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Archive for April, 2012

Communication with Teenagers: Tips for Parents

Sunday, April 29th, 2012

It has been said that being the parent of a teenager is similar to that of being a parent of a child from Mars. They look different than you, act differently from you, and speak another language. Yet the parent’s job in raising teenagers should not be neglected, but what’s a parent to do when their own teenaged child seems to be completely “alien” to them?

Communicating with teenagers doesn’t have to be that way. Remember when you were a teenager? It really isn’t too different today. The less your son or daughter tells you about their life, the more independence they feel that they have. They begin to create a new identity. It is part of the natural process of growing up.

Unfortunately, sometimes our teenage youth make poor decisions. They need your help, parents, even if they don’t ask for it. Many of the questions about life that we faced when we were young still exist in today’s youth. What am I going to do when I grow up?  Am I cool enough to be liked? How do I fit in? Am I wearing the right clothes? Why don’t my parents understand me? Does he/she really like me?

The good news about dealing with teenagers: You can help your teenage son or daughter navigate this challenging time in their life. First, it is important to make time to spend with your son or daughter every day. Whether it is doing homework, eating dinner as a family, or talking about school, making time for your child will provide a foundation of trust. Second, focus on the positives more than the negatives. Think 80% positive and 20% correction. Finally, build open lines of communication. Remember, the most important thing that your son or daughter wants is to be heard and understood by you.

Will they tell you everything that is going on in their life? No, not at first. Over time, however, you will see that your teen will trust you and confide in you.

By Jason Davis, MS, 

Jason has over 15 years of experience working with adolescents, and is passionate about helping them with problems such as bullying, depression, anxiety, anger, as well as improving interpersonal communication skills. 


Social Skills Activities for Kids on the Autism Spectrum

Wednesday, April 25th, 2012

Technology is making the task of teaching social skills to children with Aspergers a lot more fun than it use to be.  Special needs apps for Asperger’s Syndrome for the iPad are leading the way in terms of ease of use and superior graphics, and proving to be an excellent source of social skills activities for kids dealing with a variety of special needs issues, from autism to Asperger’s.  Here are 8 great apps for Aspergers children:


Model Me Going Places                        Free     (Model Me Kids)

This app offers 6 icons that involve social stories related to places children frequently encountered in daily life.  The visual cues and images are professionally done.  The six social stories include Hairdresser, Mall, Doctor, Playground, Grocery Store and Restaurant.

iCommunicate                                        $49.99   (Grembe, Inc.)

With this app your child can create pictures, storyboards, routines and visual schedules.  You can also create custom audio in any language.  This app enables you to include pictures from your camera or Google images.

GarageBand                                                $4.99    (Apple)

This application allows children to learn to play a musical instrument.  There are several instruments to choose from and learning is interactive.  Children can record themselves playing the instrument and then play it back.  The app also provides instruction on writing music and composing an original piece.

Pictello                                                        $18.99   (AssistiveWare)

This app is comprised of a storybook for activities of daily living.  Your child can incorporate personal pictures in order to help them share verbally with others.

ABA Flashcards-Emotion                       Free   (

This app provides a classic social skills development tool with a twist.  The emotion cards show pictures of children actually engaging in the emotion in natural settings.  The lifelike images and realistic settings should make transfer of training more comprehensive.

Social Stories                                             $6.00 (MDR)

This social skills activity for kids uses real to life pictures and stories that children will encounter every day.  Examples include classroom rules, reciprocal play and taking turns.  There and 6 stories total.

Tom the Talking Cat                                $.99 (Outfit7)

The cat in this app repeats what is said and even imitates pitch and tone.  Great communication tool and practice for speech.

Loopz                                                             $1.99 (Mattel)

This app requires your child to follow the music that is played and copy it from memory.  It is great tool for building memory and listening skills.  You can even purchase the board game to play along with the app.


Jo Ann Broquie is licensed in Texas as a Licensed Specialist in School Psychology and a Licensed Professional Counselor.

Setting Boundaries For Teenagers While Increasing Their Freedom

Saturday, April 14th, 2012

“Sink or Swim.”

If you have teenagers you know what I am talking about. When children reach the ages of 15-17 parents begin to wonder whether or not it is time to let them make their own decisions. Parenting teenagers is not for the faint of heart.

Of course teens believe they know everything and can navigate life’s decisions on their own. With age comes wisdom, however, and parents can set boundaries for teenagers and enforce explicit rules to help teens transition away from ‘mom and dad decisions’ and learn to make good choices on their own. Here are some guidelines you may find helpful:

  • Establish non-negotiables up front.  When parenting teenagers, safety and well-being cannot be compromised. Let your teen know that behaviors such as drinking, drug use, and risky driving will not be tolerated. No exceptions.
  • Discuss rules open to compromise. Household rules such as curfews, household chores, your teen’s financial responsibilities, and homework policies, are most effective when they are established as a result of discussion with your teen. Allow natural logical consequences to follow failures to comply.
  • Pick your battles.  Clothing choices, hairstyles, music choices, and which club or sport to be a part of might be good decisions to leave up to your teen. If that weird band t-shirt or goofy hair style won’t have an adverse effect on your teen’s success, then letting go of the battle may allow her to feel in control of some aspect of her life. Understanding teenagers is to know which of their behaviors are innocent efforts of self-expression, and which ones are rooted in more troublesome activities or attitudes.

If your teen continues to struggle with the non-negotiables, gets in trouble at school, or cannot keep to the boundaries you set, it may be time to seek counseling. Family therapy and individual sessions for your teen can be an effective and safe way for your child to work through difficult issues. A trained counselor can help families work together as a unit to create rules and boundaries in a non-threatening environment.


Jennifer Meehan MA, LPC has worked for the last 15 years in public education and knows has experience working with students and their families in dealing with, ADD/ADHD, anger, autism, defiance, conduct disorders, and abuse.

The “Normal Family” – What Makes a Strong Family

Saturday, April 7th, 2012

As a counselor for over 15 years, I often hear the need for a normal family. Normal is defined as conforming to a type, standard, or regular pattern. The thought of a conforming teenager may appear humorous, yet the need for stability and normalcy is not. With such clients, I assess their perception of a normal family. Answers vary, but I find that strong and productive families share similar characteristics including the enforcement of rules, clear communication, and acceptance of change.

Vigorous yet happy and strong families have rules that are specific, respected by all members, and consistently enforced. Rules in the home help family members develop clear expectations, support a stable environment, and decrease the frequency of control and power struggles. What makes a strong family is when family members know where authority lies and respect the opinions of all members while also acknowledging the opportunity to negotiate and discuss any problems or family issues.

Clear communication is another contributor to strong families. Members take responsibility for their statements and respectfully communicate with others. Even though expressing thoughts and feelings involves facing certain risks – one may encounter opposition, disagreement, and hurt – these expressions are validated and welcomed in healthy families.

A third characteristic of strong families is the realization and understanding of change. Although it is human nature to resist change, strong families have a tendency to accept change and members understand the ever-present concept of change. These families have a clear understanding of developmental stages and are thus able to successfully assimilate and accommodate when change is necessary. Family members understand life stages and accept each member’s individual growth.

In conclusion, while no perfect recipe produces perfect families, a “normal family” is achieved when these important ingredients are considered and implemented. Incorporating the above characteristics is a great way to start strengthening your family relationships.


Tia Parsley, MEd, LPC, LCDC has experience assisting adolescents and their families with issues such as addiction, anger management, depression, anxiety, communication, parenting, and stress management. Lear more about TIa Parsley the these websites: and

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