Seminar Date: October 26, 2016

“Technology as Parent” was the topic presented by Richard B. Cohen LMFT, MAC, CCBT, CDVC at our parent seminar series. Richard shared that over the past few years he’s been witnessing a particular trend with clients: kids spending too much time with technology looking at screens, spending less time with their family and then reporting that they are bored. Richard said that the parent’s role has diminished as technology is rewiring the developing brains of today’s children. Families are growing apart as their children spend more time with their devices, and less time interacting with their parents.

Richard said that today’s teen averages 9 hours per day of screen time. This translates out to 63 hours per week. If a teen sleeps 8 hours per night that’s another 56 hours. Throw in 40 hours devoted towards school and that’s 159 of the 168 hours in a week. So there are approximately 9 hours of life each week without electronics. Quality time with their family has decreased all the ways down to 36 minutes per week which is a little more than 5 minutes of each day.

In terms of helping to bring the family back together, Richard reminded parents that they are in charge. Parents are the ones who are responsible for creating the rules of the home. Richard suggested writing down the primary values in your family. A family statement for that lists at least three things that you want to teach your kid. Richard said that often times when he asks the kid what the family’s primary values are, they aren’t the same thing the parent thinks they are teaching. Richard encouraged the parents to build their relationship with their kids by sharing who they are. “Where did you come from? What is your story? How did you get to be where you are?” Richard said kids love to hear this stuff about their parents and that it helps them to open up about themselves.

Richard also encouraged families to have technology free dinners so that the family can practice being together without electronics. Other tips included not to make promises with your children that you don’t intend to keep. Don’t make decisions out of impulsivity. If your child has a high arousal response when their device is being taken away, it’s a good indicator of technology abuse. One interesting test is to see if your child can turn in their device at a specific time. If you ask your kid to turn in the ipad after 1 hour…can they? Richard said that the behaviors you see in your child will grow over time. Whatever they get used to, they get used to and will do.

If your child loses privileges with their device, talk with them about why it happened so that everyone can be better prepared for the future if the same behaviors come back. Everything can be a teachable moment with your family and an opportunity to explain your thinking. Richard also reminded parents that the power they have is their reaction to an event. They can’t always control what their kid will do….but parents are in control of their response.

Seminar Date: April 8, 2015

Richard B. Cohen LMFT, MAC, CDVC, CCBT explained techniques on “How To Effectively Confront Your Teen” at the Of One Mind parent seminar this week. Richard shared the importance of explaining to your children the rules you want in your home. It’s also essential that the rules of the game precede the game, so that expectations and consequences can be set and understood in advance. Richard suggested that when working an issue out with children, parents should let the child go first. Richard stressed the importance of not interrupting while the other person is speaking in order to gain the same respect when you speak. Perhaps the most important things a parent can do to help their communication when confronting their child is to stay calm and be consistent, predictable and trustworthy. This creates a safe environment for discussion. When things escalate, no one gets heard. In fact Richard told parents that they should end the discussion if the child is yelling or not behaving appropriately and only continue again when things are calm. If your child refuses to talk to you about what you need to talk about, Richard suggested not giving them what they want either, until they are ready to participate with you. In order to parent like this, the parent also needs to make sure they can keep their own emotions in check. It’s important for parents to know their own hot buttons so that they don’t over react when the child pushes them. Richard also explained how everyone is only responsible for their own behavior. Thus we should all use “I” statements to talk about our feelings, thoughts, needs, wants, and decisions. To use the word “I” is to be assertive. Richard said that the word “You” is not only more aggressive but less effective than the “I” statement. Again, because the only one I can truly control is myself and my reaction to what “you” do. Richard also spoke of the importance of explaining your thinking to your children. You don’t want them to just follow what you say. You want your children to understand your logic and thinking so that they too can make good decisions when they are not with you.

Seminar Date: July 23, 2014

Of One Mind presented a special parent seminar “Technology is the Virus: Has Your Family Been Infected?” this past Wednesday night. Richard B. Cohen LMFT, MAC, CCBT, CDVC was joined by Dr. Don Grant who specializes in both Addiction and Media Psychology.   The duo led a discussion on how cell phones, the internet and computers have become the new drug of choice for many families.

Richard and Don outlined the risk factors for a technology addiction.   People who are already suffering from anxiety, depression, or under a great deal of stress are strong candidates for developing a technology addiction. These folks may be self medicating with their technology in an attempt to escape from negative feelings.   Likewise someone who lacks proper social support may engage in social media to feel like they have friends when in fact they truly need to work on improving their social skills.

Richard and Don discussed symptoms that may show there is already a problem with technology addiction. Some questions for parents to ask themselves are:

–          Is your teen or young adult withdrawing from friends and family and/or isolating to their rooms to use technology?

–          Does your teen or young adult become angry when you ask them to shut it off?

–          Is the person not able to stop using the device and/or staying online longer than intended?

–          Does your child have trouble completing non-technological tasks such as cleaning their room or getting home work completed?

Internet addiction creates problems that are similar to other addictions in that it can affect relationships, make a person spend more time by themselves, and thus create social anxiety. Don compared technology addiction to an eating disorder in that the goal isn’t to eliminate technology, but rather to find a way for the person to use it successfully so that they still navigate the other areas of life.

Richard shared that the faster the internet speed, the more damage that can occur to a young person’s brain.   The only good news here is that most of the damage can be reversed using a variety of techniques including CBT, EMDR and DBT.

One parent asked if using the internet in 2014 is just the same as a 20th century teenager being on the phone all night long.  Don explained that phone usage is way more interactive as you actually have another human being on the other end listening to you and reacting live.  This is vastly different than using Social Media or texting where the user puts something out into the universe and then waits to see if there will be a response.

Both Richard and Don agreed that it’s a vastly different world for folks now born into this technology. A young person may grow up thinking that Skyping is just as effective as meeting in person. In fact Don shared a story about a retail store that is hiring employees not based on a resume or an interview but rather how many “followers” the person has.   This led to a discussion on the self esteem issues we all have to deal with on social media. Popularity contests and people not responding the way we want them to. Or even worse, they don’t respond at all.

Of One Mind has created an instrument to test for internet and technology addiction and is now performing assessments. For more information please contact 310-479-9065 ext 100.

Seminar Date: May 7, 2014

Of One Mind continued its spring 2014 Parent Seminar Series with “The Counter-Productivity of Helicopter Parenting: The Price of Hovering.”   Richard B. Cohen LMFT began the lecture by defining what helicopter parents are. “Helicopter Parents” are also known as “Lawn Mower Parents” because they “clear out the way” for their child.   These parents worry, get scared, then hover. Helicopter Parents are anxious parents who have difficulty with their children making mistakes or failing. Richard explained how this parenting doesn’t teach children to be responsible for themselves. Learning to be responsible is very important for children to learn because our self-esteem is connected to accomplishing something.

It may sound counter intuitive to some but we actually need to let our kids fail so that they can learn. “Teach a man to fish he’ll eat forever.”   Richard shared that there’s a natural opportunity for kids to learn when there are consequences to their behavior. Similarly, risk estimation is under developed if a child never gets to fail. If mom and dad shield all consequences, the kid is at a loss when it’s time to launch into life.

There are negative effects to helicopter parenting. Helicopter parents have kids who quit quicker. These same kids have more discomfort under stress. They have less psychological wellness, more depression and more anxiety. The difficulty in handling their depression and anxiety leads to higher prescription drug usage.

Helicopter moms are into the details of kid. Helicopter dads are into career success and status. They are the ones threatening the little league coach. Ideally we want to monitor our children without being excessive. Try to find balance as you model and consult. Guide and limit. Richard acknowledged the other extreme of permissive parents who may not monitor enough. Richard referred to this as “free range parenting.”

Richard said to teach your kid to value school. Tell them they are doing it for themselves not for you. Raise them with the idea that respect is more important than grades. Grades are for them. Respect is for you.

One interesting area of discussion occurred after Richard pointed out this same hovering can occur in relationships where someone is carrying someone else. Does the other person in the relationship become less responsible? Richard’s suggestion for raising kids or being in a relationship is to make sure you don’t over help. Don’t always give the answer.   Praise from a parent is what’s important to a child. When a parent worries, the kid might think they don’t have it together. The long term internal reward is for children to learn to do things for themselves.

And everyone can benefit. The more a kid is taught to participate in chores, the more connected they feel to the family. Richard recommended that parents set a schedule for their household. Everyone should know when they eat, sleep, clean, play and study.  Richard challenged the parents to ask themselves “What am I teaching my kid?” He asked the parents in attendance “Can your kids be disrespectful and still go out on weekend?”  If that’s the case, then what are they being taught?

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.

Seminar Date: April 17, 2013

The parent seminar topic at Of One Mind this Wednesday night was “Home Again- What to do When Your Young Adult Drops out of College.”    The presentation was given by Richard B. Cohen, LMFT, MAC, CCBT, CDVC, who said it’s important to first understand why someone drops out of school.  Did they have difficulty finding the discipline to self structure themselves?   Were their courses not engaging?   Do they have a learning disability?  Were too much drugs or alcohol involved?  Richard said we must first identify the problem before attempting to solve it.

Richard then stressed the importance of teaching young adults to do things for themselves.  If a parent does everything for their child for 18 years, how is the now adult child supposed to know how to take care of themselves?   If you’ve never done your own laundry, how would you know how to?  Confidence comes from experience.    The good news: is it’s not too late to change.  If your young adult has come back to live at home, Richard said this can be an opportunity to help improve their behavior.

Richard suggested that parents make new rules for living at home.   Decide what is important to you.  Honesty and respect should be a requirement for living in your home.  If your young adult isn’t in school, getting a job can be a requirement to live there.   Do they pay rent?  Make their bed everyday?  Take out the garbage?  Do the dishes?   What you don’t want is someone living in your home that stays up all night, sleeps all day and disrespects you.   If you allow this behavior as a parent, you are enabling your child to dysfunction.   Richard asked the parents with young adults living at home: “How are your children going to take care of themselves when you are gone?”

Richard said it’s important that parents be able to verify information.  Richard said he’s shocked that some young adults do not show their grades to their parents.   If you are paying for your kid’s school, you absolutely get to see their grades.  It’s your investment.   If your young adult is looking for a job, ask them to bring back business cards from the places they’ve applied to.   Richard said that once your kids know you are checking, they give more compliance.

Richard said that young adults who blame others for their failing haven’t yet learned to take responsibility for themselves.  For kids who have a hard time taking responsibility, Richard suggested giving them experiences where they get to be responsible.  Send them on a task, have them come back, then talk about it.   Help your child grow up by teaching them readiness responsibility to self manage.    Parents who take on too much responsibility for their kids end up diminishing their child’s self esteem. It’s okay to help your child but you don’t want to enable.  Enabling can be destructive.  Helping them teaches them to do something.    To paraphrase the old saying: Far better to teach your child to fish so they can eat forever, rather than give them a fish so they can eat today.

If your young adult is looking to go back to school, Richard recommended making them a financial partner in the experience.   The kids who do best in college are the ones who help pay their own tuition either by working or taking out a loan.  It makes sense.  This way they have an investment in themselves.  It’s not “someone else’s money.”

Some parents at the seminar told Richard they feel powerless and that their young adults don’t listen to them anymore.  Richard asked “Where’s your child going to sleep tonight?”  If they are sleeping in your home, they need to listen to you.  Richard’s suggestion was to “Change your response and your child with react differently.”  Richard reminded parents that they still have a lot of power if the young adult is at home and the parent is providing free rent, food or transportation.   Parents need to let their young adult know exactly what behavior is expected from them in order to receive any of these benefits.  Don’t listen to what your young adult tells you.  Just look at what they do.

Create accountability by making it clear that these are the rules for living in your home.   If your young adult says they aren’t going to follow your rules because they are over 18, they are right.  They don’t have to.   They also don’t have to live in your home anymore.   They can go make it on their own.


Seminar Date: March 13, 2013

The seminar topic “Does Your Child Learn Differently?” was presented by Jonathan Greene Ph.D., ABDP last night at our West Los Angeles office.   Dr. Greene, who refers to himself as a cognitive scientist, began by discussing individual differences and how we all learn differently.   Dr. Greene is a big fan of open source learning and shared free resources that are available such as the Khan Academy and TED.   Dr. Greene excitedly mentioned that universities such as Harvard and M.I.T. are now putting their courses online with professor notes.   Dr. Greene stressed the importance of using all these resources to supplement your child’s education.   Dr. Greene says that education has changed and believes that families should be the primary motivators for their child’s learning.  Dr. Greene warned parents against relying on their child’s school to take care of that for them.  Dr. Greene also noted the importance of parents focusing on their child’s passions rather than deficiencies.   What does your child do well?  If your child is genuinely interested in something, do what you can to help them go deeper with their calling.     Dr. Greene told parents that they should participate with their kid’s exploration rather than just assign work.    Find our what they are interested in.  Ask them lots of questions.  Figure out how you can help them go deeper with their passion.

Seminar Date: February 6, 2013

“How to Strengthen the Communication with your Teen or Young Adult” was the topic at this week’s Of One Mind’s free parent seminar in West Los Angeles. Richard B. Cohen LMFT, MAC, CCBT, CDVC, asked the parents “How do you become a safe person for someone to talk to?” Richard shared the importance of predictability. Consistency helps people to trust us and go deeper in their communication. Richard also encouraged the parents to listen, to let their child go first, and allow them to finish without interruption. Everyone will be heard. No one needs to dominate.

Richard noted that parents may feel the need to speak immediately due to the anxiety experienced over what they are hearing.  It’s more important to just listen.  It’s okay if your child is angry with you. It’s their anger and they are entitled to it. Richard encouraged parents to not get defensive and also warned not to communicate resentment silently with their body language such as eye rolling.

Richard then repeated the importance of actually listening to the other person. Being able to repeat back and clarify what you have heard. “You are important if someone listens to you. You are really important if someone remembers what you said.” This is especially true in the parent-child relationship. When a parent doesn’t remember what the child has said, this child may feel the parent doesn’t care and not share as much in the future.

Parents need to be very clear regarding what their agenda is with their children. “The rules of the game need to precede the game.” Richard then asked the parents what the rules were in their home if he were to move in. “Can I be disrespectful? Can I curse at you and still get my allowance? Do I have to clean up my dirty dishes?” Parents must let their children know exactly what behavior is expected as a family member in their home. And when that’s not followed it’s important to point it out right away as Richard warned “Whatever you tolerate will occur more and more often.”

Richard told the parents that when dealing with unacceptable behavior they need to be assertive not aggressive. An assertive person tells you what THEY are going to do. An aggressive person tells you what YOU are going to do. Richard also said that if things get too heated and family members aren’t listening to each other then stop and continue the conversation at a later time when everyone is calm.

Richard also recommended that parents pay acute attention to the smallest details. What he called “the opposite of ignoring.” Parents need to set limits and point it out to their child when their behavior isn’t congruent with the rules. Teach your children what your values are and then hold them accountable to it. Call out the behaviors you don’t like. Know what your agenda is. Don’t be mistreated.

Of One Mind will be repeating this same seminar topic next Wednesday night February 13th 2013 at 7pm at our Encino office located at 16501 Ventura Blvd. Suite 104. If you would like to attend, please RSVP to 818-465-9985 ext 113. Thank you!

Seminar Date: November 28, 2012

This week’s seminar was “Recognizing a Problem- At Risk Behavior in Teens & Young Adults.” The topic was presented in Encino by Richard B. Cohen, LMFT, MAC, CCBT, CDVC. Richard said the first order of business for parents raising kids is to take care of their own (the parents’) relationship. Parent’s need to make sure they are on the same page. In order for behavioral change to occur the parents first need to agree there is a problem. If one parent thinks nothing is wrong, the child can continue to work the situation to get what they want. Richard mentioned that most parents usually wait until it’s too late to take action. Richard stressed the importance of monitoring your child. One warning sign to look for is your child’s school attendance and academic performance. If there is a problem going on in your child’s life it can be harder for them to focus on school. Another area to watch is your child’s connectedness to yourself, peers and groups in the community. More connections usually means fewer problems. Your genes play an important role as well in determining risk factors. If one parent has something genetic going on (ie. addiction) their child is 4x as likely to have the same problem. If both parents have it then the child becomes 16x as likely! In terms of nurturing, Richard shared a study showing how parents’ expectations get communicated to the kid. Similarly Richard said if you raise your kid right you will teach them your thinking. Richard explained how “Let me tell you why I wouldn’t be doing that” works much better in the long run than saying “You can’t do that.” Richard also pointed out the important difference between punishment and consequence. Punishment suppresses behavior. Consequence changes it. Richard encouraged all the parents in attendance to use consequence rather than punishment. Our next seminar is “Parenting Today’s Teenager” and will take place at our West LA office next Wednesday December 5th at 7pm.

Seminar Date: October 17, 2012

Richard B. Cohen LMFT, MAC, CCBT, CDVC presented a parent seminar last night in Encino on “Teens & Young Adults that Rule the Roost.” Richard discussed the various parenting styles as developed by Diana Baumrind (Authoritative, Authoritarian, Indulgent and Neglectful) and explained how each style raises a different child. If a parent is too permissive their child might grow up thinking they can do whatever they want all the time. Richard said parents should lay out clear expectations for what they want the relationship with their child to be like. It is important for parents to share the rules to the game before the game begins so their child knows what is expected from them. Richard told parents to focus on what they will do, not what their child will do. Parents must be on the same page with each other and make sure they practice consequence rather than punishment. If a behavior has a consequence then it becomes the choice of the teen or young adult to deal with the results of their behavior, rather than thinking this is something the parent did to them. Richard told those in attendance that he likes working with oppositional behavior and that parents need to accept that this may be the attempt of their teen or young adult to explore an identity separate from their parents…while still maintaining the rules. If you missed out on this seminar Richard will be doing the same topic on November 14, 2012 at 7 PM at our West LA facility.

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