ways in order to grow It is important to be around a lot even though they push you away. Stick around in the background & be available. Be reliable. Be consistent. Keep your word. Modelling your own resilient identity is crucial. It’s what you DO not what you say. It is not about you (the parent) Our children are not a reflection of us. A child is someone to which we belong not a commodity belonging to us They are who they are in their own right. Respect that! You have to work at remembering what it felt like to be an adolescent.

23 What else I know for Sure *In handout You must listen more than you talk. Listen has Ten in it; listen 10 times more than you talk! Select your moments for talking-girls like eye contact, boys respond better if you are sideways i.e. in the care It helps to be light hearted about their behaviour Cut them some slack- laugh a lot! Watch for the signs of derailing. Pay attention A family is a magnificent place for a child’s life to take hold and flourish The one central reality is that they need you. Great Expectations Coaching Michelle Keeley Parent, Teen & Life Coach 416-450-0371

24 Teen & Parent Coaching Testimonial: “Michelle taught both of my boys for only brief periods of time during their primary school years yet made an enormous impact on us all so quickly; we are no strangers to her magical qualities. Her enormous emotional and intellectual intelligence, wonderful sense of humour, as well as her genuine passion and talent for connecting with young people are just a few of her traits that we were all touched by in a very short time. Many years later, she was still the first person I thought of when facing difficult sibling issues with my boys as teenagers, remembering that she was planning to put her amazing skill-set to use as a coach. Her personal and professional knowledge of the “teenage brain” was a crucial component in our progress, a quality which I feel is sadly lacking in much of the family counseling profession. Owing to her calm, compassionate demeanour and her ability to genuinely listen and let the coaching session unfold without a rigid agenda, Michelle was able to guide the boys to develop, and more importantly to own, their own unique practical solutions for progress, an approach which made my kids feel like valued, invested participants in their own conflict resolution. Michelle offers a rare combination of wit, wisdom and respect, which any teen can and should embrace, if given the gift of opportunity.” Lindsey Bickert Parent of two teenage sons

25 PARENTING COACHING TESTIMONIAL As soon as our son went into grade 8 we could sense the 'winds of change' coming in our direction. Towards of the end of grade 8 (and his transition to grade 9) was a most challenging time for us. I experienced a sudden power shift, rebellious arguments, chaos and no amount of reasoning would make things better. Mornings would just start with arguments from choice of clothes, music and hair styles that were not acceptable to me. I could feel a big wide gap coming in between my son and me. In the middle of this rift I met Michelle, who made me realize I had totally forgotten to LOVE my son. She helped me to accept the I am not as full of doubt as I was. Things are gradually getting better. I am loving the new found relationship with my 14 year old son. We go out for movies, SOMETIMES, we both enjoy each other's company - because Michelle coached me to respect his point of view.... today he walks with me along with the funky hair cut with grooves in the side (which to me is so too brassy) but at least I am comfortable that he is closer to me. Michelle helped me find a medium accord, she indicated how to pick battles: choice of Mohawk hair cut or tattoos on the arms!! My mental well being is much better, and though he wears (those awful) low-riding trousers, I still feel as if I have the control of the relationship...because we have started talking to each other. Today, I am committed to my children and understand and respect their space and needs. I might not be quite there yet but at least I know when and where to stop and then when to pickup myself and GO!! Michelle, you are a God-Send for the Khan Family.

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