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Hilber Psychological Services

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Posts in Coping
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

Reminder: You can always leave an uncomfortable situation
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As a little boy or girl, were you ever at a sleepover, but something didn’t feel right, and you just wanted to leave? In high school, were you ever at a party and realized there was drugs alcohol, and no parents were home, and you just wanted to leave? Have you ever been on a date that was so uncomfortable, you just wanted to leave? In college, were you ever in a situation where someone was trying to get you to do something you didn’t want to, and you just wanted to leave? As an adult, have you ever been at a bar with some of your friends and someone else kept hitting on you and you just wanted to leave? The reality of it, is we have all been in an uncomfortable situation and forgot that we are allowed to just leave. The reason we stayed may have been because we were scared, we were embarrassed, or we wanted to please the people around us. This blog is a reminder to men and women of all ages that it is perfectly okay to leave a situation, regardless of what other people may think.

Erynn Brook shared her story through a twitter thread of the first time her mother taught her she was allowed to leave an uncomfortable situation and the many times after that she was reminded. Brook explains, “I was maybe 7, I think it was my first sleepover at someone else’s house… before I left Mum told me that if I was uncomfortable at any point, for any reason, even if it was the middle of the night, I could call her.” As Brook’s night continued, she was bullied by her friends and decided she wanted to leave. The girl’s mom tried to discourage her by saying “it was late, I could sleep on the couch, and that I was upsetting her daughter.” Brooks called her mom anyways. When her mom arrived in the middle of the night, the other girl’s mom apologized, Brook’s mom stopped her and said “don’t apologize for my daughter. I want her to know she’s allowed to leave, and I’ll be there for her at any time.”

As she grew up, there were many other uncomfortable situations Brook wanted to leave. Ranging from times her friends were bullying her to resigning from a job, she always remembered her mom’s advice. Brook explains that she is aware this is not a widespread idea. Most parents teach their kids to “just deal with it” or “don’t be a quitter,” but that’s not what this lesson is about. Leaving an uncomfortable situation is one of the hardest decisions. Leaving does not mean you are soft or weak, it means you are strong and brave.  

The most important lesson is that everyone is allowed to leave. There may be some situations, for some people where there is no way out. However, the important thing to remember, is that you’re ALLOWED to. You have the right and the ability to leave. A helpful part to remembering this, is having someone, like Brook had her mom, to always be there to remind you it is okay to leave and help you get out of the situation. Everyone deserves to feel safe and comfortable, regardless of your age or gender. YOU are in control of your life, YOU set your own boundaries, and YOU are allowed to leave an uncomfortable situation.

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

Reference: Marfice, Christina. “Powerful Thread Reminds Us We Can Always Leave Uncomfortable Situations.” Scary Mommy, Scary Mommy, 2 Oct. 2018, www.scarymommy.com/twitter-thread-uncomfortable-leave/

Healthy Mind Platter
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With technology use increasing day by day, we are faced with the fear of a diminished sense of self. These psychological problems can be related to whether our mind is healthy. The Healthy Mind Platter, created by David Rock and Dr. Daniel J. Siegel provides a baseline metric on what a healthy mind constitutes.

Based off of the concept of a healthy meal plan, David Rock and Dr. Daniel J. Siegel point out that it is essential for us to spend our day doing seven crucial things that will result in optimal brain matter. Doing these seven things will lead our mind to “integrate” which refers to the different parts of our brain connecting. This will, in turn, provide us with optimum mental health as well as stronger connections with people and the world around us.

The seven daily essential mental activities for the Healthy Mind Platter:

  • Focus Time: By focusing on tasks in a goal-orientated way, we take on challenges that create opportunities for us to make deep connections in the brain.

  • Play Time: By allowing ourselves to be spontaneous or creative, we help make new connections in the brain.

  • Connecting Time: By connecting with other people, ideally in person, and by taking the time to appreciate our connections to the natural world around us, we activate and reinforce the brain’s relational circuitry.

  • Physical Time: By moving our bodies, we strengthen the brain in many ways.

  • Time In: By quietly reflecting internally, focusing on sensations, images, feelings, and thoughts, we help to integrate the brain better.

  • Down Time: By doing something that requires no focus, without any specific goal, and letting our mind wander or just relax, we help the brain to recharge.

  • Sleep Time: By giving the brain the rest it needs, we consolidate learning and recover from the experiences of the day.

Feel like you could use a little boost? Contact us for more information on the Healthy Mind platter or for other assistance on Anxiety or ADHD.

~Written by Mahida Saifi and Tanya L. Hilber, PsyD

Reference: “The Healthy Mind Platter” http://www.drdansiegel.com/resources/healthy_mind_platter/

Rude vs Mean vs Bullying Behaviors
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Singe Whitson, a child and adolescent therapist, spoke about the importance of identifying rude and mean behavior compared to bullying behaviors. It can be easy to categorize bad behavior as bullying, but it is important to not overgeneralize this term. Although a therapist never wants to minimize a client's situation, we all must learn the difference between these terms in order to not simplify the term "bullying". In reality, bullying is a very serious issue.

Whitson defines rude as, “inadvertently saying or doing something that hurts someone else". These may be seen as social errors such as, burping in someone's face, cutting in line, or kicking a ball at someone. The problem with this is that rude situations are often spontaneous. A child does not mean to burp in someone's face, but without meaning to do so, they are hurting someone else. 

Being mean involves “purposefully saying or doing something to hurt someone once (or maybe twice).” Whitson explains,  “mean behavior very much aims to hurt or depreciate someone….Very often, mean behavior in kids is motivated by angry feelings and/or the misguided goal of propping themselves up in comparison to the person they are putting down.” Although both mean and rude behavior needs to be corrected, it is important to understand how they are different from bullying. 

Bullying is “intentionally aggressive behavior, repeated over time, that involves an imbalance of power….Kids who bully say or do something intentionally hurtful to others and they keep doing it, with no sense of regret or remorse -- even when targets of bullying show or express their hurt or tell the aggressors to stop.” There are many different forms of bullying including, physical, verbal, relational, and cyberbullying. The reason bullying is worse than mean or rude behavior is because of the repeated actions that leave the person being bullied feeling helpless. 

Although bullying has become a topic of greater interest, it can never be talked about enough. Bullying has many long lasting effects on children and adolescents. It is important for parents to be aware of the signs that your child is bullying someone, or being bullied. Preventing bullying will make a difference. 

 Contact us for more information on individuals who are suffering from bullying, people who may have lasting effects such as anxiety or depression, or for help with children who are struggling.

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

Reference: “A Mighty Girl.” Www.amightygirl.com, 16 Apr. 2018, www.amightygirl.com/?https=true.