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How to Talk to Kids about Depression, Substance Abuse and Suicide with Anne Moss Rogers

Special Guest: Anne Moss Rogers

This podcast will focus on how to talk to kids about depression, substance abuse and suicide from the perspective of a mother whose child died by suicide in 2015. Suicide is the second leading cause of death among individuals between the ages of 10 and 24, only behind unintentional injury, in the United States. Much of suicide has a correlation with depression and substance abuse—and while there is an epidemic of teen depression and suicide, only 45% of teen girls and 33% of teen boys who has experienced an episode of depression got treatment in 2019. It’s time to get talking. In fact, it’s talking and listening that can be the very thing that can prevent suicides from happening. We discuss the implications with Anne Moss Rogers, the author of Diary of a Broken Mind on this episode of How to Talk to Kids about Anything.

How to Get Children to Behave from the Inside Out with Dr. Charles Fay

Special Guest: Dr. Charles Fay

As parents, we have heard that the days are long and the years are short. The days can be filled with mistakes, sibling rivalry, tantrums, boundary testing, bedtime battles and tough discussions—and even as they are interspersed with fun, excitement, pride, connection and love, as parents, it’s normal to feel frustrated at times and want tools to help make the days go a bit more smoothly. The truth is, we DO only have a relatively short time to help raise our children to become responsible, capable and confident before they head out the door as adults. To put it in perspective, Dr. Laura Markham told us on one of the three episodes of How to Talk to Kids about Anything that she did with us that we only have 900 weeks with our kids before they turn 18 so be fully present when you are with them— and Vicki Hoefle reminds us with a similar sentiment, “parent the child who will be 24 in a hot second. Parenting is not about what happens for you between the ages of 0 and 18, Parenting is what happens for our children between the ages of 18 and 80.” Let that sink in for a bit there. So, how do we parent our children, knowing that we don’t have a lot of time to, in fact, parent them, but the time we spend is so important. Our next guest will tell us that it’s about parenting with love and logic and getting children to behave from the inside out.

How to Listen and Effectively Communicate with Children with Bento Leal

Special Guest: Bento Leal

We all know that one of the most important parts of talking to kids—or really, talking to anyone you care about, is listening. Of course, with so many obligations, online notifications, overfilled schedules and to-dos, listening these days can sometimes be a challenge. Still, it’s listening, that builds trust, allows for mutual understanding, creates connection and helps us to avoid miscommunication. Most people will tell you that is no better conversation than one that makes you feel like someone really listened, saw your point, got you. And this is absolutely true for both adults and children. The right kind of listening can help our kids divulge what’s really on their minds and hearts now…and in the future. What is the secret to listening in a way that gets our kids talking? For that, we turn to Bento Leal.

Bento Leal is a Relationships Skills Trainer and Bestselling Author who has taught marriage and relationship skills classes and parenting skills classes to more than 2500 couples and singles at family resource centers, community organizations, churches, substance abuse recovery programs, county jails and federal prison throughout California. In 2017, he published his first book “4 Essential Keys to Effective Communication in Love, Life, Work—Anywhere!” It continues to be an Amazon Best Seller in several categories and has sold more than 50,000 copies to date.

Listen Up: How to Really Listen So Children Feel Heard

Isn’t it the best when someone really listens to you?

If you think about your very favorite people to be around–your best friends, your treasured colleagues–there is likely one thing that they do better than most; they listen to you. Everyone likes to feel “listened to”—you, your partner and yes, the kids in your life too.

Gosh, it can be challenging to be a parent or a teacher and find all this time. We often have so much on our plates that spending the time listening when the laundry is piling up, we are on deadline and the kids need to get out the door, that listening gets filed under “things to do later.” It’s normal. For all of us.

listeningdog-450x447Of course, when we finally realize that something is “going on” with the kids in our life, it’s often been going on for some time. We wonder how we could have missed it. Let’s not beat ourselves us here. Being a parent (or teacher) today can be overwhelming and you are likely doing a pretty bang up job. We can always learn and get better- but that doesn’t mean we stink at it—it just means that we are forever learners and improvers. That’s where we are right here, right now.

So let’s chat about the skill—and the strategy—of listening.

As it turns out, listening can be a gateway into what’s really happening in your child’s life and how they feel about it. When we are really listening, we don’t just listen on one level—we listen on 3. It may sound tiring but once you sharpen this skill, you’ll be really psyched about it. Listening on all 3 levels is like being an amazing investigator and detective.

So here are the listening levels:

Level 1: We get in tune with our own thoughts, opinions, and judgments: We might be asking ourselves, “What would I have done in this situation?” “What does this remind me of?” or “How does what this person is saying pertain to me?” “How can I get back on track?” You know when you’re with someone and they seem to be sort of half listening? Or listening to respond with their own tidbit of information? Yeah; that’s not fully listening.

Level 2: We recognize the tone, pace, energy and agenda of the other person. With this level, we don’t just listen to the words but also the expression, the emotion, the tone, the speed, and the body language (if you are privy to it) that goes along with the words. You even listen to the hesitations and what’s not said. So imagine you ask a child “how are you?” and the child answers “fine.” When we are listening on level two, we might note that their answer is full of contentment, sadness, frustration or fear. In that case, “fine” might mean “good” or to the “in-tune” listener, it might mean anything from “I feel lonely” to “I’m hurt but don’t want to tell anyone.”

Level 3: We use our intuition, the information feeding into the environment around us, and the multiple factors that are impacting the conversation at any given time. This is 360 degree global listening. It takes practice. With level 3 listening, your gut fills in the story and you start to gain a more full understanding of the person in front of you. You take in consideration everything around you. Is the other person fulfilled? Annoyed? Blocked? In level 3 listening, used in tandem with level 2 listening, is about nuances and what’s beyond words. It often tells more than the words can ever do on their own. When we really listen, we can pick up on this stuff.

You don’t necessarily have to be gifted in listening to do this well– you just have to take the time to become invested. It’s about putting away the phone, moving our attention away from our own day and tasks, tuning in and connecting. You can be face-to-face, side by side or even driving in a car with your child in the backseat. Sometimes a child can feel more open when someone is not looking directly at them.

Of course, sometimes, we just don’t have the time. Not in that moment, anyway. But if you happen to tune in and hear something that makes you think “I need to listen to this closer,” tell the child; “I really want to be able to fully listen to what you are saying. Right now, I need to finish doing X. Can we talk at Y time so I’m not distracted and can give you the attention you deserve?” You are not superhuman- it’s okay to ask for time.

And please remember, if there are times when you simply aren’t the listener the other person needs—you can be the bridge to someone else who is right for the job. Sometimes getting that child to the right person is the best action you can take—as being truly heard is a gift.