anxiety, Parenthood, parenting, Raising Amazing Adults, Teens and Young Adults, Uncategorized

Parenting teens

January 29, 2020

It was a regular well visit for a young girl. She was 14 and there was clearly some tension in the room between mother and daughter. It is nothing unusual. The teen years often come with a lot of eye-rolling and resistance as the battle for independence is in full gear. This young girl was a little over weight and had some acne on her face. The mother pointed out that she was concerned about her acne, her weight and said her hair was brittle and thin. We proceeded with the physical exam and then I was able to speak to the young girl alone. In the office, I have the opportunity to speak to both parents and teens separately which is always something I find insightful. Usually the parents and the child are worried about very different things. It is frustrating. It is normal.

If you have a teen, you have experienced the eye-rolls, the quick short answer responses to your questions and the seemingly aloof attitude. It is as if nothing that you say really means anything or matters. I suppose over time this frustration can lead to a sort of “giving up” on talking or giving advice. These feelings can leave a parent  worried about their teen and what he/she may not be telling them. Battles for even the silliest of things ensue and the distance grows larger.

The sad thing is that most teens feel alone as they navigate what can be a new and scary world. They are trying so hard to fit in and they are not sure of who they are and what they stand for. Some seem to cruise through the teen years without a bump and others struggle. It is a time of self-doubt and self-exploration. Who am I? Who are my real friends? What is life really about? Teens live in the now. The present consumes them and they think if a certain group of kids doesn’t like them or they are not cool their world is essentially over. Some become obsessed with how they look, their weight or their “persona” on social media.

Parents on the other hand are looking at the overall picture. They have experienced life and want so desperately to protect their teens from the evils in the world. It can become all-consuming. The internet has become a quick resource for teens and they have access to much more information (with videos and images) than most parents have ever had in their lifetime. It is hard to keep up. It is also hard for some parents to remember what it is really like to be a teen. They are so focused on their role as a parent that they do not really stop to put themselves in the place of their teen. This is exactly what was happening with my patient.

When I sat in the room with the young girl, the first thing she said to me was, “my mom hates me”. I paused. She continued and explained that her mother was always telling her that she needed to lose weight, that her skin looked horrible and that her hair looked awful and thin. She told me that her mother was always yelling at her and proceeded to cry.

In the next room the mother was waiting. When I went into the room she started to cry. She explained that she was a single mom and was trying her best to work and provide for her family. She felt alone and worried and didn’t know what to do. She went on to tell me that she was worried about her daughter who was often crying and refusing to leave her room.

This scenario is not uncommon. This the perfect time to bring up the possibility of therapy. Explaining to a family that sometimes what we really need is a neutral person to talk to. Someone that will not judge you and will provide a safe place to speak your mind. I try to explain to teens that there is nothing wrong with them if they see a therapist. There are times in life when we can all use a person to really talk to without the worry of being judged or yelled at. It is also a wonderful time to learn about coping skills and how to find productive and useful ways to manage stress and difficult situations. Often these therapy sessions can also involve the parents when the teen is ready and can prove very useful in helping communication. The earlier intervention begins the better. Studies show that the earlier we provide help the better the outcome.

Do not be afraid to ask for help and do not let your teens lack of attention to your advice stop you from giving it. This is when they need it the most. Even though it seems that they are not listening, they are. Be careful of the words you use and remind your teen that the best way to get through the teen years is to stay true to themselves. Encourage them to find friends that are like them (even if it is only one) and to focus their energy on what makes them truly happy and feels genuine to them.

However, more often than not the best approach is just listening. When you feel like you just can’t find the right words to say, say nothing. When you are considering giving advice but feel that the moment just is not right, say nothing. Many times in life what we all need is just to know that someone really cares. Be that one person for your child.

Have a wonderful week!

Elizabeth Vainder, M.D. 

 

Childhood, New Moms, Parenthood, Raising Amazing Adults, Teens and Young Adults, The Toddler Stage

The purple phase…

July 10, 2018

Every summer, a few weeks before school started, my mom would take me to the store to pick out some new clothes. It was always a special time for me and I looked forward to it all summer. One summer, as usual, we went to pick out my back-to-school clothes. I was 10 years old and going through a “purple” phase…I loved everything purple…I dreamt of driving around in a purple car, and living in a purple house.(thank goodness that phase passed! lol) So that day I chose all of my clothes in some shade of purple. I was beyond excited! When we got home, my grandmother was waiting to see what we had picked out. As I began pulling out purple garment after purple garment my grandmother stared in disbelief. She pulled my mother aside to ask her why she let me chose only purple clothes! My mom looked confused and responded…”because she liked it”.

It’s interesting what you remember as an adult looking back at your childhood. For some reason that day is a very vivid memory. Today I understand why. That day, I made choices and my opinion mattered. I felt respected.

As a parent, it is challenging at times to allow a child to pick and choose what they want to wear, what they want to do, etc. Often it is tempting to gently encourage something else to wear or perhaps hint that there may be a better choice. Then you see the child that walks through the halls of the grocery store in costume and you smile, because you know they dressed themselves and they are  happy! So the next time your child doesn’t match or chooses a style that is just not what you like, take a step back. Does it really matter? As long as it in not inappropriate for the occasion, then just let it be. Allow your child to express his/her individuality and enjoy watching them evolve.

Life is about finding joy and happiness in the little things. Encourage your child to make choices (even if you don’t agree with them). By making choices, their enthusiasm and confidence will grow. Even small children have opinions so take the time to listen. Help your child find who THEY want to be, not who YOU want them to be.

Elizabeth Vainder, M.D.

Childhood, New Moms, Parenthood, Special Needs Children and their parents, Teens and Young Adults, The Toddler Stage

Reaching for the Stars

May 15, 2018

My entire life I have tried to set high goals. My parents always made me feel as though I truly could do anything. I suppose I took for granted that everyone’s parents were the same. The truth is that sadly it is not this way at all. So many kids are going through life day by day thinking that they are destined to live the life their parents have created. It is sad really when you think about it. Who knows what talents and traits lay hidden inside of these children.

Take the time to sit with your children, even as young as 5 years old, and set goals. Let your child lead in what they want those goals to be. Do not laugh or ridicule a goal even if it seems ridiculous or unreachable to you. It is important to instill in them the idea that with hard work and perseverance anything is possible.

I believe that short term goals are just us as important as long term goals. The short term goals are what will bring you closer to the long term goals,  so choose them wisely. Help your children see the bigger picture but help them by coming up with a plan to get there. Write down the goals. Perhaps buy a “goal notebook” that they can keep and look at from time to time. It will keep them motivated.

Explain to your child that anything that is worth attaining will not be easy. There will be setbacks and they will fail. When this happens, the focus must be on what you do after this happens. Do you chose to stop and give up on your dreams?… or do you stop and reflect on what happened and learn from it. Sometimes we need to make a mistake to learn a lesson or see something more clearly. Do not get discouraged from these setbacks. These moments are the ones that you learn from the most.

Encourage your child to be proactive when they fail. If they failed a test and didn’t understand something, have them set up a meeting with the teacher to learn what they didn’t understand. It is not only about the grade. It is important to learn for the sake of learning  and to explore what you can do differently in the future. Otherwise, these mistakes and grades mean nothing. Do not allow the final grade to determine your child’s self worth or potential. Help your child go back and review how they studied and perhaps find new strategies to improve their grade on the next assessment.

Always “talk” to your kids. Listen really….the truth is when you REALLY listen to your kids, you will learn so much about what they are thinking, what they are worrying about, etc. This pertains to small kids and teens. We all want to be heard.  When  you stop to really listen to your child, without judgement, you will see that relationship grow in ways that you could only dream of.

So, go out there and sit with your child, set goals, listen and enjoy their journey into adulthood. It is the best part of being a parent-helping your child find their true potential. #parenthood #settinggoals #teens #schoolanxiety #drmom #drvcares

Elizabeth Vainder, M.D., F.A.A.P

 

 

Childhood, New Moms, Parenthood, Special Needs Children and their parents, Teens and Young Adults, The Newborns, The Toddler Stage, Uncategorized

The Why

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The Why

March 6, 2018

I am a board certified pediatrician. I decided to write this blog not as your doctor but as your friend. I am also a mom, so I know where you are coming from. I have been in practice for 17 years and have learned so much from my children and my patients. This site is a casual site to share what I have learned. This is not intended for medical advice or consultations. I have just grown and learned so much in these last few years, that I wanted to share it with all of you. I am a mother, a wife, a daughter, a sister, a friend, etc. but I am also ME and I want to share with all of you the importance of not forgetting YOU. I hope you enjoy my posts. They are intended to remind you about important moments and topics that come up while parenting. Parenting is a beautiful but sometimes frustrating and frightening journey. I want to remind you that you are not alone. Many patients come in with the same concerns and worries regardless of ethnicity, culture or background. I have found this so interesting. If we really stop to listen to each other we will realize we are more similar than we think. I hope you enjoy my blog. Join me every Tuesday for a new topic!

-Elizabeth Vainder, M.D., F.A.A.P