23 minutes | May 28, 2023
Ep 243: Raising Brave Teens
Leon Logothetis, author of Go Be Brave, speaks about how bravery comes up in all aspects of life. We discuss the interplay of vulnerability, anger, and making peace when raising assured teens. Tallo is a digital portfolio platform where your teen can apply for scholarships, internships, and opportunities. Check them out at https://bit.ly/tallotalkingtoteens Visit our website, https://bit.ly/talkingtoteenswebsite, to sign up for our newsletter so you'll never miss an episode!
28 minutes | May 21, 2023
Ep 242: What Kind of Parent Do You Want to Be?
Rachel Rider, author of Who You Are Is How You Lead, talks about getting in touch with how we want to show up for others. We discuss the power of self-regulation and somatic experiencing to help parents break free of ingrained patterns of interacting with their teens. Tallo is a digital portfolio platform where your teen can apply for scholarships, internships, and opportunities. Check them out at https://bit.ly/tallotalkingtoteens Visit our website, https://bit.ly/talkingtoteenswebsite, to sign up for our newsletter so you'll never miss an episode!
28 minutes | May 14, 2023
Ep 241: Lonely? Master the Art of Social Gatherings
Nick Gray, author of The Two Hour Cocktail Party, shares his journey from a shy person with social anxiety to building a robust social network. We discuss how to turn your house into a gathering place for your teen and their friends. Tallo is a digital portfolio platform where your teen can apply for scholarships, internships, and opportunities. Check them out at https://bit.ly/tallotalkingtoteens Visit our website, https://bit.ly/talkingtoteenswebsite, to sign up for our newsletter so you'll never miss an episode!
27 minutes | May 7, 2023
Ep 240: The Perfectionist’s Guide to Parenting
Katherine Morgan Schafler, author of The Perfectionist’s Guide to Losing Control, busts myths on perfectionism. Many people wear perfectionism as a badge of honor, but in reality it is a maladaptive behavior that can make parenting more difficult than it already is! Tallo is a digital portfolio platform where your teen can apply for scholarships, internships, and opportunities. Check them out at https://bit.ly/tallotalkingtoteens Visit our website, https://bit.ly/talkingtoteenswebsite, to sign up for our newsletter so you'll never miss an episode! Today's show contains a discussion on suicide. If you or a loved one is in crisis, please call the US National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at (800)-273-TALK or (800) 273-8255. You can also text them via Crisis Text Line (text HOME to 741741). All services are free, confidential and available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Show Notes (00:00) Introduction to Perfectionism (and Katherine!) Katherine shares her background in psychotherapy and how she came to specialize in perfectionism. Plus, the modern shift of “perfectionism” meaning “balanced”—and yet how being “balanced” is often exhausting in today’s world! As Katherine notes, “...if you're feeling out of balance, do less, not more.” We also discuss the two perfectionist modes: adaptive and maladaptive. Perfectionism is not inherently bad. It’s incredible that humans can have an ideal in their minds and set to work to create a more “perfect” reality. Healthy perfections know the ideal is meant to inspire. Unhealthy perfections conflate achievement and inspiration. Katherine shares two questions we can ask to determine if someone’s (or our) perfectionism is adaptive/healthy or maladaptive/unhealthy. (11:40) - Perfectionism and Self-Worth Katherine helps us explore how perfectionism is often misconstrued. We discuss how people often use the term "perfect" to describe moments that are complete, but not necessarily flawless. Often when someone says they had a “perfect” day, they mean there was nothing missing, not that every single moment was flawless. Feeling we are not perfect can sometimes manifest in sneaky ways. Katherine presents how exalting others can sometimes be a down-judgment on our own character. Saying things like “Well of course she can land that job” or “It makes sense the coach gave him the award,” is actually a down-judgment on ourselves. Katherine clues me in on ways we can recognize the talents of others , without overlooking our own awesomeness. (18:50) The Teen Brain, Dramatics, and Suicide Katherine and I talk about how the teen brain does feel emotions more keenly and more intensely because it is still developing. In many respects, this makes our teens more vulnerable to big emotions. With rising rates of teen suicide, Katherine encourages parents to speak to their teens directly. She believes the single most important question parents can ask that might save their teen’s life from suicide is: “Have you ever thought about ending your life?” She shares why it works… To listen to the full episode, become a member! Visit talkingtoteens.com
26 minutes | Apr 30, 2023
Ep 239: How to Be A Drama Free Family
Nedra Glover Tawwab, author of Drama Free, chats with us about how to break free from family drama and unhealthy relationship dynamics. We discuss practical tools for a variety of topics such as codependency, control battles, favoritism, and more! Tallo is a digital portfolio platform where your teen can apply for scholarships, internships, and opportunities. Check them out at https://bit.ly/tallotalkingtoteens Visit our website, https://bit.ly/talkingtoteenswebsite, to sign up for our newsletter so you'll never miss an episode! Full Show NotesSlammed doors, shouting, and angry tears—sometimes, it feels like every situation with our teens explodes into a dramatic outburst. This week I sat down with expert Nedra Glover Tawwab, author of Drama Free: A Guide to Managing Unhealthy Family Relationships. No one’s family is perfect, but there are tools for managing the imperfections in our families—and Nedra is here to help us! We cover how to start disengaging from family drama, and Nedra offers insights on how parents can create healthier relationships with their teenagers and between their teen and their teen’s siblings. One of the main topics we discuss is the impact of a parent's own upbringing on their relationships. Many of the wounds we carry from childhood can resurface in our relationships as adults, and it's essential to understand how these patterns can impact our parenting style. Tawwab notes that by reflecting on our own experiences and emotions, we can develop a more self-aware and empathetic approach to parenting. As parents, once we’re aware of our own mental and emotional programming, we can make a conscious effort to break old patterns. From codependency to favoritism to control battles, there’s a lot to cover this episode, so buckle up! Codependency Nedra and I talked about an issue that often flies under the radar because it’s not always so easily identifiable: codependency. Codependency is a term that has been around since the 1980s, but its meaning has evolved over time. Tawwab explains that codependency can manifest in many forms of dysfunctional patterns within a person, including emotional neglect or over-involvement in a sibling's life. As parents, it's vital to recognize when we are being codependent in our relationships. Nedra explained to me that when our children are young, it’s easy to fall into codependency patterns—they need us, of course we put off our needs. And, when kids are young, it’s rewarding to help fulfill their needs. But when our kids become teenagers, if we still tend to choose their needs over our own, it becomes more obvious that we’re codependent because parents reap different “rewards.” Instead of coos and smiles and hugs, we might receive mumbled “thanks” or “cool,” before our teen grabs the special lunch we made them and heads out the door. If there is a codependency pattern, teens may learn their parents will take care of everything for them—from laundry to homework to college admission applications, and maybe, teens might assume, paying their phone, rent, and utilities bill through and after college! Nedra suggests parents should also be on the lookout for codependency between siblings. It can be easy for an older sibling to take care of their younger sibling—sometimes it’s just faster if the older sibling does the chore or ties their siblings shoes. If parents notice this, they should intervene. They can ask their teen why they feel they need to help their younger sibling so much, and bring up codependency with their teen if it feels relevant. To prevent codependency in relationships with our teens, we can create boundaries that allow our teenagers to learn and grow through their experiences. We might also have to create boundaries so siblings do not become codependent as well. At first it might be uncomfortable and our teens will struggle. But they will be able to adapt. Parents may have to watch their teen stumble and fail sometimes, but it is important for a parent’s own well-being to stop codependent patterns from becoming permanent. To break free from codependency, Tawwab suggests coaching teens rather than doing things for them, and letting them make their own mistakes to learn and grow. Favoritism Nedra and I also discussed the somewhat taboo subject of favoritism, and its effects on family dynamics. Favoritism can manifest in various ways, from subtle differences in attention and to overt displays of partiality, such as giving one child more privileges or resources than others. It can be unintentional or deliberate, but its impact on siblings can be profound. When one child feels favored over another, it can lead to feelings of jealousy, resentment, and low self-esteem in the less-favored child, while the favored child may develop a sense of grandiosity and a lack of empathy towards siblings and peers. It’s not shameful to have “favorites”—every child is different and some parents will find it easier to bond with one of their kids than the other. And certainly, as our kids grow and change, dynamics will shift. Maybe we spend more time with our older child lately because the younger sibling is so involved in her travel basketball. However, these dynamics, if not brought up by parents with their kids, can come across as favoring one sibling over another. Tawwab suggests that parents need to be mindful of how they treat each child and ensure that our teens feel they are being treated equally. Avoid making comparisons between siblings and focus on their individual strengths and their contributions to the family dynamic. By acknowledging and addressing favoritism, parents can mitigate harm from it and promote healthy sibling relationships, rather than competition between siblings. To promote equality among siblings, parents can set aside time to be one-on-one with each kid, either sharing a meal, a hobby, participating in an activity, or just being together. In the Episode… In the episode, Nedra and I also touched on several other important topics, including: tips for sticking to our boundaries, even if it's uncomfortable or inconvenient how to handle battles for control establish healthy boundaries around screen time and tech helping teens manage their emotions through validating the emotion the benefits of therapy and coaching for parents and teenagers alike Overall, the episode provides a wealth of valuable insights and advice for parents raising teenagers. By applying these principles in their own lives, parents can create a more harmonious and drama-free family environment that supports their teenagers' growth and development.
27 minutes | Apr 23, 2023
Ep 238: The Advantages of Being a Beginner
Tom Vanderbilt, author of Beginners, discusses with us how parents can inspire their teenagers to be more confident in trying new things by being lifelong learners themselves. Turns out, being an expert beginner has its advantages! Tallo is a digital portfolio platform where your teen can apply for scholarships, internships, and opportunities. Check them out at https://bit.ly/tallotalkingtoteens Visit our website, https://bit.ly/talkingtoteenswebsite, to sign up for our newsletter so you'll never miss an episode! Full show notes As parents, it's easy to get into a rut of only doing things we're already good at, or activities we've been doing for years. Yet our teens are essentially beginners at everything. And sometimes it becomes difficult to encourage them to try new things. Being a beginner can get old quickly—it’s hard work! One of the biggest challenges parents may face is encouraging their teenager to step outside of their comfort zone. It's easy to get stuck in routines and habits, and teenagers are no exception. The problem is that this can lead to a lack of confidence in trying new things and can hinder their long-term growth and development. This can leave parents—who maybe haven’t been beginners in a long time—unsure of how to best help their teens. To understand this, I spoke this week with Tom Vanderbilt, author of Beginners: The Joy and Transformative Power of Lifelong Learning. As a parent himself, Tom found that he was spending a lot of time on the sidelines watching his daughter try new things and learn new skills. It wasn't until he realized that he wasn't doing the same for himself that he decided to become a beginner again. This sparked his journey into exploring the benefits of being a beginner and how it can positively impact parenting. In our interview, Tom points out it’s important for parents to get out of their ruts and try new things because they are the primary role models for their teenagers. If parents are stuck in their own ways and not willing to try new things, it sends a message to their teens that it's okay to do the same. On the other hand, if parents are willing to step out of their comfort zones and try new things, it shows their teens that it's never too late to learn and grow. Tom suggests a handful of perspectives and outlooks parents can try to help their teens try new things. First, embrace being a beginner. As parents, sometimes it feels like we have to have all the answers for our kids. But it's okay to not know everything and be a beginner. In fact, embracing being a beginner can be a positive experience for both parents and their teenagers. It can help parents model resilience and perseverance when faced with challenges, and show their teens that it's okay to struggle with something new. Secondly, Tom says parents can use being a beginner as an opportunity to bond with their teenagers. Taking on challenges together can be a fun and rewarding experience for both parties, and can help parents and teens build stronger relationships. It can also help parents understand the challenges their teenagers face when trying new things, and provide a supportive environment for them to grow and learn. Plus, mustering through a challenge together can create lasting memories and missteps to laugh about together later. Being a beginner is not only important for personal growth but also for parenting. By embracing being a beginner and taking on challenges together, parents can inspire their teenagers to be more confident in trying new things and can build stronger relationships with them. In the interview, we also discussed several other topics, including: The advantages of the beginner’s mindset The importance of the process over the outcome when learning something new Why college students are like kindergartners How to leverage a growth mindset to overcome fear of failure It was so fun speaking with Tom, and a blast to learn from Beginners of all kinds in his book! To follow along with what Tom is up to, check out links in his bio. Thanks for listening and we’ll catch you next week.
25 minutes | Apr 16, 2023
Ep 237: Visible and Invisible Differences
Meg Zucker, author of Born Extraordinary, busts myths about visible and invisible differences. She offers up language for how to speak to our teens about inclusivity and tips for parenting kids with differences. Tallo is a digital portfolio platform where your teen can apply for scholarships, internships, and opportunities. Check them out at https://bit.ly/tallotalkingtoteens Visit our website, https://bit.ly/talkingtoteenswebsite, to sign up for our newsletter so you'll never miss an episode! Full show notes Many parents want their teens to be compassionate citizens who care about people of all kinds. Others might Yet, it can be difficult to advise our teen on how to interact with people who are visibly different from us. We know people with differences are just as capable as anyone, yet sometimes it’s hard not to focus on the difference until that is all there is. We know there is more to someone than their difference—but how do we do better? To help us understand how to speak with our teens about differences, we spoke with Meg Zucker, author of the new book Born Extraordinary: Empowering Children with Differences and Disabilities. Meg is the founder and president of Don't Hide It, Flaunt It, a nonprofit with the mission of advancing understanding and mutual respect for people's differences. She was born with a genetic condition called ectrodactyly, and has one finger on each hand, shortened forearms and one toe on each misshapen foot. Her two sons have the same condition and her adopted daughter has her own invisible differences. Meg, through parenting with her husband, running her non-profit, her own experiences, and in researching for her book, has become an expert in all things differences—visible and invisible. She offers new insights into sticking points for people with differences and how everyone can think differently about differences. The Urge to Help Meg explains that, above all, we should keep in mind people with differences are people. People with differences are usually just as capable as ourselves, and often have already figured out how to navigate the world with their differences. She often has to field strangers asking if she needs help doing normal, everyday activities, like putting groceries in her cart, zipping up her coat, or opening doors. Meg wants others to know people with differences may struggle navigating certain aspects of life, but that they have a sense of pride to do it themselves, just like we do. Questioning “What should I do?” suggests we have to do something at all. Meg says this isn’t the best way to go about it. Sometimes the notion we have to do something, is to soothe our own feelings of discomfort or awkwardness about someone’s difference. The best way to interact with someone who has a difference is to first treat them as you would any person. Next, follow their lead. People with differences (or, all people for that matter) are living in their own version of normal, and so, they don't expect anyone to do anything. People living with differences aren’t constantly thinking about their differences—it’s not on their minds. Meg offers this advice for helping someone with a difference: observe first. It might seem a little creepy, but often after a moment, the person struggling will often figure it out. Take a breath before you are, what Meg labels a “Mighty Mouse” and say ask yourself, "Let me see if that person actually needs it." Usually, a person is ready for help when they start looking around for help. We can speak with our teens about this exact situation, and offer them Meg’s simple guidance for helping people with differences. The Pitfalls of Rules on How to Treat People At the same time, Meg encourages parents not to make ordinances about how to treat people with differences. When parents give their teens orders about how to treat others with differences, it takes away their inherent drive to be kind to others. Instead of a “could,” being kind becomes a “should,” and teens may resent being kind because it is not out of their own volition. And people on the receiving end of obligatory kindness don’t want to be resented. As an example of what she means, Meg shares a story about her son who was feeling down after his soccer teammates didn’t slap his hand after a game. He told his mom he believed the cause was how his hand looked. “They didn’t want to touch me,” he lamented. As heartbreaking as it was, Meg helped her son to see it in a different way. There could be many reasons why the other kids hesitated to slap his hand. Maybe they thought it would hurt him, or they didn’t want to draw attention to it, or they were just surprised. She suggested he make a game of it, and see how many slaps he got after the second game. Sure enough, her son exchanged some hand slaps with about half of his teammates after the next game, and varying numbers the rest of the season. If Meg had complained to the coach and insisted everyone always slap her son’s hand, she would have put her son in a position to receive resentment rather than genuine kindness. Similarly, if a parent makes a rule that their teen must always concede to a person with differences' demands, the teen may grow to have less empathy for people with differences as an adult. In the Episode… My conversation with Meg gave me so much to think about in how society views people with differences and how parents can raise inclusive teens who see the person before the difference. Meg and cover a lot of ground including: the importance of showing our non-different kids just as much love and attention how people with differences can embrace being an everyday hero raising kids with differences, both visible and invisible mitigating media influence on how we think about differences I hope you enjoy listening to my discussion with Meg as much as I enjoyed speaking with her! Check the links in Meg’s bio for where to follow her and her work!
30 minutes | Apr 9, 2023
Ep 236: Navigating the Tween Years
Michelle Mitchell joins us once again for a deep dive into the tween years—the topic of her new book Tweens. We explore cognitive development, body development, and the common skirmishes parents with tweens might face. It can be jarring to raise a tween. One day they are our cuddly kids, and the next day they seem to want nothing to do with us! They start saying our jokes are lame, our style is dated, and we just “don’t get it.” Tallo is a digital portfolio platform where your teen can apply for scholarships, internships, and opportunities. Check them out at https://bit.ly/tallotalkingtoteens Visit our website, https://bit.ly/talkingtoteenswebsite, to sign up for our newsletter so you'll never miss an episode! Full show notes The tween years can be a contentious time for both parents and tweens. Our kids are taking the first steps into adulthood, and as scary as it might be for parents, for tweens it might feel awkward, uncomfortable, and lonely. Their bodies are changing and so are their brains. Tweens, in addition to developing more complex thinking, start experimenting with who they are. Hence why they might seem wildly different month to month, day to day, hour to hour! Tweens might argue more as the desire for autonomy peaks, and they might even practice lying. But it’s also an incredible experience for parents: they are witness to the extraordinary process of a young person figuring out who they are in the world. To help us untangle the confounding changes happening in the tween years, we’re joined by Michelle Mitchell, author of the new book Tweens: What Kids Need Now, Before the Teenage Years. Michelle Mitchell is an educator, author, and award-winning speaker who has conducted extensive research, surveying over 1,600 parents and 600 tweens, for her latest book. (We’ve spoken with her a few times before on the show about self harm and puberty.) In our conversation, Michelle walks me through the transition in tweens thinking, as well as how to talk to tweens about their emotions, confidence, same sex attraction, technology, body image, and lying. We will also explore how tweens and parents think differently about friends, plus the differences between concrete and complex thinking in tweens and how to support tweens in their cognitive development. Spiking Autonomy The tween years for most kids are defined by a heightened desire for autonomy which might show up as more arguments, more omissions, and a general pull away from family life and toward other social groups. Fortunately, the need for autonomy peaks around age fourteen—it won’t last forever, and by keeping lines of communication with our tweens open, we can lessen the growing pains of autonomy. Michelle offers some insights she gleaned during research for the book to ease tensions caused by heightened need for autonomy. Michelle reminds us tweens are still looking for guidance from adults, but they might feel awkward about asking us. Just because a tween doesn’t ask their parents questions, doesn’t mean they don’t have any! Michelle shares with us the most commonly asked questions from tweens in conversations about puberty and sex—two topics the tweens she spoke with felt most uncomfortable about. Many tweens feel awkward about topics related to their own developing bodies. In knowing ahead of time what questions our tweens might have, parents can be prepared to bring up the topics if their teen doesn’t. At the same time, tweens will inevitably ask questions that parents might find awkward, basic, or uncomfortable. It's important to approach our curious tweens with compassion. Kids need to be taken seriously and given room to ask their questions free from judgment. Otherwise, parents risk sending the message that they can only handle certain topics of conversation. Keeping Communication Flowing The tween years are full of experimentation with who one is and, let’s face it, a lot of self-consciousness! This increased wariness about others’ opinions, could mean teens share less with their parents for fear of being judged. And clamming up and self-isolating for people in general, but particularly with tweens, can lead to mental health issues beyond normal feelings of loneliness, anxiety, or sadness. If a tween comes to us with a big emotional claim, Michelle emphasizes the importance of validating tweens’ emotions. Even when a tween’s feelings seem out of proportion, validating and then seeking to understand how they’re feeling proves you can be trusted to listen without judgment. (Moreover, this approach helps tweens build their confidence in their own abilities to handle their emotions.) Michelle additionally emphasizes the importance of creating a supportive environment to encourage tweens’ exploration of who they are. Tweens are beginning to compare themselves to others more often and might give up on pursuits if they don’t feel they are the best at a skill. For example, maybe a teen really loves musical theater—but they couldn’t carry a tune if it was given to them in a bucket. We could encourage a teen to consider other ways to be involved in musical theater besides being on stage. There is set design, directing, music composition, theater management, box office ticketing—any could be an avenue for exploring what lights them up. By encouraging our tweens to stay curious and explore different opportunities, we can help tweens find their budding passions and unique superpowers. When speaking with your tween or teen about their interests, Michelle notes that this generation holds high values of diversity and inclusion. Parents are wise to keep an open mind and ask their teen why they are drawn to specific pursuits, before jumping to conclusions about if it’s good, bad, distracting or worthwhile. Tweens might act tougher than they used to, but they still have their child-self inside. In the Episode… As usual, I had a great time chatting with Michelle! It was wonderful to have her on again and learn from her expertise. We covered a range of topics in the interview for a bird’s eye view of what the tween years might look for. In addition to speaking about autonomy, communication, and emotional maturity, we also discussed: How to communicate limits around technology Tween’s unique forgetfulness when it comes to staying safe How to help your teen with body confidence Why tweens need their family’s unconditional love (even if they say they don’t!) Thanks so much for tuning into this week’s episode and for more Michelle Mitchell, you can find her on her website, and on her other discussions with me on the podcast! We’ll see you next week!
26 minutes | Apr 2, 2023
Ep 235: The Hidden Power of High Sensitivity
Jenn Granneman, author of Sensitive, chats with us about recognizing and connecting with our highly sensitive teens. We cover how to help sensitive teens better manage feelings of overwhelm and the right way to nudge them beyond their comfort zone. Tallo is a digital portfolio platform where your teen can apply for scholarships, internships, and opportunities. Check them out at https://bit.ly/tallotalkingtoteens Visit our website, https://bit.ly/talkingtoteenswebsite, to sign up for our newsletter so you'll never miss an episode! Full show notesWhen a teen slams a door after not getting their way, or bursts into tears at a throwaway comment, parents might feel like every interaction with their teen ends in hysterics. Other times parents might worry their sensitive teen will have trouble making friends or being in groups because they are easily overwhelmed. But sensitivity, shyness, and introversion are not flaws. It can be difficult for parents to see their teen struggling with sensitivity. They may feel frustrated or helpless, not knowing how to help their child. It can also be difficult for them to relate to their child's experience if they themselves are more extroverted and don't fully understand what it's like to be shy or introverted. Children who are sensitive may be at higher risk for anxiety and depression, and may struggle with social skills throughout their lives if they don't receive proper support. It's important for parents to help their child build confidence and develop social skills, not just for their immediate well-being but for their long-term success and happiness. To understand more about this topic, we spoke with Jenn Granneman, co-author of the book Sensitive: The Hidden Power of the Highly Sensitive Person in a Loud, Fast, Too-Much World, and founder of Introvert, Dear, a website and community for introverts. Jenn is an introvert herself and has struggled with shyness and social anxiety throughout her life. She has dedicated her career to helping other introverts embrace their true selves and thrive in a world that can sometimes feel overwhelming to them. Introverted, or Just Shy? To better understand shyness and introversion, Jenn Granneman explains the difference between the two. While shyness is a fear of social judgment, introversion is a preference for solitude and reflection. Jenn notes that shyness is often seen as a negative trait, but she argues that it is simply a personality trait like any other. However, shyness can lead to negative consequences such as missing out on opportunities and feeling isolated. Introversion, on the other hand, is often misunderstood as being shy, but it is not the same thing. Introverts can be confident and social, but they simply prefer to spend time alone or in small groups. Jenn notes that society often values extroversion over introversion, which can lead to introverts feeling like they don't fit in or are not as valued. Jenn emphasizes that shyness and introversion are not things that need to be "fixed" or "cured." Rather, it's important to understand and accept these traits in ourselves and others. By doing so, we can create a more inclusive and understanding society. To help parents understand their shy or introverted children, Jenn suggests paying attention to their child's behavior and respecting their boundaries. She notes that introverted children may need more alone time to recharge, while shy children may need more encouragement and support to face their fears. Supporting a Sensitive Child Supporting a sensitive child can be challenging, but there are ways to help them thrive. By validating your child's feelings, creating a safe environment, teaching coping strategies, and seeking outside support when needed, parents can help their sensitive children thrive and lead fulfilling lives. First, it's important to validate their feelings and let them know it's okay to be sensitive. This can help them feel accepted and understood, which can boost their confidence. Creating a safe and comfortable environment at home is also crucial. Sensory-sensitive children may need a quiet space to relax, while socially-sensitive children may benefit from smaller social settings. It's important to respect your child's boundaries and not force them to do things that make them uncomfortable. Parents can also help their sensitive children develop coping strategies, such as deep breathing, visualization, and positive self-talk. Encouraging creative outlets, such as art or writing, can also be helpful for self-expression. Finally, it's important to seek outside support when necessary. A therapist or counselor can work with your child to develop coping mechanisms and build self-esteem, while support groups can provide a community of like-minded individuals who can offer advice and encouragement. In the Episode… I learned so much from my conversation with Jenn, and as an introvert I came away from our conversation with a better idea of my own needs as well as those of sensitive teens. In our conversation we also discuss: How to utilize loving detachment The different types of sensitivity What a relationship deficit The right time to push a sensitive out of their comfort zone If you enjoyed Jenn’s contributions as much as I, you can find her on social media as well as her two websites, Introvert Dear and Sensitive Refuge.
29 minutes | Mar 26, 2023
Ep 234: The Emotional Lives of Teenagers
Lisa Damour, author of The Emotional Lives of Teenagers, joins us to illuminate what's going on in kids’ heads when they're emotional. We talk about why teens sometimes seem to act irrationally, how we can teach them coping strategies, and what we can say when they’re shutting us out. Tallo is a digital portfolio platform where your teen can apply for scholarships, internships, and opportunities. Check them out at https://bit.ly/tallotalkingtoteens Visit our website, https://bit.ly/talkingtoteenswebsite, to sign up for our newsletter so you'll never miss an episode! Full show notes Teens are dealing with a lot–impending adulthood, changing bodies, rigorous schoolwork and a complicated social scene–it’s no wonder they’re emotional! As parents, it can be hard to help them manage all the ups and downs, especially when teens are screaming at us or locking their bedroom doors. This week, we're talking all about teen emotions: how to help them learn coping strategies, why they might be lashing out, and what’s really going on in their heads when they’re making mountains out of molehills. Joining us is psychologist and author Lisa Damour, to talk about her recent book, The Emotional Lives of Teenagers: Raising Connected, Capable and Compassionate Adolescents. Lisa has been recognized as a thought leader by the American Psychological Association, cohosts the Ask Lisa podcast, writes about adolescence for the New York Times, appears as a regular contributor at CBS News, and maintains her own clinical practice! In our interview, we’re talking about the two different kinds of reasoning teens apply when making a decision, gendered differences in teen’s emotional coping mechanisms, and how we can connect with kids, even when it seems like they want nothing to do with us. Hot vs. Cold Reasoning In the episode, Lisa explains how teens typically oscillate between two kinds of reasoning. Cold reasoning occurs when teens are using their logical rational mind to make a decision, while hot thinking typically refers to their thought process when they’re in emotionally or socially charged situations. While they may reach one conclusion when they’re using cold reasoning, that conclusion might just fly out the window when a situation gets much more emotional or social. For example, teens often tell us they’re not going to drink or smoke, that they’re going to stay in and study, that they’re not going to waste time dating someone when they want to focus on the future. But later, when they’re at a party or riding in a car with their friends or seeing their crush at a social gathering….they might not make the same choice they swore by earlier! For teens whose brains are still developing and who often make decisions based on social pressures, these two kinds of thinking often end up in conflict with one another. To make sure teens stick to their rational decisions, Lisa suggests we present them with the hot situation while they’re still in a cold state of mind. Try walking them through the whole party scenario while you’re alone together in the kitchen, hours before the party starts. Doing this can help ensure that your teen will still behave rationally when they’re placed in an emotionally, socially charged situation. Teens don’t just need strong reasoning to handle the perils of high school, they also need to know how to cope when things go awry. Lisa and I are talking about how we teens tend to fall into gendered patterns of coping, and how we can help them find more effective methods. Cultivating Better Coping Mechanisms From a young age, kids are often conditioned to follow certain practices for emotional management, and typically these are shaped by their gender, says Lisa. Boys are taught to push through tough times by using distractions like sports, video games or work. Girls are typically taught to use their words to describe what they’re going through, and are socialized to have a vocabulary to describe emotions. This leads to patterns later in life: boys acting out or hurting others to cope, girls developing conditions like depression and anxiety, Lisa explains. Boys are also often struggling with self esteem during puberty, as girls are typically developing faster. This applies to both minds and their bodies, with girls often beating boys out in the classroom as well as in sports. This can be tough on boys' self esteem, and is often the reason why they’re so mean to girls. Lisa even explains that this frustration in boys can often lead to the earliest occurrences of things like sexual harassment and assault. To fix these complicated gender discrepancies, Lisa explains how we can help kids develop healthy coping mechanisms and self esteem. For boys, a sense of value in adolescence can come from doing service work or cultivating a skill. For kids of all genders, music can be a healthy way to both work through and escape from the tough feelings of teenage life. As parents, we might want to just jump in and solve problems for our kids, but Lisa explains that we’ve got to help them learn to manage their feelings on their own. If we want teens to learn to handle their emotions, we’ve got to get through to them first! Lisa and I talk in the episode about how we can connect to teens, even when they seem to want nothing to do with us. Teaching Emotional Management Sometimes it seems like everything we do is annoying to our kids, no matter how hard we try! This is because kids are starting to develop their own brand and identity, says Lisa. They still think that we reflect on them, and therefore when we do something that contradicts the personality they’ve created for themselves, they’re frustrated. Alternatively, they get annoyed when we do something that’s similar to the brand they’re trying to cultivate, because they want to separate themselves from us as much as possible! It can be endlessly frustrating to deal with this constant teen angst, but Lisa reminds us that it’s not always as personal as it feels. She explains how we can provide teens with a few options: being nice to us, being polite to us or simply just having space. She explains that providing these options often prompts teens to think about what they actually want, and can help the two of you communicate instead of just bickering. In the episode, Lisa explains how we can also work on our listening skills–so when teens do decide to open up, we can be ready for them. She describes a method she often practices with her own teenage daughters, in which she plays the role of an editor and acts as though teens are reporters. Instead of interjecting while they’re speaking to immediately offer up advice, she listens to their entire spiel, and then offers up her best attempt at summarizing everything they just said, like a headline. This shows teens you’re listening and trying to understand, instead of just throwing advice their way. In the Episode… There’s lots of great insights in this week’s interview with Lisa! On top of the topics discussed above, we also talk about: Why teens need negative feelings How adolescence can heighten emotions Why teens want to talk late at night How to get teens to actually listen to your advice If you enjoyed this week's episode, you can find more from Lisa at Dr. Lisadamour.com. Don’t forget to share and subscribe, and we’ll see you next week!
25 minutes | Mar 19, 2023
Ep 233: The Opioid Crisis: What Parents Need to Know
Holly Geyer, author of Ending the Crisis: Mayo Clinic’s Guide to Opioid Addiction and Safe Opioid Use, joins us to shine light on the ways the opioid crisis might affect our teens. We discuss the effects of opioids on the body, how we can detect if teens are using them, and what we can say to teens who might be at risk for opioid addiction. Tallo is a digital portfolio platform where your teen can apply for scholarships, internships, and opportunities. Check them out at https://bit.ly/tallotalkingtoteens Visit our website, https://bit.ly/talkingtoteenswebsite, to sign up for our newsletter so you'll never miss an episode! Full show notes Many of us picture drug addiction as a vague threat, something that might be a possibility for an unhoused person or party animal but never for our own kids. When we hear concerns about the opioid crisis, we might wave it off as a problem that most likely could never affect us. We typically think that even if kids party a little,–say, experiment with marijuana or alcohol-that they’ll probably come out on the other end just fine. But what we don’t realize is just how susceptible our kids are to opioid use. Nowadays, traces of opioids are found in marijuana, cocaine, or even candy. They’re in millions of medicine cabinets, available on the streets in alarming quantities, and have been prescribed to nearly a third of adults in the United States. If we want our kids to stay safe from the opioid crisis, it’s time to educate ourselves–and our kids. To help us wrap our heads around the severity of this crisis, we’re talking to Holly Geyer, author of Ending the Crisis: Mayo Clinic’s Guide to Opioid Addiction and Safe Opioid Use. Holly is an addiction medicine specialist at the Mayo Clinic in Phoenix, Arizona, where she leads the Arizona Opioid Stewardship Program. She’s served on several Arizona department of health subcommittees, works with a number of organizations to raise opioid awareness, and lectures nationally on opioid addiction and safe opioid prescribing. In our interview, we’re explaining what opioids are and how they affect the human body. We also discuss how we can look for signs of opioid abuse in our kids, and what we can say to kids who might be at risk of an opioid addiction. What Parents Need to Know About Opioids As an opioid expert, Holly is often asked: what’s the difference between opioids and opiates? In the episode, she explains that opiates are derived from the poppy plant, while opioids are synthetically created to mimic the effects of opiates. To the average person, the terminologies are basically interchangeable, she explains. It is important to remember, however, that opioids are often created in illicit environments, meaning that they’re usually not regulated and could be a lot more dangerous than opiates, Holly says. These “painkillers” cause a sense of euphoria and often make us feel as though our troubles are slipping away–until they stop working and our body begins to crave more and more. As our usage grows, so does our tolerance, explains Holly. If taken exactly as prescribed, we might be relatively safe from the serious threat of addiction, but if we crush and snort it, inject it or take more than we’re supposed to, the results can be deadly. In fact, opioids are now the leading cause of death for people under 45. How can taking opiods be fatal? Overdose, explains Holly. Overdose occurs when an individual consumes so much of an opioid that they become overly sedated, to the point where they forget to breathe, she says. If you suspect someone is taking opiods and they seem sleepy, cold or unintelligible in their speech, they might be overdosing. In the episode, Holly and I lay out a number of actions we can take if we’re presented with an overdosing individual–including an immediate dial of 911 and a dose of naloxone. It’s pretty clear that opioid addiction is not something we’d want to encounter, especially in our own families. But how can we actively work towards preventing these tragic outcomes? Holly explains in the episode. How To Tell If Your Teen is At Risk Teen opioid addiction is no joke. Rates of teen opioid use are skyrocketing, Holly explains. If your teen starts using young, has a history of meddling with other substances, deals with mental health issues or experiences chronic pain, the risk is even higher. Even if you’ve never brought prescription opioids into the house, kids are often exposed when trying a different drug that happens to be laced. So how can we look out for signs that teens are using opioids before it’s too late? Holly explains that teens who are using opioids might typically start to become a bit more withdrawn. They may start to appear less engaged in school or other daily activities, and then they may start stealing or disappearing for long periods of time, says Holly. That’s when parents may find drug paraphernalia hidden in their sock drawer. Another indicator is the kind of company they keep; if they seem to be hanging around a sketchier crowd, she recommends watching their behavior even more closely. If you’ve got extra opioids lying around in your cabinet that you’re storing for safe-keeping, Holly explains that it’s time to get rid of them. Maybe they were prescribed for a surgery or an injury and there’s plenty left over that you're keeping for a rainy day–but they’ve got to go, she explains. Many times, teens start with these easily available pills and move on to harder or less regulated versions. In our interview, we talk about all the ways these pills can be safely destroyed or removed from your home. One of the main ways we can prevent opioid addiction in our kids is by communication and education. In the episode, Holly lays out how we can talk to teens before, during, or after discovering an opioid use. Preventing Opioid Addiction If we want our kids to steer clear of drug use, the first step is changing the overarching culture and attitude in our homes. If we’re practicing a “take pills to solve your problems” mentality around the house whenever something is in pain or not working quite right, we might be unintentionally inflicting an addictive mentality onto our kids. Instead, Holly encourages us to be more of an “approach things heads-on” kind of mentality, where we talk about our issues and find proactive ways to solve them. She and I discuss the significance of this approach further in the episode. Holly also emphasizes the value of reminding teens that no matter how free they might feel, we are always monitoring their behavior. She recommends that we not only keep an eye on our teens, but also they’re friends, their behaviors, and if necessary, their phones and physical space. She stresses that today’s world isn’t quite safe for experimentation the way our adolescence might have been, and how even alcohol or cannabis use could lead to opioid use. In our interview, Holly and I also talk a lot about what to do when we confirm that a teen is struggling with opioid addiction. Sometimes teens are willing to go into rehab and sometimes they aren’t, but it’s interesting to note that most of the time, the outcome is the same. While recovery is possible, relapse is almost always a part of the process, she says, which can sometimes make treatment options logistically and financially difficult. We talk in depth about treatment options as we dive further into opioid use and abuse education. In the Episode… There’s a lot of critical information about opioid use in this week’s episode. On top of the topics discussed above, we also talk about: Why opioids actually make chronic pain worse How parents suffer when teens face addiction Why we may be enabling drug use more than we think How opioid use became a crisis in the first place We hope this episode encourages you to learn more about opioid use and abuse. Please check out resources offered by the Center for Disease Control and National Institute of Health.
27 minutes | Mar 12, 2023
Ep 232: Solving Conflict and Building Connection
Rick Hanson, author of Making Great Relationships, shares how we can create more open, positive communication with teens. We discuss why teens are so moody, how parents can become better communicators, and the importance of emotional regulation when teens push our buttons. Tallo is a digital portfolio platform where your teen can apply for scholarships, internships, and opportunities. Check them out at https://bit.ly/tallotalkingtoteens Visit our website, https://bit.ly/talkingtoteenswebsite, to sign up for our newsletter so you'll never miss an episode! Full show notes It doesn’t take long for a disagreement with teens to turn into a full-fledged battlefield. One minute, you’re just trying to ask about their day, the next they’re saying they hate you and slamming the door in your face. And no matter how much we resolve to make our interactions calmer and more productive, we seem to get stuck repeating the same drama over and over again. If we want to break free from this cycle, we have to find new ways to communicate with our kids. This requires us to go past the surface level and dive into how kids are really feeling-and what they really mean when they say “I hate you.” To help us escape from the cycle of miscommunication, we’re talking to Rick Hanson, author of multiple bestselling books, including the most recent, Making Great Relationships: Simple Practices for Solving Conflicts, Building Connection, and Fostering Love. Rick is a psychologist, Senior Fellow at UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center, and the founder of the Global Compassion Coalition and the Wellspring Institute for Neuroscience and Contemplative Wisdom. In our interview, we’re talking about why teens are so harsh in their communication with parents–and what they're really trying to do when they're hurling insults at us. Plus, how parents can be less reactive when kids are pushing our buttons. The Truth About Teen Angst Teenagers in TV, movies, and popular culture are often depicted as rude and rebellious–could our media be normalizing teen angst? This cultural conditioning definitely contributes to teens’ attitudes, says Rick. Teens are also generally hardwired to be selfish, he explains, and since their biological development isn’t quite complete, and they’ve still got some empathy left to learn. If you feel like teens are behaving selfishly, it likely isn’t because they’re inherently self-absorbed, it’s teenagers as a whole. It can be helpful to remember that, and not take things too personally, says Rick. Behind our teen’s anger, they’re usually hurting, says Rick. Being a teen is no easy task, and our kids might be feeling lost or upset without any way to express their feelings. We expect teens to sit through school all day, ignore many of their most tempting pleasurable pastimes, and push them towards far-off careers that they may not even want. All of this combined with bullying, mental health issues, eating disorders, and the perils of social media can be pretty overwhelming, explains Rick. It might be wise to keep all this in mind the next time we think kids are being unreasonably moody, Rick says. In the episode, Rick explains how we can use empathy and imagination to reach kids instead. By attempting patience and open communication, we can create a more communicative environment where concerts and feelings are talked about in a real way, Rick explains. Intention is important, especially when it comes to interpreting teens behavior. If we assume they’re intending to offend us or bring us down, then we’ll retaliate, and the cycle of negativity continues. So how can we as parents react more patiently when kids are being difficult? Rick and I discuss how we can improve your communication in the episode. Creating Better Communication One way we can foster positive communication with our teens is by embracing vulnerability, says Rick. Sometimes it can be challenging to find the right level of honesty without oversharing or losing our parental authority, but if we want to have open communication, parental vulnerability is key, he explains. If we tell them how their behavior makes us feel, they might start to understand the consequences that their words can have, or become more aware of the fact that you’re not their enemy, says Rick. Sometimes, we’ve also just got to get to the bottom of what kids need, and find a way to create a compromise with them. When they’re begging us for permission to go to a party where underage drinking and other shenanigans are bound to take place, Rick encourages us to listen and understand what they really want: to fit in, feel popular, and have fun. He suggests that we maybe let them go, so long as they promise to come home at a certain hour, prove that there’s someone to drive them safely to and from, or whatever we feel comfortable with as a parent. No matter what, being criticized by teens is inevitable, and it's just something parents pretty much have to live with, Rick explains. We can’t control what teens say to us, but we can control how we react, he says. At the end of the day, we might actually feel grateful to teens for their criticism, as it’s a preferable alternative to being totally cut off. In the episode, Rick pulls from his experiences as a family therapist to share why teens end up cutting off parents as they move into adulthood and how we can prevent it from happening in our own families. When a teen starts to act up or things get heated between the two of you, it’s easy to let our emotions get the best of us and turn us into yelling, screaming authority seekers. If we can learn to redirect our emotions instead, we’ll be better off, says Rick. In the episode, he and I are discussing how we can stay cool, even when our emotions are running hot. The Value of Emotional Regulation Rick and I talk in our interview about love vs. aspiration vs. authority, and how much of a role each should play in parenting. Rick believes that love, of course, should be a big part of how we treat kids, while also aspiring for them to improve and become better versions of themselves. Authority, on the other hand, is typically pretty ineffective, he explains. Of course, there are rules and boundaries that need to be set, but when there’s a struggle between you and your teen, trying to squash it with your authority will never quite do the trick. Instead, you’ll just push you and your teen farther apart. This need for authority is often tied to anger, which is one of the worst ways we can react when teens are pressing us. Rick reminds us how important it is to be in tune with our own feelings and ensure our emotional stability before lashing out a teen. If we take a minute to slow things down and chill out, we might realize that there’s something below the surface of our anger–like concern for our teen’s wellbeing or frustration over lack of communication. If we can then explain our feelings to teens instead of just hurling angry words, there’s a much better chance that issues will be resolved, Rick says. Sometimes, this includes admitting our own faults, Rick says. If a kid tells us we never listen, what do they really mean? He encourages us to reflect and see where we might be struggling in the listening department, or what about a teen’s criticism might have an element of truth. Admitting fault or at least learning to explain our behavior can be an important way of letting teens know that we care about their feelings and that we want to preserve our relationship with them, Rick says. In the Episode… Rick and I cover a lot of ground in this week’s episode! On top of the topics discussed above, we also talk about: Why we can feel “stuck” in our relationships How we can put an end to moralistic shaming Why our brains are biased towards negativity How we can be less defensive If you enjoyed this week’s episode, you can find more from Rick on his website, rickhanson.net. Don’t forget to share and subscribe, and we’ll see you next week!
28 minutes | Mar 5, 2023
Ep 231: The Power of Strangers
Joe Keohane, author of The Power of Strangers, joins us to discuss the many benefits of starting a conversation with a stranger. We talk about why we’re often so afraid to talk to people on the bus or at a coffee shop, and what to say to spark a connection with someone we’ve never met. Tallo is a digital portfolio platform where your teen can apply for scholarships, internships, and opportunities. Check them out at https://bit.ly/tallotalkingtoteens Visit our website, https://bit.ly/talkingtoteenswebsite, to sign up for our newsletter so you'll never miss an episode! Full show notes How many strangers do you encounter on a daily basis? Riding public transport, ordering a coffee, hanging out at the bar–these simple tasks require us to chat with people we’ve never met. As naturally social creatures, humans have the potential to make friends with each and every stranger we meet, and would probably be happier if we did! But instead, we pull out our phones, put on our earbuds and try not to make eye contact. We’re afraid to talk to strangers, but why? And how much better might life be if we took the time to talk to strangers more often? To find out the answer, we’re talking to Joe Keohane, author of The Power of Strangers: The Benefits of Connecting in a Suspicious World. Joe is a journalist who’s worked at Medium, Esquire, Entrepreneur, and Hemisphere. His work has also been featured in New York Magazine, The Boston Globe, The New Yorker, Wired, and more! In our interview, we’re talking about why people are so hesitant to talk to strangers, and how we can foster positive conversations with people we’ve just met. Plus, what we can gain from starting up a chat with the guy next to us on the subway or the girl taking our order. The Truth About “Stranger Danger” Most of us (and our kids) were taught never to talk to strangers. Our parents and teachers warned us of the dangers of speaking with unknown adults or people we don’t trust. Joe calls this “stranger danger propaganda” and explains that this concept is statically baseless. In fact, 90% of the time, crimes like assault, murder or kidnapping happen at the hands of someone we already know. As long as we’re savvy about it, talking to strangers is typically a lot safer than we realize, Joe says. We also tend to assume that other people are busy, stressed, or simply don’t want to talk to us. This assumption is also typically wrong, says Joe. In our interview, we discussed several experiments in which researchers encouraged study participants to talk to strangers on the subway or other public places. Most of the time, these initiated interactions were overwhelmingly successful, to the surprise of the participants. And when researchers surveyed them afterwards, most participants said the interaction with a stranger brightened their day or made them actually enjoy a dreaded commute. In the episode, Joe explains how younger people are often the most afraid of talking to strangers. This is because they’re used to chatting online or through text, where they can control the terms of the conversation. They can choose not to respond, think about what to say, re-read and edit responses before sending. While those functions can be useful for digital communication, they make it a bit harder to communicate in real life. In fact, young people are statistically the loneliest and often feel much more isolated, explains Joe. Talking to strangers is not only a lot safer than we think, but also has a multitude of benefits. In our interview, Joe and I are discussing all the ways we can benefit from talking to strangers. The Benefits of Connecting Despite our typical routine of ignoring each other on the bus or in the grocery store, humans are actually incredibly social creatures, Joe says. We’re inherently much more capable of forming and keeping relationships than other animals, and are much happier when we have a sense of community and belonging with others. Speaking with those who are from different generations, racial groups or identities can be great for us as well, Joe says, as it allows us to broaden our perspectives and understand the complexities of others. Our evolutionary social mechanisms are shown through research, Joe explains. Many psychologists philosophize that talking with someone you’ve never met can spike oxytocin in the brain-the chemical associated with social bonding and connecting to others. In fact, many studies show that talking with strangers can help us resolve or avoid falling into mental illness, by helping us feel more optimistic and less isolated. Talking with strangers can have cognitive benefits as well. In the episode, Joe explains how discussing anything with an unknown person requires our brain to work hard, synthesize new information and reevaluate your perspective on certain subjects. This can be great for our executive function, and allows us to only get better at meeting new people in the future. Even when we’re aware of all the benefits, talking to a random person can still be pretty challenging. To help, Joe and I are sharing some strategies you can employ to make socializing with strangers a little easier. Starting the Conversation If you want to foster communication with a stranger, Joe suggests starting by offering up a piece of information about yourself. This signals to the other person that you’re open to sharing and discussing life, and that they’re safe to do the same. However, Joe advises not to “dump” too much on the other person and scare them away. Keeping it light and positive at first can be helpful, until the conversation develops further. To navigate this, Joe emphasizes the importance of listening and paying attention to the other person’s energy. Listening isn’t always as easy as we think, Joe explains. When we’re in a conversation with someone we’re just getting to know, we often wait for them to mention something we know about or can chime in on, and then jump in to give our two cents. Instead of waiting to talk about ourselves. Joe recommends we try to be curious and resist our urge to interject. It can feel awkward at first, but once we start listening more actively, it simply becomes second nature, Joe explains. In the episode, we talk about various ways we can use body language to signal that we’re actually listening. When we’re talking to someone we’ve never met, we typically fall into predictable scripts–asking how they are, what they do, or where they’re from. And while these can sometimes be good ways to get to know one another, they also tend to cut conversations short by being too easy to answer. Joe suggests that we break the script and ask something unpredictable instead! In the episode, he shares a method he often uses, where he responds to “how are you?” with a numerical digit and prompts the stranger to do the same. In The Episode… This week’s episode will convince you to start a conversation with the next stranger you meet! On top of the topics discussed above, we also talk about: Why we often expect strangers to be boring How traditional societies practiced greeting strangers Why those with higher socioeconomic status are lonelier How you can find small pockets of socialization in daily life If you enjoyed this week’s episode, check out Joe’s website, joekeohane.net. Don’t forget to share and subscribe! We’ll see you next week.
29 minutes | Feb 26, 2023
Ep 230: Breaking Down Systemic Racism
David Mura, author of The Stories Whiteness Tells Itself, illuminates the realities of modern-day racism. We talk about the danger of avoiding race discussion, changing school curriculums to accurately address racism, and talking to our teens about race. Tallo is a digital portfolio platform where your teen can apply for scholarships, internships, and opportunities. Check them out at https://bit.ly/tallotalkingtoteens Visit our website, https://bit.ly/talkingtoteenswebsite, to sign up for our newsletter so you'll never miss an episode! Full show notes Racism is one of the world’s oldest and most complicated topics. With centuries of genocides, segregation, and colonization leading up to the systemic inequalities of the modern day, there’s no easy way to sit kids down and teach them about it all. The intensity and intricacy of the topic means that parents just don’t talk about racism at all–which only leads to more injustice and ignorance in the next generation. Education is key, but where do we even start? What’s important to cover, and how can we explain the nuances of race relations with kids who are still shaping their ideas about the world? To help us educate kids, we’re sitting down with David Mura, author of The Stories Whiteness Tells Itself: Racial Myths and Our American Narratives. David is a memoirist, essayist, novelist, poet, critic, playwright and performance artist. As a third generation Japanese American, he’s often written about his own relationship with race, along with American society’s complicated relationship with systemic racial injustice. In our interview, Daivid is explaining how we can adjust our definition of racism to be more accurate, and why we shouldn’t avoid talking about race. We also discuss how schools can adopt better methods for teaching kids about race, and how we can have conversations about race at home. Why We Need to Talk About Race When we talk about racism, we often describe explicitly racist concepts or behavior–like actively segregating environments or using slurs. In reality, racism can be a lot more nuanced and implicit, especially in today’s world, says David. Someone who doesn’t identify as racist can still exhibit racial preferences–and in fact most of us do, he explains. If we want to teach kids about racism, we’ll have to adjust our definition to include a more complicated range of behaviors. Even worse than oversimplifying racism is not even talking about it at all, sayd David. Refusing to discuss race is pretty common in our society, especially among white people, he explains. In our interview, David and I talk about how we often don’t talk to kids about race because we’re scared it will overwhelm them or make them feel bad. This is typically true for white families, David says, who don’t want kids to feel shame about the historical actions of white people. But by not teaching kids about racism, we’re allowing them to live in ignorance–and denying them the truth. Plus, the shame or guilt white folks often feel about racism in the past or present isn’t productive, says David. Instead, he believes it should be replaced by knowledge and responsibility. By learning about what’s happened in the past and what’s still going on today, parents and kids can be better advocates for equality. Responsibility means choosing to actively work against racism in any way we can, he says. In the episode, David and I talk about all the psychological steps white individuals often go through as they learn to process the ways racism shapes modern-day society. Talking about race is important–and we should be doing it in schools, David says. In the episode, we’re also talking about the role school can play in helping kids understand racial discrepancies. Racial Education in Schools You may have heard the term “critical race theory” thrown around, but David explains that most schools aren’t really having kids contemplate race in a layered sense. Instead, many schools are simply teaching kids about the history of racism and breaking down the ways our society maintains racial biases in everyday life. This definitely seems like something kids should know, right? David says that it’s unfortunately not that simple. Many people still feel uncomfortable having white children learn about the nuances of racism in American society, and want this curriculum banned from schools. In the episode, David and I talk about how certain politicians have made a very concentrated effort to stop kids from learning about race in school, even when it provides necessary context for how the Civil War started or why kids have Martin Luther King Jr. Day off. In our interview, David and I talk about how we need to adjust the curriculum for students of color as well. Many times, these students take cues about their race from the world around them, and aren’t taught to think about how and why these stereotypes might be wrong. For example, David explains that many black students internalize ideas about black men being involved in crime or violent activity, and start to think they’re destined to fulfill the stereotype. If we want kids to grow up happy and healthy, we’ve got to set the record straight and remind them that stereotypes like these don’t define them. If we really want kids to learn about racism in a meaningful way, however, we’ve got to talk to them at home. David and I are diving deeper into how we can address racism with our kids. Discussing Race at Home Kids typically know about racism in the past tense–events like March on Washington or people like Rosa Parks–but unless they experience it firsthand, some kids might not understand the presence of systemic racism in the modern day. To help them understand, David recommends bridging the past and the present. In the episode, he talks about how people like Thomas Jefferson spread certain rhetoric about race which continues to make its way into modern day thinking, and how we can illuminate this for kids. To help kids see the truth about racism in society, it can also be useful to present them with the facts and statistics. David offers plenty in the episodes. For starters, black individuals are four times more likely to be arrested for marijuana-based offenses than white individuals–even though white and black folks have been shown to consume marijuana at the same rate. Black people are more likely to go to trial for these offenses, more likely to be convicted, and typically serve longer sentences. Black patients in hospitals are less likely to receive pain medication for the same conditions, and wait longer for medication when they do get it. The unemployment rate among black folks is twice that of white people, and so on and so forth. Helping kids see these discrepancies can be an important step towards helping them understand the ways racism continues to prosper in the United States. In the episode, David and I provide more examples and tips for talking to teens about race. In the Episode…. David and I examine the many dimensions of race relations in the U.S in our interview. On top of the topics discussed above, we’re also talking about: Why black folks are unfairly pinned as criminals How medical racism affects people of color Why authors make their characters white as a default How white America mimics the psychology of an abuser If you want to learn more from David, you can find him at his website, davidmura.com. Thanks for listening, and don’t forget to share and subscribe! We’ll see you next week.
29 minutes | Feb 19, 2023
Ep 229: The Blame Game
Denis Murphy, author of The Blame Game, joins us to discuss the ways we often blame ourselves or our kids for things we can’t control. We also discuss the importance of staying in touch with our emotions and practicing self-honesty. Tallo is a digital portfolio platform where your teen can apply for scholarships, internships, and opportunities. Check them out at https://bit.ly/tallotalkingtoteens Visit our website, https://bit.ly/talkingtoteenswebsite, to sign up for our newsletter so you'll never miss an episode! Full show notes Blame is one of humanity’s oldest coping mechanisms. When things go wrong, we’re quick to point a finger at someone and declare that it’s their fault–creating war, political division, and heartbreak as a result. Not to mention that half the time we’re pointing the finger at ourselves, which typically only leads to self-loathing and insecurity. The truth is, blaming someone or something for our issues isn’t going to make them go away. If we really want to confront our problems, heal our traumas and live better we’ve got to stop blaming and start accepting. This week, we’re talking to Denis Murphy, author of The Blame Game: How to Recover from the World's Oldest Addiction. Denis is a coach and healer who’s worked with companies, families and individuals all over the world. His practices focus on helping people stop blaming themselves or others for misfortune in their life, and instead learn to harness their mental and physical wellness to create the life they want. In our interview, we’re talking about why parental expectations can lead us to blame kids when things go wrong. We also discuss how suppressing our negative thoughts can cause mental and even physical pain, and break down the importance of self honesty. The Blame Game One overarching cause of blame is labels, explains Denis. When we attach labels to people like “boss,” “mom,” “best friend, or “boyfriend,” we’re also attaching expectations to go with them. These expectations rarely come from reality, but instead from TV, Hollywood, or other people’s families, says Denis. When people inevitably fail to live up to our unrealistic expectations, we get upset, and blame them for not behaving exactly as we hoped. This is often the cause of family disputes, Denis explains. We want kids to behave in a way that meets our expectations of who kids are supposed to be, and they want us to act like the perfect parents. Of course, this doesn’t happen, and both parents and kids feel mutual disappointment in the other. And although it might seem like we’re frustrated with our kids, what we’re actually upset about is the label, Denis says. In the episode, Denis and I also talk about physical and emotional stress, and how it plays a role in familial blame. When we’re coming home from a long day of work and we’ve spent the whole day keeping a lid on our emotions, we’re bound to boil over and start blaming kids for anything that goes wrong. It becomes a cycle Denis says, with our stress multiplying and our blaming habits growing as a result. Things don’t have to be this way, however. In the episode, Denis and I are talking about how we can start to work through and accept our negative feelings instead of playing the blame game. The Power of Acceptance One of the most common ways we deal with life’s disappointments is by blaming ourselves. Denis explains that this practice is often encouraged by those who preach self-discipline or self-improvement. We’re taught not to be a victim, not to let life walk all over us, and to power through every obstacle without flinching. But if we don’t face our feelings, we’ll end up exhausted and burnt out, Denis says. This is especially true for teens who might be overwhelmed with the stress of approaching adult life and managing the expectations of adolescence. Instead of burying our negative thoughts and emotions, Denis encourages us to be in touch with them. As he explains in the episode, our thoughts help us figure out where our physical body is holding anxiety, fear and stress. If we can observe the ways these thoughts manifest themselves in our physical being, we can take the first steps towards healing our mental and even physical ailments. In the episode, Denis explains how mental and emotional anguish can sometimes even cause us to injure ourselves! Accepting our thoughts instead of judging them is important if we want to reach inner peace. Denis explains. In our interview, we talk about how nature exists without blame, unapologetically changing with the seasons. If we want the same sense of peaceful acceptance for ourselves, we’ve got to start with being aware of our thoughts and emotions–and this goes for both parents and teens. To truly be in touch with our feelings, we’ve got to be honest with ourselves. In the episode, Denis and I are breaking down all the ways self-honesty can change your life. How to Practice Self-Honesty Being honest with ourselves about every thought and emotion is not easy, says Denis. It’s much easier to control or avoid what we feel! As we go through life, we’re constantly suppressing our emotions, so much so that many of us stay in bad marriages, become addicted to substances, or do other extreme things simply to cope. As we do this, we create a gap between the person we’re living as and the one we truly are. If we want to bridge that gap, Denis says, we have to start being honest with ourselves. Denis explains how this often manifests itself in our ability to cope with rejection. When we find ourselves turned down by a possible employer, for example, we tend to pivot to self-blame, telling ourselves we weren’t good enough, weren’t smart enough, or just didn’t try hard enough to get the job. But usually none of this is true, he says. The real truth? We didn’t actually want the job! Although we might object and say the job really was important to us, most of the time we actually just wanted the money, Denis says, and our hearts were never in it. Parents sometimes struggle with this self-honesty, and end up using blame to cope instead, Denis says. We want to be perfect parents and when something goes wrong, we don’t want to deal with emotions like shame or disappointment. Instead, we blame our kids or ourselves, which only leads to an emotional wedge between us and them. Denis talks more about how parents can harness self-honesty to heal their relationships with kids in our interview! In the Episode… Denis and I cover lots of fascinating information about healing, blame and self-honesty in this week’s interview. On top of the topics discussed above, we also talk about: Why we put blame on our spouse or partner How meditation can become a distraction from healing Why blame can become addictive How controlling kids too much can become disastrous If you enjoyed this week’s episode, you can find more from Denis at denisliammurphy.com or on Instagram @denisliammurphy. Thanks for listening, and don’t forget to share and subscribe. We’ll see you next week!
25 minutes | Feb 12, 2023
Ep 228: Repairing Relationships
Terry Real, author of Us, comes on the show to discuss the importance of healthy conflict in family relationships. We also talk about why parents should encourage boys to be in touch with their emotions and debate the dangers of protecting kids’ feelings. Tallo is a digital portfolio platform where your teen can apply for scholarships, internships, and opportunities. Check them out at https://bit.ly/tallotalkingtoteens Visit our website, https://bit.ly/talkingtoteenswebsite, to sign up for our newsletter so you'll never miss an episode! Full show notes For many of us, a perfectly harmonious home sounds like a dream. We’d love it if teens came home by curfew, our advice was always graciously accepted, and conflict was totally nonexistent. We’d never have to stress about what to make for dinner or worry about who our kids are hanging out with. Everything would be perfect and easy…right? As nice as harmony sounds, it’s simply unrealistic–and not necessarily beneficial either. In fact, psychologists (like the one we’re interviewing today) believe that conflict and disagreement are essential to building strong, nuanced, durable relationships with our kids. Without conflict, there’s no repair. Without repair, relationships never grow and evolve. To explain how parents can embrace disrepair and negative emotions in relationships, we’re sitting down with Terry Real, author of Us: Getting Past You and Me to Build a More Loving Relationship. Terry is a world-renowned family therapist, speaker, and author of multiple other bestselling books about relationships. He’s also the founder of the Relational Life Institute, where he offers workshops for parents, individuals and couples. He also holds professional training for clinicians to adopt his unique relational life therapy method. In this episode, we’re talking about how conflict is essential to building strong bonds with kids. Plus, we discuss a concerning parenting phenomenon called false empowerment, and explain why parents need to encourage sensitivity in boys. How Embracing Conflict Leads To Harmony Relationships are never perfect–and they shouldn’t be, according to Terry. Parents shouldn’t feel bad about having conflicts with kids, and should even encourage a little disagreement sometimes. We’re only human, says Terry, and we’re bound to bump heads. It’s the reconciliation after disagreement that really forms the backbone of a strong relationship, he explains. In fact, for teens to have healthy emotional processing in adulthood, they really only need to get along with parents about 30% of the time, Terry says. We don’t have to provide kids with a perfect upbringing–we just have to be human, he explains. If we can bounce back from the discord and survive all the complications of our natural human flaws, we can create strong bonds with our kids. But how do we find that resolution when conflict arises? Terry explains a few different methods in the episode. One includes providing kids with a path to redemption, no matter how much we want to ground them into eternity. If we discipline them without offering them a way to redeem themselves, we’re not giving them the chance to really learn and change their behavior. In the episode, Terry tells a story about how his own son found a path to reconciliation after refusing to do his chores. Another thing we shouldn't be afraid to do is criticize our kids, Terry says. In the episode, we talk about how we can help our kids develop healthy self esteem by allowing them to fail and struggle. Confidence vs. Self-Esteem We want kids to be confident; there’s no question about that. So we encourage them, giving them as much positive reinforcement as possible. But sometimes we go a little too far, explains Terry. In our quest to give kids high self-esteem, we might just leave them with the impression that they can do no wrong–grandiosity, as Terry calls it. This feeling of superiority acts as an opposite to shame, which is what happens when kids don’t get enough encouragement, Terry says. Disempowering kids and making them feel worthless leads to shame, while refusing to let kids fail, struggle or take criticism can lead to grandiosity. And while shame might seem like the worst of the two, a superiority complex can be very damaging to teens as they try to swim in the adult world, says Terry. If we strike the right balance with our encouragement, we can avoid cultivating both shame and grandiosity in our kids, he explains. In our interview, Terry shares a tale that helps us understand how parents can bring kids down a notch when needed. When his son had a playdate with a friend but spent the entire time ignoring the friend's wishes, Terry took his kid aside and told him the truth: that the friend seemed miserable through the whole interaction. Although this hurt his son’s feelings, Terry explained that when we invite someone into our lives, we have to make room for their needs and feelings too. These kinds of lessons are an essential part of making sure we raise kids with healthy self-esteem. Despite the tough love, Terry also believes we need to help kids–especially boys–embrace their sensitivity. In the episode, we’re talking about how we can raise boys who don’t suppress their feelings. Raising Sensitive Boys It’s not just parents who might teach boys to feel out of touch with their feelings, it’s society as a whole, Terry explains. The patriarchy starts pushing young men away from vulnerability from around age three to five, often before they can even read! Even if your home is somewhat liberal, kids are exposed to these gender dynamics at school, online, and even on TV, Terry says. Terry explains that girls go through a similar gender-related experience as they grow older, during the adolescent years. Around this time, girls are known to become less assertive, less bold, and generally less likely to speak their minds. This is also a result of societal conditioning, Terry says, and it’s something that often keeps young women from becoming their best selves. Parents need to be actively denying this gender conditioning, he says, if we want to raise emotionally healthy kids. He encourages parents to help sons stay connected to their feelings while they’re still young, so they don’t have to do the difficult work of reconnecting to their emotions as adults. The more we can allow them to be vulnerable with themselves and others the better. The same idea goes for girls–it’s important to help them speak their mind, Terry says. In our interview, he offers tips for helping teens embrace their emotions, especially when they’re pushing you away and don’t seem to want to talk about anything at all. Parents might have to dig sometimes to get teens to share their feelings, but when they do, the results are worth it, says Terry. In the Episode….. We cover a lot of fascinating material with Terry in this week’s episode! On top of the topics discussed above we also talk about: What the if/then method is and how you can apply it Why dominance is an ineffective parenting tactic How parents can take time-outs What we can do to be better listeners If you enjoyed this week's episode, check out Terry’s website, terryreal.com. Don’t forget to share and subscribe, and we’ll see you next week!
25 minutes | Feb 5, 2023
Ep 227: Are We Too Hard on Our Kids?
Ron Fournier, author of Love That Boy joins us to discuss the impact of parents' expectations. We also break down why parents can become concerned with kids' popularity, and discuss what Ron learned about fatherhood from American Presidents Clinton, Bush, and Obama. Tallo is a digital portfolio platform where your teen can apply for scholarships, internships, and opportunities. Check them out at https://bit.ly/tallotalkingtoteens Visit our website, https://bit.ly/talkingtoteenswebsite, to sign up for our newsletter so you'll never miss an episode! Full show notes We love our kids and want to see them grow into the best version of themselves–but this can sometimes lead us to put some heavy expectations on their shoulders. We hope so intensely that they’re academically brilliant, a star athlete, popular, or well-read that we don’t make space for them to just be who they are! This can feel especially hard when our kids start to venture outside the confines of a “perfect” child. Maybe their sexual or religious preferences aren’t what we hoped for. Maybe they’re diagnosed with mental illness or designated as being at-risk. Maybe they just don’t want to follow the plan we so carefully laid out for them from birth! Whatever it is, we as parents have got to learn to respect our kid’s identities and accept them for who they are-no matter how tough it can be sometimes. To share his own personal journey of acceptance and help us understand ours, we’re talking to Ron Fournier, dad and author of Love That Boy: What Two Presidents, Eight Road Trips, and My Son Taught Me About a Parent's Expectations. Ron is a political journalist who’s covered the campaigns and presidencies of Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama. His line of work led him towards a more personal journey with his son, Tyler–a journey he’s here to talk about today. In our interview, Ron and I are talking about why parents tend to pile so many expectations on kids, and how they can move towards acceptance instead. We also discuss the toxic practice of counting our kids' friends, and Ron describes what he learned about fatherhood from Presidents Clinton, Bush and Obama! How Expectations Can Be Harmful We only want this best for kids…but sometimes we take our expectations a little too far, says Ron. As an avid sports lover, Ron always hoped his son would be interested in athletics too, so much so that he filled his son's nursery with sports memorabilia! This desire to connect to his son through sports continued as his son grew into a teenager, until Ron finally accepted that would never be an athletic kid. Ron didn’t come to this conclusion easily, however, and many parents have the same problem with acceptance. Ron explains that this need to control kids’ lives often comes from our own anxieties about life and death. We so desperately hope that teens carry on our legacy or fulfill our unresolved dreams that we start planning their lives before they even exit the womb! But we need to step away from this practice, Ron explains, and let kids carve their own path. In the episode, Ron explains how his son’s autism diagnosis helped him find a new perspective and stop enforcing his own expectations on his son. Neurodivergence isn’t the only unexpected thing our kids might present us with. Sometimes kids reject the religion we raised them in, or want to pursue a career path we don't approve of. Maybe we don’t like their romantic partner or simply feel that they aren’t reaching our standards in school, athletics or music. While we’re wasting time stressing over this, Ron explains, we’re missing out on getting to know our kids for who they truly are. Instead of trying to teach them how to be, Ron believes we should learn from our kids about how to live our own lives. One way parents try to measure their kids against a quota is by monitoring their popularity. Ron and I discuss how this problematic behavior is unfortunately common and why we should avoid it. The Pressure to Be Popular It can be scary when we feel like kids don’t fit in. Life will always be easier for those who swim easily in social settings, and who find acceptance within their pack. As loving parents, we hope that our kids will be able to make connections and friendships to survive in both the working world and their personal lives. But sometimes this desire for kids to fit in can become toxic, says Ron, and cause us to do things like count how many friends our teen has. This urge to reduce friendships to quantity doesn’t necessarily come from a bad place, but can be harmful, Ron explains. Friendships should instead be measured by quality, he says. This is especially true in today’s day and age, where teens are often so wrapped up in how many likes and followers they have that they forget to honor the real benchmarks of friendship, like connection, kindness and mutual respect. Teens should strive for the kind of friends who stick with them through thick and thin and encourage them to be their best selves, says Ron–and the quantity isn’t important! Needing kids to be popular and well-liked is just another way we often pressure kids to be high achievers…but it’s all sort of contradictory! In the episode, Ron and I discuss how our desire for kids to be popular can often be at odds with our hopes that kids will be academically brilliant or athletic superstars. How are kids going to get great grades or excellent race times if they’re hanging out with their friends all day? These contradictions are simply an indication of just how unrealistic our expectations for teens are. Ron often inflicted these kinds of expectations on his own son–but when his son was diagnosed with autism, Ron’s perspective started to change. In his journey towards understanding his son, the two of them went on a series of trips together, and even met three US. presidents! In our interview, Ron is describing how each of these presidential meetings helped him understand his son. Presidential Perspectives In the episode, Ron describes the interaction his son Tyler had with both George W. Bush and Bill Clinton, and how each conversation taught him about fatherhood. Tyler’s talk with Bill Clinton was largely one-sided, he said, with Bill delivering an invigorating and inspiring speech about the state of the nation. George Bush, on the other hand, simply asked question after question, getting Tyler to open up and even discuss his interests–something that Tyler often struggles with. For Ron, both of these instances were educational. Although Clinton’s monologue was fascinating, Ron noticed that he neglected to ask Tyler any real questions. Tyler, an autistic teen who often struggles with social situations, sometimes makes the same mistake–talking without understanding his audience! Ron realized that if one of the most famous politicians in America talks too much, it’s ok for his son to do it too. Meanwhile, Bush’s inquisitive nature and listening skills made Ron realize that Bush was able to extract information in 45 minutes that Ron never knew about his own son. In our interview, he talks about how this meeting with Bush renewed his patience as a father. As the episode draws to a close, Ron also tells the tale of his son meeting the Obamas, a story which often causes him to get emotional. Before introducing himself to Barrack and Michelle, Tyler turned to him to say “I hope I don’t embarrass you.” For Ron, this moment caused a total change in perspective, and a realization that maybe he’s been too hard on his son. Ron and I talk more about all three presidential meetings in the episode, along with more discussion about how we can stop forcing too many expectations onto our kids. In the Episode…. Ron and I cover a lot of ground in this episode! On top of the topics discussed above, we also talk about: How Ron’s focus on his son hurt his daughter Why we need to be more present with teens How Thomas Jefferson’s home is a metaphor for parenthood Why married parents should put their spouses first Thanks for listening! If you want to find more from Ron, you can find him on Twitter @ron_fournier. Don’t forget to share and subscribe, and we’ll see you next week!
27 minutes | Jan 29, 2023
Ep 226: Making Better Decisions
Decision-making expert Eric J Johnson, author of The Elements of Choice, joins us to discuss how our choices are often influenced by external forces without our knowledge. He also describes different kinds of decision-making and explains how memory affects our choices. Tallo is a digital portfolio platform where your teen can apply for scholarships, internships, and opportunities. Check them out at https://bit.ly/tallotalkingtoteens Visit our website, https://bit.ly/talkingtoteenswebsite, to sign up for our newsletter so you'll never miss an episode! Full show notes We make thousands of choices every day–what to eat, what to wear, which email to send first, even how much creamer to put in our coffee. It might seem like we’re making these choices of our own accord, but we often don't realize how many forces are influencing each and every choice we make. Everything from corporate marketing to peer influence can shape our decisions in profound and surprising ways! This is especially true for teenagers, who are making some early and important decisions like where to go to college or what career to commit to. If we want teens to make smart choices, we’ll have to teach them to spot all the ways their decisions are being influenced by those around them. To help us understand how external forces affect our decision-making process, we’re talking to Eric J. Johnson, author of The Elements of Choice: Why the Way We Decide Matters. Eric is a Professor of Business and Director of the Center of Decision Studies at Columbia Business School. He’s also the President of the Society for Judgment and Decision Making and The Society for Neuroeconomics at Columbia! An expert on the science of decision-making, Eric is here to help us understand the nuanced influences that affect every choice we make. In our interview, we’re discussing the different kinds of decision-making and their advantages. We also break down the way external factors influence our choices, and the significance of memory in our decision-making. Why do we each make unique choices, and what are the consequences? These are just a few of the questions Eric asks in his research as he attempts to learn more about the decision-making process. In our interview, he lays out two common types of analysis: integrative and comparative. Integrative decision-makers take in the whole picture, ingesting and evaluating all the details and analyzing every bit of information. In contrast, comparative thinkers tend to look at the most essential component of each choice, and make a decision based on that comparison. To help us understand, Eric describes an experiment in which participants were offered forty dollars immediately or fifty dollars if they could wait a while. Integrative thinkers might measure the availability of the forty dollars over the time spent waiting for the extra ten, and choose to walk away with forty. Comparative thinkers may simply see the dollar amounts and pick the higher one, he says, waiting for the fifty. How does this play out for teenagers? Eric explains that these are common methods of decision-making when it comes to choosing a college. Some teens might use integrative reasoning to evaluate the whole experience–student body size, campus environment, quality of facilities–while comparative thinkers might just compare the stats of the school’s post-grad employment rates or cost of attendance. If you want your teen to think one way or the other, it might be best to push them in the direction of integrative or comparative thinking. These choices aren't made in a vacuum, however, and there are plenty of influences on our decisions. Eric and I are breaking down the many ways our choices are manipulated, often without our own knowledge. Who Controls Our Choices? Although we might not realize it, we’re often swayed in our decision-making by those who are presenting us with choices. Oftentimes, they make certain choices easier or more straightforward than others, leading us to choose that option to save time and energy. Eric uses the example of an autofilled box on an online form. If the box is already checked, we often don’t even bother to read what we’re agreeing to. The same goes for things like medical forms or advertisements. For teens looking to choose a college, there are quite a few forces influencing their decision. Eric and I talk at length about how parents, peers, pop culture and colleges themselves all exert influence over how kids pick which school to attend. If kids simply hear about certain colleges more often, they’re likely to apply to those schools…even if they aren’t really the best option for your teens' particular life plans. This is especially true for students who come from lower income backgrounds, and simply aren’t encouraged to explore pricier or high-ranking schools quite so often. Additionally, about 50% of U.S. students also have to pick a high school, especially in New York City, Eric explains. In NYC, students are forced to pick from thousands of schools within the city to find the right fit. Eric explains how this demonstrates a common conundrum in decision-making. To make the right choice, the chooser can’t be overwhelmed with too many options, but they need enough options to make sure they pick something that’s the right fit. This means the pool of choices needs to be manageably small–but not too small! In the episode, Eric explains how this issue is solved for New York City High Scholers and beyond in the episode. There are a few other things that affect our decisions–including memory. Eric explains all the ways memory changes the way we make choices. Why Memory Matters Eric illustrates the significance of memory in our decision-making by telling a story about Ben Franklin. When Ben was approached by a friend and asked how to make a decision, Ben advised his friend to weigh the pros and the cons of each choice–but to do so over a day or two instead of in a single moment. If we write a list in ten minutes, our brains are likely suppressing one choice in favor of the other. If we give our brain time to remember all the details, we can make a better choice…instead of one based on what we remember at the current moment. In the episode, Eric and I talk about how teens can practice this method in their daily lives. You might notice the phenomenon of memory play out when you’re reading a list of options on a menu or guide. Whichever option is first typically takes root in your memory, with the others fading into obscurity in your mind as they go on. This is commonly seen in elections, Eric explains, where whomenever is first on the ballot typically wins. The order of options affects our choices in other ways as well. If a menu is listed by price, we take notice of the prices and make our decision that way. If something like wine is instead listed by quality, we might choose quality over costliness. In the end, our choices are manipulated by plenty of different forces. But by educating ourselves and our families on the science of decision-making, we can learn to gain control over our decisions and make the choices that are truly best for us. In the Episode… Chatting with Eric was both fun and enlightening! On top of the topics discussed above, we also talk about: How we can encourage teens to invest Why informing kids about scholarships is essential How we can help teens spend their money wisely Why parents should change the way they present choices to kids Thanks for listening! If you want to find more from Eric, head over to theelementsofchoice.com. Don’t forget to share and subscribe, and we’ll see you next week!
27 minutes | Jan 22, 2023
Ep 225: The Hidden Benefits of Joy and Fun
We’re sitting down with Catherine Price, author of The Power of Fun, to talk about the overlooked benefits of having fun! Catherine defines the true meaning of fun, explains why we tend to undervalue it, and gives practical tips for how to bring more fun to ourselves and our families. Tallo is a digital portfolio platform where your teen can apply for scholarships, internships, and opportunities. Check them out at https://bit.ly/tallotalkingtoteens Visit our website, https://bit.ly/talkingtoteenswebsite, to sign up for our newsletter so you'll never miss an episode! Full show notes Do you remember the last time you had fun? Maybe you were exploring a new place, playing a video game or even just laughing with your friends. What did it feel like? Did it help you relieve stress and add joy to your day? We often consider fun irrelevant, or view it as a waste of time, but it can be an essential part of survival. Having fun is not only good for our mood, but actually improves our physical health, lowering our cortisol and helping us balance our hormones. Teaching kids the importance of fun can help them live happier, healthier lives as they head into adulthood. To understand how we can pass the value of fun onto our kids, we’re talking to Catherine Price, author of The Power of Fun. Catherine is an award-winning science journalist and speaker whose work has been featured in Time Magazine, O Magazine, the Los Angeles Times, and more. The New York Times even dubbed her the Marie Kondo of minds! In our interview, we’re talking about the definition of true fun, why we often undervalue fun in our society, and what practical steps we can take to bring more fun to ourselves and our families. How Fun Keeps Us Happy And Healthy Fun is often misunderstood, explains Catherine. We tend to think of any relaxing or non-work activity as “fun” when in reality these activities don’t always meet the requirements. Catherine explains that fun consists of three core elements: Playfulness, connectivity and flow. Playfulness doesn't necessarily refer to childlike behavior, but simply requires us to do something for the sake of doing it without putting too much emphasis on the outcome. Connectivity refers to sharing an experience with another person, and flow means being so invested in whatever we’re doing that we lose track of time. When we experience playfulness, connectivity and flow all at once, that means we’re experiencing true fun, says Catherine. This is different from what Catherine describes as “fake fun”, which often includes binge-watching TV shows or scrolling through social media apps. These activities are designed to keep us hooked by hijacking our dopamine reward systems, but don’t actually equate to true fun. Catherine dives deeper into the phenomenon of fake fun in the episode. There is also some middle ground between fun and non-fun, she explains. Relaxing, solitary activities like going on a long walk, taking a bath or doing a puzzle are still essential to our wellbeing and should be prioritized, but they don’t meet the requirements for being true fun. Some activities include connectivity without flow, or playfulness without connectivity. Although these kinds of experiences aren’t true fun, they’re still beneficial and add value to our lives, Catherine explains. In order to fit more true fun into our lives, however, we have to start realizing its value. Catherine and I discuss how fun is often considered a waste of time and how we can start prioritizing fun again. Why Fun Is Undervalued As teens get older, we typically start telling them it’s time to get more serious. We pressure them to look towards results–better SAT scores, college acceptances, athletic achievements–and stop encouraging them to simply have fun and explore. While teens need to work towards becoming independent, they’ve also got to remember to keep fun as a part of their lives, Catherine says. Catherine explains that we often forget to value fun because it doesn’t necessarily equate to making money. She breaks down a timeline for when fun stopped being valued in society, around the time of the industrial revolution. Before this period, professions were valued for their ability to reach an outcome–a cobbler made shoes, a butcher prepared meat, and a blacksmith forged metal. But when our modern industrial systems were established, people stopped creating an outcome on their own, and became cogs in a machine to contribute to an outcome along a line of production. Today, this same pattern emerges, and it means that we don’t have a clear endpoint to stop working and start having fun. There’s endless work to do, and if we’re having fun instead of doing it, society tells us to feel guilty, says Catherine. To combat this, Catherine prompts us to start adding fun to our lives and encouraging our family to do the same. In the episode, we're discussing practical ways to bring more fun to your home. Bringing Fun Back To Your Family We all have natural inclinations about how to have fun, but it can also help to take a practical approach, Catherine says. She suggests that we have our teens complete a “fun audit” in which they evaluate and make note of the things in their life that bring the most fun. Catherine calls these forces “fun-magnets”, and they could be a person, place, or thing. Maybe your teen’s most powerful fun-magnet is the basketball court, or perhaps it’s their lifelong best friend. Many people think these fun-magnets need to be expensive or outside of daily life. In reality, they can be a part of our day-to-day routine, and can even be incorporated into traditionally “un-fun” environments like work, Catheirne explains. Sometimes, your fun magnets might not align with those of your partner or kids, and that can be challenging, Catherine says. In our interview, she explains how she and her husband enjoy very different things, and can’t always compromise when it comes to having fun! This doesn't mean you have to give up your fun-magnets, however, and Catherine and I discuss how to preserve your own version of fun even when someone disagrees or can’t relate. Although family might not agree on every activity, there’s likely some common ground between everyone. Finding experiences that are fun for everyone and doing them together can be a great way to add joy to our lives, as well as create connections with our kids. In the Episode… There’s plenty of great insights in today’s talk with Catherine! On top of the topics discussed above, we also talk about: Why parents should be cautious about video games How we can grow our appreciation for everyday things Why introverts can be just as fun as extroverts How we can put down our phones and be more present Thanks for listening! If you want to find more from Catherine, you can find more from her on her website, Catherineprice.com. Don’t forget to share and subscribe, and we’ll see you next week!
26 minutes | Jan 15, 2023
Ep 224: The Power of Peer Influence
Justin Blaney, author of Relationshift, joins us to discuss the power that peer influence has over teens. Plus, how teens can find great mentors and how the right friends always encourage teens to expand their worldview. Tallo is a digital portfolio platform where your teen can apply for scholarships, internships, and opportunities. Check them out at https://bit.ly/tallotalkingtoteens Visit our website, https://bit.ly/talkingtoteenswebsite, to sign up for our newsletter so you'll never miss an episode! Full show notes Teens are undeniably influenced by their peers. They adopt their friends’ fashion, hobbies, attitudes and even opinions….for better or for worse! Whomever your teen decides to spend time with, those people are critical to your teens wellbeing. These individuals might encourage your kids to follow their dreams and become their best selves, or involve them in risky and regrettable behavior. That’s why it's essential to understand the power of peer pressure–and guide teens to make the right kind of friends. To help us ensure that teens are hanging with the right crowd, we’re talking to Justin Blaney, author of Relationshift. Justin is a successful entrepreneur, professor of business at the University of Washington, and the author of 12 books! He’s here to share advice about forging healthy and helpful relationships, gathered from both his professional life as a businessman and personal life as a father of three! In the episode, we discuss why it’s so essential that teens spend time around peers who lift them up rather than those who drag them down. Plus, how kids can find the right mentors, and how good companions can help teens expand their worldview. The Power of Peer Influence In the episode, Justin talks a lot about how teens can get in with the “right” crowd–but not in a moral sense. Instead, these friends should be the kind of people who encourage teens to follow their dreams, find happiness and live their best lives. Of course, no friend is going to be perfect, but a good companion should motivate teens to feel confident and strive for self improvement, Justin explains. Justin and I talk about how teens can evaluate their friendships to see if they’re bringing happiness or hindrance. He explains a method that he refers to as the plus/minus statistic–a metric borrowed from sports! Justin says that teens can weigh the good and the bad to discover if teens’ friends are making their lives better or holding them back. We talk further about the plus/minus statistic in the episode, and how it can help teens surround themselves with the right people. Guiding teens to pick the right companions starts with encouraging them to be self aware, Justin says. Sometimes teens can be a bit oblivious to the negative parts of their friendships, and refuse to think of their friends as bad influences. Justin recommends sitting kids down and asking them to recount their dreams, goals and vision for their life and then reflecting on whether or not their friends are conducive to this dream–or are actively keeping them from achieving it. Beyond just peers, teens need mentors to push them in the right direction. Justin and I are talking about how teenagers can find the right mentor to guide them through their own personal struggles and goals. Finding Meaningful Mentors Finding a great mentor requires teens to choose someone who’s been through the same things they have, says Justin. Sometimes teens tend to gravitate towards those who have found immense success in the field they aspire to…but oftentimes these successful people were just lucky, says Justin. It’s even more likely that these people had a leg-up in life, whether it's inherited wealth, nepotism or simply an especially encouraging family. Justin encourages parents to reiterate this disparity to teens who might find themselves frustrated by the success of others. Other people might have simply been born with more athletic ability or academic intelligence, or maybe their financially comfortable background allowed them to study instead of spending time working. Whatever the case may be, teens shouldn’t compare themselves to peers or even adults who seem to excel effortlessly. In the end, these lucky people often make poor mentors, because they haven’t gone through as much struggle as most other successful people, said Justin. Finding mentors from a similar background who are familiar with the same difficulties teens are facing will create a much more successful mentor/mentee experience at the end of the day, he says. In the episode, Justin and I talk about all the different kinds of mentorship that teens can take advantage of. One of a mentor’s many roles is to help teens expand their worldview. Justin and I are discussing how important it is for teens to broaden their perspective and how strong relationships with peers and mentors can help them do so. Embracing New Perspectives As teens grow up, they start to learn more about the world…and sometimes think they know everything! That’s why it’s so important for teens to be surrounded by people who put their worldview to the test. Half the time, kids don’t even realize just how oblivious they are to certain realities, and they need someone to broaden their perspective. Justin uses the example of kids who grow up in poverty and don’t even realize options like college could ever be a reality for them–until they meet a role model who changes their mind. Parents, mentors and peers alike can help teens break out of their comfort zone and rethink their lives by simply encouraging them to take risks. In the episode, Justin and I talk about a sort of mental immune system that we develop as we grow up and start to filter “bad” things out and welcome “good'' things in. Over time, we start to do it habitually, without even thinking, leading us to reject things that seem unfamiliar or vaguely threatening in any way. In our interview, Justin and I are talking about how we can push teens to tweak this system and invite new experiences into their lives. As much as we try, parents can’t teach kids everything, and we’ll always have certain blinds pots. To remedy this, Justin suggests that parents find someone who can help kids in the areas where we struggle to give guidance–like a younger relative or a career professional. Arranging meetings or phone calls with someone who can give teens valuable advice is a gentle and kind way to help kids learn about the world and challenge their own opinions. With a greater worldview, they’ll be able to envision possibilities for themselves that they never imagined, growing one step closer to living their best life. In The Episode…. I had a wonderful time talking with Justin this week! On top of the topics discussed above, we also talk about: Why teens shouldn’t treat people as transactional How to stop overthinking What we can learn from Justin’s own parenting journey How peer pressure can sometimes be positive If you enjoyed this episode and want more from Justin, you can find him at Blaney.app. Thanks for listening and don’t forget to share and subscribe. See you next week!