Helpful Info for Parents of Tweens and Teens

The World Has Changed

In some ways, the adolescence of today bears little resemblance to the adolescence we parents experienced. Sure, we had standardized testing, but it wasn’t such a big deal. Social media was either non existent or just emerging. When we went home after school, we could escape the kids that gave us grief on campus. Today, with social media, getting that much needed reprieve is harder to do. Parents and guardians can help, and we’ve created this page to provide some support. The page itself is a perpetual work in progress, especially with the technology information, which is constantly changing. (We’ll do our best to stay current.) We’ll provide some information about emotional health along with tips from parents and experts in our community. If you have information you’ve found useful, share that in the comments section at the bottom of the page! (If you’re seeking services, however, please call or email a staff member directly.)

Technology

Technology changes so rapidly, it’s hard to keep up. One thing we recommend is having a Technology Contract. This allows the parent to set limits and avoid the drama when a parent sees the need to confiscate an electronic device. A contract provides clear expectations to the teen. We’ve provided a contract you can implement or use as a guide for your own: Technology Contract. Some parents might see this as appropriate for older teens, not younger ones.

Some parents prefer a Strict Technology Contract, especially with younger kids who may have a phone simply to check in with parents/guardians and keep them informed of their whereabouts. Click on that link for a Word document you can modify.

Take Possession

We highly recommend collecting electronic devices at night or during family time. This gives the kids some hours reserved solely for sleep, which is something they need! Taking possession of the devices eliminates the temptation to check for status updates or whatever else might be on the kids’ minds.

Taking possession of electronics during family times is essential. Kids who experience “connectedness,” such as sharing meals with the family, seem to have a lower likelihood of engaging in delinquent behavior or other destructive behaviors, including suicide.

Additional Tools

Some parents use apps or services, such as Net Nanny or My Mobile Watch Dog. The Counseling Place cannot endorse any of these services, but some parents have reported success with these products. They’re another tool to keep watch for potentially harmful communications. Most wireless/cell phone carriers now offer parental controls and reports for no charge or reasonable fees.

Some Links to Help Navigate these Ever Changing Waters:

Click Here for information about media and technology by Common Sense Media
Click Here for Internet Safety Info from the FBI
Click here for Internet Safety Tips from the National Crime Prevention Council.

We recently found this information about a few social apps that seem harmless enough….until you learn a little more about their purpose and potential: http://www.foreverymom.com/parents-kids-10-dangerous-apps-time-hit-delete/

Emotional Health

Our Executive Director, who is the mother of a Pre Tween, says, “As crass as this sounds, I feel like my daughter is about to go onto a battlefield, and I want her well armed.” Usually, Teens and Tweens enter these stages of life with few tools to manage. They are bombarded with multiple, never ending streams of information and placed in situations requiring skilled decision making. However, the part of a teen’s brain that’s the key player in making good decisions and exercising good judgement isn’t even fully developed. They need help, and the earlier they acquire skills, the better. The Counseling Place’s youth program services are here for that reason. We encourage people to seek a little help before their kids are in trouble.

Links to help build healthy habits and strengthen emotional health:

Our Executive Director is a huge fan of Christine Carter’s work. She discovered one of Carter’s books, Raising Happiness, when her daughter was in kindergarten. Carter writes in a down-to-earth (and often humorous) style, shares personal struggles and successes as a mother, and offers simple strategies for boosting the emotional health of our kids.

The Greater Good: The Science of a Meaningful Life

See more general articles and links on our Reads and Resources page.