Seminar Date: September 18, 2013

Of One Mind began the fall 2013 Parent Skills Seminar Series at our Barrington office this past Wednesday night.  Richard B. Cohen LMFT, MAC, CDVC, CCBT presented a wealth of information regarding “The Keys to Changing Adolescent and Young Adult Behavior.”

Richard said that changing behavior starts with respecting yourself, and that parents who are looking for their kids to like them have self esteem issues.   Richard emphasized to the parents in attendance that it’s more important their kid respects them than likes them.   This foundation is important as a child who doesn’t have respect for their family will also often not have respect for the community.

Richard used the DMV as an example of using good parenting techniques.   Richard explained how the DMV has known rules, teaches you the limits they want you to follow, has you take a test, and then enforces consequences when you don’t abide by their rules.    Richard pointed out how he likes that the DMV has consequences that educable, offering you the option of going to traffic school where they can re-teach you the rules.   And just like parents, the DMV doesn’t need your cooperation.  They don’t need you to agree.  They set the rules.  If you want to drive legally, this is what you have to do.

Richard then talked about some of the differences between changing behavior in adolescents and adults and what leverages are available to parents.   Denying privileges such as phone or computer or having friends come over to visit works for some families.   Richard said that when he takes away a privilege such as a cell phone, he is never the one to bring up when they get it back.  That’s your child’s problem.   Richard suggested asking your child questions like “Why did you lose it?  Why would you get it back?  What justifies you being disrespectful?”

In the more difficult cases of acting out behavior, it’s not until the legal process comes into effect or the kid may get sent away that behavior changes.   Richard noted that stopping the acting out and negative behavior is only the first step.  That therapy then still needs to take place to deal with the underlying issues.  We still need to get the child talking and find out what they were/are upset about.   It’s okay for your adolescent or young adult to be angry.  Their feelings are normal.  What needs to be changed is how the person deals with their feelings.  They need to learn to talk about their feelings rather than act destructively.

In the case of older children, Richard told parents that they should not have young adults living in their home if the young adult is being disrespectful.   Richard advised parents not to get into power struggles.  When things get difficult, go low and slow.  You are not in a rush.  If your child starts to yell, tell them that no one speaks to you like this and that they need to speak calmly if they want to continue the conversation.  If they cannot be calm, the parent does not need to engage at this time.   Richard reminded everyone that another person cannot have conflict with you if you don’t allow it.   You are defining over time what is okay or not okay to do with you.  If it’s not okay- walk away.

Richard said that the single most important predictor of child success is the parent’s relationship.  90% of learned complex psychological social behavior comes from modeling.   The child learns that “I can do what mom and dad do to each other.”  If mom or dad undermines the other, so can I.   Richard mentioned the different parenting styles and how it can be difficult for spouses to work together if they were each raised differently.

Richard encouraged parents to be “firm and kind” with their children.  That parents need to be willing to uphold the rules, but also have their child’s best interests at heart.   Richard told parents to pay attention to who their kids are hanging out with as peer relationships become more important in teem years.   Richard also reminded parents the importance of doing what they say they will do to build trust in their relationship with their child.

Our next Barrington parent seminar will be “Launching Your Young Adult Child” on October 2, 2013 at 7pm.  To reserve your seat please call 310-479-9065 ext 113.

Thank you.