Helping Parents & Teens Communicate Free of Fighting

As someone who trains Boomers and Gen X’ers to life coach teens and young adults, I often find that the best examples to explain my work to those wanting to know the secrets of working with Millennials, comes from my own personal practice life coaching teens and young adults. Today’s topic is: Parents and Millennials -from Miscommunication to Co-creation or How to I Learned to Stop Screaming.

Although most people seeking help in life coaching for troubled teens and young adults are usually dealing with school failures, social anxiety, depression, pot or video game addiction (or both), it doesn’t take long until the other shoe drops. Parents and young adults with an equal and well earned disdain for each other. Its not that they don’t love each other, there are just too many war wounds to be ignored. What do we end up with? Each side shouting their “truths” across the room while neither side truly hears the other.

Want to get your child to not do something?
Tell them you think it’s important!
Want to get a parent to nix an idea?
Have their child tell them that they think it’s a great idea!

How did it come to this?
How do we change it?
(You know what I am going to say… don’t you?)
Change comes from outside the family unit… through a professional Mentor/Life Coach.

Here are the tried and true steps I use on a regular basis and that the Mentors I train find immensely helpful (as do the families).

The 7 Steps to Transforming Miscommunication into Co-creation.

Step 1: Parent identifies issues: school issues, home issues, personal mental health issues (anxiety included). This is our first consultation either by phone or Skype.

Step 2: Mentor meets with client (the client is the young adult) and establishes goals, the challenges to those goals and the first sign-posts of success. This usually occurs in the first one hour Skype session, the only time it doesn’t is when clients come to me as the sky is falling (read that as massive school failures that can no longer be ignored). We deal with putting out fires first and the on to the Goals; Challenges and Sign-Posts of Success. Skype is the best way to reach Millennials (vs in person therapy) as you are doing positive, healthy work with them in the place they tend to get messed up the most; their internet portal.

Step 3: Parents are freed from having to play “cop”. You get to let go of the head-butting, enjoy each other and email your Mentor the “issues” that keep coming up. Mentor and client look at each issue, and learn how to put them in perspective, how to communicate and advocate for themselves and how to understand the “other’s” perspective.

Step 4: Poop hits the fan. Both sides knew the calm would be short-lived. Something happens. The parents blame their child. The client isn’t responding to what they are saying but just yells back at the same decibel level: “Call Ken! Call Ken!” That p**ses off the parent even more (really not how I suggested to use the Mentor-in-the-middle get-out-of-jail-free card at all). The Mentor gets the client to hear the parents. The parents get to not want everything that has never been done to be done RIGHT NOW!!!! We all agree on a reasonable incremental way forward that makes sure everyone is heard. Fan de-pooped.

Step 5: The parent confession: This is where I usually get a call or email from one parent thanking me and then calling themselves an awful parent. This is where I tell them the real truth: “You are a great parent! An awful parent gives up, doesn’t care or doesn’t notice. You are a parent who needs support from a Mentor to help you with a child who doesn’t respond to whatever worked when you were parented by your parent. That to me is not only a good parent but a wise parent.

Step 6: The client confession: The Mentors that are now working with clients through us are always amazed that our clients often share their truths about their short-comings and their frustrations in now knowing how to get out of those problems. That is why the system is based on empowering young people and not focusing on the failures. Next.. Client and Mentor go back to work. Parents send emails and the Client/Mentor team incorporate their home issues with the goals the client wanted to focus on. It works. Things get better. The client starts to succeed at school, at their personal issues, and at communicating.

Step 7: A new way of communication is created for clients and parents. “Open Listening”. First the Mentor trains the client in the system. We practice on friends or family members willing to try new things. Finally we show the family how to use it during confrontations. Would you like to know how open listening works? Stay tuned or put a comment here and Ken will answer.

What is co-creation? It’s where both sides share their concerns, each side listens with an open heart to the other and together the create a new way forward. As missteps happen, both sides communicate, evaluate and recalibrate.

Interested in mentoring Millennials? Check out www.MentorsProfessionalWorkshop.com

Know a Millennial in need of mentoring? Check out www.MentoringYoungAdults.com

Mentoring the Missing Millennials of Mental Health

I have good news and hopeful news for our missing Millennials of mental health.
But first: the bad news.

Mental health issues are at epidemic proportions in our young adults. Millennials and Generation Z clients with anxiety are through the roof but for those with extreme narcissism or undiagnosed border-line personality traits, the prognosis seems bleak.

Good news:
A great deal of our clients find the proper breathing techniques, meditations and a good life coach for young adults can be all they need to deal with mild to moderate issues of anxiety, depression, anger issues etc., For those with more advanced mental health issues, the proper meds combined with a mentor can make a world of difference.

But for those with extreme narcissistic tendencies or diagnosed or undiagnosed borderline personality traits, very little works. There is a way now for these young adults with these mental health problems to also find a way forward… but first… I’d like to share with you a case study.

Meet Skeeter and his mom Benjamina. When people sign up to have a young adult mentored, they go through a form. We then ask that they share a bit about their story. Here is a modified version of Skeeters’.

Tell us a bit about your situation.:

My son is trying to navigate life and deal with the consequences of his choices.
He is creative, bright and charismatic, but he is feeling uncertain about his future, depressed within himself, and swings from high highs to low lows.

He can come calm and clear and then be erratic and unpredictable.

My experience of my son is that he has difficulty focusing in a classroom, has a great sense of humour, very insightful, very sensitive, can be manipulative and possessive. He is also very self absorbed and can be defensive/aggressive. He loves to argue his point and prove people wrong. He has anger issues and can go from 0-60 quickly.

First session: Skeeter chooses his three goals:
1) Work on his anxiety
2) Time Management Skills
3) Work ethic

Challenges:
1) Drama – every time I do something and I have a decision and I tend to bring choices that bring more drama into my life.
2) I don’t put as much importance on what other people are doing/thinking.
3) Perfectionism – “I can’t do x until my y is done”.

First indicators of success:
1) When I enter a situation calmly being completely centered in my head.
2) Being where I need to be – consistency – order in life.
3) Me taking care of business and not second guessing myself.

Great first session.
Great second session. We start implementing ways to get s**t done and Skeeter feel good about it.
Third session… no show. Call him. Text him. Email him. No response.
Fourth session… I call from our office line (different phone number). He answers and then says: “Oh Ken!.. can I call you back?” Never calls back. (sigh).
Email mom. Explain the whole thing.
Session Five: She gets Skeeter to Skype for next session with her in the room. We explain what’s happening and how he has a choice to make. He says he likes the process and will be there from now on.
Session Six: I get a text from Skeeter.
Skeeter Peterson:
Could you call at 8 instead of 745 Ken
Thank you
Ken Rabow:
Yes. I’ll call at 8
Skeeter Peterson:
I won’t b ready at 8 Ken im just gonna call you when I’m done it won’t be too long and it will be in between my time of 8-9
Ken Rabow:
your time is 7:45 to 8:45 . you can call anytime in that and we’ll talk until 8:45
Skeeter Peterson:
Ok
(We end up talking at about 8:10 for 15 minutes. Apparently he accepted an extra bit of work last minute and his boss made him go back to work as he had simply snuck away to speak to me without telling me that or asking his boss. When told to go back to work, Skeeter says he will call back in 10 minutes… no call.) Text at 9:55
Skeeter Peterson:
I don’t know why I keep messin up
Makes me just wanna give up forreal
Ken Rabow:
you got to think about wanting to do better, feel you deserve better and plan a bit ahead. at least for our talks as a start.

Call his mom. Skeeter will not meet for the last two sessions. I offer to meet with his mom and I do some research. What can I offer someone who seems extremely self-involved, would rather sabotage things and live for the drama and tends to lie with no thoughts of ramifications?

I find it!

Hopeful News!

Schema Therapy. Schema therapy is excellent for young people with mental health issues that don’t seem to improve with traditional therapy or mentoring. They specialize in people with narcissistic issues, personality disorders, treatment-resistant depression and more.

I have a session with Benjamina, share my observations and give her a link.
The next day, I received this email:

“This has been very helpful for me. Thank you. This is why met. This resonates so much. I have found a woman Wendy Behary in Jersey. She wrote, Disarming the Narcissist and holy s**t the one passage on recognizing a Narcissist was spot on!!!! I feel so liberated and relieved knowing that this body of therapy exists. So truly thank you sincerely! I think this is the direction and guidance he needs”.

As a mentor for young adults, when we take on a client, we never give up on them, even it that means sometimes they need something else. To most of you out there, go find a great mentor, it will change your life. For those of you who find nothing works, there is always something. This is one for those missing Millennials of Mental Health.

Know a Millennial in need of mentoring? Check out www.MentoringYoungAdults.com

Interested in mentoring Millennials? Check out www.MentorsProfessionalWorkshop.com

The Slacker’s Guide to Success – Introduction

The Slacker’s Guide to Success is Ken Rabow’s method based on his work Life Coaching Troubled Teens, Young Adults and their Families over the past 13 years. Here is an excerpt. Enjoy!

An Introduction to The Slackers Guide to Success By Ken Rabow
So, you know you’re brilliant. Your parents know you’re brilliant. Your dog thinks you’re amazing, then why are so many things not working out in your life?

Hi, My name is Ken Rabow and I work with young adults struggling to find their place in the world. The ones I take on as clients are those who really want to make changes in their lives. Many of the clients I work with come to me when they have…
a) Been stuck in part-time jobs without a future
b) Become addicted to video games; or pot; or magic cards or something else.
c) Failed a course, a term or a whole school year
d) Major sleep or anger “issues”
e) All of the above.
Don’t you just love multiple choice?!?

As one of my clients once said to me:
“I really like staying at home, playing video games all day in my bathrobe…..
but I’m beginning to think that it’s not a great long-term plan”.
Let us call that client Skeeter. At the writing of this blog Skeeter is back in school working on a science degree. In his first semester, he caught the attention of an amazing professor doing ground-breaking research who has hired Skeeter in the lab.
So how did Skeeter go from being a stay-in-his room slacker to an up-and-coming science guy? And why should you care if you are into something else or don’t even want to go to school but have dreams of starting your own business or killer app?
Because! 🙂

Okay, that’s a parent-y answer. The real answer is that what worked for Skeeter can work for you in any field, in any format, in any situation. Your success will come from:
• finding your power
• learning to believe in yourself
• determining how to build habits that guarantee success and
• discovering the secret to success through messing up.

Yes, I’m here to tell you that you can’t really be great at anything until you can get past…. perfectionism.
That’s what this system is all about and it works! Each time. Every time.
I’ve seen so many young people change their lives around. There are a lot of people out there who deserve to learn how to be their very best and do great things in their lives.
I’ve written these articles so you can benefit from this “out of the box” approach that I have refined in my private practice over the years. This process that will enable you to succeed on your own terms. If you follow this method, you will find yourself growing in character and soon enough you will discover yourself achieving successes you didn’t dare dream of. You will find that it’s great to get out of bed every morning, feeling good about
An Introduction to The Slackers Guide to Success By Ken Rabow
doing things that earns people’s respect. More importantly, you will feel good about yourself for your personal achievements
.
You will need to do these exercises with a coach/mentor, preferably someone who is not a close relative or who sees you on a day-to-day basis. You need someone you can talk to, someone who will keep your secrets, someone who will respect you and let you grow at your own pace.
There are three sections in these articles and each section is one full stage of development. The first stage is personal development, the second stage, professional develpment is bringing your personal development out into the world with your new strengths and the third stage, inner development is giving back to the world and growing as a person.
Here is a brief outline of the 13 steps in three stages. Enjoy!
Stage One – Personal Development
1) Investigation: Looking at our strengths; challenges, past patterns; coping strategies and choosing role models and events or ideas as inspirations.
2) Opportunity: Searching for a mentor. Choosing three goals, defining the challenges to those goals and indicators of success
3) Mindsets: Abundance, Poverty Mentality and False Epiphanies.
4) Generativity: Creating your daily routine of a personal meaningful practice.
Finding the blocks that stop you from succeeding and creating remedies.
5) Out Into The World (and back again) Bringing your new skills in to practice in the outside world in a safe and limited way.
6) Setting limits: Learning to set limits gracefully on the time-stealers in your life.
7) Direction. (Following your bliss) Creating the groundwork for a successful, enjoyable life.
Stage Two – Professional Development
8) Out into the world: Putting into practice stage one in a more extended fashion and transforming all you have learned into new situations.
9) Forming new boxes of safety: Using mindfulness and success consciousness out there and seeing how they work in new situations while learning to feel safe.
10) Creating new generative structures. Schedules, coping and new friends.
11) Making your addictions work for you. Using your urges to indulge your addictions as a reward for doing the work you need to get done.
Stage Three – Inner Development
12) A complete life. Learning a sustainable daily practice of being mindful in
learning, work, relationships and even play.
13) Pay it forward: Once you’ve reached this point, your life is richer, you are happier and you will truly want to help others grow in their own way. This step will teach you how to do that.

Get the book; paperback or Kindle! Click here

Aspergers Syndrom in Teens and Young Adults – Dealing with Rage and Anxiety

So, it was time for my Skype session with Stephen. Stephen prefers to call himself Autistic and before the DSMV, he would have been labeled Asperger’s Syndrome but if he was happy, I was happy. But right now, Stephen was not happy.

You would have thought he would have been. Instead of a Florida vacation, as a reward for doing great in school in marks, class participation and interactions, his mom had given him the dream vacation of his choice. 8 hours a day of D&D.

Unbeknownst to Stephen’s mom, there was a kid in his group that Stephen called and “ass-hat” who constantly annoyed Stephen and another kid from the moment they got their until the moment they left. Furthermore, instead of the nice drive in Mom’s Audi, they were going home by subway. (Wait it gets better). The subway cars were stopped and everyone had to leave due to a jumper on the tracks. (Wait it gets better).

Now after waiting for the bus or the streetcar for 30 minutes, both come at the same time and they are full of p—–off people, lots of sounds, smells etc., Stephen and Mom get home one minute before the Skype session with me is about to start….

Skype does its little Skyp-ee tune. Stephen is not on the screen. It is Stephen’s mom. Behind her is Stephen screaming: “I don’t want to do it! I’m f***ing fed up” (etc). (I have not heard what had gone on at this point.) Stephen’s mom says the we shouldn’t have the Skype session because Stephen is in his ‘out of control fit” phase.

(guess how it turned out)
to be continued soon!

Have questions? Contact Ken.

While you are waiting, Stephen and I put together an article which ended up in the Huffington Post about his issues with people trying to “make things easy” on people with Autism. Its a great read and got great response. You can read it by clicking here. If you like it please click “like” and share it.

How Do I Control My Teen’s Anger Issues?

So many parents and teens find themselves in constant conflict these days. One of the first questions I get on a regular basis is how do I control my teen’s anger issues? Anger is a huge issue these days. Is it more than other generations? That’s really not the issue if you are around a child who has major anger issues.

As in most things, anger issues are multi-factorial.
Any one, two or three things may push it up the heat thermometer, but it is the aggregate of 7’s, 8’s and more that bring you into the sphere of danger.

So how do we go from: “No! You’re not listening to me!!!” (for the one hundredth time) to smashed walls, tv’s or worse? It is all about communication. If neither side feels like they are getting their message across and both sides feels they know what the other is going to say and you’ve heard it all before, then you are in a mobius loop of mood. Your teen’s anger issues just seem to increase.

Four Steps for changing the dynamics from anger to communication and having a (sometimes) harmonious home:
Replacing your teen’s anger issues with better communication.

Take turns being the listener or the speaker. Whichever you begin with, do the whole process before changing sides.

1) Listen without interruption. Listen with intention. Avoid any non-verbal cues that are anything but supportive. Your goal is to hear the speaker as if you have never heard them before or know their history.

2) Repeat back what you have heard in your own words. Do not add commentary. Ask if what you heard is correct and let the speaker correct or change as they choose and repeat back again their changes.

3) Empathize on how they feel. This is not about right or wrong. This is about hearing them and their point of view. The truth is, the gap between parents and children has never been greater thanks to the breakneck pace of change the world has entered.

4) Validate. Let them know how it makes sense how they would feel like they do coming from their state of mind.

This process should take place in an unregular place (like a basement couch, some chairs in the hallway; some place that you guys have never, ever yelled in.
This process should be tried in calmer times, not when the proverbial poop hits the fan.
Expect it to take around 12 weeks to build the mutual listening skills.
Once it has taken hold, you can try a time out in a heated moment to try the system and if at first it doesn’t succeed, keep trying.

One final note (in case you hadn’t guessed)… in regards to this column’s title: you can’t control your teens anything but you can inspire them to communicate by letting both sides be open to listening.

Ken Rabow’s Update: Dec 2017.
Well. Teen’s anger issues are still in the top five concerns of the parents we meet with for mentoring young adults.
The good news is that good communication, having all parties let go of the triggers and allowing a third part (your Mentor) to help rebuild healthy ways for the whole family to work together truly ward of young adults and teen’s anger issues. Do they disappear. Probably… when they have kids of their own 🙂
But your teen’s anger issues will seem like a distant memory and good communication will be the order of the day.

Interested in more articles about good communication and eliminating your teen’s anger issues? Click here