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Posts tagged Brain
Parent's Perspective of the Tween's brain

In the article, “This mother's description of her tween son's brain is a must-read for all parents,” Annie Reneau described an example of good parenting. There is no true definition of great parenting, but one that comes close to that is someone who is willing to take the time to talk to their child. In order to gain a better perspective of what is going through your child’s mind, both you and your child should both take the time to respectfully listen to each other. This is the time to acknowledge that your child is going through a stage, called puberty, where it is very difficult for your child to control their emotions. This is not a time to yell at your child for being moody, but an instance where you can help your child understand why they are moody in the first place. Maybe they don’t even know what or why they are saying something in a specific tone in the first place.

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All mothers have to raise their child into the teen years, so why not treat the scenario the best you can? A mother of an 11-year-old boy asked a question about parenting on Quora: “How do I tell my wonderful 11 year old son, (in a way that won’t tear him down), that the way he has started talking to me (disrespectfully) makes me not want to be around him (I’ve already told him the bad attitude is unacceptable)?”

Reneau interviewed Jo Eberhardt, a mother of two, who replied with a solid answer to the common question “how do I talk to my child about their emotions and their attitude towards me when they are experiencing puberty without pushing them away?” Eberhardt recounts a discussion that she had with her 11 ½-year-old son who was experiencing what every tween child goes through, the terrible twos all over again...puberty.

Instead of Eberhardt telling her son you did this because or you did that because, she remembered that is was not her son who purposefully talked to her rudely, but his brain. We forget that it is our brain that is controlling our emotions and changing as we grow and age. She stated that “Not only is your body being transformed from a child’s body to an adult’s body, your brain has to be completely rewritten from a child's brain to an adult’s brain” because at age 5 or 6 it was fully developed for a child but not yet ready to fit an adult body. Puberty is the training process for your brain to get used to your new body and fully develop a sense of who you are.

Certain parts of the brain such as the amygdala, a part of the brain that controls your emotions, also control how much sleep one gets and how cranky one may be in the morning. Eberhardt’s son began to understand how his moodiness could come off frustrating to his mother. Not only did he come to a consensus, but so did his mother who also realized how unmanageable it may be for an adult-sized amygdala hitting all your emotion buttons at once.

This is the time when one needs to raise their child's spirit and be careful not to break it. Admit to your child that it is not their fault for not having a fully developed amygdala and frontal cortex, but instead, praise them for seeing that their bodies are changing and the hormone changes that come with it.

By explaining the physiological reasons behind their changing bodies, children may begin to understand that it is puberty’s fault that their brain is working the way it does. Eberhardt stated that it is still your responsibility to take ownership of your actions and recognize what is going on and choose another way: “You get to choose what you do with your feelings. And, when you make a mistake, you get to choose to apologize for that mistake and make amends.”

Keep empathizing and communicating with your child. This way “when we let one’s kids know that we're going through these various phases together, it's easier to work with them instead of against them” (Ebehardt). As their adult brain is developing, they need to realize that their hormones are ranging and how to control them. At least now they know it is not their fault for being moody and why. Every child goes through this treacherous stage in life, so give them some slack because you went through it too.

Contact us for more information on how to communicate with your child and how your family can function best throughout puberty. For more information on therapy, visit FAQ at Hilber Psychological Services.

-Written by Lily Schmitt and Tanya L. Hilber, PsyD

References

Reneau, Annie. “This mother's description of her tween son's brain is a must-read for all parents.” UpWorthy. Web. 4 Jan. 2019. https://www.upworthy.com/this-mother-s-description-of-her-tween-son-s-brain-is-a-must-read-for-all-parents

The Effects of Screen Time on Kids

The recent question of concern considers how all that screen time impacts the physical structure of your kids' brains, as well as their emotional development and mental health. The National Institutes of Health hopes to answer this question by studying the adolescent brain development. Anderson Cooper, correspondent of CBS 60 Minutes, interviewed different researchers to get a better understanding the research we are looking for.

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 The first wave of data found significant differences in the brains of nine and ten-year-olds who spend more than seven hours a day of screen time, compared to those who don’t. These brains showed premature thinning of the cortex, the part of the brain that processes information from the five senses. The study also revealed that kids who spend more than two hours a day on screens got lower scores on thinking and language tests. While this research may take a significant amount of time to complete, researchers hope to answer not only how much time are they spending, how they perceive it impacting them, but also what are some of the outcomes. And that will get at the question of whether there's addiction or not.

 Dr. Dimitri Chrisrakis at Seattle Children's Hospital, speaks on the recommendation for parents to, "avoid digital media use, except video chatting, in children younger than 18 to 24 months." In his 60 Minutes talk, “Toddlers need laps more than apps”, Dr. Chrisrakis warns that babies playing with iPads do not transfer what they learn from the iPad to the real world. This is a critical period for human brain development. Apps on iPads with lights, colors, and sounds are more stimulating to an infant than an original toy. His research proves that kids are less likely to put down an iPad while playing with it, than they are to put down a toy. Tristan Harris, former Google manager, explains that phones and apps are being designed to capture and keep kids' attention. Apps use specific techniques to get people to use the product for as long as possible.

 Until recently, it was impossible to see what happens inside a young brain when a person is focused on a mobile device. Dr. Bagot is among scientists who believe screen time stimulates the release of the brain chemical dopamine, which has a pivotal role in cravings and desire. The idea is that people are more likely to continue checking their devices in order to keep the good feelings. Teenagers now spend on average four and a half hours a day on their phones. All that time has resulted in a fundamental shift in how a generation of American kids acts and thinks. Jean Twenge, a psychology professor at San Diego State University has spent years combining surveys of people since the 1960s. She discovered sudden changes in the behavior and mental health of teens born in 1995 and later, the first generation to spend their entire adolescences with smartphones. Twenge found that the percentage of teens who reported drinking or having sex fell. But the percentage who said they were lonely or depressed spiked. It's possible other factors may have played a role, but Twenge says she wasn't able to identify any that correlated as closely as the growing popularity of the smartphone and social media.

 It is difficult to say whether it's the specific things that teens are doing on their phones that's the problem. Or whether it’s just the amount of time that they're spending on their phones that is the problem. With new technological shifts, people become excited and amused without realizing the consequences until years later when it’s too late. Tech companies have created ways to monitor screen time or set time restrictions on apps, but most parents aren’t aware of these tools. Twenge believes smartphones, as well as most devices, are great when they are used for the right purpose. It is the excessive use of apps and social media that cause harm. She states, “it should be a tool that you use. Not a tool that uses you.”

 The purpose of this article is not to frighten parents, but to educate them on the effects screen time can have on kids. This is not to say remove electronics completely but beware of what part of technology is actually benefiting you, and what part is harming you. If your child is using an excessive amount of screen time, learn more about the tools that can help prevent this future addiction.

If you have questions about children development and the effect of screen time please contact us. For more information on therapy, visit FAQ at Hilber Psychological Services. 

~Written by Allison Parker and Tanya L. Hilber, PsyD 

Reference: Cooper, Anderson. “Groundbreaking Study Examines Effects of Screen Time on Kids.” CBS News, CBS Interactive, 9 Dec. 2018, www.cbsnews.com/news/groundbreaking-study-examines-effects-of-screen-time-on-kids-60-minutes/

The Best Way To ‘Discipline Without Damage,’ From Toddlers To Teens

In the article “The Best Way To ‘Discipline Without Damage,’ From Toddlers To Teens” written by Andy Hinds, In referring to the book, Discipline Without Damage: How to Get Your Kids to Behave Without Messing Them Up, written by Dr. Vanessa Lapointe, the author summarizes how most parenting techniques can be replaced by a more concise list in order to connect with your child. Connecting with your child and understanding their emotional development is key. By using your emotional connection with your child to work out behavioral problems together focuses on your child’s feelings rather than their actions. Your child will respect you and your expectations for what “good behavior” is in your family and be able to follow them more appropriately when they fit their emotional development.  

Tired of putting your child in timeouts, using behavior charts to motivate them to behave better, or rewarding them for not acting out? If yes, then think about replacing your parenting techniques with these summarized skills to make it easier. Begin by recognizing that …

Children Have Needs

Keep in mind that your child has not reached their full maturity; that he or she can not quite grasp control over their emotions and actions at this time in their life at their current brain development. Try focusing less on your child’s behavior and more on your own behavior to see if you are still using imagination, patience, and compassion (Hinds) to create a trusted bond between you and your child. Use your emotional connection with your child to center your attention around…

  • Unfolding your child’s personality

  • Relaxing

  • Knowing that your child needs your understanding and acceptance of your child’s feelings

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It’s just a phase

As a parent, you may have demands, but your child’s brain “might not yet have the capacity to meet them” (Hinds). When this happens, try not fighting against the natural stages of child’s kid’s psychological and emotional development (Hinds), instead, realize that it is just a phase they are going through no matter how old they are. Ranging from 2- 17 years of age, children tend to...

  • Start off with having no impulse control where they can not regulate their meltdowns and frustration (ages 2-3)

  • Like testing their limits and exploring more of what they want to do instead of following you (ages 3-4)

  • Become more verbal and somewhat aggressive (ages 3-4)

  • Become more independent (ages 5-7)

  • Get better at regulating themselves (ages 5-7)

  • Start following their passions and interests in which they may need some guidance (ages 8-10)

  • Develop strong opinions and push boundaries (ages 11-12)

  • Become moodier (ages 12-17)

Now knowing that as your child grows, they will develop into their own individual, you as adults can “Adjust your expectations to your kids’ developmental stage” (Hinds).

How Damage-Free Discipline Works On The Ground

If you are tired of yelling and being frustrated with your child, attempt to perceive how your child feels and what it feels like to be yelled at for doing something wrong. Do you want your child to feel like every time they do something wrong they will be yelled at? Instead, try talking in a calm tone of voice and ask them if they need help with anything where you can figure out their problems together and make that parent-child bond even stronger.

Hinds suggests that parents can

  • Respond with connection: “You look like you are having a hard time,” “I will help you. Come with me and we will figure this out.”

  • Stay low: The more upset the kid is, the calmer you need to be

  • Answer to 5: Give a brief (5-word max) reminder of what your child needs to know at the moment: “Gentle hands.” “Kind words.” “That must stop.” “Put it down.”

  • Maintain Firmness With Kindness: Use a “no/I know” approach. Say no to what they can’t have and then acknowledge their feelings by saying “I know you are or feel …”

  • Give No Explanation: maintain your decision with no exceptions

  • Debrief Once The Dust Settles: Once your child has accepted the boundary you have established or enforced, remind them of the incident and its positive resolution along with what they could have learned from it.

As a result, your child will feel more connected with you because both of you have learned and practiced how to control your frustration, as well as understand where each other are coming from. This understanding and practice make your days go smoother.

If you have questions about children development please contact us. For more information on therapy, visit FAQ at Hilber Psychological Services. 

~Written by Lily Schmitt and Tanya L. Hilber, PsyD

References:
Lapointe, Vanessa. “Discipline Without Damage: How to Get Your Kids to Behave Without Messing Them Up.” (2016). Canada: LifeTree Media Ltd.
Hinds, Andy. “The best way to discipline, from toddlers to teens.” (2016, October 21). Retrieved from www.fatherly.com.