Helping your teen driver learn to Drive Smart

teaching teen driver
Sixty percent of all vehicle crashes are caused by distracted teenage drivers. The stakes are high – but there are a number of things parents can do to prepare their children to learn to drive and help them learn safe driving habits.

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What parents need to know about cyberbullying

cyber bullying1Cyberbullying has become a major concern for parents, particularly for parents of children in middle school and high school.

Just like “old fashioned” school yard bullying, though, it can be difficult for parents to know just what to do to help prevent and manage cyberbullying.

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Tips to prevent teen distracted driving

tips to prevent teen distracted drivingAs the parent of a new teen driver you worry about lots of things. You worry about your teen’s skills as a new driver. You worry about your teen being distracted by their cell phone, their friends, or about their desire to eat while driving. How can they stay focused on safe driving and the road ahead?

Rather than simply hoping your teen arrives safely, you can begin the conversation now – teaching them about common distractions and how distractions can lead to a crash.

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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.

 

Opening the door to understanding teenage mental health and teen suicide prevention

Teen Suicide PreventionSuicide is the third leading cause of death of people ages 10 to 24 years old. While girls are more likely to attempt suicide, boys are more likely to die from suicide. We all can help prevent teen suicide by being familiar with the risk factors, knowing how to respond and removing the stigma from mental illness.

Risk Factors and Warning Signs

There are many risk factors and warning signs for suicide. Continue reading

Tips for teens on taking responsibility for your own healthcare

Many kids struggle with the realities of becoming an adult and needing to “own” your own healthcare, but for teens and young adults with chronic medical conditions, the responsibilities can be even greater.

In this week’s new Kids4Kids video, a group of our teen advisors from Mott Children’s Hospital share their tips for teens and young adults on how to take an active role in your healthcare as you prepare to take full responsibility as an adult.

Tell us:

What advice do you have for teens starting to take responsibility for their healthcare?  Use the comments tool at the bottom of this post to share your tips.

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