Posts

Adolescence Defined

Julia Murphy, LMFT

Adolescence has historically been characterized as a period of great turbulence and change in the lives of teens and parents. Media images of high profile stars like Justin Bieber and Lindsey Lohan careening off the rails with their involvement in drugs, alcohol and reckless behavior seem to support this portrait and strike fear in the hearts of many parents. Nonetheless, I like to look at this phase of development as a time of essential, vibrant growth and change that, at its most successful, can meaningfully prepare a teen for a rich and varied adult life. Research proves that the majority of teens make it through high school, are attached to their families, and escape serious involvement with violence or drug abuse. This optimism is not an attempt to discount the real risks involved in the adolescent years or to ignore those teens who feel isolated, lost, or out of control, but rather to promote the sort of guidance and support parents, professionals, and mentors can offer teens to give them the best chance for positive development.

It is our job as adults to create opportunities for teens to be exposed to relationships and environments that promote growth and minimize risk. The starting point is to preemptively improve the one-to-one relationships that are integral to a youth’s happiness, success, independence and security. The hope is that these improvements will have a ripple effect on larger systems like the family system, the school system, the criminal justice system or the social welfare system. One way to make a powerful difference is for adults in a teen’s life to understand and empathize with the amazing changes, risks, joys, aggravations, excitement and growing pains that happen during the teen years and the purpose they serve in a child’s life. According to The John’s Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Heath publication on Adolescent Development, research supports that (1) adolescence is a time of opportunity; (2) normal, healthy development is uneven; (3) young people develop positive attributes through learning and experience; (4) the larger community plays a fundamental and essential role in helping young people move successfully toward adulthood.  TO BE CONTINUED

6 Ways to Parent Wisely (Especially with Challenging Kids)

As backed by numerous research studies, your ability to effectively model the following skills for your child will help you strengthen your relationship with him or her:

  1. Manage your difficult emotions. Your ability to identify and reflect on your feelings without acting on them immediately is critical to healthy relationships. When you react impulsively to your negative emotions, you increase the likelihood of saying something to your child that you might later regret. You are also more likely to be punitive, which also ruptures your connection to your child. I’m not suggesting that you absolve your child of responsibility, but I am suggesting that you hold him or her accountable in a thoughtful way.
  2. Appropriately express your emotions. Your capacity to experience, reflect, accurately label and effectively communicate emotions helps your child develop the same capacity. In fact, I think it is accurate to say that one’s ability to process and communicate feelings is fundamental to any healthy relationship.
  3. Listen carefully to your child. Take the time to listen to your child’s feelings and understand his experiences. It is important that you not impose your interpretation of his experience. Try to understand experiences from his perspective. The more time you take to listen to his feelings and help him label these feelings, the better he will become at managing difficult emotions over time.
  4. Problem-solve with your child. When challenging situations arise, it is helpful if you can problem solve with your child about how to address whatever the situation might be. This is how your child develops better problem solving skills. It is particularly helpful when you can anticipate difficult situations and trouble shoot with your child in advance.
  5. Maintain perspective on your child’s development. Brain development and emotional maturity is a process that takes time. While we cannot force the brain to develop any faster than nature will allow, we can remove impediments to brain development and emotional maturation. For example, if your child has poor impulse control, you will not find a punishment that makes him less impulsive. You can, however, identify situations where he is more vulnerable to more impulsive behavior and together come up with strategies for maintaining self control in those situations. In addition, if he does behave impulsively, you can discuss his behavior with him and have him take responsibility for his actions. Keep in mind that the brain’s breaking system responsible for filtering what is said and done will not fully develop until he is between 25 and 30 years of age.
  6. Adjust your expectations of your child and yourself. It is important that you understand your child’s strengths and challenges when setting appropriate expectations. Avoid using, age, grade or comparisons with sibling or peers when deciding on what your child should be able to do. Every child is unique with his own rate of development. There is no formula for setting and maintaining expectations other than listening to your child and trial and error.

 

 

Summer Support

Summer’s a good time to get a little extra support for your learning disabled high schooler. In addition to therapy services, we can pair your teen with a college grad/ mentor who will steer your child toward college readiness. We’ll tailor our program to fit your child’s needs. Some services we offer include:

  • Academic tutoring
  • Help with organization and planning
  • Shoring up life skills and independence
  • Nutrition and exercise regimes

Call or email for more information: Julia@MilestoneMentoring.com  *  Julia Murphy (818) 388-1526

Thank You International Dyslexia Association, Los Angeles

Thank you to the International Dyslexia Association for putting on such an informative, well run conference this past Saturday, May 2nd, at UCLA. Language and Learning 2015 enlisted a wonderful set of speakers this year, including author/consultant/dyslexia specialist Louisa Moats, Ed. D.; pediatric neurophsychologist Rita Eichenstein, Ph.D.; and Lev Gottlieb, Ph.D., UCLA pediatric neuropsychologist. I am looking forward to next year’s conference!

Teen Stressors

The teen years are typically filled with stress due to the rapid physical, cognitive and emotional changes adolescents undergo. What stresses teens is often different than what stresses adults.

Teen Stressors:

  • Social awkwardness
  • Being bullied
  • Academic pressures
  • Managing an overfilled schedule
  • Self consciousness about physical appearance
  • Peer pressure to use alcohol and drugs
  • Dramatic physical and cognitive changes
  • Family and peer conflict
  • College transition
  • Adapting to greater independence and responsibility

As a parent, you can help your teen manage stress. The best way to approach an anxious teen is to be as calm as possible. The first rule of thumb is to remember to contain your own anxiety. Be open and listen non-judgmentally. Listen more than you speak. Empathy and mirroring feelings can be very reassuring and will help your teen feel that his or her feelings are normal.

At a later time when your teen’s anxiety has passed, you might suggest some positive ways to manage stress like deep breathing, muscle relaxation, breaking down tasks into smaller steps, adequate sleep, exercise and a balanced diet, downtime, and enjoyable activities with friends. Help your teen find opportunities to build his or her unique strengths and deep interests, which will also reduce anxiety and lead to greater self confidence.

Stress: An Alternative Explanation for Common Learning and Behavioral Challenges

Breakout Session with Dr. Peter Murphy and Dr. Daniel Franklin at the Language and Learning Conference, May 2, 2015 – UCLA Carnesale Commons

Drawing on the latest findings from the fields of social neuroscience, psychology, and education, this presentation will explore the biological mechanisms of stress and identify how stress impacts learning and behavior. In addition, the connection between healthy attachment and stress will be discussed. This presentation will offer specific strategies that parents, teachers, and clinicians can use to mitigate stress-related learning and behavioral challenges.

Conference registration online at www.DyslexiaLA.org/events

 

The ABCs of Learning Challenges (Part 2)

Academic Skill Deficits

1. Dyslexia, or reading difficulties, effects about 80% of children with learning challenges.

  • They may have difficulty decoding words, reading fluently, as well as comprehending text.
  • Writing may also be difficult, which includes organizing thoughts, putting ideas into sequence and using grammar, punctuation and spelling appropriately.

2. Dyscalculia, or difficulty with math, is also common among children with learning challenges.

  • This may include difficulty with mental math, transposing digits, failing to line up numbers properly in an equation or omitting steps in a math problem.

Fortunately, there are strategies and accommodations that will help your child cope with his or her learning challenges, including implementing the right modifications and accommodations at school to help him learn, supporting the development of his interests and strengths, helping him understand his challenges, and providing him with support and understanding.

The ABCs of Learning Challenges (Part 1)

  • Most children with learning differences are affected by multiple challenges.
  • Learning challenges often surface when there is a mismatch between the child’s abilities and the demands of the environment. For example, an academic curriculum may be accelerated beyond the developmental level of the child (or many of the children) in a particular classroom.
  • People with verbal learning disabilities have difficulty with words, both spoken and written
  • People with non-verbal learning disabilities may have difficulty processing abstract concepts, abstract reasoning and conceptualizing concepts.
  • visual processing or perceptual disorder refers to a hindered ability to make sense of information taken in through the eyes.
  • An auditory processing disorder interferes with a person’s ability to make sense of information taken in through the ears.

(To be continued)

Poets Who Inspire: Mary Oliver

 

What follows is a moving poem by Mary Oliver called The Journey, which may be an inspiration to those of you facing a period of great change or difficult decision making.

The Journey

One day you finally knew

what you had to do, and began,

though the voices around you

kept shouting

their bad advice —

though the whole house

began to tremble

and you felt the old tug

at your ankles.

“Mend my life!”

each voice cried.

But you didn’t stop.

You knew what you had to do,

though the wind pried

with its stiff fingers

at the very foundations,

though their melancholy

was terrible.

It was already late

enough, and a wild night,

and the road full of fallen

branches and stones.

But little by little,

as you left their voices behind,

the stars began to burn

through the sheets of clouds,

and there was a new voice

which you slowly

recognized as your own,

that kept you company

as you strode deeper and deeper

into the world,

determined to do

the only thing you could do–

determined to save

the only life you could save.

(Mary Oliver)

Divorce Support Groups

We’ve added Divorce Support Groups to our menu of services. Led by Tara Boerner, LMFT and Julia Murphy, LMFT.

1. Begin Again: A Healing Group for Women

This group will meet Wednesdays 1-2:30 pm in our Tarzana offices. An initial assessment is required for admission.

2. Helping Teens Cope with Divorce

These groups will meet 1x/week for 1 1/2 hours in the afternoon or early evening. Members will be grouped separately according to age: 13-14, 15-17, 18+.

Contact: Julia Murphy, LMFT 818-388-1526 or Email: Info@MurphyPsychologyGroup.com

tara_058           Julia

Tara Boerner, LMFT             Julia Murphy, LMFT