It is normal for kids to have temper tantrums. However, some of our own childhood experiences may make it difficult to cope with our own kids. Here are tips how to cope with the present without letting our past interfere with how we react https://stressfreekids.com/9771/kids-temper-tantrums-and-meltdowns/
Parents there is something you can do that can make your life as a parent much easier. You can remember that your children, especially your teenagers, are children not little adults. Many parents expect their teenagers to be able to function as adults. It is an easy mistake to make. Teenagers are as tall as adults, as strong as adults and biologically function as adults. However, their brains do not function as adults and therefore teenagers often act like children, but look like adults. When this occurs, parents often get mad because they do not know are they dealing with a young adult or a child. As a result of this confusion, arguments tend to happen.
Remember when a baby is born their brain is still placid. What this means is their brains are still developing. Just like the “soft spot” in a baby’s skull. When they are born all of the bones in a baby’s skull have not grown together. They are still developing. In fact the skull is not fully developed until the age of 30.
This placidly is there usually until a child is around 18 years old. If any of your children have had a head injury around age 9 or 12 and the physician tells you their body can compensate, this is what they are referring to. Since their central nervous system (brain and spinal cord) is not completely developed, if there is an injury, their neurological system can find away to bypass the injury.
This is a wonderful thing for children considering how often they are injured. However, there is a cost to this developing neurological system. Children’s frontal and prefrontal cortex do not fully develop until the age of 18 or 21. Therefore, while they may look like an adult at times they will act and make decisions as child because developmentally they still have the brain of a child.
What does this mean to you as a parent? It means that you cannot expect your teenager to reason as an adult would reason. Children and teens typically have concrete reasoning skills until their brain is fully developed. In other words, there thinking tends to black and white. They have difficulties handling ambiguous situations. When the brain is fully developed then they have abstract reasoning and can think a head about consequences. Until such time their ability to do so is limited. This makes teenagers more vulnerable to peer pressure and making impulsive decisions which can result in trouble for the teenagers that they never expected.
If parents will remember this fact and adjust to it, you can decrease your stress. This is why I recommend parents develop behavior contracts and agreements. You can find many template for these contracts on line. If you Google Behavior contracts, you will find a number of free templates that you can adapt for your family. These contracts reduce the need for a child or teen to have to do abstract thinking right on the spot. When you make agreements and contracts with your teen you assist them with and model abstract reasoning. You also increase the likelihood that they will make a good choice versus a poor choice. Additionally, these contracts assist teenagers in assuming responsibility for their behavior. If they violate the contract and you impose a consequence, you are only following the agreement you made with them. The consequence is a result of their choice they made not you being mean.
Also if you remember the limitations your child is dealing with, if they make a mistake you can respond in a more appropriate manner. If you expect them to reason like an adult and they make a mistake, you are going to be more stern in your reaction. If you remember that they cannot handle abstract reasoning yet, your response and consequences you set will be more appropriate. As a result, your teen will learn more.
Remember, we are always telling kids you will have to wait until you are an adult. Therefore, when they make a mistake even if they are 15, we need to remember they are not an adult yet and respond in that manner.
Dr. Michael Rubino specializes in treating children and teenagers. He has over 20 years experience working with teens. For more information about Dr. Michael Rubino or his private practice visit his websites at http://www.RubinoCounseling.com or http://www.rcs-ca.com or his Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/drrubino3.
Mental health is a topic we tend to avoid in our society. Many people are afraid that if other people know they are feeling down or anxious that people will think they are crazy. Many people think of someone living in the streets when you mention mental health. This is not reality. This negative stigma makes it difficult for adults to seek help for mental health issues. This negative stigma also makes it very difficult for children to ask for help when they feel depressed or anxious. They are afraid their friends won’t understand and won’t want to be friends with them. They are also afraid their parents will think they are crazy and be disappointed with them. These ideas are incorrect, but if mental health is overwhelming for an adult, imagine how it can be for a child.
It is very important that children and teenagers do ask for help when they are experiencing mental health issues. The CDC estimates 1in 5 children need psychotherapy for a mental health issue. Furthermore, the CDC has stated that Suicide is an epidemic for children between the ages of 10 and 18 years old. Cutting, self-harming behaviors, are also now at an epidemic rate in children. Most teenagers I work with, as a psychotherapist, have had suicidal thoughts and have cut before starting therapy with me. They also tell me about many of their friends who are feeling suicidal and cutting. According to the CDC, the Suicide rate and the number of teenagers engaging in self-harming behaviors has been increasing every year for the past decade.
While the need for teenagers needing psychotherapy is increasing, the reluctance to attend psychotherapy is increasing. Most teenagers I see for psychotherapy are afraid that their friends would stop being their friends if they knew they were going to therapy. They are afraid it makes them crazy and nothing will help because they are weak. They blame themselves for the feelings they are having. They are shocked when I explain that they are not weak and it is not their fault.
We need to change this stigma associated with mental health. Mental health should be treated the same way a physical health because they are the same. Clinical depression is caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain. If some one is diabetic, do we call them crazy or weak because their pancreas is not producing the correct level of insulin? No we do not. Therefore, when we have numerous research studies which show a link between physical health and mental health, why do we continue to view mental health so negatively? By doing so we are causing a number of teenage deaths. Suicide is the third leading cause of death for teenagers. Many teens die every year from eating disorder. Bullying is becoming a severe problem and many teenagers are opting to commit suicide rather than discuss the pain and torture they are experiencing due to being bullied. This does not make sense that teenagers should be dying because the teen or their family are embarrassed to seek treatment.
I was researching this subject and found a video by the Anna Freud Institute. It is called, “We all have mental health.” It is a short video directed at teenagers and middle school students. It discusses the issue in a very relaxed manner and provides teenagers with options for how they can talk about their own feelings. I encourage parents, teachers and anyone who deals with children to watch this video. You may want to watch it with your teen and begin a discussion about feelings. The link to the video is https://youtu.be/DxIDKZHW3-E.
We need to start to change the negative stigma associated with mental health. Besides causing the deaths of teenagers, this stigma effects an entire family. A death impacts everyone in a family. Not being able to talk openly about a death because it was related to a mental health issue, creates more problems for the survivors. Nothing will change until we start to approach mental health differently. I also encourage you to look at the foundation started by Prince William and Henry, Heads Together. It provides a number of ways we can start to change the negative stigma associated with mental health and save lives.
Dr. Michael Rubino is a psychotherapist with over 20 years experience working with teenagers and children. For more information about his work or private practice visit his website http://www.RubinoCounseling.com or his Facebook page http://www.Facebook.com/drrubino3.
Here is a great video for teens, middle school kids. It easily explains we all have mental health issues & how to ask for help. It also removes the negative stigma about mental health. I highly recommend this video We All Have Mental Health https://youtu.be/DxIDKZHW3-E via @YouTube
Parents please read – Another research studies shows that too much screen time is dangerous to children’s brains. How much screen time is too much? New research shows just how bad screens can be for kids’ brains https://www.deseretnews.com/article/900048317/how-much-screen-time-is-too-much-new-research-shows-just-how-bad-screens-can-be-kids-brains.html