Archives for April 2017

The Best Parenting Forums To Gather Parenting Resources

The Best Parenting Forums To Gather Parenting Resources

Being a parent can be stressful and confusing! Kids go through phases and can be unpredictable. They are also independent being with thoughts, feelings and ideas of their own that we can't always understand or don't know how to deal with.

Before the internet, parents relied on advice from their own family or the town doctor. But today we are lucky enough to have the web and its vast resources for parenting tips and tricks.

What's even better is that whatever parenting style you favor — positive, attachment, authoritative, permissive — there is likely a vibrant online community for your niche. And the advice is coming from real parents who are in the trenches right there with you.

Here is a list of some of the best parenting forums out there:

  • Circle of Moms: Topics run the gamut from getting a picky toddler to eat to teenager woes, but most of it is skewed towards parents of younger children with popular topics including birthday party ideas, toddler speech development and newborn sleep training.
  • Family Education: This site is very organized and has content divided into easy-to-access categories like "School & Learning", "Teens" and "Entertainment & Activities." Unlike most of the other forums mentioned on this list, this content is created by staff writers.
  • Today Parenting: This off-shoot of the Today Show is a place where viewers can ask questions, share answers and even write posts for the site. There is also a fun parenting challenge section that will inspire you to be a better parent.
  • The popular magazine, Parenting, provides this online mecca for real moms and dads to talk about everything from teething to fertility. The forum's description explains why people love reading answers from fellow parents in forums: "Sometimes it's nice to get advice from experts with a lot of letters degrees behind their names, but other times you just need to hear from another parent what has worked." This is so true. Your pediatrician might tell you something and you will believe it, but if ten of your best girlfriends all validate that idea, it will help you feel completely confident.
  • This forum is handy because it is organized by age category. So if you are the parent of a teenager, you don't have to wade through a bunch of potty training posts to find about the threads about curfews. You just keep scrolling until you find your people!
  • Sybermoms: This site is hilarious. If you are looking for some comic relief to go along with sound advice, this is the place to get it! And the thread category names will make you smile. They even have a thread specifically for dads on this site.
  • Just Mommies: This group is all about friendly and warm encouragement. One unique thing about this site is that they have special threads specifically for parents dealing with grief and loss of all kinds. It's a much-needed respite for parents doing their best.
  • Natural Parenting: This group has an international tone and is based in Australia. If you have older kids be sure to check out the "Big Kids World" and "Talking Teens" pages. There tends to be lots of great advice for raising young kids on the web and less helpful material for wrangling teenagers, but this group bucks that trend.
  • Liahona Academy: Our blog has great info for specifically for helping parents of troubled teenagers. We covers topics that affect at-risk youth including bullying, behavior disorders, social problems, online safety and the benefits of therapeutic boarding school programs.

4 Communication Problem Solving Activities Recommended By Therapist

4 Communication Problem Solving Activities Recommended By Therapist

Conflict in relationships is inevitable. And in the case of parent-teenager relationships, it is not only inevitable but frequent and likely heated at times. If you are the parent a troubled teen who is struggling at home or school, the situation is even more precarious.

Instead of trying to avoid conflict entirely, it's better to focus on developing strategies to tackle these situations. Adopting better communication skills and engaging in problem solving activities will not only help you de-escalate fights, it will teach your teen important life skills. A teen who learns how to effectively solve a disagreement with a parent is a teen who is more equipped to thrive in all types of relationships: siblings, friends, co-workers, marriage, etc. The New York Times describes it like this: "The nature of family quarrels can also drive how adolescents manage their relationships with people beyond the home."

Here are three problem solving activities recommended by therapists.

1. Seek to understand the issue from both sides.

Stephen Covey, one of the world's most renowned thinkers and writers, coined the phrase: Seek first to understand, and then to be understood. This powerful idea is best transmitted to teenagers by example. So when you are arguing about curfew, instead of immediately launching into all the reasons why are you right and they are wrong, or simply stating that you are in charge and not them — consider their perspective. This might sound like this: "I know you want to stay out until 12:30 like your friends are allowed to do. I get that it is annoying to be the only one who has to go home earlier. I can see how it might make you feel awkward and that it feels unfair."

Even if you ultimately stick to your guns, the verbal exercise of "seeking to understand" your teenager's thoughts and feelings will make them feel validated and heard. The American Psychological Association has studied this theory and has found evidence that while younger children lack the neurological capacity to see another's point of view, the adolescent years are when abstract reasoning and comprehension for competing viewpoints is possible.

Plus, taking the time to acknowledge your teen's point of view may prompt them to do the same for you.

2. Take deep breaths and practice emotional control.

Teenage brains are not fully developed. They are still learning how to manage intense emotions. Which is why it is so important for parents to model how to keep emotions in check. So when your teen say something completely ridiculous, like "I hate you, you are the worst mom/dad ever!", take a deep breath and hold your tongue. Take a moment to neutralize your reactive emotions and try to respond as calmly as possible. If you explode too it will only get more out of hand. This is a tip that is easier said than done and can require monumental amounts of zen at times.

3. Avoid triggering words and phrases.

Even if your teen seem is completely brazen and unapologetically rude, refrain from using hurtful words that can be triggering. Words like "always" and "forever" are rarely warranted and when used can make a teen feel helpless For example, saying something like "You are always ungrateful and you never do what I ask" is not helpful. It actually communicates to your teen that you have already made up your mind about their behavior and any positive future positive efforts will likely be futile. Comparing, labeling or "because I said so" are other things to avoid. They don't move the argument closer to resolution and can be emotionally damaging.

4. Bring in reinforcements when necessary.

Sometimes a relationship needs help from a neutral third party to successfully resolve conflicts and move forward. Family counselors, therapists and therapeutic boarding schools are great options for specialized assistance in these areas. If you feel like you have tried everything and nothing is working, get the help you are your teen deserve!

With Visual Stimuli Everywhere How Can You Educate Your Son About Online Triggers

With Visual Stimuli Everywhere How Can You Educate Your Son About Online Triggers

Thanks to the internet, we now live in a time of unprecedented and boundless flow of information. The sheer amount of online content available sometimes boggles the mind. While some of this content presents an enormous range of positive materials and educational experiences for our children, some of it can be quite damaging.

Garbage In, Garbage Out

Online triggers come in different forms. Other than porn, your son can also encounter content that encourages or glorifies violence, hatred, racism and even alcohol and drug abuse. The consequences of consuming such content varies from teen to teen and is dependent on the type of content viewed and the duration of exposure.

Even content that isn’t meant to be harmful can have unintended outcomes. For instance, the bragging that happens on most social media platforms is generally considered harmless. However, studies have found that social media culture sets unhealthy expectations for teens and contributes to the increasing incidence of depression in adolescents.

Constant exposure to peers touting their ‘perfect lives and bodies’ can lead to low self-esteem and negative body image among teenage boys. Similarly, porn and other sexually explicit material can give your son a skewed view of love, women, relationships and sex too. Let’s also not forget that aggressive behavior in teens- characterized by bullying, fighting and defiance towards authority- has been linked to viewing violent content in online and offline media.

Solutions That Work

Being more vigilant and protective about what your son sees online can go a long way towards minimizing his exposure to harmful online triggers. However, in spite of your best efforts, your son will eventually come across negative content. The best way to fight this is by preparing him to recognize inappropriate content and giving him the skills to neutralize any potential harm. Here’s how:

  • Educate your son. Teaching your son some basic internet precautions will equip him to recognize inappropriate messages and what to do about it. Let him know how hate-group recruiters or sexual predators operate and who to contact in case it happens. Having these skills will make your son less vulnerable online.
  • Create an environment that’s conducive to open communication. Talking about your life and experiences with your son helps him to understand and verbalize his own feelings. Furthermore, cultivating a close father-son relationship by being an active participant in your son’s life will give him the confidence to approach you about any issues he encounters.
  • Be a role model. Modelling appropriate behavior ensures that your son has a positive male figure to emulate and this will stand him in good stead when faced with negative online triggers.
  • Seek help. If your son has developed emotional or behavioral problems as a result of what he’s been exposed to online, a stay at a residential treatment center can be immensely beneficial. Contact Liahona Academy for more information on this and other teen therapeutic programs.

Why Won’t My Husband Talk To His Son About Depression?

Why Won't My Husband Talk To His Son About Depression?

Teen depression has been on the increase in recent years. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), 5.7% of adolescents that had a major depressive episode in 2014 were male. As if this wasn’t worrying enough, another poll revealed that almost half of teenage boys (49%) between ages 16-18 felt uncomfortable talking to their fathers about mental health issues.

That last statistic raises the question “Why do most dads feel uncomfortable talking to their sons about depression or other mental or emotional issues?”

Strained Father-Son Relationships

To get the answer, you need to look at how differently men and women are socialized. From the time they’re small, girls are encouraged to express their feelings while boys are frowned upon for doing so. For a man, being emotional is considered wimpy and unmanly. Men are brought up thinking that they need to be tough and stoic and any excessive displays of emotion are deemed to be a show of weakness.

This creates problems later on. You see, boys who grow up suppressing their emotions often go on to become detached and emotionally unavailable dads who erroneously believe that any show of emotion towards their kids means that they’re weak. This attitude is then passed on to their sons who in turn grow up repressing their emotions, creating a negative cycle that’s difficult to break.

The inability to express emotions is at the heart of most strained father-son relationships. Dads who are uncomfortable talking about their feelings are just as unlikely to discuss depression and other mental illnesses with their sons.

Teenage boys on the other hand, are often reluctant to initiate such discussions due to fear, shame and the stigma associated with a mental health problem.

Finding A Solution

The good news is that all’s not lost. There are several things you can do, as a father, to help your depressed son.

  • Cultivating a strong father-son relationship. The best way to do this is to find a hobby or common interest you can bond over such as camping, fishing or sports. Participating in this activity together will give you time to talk and create a healthy relationship with your son, thereby encouraging him to open up on any issues he might have.
  • Being present and involved in your son’s life. Instead of being a distant father, take an active interest in your son’s life. Ask about his hobbies, studies, friends, etc. and also talk about your own life. Research shows that teenage boys are likely to have fewer behavior problems if their fathers are active in their lives.
  • Becoming a positive mental health role model. Sons take cues from their fathers on how to behave so it is important that you model positive behavior for him to emulate.

If you need more help with your troubled teen, we at Liahona Academy are ready to assist. Contact us today.

Safeguarding Your Teens from Internet Dangers When They’re Away from Home

Safeguarding Your Teens from Internet Dangers When They’re Away from Home

Teens dominate Internet usage in the United States. With mobile devices, they are on the Internet away from home a lot. This means that parents can’t keep their eye on what they are doing online. Trusting your teens won’t get into trouble online is nice, but with the curious nature of adolescents, parents need to be hyper-vigilant about protecting them. The following are some of the best ways to ensure your teens remain safe while online.

Set Up Parental Controls

Many parents set up parental controls for their teen’s mobile devices. You haven’t yet, do it today. These parent controls can prevent your teens from going on sites that could expose information to them they don’t want to know. They can also monitor what your teen is doing, so you can look to see if he’s been on any inappropriate sites.

Discuss Off-Limit Sites

Come up with a list of types of sites that you do not want your teenager to go on, and then share it with him. The list may include sites with nudity, chats, forums, drug references, etc. This list can be posted in a visible spot in the home as a reminder.

Consequences for going on sites that are the off-limit list should be identified and followed through with if those sites are visited. Consequences can include having all electronics taken away for a week, or a month for repeat offenses.

Remove Data Plan

A teen only needs a phone to call someone for an emergency. Removing the data plan on the phone means he can still call in case of an emergency or to speak to you. It prevents him from going online, though.

Mobile devices should then be left at home, so that he cannot connect to Wi-Fi away from you. While smartphones can connect to Wi-Fi, that setting can be disabled. Ask your cell phone company about this for more information.

Keep Communication Open and Honest

Some troubled teens will feel you are trying to control them, and being a mean parent. The truth is that you care a lot about them, and want to keep them safe. Try to deliver that message to your teen when he retaliates because he’s not allowed to use the Internet away from home.

Some parents will start with the parental controls or the off-limits list before they resort to removing data plans. This can sometimes help parents who are confronted with, “You just don’t trust me!” Sometimes, tough love is the only love that will work.