Parenting Is Not About Controlling Your Child

It’s not about the power struggle.I hear this often from parents who are frustrated with their child’s behaviors and the difficulty of making their child accede to their demands. But is parenting really a phase in your and your child’s life that’s about control—a power struggle?

From birth to age 18 is a time during which you are supporting and growing your child; it’s not a tug of war of wills. When it becomes one, I ask parents to think about whose needs are being frustrated—are they yours or your child’s?

Any relationship that becomes a constant struggle is no longer enjoyable, but when it’s with your child, you don’t have the option of ending the relationship. Your relationship with your child shouldn’t be so difficult all the time. If it is, it’s time to take a look at what your relationship with your child is and is not.

Image by: Pexels

by Dr. Liz Matheis

The Struggle is Real: Introverted Mama Raising an Extrovert

Earlier this week, I admitted to a friend how utterly exhausted I was, not physically, but mentally. I felt overextended, at the end of my rope. I confessed that some days I fantasized about sitting alone in pure silence. I needed some space. I’m an introvert; I desperately need time alone to recharge my batteries. When I don’t get it, I feel drained.  Lately, at the end of the day, I couldn’t summon the energy to listen and engage with my son as much as I knew I should… Instead, I’d tune out the noise and imagine myself in a quiet room, no one asking me questions or needing my help, until another “Mom!” would abruptly break me out of my spell.

Sound awful? It did to me, and mom-guilt was ever present, weighing heavily on my heart. I felt contrary to everything I believed I, as a mother, was supposed to be. I should want to listen attentively to every sweet word that came from my child’s mouth, yet instead, I was selfishly letting him down.

Graciously, rather than responding from a place of judgement, my friend kindly smiled and nodded, gently observing that my son was a LOT of work; more work, in fact, than her two children combined- how did I do it? Surprised by my friend’s reaction, I relaxed, fully appreciative of her understanding and support.  With a few kind words, she had reassured me, validated me, and my self-doubt melted away.

It is true, my son is a lot; non-stop activity is all I have ever known (trust me, I’m beyond grateful he’s healthy and active)., and most days, I can keep up. But when I don’t have even a minute to decompress, especially over the course of several days, the weariness catches up with me.

You see, unlike me, my son is an extrovert; he feeds off of human interaction as much as I need a break from it. He needs to talk and engage as much as I need silence & “me” time. We do our best to meet in the middle, but it’s a delicate dance, a balancing act on a tightrope. But when I became a mother, isn’t this is what I promised to do, even welcomed with open arms? To be there for my child, to support and nurture him, and to do everything possible to keep him healthy, safe, unjudged, and loved.

Like most mamas, I try my hardest to put my own needs in the background until they simmer up to the surface, demanding my attention. Every day, I try to focus instead on the amazing human my son is becoming. His sweet smile can turn the worst day around; his profound wisdom can catch me off-guard (how is it possible for a 6-year old to know SO much?). His enormous heart is pure gold. The world needs more people like him, and I’m privileged to witness his growth.

And yet. Some days I am humbled by the demands on my time and attention. Those days, I’m on autopilot.  I feel like I’m failing, letting myself and my child down. But I just keep going, because what other choice is there? I signed up for this! And somehow, every single time, some saving grace comes along to float me toward shore, getting me through.

Every day, I try to remember to reflect with appreciation and gratitude on what a blessing it is to be his mommy. Despite the challenges and the endless tests to my patience (not a virtue of mine), I would not change one single thing. I’ve been granted the responsibility, no, the privilege, of helping guide this beautiful person through life. He is a gift, a bright star, a caring, thoughtful, sensitive soul. I GET to be his safe place in this crazy world, a soft cushion for him to land on. That’s my job. Image by Heidi Borst
by Heidi Borst

Parenting Is Not Just About Your Child

It’s not. It’s about you, the parent, and the ‘stuff’ that you carried into this gig. You and I both know that parenting did not come with a manual with a colorful cover, an appendix with chapters that range from infancy to adulthood, and we certainly didn’t have to take an exam or gain a license to become a parent.  If you ask me, before we decide to start a family, we should be required to take a course and gain a certificate that says, “You’ve Been Warned. You’re about to get on the bumpiest roller coaster ride of your life. You will learn and teach, you will watch and be watched, you will guide and be guided.”

When I became a parent, I had a vision of who my child was going to be. I often was lost in my daydreams of a blue-eyed little boy who would eat, sleep and follow my every instruction, who was athletic, confident and social. Well, I did have a beautiful blue-eyed boy but the rest didn’t work out like just like that.

Part of becoming a parent means that we need to understand and recover from the parenthood that we received. It means that we need to understand and become aware of the messages that were given to us, the wounds we continue to carry, the messages we continue to give ourselves that started off as our parent’s judgments, criticisms, and conditions and then became our own words that we speak to ourselves, with or without awareness.

Our Children are Not Here to Satisfy our Needs
Our children are not our narcissistic extensions. They are not here to fit into our visions and expectations of who they will and should become. Our children are born with clean slates and they have the potential to do everything, anything. But it is through our criticisms, expectations and our conditional love that creates judgments and deflates motivation and potential. We have been given by our parents, and their parents and their parents, a checklist of who we “should” become as parents and who our children “should” become. But that checklist may not be in sync with who your child is, who they want to be, and therein lies the problem. Instead, we live a life where we are “should-ing” all over ourselves.

Do the Dance
When two people dance, one person moves forward and the other responds by stepping back; one moves to the side, and the other follows. The dancers listen to the body language, feel the direction in which the pair is being pulled. Dancing is an art because there are no clear-cut rules about the exact steps. Yes, we can take dance lessons and have an idea of the type of movement, the beat, the general idea.
Parenting is a dance. A dance with no instruction on how your child will respond, what to say, how often to say it. It requires timing and awareness of what is needed, how much and when to stop. When to say something and when not to; when to guide and when to step away; when to intervene and when to let your child work it out, or not.

I know, it’s exhausting, but being in tune with your child will make your parenting more productive in that you are moving in the same direction. When you move out of sync, you, the parent, and your child become frustrated and the interaction is no longer enjoyable.

Image by: Thrive Global

by Dr. Liz Matheis

Parenting From Our Childhood Wounds: How to avoid parenting from a triggered place.

Parenting is a dance. Each party involved brings their own energy—and between our energy and our child’s energy, there will be times when the energies will undoubtedly collide.

When you think about it, our children only live in our homes for a short period of time. Granted, the individual days may feel long, but the years are flying by. In most cases, we have our children for 18 short years; this is the most powerful time in their emotional development, and one that will shape the rest of their adult life.

When I first made that realization (while listening to one of Dr. Shefali Tsabary’s presentations), I panicked. In fact, I cried. This is the time when our children build their internal messages—when they build their sense of self as separate from us, as well as when they build their emotional and relationship foundations. This is when they develop their friendships and their sense of self-love. Our parental voice becomes internalized as their own. This voice will guide their decisions, relationships, friendships, and work habits for years to come. No pressure, right?

For me, the hardest part of parenting has been re-living and re-visiting my childhood “issues,” the ones I thought were behind me. I didn’t think “those” experiences had an effect on me any longer because I was “older” and done with them. Well, as it turns out, not so much.

You Will Be Triggered
Something your child says or does—or how they say it—will trigger you. And when you are triggered, your response will be intense, and likely scary to you and your child. In fact, your response will likely not be commensurate with your child’s actual behavior.

When I made this connection—with Dr. Shefali’s help—and discovered that I was parenting from my own childhood wounds, I was taken aback. But I also realized that many of the times when my children asked me why I became so loud or angry, it was because I was responding to a pretty benign situation with a strong sense of hurt and disappointed that had to do with my own unresolved childhood demons.

Image by: Pexels 

by Dr. Liz Matheis

Kindergarten, here we come!

​As the summer winds down, many feelings begin to swirl around! Excitement and anxiety begin to peak especially for Kindergarten, for both parents and child.

Working to make a child’s school experience transition successful, here are some tips to help ease anxieties and build success.

Rehearsals

Drive by the school your child will be attending to familiarize them. Stop and play on the playground! This is a great way to build excitement as well as prepare them. They will have an pre-existing level of comfort that will build confidence for those first few days.

I also recommend lunch rehearsal. Pack their lunch and have them practice independently taking it out, opening their lunch containers, and even how to heat up, if needed. All schools have lunch aides to assist but creating opportunities for independence so your little one who may be to shy to ask for help yet or does not have to wait too long for that help.

Practice the school schedule! Yes, that means those summer lazy sleep in days (at least for my children) need to start getting their school sleep schedule back on rhythm. I can thank high school’s summer sport schedule for kick starting me and my high schooler with early morning wake ups, but now I have to shift my elementary kids back to earlier bedtimes and earlier wakes up times as well.

Books- setting the tone!

Books are great emotional tools that helps prepare for the upcoming transitions as well as the emotions with change.

For working on parent attachment and being able to successfully separate, I recommend:

Attachment & Separation 

Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn

This book establishes a loving gesture that helps an child detach successfully. This is an easy quick routine to add to your morning send off!

Leap Back Home to Me by Lauren Thompson
This book highlights all different adventures while the parent will be there at home waiting for the child. The message of independence with comfort of a waiting parent will help the kindergarten be ready to “leap” to school!

The Invisible String By Patrice Karst
This book is a fantastic metaphor of how love connects us even when we are not together. I like to pair this book with a small physical transitional object like a ring, necklace, string bracelet etc…

I Love You All Day Long by by Francesca Rusackas
Another simple book that reassures a child of their parents’ love which helps with separation.

Kindergarten Preparedness 
Here are books that will help set the tone and ease anxieties. When we know what to expect, the unknown becomes less scary!

  • Kindergarten Rocks! By Kate Davis
  • First Day Jitters by Julie Danneber
  • Wemberly Worried by Kevin Henkes
  • Off to Kindergarten by Tony Johnston
  • Miss Bindergarten Gets Ready for Kindergarten by Joseph Slate
  • The Night Before Kindergarten. by Natasha Wing
  • First Day of School by Mercer Mayer

Managing Your Own Anxiety!

Last but not least, how we, as parents, feel! I know I struggled when my babies went to kindergarten. I still remember happily waving goodbye to my kids oozing confidence for them to absorb. Then, after the school bell rang with all the school children tucked behind the doors as parents shuffled to their cars, I balled crying. I share my story as an example of how it is important to set the tone for our children. If we show anxiety and showing uncertainty, our children will read this and increase their anxieties. So, as Dr. Liz’s says, “Fake it, Until You Make It”. Of course, it is ok for both to be nervous, but this is the time for you to be their rock. And if anyone wants to cry together, I will be balling as I send my oldest to his first day of high school, we can meet up after that bell!

Happy First Day of School!​

Image from: Pexels

by Michelle Krowiak, LCSW, Ed.S

A Kindergarten Age Guide for Parents: When Kids Should Start School

Not so long ago, a friend asked me whether I plan to send my youngest child, my third, to kindergarten on time, or if I would be choosing to hold her back. The question didn’t surprise me. “Redshirting,” or delaying entrance to kindergarten by a year, is not uncommon where I live, and my daughter would be making the cutoff in our district by a scant five days. That made it likely she’d be the very youngest in her grade, something I’ve come to see could actually be a positive thing academically.But the timing of my friend’s inquiry did throw me a bit: My daughter was just 2 ½ years old. Surely that should have bought us some time to decide whether she’ll be ready at almost-5 for kindergarten.

Still, you can’t blame parents of children on the younger side for their grade for worrying early and often, particularly when we have to suffer through anxiety-inducing commercials for websites and other wares peddled to get our kids prepared for kindergarten, which sounds increasingly like an intimidating, unforgiving place rather than the warm welcome to education that it used to be.
Here are a few things I’ve learned from interviewing moms who’ve already made the decision of when to start their child in kindergarten:
Know your state’s kindergarten age rules.

According to Superpages, an online source of local information from across the country, a total of 32 states in the United States require that a child be 5 years old on or before September 1 in the year he or she starts kindergarten, with 11 states having a cutoff date between September 1 and October 15. There are also 7 states that offer local schools the option set their own required dates for when children should start school.
You can start by finding your state’s rules here, but it’s still worth a call to your school district’s office as these rules can change. You can also find out if special exceptions can be granted by the school principal, as was the case for one of the moms Parents interviewed…

​Photo from: Shutterstock

by Gail O'Connor and the Editors of Parents Parents

Preventing Temper Tantrums

Wouldn’t it be great to be able prevent temper tantrums and power struggles!?

You can!

Did you know that power struggles are part of normal development for children? It’s how our children learn to be in control of their actions and emotions.  For many parents, this can feel like an overwhelming time where there is a rise in new behaviors that you haven’t seen before, such as falling to the floor, screaming, shouting ‘no’, and making unreasonable demands. Yup, you have arrived!

It’s a Matter of Control
First let’s talk about CONTROL. Think about control as a beach bucket. Each time you ask your child to do something or follow a direction, (e.g., “It’s time to go,” “Grab your shoes,” or “Come to the table to eat dinner,” etc.) you are adding one scoop of sand into the bucket. Before you know it, that bucket will overflow, and your child will feel a loss of control and a rush of emotions. Think about how many directions you give your child in one hour. That will fill up the bucket quickly, which can s be overwhelming for your child. Result: temper tantrum.

To prevent the overflow, you must take scoops out of the bucket throughout the day, or in other words, give your child a sense of control. Here’s an easy way to give your child a sense of CONTROL (works for any age).

Offer your child simple choices continuously throughout the day.
  • “Do you want the pink plate or green plate?”
  • “Do you want to leave in 5 minutes or 7 minutes?”
  • “Would you like to wear white socks or green socks?”
  • “Do you want to push the cart or ride first?”

By offering your child choices, it counterbalances the directions and demands. With that said, this gives your child that sense of control so her “bucket” doesn’t overflow, which means fewer temper tantrums.

Let’s take this strategy one step further and use it as a form of correction. Imagine your child is about to throw the TV remote out of frustration. As a parent, the temptation is to shout “NOOOOOO!” or “Put that down!”

Instead, give her a choice. “Do you want to put that in my hand or on the couch?  If your child does not independently make your choice, you can help him pick one by guiding his hand. Double win for you, the parent! You have deflected a power struggle AND taken a scoop out of the bucket at the same time!

Next let’s talk about EMOTIONS.
A child learns appropriate emotional behavior and communication from our interactions while speaking and reacting to them. We help our children learn how to manage anger, disappointment and express their wants and needs. When a child speaks or expresses himself rudely or inappropriately, be proactive before reacting. Model how you want the child to speak or act.
Here are a few examples:
6-year-old: “I’m the worst at writing”
Dad: “I feel frustrated when I write so much and have to erase it too.” It’s not easy for me either.

Dad is recognizing the emotion behind the behavior and validating the child’s emotion. By modeling an appropriate statement this will teach the child how to express feelings instead of acting out the emotional frustration.

3-year-old: “I don’t want those!” as he throws crackers on floor.
Mom: “No thanks, Mom” and she demonstrates placing the crackers gently on the table, instead of giving an angry reaction.2-year-old: Grabs toy from brother’s hand and says “Mine!” using a loud and mean voice.
Dad: “Brother, I do or my turn?” (as Dad gently places toy back in the brother’s hand).

Again, instead of Dad grabbing the toy back from the 2-year-old and shouting “Don’t grab!” he modeled the appropriate way to react when he wants to use the toy.

Most of the time, your child will mimic your language and emotion. You are modeling an appropriate emotional response and preventing a power struggle. If parents answer children when they use a rude tone or are upset, children will learn that their communication was effective.

Take Away:
Putting more work in upfront will prevent temper tantrums and teach appropriate communication.
*Don’t react! Instead, model what you would like to hear instead of stating what the child is doing wrong.

Rebekah Immitt is a Developmental and Behavioral Specialist who specializes in assisting parents, teachers, and professionals to understand behavior as a form of communication. She also helps children learn how to regulate their emotions and communicate more effectively with adults and their peers. To learn more, visit: www.babiestobackpacks.com

Photo from: Pexels

by Rebekah Immitt

How I’m Growing Resilient Children

As a mom of four, I am always on the go, and I make mistakes. Some days run smoothly and others, I am barely making it to the finish line. I also realize that as a therapist, we have a running dialogue in our head. We judge ourselves as parents, we judge our decisions, we judge our outcomes. I am trying to become more aware of the messages that I feed my heart and body each day and transform them into more positive messages, which will ultimately flow into my children’s daily lives.

I am a flawed mama. We are all flawed mamas, and that’s more than okay! Unfortunately, we live in a time of rabid social media where moms everywhere are posting their wonderful motherhood moments, with, what looks like, perfect children in a perfect marriage, an organized home, educational field trips, and three organic meals per day. Social media is a wonderful medium of communication, but I think we may have lost our focus here. Instead, let’s focus on how to plant the seeds of resilience in our everyday interactions with our children

Close The Circle
I lose my temper but when I do, after I have cooled down, I apologize to my kids. My hope is to close the circle and show them how I am using my words to repair and improve our communication. Sometimes, I lose my mind over Fortnight and that is okay too. I want my children to see that there will be conflicts and disagreements in life, but it is how we handle them that will make us stronger people as well as build a relationship. I want my children to know that it’s okay to lose your temper, but it is also important to turn around and apologize. It’s okay to be humble and to admit to a moment (or two) of bad judgment. I hope that this also lets them know that when they make mistakes in their adolescence and young adulthood (and they will!), it’s important for them to close the circle and attempt to make it right. I hope that my kids will internalize these conversations into their own internal ‘scripts” to use when problem solving in their own head.

Use Positive Self Talk
As parents, we have flaws. I own my flaws and I work on them – some days better than others. With that said, I realized that by reacting to my mistakes (oops! Sorry, honey, I forgot to pack your lunch last night!) with kindness towards myself, or by making a joke, my kids will see that I am not using negative language towards my mistakes and I am embracing that I am a human who makes errors (lots of them!).

Another classic positive self-talk phrase I like to use is, “I can do this!” I want my kids to see that I am afraid too, but that I’m going to use my fear to drive me towards my goal. Although certain tasks, academic or athletic skills may look like they come easily to some, sometimes it’s trying again and again (perseverance) is needed to ‘figure it out’ along the way. Learn from our errors, pick ourselves back up and come up with plan B when plan A doesn’t work. That’s true resilience right there. The grit that makes us resourceful and tough teenagers, young adults and ultimately adults.

Get Back Up
I have a blackboard hanging in my kitchen with the phrase, “It’s not whether you get knocked down; it’s whether you get back up” (credited to Vince Lombardi). This mantra has set the stage for my family to focus not on life’s struggles but how you cope with them. In today’s society (and I am guilty of it too at times), helicopter parents hover over their children which prevents them from that when they fall, that they are capable of getting back up. Although it feels like I am keeping my child safe, I am robbing them of an opportunity to build resiliency.

Caroline Bologna, wrote “You Need To Teach Your Kids How To Fail: Here’s How” (see full article here: https://www.huffpost.com/entry/teaching-kids-failure-resilience_l_5c882690e4b038892f485ba9) in which she describes hovering parents who do not allow their child to fail for fear of disappointment as not only the helicopter parent, but the ‘snow plow parent,’ the ‘lawn mower parent’ or even ‘curling parents’.

All of these parents have the same goal – don’t let my child fail. The long-term detriment that this type of parenting style creates far outweighs the benefits gained in the short-term. I urge you to not only to stop being a ‘lawn mower; but to encourage your kids to mow the lawn too, both figuratively and for real!

Photo from: Pexels

by Michelle Molle-Krowiak, LCSW, Ed. S.

Books to Teach Lessons

More than ever, we are inundated with children’s books about persistence, social-emotional learning (SEL), empathy, kindness, mindfulness and learning disabilities, just to name a few.

How does a parent sift through the quality ones and delete the fair to middling ones from your Amazon cart?

Before I started writing this blog, I logged into my Amazon account to view all of the great books that I purchased over the last few years that left a long-lasting impression on the children that I enjoy reading with. It was a difficult decision to pick just a few; there were so many to choose from. The majority of my book recommendations teach a valuable life lesson to youth and come highly recommended from one of my favorite teachers, Nancy Siegel.  They are not ranked in any defined order; I love them all equally.

The Junkyard Wonders
By, Patricia Pollaco
Theme: Finding out who you are, believing in yourself and trying to find your place. Learning to accept who you are.
This book is about persistence and working through your hardships. The main setting is in a classroom; the students in the class are referred to Junkyard Wonders by their teacher.

The Hundred Dresses 
By, Eleanor Estes
Theme: Teasing, bullying and perspective taking.
An enduring book about the moral dilemmas of childhood, empathy and standing up for others. It takes place mainly in school and classmates tease a young girl for being poor.

A Walk in the Rain with a Brain 
By, Edward M. Hallowell
Theme: All brains are different. We all have strengths; we all learn differently. Self-Awareness. Recommended for children that are diagnosed with ADD/ADHD.
This book discusses the anatomy of the brain. The main character in the story, Lucy takes a walk with a “brain,” and they talk about how all brains are created differently. An empowering book for people with ADD/ADHD.

​ISHI, Tips From A Solid Friend
By, Akiko Yabuki
Theme: Friendship
This book is a little gem for all to read. A perfect gift for your favorite teacher or your best friend. Ishi shows you how to be a good friend and what to look for in a good friend.

I Am Peace, A book of Mindfulness 
By, Susan Verde
Theme: Finding peace from within.
This book is perfect for reading before bedtime. The calming words and illustrations are sure to put you and your child in a restful state of mind.

What Do You Do With A Problem?
By, Kobi Yamada
Theme: Facing problems and figuring out ways to overcome big and little issues.
This book is about a persistent problem, and the child is not sure how to deal with it. The longer the issue is pushed under the rug, the bigger it seems to get. But when the child finally decides to face it, the problem turns out to be something entirely different than it appeared.

Photo from: Pexels

by Chrissy Sunberg, M.Ed., AAC

What Do I Do When My Adolescent Wants to get on Instagram and SnapChat?

​We are blessed to be able to support a local Girl Scout, Hannah T from Parsippany. She is currently working towards the completion of her Girl Scout Gold Award and has chosen to prepare a blog about Cyber Bullying. The goal of her project is to bring awareness to the issue of social media safety and cyberbullying by creating and presenting on the topic, creating posters, and writing blogs and articles.  Her hope is to educate adolescents and their parents about the subtle (and not so subtle) hazards of social media by also providing strategies when social media gets ugly (and it will).

When Do Most Adolescents Access Social Media?
Social media is everywhere. Even if you or your child don’t have it, everyone around you and them does. So, even if your child doesn’t have Snapchat or Instagram, the people they talk to and hang out with most likely do,  making your child part of the new social media era.

​Social media is, in theory, a great thing, made to quickly connect with and contact friends, and share experiences,  pictures and thoughts easily and quickly. However, the age at which kids are permitted to use social media sites is 13 years old. This makes it about the time kids are in middle school, finding new friends and seeing where they fit in. Just during this time period in a child’s life, conflicts among their peers arise very easily. From a child sitting with a new group of friends during lunch, or not being invited to someone’s birthday party, these non-essential conflicts can quickly spill onto social media sites. From my own perspective, as a high school student, unnecessary conflicts definitely peak in middle school, which is why kids that age are so susceptible to being cyber bullied, and being cyber bullies.

Start Talking About Social Media, Sooner than Later
If you have a child going into or is already in middle school, between the ages of 12-15, now is the time to discuss their social media use. You can tell them not to use social media at all until a certain age, but they may have already downloaded social media apps without your knowledge or permission. The key message you want to communicate is that having access to social media is a big responsibility.
At 13 years old, most kids don’t realize that what they put online stays there forever, even after it is deleted from their profile. Most importantly, they don’t realize that once something is posted to Instagram or Snapchat, it is completely out of their control in terms of who sees it and where the post is sent, even though they are the one who posted it. Other kids can screenshot the post, send it to other people, and can physically take their phone and show other people. I feel that kids fail to realize this because they don’t see the possibilities of that happening. When they download Instagram, they may not be using it with the intent to post things about other people, but instead, they wanted to find out what other friends are doing.Advice To Give Your Adolescent
In my opinion, the best thing to do for your child is simply have a discussion with them, making sure they understand these four major points:

1-Later in life, everyone will still be able to see the things you posted

Later in life, when your child is applying to college or for a job, a standard part of the screening process is to google the name of the potential applicant and see what comes up. Potential employers may and will most likely look through social media outlets, and will be able see what has been posted. And I’m talking about those ‘silly 14 year old pics’ or those ‘silly phrases we made up.’ It’s all there for all to see. Forever.

2-Never say anything on social media that you wouldn’t say directly to another person directly.
Many teens feel that they can say anything since they are behind a screen. What they don’t realize is those words can be hurtful and cutting. They can end friendships or even result in a police investigation or other legal repercussions. Just because your child is behind the screen doesn’t mean her words can’t be seen. In fact, they are seen and heard in an even bigger way than if they had been spoken face to face.

3- Never reply to someone if they are cyber bullying you
If your teen shares with you that he is receiving hurtful or threatening messages, make sure you insist he do not respond. Instead, the best option is to screenshot (or take a picture of) the conversation, and then block the account or number the messages are coming from. It is extremely tempting for teens to respond with something equally as hurtful, but that will just make the problem continue and give the bully a reason to continue texting/messaging your child. From experience, I know that if your child never responds to the messages and simply blocks the number/account, the bullying will most likely stop. 

However, if the bullying continues on another social media site or in school, that is when it is okay to encourage your child to should say something along the lines of “Can you please stop?”. By now, the bully won’t be getting the reaction they want out of your child, but if they still continue trying to contact your teen, that is when you should bring the issue to their school’s guidance counselor or principal.

This is another reason why it is vital for your teen not to respond. If the problem escalates to the point where it needs to be brought to the attention of the school, they will see if your child responded. Even if the bully initiated the conversation, the fact that your teen responded will also, in the school’s eyes, warrant a punishment. But, I know from experience that by far, the easiest way to stop a cyber bully is to block the account.

4-Make yourself available to your child
Make a pact with your teen. If anything goes bad, wrong, ugly on social media, they can reach out to you with little judgment and no fault finding. Instead, agree that you will problem solving together. The last thing you want is for your child to go through a tough situation related to social media alone.

As a parent, you can’t keep your kids from the reality of society today, that social media plays a big role in how people meet, communicate, and handle confrontation, but you can help them know how to handle social media correctly as well as the situations it presents.

Photo from: Pexels

"The various psycho-educational testing Dr. Liz conducted on our son gave us critical clues about where his learning strengths and weaknesses lie so that his needs could be better addressed at home and school. Moreover, because of their warm, kindhearted personalities, both Dr. Liz and her associate, Stephanie, formed an immediate bond with my son. He eagerly looks forward to his weekly therapy sessions. We are so lucky Dr. Liz came into our family's lives when she did! For stressed-out families trying to help their children as best they can, she is a calming voice of reason!"
- Julie C.
"Dr. Matheis has a remarkable ability to understand the unique needs of her patients and address them constructively. She builds strong, meaningful relationships with patients and their families, encouraging trust and collaboration. When working with my son who struggles with autism-related anxiety, she created an environment in which he was able to calm down and open up to her in ways I had not seen before. She was able to reach him and helped him work through his crisis/problem. Most importantly, she empowered him to move forward."
- N.L.
"Dr. Matheis is amazing. She has tremendous resources and loads of energy. She is not willing to accept anything less than the most effective results for her clients. She made me feel as if my son was her top priority throughout the entire process. I would, without reservation, give her my highest recommendations.  Thank you, Dr. Matheis!"
- Anonymous
"Dr. Matheis has an amazing ability to read kids and connect with them. She has been an invaluable resource for our family over the past several years and has helped us with everything from educational consulting, to uncovering diagnoses as well as family therapy. Working with Dr. Matheis never feels clinical and most importantly, our children love and trust her. We can not thank you enough Dr. Liz!"
- Anonymous
"My teenage son had been seeing Dr. Matheis through his senior year of high school, as he was only diagnosed with ADHD at 16 years old.  Dr. Matheis came highly recommended from our pediatrician and she has done wonders for our son as well as our family, navigating new ways for him to deal with his diagnosis without the use of medication.  She taught him ways to organize himself and even when something did not work for him, she patiently continued teaching him new ways to keep himself on track.  She has also helped us as parents to understand how his mind works so that we did not continue to blame his lack of focus on him, rather on his unique way of thinking.  Thank you Dr. Matheis!!!!"
- LG
"Dr. Liz is the best! Our family was directed to her by our Pediatrician to assist with figuring out severe mood changes, severe anxiety, strange new fears and food aversion that had come onto one of our children literally overnight. After just a couple of visits, she suggested that the issues may actually be rooted in a physical issue and suggested we immediately take our child to be swabbed for strep, because Dr. Liz suspected PANDAS (a pediatric autoimmune disorder brought on by strep). The same Pediatrician that suggested Dr. Liz would not do the swab (they do not believe in PANDAS and we no longer go there) but I took my child to my doctor who did the swab and it was positive for strep. When our child went on antibiotics, within 24 hours all symptoms went away and our child was back :-) Dr. Liz then recommended a PANDAS specialist who helped us and our child is in complete remission and is happy and healthy. We are incredibly grateful to Dr. Liz for her knowledge of all things, even the most remote and unusual and for helping us so much! Thank you!"
- Anonymous
"The various psycho-educational testing Dr. Liz conducted on our son gave us critical clues about where his learning strengths and weaknesses lie so that his needs could be better addressed at home and school. Moreover, because of their warm, kindhearted personalities, both Dr. Liz and her associate, Stephanie, formed an immediate bond with my son. He eagerly looks forward to his weekly therapy sessions. We are so lucky Dr. Liz came into our family's lives when she did! For stressed-out families trying to help their children as best they can, she is a calming voice of reason!"
- Anonymous
"Thank you, Dr. Liz. Although we have told you countless times, it will never feel enough. You have listened when J could barely speak and continued to listen when he was sad, angry and confused. You've challenged him and directed us in our roles as parents. You've helped J face his fears while the list evolved and changed, and yet you've stayed committed to 'the course.' We pray that your children realize that time away from them is spent helping children learn and that vulnerability is a sign of strength and bravery."
- June I
"My son was admitted to an Ivy League school when only 2 years ago, you assessed him and saw his struggles, his Dyslexia. We are grateful that he no longer has to carry that deep feeling of inadequacy or shame that must have kept him so self conscious and from reaching his potential. He has the PERFECT program for him. He has A's in high math and economics. He became a Merit Scholar, a Boys State legislature, the HEAD captain of the football team and help a job ALL while studying and managing his classes and disability. I am PROUD of you, a young doctor, who knows and sees the vulnerability of children and helps them recognize "it's NO big deal" God bless."
- Anonymous

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513 W Mt Pleasant Ave, Ste 212,
​Livingston, NJ 07039