Weston Psych Care Blog

Helping Teens Build Better Habits

 

You'll hear lots of different opinions about how many days it takes to change a habit or make a new habit stick. Regardless of how long it will take, we can all agree that it takes work. This new generation gets a bad rap about how they are "entitled" or don't have to work as hard as we did when we were their age. It's hard to think of how we would handle the the amount of overstimulation and overschedulding if we were teens today. To quote a favorite radio personality and sports writer, "Back in my day"....we'd go to school, hang out with friends, have a part time job watch t.v. and movies, sneak out and still have time to talk to our parents once in a while.

With the invention of high speed internet, social media, smartphones, advanced video games and increased expectation of superior grades, advanced placement classes and after school activities, it's hard to expect that teens will have the right habits to create a life of balance and satisfaction. It is our job as members of their support system to help them build the right habits (even with a bit of teenage resistance).

1. Focus on what works

We love to focus on the negative. Be it in schools, home, athletics, theatre, etc. Why not focus on what does work for them. If your teen says that they sleep or do homework just fine with their phone in their room and the evidence says otherwise, we can objectively let them know that having their phone around when trying to sleep or do work is "not working". Let's see if having it somewhere else or turning it off will work better. Now, I'm not delusional. This will be met with resistance; however, if you start small and have them try it for a few days with some success, it will be easier for them to make this a habit.

2. It takes work

Any change takes work. If anyone tells you different they are trying to sell you something. Let them know ahead of time that it's not easy but totally worth it! Use analogies that make sense to them such as getting better at a video game, changing they way they shoot a basketball or how they sing a specific note.

3. They are not alone

It really does take a village. In this case, a team. Make sure your teen knows that they have support. Encourage them to ask for help and try to help without any judgement. They are judging themselves critically enough. Using basic principals of mindfulness or acceptance commitment therapy will help foster a more positive understanding of how healthy changes are made.

4. Start small

I love when teens tell me that they are going to make a huge change right away. Adults can barely make changes without significant encouragement, reinforcement, scare tactics, monetary gains, etc. How can we expect kids to change habits overnight. If the goal is to study more, start small. Maybe study 5 minutes in the car on the way home at first or while eating breakfast. After a week or two, you can help them increase the amount or duration.

 

How to Make a World Of Difference in a Different World

Don't watch the news! If you do, it can be disheartening, disappointing and toxic. Our world has a history of ebbing and flowing between peace and chaos which has only been exacerbated by the invention of nuclear weapons, advanced technology and "fake news". It's much less stressful to ignore the atrocities of daily life and focus on cute pet or baby videos. However, one easy way to feel more empowered and purposeful is to take action. This can be true for any age group. Below are some quick ways you can make a difference today:

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Can Psychological Treatment Assist With and Treat Overweight Individuals?

Research indicates that our society is becoming progressively more overweight, in part due to the availability of more calorie dense foods and a decreased need to physically exert ourselves. What once required us to take action in order to accomplish tasks are now easily done in the comfort of our chair. Isn’t it ironic that as you read this page, you  are evidencing this phenomenon?

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Food Mood and Holiday Stress

Here we are in the middle of the holiday season. As Charles Dickens famously said, “it was the best of times, it was the worst of times...” We all have expectations for the holidays. We tend to think of all the things we hope for such as taking time off, being with our families or with our friends. We have fantasies of how the holidays will be. Many of us start to think about what we are going to do differently in the New Year.

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7 Ways to Make Yourself Happier in the Next Hour

I found this article years ago. I don’t remember where and do not have an authors name. These are all simple things each of us can do. The author stated spenting a year testing out the various theories of current scientific studies on happiness, and came up with seven points. Each of them can help lift your mood and give you a sense of accomplishment.

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It's OK to not be OK

If you've been following trends in mental health over the past few years, it's been hard to ignore the numbers. Increased rates of depression, anxiety, toxic stress and suicide have flooded news cycles and with good reason. The numbers don't lie. One subgroup that is experiencing an increased number of mental health disorders is our teenagers. It's hard to look at the numbers and not point to things like social media, technology, greater demands on high school classes, lack of social interaction and poor self-care as the root causes for these numbers; however, until we change some of these practices (which may take a generation or two), let's help our teens right now. Here are a few things to start with:

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Don't Act Like Your 8-Year-Old

If you look around it's hard to miss that the many adults aren't winning at the whole "adulting" thing. To me, positive parenting practices are under this umbrella along with working, paying bills and taking care of your physical and emotional health. In fact, parenting is the most important job we have. Whether you watch the news or listen to how parents talk to their children when you are out in public, you're likely to hear words and voice tones that are more similar to a child than adult. This can have lasting negative side effects for years to come. When did using "if you're not going to be mature and act like an adult, then I'm not going to either" become a useful method to change behavior. Here are several tips to remember when disciplining children:

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The Role of Pediatric Neurological Assessment in Primary Care Practice

As medical practitioners, physicians are typically the first clinical professionals to evaluate a child. In addition, physicians are one of the few clinicians who maintain an ongoing, consistent relationship with children and their parents. In contrast, pediatric neuropsychologists typically serve as consultants who work with children for a brief, circumscribed period of time. The purpose of the present article is to provide an overview of pediatric neuropsychological assessment and outline the ways in which pediatric neuropsychology contributes to the practice of primary care physicians and the care of children.

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Differences between meditation and hypnosis

In my practice I frequently use relaxation techniques, mindfulness skills or hypnosis. A majority of people are familiar with meditation or relaxation. Unfortunately, there are misconceptions about hypnosis and how it works. A frequently asked question is: what is the difference between meditation and hypnosis?

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Emotional Crying

I’m sure most of you have heard or said yourself, something about needing a good cry. That is actually a very interesting statement. Our tear ducts are part of our lacrimal gland, which sits between our eyeball and our eyelid. This gland is connected to our limbic system. Our limbic system is the part of our brain that is responsible for emotions.

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