Teens Are Putting Off Traditional Markers of Adulthood

Here is an article from The Washington Post about teens putting off traditional markers of adulthood.

When 17-year-old Quattro Musser hangs out with friends, they don’t drink beer or cruise around in cars with their dates. Rather, they stick to G-rated activities such as
rock-climbing or talking about books.

They are in good company, according to a new study showing that teenagers are increasingly delaying activities that had long been seen as rites of passage into
adulthood. The study, published Tuesday in the journal Child Development, found that the percentage of adolescents in the U.S. who have a driver’s license, who have
tried alcohol, who date, and who work for pay has plummeted since 1976, with the most precipitous decreases in the past decade.

The declines appeared across race, geographic, and socioeconomic lines, and in rural, urban, and suburban areas.

To be sure, more than half of teens still engage in these activities, but the majorities have slimmed considerably. Between 1976 and 1979, 86 percent of high school
seniors had gone on a date; between 2010 and 2015 only 63 percent had, the study found.

During the same period, the portion who had ever earned money from working
plunged from 76 to 55 percent. And the portion who had tried alcohol plummeted from 93 percent between 1976 and 1979 to 67 percent between 2010 and 2016.

Teens have also reported a steady decline in sexual activity in recent decades, as the portion of high school students who have had sex fell from 54 percent in 1991 to 41
percent in 2015, according to Centers for Disease Control statistics.

“People say, ‘Oh, it’s because teenagers are more responsible, or more lazy, or more boring,’ but they’re missing the larger trend,” said Jean Twenge, lead author of the
study, which drew on seven large time-lag surveys of Americans. Rather, she said, kids may be less interested in activities such as dating, driving or getting jobs because
in today’s society, they no longer need to.

According to an evolutionary psychology theory that a person’s “life strategy” slows down or speeds up depending on his or her surroundings, exposure to a “harsh and
unpredictable” environment leads to faster development, while a more resource-rich and secure environment has the opposite effect, the study said.

In the first scenario, “You’d have a lot of kids and be in survival mode, start having kids young, expect your kids will have kids young, and expect that there will be more
diseases and fewer resources,” said Twenge, a psychology professor at San Diego State University who is the author of “iGen: Why Today’s Super-Connected Kids Are
Growing Up Less Rebellious, More Tolerant, Less Happy – and Completely Unprepared for Adulthood.”

A century ago, when life expectancy was lower and college education less prevalent, “the goal back then was survival, not violin lessons by 5,” Twenge said.

In that model a teenage boy might be thinking more seriously about marriage, and driving a car and working for pay would be important for “establishing mate value
based on procurement of resources,” the study said.

But America is shifting more toward the slower model, and the change is apparent across the socioeconomic spectrum, Twenge said. “Even in families whose parents
didn’t have a college education…families are smaller, and the idea that children need to be carefully nurtured has really sunk in.”

The postponement of “adult activities” could not be attributed to more homework or extracurricular activities, the study said, noting that teens today spend fewer hours
on homework and the same amount of time on extracurriculars as they did in the 1990s (with the exception of community service, which has risen slightly). Nor could
the use of smartphones and the Internet be entirely the cause, the report said, since the decline began before they were widely available.

Musser, who lives in Portland, Ore., has had summer jobs but he has never drunk alcohol and says he is not curious to try. To him, the idea that earlier generations of
teens centered evening activities around procuring and drinking alcohol sounded mystifying.

“I haven’t heard of anyone who goes out and specifically drinks with their friends,” he said. “It’s not something you set out to do, like, ‘Oh yeah, I’m going to go out and
get drunk.’”

In a city where it is easy to bike, take buses, or rideshare, he doesn’t see much need to drive. And as for dating, “It seems sort of ridiculous to be seriously dating someone
in high school. I mean, what’s the plan there? Continuing to date through college and then eventually get married? That seems sort of unrealistic.”

Although the study did not look at people under 13, Twenge said she suspects the postponement of adult behavior begins in early childhood, starting with the decrease in
children walking to school alone or playing unsupervised. In recent decades parents have become more restrictive about independent activities, and laws in some states
have codified this, banning children from going out in public or staying home without adult accompaniment.

(Legislation has also delayed another adult activity: In the 1970s the legal drinking age was as young as 18 in some states; it is now 21 almost universally.)

To Daniel Siegel, an adolescent psychiatrist and author of “Brainstorm: The Power and Purpose of the Teenage Brain,” it makes sense that adolescents would “remodel”
their brains to adapt to a society that has changed since the 19th century.

“In a culture that says, ‘Okay, you’re going to go to high school, go to college, go to graduate school, and then get an internship, and you’re not going to really be
responsible till your late 20s,’ well then the brain will respond accordingly,” he said.
Whether the changes are positive or negative depends on the reasons for delaying adult activities, Siegel said.

If the delay is to make room for creative exploration and forming better social and emotional connections, it is a good thing, he said. But “if it’s fear-based, obviously
that’s a concern.”

Among teenagers now, “there is a feeling you’re getting of, ‘Wow, the world is pretty serious, so why would I rush to immerse myself…Why don’t I stay with my friends
and away from anything that has heavy consequences, like pregnancy or sexually-transmitted diseases?’”

Teenagers are also more conscious now about the possible repercussions of their actions, said Stephanie Coontz, director of research at the Council on Contemporary

“They’re starting to realize, wow, they really do have to worry about their resumes,” she said. “They come in without the kind of reckless disregard of consequence that a
more confident generation of kids had, who said, ‘I’ll drop out of school and join the peace movement, what the hell.’”

With fewer career paths available to those without a college degree, she said, young people can no longer afford that kind of non-chalance.

“They’re absorbing the same kind of anxiety about the future that their parents have for them.”

Chiara Power, 15, of San Juan Island, WA, has no interest in dating, driving, working for pay or drinking alcohol – and the rising costs of college keep her up at night.
“I’m already panicking and having nightmares about the student loans that I’ll never escape, and I’m worried that I’m going to end up homeless,” she said.

Her parents try to assuage her fears. “They’re just like, ‘Dude, that’s not happening for the next three years, so chill. I can’t chill, I have no chill…There’s just so many
people saying, ‘Oh, it’s going to be hard when you get out there.’”

Her mother, Penelope Haskew, 45, feels mixed about her daughter’s preference for spending free time at home with her family.

“On the one hand, I know she’s safe, she’s not out getting pregnant or smoking pot or drinking or doing all kinds of risky stuff that I can imagine would be age
appropriate,”she said. But Haskew wonders whether her daughter is missing out on life lessons those behaviors can teach. “Is that stuff necessary for human
development, do you have to be risk-taking as a teenager in order to succeed as an adult?”

Still, she agreed with her daughter that the world seems more treacherous now than when she was a teen. “Climate change is super real and it’s obviously happening as
we speak,” she said. “Maybe the scary things about being an adult are so much more concrete right now that it’s just safer to not become an adult.”

Tara Bahrampour, a staff writer based in Washington, D.C., writes about aging and generations.  Follow @TaraBahrampour

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Why We Make Our Kids Do Chores

Here is any article from Parent Cue


Why We Make Our Kids Do Chores

I’ve never been a big fan of January 1st. Too much pressure to set a goal or make a resolution, and then an impossibly long 12 months to keep it. But the start of the school year? I love it. Maybe it’s the smell and look and feel of new school supplies, maybe it’s the enthusiastic outfit choosing, and hair gelling and homework doing, that makes me giddy. Or maybe it’s the hope that if you set some optimistic goals in August and September, being able to keep them until Christmas break seems a lot more doable.

My kids recently started school, and the weekend before we pushed those little bottoms out the door, we did some life overhaul. We bought the school supplies—the tuck box crayons, the pencil top erasers, the Clorox wipes, the pencil grips. We cleaned out the closets, we straightened up rooms, and we stocked up on snacks and pulled our book bags and lunch boxes out from under a fine layer of dust. And then we got the chore chart back out. Because it wouldn’t be a fresh start if we didn’t include reinstating some child labor around the house.

The chore chart is an ever-evolving thing in our family, depending on the boys’ ages, and the season of life we are in. There are things that they are asked to do because they are a part of the family: like take their dirty plates to kitchen following each meal, bringing their book bags and lunches in from school and putting away the ice packs, taking stuff on the stairs up to their rooms and then put away, getting drinks and silverware for the family, making their own breakfast.)

And then there are the chores that earn the boys a star, and then a certain number of stars earns them a dollar. These include loading and unloading the dishwasher, making their own lunches and water bottles for school, folding and putting away their clothes, making their beds, cleaning their rooms, and getting the clothes off the bathroom floor—without being asked.

The good news is, my boys are obsessed with Legos. There is a strong incentive to do the chores to get the stars to earn the money to purchase the Legos. The bad news is, they’re five and seven, so motivation can still be hard to come by.

But there are a couple of reasons we keep pushing to make the chore chart a regular part of our lives anyway. For one, I am looking for any reason to get school lunch making OFF MY PLATE FOREVER. Sorry kids, but I’ve earned my right to pawn off unwanted responsibilities to you. I do it all in love, of course.

But the other reason is because of a big word that tends to get a bad rap these days, responsibility.

I want to teach my kids responsibility. And not because with it comes the appreciation of hard work, and small doses of the real world waiting for them outside our walls, or because I plan on raising self-sufficient and independent men. These are all great, but they are not the biggest objective I have.

I want to teach them responsibility because I want them to learn early and to learn often how capable they are of so much.

I want to be able to watch them push through a task and meet their surprised eyes at the end and tell them I knew they could do it and how impressed I am.

I want to watch their life skills develop so they grow up believing almost anything is achievable with some practice and persistence, even if it is unfamiliar and new.

I want to watch them do these things at home while they still have a cheerleader in me, encouraging them and pushing them, because no one else in the world besides their mother is going to cheer for them for folding their socks.

I want them to develop habits now because I want them to know they are more capable than they think they are, they are more skillful than they imagined themselves to be, that they are growing into men—and I see it, but appropriate responsibility now let’s them catch glimpses of the great wide expanse of a future before them—one that is theirs for the taking.

Yes, as parents, we just want our kids to lend a hand, because our lives are busy and if someone besides you could learn to load the plates facing the right direction in the dishwasher, the world would be better for it.

But when it comes to responsibility there is so much more on the line than our OCD for dishwasher loading. Who our kids believe they can be, who our kids see us believe them to be. Horizons are waiting to be explored. And telling our kids that responsibility is the key to reaching them may sound like a big sell, but believe me. Responsibility is so much more about them, than it is about us. About so much more than work. It’s about learning in our homes what their growing minds and bodies and spirits are capable of when we push them and challenge them and teach them.

I have a feeling we’ll start strong with the chore chart and then come late September it will be neglected a bit. Then maybe picked back up in spurts, or whenever there is a Lego set being eyed.

But the chart will stay hanging on the refrigerator door, warped from water drips missing the water bottles being filled, wrinkled from growing legs brushing past it in a rush to pack a snack, smudged from fingers opening and closing the freezer to get their ice packs. It will stay hanging up, because while they may not see it this way, I see that chart as being just as important and just as meaningful as the character awards hanging above it and the Bible verses stuck up beside it. They are the gateway to a future as big and expansive and inviting as my boys make it to be. That is theirs for the taking. That day in and day out, in the little jobs and the menial tasks, they are learning to believe is more attainable than they ever thought.

See the article online here

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Back To School – How To Avoid Over Scheduling Your Kid

Here is an article from Kelly-Jane Carter at USA Today on how to avoid over scheduling your kid as a new school year begins

So you’ve agreed to let your child play hockey, run cross-country, join the swim team, learn piano, star in the school play, take voice lessons, join robotics club, take SAT prep, volunteer at the food pantry, volunteer at the animal shelter, work part-time, keep up with National Honor Society and continue in Scouting.

Too much?

Yeah, probably.

Unless your family somehow manages to squeeze 100 hours into every day, there is a physical and mental limit to what you can do.

But where to draw the line? Always tricky.

As back-to-school season approaches, here are some other things parents should keep in mind:

Time and money

Nobody has unlimited time, and hardly anybody has an endless supply of money. You have to pick and choose.

“I’m not a big fan of travel teams because they’re often about getting parents to fork over a few thousand dollars and travel to other states every weekend,” said Al Lupiano, a longtime coach of youth soccer and baseball in Middlesex County. “The parents are miserable and the kids aren’t having fun.”

“It’s a good idea to start with low-stakes, low-pressure activities,” said Stephanie Rahill, a faculty member the graduate school psychology program at Georgian Court University in Lakewood.

In other words, if your child watches the Olympics and says she’d like to learn how to skate, hold off on that custom-made figure skating outfit. Try bringing her to the rink a few times to see if she likes being on the ice. Then see if she can still do all her homework and handle skating lessons.

Nanci Bergman, mom to 9-year-old Dalton and CEO of ACCENT, says prioritized to-do lists help her stay on task.


“You do get the parents who are living through their children, and they push their kids into time-consuming leagues in hopes of them being the next Derek Jeter,” said Lupiano.”

“It’s not about what the parents want,” Rahill said. “Don’t put them on a sports team in hopes of getting them into a certain school or getting a scholarship.”


“Is your kid saying, “Do I have to go?”” Rahill said. “That’s a clear sign the activity is not right for them. Certain kids need more downtime, or feel more pressure about activities. How much stress do they feel about competition?

“Not all kids are going to go for a team,” Rahill added. “You want to have them involved in something they have interest in, something that will teach them perseverance and give them a sense of accomplishment.

“If your child is more into solitary activities, like piano,” Rahill said, “then you want to make sure that their free play involves something social, so they get that balance. Either way, it’s still important to have free play, without adult supervision, because it increases creativity and social problem-solving.”

“There is so much emphasis on “you need to choose at 4 and know what you want to do,” said June Rizza, a coach and mother of two. “That’s great if you do know, but that’s not the norm. I found running in my late 30s. I mean, I always liked running, but I didn’t know until then that I would want to pursue it the way I do now.

“Kids know what they can handle,” Rizza said. “With my own kids, I take my cues from them, whether it’s physical cues like a sleeping issue, or if we’re at a point where something else is lacking or is being detrimental, then we stop. As a coach, we want to know if it’s too much. We don’t want to push them.”

“We are currently living through a time when being overscheduled and overcommitted is part of our culture,” said Monmouth University’s Tracy Mulvaney, by email.

Mulvaney, assistant dean of the School of Education, added that students in middle and high school should choose their own activities, to ensure enthusiasm and make it “less of a chore.”

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Why We Need To Talk About Race With Our Kids



  • Create a safe space at home to foster conversations about race with your children in a kid-friendly way.
  • Ensure your relationships model an appreciation for diversity.
  • Expose your children to various cultures through diverse toys, books, and environments.


Be the Bridge

Tasha’s organization aiming to build a community of people who share a common goal of creating healthy dialogue about race.



Each day, we’re faced with a sad, difficult-to-swallow truth: Our unity with one another is broken. We know the answer is Jesus, so why is it so for us to come together?

Eighty percent of what kids learn is from their parents, so that means there’s an increased likelihood they’ll inherit our fears, anxieties, biases, and prejudices. The media is filled with examples of a lack of awareness, acknowledgment, and forgiveness when it comes to racial diversity. Unfortunately, many of us have long taken a “Nothing is broken and everything is fine” approach to this growing tension.

That’s why conversations need to start right now with your children. Talk about race in an age-appropriate way. Remind your children that although God created us to look differently, He loves us all the same. And He wants us to love everyone like He loves them.

If we want to live authentically in the fullness of God’s love, we have to step over racial divides, acknowledge God’s creativity in all things, and seek to mend broken relationships. We can start working toward racial unity by having conversations and teaching our children about race and equality.


Kids inherently think in categories, so help them understand what ‘ethnicity’ is in the context of God’s creation of nations, tribes, and different races they notice each day. Teach your kids to acknowledge racial differences through positive, beautiful words.

If you don’t understand ethnicity enough to explain it to your children, start researching for yourself first. Also, take a look at your own friendships — do your relationships model the mosaic of God’s creation? If not, perhaps diversifying your friendships is the first step.

Be intentional about exposing your kids to various ethnicities and experiences. Buy toys of different ethnicities, read books that have characters that look different from them, and let them visit different churches that are diverse so they can interact with kids who look nothing like them.

For the full page click here

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“I Don’t Believe In Anything Anymore”

“I don’t believe in anything anymore”: How to respond when young people doubt God

“I don’t believe in anything anymore”: How to respond when young people doubt God

Photo by Matt Cannon

“I don’t believe in anything anymore. Christians are all such fakes.”

These were the words her 17-year-old son yelled just before she walked out the door for our meeting. Even for a mom who can handle a fair amount of conflict and pushback from her kids, this was a heavy blow. It was meant to be.

Teenagers can be like that. They know just how to press on our sensitive spots and trigger our reactive emotions. What they don’t know is how much fear and uncertainty these moments evoke in us. They aren’t yet sophisticated enough to realize that our first responses, like theirs, can unhelpfully shut down the conversations we really need to have.

Adolescents and emerging adults need parents and trusted adults in their lives who will receive these moments perceptively. To see what may be under the harsh words, sarcastic questions, or searing critique about faith, Scripture, or the church. Because often what’s underneath those outbursts are really important questions.

Is God real?

Why are Christians so messed up?

Can I trust the Bible?

Is it wrong to doubt God?

Through our research at the Fuller Youth Institute, we’ve learned in our Sticky Faith and Growing Youngstudies that it’s not doubt that’s toxic to faith—it’s silence. Young people who have safe relationships in which to share their questions and struggles tend to have stronger faith, to carry that faith into young adulthood, and to share their faith with others more often. When articulated, young people’s questions open up exploration of both doubt and faith.

The problem tends to be that as parents and leaders, we typically get caught off guard by these questions. Like my friend, we’re on our way out the door to a meeting. We’re wrapping up an already-over-time small group session. We’re exhausted and have very little capacity to give a “Jesus-answer” worthy of a decent Christian, let alone one who is supposed to be a spiritual leader to their children or to others’. We feel outmatched and underprepared.

In these moments, we want to remind you—and ourselves—of a few powerful phrases. Our team has created a set of wallpapers for your computer and phone this month to help you remember, share, and use these two responses:

1. Yes, you can ask that

2. I don’t know, but…

First, every young person needs to know that all of their questions, complaints, doubts, and struggles have a hearing. They need to know that you—and God—are going to hear and hold the questions without pushing the young person away. They need to know that God is big enough to receive these questions and is not afraid of them (just read the psalms or Job for examples!) They need to know that they are not somehow deficient, unfaithful, or unworthy, and that their questions won’t cause God to love them any less.

Young people need to know that we—and God—are going to hear and hold their questions without pushing away. (tweet that)

Second, young people need to know that we don’t have the answer to every question. It isn’t the goal of mature Christian adulthood to be “answer-people” or to have everything figured out. In fact, the more we lean into faith, the more we realize it is marked at every turn by mystery, unseeing, complexity, and paradox. As most of the biblical witness portrays, these features deepen our awe, wonder, and humility before God; not our certainty, arrogance, or pride.

It may push against everything we’ve been conditioned to say, but often a helpful first response to a tough question can start with the words, “I don’t know, but …”

This isn’t just a stall tactic, but a way to both affirm the question and create a holding space for it. We might say, “I don’t know, but that’s an important question,” or “… I wonder that, too,” or “… let’s work on that together. Who could help us find out more?”

If you’re like me, you hear pithy, helpful phrases all the time but can never remember them at just the right time you need them. This month we are helping you out with these wallpaper reminders. Use them, and share them with parents, ministry leaders, and any adult who cares about young people.

Together we can become safe spaces—safe relationships—in which teenagers feel invited to bring their real selves, their hard questions, and their deep frustrations, and truly be heard.

Yes, it’s okay to ask that. Even if I don’t know the answer.

Free Downloadable Wallpapers (click to download)


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Is Social Media Causing Depression in Teens

Here is an important and meaningful video shared by ABC News addressing the relationship between social media, mental health and depression.

Watch Video Here

Image result for social media and mental health

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Don’t Say Everything You Think

It’s not breaking news that some parents can be downright nasty to their children. Parenting includes the responsibility to verbally reprimand kids. Sometimes, something needs to be said. But how we as parents speak to our kids is important!

No parent is above making occasional snarky remarks to their kids. I’ve done it. You’ve done it. We all fall short. It’s just that some parents develop a pattern for regularly criticizing their kids. Constant criticism from parents can do a lot of long-term damage to a child’s self-image and the confidence they need to become a functioning, responsible adult. A sharp remark or rebuke may feel good. It may even succeed in delivering your point — in the short-term. But frankly, criticism is a lousy long-term parenting strategy, and it will never deliver the positive results you seek in your kids.

I have a quick wit and a propensity for sarcasm, and with this amazing combination of skills, I create some really strong statements…that my kids never hear. Why? Because over the years of being a parent, I’ve learned an important key to successful communication and healthy relationships between parents and kids: Don’t say everything you think, and think before you speak.

Of course, this is easier said than done. Still, practicing self-control in what you say is an entirely biblical principle! “Watch your words and hold your tongue; you’ll save yourself a lot of grief.” –Proverbs 21:23 [MSG]

A home filled with constant criticism is a breeding ground for rebellion and negativity. So when your child has pushed your buttons and your emotions are running hot, save the hurtful comment. Give yourself a timeout to cool off. Consider the issue that needs to be addressed. Think about what you need to say before you say it. Then, make an appropriate and constructive comment.

The bottom line is that when you make critical remarks to your kids, you don’t win! You wound your kids and create relational distance between them and you. So do yourself and your family a favor: Don’t say everything you think!

See article online here

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Night Phone Use A Danger for Adolescent Mental Health

Night phone use a danger for adolescent mental health

May 31, 2017
Credit: CC0 Public Domain

The world’s first long-term assessment of mental health effects from adolescents’ late-night mobile use has shown some concerning results.

Research conducted by Murdoch and Griffith Universities in Australia tracked changes in late-night use, sleep, and mental health indicators over three years in a large sample of Australian teens.

They found that adolescents’ late-night mobile phone use was directly linked to poor quality sleep, which subsequently led to poorer mental health outcomes, reduced coping, and lowered self-esteem.

Lead researcher Dr Lynette Vernon, who conducted the study as part of her PhD, said this was the first longitudinal study that had investigated how night phone use and mental were connected.

“We have demonstrated how poor sleep is the key link connecting an increase in night-time mobile use with subsequent increases in psychosocial issues,” Dr Vernon said.

“Heavy mobile phone use becomes a problem when it overtakes essential aspects of adolescent life. In this case, we see issues when it overtakes time set-aside for sleep.

“We found that late night phone use directly contributed to poor sleep habits, which over time led to declines in overall wellbeing and .”

The research was part of the Youth Activity Participation Study, funded by the Australian Research Council. The study surveyed 1100 students from 29 schools annually over four years in total, starting in Year 8 and following them until Year 11.

Students were asked what time of the night they received or sent text messages and phone calls, and their perceptions of their sleep quality.

The researchers also investigated adolescents’ symptoms of depressed mood, involvement in delinquency or aggression, and their coping and self esteem over time.

Results showed that in Year 8, more than 85 per cent of students owned a mobile phone and around one-third of these students reported they never texted or received phone calls after lights out.

But three years later 93 per cent of the students owned mobiles and only 22 per cent of these Year 11 students reported no late night mobile use.

“We found that those teenagers who start out as relatively ‘healthy’ in terms of their late-night mobile use early in high school, tend to show steeper escalations in their late-night mobile use over the next several years,” said study co-author Dr Kathryn Modecki from the Griffith Menzies Health Institute.

“This means that even when teens appear to have their technology and sleep under control early-on, they still require monitoring and education as they mature.”

“Students with high initial levels of night-time mobile phone use also tended to have higher initial levels of poor sleep behaviour,” Dr Vernon said.

“As their levels of mobile phone use grew over time, so did their poor sleep behaviour.”

“What is especially compelling” said Dr. Modecki, “is that these increases in , in turn, led to rises in depressed mood and externalizing behaviours, and declines in self-esteem and coping one year later,” said Dr. Modecki. “These effects were highly robust, across the various outcomes Dr Vernon examined.”

Dr Vernon said that although these results were concerning, the answer was not as simple as just banning adolescent use.

“There are many potential benefits of mobile technology, but these results demonstrate the importance of adults ‘meeting teens where they are’, enforcing electronic curfews, and teaching good sleep habits during the high school years.”

The study was published in a special section of Child Development.

Explore further: Mobile technology and child and adolescent development

More information: Lynette Vernon et al. Mobile Phones in the Bedroom: Trajectories of Sleep Habits and Subsequent Adolescent Psychosocial Development, Child Development (2017). DOI: 10.1111/cdev.12836

Read more at: https://medicalxpress.com/news/2017-05-night-danger-adolescent-mental-health.html#jCp

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How To Read A Kids’ Mind at Any Phase

Here is a great article from The Parent Cue that helps us understand how kids and teens think


How to Read a Kid’s Mind at Any Phase

“Read their mind” is just our way of saying, a parent should seek to understand what’s changing mentally and physically about their kids. Kids and teenagers don’t think like adults. So it’s the role of a parent is to translate what you want in a way they can understand. When you know how they think—they will hear what you say and know what to do.


Artists experience the world through activities that stimulate the five senses. Preschoolers blend reality with imagination and learn through participation. A baby’s brain has more neurons than at any other time in life, and those neurons are forming two million synapses every second. In this phase, they are mildly aware of everything in their environment, and they take it all in at an unfathomable pace. Preschoolers learn experientially, through their senses, from someone who responds to them. In their world, there is no real distinction between what is real and what is imaginary. Like artists, they learn best when they can make it with their hands. This is why movement, music, and art are critical for learning in this phase.



Scientists understand the world through concrete evidence they can test repeatedly. Elementary-age kids discover how things work through repetition and clear application. Brain research suggests that during the elementary years (ages 4-10 or 11), kids learn information quickly and easily. But just because kids in this phase are eager to learn, it doesn’t mean they learn like adults. They’re still mostly concrete thinkers. They need repetition and clear application. Like a scientist, they learn best when they can observe something in their present environment. The more frequently a new concept can be connected to everyday experience, the better.


Engineers solve problems by connecting concepts so they work together. Middle schoolers personalize abstract concepts by connecting ideas. Like their physical bodies, there is a “growth spurt” in the brain of a middle schooler. The brain overproduces neurons and synapses similar to the growing brain of a toddler. This period of rapid growth accounts for a middle schooler’s ability to think more abstractly, to understand multiple perspectives, and to think critically about themselves and others. It also means that instructions need to be simple and clear if you hope to be heard. Like an engineer, they learn best when they personalize an idea by connecting pieces of information. That’s why puzzles, patterns, and codes can be helpful for learning in this phase.



Philosophers seek to understand what is unseen and what cannot be measured. High schoolers want to discover meaning and learn best by processing out loud. A high schooler loses approximately one percent of the gray matter of their brain every year through a process called “pruning.” Pruning allows the brain to prioritize information to become flexible and efficient. With this new efficiency comes an increase in analytical thinking. But, the limbic system (risk-taking) is developing at a faster rate than the prefrontal cortex (regulating behavior). So risk and personal experience still govern behavior. Like a philosopher, they learn best through open debate, multiple perspectives, and applied reasoning. That’s why self-expression and community are essential for learning in this phase.

Just remember, when you understand the way a kid’s mind is changing, you stand a far better chance of identifying clues that help you know what they are thinking, conveying a message they can understand and laying a foundation for learning in the future.


If you want more on parenting through each phase of a kids life, we have some exciting new resources for you coming in July! We have developed a series of 18 guides to help you navigate each year you have with your kids to give help you discover what’s changing about your kid over the next 52 weeks, six things your kid needs most, and four conversations to have in each phase.

Click here to find out more and preorder your copy

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Should You Let Your Kids See You Fight?

Here is an article from Carey Nieuwhof tackling an important question: should you let your kids see you fight?

Should You Let Your Kids See You Fight?

“You may have already weighed in on the age-old parenting debate: should you let your kids see you fight?

Clearly, the question springs out of the pain too many kids grew up witnessing. For sure, there are some things kids should never witness. And while God can use anything for good (and he does), I’m still not sure it’s great parenting to introduce kids to the depths of human depravity.

As a result, some couples move in the entirely opposite direction: they don’t want their kids to witness any kind of conflict. But not everyone’s sure that’s the answer either. After all, how are your kids going to learn to resolve conflict in a healthy way if they never see conflict?

But I am convinced there is one fight every kid should see growing up: They should see you fight for each other. They should see you fight for your marriage and for them.

Most of the fighting in families happens for the opposite reason: families spend their energy fighting with each other.

You know the drill. A world war is sparked over everything from who on earth left a wet towel on the wood floor, to how many videos games you son is allowed to play, to why your daughter can’t go to the sleepover.

Brothers and sisters flight because they’re, well, brothers and sisters. You fight with your spouse because you’re married (or with the ex because you’re not married.) We fight because we’re human.

My wife and I learned how to fight with each other long before we figured out how to fight for each other and for our kids. Fighting with someone is just so much easier and more natural. And deeply destructive.

So what’s the difference between fighting for and fighting with the people you love?

All you do is swap out one little word, but it makes a difference that is staggering:

When I fight with someone, I want to win.

When I fight for someone, I want them to win.

And what does it look like when you want your spouse and your kids to win? It means . . .

searching for solutions even when you can’t think of any.
giving someone the benefit of the doubt.
filling the gaps in information with trust, not suspicion.
deciding you’re going to stay when everything in you wants to leave.
getting the help you need to deal with your junk, not their junk.
loving each other because you realize love is a decision, not an emotion.
letting your kids see you’re committed to your spouse.

When you let your kids see you fight for each other and for them, it shows them how much they’re worth.

One of the reasons most of us struggle with fighting for each other is that we’re not sure anyone has ever fought for us.

The reality is that someone did . . . for each one of us, when we deserved it the least. Jesus was fighting for us when He became human and walked this earth when He was beaten, nailed to the cross, and forsaken. Jesus demonstrated perfectly what fighting for someone looks like when he gave His life for us . . . so that we could have life.

Fighting for someone and wanting them to win requires humility and sacrifice, but it’s how you prove you love them.

So . . . let your family see you fight, but let them see you fight for each other.”

By Carey Nieuwhof on The Parent Cue

Posted in Child Development, Difficult Conversations, Family | Leave a comment