6 tips to improve communication & reduce stress for tech-savvy teens

Wednesday, November 25th, 2015
Theresa Thickens, Psy.D., is a marriage and family therapist working out of Lincoln and serves as the Chair of the Placer County Mental Health, Drug and Alcohol Board. She specializes in parent/child and couple relationship counseling and crisis counseling working with first responders personnel.

Theresa Thickens, Psy.D., is a marriage and family therapist working out of Lincoln and serves as the Chair of the Placer County Mental Health, Drug and Alcohol Board. She specializes in parent/child and couple relationship counseling and crisis counseling working with first responders personnel.

(This is a reprint from my Sacramento Cyber Safety Examiner column on Examiner.com).

Last week Thurs. evening, the Coalition for Placer Youth, a grassroots organization dedicated to promoting youth substance abuse prevention strategies, held a workshop for teens and parents on stress management at St. Matthews Lutheran Church in Rocklin.

A Center for Disease Control study on Childhood Stress with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, explains there are three types of stress: positive, tolerable and toxic. Toxic stress is chronic and can lead to health issues. According to the report updated in May 2011: “Toxic stress results from adverse experiences that may be sustained over a long period of time. This kind of stress can disrupt early brain development, compromise the functioning of important biological systems, and lead to long-term health problems.” Along those lines, consider texting and social media as an example of chronic teen stress that can be like peer pressure on steroids and inspire high anxiety.

Theresa Thickens, Psy.D., is a marriage and family therapist working out of Lincoln and serves as the Chair of the Placer County Mental Health, Drug and Alcohol Board. She  specializes in parent/child and couple relationship counseling and crisis counseling working with first responders personnel and was a featured speaker at the workshop. As a part of this workshop she offers excellent tips for parents to help teens recognize and respond to stress as a healthy life skill. “What really stresses us out is not sharing personal issues,” she said, “So learning how to engage in effective communication is key. The more you hold stuff inside, the more stressed out you are.” According to Thickens, listening and self expression skills are a vital life skill.

Teen stress management tips

  • Practice listening. Authentic listening requires full attention, and distraction comes across as disinterest.
  • Repeat what you heard the other person say. People need to be heard, and repeating what you heard expressed is a form of validation.
  • Empathy is critical. It is important that whether your agree with it or not, you need to understand their point of view.
  • Do not take what you are hearing personally. When a person, especially your teen, is expressing hostility towards you or others, do not take it personally. Listening and validating what you heard said is not the same thing as being in agreement.
  • Don’t interrupt and talk over the other person. When you are interrupting the message the other person receives is “it’s all about me”
  • Keep it brief. Don’t allow the expression of your point of view to become a lecture.

Thickens offers one more good thought to consider when it comes to relating to your teen: “If you want your teen to care about what you think, then you need to listen to them first,” she said.

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ABOUT:  Banana Moments Foundation is a non-profit education center founded in Roseville, CA to strengthen the parent-child bond in a hyper-connected world. The BMF mission is to restore families with the mustard seed of faith that declares liberty already belongs to the soul because one God, the Creator of all humanity, grants every human being intelligence and free will to choose what to believe, and that is power that can never be taken, but is easily surrendered to the bully, the drug or the device. To that end, ten percent of all BMF proceeds are donated to prison ministries. Your Donations are greatly appreciated.

As the Sacramento Cyber Safety Examiner, my personal mission is to educate and inspire parents from all walks of life and social settings to realize their inherent authority to govern the home and educate the child about their own power; the personal power that comes from the spiritual resilience of your chosen faithAnd so I write for Examiner.com to express the passion of my mother heart to a diverse audience.

Joanna Jullien (Photo: Christi Benz)

Joanna Jullien
(Photo: Christi Benz)

Joanna Jullien is an author, educator and speaker on strengthening the parent-child relationship in a cyber powered world. She is a mother of two grown sons, the author of The Authority In Me: The Power of Family Life in the Network Culture, produces The Sacramento Cyber Safety Examiner column on Examiner.com, and is the CyberParenting advisor on The Fish 103.9FM. Her new book, A Google World in the Garden of Eden: Five Family-Safe Strategies for Texting and Social Media is now available for PC and all eReader formats including Kindle, Nook, iPad.

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About Joanna Jullien

Joanna Jullien

Joanna (jullien@surewest.net) and her husband have raised two sons in Roseville, CA. She has a degree from U.C. Berkeley in Social Anthropology (corporate culture). Her honors thesis was awarded the Kroeber Prize and funding from National Science Foundation grant. Joanna writes to help parents with the modern-day leadership challenges of raising children. She is a contributing writer for The Granite Bay View, the Press Tribune, the Sacramento Examiner, and editor of Banana Moments.

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