6 WAYS TO CONNECT WITH YOUR TEEN Many of us have made the resolution to do better. To have more meaningful relationships with our teens and to connect with them on a higher level. If you want to make this year the best ever with your teen, here are six things you can do. By Brooke Martin LISTEN Teens have their hearts and minds pulled in different directions from daily pressures and worldly influences. The art of listening is a gift that heals wounds, loves unconditionally, and ignites creativity in the one being heard. Think about it. What kind of person do we lean into when we are trying to sort out problems in life? Generally, we gravitate to the open-hearted, non-judgmental and unsolicited people in our lives. The ones who listen, truly listen. Why is the art of listening so powerful? We can help our teens discover who they are by creating a safe space where they can pour out their thoughts and perspectives of life, tell their stories, and unload disappointments. MONITOR DIGITAL DEVICES Strap in parents! Teens today are the first generation of "screenagers," which means we are the first generation to parent screenagers. This is not an easy task! As a mother of three teenagers, the digital device battles flooded our home for a good two years until I finally grew a backbone and buckled down. As a result, my kids are happier, less stressed, and there is more peace in our home! Teenagers are turning to devices to cope with normal hard emotions instead of learning healthy coping skills in life. The average teenager in the U.S. spends nine hours a day of screen time. Studies show teens who spend over three hours a day are much more likely to have depression, anxiety, feel fatigued and chronic stress. The iPod was released in 2007 and Instagram was released in 2010. In the U.S., from 2007-2015 the suicide rate in girls doubled and increased 30 per cent in boys. Suicide is the second leading cause of death amongst all teenagers in the U.S. and is the No. 1 leading cause of death in teenage girls. How can we make improvements? SELF-CHECK. Our kids model our behaviour. Are we on our phones during dinner? Do we set our own time restrictions? Do we turn to social media (or video gaming) to cope with hard emotions instead of healthy coping skills? Be transparent with your teen in your own personal
Fans of Freaky Friday get ready to experience déjà vu! The popular comedy about a mom and daughter who swap bodies is seeing its fifth iteration with the latest version appearing on The Disney Channel. The movie, which demonstrates the very real push-pull relationship of parents and their teens, stars Broadway veteran Heidi Blickenstaff as Katherine Blake and Cozi Zuehlsdorff (Dolphin Tale and Dolphin Tale 2) as Ellie Blake. In real life, Blickenstaff is a step-mom to two teenage boys and we sat down with both actors to ask: If you could switch places with the parent and teen in your life, what would you want them to know? Heidi Blickenstaff 80s music is the best. Eat your greens. Spend less time on your phone and more time interacting, person-to-person. Wear sunscreen. Always be kind to people. Cozi Zuehlsdorff Sometimes with teenagers, "I hate you" actually means, "help me" Take extra time to tell your kids they're beautiful. It means everything coming from a parent. My room may look messy but I know where everything is. Vegetables aren't really that important. If I'm on my phone, maybe I'm using it to achieve world peace so give me the benefit of the doubt. Freaky Friday premieres Friday, August 10 (8:00 p.m., ET/PT) on Disney Channel and DisneyNOW.
5 Reasons Why You Should Watch "13 Reasons Why" With Your Teen Netflix’s 13 Reasons Why has gained an incredible amount of popularity and criticism ever since its debut in 2017. The show tackles difficult issues like sexual assault, suicide, gun violence and bullying. Because of the explicit content of the show, parents have remained wary about their children watching it. However, Gary Direnfeld, counselor for over 35 years, says parents should not only let their teens watch the show but they should watch it with them. Here’s why. YOU CAN DECODE WHAT’S HAPPENING: The first reason to watch it together would be to help your teen decode some of what is happening on screen. “Sometimes watching intense, graphic scenes can be traumatic for people and it can overwhelm them,” says Direnfeld. “Having a parent there to help interpret what is going on, to provide support and emotional safety, can help the child integrate the experience without it being traumatic.” YOU CAN ASK HOW IT AFFECTS THEM: Talking to your child about how the show makes them feel is another good reason to watch it together. “Asking about the kind of impact that it has on your child is important because they could be going through something similar and it would be unhealthy for them to go through it alone,” says Direnfeld. “The thing that 13 Reasons Why teaches us is that children are exposed to explicit and extreme material on the Internet and we want to help them cope with that stream of material before they are actually exposed to it.” YOU CAN ASK WHAT THEY ARE GOING THROUGH: Watching the show together can be a catalyst to discovering what your teen is going through. Some teens suffer from anxiety or depression or have gone through traumatic experiences and may feel shame and embarrassment, but having a parent to talk to offers them a way to figure those experiences out. They can learn how to manage and respond. YOU CAN LEARN ABOUT THEIR EXPERIENCES AT SCHOOL: Watching the show together gives parents a chance to ask their teen about their experiences at school, while also being able to instill their own morals and values, says Direnfeld. “Regardless of how a drama is critiqued, the explicit content is still there, and it exposes our children to behaviour that can be frightening and overwhelming,” he says. “From my perspective, it is what