5 ways to make the holidays stress-free for tweens of divorce By Alicia Robertson Feeling anxious about how to get through the upcoming holiday season without too much drama? You’re not alone. While the holidays can be an incredibly joyous time, they can also be extremely challenging for families who are navigating divorce—especially when you’re determined to maintain the holiday cheer for your tweens. With careful planning and consideration for everyone’s top priorities and feelings, you can still achieve a stress-free holiday for you and your tweens this year. Make sure your legal agreement is inclusive of everyone’s needs The most important starting point is with the legal agreement that you and your former partner draw up when working through your divorce. Don’t rush through this step! Take your time to make sure that your final draft is truly inclusive of everyone’s needs, which will help ensure that everyone has a really positive holiday experience. Spend time discussing and determining everyone’s priorities: yours, your former partner’s, and your tweens’. Focus on the experiences that matter right now, but remember that over time, new family traditions may emerge and that the holiday season will look different at different ages and stages for your family. Remember that this is a legal document, so you want to be as specific and clear as possible. As parents, it’s your job to enforce this agreement when necessary, especially if your tweens get upset about the plans you’ve set for the holidays. In this situation, the best thing you can do to support your tween is to listen and validate their feelings—using statements such as “thank you for sharing your feelings and desires. This is not easy and how you feel and what you want is entirely reasonable. Let’s figure out how we can work through this together”. Care for your own emotions first In order to support your tweens through the emotions they’re going through during this tough time, you have to first focus on your own emotional self-care and healing. Start by having an awareness of what new feelings are coming up for you, such as grief around the loss of family traditions, not seeing the extended family you love, etc. Try to stay out of the victim mindset and flip that script by reminding yourself that you’re not losing or missing anything. You’re safe, well, happy, free, and you can make positive choices for yourself! You'll be better equipped to meet your tweens'
7 Ways to Combat Mental Health Problems in Teen Boys by Arianne Granada Talking about mental health with teen boys may be especially tricky because of their age and the way their brains are developing—especially if they're in the middle of a growth spurt. Unlike girls, who tend to talk about their emotions and ask for help, boys are often uncomfortable with these types of conversations because society makes it seem emotionally risky to demonstrate vulnerability. As parents, it is important that we help our teen boys to speak up about mental health issues. We should encourage them to talk to a friend or family member about their feelings and emotional issues ranging from stress at home and school to depression or anxiety. We chatted with Cassandra Simms, a psychiatrist who specializes in an all-boys residential treatment program at Embark Behavioral Health based in Chandler, Arizona, about how to help young men navigate through life with self-awareness and confidence. #1 Unlearn the stigma Mental health is still pretty taboo. We’re getting better about it, but for a long time, there has been a stigma around it being something to be ashamed of. This is often transferred down to our boys in society; they think they're weak if they aren't tough and don’t express their feelings. So it's important that we, as adults, don't make them feel ashamed of their emotions. Allowing them to express themselves encourages mental health awareness and makes a big difference in the long run. Understanding their language Sometimes the kid you’re talking to is just going to be defiant, or they’re going to be resistant to saying anything or they just shut down. Regardless of how long it takes, make sure you let them know you still want to talk to them. They'll realize that pushing away isn't working, and that makes you gain their trust that you're not going to abandon them despite their behaviour. Make sure that you pass that first wall so you can make it to the other side. Using their words when they talk about mental health issues is important so that they know you listen rather than using something you learned from a textbook. I had a young patient who was a baseball player once who described depression as a water-logged ball. As we would talk about it, I would ask “How are you feeling, how’s that ball? Is it water-logged or not?" Because it gives you an idea of
5 Tips to Raise a Resilient Teen By June Rousso, Ph.D. Teens today are faced with so much rapid change along with everyday academic and social demands. All of these demands can be very stressful at times. Our bodies naturally react to stress with a fight, flight or freeze reaction. However, we also can use our thoughts and emotions to develop resilience and better manage stress. This is where resilience comes in. But how to build it? Here are some tips for parents guided by the words of teens themselves from ChildResilient.org, a student-run non-profit organization born out of the pandemic. Tip #1: Encourage a strong sense of self in your teen. If you have a sense of who you are, you can easily direct yourself towards and away from situations — even toxic ones. As parents, give more choices when you can, and encourage your child not to be influenced by social conformity. While it is natural to want to be liked by others, it's also important to live by your own will. Let them learn to think independently, regardless of the good and bad opinions of others. Help foster resilience as well as build your teen's self-confidence by encouraging this kind of independent thinking. Tip #2: Don’t dwell on the past, especially the bad life experiences. While you never want to dismiss your child’s feelings, dwelling on the past prevents building up the strength to move forward in life. Children, especially teens, can be so sensitive to how they might have been judged in the past. Past opinions don’t matter and they need to learn to do things for themselves. Strengthen your teen's sense of self by teaching them not to be swayed by public opinion. With ongoing emotional reactions to stress — such as depression and anxiety — it is important to remind your child that these feelings are not all of who they are, which helps to keep your teen resilient. Tip #3: Explain that making social comparisons is natural, but overdoing it hinders being a resilient teen. When we compare ourselves to others, we usually come out on the short end of the stick or take on an arrogant attitude of feeling better. Communicating that there will always be people with more of something in some way is one message, but teens can also learn that these same people can serve as role models and be inspirational. At the same time, despite the social comparisons,
How to Teach Your Teen the Art of Face-to-Face Connections Here’s a question for you to ponder: Are we as parents doing all we can to prepare our teens for high school, college or the workplace? Are we doing all we can to best support the next generation so they can function in the best way possible in the real world? Are we supporting the next generation by way of offering them pivotal life skills? What I’m talking about is developing face-to-face communication skills, in an age where it is becoming a lost art. We are all experiencing a unique time in history, no doubt about it. We are also searching to create a new sense of normalcy as well. It’s more about physical distancing than social distancing. We need to connect and interact socially now more than ever. And when it’s safe to connect face-to-face, that’s even better! Here are some tips on how to teach your teens the art of face-to-face interaction and become better communicators. Have mutually beneficial conversations I will make a basic assumption that we all like to be understood. One main factor to really understanding someone is by listening. Some quick tips on how to fully engage are to ask clarifying questions. It is always OK to ask questions of anyone you are talking with, such as, “I really want to understand your point, would you mind saying it again for me?” Or perhaps you can ask them to rephrase it in a different way so that you understand. Instead of offering (pretend) nods of understanding, ask for clarity! Don’t interrupt, listen more and talk less. It’s easy to talk. When we talk, we are sharing what we already know, but when you truly listen, you may learn something. One quick tip I’ve used with teens to work on listening skills is creating a for-fun mock TV or radio interview. I have my clients create a short list of three questions to ask, but I always stress one key point to them. I emphasize for them to listen to the answers very carefully instead of thinking about the next question to ask on their list. This small adjustment tends to bring big results. By doing this, you truly put a focus on actively listening to someone and this small habit can be applied to real-life job interviews. How to have hard conversations Most of us, not just today’s youth, will inevitably need to
“Here's the story of a lovely lady……” Ok, this is where the comparison ends between the Brady Bunch and Rebecca Eckler’s blended family. In her new book, Blissfully Blended Bullshit: The Uncomfortable Truth Of Blending Families, Eckler gets candid about the realities of blending families and the hard truth behind what it means to meld a new life with exes, in-laws, new children, bonus children, bio children, households and even a dog. We sat down with Eckler to talk about her new book, falling in and out of love and what she wants you to know about being blended. By Rachel Naud Why was it important to you to write this book? There are two reasons I thought it was an important topic to write about candidly. I didn’t realize how hard being in a blended family was, and it was only AFTER I would vent to girlfriends, who were in, or had been, in blended worlds themselves, that they would admit that they had the same issues. I had no idea what they had/have been going through, again, until after I was the one to start the conversation. Also, I realized there was nothing out there about what to do AFTER you blend families. There is a lot out there about the stepmother/stepchild relationship, but there was nothing about what to do when blended stops being so splendid, and all the BS that pops up in blended families. When you blend families, it’s not just about ‘How To Be A Step-Parent.’ Blending affects everyone, from our in-laws, ex-in-laws, our exes. When I read the stats on blending families, I was shocked. By the year 2020, there will be more blended families in North America than any other kind of family makeup, so, really, there is an epidemic of people blending, who have no idea what to do after they blend. I wanted to help, or at least share, what people are going to have to deal with, and hopefully they can learn from my mistakes. When you reach a certain age, and get divorced, and start dating again, there is a huge probability that you will be dating someone who already has children. And no one has really shared what it’s really like to blend, and all the variations of people who need to get along for blended to be splendid. I also wanted people like my parents, my (now) ex’s parents, and
Teen Mood Swings: 3 Tips to Manage Them by Dr. Yanina Is your tween or teen experiencing the symptoms of what I call the ‘Emotional Armageddon Syndrome' or EAS? Let me give you an example of how EAS might look like. This is a real story. Picture my 13-year-old daughter bombarding me with hugs, telling me how much she loves me. A split of a millisecond later, her smile magically transforms into the meanest frown simply because I said: “Honey, don’t forget to clean your room before you go to bed.” Does this sound familiar? The truth is most kids become a different child when they reach the tween or teen years. As they enter the pre-adolescent years, they begin to experience physical, emotional and social changes. Frankly, many have a hard time facing their puberty and don’t know what to do with it. If you remember, our bodies were totally wacked and out of control when we became teens. Between the menstrual cycle, wild hormones, physical development, voice cracking, new desires and curiosity, puberty can be quite challenging. Then, you have the teenager who tends to over-react as her world is seemingly crashing down. “I hate school. All my teachers hate me. No one wants to be my friend. Everyone is trashing me on social media. My life is a disaster!” Maybe you’re noticing these unpredictable and intense teen mood swings yet finding yourself unprepared to deal with these changes properly. The good news is that, according to research, mood swings during adolescence are actually normal, aren’t necessarily a reason to worry and they shall pass. I wonder if these researchers have tweens and teens at home? Anyhow, the key here is to help you and your tween/teen manage these swings in a healthier way. In this post, I’m sharing three tips to help you guide and support your child during this intense journey so that they learn to face mood swings in a healthier way while keeping your sanity along the way. Does this sound like a plan? All right, let’s get started! Tip 1. Stay Calm One thing that worked well for our 17-year-old son and seems to be working well for our 13-year-old daughter is focusing on how we’re going to react to their mood swings before we correct the behaviour. An effective way to address teen mood swings is to remain calm, in control and exercise patience as you interact with your moody tween or teen. In other words,
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
5 Last-Minute Christmas Gifts for Your Teen by Rachel Naud Teens can be the trickiest people to buy for because they can also be the pickiest! With trends, coming and going every day, finding that perfect gift can be daunting. But don’t worry. Rachel Naud, the editor of INBETWEEN magazine, has got you covered with a selection of gifts any teen would love to receive this Christmas. New England Patriots Toque, $27.99, nflshop.ca The perfect stocking stuffer, this New England Patriots toque will keep their heads warm this winter while letting them show their pride for their favourite team! 2nd Edition HP Sprocket Printer, $159.99, hp.ca If your teen is into tech and loves to take selfies and photos with their friends (basically every teen out there!), you’ll win major cool parent points with this 2nd Edition HP Sprocket Printer. It’s about the size of a cell phone, so they can take it with them when they’re hanging out with their friends, and up to three devices can connect to one printer so they can all get in on the fun when they’re all together! Once connected with the app, they can have fun customizing their photos with colourful filters, frames, text and stickers! Afterward, they can also use the pint-size pictures to decorate their spaces or share with friends and spread some holiday cheer. Dermalogica Smooth Skin Favourites, $47, dermalogica.ca The teenage years are an ideal time to get into a skincare routine because it sets them up to learn how to properly care for their skin, which is especially important when they’re often going through hormonal changes that can cause acne. And during the winter, when the weather is dry and cold, you want to really pamper your skin, which is why this Dermalogica Gift Set is great. It includes everything they will need to cleanse, exfoliate and hydrate their skin and give them a glowing complexion for the New Year! Hidden Gems Bath Bomb, $49.99, shopatshowcase.com Being a teen is stressful and taking hot baths is a great way to de-stress and more importantly unplug! While every teen knows about bath bombs, these Hidden Gems are extra special! Inside they’ll find an extra special surprise — a piece of jewelry! And the really fun part about it? The jewelry inside can be worth up to $5,000! E310 Explorian Series Vitamix, $419.95, vitamix.ca This gift is perfect for that athletic teen that is always up early and out the door
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.