A Therapist’s Guide On Dealing With Your Bully

Bullying is a big problem, especially when you’re in school. They might abuse you physically by kicking, hitting, or pushing, or they might target your emotions by teasing, scaring, or calling names. Whatever method they use, there’s a significant possibility they’ll make you feel scared, hurt, or embarrassed. If you’re in this situation, what do you think is the best way to face this challenge? Here’s a therapists’ guide on dealing with your bullies.

Get A Buddy

Debbie Pincus MS LMHC insists that “Bullying is really just another form of abuse: it’s about kids using power to control other kids, sometimes with the intention to cause harm.” If you want to avoid getting bullied, look for a buddy who can accompany you in your free time. He or she can walk with you on the hallways, and they can also be there on the way to school, during breaks, or the times you usually meet your bully.

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You can also lend a hand to someone getting bullied by being a buddy yourself. Should you experience these bullies hurting your said buddy, you can either stick up for them, ask the help of an adult, or tell the bully to stop.

Be Confident

“Bullies lose their power if you don’t cower. Deep down, they doubt they deserve your respect. They admire you for speaking with self-assurance and confidence. So when they bombard, do not counterpunch. Rather, win them over with your strong, firm, courteous demeanor,” shares Amy Copper Hakim.

So, how do you show your confidence to the other party? Here are the best ways to go about it:

  • Stand tall and do not drop your shoulders
  • Talk to the bully while looking at them straight in the eye
  • Do not show any other unnecessary small movements
  • Smile

Tell An Adult

If you experience bullying in school, make sure to call the attention of both your teacher and parents. In the case of your teacher, he or she can use the specific school protocol for intervening. He or she has the authority to inform the parents of the offenders of what has been happening.

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On the other hand, your parents can also help you with dealing with the bully. In case you’re not comfortable with going straight to the school administrators, they can be the bridge for you to be able to send the message to them. They can also be the ones who will approach the bully’s parents through calling or emailing in a non-confrontational way.

Remember, whenever you report a person or incidence, you have to be specific about the details of what happened for them to be able to act on it appropriately.

Take Martial Arts Lessons

realize that “There is no remorse or “just kidding.” The final hallmark of bullying behavior is the intent and knowledge that they can, and likely will, do it again and can purposely keep people on guard.” Paul Schwartzman, LMHC, MS, DAPA said. As a defense mechanism, you can consider taking Ju-Jitsu, Karate, Taekwondo, Judo, Aikido, Kung Fu, or something similar. This skill will not only give you an advantage during combat, but it’ll also boost your confidence and improve your physique. Bullies like to take on those individuals who they perceive as someone weaker than them. Hence, radiating a battle aura from these martial arts lessons can deter them.

If you’re not comfortable in enrolling in these lessons, you may opt to learn several self-defense moves.

  • Kicking the groin will surprise the person and look embarrassed long enough to plan for a takedown or escape.
  • You may also attack the area below the ribs called solar plexus or kick a knee to make them lose their balance.
  • If the bully is pushing or grabbing you, you may yank one arm using your left hand and strike their elbow with the other. Once they feel dazed, you can then use your other hand to push away the other surrounding arm.

Ignore The Bully

The best way for your bully to stay away from you is for you to ignore them. Pretend that you do not hear them and walk away towards the other direction or to a safer place. Bullies want to receive a grand reaction from their meanness and teasing. Hence, acting as if you do not care about them might just put a stop to their behavior.

Know The Type Of Bully You’re Dealing With

There are various kinds of bullies out there. To be able to know what type of strategy to use, you first have to understand the type of bully you encounter.

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  • Verbal bullies are those who insult you non-stop, make jokes, and call names.
  • Aggressive bullies are those who abuse you physically by kicking, hitting, punching, and pulling your hair.
  • Emotional bullies are those who play with your feelings behind your back. These are the people who spread rumors about you or those who put a “kick me” sign on your back so that others will ridicule you.

According to Aaron Norton, LMHC, LMFT, “The effects of constantly being bullied are more than just psychological. Research now shows that there may be physical structural differences in the brains of adolescents who are regularly victimized, and this could increase the chance that they suffer from mental illness.” Not every suggestion will work for you. Do not lose hope if you try something, but nothing happens. Just stay consistent, and everything will fall into places eventually.

Bullies Need Help Too

We all know that bullying is a bad thing. It is the act of intentionally hurting someone without a particular reason. The victims suffer not only in physical and emotional aspects but also are at risk with potential mental damage as well. It’s an awful thing that most young adults experience everywhere at school, online, and even at home. That explains the reason why bullies are to be blamed for their victims’ anxiety and depression, isolation, and self-destruction. However, psychology experts believe that bullies are also victims themselves. That their actions also depend on the variety of trauma they experienced once or twice in their lives. 

Source: flickr.com

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2 Memory-Enhancing Tips For Forgetful Teenagers

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The lame excuses that parents get from kids who always come late are enough to make you want to sign up for therapy. Say, when teenagers are supposed to be home by seven o’clock in the evening, and they fail to follow the curfew, the standard reply that you will get is “I’m sorry, I forgot.” If you ask why they have not called or texted their reason beforehand, you may hear them utter, “I did not think about it.”

Considering you no longer want to lose your temper over the forgetfulness of your teens, here are a couple of memory-enhancing tips you can recommend to them.

Sleep

“Sleep helps your brain work properly. While you’re sleeping, your brain processes complex stimuli,” says Staci Lee Schnell, MS, CS, LMFT. If you think that two or three hours of sleep is enough for any person, think again. Even if someone who gets very little rest can be called as nocturnal already, you are still not a full-bloom night owl. Besides, owls sleep all morning since they do not have work or family or classes to attend to; that’s why they have all the right to be awake all night long. However, as a human being, you have other responsibilities that require your 1000% focus. Sleep is needed to be able to rejuvenate your body and mind from all the kinds of stress that you have gone through that day.

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You see, our body follows the pattern of the rising and setting of the sun so we can only be awake for 16 hours, and it is normal for us to feel sleepy after that. Now, the problem that for most nocturnal people is that they fight their sleepiness. I know this because I have done it may more than a dozen time already when I need to finish some paperwork at school. Well, when it is urgent like that, it will be okay to sleep for less than eight hours. As for petty activities like gaming or chatting, though, they can both wait until the morning comes so that you can regain your energy in the night and have stronger memory.

Organize

Being organized is bliss—that is what your kids should know by now. The first time I lived in the dorms with my seven other roommates (yeah, that’s a lot), they were all going crazy over my messiness. My clothes were strewn underneath the bed, which was always rumpled or skewed. My gizmos were either on the table or top of the shoe rack; my towel that should be hung outside was still inside my closet.

In truth, I was going crazy as well since it was not infrequent that I got late for my first class because I could not find my book or my shoes from all of that mess. After six months, my roommates who were now my friends said that they had enough of my clutter, so they helped me haul everything out and started segregating my possessions. To be specific, they found the ones that could go at the foot of my bed, beside it, and inside my closet. On top of that, they gave me a cool basket where I could put all of my electronic cables so that they were not hanging everywhere.

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I am long gone from the dorms now, but I still have that urge always to keep my things in order. I hope that you will not think that I am exaggerating when I say this, but I do have a “blueprint” of my room posted at the back of my door where I can see everything I own. This way, I won’t feel stressed about searching for any particular thing in there.

Sandi Lindgren PCC, LICSW once said, “Early adolescents (ages 12-14), middle adolescents (ages 15-17), and late adolescents (ages 18-20) all have different needs from their caregivers based on where they are at developmentally.” With that, you don’t necessarily have an obsessive-compulsive disorder when you start putting little labels on your cupboards to indicate which has the plates and which has the casseroles. Instead, it is a way of helping yourself not to strain over minor things like that in the future. Forgetful teenagers should learn about that early as well.

Final Thoughts

It is common for teenagers to make excuses for coming home late. You have been an adolescent once; you know how fun it can be to stay with friends after classes. “The secret formula lies in effective discipline. The concept may be easy to grasp, but the execution is what often trips up parents,” says Linda Esposito, LCSW. However, if your children genuinely seem to be more forgetful than average, be sure to suggest the two memory-enhancing tips to them.

Setting Curfews For Teens In New York

 

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Curfews establish the time that parents expect their teens to be back home during the evenings. It’s a great way for parents to keep their teens secure and to instill respect towards the rest of the family. When curfews didn’t use to be implemented appropriately, parents had trouble disciplining their teens. In fact, they would turn to the search the web for ‘therapists New York’ just so they can handle them.

Teenagers ages 14 to 16 are recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics to be home between 8 and 9 o’clock on weeknights and between 10 and 11 o’clock during weekends. This may be adjusted or increased when the teenager enters his last year in high school. However, this is only a general rule. As parents, you can establish whatever curfew you find appropriate depending on the attitude of your teen and whatever suits the habits and morals of the family.

In New York, life is fast-paced, and work is a must. If you need to wake up earlier than usual, then you would need to wake your teen a little earlier too. If you’re living in the Brooklyn area or a neighborhood with high crime rates, an early curfew is also vital in keeping your teen safe. Additionally, parents should consider their teen’s habits as a vital part of determining his curfew. If it’s hard for him to wake up for school or he isn’t still responsible in other aspects of his life, a late curfew is not appropriate for him. You can also read more about it here at MomJunction.

Curfew Dos And Don’ts

There are some things that parents can practice to establish a safe curfew for their teen. Consider these dos which can also be found in websites like parents.com.

DO:

  • Teach Your Teen To Be Responsible. Show your teen that you trust him to follow his curfew and be home on time. Let him understand that though he has a curfew; he still has an obligation to tell his parents where he’s going and what he’s doing. Parents and their teen can make a pact that both parties can agree on the time set.

 

  • Give Consideration For Special Events. If your teen attends prom or birthday parties, make a few adjustments on time. Perhaps you can extend the curfew to an hour, clarifying that the extended curfew must be followed or else he will never have that chance again.

 

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  • Establish A Time For All Family Members. As a parent, you want to monitor your teen as much as you can, but you also need to take care of yourself. You don’t want to stay up too late waiting for him while he’s out. So you can establish a time, for instance, on a weekend that would be enough extension for your teen and sufficient for you to not be over-fatigued. Tell your teen that you’ll wait up for him, so he has to be there on the time you agreed on.

DON’T:

  • Don’t Tolerate Your Teen To Keep Breaking His Curfew. Watch out for signs that something fishy is going on with your teen. You should be worried if he keeps delaying his curfew. Don’t tolerate this. Ground him if you must.

 

  • Don’t Let Him Set His Own Curfew. If you want your teen to get involved in establishing his curfew, discuss it with him, but do not allow him to tell you what time he’s coming home. Parents must be stern in setting a curfew before their teen goes out and make sure he follows it. Don’t tolerate him to keep making excuses for being late.

 

  • Consider The Situation Your Teen Is In When He’s Late. If your teen calls to tell you he’s on his way home, but he’ll be running a little late, don’t demand that he go on a road rage just to get home before curfew. His safety is always first. This should be emphasized. Tell him to get home securely and safely, assuring him that you understand why he’s running late.

 

Source: media.defense.gov

 

Final Thoughts

Setting consequences for your teen when he violates his curfew. Be fair and just. If his violation is being a few minutes late, give a minor punishment, like no TV or no extension the next weekend out. Set a major consequence like grounding if the violation is serious, such as drinking while driving.

 

 

 

 

Ways To Keep Family Intact When Teenage Child Has Mood Disorder

Not too long ago, there was news circulating in the neighborhood about a family wherein a 15-year-old girl kicked her mother in the stomach after getting scolded for talking back so much. As if that was not enough, the teenager proceeded to call the police, claiming that the mom was “beating her up.” There were no bruises at all, though, and even her other sisters attested that physical abuse did not happen anytime in their house. When the officers understood that the 15-year-old was undergoing psychological counseling for a mood disorder, they suggested to let the child spend the night at a close relative’s house to let everyone cool down.

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That little stint of the troubled teenager might make her apologetic, but it could have traumatized her siblings already. After all, what kid wants to be questioned by the police in the middle of the night at home? Aside from that, the stress she subjected her mother too and the fact that she called the cops on her was quite hard to forgive. Linda Esposito, LCSW says “Once you redefine the meaning of discipline as a trait of being well-behaved and a tool to develop self-control, the concept becomes more neutral, and less personal.” If you have been doing everything for your children, and that’s what you get in return, anger and resignation might rein in your heart as well.

Nevertheless, considering you are a parent who faces the same issue and you still want to give your troubled kid another chance, there are ways to keep your family intact.

1. Get Psychotherapy Together

The first thing that should be on your agenda is to look for a family counselor. It is not only one child who has mental health issues anymore because of the incident. The other two kids who witnessed what happened may be suffering from trauma too, although it may not be apparent. You perhaps need therapy as well to be able to process the emotions that you cannot express towards your teenager. “Ideally, your teen needs to be part of this process, even when you are the one insisting they participate in therapy,” says Kathryn Rudlin, LCSW.

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When you get family counseling, the therapist will be meeting you as a group. The problem of every person becomes known and solved by all. There will no longer be hidden thoughts or feelings, which tend to expand the rifts between family members. This form of therapy is beneficial regardless of the kids’ ages.

2. Enforce Stricter Rules At Home

The truth about teenagers who can do something as terrible as making false claims about their parent(s) is that they do neither fear nor respect the person they’re putting in jeopardy. There is only a fine line separating the two emotions, you see. If you have high regard for your mom and dad, you will be afraid to do anything that will hurt them deeply. However, the fact that the kid mentioned above can call the police and accuse her of physical abuse entails that the teen may not feel either at all. Dr. Clayton Lessor, Licensed Professional Counselor once said, “the best way to deal with teenage rebellion is (employing) natural consequences.”

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What the child probably needs at this point, though, is to see you enforce stricter rules. You may have been a little lax in the recent years in that department, thinking that it may be best to let your kids figure things out on their own. It is obvious now that it isn’t helpful for the entire family; that’s why you should not hesitate to say what they can or cannot do. For instance, the use of computers and other gadgets should only be allowed during school week for studying. This was also cited one of the articles in FamilyHype. They have to home at a specific time too or follow a bedtime schedule. Otherwise, there’s a punishment in store for every rule broken.

3. Try New Activities As A Family

When you ask a teenager with mood disorder about the family, it is not surprising to hear nothing but complaints. “My sister always gets our parents’ attention.” “I hate my mom for getting me this thing instead of what I want.” “I don’t like how noisy it gets at home.”

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All these words practically mean that the child does not have a lot of great memories with their parents or siblings. They get reminded of the same things, which may be painful for them. Hence, as a part of therapy as well, you should think of new activities that you can try as a family. Say, go snorkeling or rock climbing together. You can also ask the kids what places each of them want to visit. This way, no one will feel left out.

4. Practice Open Communication

Lastly, it seems unrealistic to claim that conflicts between siblings or parents and children will never occur. Your views as an adult may not always be agreeable for the kids, especially if they are teenagers who are starting to know what they want. Despite that, instead of staying quiet about your emotions, you should encourage everyone at home to speak up about whatever they feel about someone or something.

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Source: commons.wikimedia.org

Opening the communication lines is vital to prevent bottled up emotions from exploding on your faces later. The stress that comes from being unable to voice out real feelings can cause an individual to develop a mental disorder as well. Hence, it matters to let the children know that you will listen if they wish to talk.

Final Thoughts

It will never be too late to repair the wounds caused by the drastic action(s) taken by your troubled kid. You may be as hurt as the teenager feels right now, and that’s understandable. However, it remains as your obligation to help them get better, so that’s what you should do.

Follow the tips above to get started. Good luck!

Parenting Hacks: How Does Setting Gadget Curfews Improve My Child’s Mental Health?

Teenagers, nowadays, are pretty much attached to their phones and other gadgets. They bring it when they travel, to the dining table while eating, and even in the bathroom for some music. For some parents, it might seem okay. However, without proper guidance and limitations, the overuse of gadgets may lead to addiction, and result in other mental health problems. 

Gadget Addiction 

In Australia, a longitudinal study was done to assess the impact of teenagers’ use of gadgets day and night, and its direct effect on mental health. The results concluded that too much mobile phone and gadget use had harmed the user’s mental wellness. Their mental wellness has deteriorated in such a way that self-esteem levels are low, the coping ability is not maximized, lack of sleep affects academic performance and intrapersonal performance, and there are larger tendencies to feel depressed. 

Source: flickr.com

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Writing Therapy For Rebellious Teenagers

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Teenage rebellion and defiance is not a new concept for us, especially for parents. Most of us correlate this with constant yelling, shoplifting, slamming doors, and coming home beyond curfew hours. Most teenagers undergo this phase. Hence, it is crucial to understand why your teen is acting this way to be able to address this issue properly fully.

 

Why Do Teenagers Rebel?

 All teenagers go through similar phases more or less. It’s part of growing up. This similar phase usually starts with the need for independence and freedom, understanding their own identity, and testing their authority. According to Christine Hammond, MS, LMHC, “Rebellion in teens can be secretive or obvious depending on the personality of the teenager and the circumstances.” Some of this defiance is also linked to brain developmental changes and social pressures. Here are some of the reasons why teenagers rebel:

 

  • Brain Developmental Changes

 As a person enters teenage years, a part of his or her brain called prefrontal cortex is developing. This part of the brain is a person’s judgment center and thinking cap. The prefrontal cortex is where each teenager develops his or her ideas and ideals. As the prefrontal cortex develops, it is more capable of synthesizing information into ideas – leading to more arguments and discussions.

 

  • Identity Crisis

 When children enter their adolescent years, they usually question their own identity. They typically retort to questioning themselves with their purpose in life, what they are supposed to be doing, who they really are, and more. They usually try new things in this phase to be able to find answers in the said questions. They even retort to unwanted actions as a way to establish their own identity. According to Dr. Clayton Lessor, Licensed Professional Counselor “the best way to deal with teenage rebellion is (employing) natural consequences.”

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  • Independence

 Struggling for their freedom and independence may be one of the underlying reasons for teenage rebellion. As they move into their adolescence stages, they expect more space from their family, especially with their parents. This demand is normal for every teenager. Bella Stitt, LMFT says “During adolescence, teens experience rapid physical, mental, intellectual, emotional, and social developmental changes. In addition, teens are often faced with a brand-new set of responsibilities and privileges, causing them to swing back and forth between dependence and independence.”

 

However, the rebellion starts when some parents unconsciously confuse rebellion with independence. For example, many parents do now allow their kids to hang out in malls since they are scared that their children might get into trouble. This move might eventually force your teenagers to sneak out without permission.

 

How Does Writing Therapy Help Rebellious Teenagers?

Writing therapy, also called journal therapy, is an approach utilized by various therapists to guide teenagers into verbalizing their feelings and emotions in written words. This exercise is usually used to open a conversation between therapists and their respective patients. Writing therapy includes creating the following:

 

  • Humorous stories
  • Poetry
  • Short stories
  • Narratives
  • Dialogues
  • Free space journals

 

This kind of treatment approach usually determines the teen’s recurring problems and work through these painful feelings. By knowing what the roots of their rebellious actions are, it would be easier for the therapist to come up with strategies that can help them overcome these challenges. In addition, writing therapy also helps relieve stress and make connections between their behaviors and their feelings.

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Examples Of Writing Therapy

 Any teenager facing life challenges can do try writing therapy. In this therapy, they are free to express whatever they are feeling or whatever comes into their minds. Listed below are some of the examples of writing therapy:

 

  • Write a story about your own life. It can be fictional but make sure that the character mirrors some part of you.
  • Create a letter to an individual that you feel angry at. It can help you to sort out your feelings towards them.
  • Write a poem that can help you express your negative emotions.
  • Start a daily diary where you can confide in your feelings. This practice can help you understand yourself more by reading your past entries.

 

There are several other ways to address a teenagers’ rebellion. Writing therapy can be a start. Take note, however, that journaling is not enough. It may help them express their emotions privately, but some teenagers may require extra help in interpreting and taking action on their journal entries through trained therapists. Hopefully, undergoing this process may help them deviate from their rebellious acts.

 

 

What Teens Get Out Of Curfews

Many parents and teens debate over whether curfews are productive or not. Some say that it establishes responsibility. Some believe that it’s too controlling over teenagers, and only encourages rebellion.

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Those on the fence may say that it’s beneficial to set a general time when kids should be home, but allow them to break it now and then. Whichever side you’re on as a parent or a teenager, it always bests that it’s discussed, with the interests of each party being considered.

Teenagers should be empowered to have some say on this issue. Certain conditions can be set, and a compromise can be made. Some teenagers even argue that they feel like they benefit from a curfew. Here are some of the things that teens believe to be the advantages of curfews.

Gets Them Out of Crime

It isn’t so much about being involved in crime. It’s about teens avoiding being exposed to criminal activities. Admittedly, an offense doesn’t only take place at night. However, the propensity of violent crime tends to go up after the sun sets.

Teens who may find themselves walking home alone at night may risk getting mugged and hurt. Establishing a general time for them to be home by lessens the possibility of them being exposed to crime.

Lets Them Avoid Drugs and Alcohol

Anyone who’s seen a college party – on TV or in person – or any movie about teen parties knows that there’s likely to be alcohol involved somehow. While we can still teach our children right about drugs and alcohol – whether banning it or allowing it in moderation – we know that we can’t keep watch over them all the time.

Teens may be smart enough to know to avoid it, but peer pressure is a real thing. At the same time, some people may be tricked into taking something they’re not fully aware of. Again, this may happen at any time of the day, but the odds of it happening go up at night. Avoid your teens becoming exposed to this kind of environment by having them follow a general curfew.

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Allows Them To Get More Sleep

Sleep is something we tend to take for granted. As kids, we dreamt about the times we wouldn’t have a bedtime, and we could just stay up all night. At some point, usually around college, we tend to cherish the moments we get to sleep. Even more so as adults, we tend to regret not having a healthy sleep schedule.

By setting a curfew, we help our teens get more sleep. While we can’t be sure that they go to bed when they’re at home, we lessen the things that might keep them up late at night.

Establishes Routine

Ever wonder why we find it so difficult to get out of bed sometimes? Or why we can’t manage to motivate ourselves to start a new project? The reason maybe is that it’s relatively new to us and we haven’t gotten used to it yet. Maybe we slept in over the weekend or stayed up too late.

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However, notice that as you do something more often, you get used to it. It becomes significantly easier to get stuff done after you’ve done it for a while. This is also applied to teens with a curfew. By setting a time for them to be home by, you also establish a sense of routine. It’s likely that they’ll be asleep earlier and be up more prior.

It’ll also be possible that if they can consistently follow something such as a curfew, they can also support other simple goals and tasks for themselves in the future. They’ll be able to develop a routine that they set for themselves, guided by their curfew.

As a contribution on your side as a parent, you can also try working with and contacting a professional therapist to bring their expert perspective to the table. There’s no shame in asking for help as long as it’s beneficial for you and your kids.

Signs of the Times: Recognizing Depression in Children and Adolescents

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Seeing the world through the eyes of a child” might seem to imply boundless wonder, joy, and acceptance; unfortunately, this is not always the case. Children of any age have stresses and disappointments in their lives. The particular form these might take will be different from those in an adult’s life, but that does not mean that their experiences are any less valid, nor that the emotions resulting from these are any less real.

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