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Ginsburg Swim

Posted by Dwight on March 29, 2013 at 9:10 AM

sorry to miss this morning, with newbie Ken Ginsburg, who actually pops up as Dr. Ken Ginsburg yesterday educating our parents at ASL about raising young kids!   Great to see such esteemed professors coming to our Pond, and reminding ourselves that "the EGLST in never shy about throwing cold water on the best new ideas!"  Really interesting notes from it below...


Dr. Ken Ginsburg with Lower School Parents

Setting the Stage for a Healthy, Safe Adolescence

March 28, 2013

Parents struggle in two ways:

•How do I keep my child safe while helping him or her learn from natural consequences

•Unconditional love coupled with high expectations

Adolescence is coming and it is critically important that parents look forward to it. The developmental task is separating from parents.

The painful part is how this happens. Ultimately, you want to have grandchildren and this won’t happen if they live at home forever J

How parents “play adolescence” has much to do with how children develop. It’s important for parents to honor kids’ need for independence.

Impending adolescence – (classically, it’s from about age 9 for girls and a year after for boys; sometimes a little later).

What’s great about adolescents:

• They can be honest but need to keep disclosing

• Parents get more freedom

• Parents begin to see the adult the children are going to become

• Beginning to think about their role in the future

• Becoming idealistic – watching the models of their parents

When parents are scared of adolescence, kids often live “down” to parents’ expectations. Kids go back before going forward. Even at 11 months of age, parents can help too much and give the message that it’s too hard for the child and that he or she is not competent.

Adolescence is about flying from the nest. When kids are ready to take off, they have to see the nest as somewhere they don’t want to be.

When the 10-12 year old says, “I hate you!” she really wants reassurance that she is loved no matter what. A great parent answer: “I sure love you.” Kids are going through a stage where the world is an imaginary theatre (where they think everyone is watching them). They need parents to be invisible at this stage.

How to get kids to keep talking to you: Parents’ job is to be the lighthouse on the shore (but kids need to ride the waves, learning from their mistakes). We are seeing kids and young adults who are so overprotected they are failing. Adolescence is a jigsaw puzzle of 10,000 pieces. Putting a puzzle together starts with the edges (boundaries). Kids need boundaries. When there are conditions of safety and morality, there must be boundaries. “French Kids Don’t Throw Food” – a decent explanation of this philosophy. After putting the boundaries of the puzzle together, you put together the patterns.

You look on the box for clues. You don’t become your child’s friend.

If you start dressing like your child, they will move further away.

Parents cannot become adolescents. They must become the steady picture on the box, parents are the role model. What if a parent hasn’t been a good role model? Be honest with them. “Daddy hasn’t always managed stress well. That’s why I am going to start jogging and see my friends more.” When parents talk about things like this with their children, they demonstrate that adults change, are resilient, and can always improve.

Your goal is not to raise an 8 yr old or an 18 yr old – this will cause you to focus on happiness and what college they go to . This is a huge mistake. It’s great for kids to see that adults are not good at everything. The goal is to find the areas where someone is really gifted and follow that path.

Listening is key to parenting an adolescent. Conducting an inquisition does not work. Kids lie. It’s not about what you ask, it’s about what you know through disclosure. How do we get kids to talk:

• Listen without reaction (instead of immediately jumping to an answer)

• Over-empathsizing (“I don’t blame you – she is awful.”)

• Catastrophising (we’ll move away – you can get a tutor in Alaska for the summer)

Four parenting styles:

•High control, low warmth (“Do what I say because I say so:”) Women raised this way look for a controlling husband and kids are “perfect” for awhile, then they go wild and make bad choices (you’re good til you are bad; they become binge drinkers in college.

• Permissive/indulgent: (“she tells me everything; we are like best friends”) kids turn out nice, like their parents, and are controlled by guilt and disappointment. They become neurotic and engage in a lot of risk behaviors. Parents do NOT know what is going on even if parents think they are the child’s best friend.

• Disengaged parent (“I figured it out. The kids will be fine”). This leads to delinquency. Kids do whatever it takes to get attention.

• Authoritative (balanced) parenting: “I love you so much I am going to give you a deep sense of roots and I am going to give you wings. I am going to give you freedom to make mistakes but I am the parent and I know best and there are times when I will be making the decisions”. Kids turn out better – less sex, less violence, better grades, decreased drug use, 80% less likely to drink drive. These parents find out the most from their kids. Clear boundaries, firm rules and love.

Research on what kids will talk about:

• Safety (all kids want parent to do this)

• Rules of society (most kids want parents to do this)

• Personal (don’t spend your energy here – messy bedrooms, hairstyles, etc)

If a personal issue is on the cusp of the rules of society or safety, explain why you are refusing to allow it. Driving with passengers (having a carful of teenagers dramatically increases the possibility of an accident) is an example where safety is maintained.

Fighting is good. Boys and girls do this differently. As long as they are fighting, you are getting disclosure. Keep them fighting by letting them win once in awhile. When they make a reasonable case for something, let them win. Flexibility allows for growth. Only say yes when it meets the guidelines of safety and responsibility and the child has shown he or she is responsible.

When should kids get a cell phone? Once the child has a cell phone, he or she will no longer feel it’s important to communicate orally.

This is worrying. Popularity is measured by how many texts they get and how many friends they have on Facebook. Kids should get a cell phone when they can demonstrate good communication/social skills (comfortable with others, greeting appropriately at the door, etc).

Everything above applies to the younger child but it also needs to includes play - real natural play (not video games). Why is play important? Allows parents to see the child’s life before they can express things verbally. What scares them (watch when they are monsters, etc)? Pure creative play is incredibly important. We never want kids to stifle their creativity to fit in but we can help kids find others who are like-minded.

If a child is really shy, giving too many reminders about greetings and being polite can lead to anxiety. Modeling it is critical. Part of loving a child unconditionally is understanding that he or she has a unique temperament.

The teen brain:

• Limbic system that helps you deal with crises, emergencies

• Cerebral cortex that is the thinking brain

Before puberty, these are about the same in terms of maturity;

In adolescence, the limbic system gets “turned on’ which leads to visceral reactions. No brakes. Teenagers become empathetic (except to parents).

How do adults “read” the reactions, emotions of others? Mirror neurons are being rapidly developed. It’s not until at least age 25 before the brain has “evened out.” The peak of the mismatch is at about ages 14-15.

Ken’s biggest worry for ASL kids: becoming perfectionists.

Society is scared because things are no longer a guarantee. The US is falling behind because half of the US is oppressed and getting an inadequate education. Perfectionists often turn into cutters, have eating disorders, etc. Buying into the idea that everyone has to go to “a good college” is causing kids to feel like failures. There is pressure to be a great athlete, play an instrument, get 7 APs, go on a service trip to Guatemala, etc. It is saying that you have to be good at everything to get into a good college. Unevenness is not a bad thing. What does getting into a top college do for you? It gets a first job (now this is 18 months to 2 yrs). Getting a second job? Do they get along, creative, persevere, resilient, accept constructive criticism?

How to prevent perfectionism?

• Celebrate their unevenness – find what they are good at and help them excel. For the other stuff, ask them to try hard and pay attention. If a child is not good at something but enjoys it, that will be a hobby.

• Effect of praise: the current college students to 30 yr olds: what is causing them to go off the rails? Permissive parenting; they are the result of the self-esteem generation (everyone got a trophy for every game they ever played in); too much meaningless praise.

Carol Dweck (Stanford Univ): Mindset (great book to read) about effort and praise/”being smart”. Praising kids for their effort directly affects achievement positively. Kids who have been praised for getting good grades often dislike constructive feedback and they look for life partners who are going to praise them.

Focus on learning, not grades.


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1 Comment

Reply The Showgirl
3:00 PM on April 8, 2013 
Great notes. Dwight, I assume these are yours from the lecture? Ken would be very happy to see the summary spread around like this. Thanks!