High-Tech Parenting: When Should Kids Have Cell Phones, Facebook, Game Consoles?
Under pressure to let your kids go high-tech? Get expert advice on when to let children have a cell phone, open a Facebook account and more. Studio 5 Contributor and therapist, Julie Hanks, has tips to help you manage kids and technology.
1) At what age should a child have a cell phone?
Age 12 is the earliest I’d recommend a basic cell phone for safety reasons. Age 16 is the earliest for smart phones.
Tech Tip: Encourage responsibility by having them pay for monthly fee and any additional charges. Tech Tip: Have child check in phone at night, before bedtime.
In her book, Dr. Orloff identified these 5 signs that you’ve encountered an emotional vampire:
1) Your eyelids are heavy and you’re ready for a nap
2) Your mood takes a nosedive
3) You want to binge on carbs or comfort foods
4) You feel anxious, depressed, or negative
5) You feel put down, sniped at, or “slimed”
#1 The Narcissist
Has “Me first” attitude
Has limited capacity for empathy
Becomes cold, withholding, or punishing when they don’t get their way
Kurt Bestor: “I have a friend who I have given the secret name “The Consumer” because, while he is my friend, he consumes my time, my creative energy, and sometimes – patience. Everything always seems to slant his way and he’s usually asking for me to do something for him, which takes my time, my money, and my energy. The “give and take” necessary for a true friendship is lacking which is why I never seem to pick up the phone when he calls. The biggest problem – he has no clue that he acts this way.”
How to Protect Yourself
Keep your expectations realistic and don’t expect reciprocity
Don’t depend on their approval for your self-worth
Lead with how they will benefit from something
#2 The Victim
Has a “poor me” attitude
Blames everyone and everything else for misery
When you offer advice they respond “yes, butâ€¦”
Amanda: “I have someone in my life who is almost constantly complaining about something…but is too codependent to move on, accept what they can change and change it—they just try to convince you to feel sorry for them.”
How to Protect Yourself
Don’t take on their baggage
Set kind yet firm limits in conversation length and topic
Reinforce your limits with body language and action
#3 The Controller
Tells you how to feel and behave
Invalidates your feelings
Leaves you feeling “less than”
Anonymous: “I was given a church music assignment where I had someone over me that tried to control every detail even to the point of telling me where I should stand, what songs to teach, and what visual aids to use. It seemed like so many silly details, but it literally killed me & my spirit to be that controlled over something that initially inspired creativity.”
How to Protect Yourself
Confidently assert yourself
Focus on important issues
Don’t try to tell them what to do
#4 The Splitter
Views you as either “all good” or “all bad”
Feeds off of anger
Pits people against each other
Anonymous: “I have a family member who suffers from many, many problems. Unfortunately, most people in the family have had to cut her off because she is so caustic. I came to a point in which I felt I had to make a decision between my family member and my sanity – I needed to have enough energy for my own husband and children. Is it ever ok to cut off a family member?”
How to Protect Yourself
Remain emotionally neutral
Set limits and stick to them
Avoid taking sides
5 Questions To Ask Before Rescuing Your Child From Natural Consequences
The only source of knowledge is experience. – Einstein
Being a “good parent” usually means being involved in your child’s life and “doing” things for your child, like volunteering in school, attending their sporting events, and teaching them values and skills. Allowing your child to experience natural consequences is painful for parents because they require us to do less or to not do something which might leave you feeling like a “bad” parent. You may want to rescue your child from natural consequences to prevent your child from feeling pain, to keep your child happy, or to make your child like you. Or you may intervene in natural consequences to ease your own pain. It’s hard to see your child struggle with difficult emotions like disappointment, failure, loneliness.
If our job as parents isn’t to keep our kids happy, what is our job? It’s to do what we can to raise responsible children who grow up and contribute something positive to society, and to encourage self-awareness and sensitivity to others so they can grow up to create fulfilling adult relationships and healthy families.
1) Is my child in immediate danger?
If “no” then let natural consequences play out. If “yes” then intervene and use other ways of teaching. Examples of immediate danger are a toddler running into street, teen driving drunk, tween chatting with a stranger online. Generally, these situations are the exception in everyday parenting. It’s the small situations that are sometimes the trickiest to work through, like a child forgetting lunch, fighting with friends, breaking a household rule, because they don’t seem like a big deal individually, but they add up over time.
2) Whose problem is this?
Who owns the problem? If you “pick up” the problem and hold on to it, your child will let you and allow you to be in charge of their problem. Notice the language you use when talking to your child about their struggles. I hear a lot of moms say, “We’ve got a lot of homework tonight.” That’s a sign that mom is owning the homework, instead of the child. I like to tell my 9 yr old, “I already passed 3rd grade. This is your homework and I’m here to help and support you.” Your language can give clues to who owns the problem/issue.
Author Byron Katie says there are 3 kinds of “business” in life:
a) your business
b) other people’s business (including your child’s)
c) God’s business
We are usually in pain when we get into other people’s or God’s “business”.
I am currently in the difficult process of letting my seventeen year old own and experience the consequences of a big mistake. We have an old car that she was able to drive. She drove it for weeks without oil, after several reminders from her dad, and the car was damaged beyond repair. She is now paying us back a couple thousand dollars for the car she totaled. It is her problem.
3) What is the most loving thing to do?
Doing the “loving” thing isn’t the same as being nice or choosing a path that results in the least amount of relational conflict. The loving thing may at first seem to be rescuing, but being loving is actually doing what’s in your child’s best interest.
I’ve seen parents, in an attempt to be “nice” and unconditionally loving enable their child to continue to break the law, to take advantage of others, and to develop a sense of entitlement. In extreme cases, I’ve known a few parents who, in the name of love, enabled an adult child to an early death from addiction by not allowing them to hit rock bottom and continually bailing them out.
4) What will my child learn if I rescue him/her?
By rescuing your child from natural consequences you may be inadvertently teaching your child not to trust their own judgement, that they are not capable of handling hard things, and that they will always need you to help them. I recently met with a mother of an adult child who was angry at her son for taking advantage of her. She wanted him to get a job or work harder in school, yet she was allowing him to live at home without contributing to the household chores or paying rent. He had no incentive to step up. Her child had learned that his mom will take care of his basic needs even if he doesn’t contribute.
A Facebook friend Michelle Willis’ 5 year old stole a $15 book. Michelle held her daughter accountable to pay for the book by doing household chores. Her daughter, now 12, still has the book, and learned early in her life that you can’t get something for nothing.
5) How will this prepare my child for their future?
Each stage of development prepares a child for the next phase of life. Allowing your child to make age appropriate choices and experience natural consequences early on gives them experience to build on for future developmental stages in every area of life: intellectually, emotionally, spiritually, relationally, physically.
Homework seems to be one of the most common parenting struggles. Here’s an example of how early experiences with natural consequences build preparation for the future. If your first grader forgets to do homework they may have to stay in at recess. In Junior High School if you forget to turn in a paper you’ll get a lower grade in the class. In High School forgetting to turn in papers means a lower grade in class and a lower GPA which limits future options, like college scholarships or work opportunities. Turning in papers in a time manner in High School or college prepares you for adult employment where forgetting to write report for board meeting will get you fired.
Another Facebook friend, Emily Bitner Hill, shares how she lets natural consequences teach her High School children who want to stay home because they aren’t feeling well. “They are quickly learning life is easier and less stressful if they go to school and stay on top of their work without me saying a word,” she says.
Wasatch Family Therapy is offering FREE therapy next week only!
WHY: Celebrate the opening of our Provo location
WHEN: Oct. 3-7, 2011
WHERE: Wasatch Family Therapy Provo
363 N University Ave, Suite 108A, Provo UT 84601Provo
HOW: Bring a canned food donation for Provo Community Action Food Bank and we’ll waive your therapy fee!
Back to school doesn’t have to be all about your kids. Let the start of a new school year inspire you. Therapist, Julie Hanks, has a grown-up perspective on back to school that can help improve your emotional health. I recently did an interview for Natural Health Magazine’s article “Back to School for Grown Ups” about channeling school day memories and fall’s energy to improve our lives as adults. Here’s a quote from the article:
The weather, certain smells, certain tastes-all of these things can trigger memories of earlier experiences,” says Julie Hanks LCSW, a psychotherapist in Salt Lake City. “Come fall, some women feel the same type of anticipation they did as kids and might even unconsciously find ways to relive or improve upon the experience.”
Need help finding clothes to fit your standards and her style? It’s just one of the challenges moms face when shopping with “Tweens” and teens. Here are my tips to help help you resolve your shopping struggles, before you hit the stores.
Pam: “I would like to ask how I can make my daughter understand the difference between a $100 pair of jeans and a $50 or $25 pair of jeans and how to make money go farther?”
Tip – Give your daughter the cash
Decide on a budget and stick to it. Be concrete about it by using cash so your daughter can actually see and feel the money. This is a great way to allow her to make difficult choices to be accountable for her clothing selections.
Shannon: “How do I tell my daughter that things she likes are too short or too tight for my taste?”
Pam: “In today’s society everything is cut so lowâ€¦how do I help her shop more modestly?”
Tip – Let your school dress code be the “bad guy”
My kid’s school district dress code says shorts and skirts must be mid-thigh or longer, no midriffs or underwear showing, no spaghetti straps or tank tops. Along with consulting the dress code, before going shopping discuss what styles are off-limits, how your family defines modesty, and what is considered age-appropriate.
3) What’s Appropriate?
Kristen: “My question isâ€¦my daughter, who is eleven and a middle schooler, wears sweat pants and yoga pants to school. I want her to wear appropriate, nice looking clothes for school and still be comfortable”.
Tip – Explore the question, “What do you want your clothes to say about you?”
Moms, this is a great opportunity to discuss how appearance isn’t everything, it isn’t the source of value, but it does send an initial message about who you are. Help your daughter explore what characteristics, values, and traits she wants to convey.
4) When Should Tweens/Teens Shop Alone?
Leah: “How do I tell my mom I’d rather shop alone, not with her all the time?
Tip – Ask directly for what you want without complaining
Instead of saying, “Why do you always want me to shop with you?” or “When are you going to let me shop alone?” try “Mom, I’d like to spend some time shopping alone this year. Would you be ok with that?”
5) Differing Taste and Values
Jayden: “How do I help my mom understand that name brand things are actually important to me?”
Sydney: “It’s hard to find something that we both agree on. How do I get my mom to buy me what I want?”
Tip – Use empathy to find the middle ground
Daughters – remember that your mom really does want what’s in your best interest and has more life experience than you do. Mothers – you can develop more empathy by reflecting on when you were a teen, and how certain details (brands, styles) were very important. From a place of empathy you can find that middle ground instead of getting into a power struggle.
There are topics even best friends have a hard time talking about. We explore real life scenarios and offer real life solutions to help you tackle touchy subjects with your best friend.
Why are some topics difficult to talk about, even among our closest friends? Women tend to feel responsible for their friends’ feelings & don’t want to jeopardize the friendship. In a recent interview by WomansDay.com I gave some advice to women from around the country on how or if to approach sensitive topics with your best friend. So, it got me thinking about what topics are difficult for women in Utah women to talk about. Here are some real situations from local women (names have been changed) who need help to bring up a topic with their best friend. Read more
They’re back! College kids are home for the summer and while it’s normal to butt heads a bit during summer break, therapist, Julie Hanks, says there are ways to avoid clashes and enjoy the summer together.
As your college-age children come home for summer it’s important to address and renegotiate these “hot button” topics head on, before different expectations turn into sources of contention. Be proactive and address topics together adult to adult. It can be tricky to navigate the rules because they are technically an adult, but you still your home. Here are some common sources of conflict among college kids and parents and some tips to help you smooth the transition to parenting adult children during the summer months.
Curfew seems to be the most common topic of disagreement between parents and adult children. I’ve recently heard a fried say, “I know he’s an adult, but I just can’t sleep if I know he hasn’t come home yet.” I said, “You slept just fine for the past nine months while he was away at school!”
Revise house rules together ASAP
You are no longer legally responsible for your child’s behavior and whereabouts, but you do have the right to set guidelines for what goes on in your home. For nine months away at college your adult child has made choices for him or herself on when to go to bed, when to eat, how to spend money, how to spend her time. Don’t expect old house rules to apply to your college-age child when he or she returns home for the summer.
2) CHORES AND MONEY
It is reasonable to expect your adult child to contribute to the household in some way either financially or through participating in household chores. How much should I expect? Should my daughter get a summer job? Who pays for what? Do I make them pay rent? Should I pay for their car or gas? There are no right answers.
Focus on your boundaries, not theirs
Decide what you will and won’t do instead of trying to dictate what they should do. For example, you may decide not to do your adult child’s laundry. If son’s laundry is piling up all over the floor and he has no clean clothes, the best approach is to do nothing. Don’t nag or criticize. And if your child is asking for money to go out with friends say, “I will pay for your dinner if we’re going out as a family, but if you’re going out with friends you’ll have to figure that one out on your own.”
3) TIME MANAGEMENT
Many adult children look at summer as a break from the pressures of schoolwork, finals, and endless hours of studying. They want to relax and reconnect with old friends, and have more unstructured time. Parents, on the other hand, might view their child’s “break” from school as being lazy and unproductive, and may even wonder, “Have I failed as a parent?
Reflect, don’t direct
Reflect what your adult child is doing or saying without telling them what to do and how to do it. Instead of nagging about them sleeping in until noon say “You must be really tired”. Actively encourage their positive efforts and goals.
4) FAMILY TIME
While you may envision your college child spending a lot of time with the family, he or she may have different expectations. Previous norms of family dinners, family reunions, Sunday dinner at Grandma’s, and other holiday traditions may need to be renegotiated with your young adult.
Invite but don’t expect
Invite your young adult to participate in activities, but don’t expect them to join in every activity. Keep up your own interests and social activities, too. I came across this suggestion online and thought it was brilliant and may help you make the needed shift in expectations with your college-age child:
“Treat your returning child like a foreign exchange student â€” someone who might be persuaded to share your quaint customs (such as having breakfast before noon), while passing on a few of her own (such as the vegan cooking she learned from her roommate).” (USAToday.com)
“He won’t go to church with our family” is a common complaint I hear in my clinical practice with families when college kids come home for summer. During several months living away from family adult children may start to question his or her family’s beliefs Religious differences or having a child leave the faith can parents wondering, “Where did we go wrong?”
Place connection above conformity
Your child will have changed while they were away from school – in ways that please you, and in ways that disappoint. Even if you don’t love the choices and beliefs your child is making, be curious about your child’s thoughts and feelings in a way that allows room for open dialogue and mutual respect. Remember that your connection with them is the most important thing. This is the time of life where you child needs to room to sort through what he or she values and believes.
In a culture consumed with pop stars and super heroes, it’s hard to spot true heroes. Find out what real heroes are made of and how to help your child be a real life hero. Therapist, Julie Hanks, LCSW explains the difference between role models and heroes.
What do you think of when you hear the word “hero”? For many, the word “hero” has become synonymous with celebrities, inventors, sports figures, musicians, and other individuals with special gifts or powers, excellent performance, or other noteworthy accomplishment.
Social psychologist Phil Zimbardo, PhD, claims that as a society we’ve “dumbed down heroism”. Not every good, kind, generous, smart, talented, famous person is a “hero”. There is a difference between role models and heroes.
Helping children become heroes in their own life story
1) Redefine Hero
What is a hero? Heroes don’t have to have magical powers or be involved in monumental feats. Zimbardo defines a hero simply as “a person who acts on behalf of others or in defense of integrity or a moral cause” and involves these 4 parts:
In the service of others or moral cause
Involves personal risk
Without expectation of personal benefit
Last Christmas my 8-year-old son showed heroism in a simple, yet touching way, when he left this letter for Santa on Christmas Eve. While it’s a small gesture, it was the opportunity for me as a parent to celebrate those budding heroic qualities.
“Thanks for bringing presents, but iff you think I don’t need it than give it to people who doesn’t get presents”
2) Watch for Heroes Everywhere
Once you’ve redefined what a hero is, you can take note of every day heroes in your community, in your family, and literature and movies.
Disney’s animated movie “Mulan” is an entertaining movie, with lively characters, and it can also be a springboard for conversation with your children about the 4 parts of heroism. Here are a few questions you might want to ask your children.
What value or moral cause prompted Mulan to go to battle?
Why do you think Mulan volunteered to fight in her father’s place?’
What was Mulan personally risking by making the choice to join the army?
What are some values that are important to you?
Are there any situations where you can act like a hero?
Jason M. Robison posted this on Facebook, “We teach our four children that being a hero is rarely glamorous and very often unpopular. We keep our eyes wide open for examples in the community that we can point out to them.”
3) Encourage Social Awareness and Action
The greater more people who witness an emergency; the less likely anyone is to do something about the situation. This is called the bystander effect. Help your child to understand this tendency and encourage them to act. They have the power to change the group norm by taking action on behalf of someone.
Encourage your child and teen to speak out, and to even challenge authority, in defense of another or one of their core values, even if it’s not popular.
Our children and teens come up against opportunities every day to be heroes. It may be as simple as sitting next to a lonely classmate in the lunch, walking away from a group of friends when they start to gossip, or reporting an act of bullying that they witnessed on the playground.
On Facebook, Vickie Johnson De Blasio says “We teach our kids that a hero does their best to improve the lives of others, without looking for acknowledgement.”
4) Teach and Nurture Heroic Virtues
Talk about your family’s values and the importance of developing character. Cultivate integrity, courage, compassion and social awareness in your family life. Families are losing the oral tradition of storytelling, and technology is taking over conversation and reading times. Provide your child opportunities all have examples of heroic figures with qualities that children can emulate in your family history, in literature and in religious text.
I’ve often heard my neighbor and dear friend Rene tells her three young children, “You can do hard things.” That simple statement can help her children see themselves as standing for something greater than themselves. Another family member frequently asks his son daily, “Who’s life can you bless today?”
Sharing stories of heroic family members can help nurture heroic virtues in your child. In 1856, one of our distant family relatives, Ephriam K. Hanks, volunteered to rescue a group of the Mormon Pioneers who were starving and stranded in a bitter winter storm. When he heard about the plight of the Willie and Martin handcart companies he was ready to risk his own life to help bring them to the Salt Lake Valley.
5) Be a Hero
The best way to inspire and teach your child to cultivate the hero inside of them is to be a hero, to cultivate your own heroic nature. I often hear children and teens in my clinical practice complain about how their parents lecture too much. We can do better at living heroic qualities instead of simply talking about those qualities.
As an adolescent, I remember going with my dad on Sunday’s to visit widows in my church community and neighborhood. We took them food and sat and talked with them. As a young child, I thought it was a boring and a waste of time, but looking back now it was a powerful lesson on the ability to make a difference for someone else.
Is your stuff taking over your house? Find out how to tap into the emotions that keep you from letting go and de-clutter your life.
Studio 5 Contributor and therapist, Julie Hanks, explains why we hang on to stuff and how to let it go.
In recent years shows about home organization have cropped up on just about every network. From the Style Network’s Clean House, A&E’s Hoarders, to HGTV’s Mission: Organization, we are obsessed with people and their “stuff”; with watching self-proclaimed “pack rats” learning to de-clutter and transform their homes and their lives.
Just like excessive clutter and collectibles can get out of control, an excessive focus on cleanliness and order can become problematic. I call this end of the spectrum the “neat freaks”. In April Women’s Health Magazine I was interviewed for an article called “Worried Sick” about a woman’s story of becoming obsessed with cleaning and detoxifying her home. Read the article online.
Why We Hold On To Stuff
Believe it or not, just like neat freaks, pack rats are often perfectionist, too. But, instead of wanting a perfectly organized bookshelf, a toxin free home, or uniformed stripes on the vacuumed carpet, “pack rats” are paralyzed by not being able “to do it all” says Judith Kohlberg, author of Conquering Chronic Disorganization (source). Messy folks tend to feel overwhelmed by deciding what to keep and what to let go of, so they put the decision on the shelf, literally.
Solution: Decide On the Spot
Remember, there is no “wrong” choice. Too often small decisions feel like moral issues when they are merely preferences or benign choices. Dr. Gerald Nestadt Director of Johns Hopkins Obsessive Compulsive Disorder Clinic suggests that when you pick something up is the time to decide its fate. Either put it in its place or throw it away (source). This is a means of preventing unnecessary clutter from ever entering the house.
My kids bring stacks of papers home each week and I frequently move the same piles of papers to several different locations around the house for months. But since working on this segment, I’ve actually tried to decide the fate of each paper the moment I touch it and it works! My kitchen counter isn’t cluttered with various piles of school papers. The things I decide to keep are stacked in a cute basket on the counter.
Solution: Face Your Fears
Ask yourself what’s the worst thing that can happen if I throw this paper away or if you donate this piece of furniture? Is your fear that you might regret it? Is it that someone may be upset with you? That may have to pay to replace it? My favorite question to ask myself is “Can I buy it back on Ebay if I change my mind? ”
Several years ago I worked with an overwhelmed client whose home was littered with piles of books, papers, clothes, and she felt unable to make decisions about what to keep and what to get rid of. Her daughters didn’t want to have friends over because they were embarrassed of the clutter and chaos. My client’s family of origin didn’t have enough money to provide for my client’s needs or wants when she was a child. Through therapy she discovered that she was holding onto things because she was afraid of not having enough, like she felt as a child. Being surrounded by “stuff” gave her a sense of security that she and her family would always have more than enough. Through facing her fear of not having enough, and through grieving her early losses and unmet needs, my client was able to find the motivation to let go of much of the possessions she was clinging to.
You may hold on to things as reminder of fond memories of the past, of close relationships, or of people who have passed on. Consider that the meaning isn’t in the object itself, but in the meaning you ascribe to that particular treasure. You have the power to change the meaning you give to an object.
Solution: Keep Just One
Holding onto boxes of every piece of art that your child draws doesn’t freeze time. Saving boxes of clothing from your great grandma’s closet that you’ll never wear won’t bring her back to life. So, hold on to one of the dresses or your child’s favorite drawing and let the rest go.
I recently posed the question on Facebook “What things do you collect and find it hard to let go of?”. The most common answer was “things that my children have made”. Art projects, papers and cards made by your children are precious gifts, but you don’t have to keep ALL of them. Try applying this rule and keep one per year.
Solution: Take a Photo
If there’s an item with particular meaning or special memory associated with it take a photo of it before you toss it, sell it, give it away, or donate it. Just because an item is associated with a special memory doesn’t mean that you have to keep the actual item.
This idea recently came up in a conversation with my mom, who collects vintage kitchen items. I asked her what it was about vintage kitchen items that were so sentimental. She described memories of her mother in the kitchen. The kitchen was the heart of my mother’s childhood home, and subsequently the kitchen was also the heart of my childhood home as my mom raised 9 siblings who are all grown. I suggested to my mom that she take photos of her favorite items and make a collage on her kitchen wall instead of cluttering up her home by keeping all of the actual items in her living space.
“I might need it someday” or “I paid for this” aren’t necessarily good reasons to hold on to clutter things but are common reasons for doing so. While being frugal is an important trait for financial responsibility, it can become too much of a focus and lead to holding on to too much stuff. It’s crucial to balance financial concerns with the emotional and relational costs of having a disorganized or in extreme cases, a hazardous environment.
Solution: Toss It After 2 Years
You know those partially finished crafts that you bought, or those piles of fabric collecting dust, or that closet full of old clothes that you’re holding on to just in case you get to that size again, or those shelves of books you haven’t touched in over a decade? If you haven’t touched something for two years then maybe it’s time to let them go.
According to a recent survey on SmartShopper, the average woman owns about 17 pair of shoes. I own 17 multiplied by 7! I realized that my shoes represent being prepared for any event, and they represent that I have options in my life. I also realized that some are also attached to memories. So, I am challenging myself to give away the shoes I haven’t worn for 2 years.
Solution: Put People Before Things
If there’s no place for company to sit down because your couch is covered with collectibles, or your family is standing while eating dinner because the dinner table is covered with boxes of your treasures your are paying a high relational cost. If your stuff is taking priority over your relationships or starting to impact your sleep, work, and other parts of your life its time to take action and ask for professional help. If your piles of stuff put your family’s health at risk or create physical danger it’s time to seek professional help to understand the emotional and mental roots of you’re your relationship with your stuff.
In an A&E’s Hoarders episode a grown woman Darcy shares her pain about her mother choosing to live with “nameless faceless trash” first, and has distanced from her Mom. This extremely sad case illustrates how out of control things can become when you cling to things over people. Watch A&E’s Hoarders Episode 26.
Need a quick ego boost? Check your Facebook profile. It just might make you feel better about yourself.Â Therapist, Julie Hanks, weighs in on new research that says Facebook makes you feel better about yourself.