By Crystal Raypole
As children get older, they begin to individuate, or develop their own unique sense of identity. As part of this normal developmental process, they begin to want more space and privacy from their parents and caregivers.
Most parents remember going through this stage themselves. But you might still feel a little uneasy, even frightened, about your teen’s increased need for privacy, especially when it comes to the internet. You love your child and want to keep them safe, and your awareness of internet predators, cyber-bullying, and other online dangers can make you wonder how it’s possible to both give them privacy and ensure their safety.
There are several ways to allow your teen a measure of privacy online but still keep them safe. We offer some guidance below.
THREATS FROM THE INTERNET
If you spend any amount of time online, you’ve probably encountered plenty of articles or social media posts about the various internet dangers that can pop up. Plenty of these threats are real, but remember to keep a realistic frame of mind. For example, some people have experienced brainwashing or fallen in with cults and religious groups online, but this isn’t a common situation. It’s far more likely your child could face harassment, be pressured for sexts, or get asked for passwords.
It’s a good idea to take steps to safeguard your child against all threats while remaining mindful of the likeliest dangers, including:
Some youth have increased vulnerability to certain threats. Children who spend a lot of time alone or don’t have many offline friends in their peer group may go online more than children with active offline social lives.
Online friends aren’t necessarily a bad thing. Some youth may not make friends easily or choose to avoid peers in their neighborhood or school for other reasons. However, these youth may be more vulnerable to catfishing or predators, so it’s important to familiarize them with online safety tips and potential red flags.
If your child plays video games online, their device may have a higher risk for compromised security. It’s important to familiarize yourself with the software or console they’re using and make sure recommended safety settings are in place.
HOW TO KEEP YOUR KIDS SAFE
Awareness is the first, and arguably the most important, step to becoming safer online. You can’t protect yourself from something if you don’t know what you’re up against. So start with some frank communication about the potential dangers of the internet.
Your teen may roll their eyes and say, “I know.” And chances are, they do know. Research has found evidence to suggest many teenagers are very aware of potential online threats and take steps to protect themselves.
If your teen responds in this way, play to their knowledge. Say something like, “I bet you do know! You spend more time online than I do. I’m still learning, and I want to keep all of us, and our devices, safe. What should I know about? How do you keep yourself safe online?”
Or turn it into a game. See who can come up with the longest list of threats and a precaution against each. It doesn’t matter how you increase your—and their—knowledge. What matters is that you’re both aware of what you’re facing and how to safeguard against it.
Make sure they know you’re aware cyberbullying happens and that, if they come to you after being victimized, you’ll do whatever you can to help them. Teens are more likely to open up if they trust you, so remind them they have your unconditional support.
Your teen may resist rules around technology use, especially for their smartphones, but some limits are important. These limits may vary based on your personal feelings about technology and your household setup. Here are some rules you might consider:
Older teens tend to have more awareness of possible hazards of the internet and may be practiced at keeping information private and following safety precautions online. You may also feel more readily able to trust teens who demonstrate responsibility in other areas of their life.
WHY CYBER-SNOOPING OFTEN BACKFIRES
Worries about the dangers of the internet may lead some parents to heavily monitor their teen’s online use. For example, a parent who fears their teen is sexting might believe it’s safest to secretly look through their phones or go through their online history. Some parents might read through their teen’s text exchanges without their knowledge or permission.
Children, especially teenagers, need space. When adults deny them developmentally appropriate privacy, teens may react by shutting their caregivers out completely.These behaviors, though often carried out with good intentions, can have negative consequences for the relationship a parent has with their teen. Children, especially teenagers, need space. When adults deny them developmentally appropriate privacy, teens may react by shutting their caregivers out completely. They may also find other ways to get their privacy.
Think of it this way: Many parents feel as if their teenagers know more about digital technology than they do. If you’re among this group, do you doubt your internet-savvy teen’s ability to get around your restrictions? Instead of getting in their digital space, create a home environment of trust and support by making your child aware of possible dangers, then trusting them to come to you when they need help.
You might struggle to allow your teen privacy online if they’ve previously enjoyed this privacy but did something to violate your trust. It’s not helpful to completely deny them privacy, but if they’ve behaved in unsafe ways online, you may need to temporarily increase your restrictions as a consequence.
You might, for example, allow them to only use their phone when you’re also present. You might also insist they do homework on a family computer instead of a laptop in their bedroom. But it’s also essential they have the opportunity to earn back trust, especially when they show remorse and a willingness to learn from their mistake. A pattern of improved behavior, including increased trustworthiness and responsibility around the house, at school, and with siblings, can demonstrate a teen is ready to earn back privacy.
If your teen has caught you snooping in their phone or computer, they may respond by withdrawing from you. You’ll need to earn back their trust if you want them to feel comfortable coming to you with concerns in the future.
It can help if you:
We are becoming ever more dependent on technology, and children aren’t exempt. Letting children and teens roam the anonymous digital world can trigger just as much nervousness and fear as letting them walk out the door alone. Accept that your teens will test their limits, as this is part of growing up. But when you offer trust, treat them with respect, and engage in frequent, open communication, you can make sure they’re stepping across the lines of childhood in healthy ways, not dangerous ones.
© Copyright 2019 GoodTherapy.org. All rights reserved.
Original article: https://www.goodtherapy.org/blog/how-much-privacy-should-teens-have-in-digital-age-1213197
By Manuel A. Manotas, PsyD, Mindfulness-Based Approaches/Contemplative Approaches Topic Expert Contributor
One of the principal aspects of mindfulness is acceptance of one’s experience in the present moment. This practice has numerous mental health benefits—but as you may have realized, it is easier said than done. When our experience is pleasant, it is easy for us to accept it; if our experience is unpleasant, we naturally want to reject it.
Why would we want to stay with unpleasant feelings? Humans naturally try to repress, distract from, project, or employ other defense mechanisms in order to not feel what is unpleasant. This obviously has degrees, and the more painful an experience is, the harder our systems work to get it out of our consciousness. So here we are, told that we need to “be with our experience,” yet our natural tendency is to run away from it. What to do?
The good news is that as we develop our capacity to be with our experience, it becomes easier. It’s much like going to the gym: initially it is very hard and we resist it, but the more we train, the easier it gets and the more we actually want to do it. When we begin to sense and feel the benefits of being with ourselves, we naturally begin to do it without as much effort.
Here are some ways to make the process easier:
1. START EXACTLY WHERE YOU ARE
This is probably the most important aspect of being able to be with our experience. As much as we might like to, we simply cannot bypass our experience and be in an idealized place we think we should be. To work with any internal state, we have to be exactly where we are.
For example, we may be feeling a difficult emotion such as disgust, but then may also have a strong reaction to the disgust. We have to work with the reaction before we can really focus on the disgust. If we try to bypass the reaction by saying something like, “I need to accept my disgust,” then we are missing our reactivity. And that is the first layer we need to be with.
2. ALLOW RATHER THAN ACCEPT
Similar to the previous point, we cannot force our acceptance of something; we can only have a disposition or attitude toward it. If we are feeling something difficult and telling ourselves, “I need to accept it,” we likely won’t be able to do it.
In a way, acceptance happens on its own and in its own time. The best we can do is try our best to allow: we allow the fact we don’t want to accept whatever feelings we have. We may say something like, “I don’t like this feeling of sadness and I’ll try to be with it, even if I don’t want to feel it.” At the same time, we also allow the fact we don’t like the sadness.
3. BE CURIOUS
Becoming curious about our experience is a key element in navigating our internal world. The more we develop the capacity to observe without judgment, the more we will be able to discover about ourselves.
Becoming curious about our experience is a key element in navigating our internal world. The more we develop the capacity to observe without judgment, the more we will be able to discover about ourselves.
One way to develop curiosity is to adopt the attitude of a biologist doing naturalistic observations. A biologist wanting to understand the behaviors of lions in Africa, for instance, has the goal of simply observing the animals in their natural environment without interfering. They would not say, “Oh, this lion should not be eating that gazelle.” Rather, they would patiently observe and record what they notice. If they intervened and tried to distract the lion in order to save the gazelle, they would not be able to see exactly how the lion behaves naturally.
We can take that same attitude toward our inner landscape. We can notice our emotions, body sensations, and thoughts and not interfere with them. We simply notice what we see and try our best to suspend judgment of what should be happening. With time and patience, we begin to see connections and patterns that reveal a deeper understanding of ourselves.
4. ASK QUESTIONS OF YOUR INTERNAL EXPERIENCE
Sometimes I will feel deep sadness inside and my tendency is to try to make myself feel different. But sometimes, I’ll directly ask my sadness what it needs. “How can I be with you in the most supportive way?” “What do you need?”
As much I don’t want to feel my experience at times, it is there for a reason—and the more open to understanding it that I am, the greater its chances of truly transforming. If I let my inner experience have a life of its own and honor its needs, it will likely reveal its cause and purpose.
5. FIND BALANCE BETWEEN CHALLENGE AND SUPPORT
There may be times when your inner experience feels unbearable, and observing it directly may be very difficult. At such times, it may not be wise to try to stay with it; finding a source of comfort and support may be the better thing to do. This is true particularly if you have trauma in your history. In these cases, staying with difficult material may be counterproductive.
6. RESPOND WITH FLEXIBILITY
We are complex beings, and there is no one formula to dealing with our inner experience. Each time we meet ourselves, something different may be required.
An important skill we must develop is flexibility of response. At any given moment, any of these tips may be counterproductive, and at another time they may be exactly what we need. With practice, we become more flexible and attuned to what is most supportive at any given moment.
7. REMEMBER THAT YOU ARE ONLY HUMAN
As committed as we may be to our inner transformation, we will generally fall short of our expectations. The truth is, the faster we are able to forgive ourselves—to be kind to the parts of us that feel shameful and that we can barely tolerate—the more chances for peace we have.
In addition, being able to let go of the self-improvement project is crucial. The very fact of wanting to improve ourselves implies a rejection of our present-moment experience or circumstances. As much as you are able, try to let go of any ideas of “making yourself better” and focus instead on accepting (or allowing) your experience be exactly what it is.
8. RECOGNIZE THAT HELP IS NEEDED
We can’t do this alone; I don’t know anyone who can or has. In my own work, I have a tremendous capacity to fool myself and stay stuck in repetitive patterns for long periods. If it were not for the help and wisdom of others who have helped me in my process, I probably would not be where I am today.
The sooner we begin to allow others to guide and help us, rather than trying to figure it out on our own, the sooner our inner journey becomes so much easier. If you need help, please seek the support of a qualified therapist.
© Copyright 2015 GoodTherapy.org. All rights reserved. Permission to publish granted by Manuel A. Manotas, PsyD, therapist in San Francisco, California
Original article found at: https://www.goodtherapy.org/blog/8-mindful-ways-to-deal-with-your-unpleasant-feelings-1028154?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=social&utm_content=blog_article&utm_campaign=GT_Facebook&utm_term=deal_unpleasant_feelings
December 4, 2019 • By Sharie Stines, PsyD
Early attachment trauma is a distressing or harmful experience that affects a child’s ability to form healthy interpersonal relationships. It includes abuse, abandonment, and neglect of an infant or child prior to age two or three. These traumas can have subtle yet long-lasting effects on a person’s emotional health.
*Editor’s note: Early attachment trauma can also occur due to non-abusive circumstances, such as when a child is separated from their primary caregivers due to medical concerns. However, this article focuses primarily on attachment trauma caused by neglect and abuse.
UNDERSTANDING INFANT MEMORYAs adults, or even children, we cannot recall narrative memory from our lives as infants. For most, the concept of memory is thought of as the ability to recall events, usually in the form of cognitions and images. In general, people cannot recall any events prior to ages three or four. Because of this, there is a pervasive and inaccurate view that infants do not recall any experiences, including traumatic experiences.
In fact, the human brain has multiple ways to recall experience. Think about it. Infants, at some point, obviously learn to walk and talk. Everything that occurs in our human experience is stored in our memory. However, not everything is stored narratively or explicitly. We have motor, vestibular, and emotional memory as well.
All incoming sensory information creates neuronal patterns which are “imprinted” in our brains. These neuronal patterns are a form of memory. We create memory “templates,” or stored patterns, the majority of which are non-cognitive and preverbal. These templates will influence us for the rest of our lives.
WHEN ATTACHMENT TRAUMA OCCURSUnfortunately, when attachment interruptions (such as abandonment) occur in infancy, abnormal associations may be created. Physiological state memories, motor vestibular memories, and emotional memories are stored, and they can be triggered in later life. These triggers can manifest as mistrust or fear of interpersonal attachment.
Since the original template for how relationships work was formed in early childhood, all future relationships can be corrupted. The person may find themselves struggling with difficulties in relationships, particularly with respect to trust, bonding, and intimacy—the core elements of healthy attachment. Part of the problem may be the person having absolutely no cognitive awareness of the source of their fears or that they were betrayed in infancy. This can make treatment efforts difficult.
The brain is designed to change in response to experience, and all experience has an impact on the brain. With respect to traumatic experiences, the impact is on the parts of the brain involved with stress and fear. These would be the parts of the brain known as the limbic system (e.g., amygdala), neuroendocrine system (pituitary-adrenal axis), and the cortical systems; all of which can be altered in traumatized children.
THE INNER WORKING MODELHow a person relates to the self and others as an adult involves their “inner working model,” which consists of:
As people progress through life, their working models can become further developed and influenced by each new experience. Remember, the brain is elastic (neuroplasticity), and neural connections can be “rewired” through experiencing all of life’s different influences.
That being said, the relationship templates people seem to draw upon the most are those created in early life. The job of psychotherapy, using the knowledge of neuroplasticity, is to create adaptive working model templates in place of maladaptive ones.
BARRIERS TO TREATMENTThe problem with early attachment injuries is that while implicit memory is affected, there is no explicit or narrative memory to recall.
This can create the following constraints in therapy:
WORKING WITH THE ADULT WITH ATTACHMENT TRAUMAThe psychological injuries could involve both the self as well as one’s interpersonal relationships. Perhaps victims of early attachment disruption have an “internal attachment disorder,” mirroring the emotional injuries experienced in early childhood. Perhaps victims of this type of neglect have learned to alienate from both self and others as an essential survival strategy.
A key to recovery is learning to identify the person’s various parts of self. In order to heal the “hurt inner infant,” one has to be cognizant of the fact that there are various “parts” to one’s psyche, and each needs recognition.
It is helpful to realize that unresolved internal attachment issues can surface as otherwise normal life stressors that evoke the fears and feelings of one’s disowned, abandoned inner parts. You can help your client heal by teaching them to embrace the parts of self that were unconsciously “disowned,” even as these parts are causing havoc in their current life. This process involves befriending the parts of self by listening internally and paying attention to the likes, dislikes, fears, fantasies, and habits of each one.
HEALING THE “INNER INFANT”This involves imagery: visualization and learning to see within. Part of the process involves learning to embrace one’s inner infant by holding it close and nurturing the part of self that is vulnerable and lacking in trust. Healing will come as the person learns how to meet their inner unmet needs from infancy. Judgment has no helpful role in this process; instead, self-compassion and acceptance are key to recovery.
THE ROLE OF OTHERSIn addition to working with oneself, healing broken inner working models and relationship templates requires developing and nurturing healthy relationships with others. This can be done by being in relationships with people who already have a secure attachment style. It can also be accomplished through therapy and with the help of support groups.
© Copyright 2019 GoodTherapy.org. All rights reserved. Permission to publish granted by Sharie Stines, PsyD, therapist in La Habra, California
Do you have nagging thoughts that you’re not good enough? Are you secretly assaulted by self-doubts?
You’re not alone. Those private self-bullying conversations are common to many of us. Often called the “inner critic,” this negative, self-critical voice can undermine how we feel about ourselves, our goals, and our effectiveness in life and work.
According to self-compassion researcher Kristin Neff, Ph.D. (2011), the antidote for self-criticism is self-compassion. Self-compassion is treating ourselves kindly – accepting our strengths and imperfections and treating ourselves with the same goodwill we would share with someone we care about.
Research indicates that self-compassion is not only better for our well-being but a more effective motivator than fear (Neff, 2011). Self-compassion can quiet the inner critic, opening doors to greater confidence and feelings of security. This kind of goodwill guided inward boosts the body’s capacity to produce oxytocin, a hormone that influences social interaction and emotional bonding. Conversely, fear provokes feelings of insecurity and self-doubt, putting our brains and bodies on alert and triggering a fight-or-flight stress reaction.
Research reveals that self-compassion is not just a soft, feel-good choice. Rather “self-compassion involves valuing yourself in a deep way, making choices that lead to well-being in the long term” (Neff, 2011, p. 166). By offering themselves self-compassion, people are more able to cope with tough situations like illness, divorce, loss of job, and more likely to engage in healthier lifestyle behaviors such as nutritional eating and exercise (Neff & Germer, 2019).
If you want to flourish in your personal and professional life, conquering the inner critic can help you reach your full potential. Here are a few approaches to help you create a kinder, more productive relationship with yourself.
1 – Notice what you’re thinking about. Acknowledge the thought and then remind yourself that the inner critic voice is just a thought – that just because you’re thinking about something, it is not necessarily true. Remind yourself that thoughts and attitudes can be inaccurate, exaggerated, and biased by our personal experiences.
2 - Respond to the inner critic by replacing negative critical thoughts with more accurate information. For example, a thought such as “I make too many mistakes, I’ll never reach my goal” can be balanced with a statement such as “I learn and grow from my mistakes and each one is another step toward reaching my goal.” Try writing down repetitive inner critic thoughts and the alternative statement you want to tell yourself.
3 – Release the Inner Critic. This strategy to manage the inner critic may seem silly, but many find it useful. When you notice that critical inner voice, release it. For example, if you’re working on a project and thinking a self-critical thought, you might toss it in the garbage can or throw it in a jar and tightly close the lid. This strategy can offer a respite so you can move forward toward completing the task.
4 – Embrace imperfection with compassion. Self-compassion is kindness channeled inward toward ourselves. Neff and Germer (2019) suggest that rather than resist our internal bullying, we can accept that life is difficult – that we are all imperfect beings in the human condition living imperfect existences. Try this:
5 – Remember you’re part of a larger whole. Check in with a supportive friend, colleague, or family member when your inner critic is shouting and you need a boost. Discuss the situation, request a reality check and some cheerleading. Have a “shortlist” of people you trust and can count on to offer encouragement and compassion when you need it.
6 – Each day be kind to yourself with self-care. Can you offer yourself a few minutes to take care of your mind, body, spirit? For example, take a walk, go for a swim, do some yoga, or engage in a mindfulness practice.
** This post is for educational purposes and should not substitute for psychotherapy with a qualified professional.
Holiday Land Mines with Your Family
I write articles based on my experience as a therapist or a training or conference attendee. Many of these articles are written by others who are experts in their field and I share their information as resources for others.