Building a better relationship with your teenager

building a better relationship with your eenIf you live in a home with one or more teenagers, at times you may feel like you are hostage to their moods. While it may be easier to retreat to the peace and quiet of your locked bedroom or give in to their behavior just to not further rock the boat, there’s no need to allow a teenager to control the home. It takes some work to build a better relationship with your teenager, but the payoff is worth it.

Teenagers engage in arguments because it is a strategy that works for them on many levels. Don’t kid yourself, teens have figured out that if they argue with parents they can make it very aversive for parents to follow through. In fact, research shows that the more aversive they make it; the less likely parents are to ask teens to do chores or follow through with consequences in the future.

In other words, teens argue because they get something out of it.

If nothing else, they get parent’s eyes to bug out of their heads and steam to come out of their ears, which for some reason teens find amusing. For all of these reasons (and more) it is very unlikely that teens will be the person to back down, or walk away, from a conflict. Teens are more likely to relish in the back and forth of an argument and propel it into a terrible conflict — one that likely started from something as simple as request to put away a pair of shoes. Don’t allow yourself to be party to that escalation.

An argument with a teenager can be like a grease fire and every word exchanged is like fuel on the fire. It takes two (or more) to keep this fire going, so often the best approach is to walk away. That doesn’t mean the teenager wins and you lose. It means you are smart enough to recognize that in that moment, you are not going to accomplish your goal by continuing to argue.

The goal as a parent is to deliver attention in another setting, a positive one, as opposed to giving teens attention during these arguments that ultimately serve to create bigger problems. Parents are often fooled into thinking that teenagers just want to be left alone. Trust me, it is not true, they still have “attention tanks,” you just have to know how to fill them up properly. One way to fill up these tanks is to establish a “date night/afternoon” to spend one-on-one time with your teenager. The idea is to fill up their attention tanks during this time so they will be less likely to try to fill them through engaging you in a big argument. Additionally, parents tend to be more comfortable walking away from conflict when they know they can have some quality time with their teen at another time.

There are some specific rules parents should consider when spending positive time with their teens during date night. First of all, parents should try to relax and keep it light during these one-on-one times. This is not your opportunity to “parent” or lecture them about all the things they do wrong, and what they really need to be doing or thinking about. During the date night it is best to resist the urge to “parent” and recognize this time for what it is — an opportunity to build a strong relationship with your teen through listening. Listen and keep the conversation positive. Your goal is to create a time your teenager enjoys so he or she will want to spend more time with you. Talk about neutral subjects — sports, fashion, television shows. Don’t overreact, don’t criticize and don’t jump to conclusions. Listen more than you speak.

You can also consider parallel activities that you both would enjoy. Take a day trip, go to a ball game, take a class together, go to a movie…The more you can fill your teenager’s attention tank with positive interactions, the less you may find yourself hostage to a teenage temper tantrum.

Teen/Parent “Date Night” Dos and Don’ts

DO…

  • Keep your mouth closed
  • Keep your sense of humor
  • Keep your ears open (listen for subtle messages)
  • Make positive comments
  • Keep your emotions and nonverbals positive
  • Try to understand the teen’s perspective

DO NOT…

  • Lecture
  • Mock what is important to your teen
  • Jump to conclusions about the teen’s ideas or attitudes
  • Criticize
  • Overreact to negative statements by your teen
  • Personalize or focus on differences between your and the teen’s perspective (“what is the world coming to” & “when I was growing up…”)
Take the next step:

blake lancasterBlake Lancaster, PhD, is a Licensed Psychologist and a Clinical Assistant Professor in the Department of Pediatrics, Division of Child Behavioral Health at the University of Michigan Health System. He received his Ph.D. in Child Clinical Psychology from Western Michigan University, and completed his internship and post-doctoral training at the Munroe-Meyer Institute at the University of Nebraska where he also served as a junior faculty member from 2008 through 2012. His clinical practice focuses on providing behavioral health services in primary care pediatric settings using the integrated behavioral health co-location model. This integrated approach allows for delivery of empirically-based treatments for a wide variety of behavioral health concerns that arise in primary care pediatric settings (e.g., sleep problems, toileting issues, ADHD problems, anxiety, depression and general behavior problems).

best children's hospitalsUniversity of Michigan C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital is consistently ranked one of the best hospitals in the country. It was nationally ranked in all ten pediatric specialties in U.S. News Media Group’s “America’s Best Children’s Hospitals,” and among the 10 best children’s hospitals in the nation by Parents Magazine. In December 2011, the hospital opened our new 12-story, state-of-the-art facility offering cutting-edge specialty services for newborns, children and women.

 

What new moms want to know about feeding a newborn

feeding your newbornYou’re home with your sweet bundle of joy and probably have more questions than answers. It won’t be long before you notice a trend – in those first few days and weeks it’s all about what’s going into the baby, and what’s coming out. We want to make sure your baby is healthy and gaining weight.  Here are some general guidelines to help you during those first days and weeks of feeding a newborn.

Breastfeeding your baby

Breastfeeding is a great source of nutrition for your baby, but it’s also a tremendous opportunity to bond with your newborn. We encourage moms to try breastfeeding. While some mothers and babies immediately get into a breastfeeding groove, most take a little more time and need some support to successfully breastfeed. Mott offers a Breastfeeding Support Clinic and lactation consultants to help. If you choose not to breastfeed or if for whatever reason it doesn’t work out, don’t worry, bottle feeding is also a great option.

How do I know if my baby is getting enough to eat?

The best way to monitor that is to track the number of wet diapers each day. Continue reading

Saving My Babies: Our twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome story

Felix and Jack TheilWhen I first learned that I was pregnant with identical twins, I was six weeks into the pregnancy. My husband and I were informed shortly afterwards about the potential risks of developing twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome (TTTS). Our doctor told us approximately 10 to 15 percent of twins who share the same placenta develop TTTS. The risk was always there in the back of our minds, but we didn’t dwell on what might happen.

We were referred to the University of Michigan Maternal Fetal Medicine team for high-risk pregnancies. I just figured we were going to receive top-notch prenatal care! Then, at my 16-week check up, the doctor saw signs that TTTS may be developing and immediately sent us for a more in-depth ultrasound.

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My name is Jason, and DNA sequencing is helping my family Block Out Cancer

Jason and Amelie StrzalkowskiWhen our youngest daughter, Amelie, was 22 months in the fall of 2012, we noticed that she started to have balance problems. She went from zooming around the house to being less steady, and then one Sunday, she stood up and simply fell over. That set off warning bells for me and my wife, Shelley.

We scheduled an appointment with our pediatrician for that Wednesday. From there, our pediatrician sent us to the ER at C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital. Thursday morning she had an MRI where they discovered a brain tumor. Amelie was diagnosed with medulloblastoma, a kind of fast-growing tumor. On Friday, she had a 13-hour surgery to have as much of the tumor removed as possible. The team at Mott took tissue samples from the tumor to study them further.

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My name is Jordan and I’m helping Block Out Cancer with strikeouts

mott blog - jordan taylor boc When I played on the U-M softball team, I got involved in a program for student-athletes called Michigan From the Heart. In that program, U-M student-athletes met at C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital every Thursday evening to visit patients and their families. It’s a big deal for the U-M sports teams, and we often rushed from practice on Thursdays so we could go.

We’d divide up so each group of student-athletes included a good mixture of athletes from different sports, and then we’d spread out around the hospital. It was an amazing experience and really opened my eyes to the struggles and the courage of these children and their families. My father died of cancer at the start of my junior year of college, after being in remission for 5 years, so cancer has also made a mark on my personal life.

After graduation, I was drafted to the USSSA Pride National Pro Fastpitch softball team. I wanted to continue to help Mott and raise funds, so I combined my love of softball with my passion for Mott and created FIGHT. We held our first “So You Think You Can Hit” event in 2012. I’m a fastpitch softball pitcher and over the years, I’ve heard many of my male friends brag how they could hit one of my pitches. I had them step up to the plate, make a donation and give it a shot.

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What we know about the respiratory virus EV-D68 (Enterovirus D68)

Enterovirus d68In late August, Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, Mo., began seeing an unusual number of children experiencing respiratory problems. The patients tested positive on a respiratory panel administered by the hospital, but that panel could not identify the specific virus. Staff sent the samples to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for further analysis. The CDC determined that the patients were suffering from Enterovirus D68 (EV-D68).

There are about 100 different types of Enterovirus. From June to October every year, some type of Enterovirus usually circulates in the United States. If you’ve ever had a summer cold, it was probably caused by an Enterovirus. EV-D68 specifically is something we don’t typically see in the U.S., but it has been around since the 1960s.

While we’ve seen an increase in patient volume at the C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital emergency department and in our Intensive Care Unit, we cannot conclusively say that these patients have EV-D68. The only way to know is to have lab samples examined by the CDC, which we are working on now.

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