Breaking the Cycle of Criticism

We learned it when we were young: “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.”  But it’s not true!

I can still vividly remember the harsh words said to me by a teacher in fourth grade, the cruel nicknames I was given in sixth grade, and the negative jabs of my father.  Those harsh words did hurt, and they stick with me still today.

As parents, the words we say to our kids matter a lot.  Even words spoken with the best of intentions can sometimes convey a message that is far more critical and negative than we intend.  And if your home becomes a place of constant negative criticism, the resulting insecurity in your teenager will either crush their spirit or hyper-inflate their longing for acceptance by others.  In other words, they will find someone (often a teen of the opposite sex) or a group of their peers who will not criticize them.  But those who offer them unconditional acceptance also tend to be those who are themselves disenfranchised–in other words, the kind of kids who can become a bad influence. Continue reading “Breaking the Cycle of Criticism”

Handling an Angry Teen

When your thought patterns rub up against those of your teenager, you can either take it personally and get upset yourself, or you can use it as an opportunity to help bring healing and a new perspective to your child.

Teens get angry for a number of reasons; from fear, feelings of injustice, insecurity, loneliness, overactive hormones, lack of sleep, peer bullying, a growing need for independence and just trying to make sense out of life.  Parents get angry when their teens behave in ways that aren’t appropriate or if they feel their children aren’t showing them proper respect.  If parents don’t understand that their teenager’s anger may be about something totally separate from them, they might go about lighting the fuse in the dynamite by reacting too harshly.  So, guess which party needs to “man up” and defuse the situation? Continue reading “Handling an Angry Teen”

Teens Caught in a Digital World

Digital WorldLaptops, iPhones, iPads, iPods, Twitter, Facebook, Myspace, Yourspace, IM, Droids, apps, downloads, wireless, 3G, 4G, iTunes, Blackberry, bluetooth, Xbox, Wii…everything about how we engage with and communicate with other people has changed.  It can be overwhelming.  And perhaps the most dramatic impact of all this “progress” on our teenagers has been the decline of personal relationships.

Texted words, symbols, characters and acronyms have largely replaced verbal conversation for teens today. Kids are spending less time truly interacting and more time “connecting” superficially through digital devices of one kind or another. In fact, I regularly see kids in the same room texting each other, instead of walking over and talking face to face. Now, these devices and other forms of digital entertainment aren’t wrong in and of themselves, but they can become all-consuming to the teen, to the point that nothing else matters. Continue reading “Teens Caught in a Digital World”