The anxiety epidemic:
In 2020 the UK charity Mental Health Foundation surveyed more than 2,000 children and found 50 per cent of teenagers aged 13-19 were experiencing anxiety they found hard to control.
· The Anxiety Workbook for Teens: Activities to Help You Deal with Anxiety and Worry
· Breaking free from Childhood Anxiety and OCD, Eli Lebowitz.
Key points taken from UNWINDING ANXIETY: by Judson Brewer
Mindfulness is a key tool:
'If you feel anxious it’s an uncomfortable feeling so you start worrying about it. Worrying is seductive because it makes you feel like you’re doing something to get to a solution. All it does is to distract you from the negative emotion. It temporarily numbs the difficult feelings and feels more rewarding to your brain than the original emotion.'
'If your brain learns that worrying provides temporary relief, then whenever you’re anxious your brain will trigger worry. It becomes a compulsive habit over which you have no control, but the worrying makes you feel more anxious.'
· The first step to understanding your own anxiety is simply mapping your own habit loops/ What kind of situations trigger anxiety or other difficult feelings?
· Which behaviours has your brain learned to respond as a way to soothe or distract you?
· What is the result of those behaviours?'
When you get into an anxiety loop use:
Rules That Promote Safety
· Driving – car accidents are the number one killer of teens. Establish clear rules about phone use in the car, passengers, speeding, etc.
· Drugs/alcohol – talk often about making good choices and consequences. Talk about ways they can get out of a bad situation.
Rules That Teach Morality
· Honesty – set consequences that will be more severe for lying or covering up. Also rules about cheating on their homework.
· Treating others respectfully. Rules about gossiping, bullying and talking back.
Rules That Encourage Healthy Habits
· Work – establishing h
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Hello, I'm Rachel Richards former BBC correspondent parenting coach mother of two teenagers and two older stepdaughters.Susie Asli:
And hi, I'm Susie Asli, mindfulness coach and mother of three teenagers two of them areRachel Richards:
coming up later in the program. We'll be talking about setting rules for your teen and what sort of consequences actually work. But first, Susie, we've had a complaint. Yes, Natalie says she loved our episode on pornography, which was the last one, but she still doesn't know what to do. Oh, Natalie, I am so so sorry. You're right. Because we can't tell you what to do. All we can do is give you a toolbox of information and skills and research what the experts say. But the problem is we're all living different lives. We've got different partners. We've got different children, we've got different financial situations, so there's just literally no right answer. No,Susie Asli:
so annoying, isn't it? It's annoying. We sort of have to live withRachel Richards:
the world that we've got and work with it. Yes. And figure out and have conversations keep talking. Yeah, Susie, you talk to your son about about porn and you and he just basically wants to throw himself off yeah, that'sSusie Asli:
was actually his words. We talked about it and I said it's going to be cringy you're not gonna it was like a follow up conversation after we've done the podcast thinking I need to revise that with him as well. And we I just said what I needed to say and in a short you know, we've talked about this before boys give them a two minute window I'm gonna I'm gonna you might squirm but I will be it will be over really soon. So bear with me. So I said what I needed to say and he kind of listened and screamed a bit. And then he he's quite he's got very dry humor and it's quite funny. And he he just did on wet. Right. Well, thanks, Mom. I'm not going to throw myself off a bridge.Unknown:
But yeah, messageRachel Richards:
he didn't he didn't he did. He did listen andSusie Asli:
and flippant about that kind of thing. But he was just mucking about. Yes. And he's never watchedRachel Richards:
porn. Now, Susie, have you ever felt anxious? Yes. Yeah, all of us. Academics at the University of Calgary have looked at studies across the world. And they have found that being a teenager is undergoing a drastic change. Three decades ago, the gravest public health threats to teenagers in the United States came from binge drinking, drunken driving, teenage pregnancy, and smoking. These have fallen sharply, which might seem really great. But there's a new public health concern. It's soaring rates of mental health disorders. In fact, adolescent depression and anxiety have doubled since the pandemic, but their rise actually predated it. Yeah, that's okay. Yeah. And in 2020, the UK charity Mental Health Foundation surveyed more than 2000 children, and found 50% of teenagers, aged 13 to 19. were experiencing anxiety that they found hard to control. Wow, that's a huge number. It's a big number, isn't it. And in America, for people aged 10 to 24, suicide rates leaped nearly 60% between 2007 and 2018. And the US Surgeon General has warned of a devastating mental health crisis amongst adolescents.Susie Asli:
Suicide rates are heartbreaking.Rachel Richards:
It's heartbreaking. And I think we need to think well, what's going on here? And the truth is, they didn't really know they didn't have one answer. But social media is one of the things that people are considering as a major factor. But again, there's no solid data on it. Federal research in America shows teenagers as a as a group are getting less sleep, less exercise and spending less in person time with friends. And these are all things that are needed for healthy development in adolescence. Yeah, the combined result for these for some adolescents is a sort of cognitive implosion where, you know, they've overthinking things. And over the last century, the age of puberty onset has actually dropped markedly for girls to it's now between eight and 12 years. And and it is quite a big shift what it was before. And it's the same for boys. Yeah. And why does this matter? It's because when puberty hits the brain becomes hypersensitive to social and hierarchical information. And so that's happening early before maybe they really ready to be able to cope with this existential crisis of who am I why am I you know, what, how important Am I to the world am I normal? And in addition to that, they're now getting an awful lot more information and options about who they could possibly be. So I'm getting a lot of feedback from my kids saying, you know, that you've got really young people questioning their sexuality with my sexuality wasn't even something I thought about until you know, well into my puberty so I think religion is coming up earlier. Loneliness is needs to be a key factor. Experts say recent studies have shown that teenagers worldwide increasingly report feeling lonely. And this is even in a period when you think about it when internet use has increased so you can contact more and more people. The problem is the hanging out with friends on social media or just Students Snapchats or any of this is more about those people flaunting how socially connected they are. So if you're sitting at home, on your own looking at that, it just actually accentuates the loneliness.Susie Asli:
Yeah. And it drives your sort of your, your levels, doesn't it your energy levels, it's not very calming. It's it's sort of activating thing.Rachel Richards:
Exactly. And it doesn't give you that sense of connectedness and belonging that's so important for just, you know, development. And Dr. Sherry Madigan, who's a clinical psychologist believes that the unpredictability of the pandemic contributed to that increase because the anxiety is related to a lack of predictability and controllability and that you know, let's face the pandemic, then then this you know, the world is overheating, and it must be stressful.Susie Asli:
Yeah, anxiety, feelings of anxiousness, a fear based and it's fear of fear of the unknown is one of our worst fears. Absolutely.Rachel Richards:
Now, the question is, is it all bad? So can anxiety be good for us? And there's a psychologist Tracy, Dennis Tiwari, who is saying it's not anxiety itself, but the way that we respond to it. That is posing the real problem.Susie Asli:
Yes. I totally, wholeheartedly agree with that. Do you? SoRachel Richards:
what do you think about all of this? Because you come from a very deep mindfulness perspective, how does that relate to anxiety and how we're dealing with anxiety?Susie Asli:
Yeah, it's a really good question. And a really good topic, I think. And it's very hard to, you know, think straight within it, I think as well, because it's because it in itself is fear based. But anxiety is like all feelings are signal. So we get signals the whole time. And we label them good and bad. And we try and fix them and get rid of the ones that feel uncomfortable, and we don't like, and we want more of the ones that feel nice. But really, in reality, they're signals. So anxiety is a signal that says something up, something's out of balance with with fearful of something particular. Or maybe it's something we're not really sure of stress is another one that's labeled as bad all the time. But again, it's a signal anger, is it that all signals, and we can take action on those signals or not.Rachel Richards:
It's interesting, because Dennis Tiwari says that what happens with anxiety is because you know, like most signs, it actually recruits fight or flight hormones package. So you've got adrenaline cortisol, but also, it's nuanced, because it releases some dopamine and some oxytocin. So this encourages us to seek out some support for others when we feel anxious. Yeah. So it's not what it's doing is it's, it's trying to ready you for fixing something.Susie Asli:
Yes, absolutely. So you can have some, you know, exam, stress, anxiety, or anxious anxious feelings is maybe a better way of putting it, because anxiety is, you know, is a label isn't it. And sometimes we label people as having anxiety, and I'm sure and I'm not dismissing that at all. It's, it's a horrible thing to have. But I think often it's, you know, passing phases in life, where you have feelings of where you feel anxious, and they will pass they're a normal part of life. And we, we sort of put labels on them and make them abnormal, or something that needs fixing, or, or is a little sort of a life term.Rachel Richards:
And that's what she's that's what she talks about. She says these days, we expect to exert control over every facet of our lives. And anxiety seems to have been common illness to be treated, but it's actually a tool we're supposed to be we're supposed to listen to it. And it tells us things and it actually can make you more productive. She says that in the US about half of all prescribed opioids are intended to treat anxiety and depression. Gosh, and this isn't good, because there are a lot of overdoses andSusie Asli:
and it's up normalizing the normal. So if it gets to a certain extent, you know, if it if it's a real issue where somebody can't live their life properly, then of course that needs addressing properly. I'm not belittling or dismissing any of that. But often I think it can be a passing phase, which isn't, you know, a problem. It's a normal response to a stressful event or something that's coming up as a musician, people get nervous, get anxious about playing, that is, you know, more maybe a more obvious passing event, the concert comes, you're anxious, and then it's gone. And your body reacting to that is normal.Rachel Richards:
Yes, she talks about this and says there have been studies that show when they get a group together and they separated into two and they say we're going to put you through a very stressful situation, you're going to stand up in front of a whole load of people, and you've got to present on something you don't understand or count back from 1000. And with one reset of the group, they give them the information that Anxiety is a really positive thing. And what it does is it gives them optimum readiness to be able to perform better. And the other ones told nothing. And she said, the people who realize what the anxiety is therefore and how it's helping them perform far better, yet as a result,Susie Asli:
that's no surprise. That's that's it's normalizing, isn't it, it's giving information. And you mentioned, fight flight freeze before, you know, our brains go into survival mode, when we get anxious when we get worried, and that it's a really useful survival mechanism. So our brains are still wired as if we lived in caves. And when we get a threat, which is, you know, fear, fear based future fear based uncertainty and anxiety driving, our amygdala sort of our panic button in our brain goes off. And the thinking part of our brain shuts down, the prefrontal cortex shuts down. So for example, if you are in an exam, which is makes you, you know, feelings of anxiety can easily come up, in that your mind goes blank, you can't think, which is what I teach children or teenagers, when they have exams, you can't think and you know, we get more and more anxious, we get more and more worried, and we try and fix it with our minds, try and think, think, think think, and our mind gets more and more blank. So eventually, you know, can barely remember our own name. But what we need to do is we need to tell our mind our body, because our nervous system has become dysregulated, we need to calm our system down, not keep thinking but calm it down instead. So the message then goes to the to the mind or the brain, oh, I'm okay now, and I don't need to be in survival mode anymore. And then the thinking brain switches back on again, and it works in teams, you have to sit in Greece for a minute and regulate, and then you're good to go again. So rather than panicking about panicking, yes, it which makes it worse. Yes. Trusting Yeah, and it what you don't even have to believe it, for it to work my, my eldest has, has done it. And he thinks it's all kind of thing, the things I talked about, of course, and he did it, he came home once and went mommy at work. So I had a test and my mind went blank, and I did it and it works,Rachel Richards:
it works. And when it comes to anxiety, different people are going to have different levels of response. And so some people, it actually eventually leads to depression,Susie Asli:
that makes me think of a really, really useful model that I use when I'm teaching. And it's taken from trauma counseling, actually, and it's been developed and use, and it's used often with mindfulness. And it's called the window of tolerance. And it's this model that it has like two lines in it, and in the middle of it is our window of tolerance where we function and you know, you go you go up and down within that window, you know, we will within a day, within an hour, you know, we go up and down, but we can tolerate it we can cope, it's fine, it's okay. At the top of the of the window of tolerance is what we call hyper arousal. So if you go into that, that is where we get hyper aroused. So we get triggered feelings of anxiety, rage, you know, whatever terminology you want to stress, it's going into the red zone, that's up there. And then at the bottom end of the of the spectrum is hypo arousal, where we shut down and we feelings of shame, depression, all of that thing. And the key for that is learning with with mindful awareness, when you're at the edge, so when am I at the edge of sort of about to fall into hyper arousal? When am I going to have these feelings of anxiety that are overwhelming that I can't deal with? I can't tolerate anymore? And how can I? What tools can I use that, that you can learn to keep yourself in the window of tolerance where it's okay, and at the other end as well, when you have feelings of you know, depression and you know, depression is recurring? It's an awful thing to have. When are they when when can you recognize them so that you don't have to have to have to go into those areas. But we all do. It's normal to go into both of those zones. It's not it's about coping mechanism. I love that awareness and coping and knowing how to how to Yeah, choosing it, you know, and that'sRachel Richards:
a really good thing to be able to talk to your teenager about this, giving them something that they can visualize and see, okay, I can feel myself going into that it's a thing. Yeah, it's just a thing. And I can do things to help myself because, again, dentists to worry, we're saying that we've got into a stage in society where, for example, trigger warning, so telling people, you know, you can avoid this, you want to actually increase anxiety from the candidates who have done. And in 1940s America, racial justice campaigners came up with the idea of talking shops, which nowadays would be called Safe spaces. And these are places where citizens could go and air their grievances. And they could say things that were really unacceptable, but it gave them a chance to talk about it, and then other people to say, yes, but have you seen it this way? And I disagree because of this, and it just was a space, a safe space. Nowadays, the safe space is the opposite of that, where you don't have to be confronted with any thing that you just have. worry with, which is not helping I even our brightest students have been told that the anxiety of hearing an opposing view is not something that should be part of their experience. Yes, and it's very unfortunate, because actually giving them techniques to cope with the emotions, and be able to see that it's, you know, that you need to switch on your rational brain to be able to have a conversation about something that's upsetting, rather than run away from it. Yes,Susie Asli:
it's a balance, isn't it? As in everything, you know, it's, if it's something that we're maybe sort of medium anxious about, then exposure to it can be good, it gets, you know, builds resilience, and it makes us able to cope so that it doesn't become a big deal. However, I guess if there's trauma involved, then obviously exposure is not a good thing. So it's a balance of, you know, building resilience and also taking care that you're not making it worse.Rachel Richards:
Yes, absolutely. And interesting when it comes to us as parents what what we can do, there was a 2019 experiment in treating children's anxiety carried out at Yale School of Medicine. And a cohort of extremely anxious children was divided into two groups, half were given a course in high quality cognitive behavioral therapy, which is known to be effective in treating anxiety. Sometimes it requires some drugs to support it, but it's a very, very effective technique. And the other half were given nothing, no, no trick treatment at all. Their parents, however, are both groups were treated with a therapy in which they learned to stop indulging children's anxieties. So just give them coping mechanisms and support them, but not say, after 12 weeks, 87% of the parents saw their children's anxieties had improved to the same degree in both cohorts. So interesting. So we as parents can help. Yes, isn't blame because we as parents, ourselves will struggle with anxiety, we will struggle with difficult situations. So in no way should parents feel guilty. But we can talk to our children, our teenagers about because they're teenagers, they're now at a stage where they can actually be given accurate information about what works and why they're feeling these. Absolutely, it's in his feet.Susie Asli:
I think it's so interesting, and we've talked about this a few times, but it's so it's a really great opportunity to, to have a look at what are we sending out? Because, you know, it's not so surprising that sometimes, you know, people with anxious parents have their children are anxious. And again, there's absolutely no blame. But it's an opportunity to have a look at, you know, what am I what am I sending out and we know our kids are sponges. And on the other side of it is that when our kids experience anxiety, and I, you know, absolutely put my hand up to, to, you know, lots of this, it's not like, you learn mindfulness techniques, and then you don't have these feelings.Unknown:
It doesn't work, unfortunately,Rachel Richards:
very early, otherwise,Unknown:
I'd be really rich.Susie Asli:
But, you know, one of my children had an episode of feeling anxious, not so long ago now 18 months ago, two years ago, and you know, I fell down the rabbit hole of all, Oh, my goodness, we've got to fix it, we got to fix it. He's got anxiety, you know, first, that was my first response. And it took a little while to unpack that and sit with it and actually know, he was having a normal response to a stressful situation, which passed, and he then he was fine again, and we worked out what the stressful situation was, it was it was exams. And if he did some more, you know, preparation for, for this particular thing. And he'd had other things as well. There were other issues. It was sort of a complex net, which in most cases, but anyway, the point is it passed and other things helped. But I fell down the rabbit hole of thinking, Oh, this needs fixing. And I'm absolutely 100% sure that did not help him.Rachel Richards:
Yes. And it's this sort of toxic positivity, where we were sending out the message that everyone should be happy and successful all the time, which is what the Instagram reels show. And I love Susie's Instagram, on mindfulness, because there's so many, she just so often puts little, little ways that you can deal with these thoughts when they come into your head, just the the kind of just letting them go and the ways to breathe. And so it's very well worth following her if you're on Instagram.Susie Asli:
But it's really worth thank you for that it's really worth looking at our own response to things because we are responsible for the energy we bring. And if and if we are feeling anxious, and I don't I mean, I have absolutely no statistics or any research things based on this part from my own thoughts. But you know, I think it's not a coincidence that you know, levels in teenage anxiety is going up as we have experienced huge amounts of anxiety as adults, you know, COVID all the different things that we're going through. They pick up on that it's not it's, you know, it's not rocket science. And if we can take a moment and look at our own levels and do something about that. They will pick up on that immediately.Rachel Richards:
And so when it comes to teenagers, the angst xiety can be about different things. So children tend to have anxiety about the monster under the bed, teenagers tend to have anxiety about themselves. And their performance very often comes out as perfectionism. So they fear not doing well in school or sports, or they're worried about what people think about them. Bodies are a really major issue. And you know, where boys aren't showing it very often it's about height, or the size of their genitals or, you know, there are lots and lots of ways in which they can become anxious, and then it gets into a cycle.Susie Asli:
Yes. And if we're giving at the same time, we or society or school is giving out a signal, if it's, you know, if it's exam results or school thing, we're giving out a signal that, yes, it really matters, it does really, really matter. It's really, really, really important, then, you know, that obvious where that those thoughts are gonna end? Yes.Rachel Richards:
And I remember seeing a lady talking about her daughter who was suffering anxiety about the way she looked. And a lot of parents said, we'll just tell her she's beautiful, or take us shopping and give her somebody new outfits, all the answers were to do with how she looked, we tend to stay with where the where the emotions have yet,Susie Asli:
if anxiety is a signal, which it is an anxious thoughts, I prefer that than the label anxiety itself, and, you know, anxious thoughts? If they are a signal? Well, what are their signal for what's the underlying problem? Not, you know, so that, as you say, you know, if we're fixing the fixing the issue that you need fixing, we're fixing the anxiety. So they're feeling anxious. Okay, well, let's give them breathing things which are brilliant, by the way, their course we need to do that. But if we're just fixing the symptoms of the anxious thoughts, but not addressing Well, why are they feeling anxious in the first place, then they're not going to go away?Rachel Richards:
Absolutely. And teenagers who are anxious, can use things like refusing to go to school, because often the school environment will have the things that are triggering the anxiety, recreational drugs like marijuana. I've seen teenagers saying, Oh, no, it just calms me down. Vaping whatever. The problem is, that's just creating another nother difficulty further down the line is what they're doing is they doing something to just try and suppress the anxiety Plus,Susie Asli:
they live in a society where, where we hate discomfort, which we've talked about before, you know, so if, if we have this idea that we're not supposed to feel any discomfort, so we're gonna we're trying to get rid of it, as opposed to seeing it as a normal response to a stressful situation. And that is exacerbated for the parents, when I've experienced that myself. I'm sure all parents have, you know, our child is having anxious thoughts. That's super uncomfortable for us. So we try and fix it and get rid of it.Rachel Richards:
Yes. So there's a book by Judson Brewer called unwinding anxiety that I read, which I thought was brilliant. And he talks about anxiety, if we're going to talk about it as a condition is a compulsive habitual behavior, when we're anxious our abilities to think rationally shut down, and you can't talk your way out of it. Because you're now in survival brain mode, you're you've stopped thinking, he doesn't recommend mindfulness techniques, or to stop you from being on autopilot and understanding where the anxiety is coming from. And he uses the acronym rain. So he talks about recognizing the difficult feelings. So don't just go to the thing that tries to fix it. So you know, if you think of cake is associated with birthday parties and happiness, then you'll eat cake. But that's not really going to fix the problem that you've got. So recognize the difficult feelings, accept them and allow them to be there. Investigate the sensations in your body and emotions bubbling up. And the note what's going on is simply observe yourself with curiosity. And the curiosity I thought was a really interesting one, because he said that when children are young, they go through that phase of why, why, why, why they wouldn't want to know no answers to everything. And then as we become adults, our curiosity tends to be problem solving. So we're literally asking questions only when we want to solve a problem. Yeah, that's so true. And he says, We need to try and return ourselves back to being curious about what's happening with our body, and why our mind is doing these things. And then if you sit back and you say, Oh, that's really interesting. There goes my silly mind getting up, you make it much less about a problem.Susie Asli:
Yeah, I think that's so true. I really like him. I think he's brilliant. And curiosity is one of the attitudes in mindfulness there is there's a list of them. And you put, you know, approaching things with an attitude of curiosity is a from a non judgmental place. It'sRachel Richards:
That's it? That's brilliant. Yeah, it'sSusie Asli:
looking at it from an open place. You know, what, what is this? Even if you kind of have in the back of your mind or what don't like this,Rachel Richards:
what you're saying is, when we feel anxious, we start judging. Yeah, we do. And instead of doing that, being curious, like,Susie Asli:
what is this What is this feeling? And the other thing, you know, the thing you read that I think is brilliant, you know, recognizing, accepting, and I think sometimes people misunderstand that because those are very much the case of mindfulness. You know, accepting something to be as it is can often be missed. misinterpreted as not doing anything about it. And that's not the same thing. But you have to accept a feeling not ignoring it. No, it's sitting with a ting that exists, yes. And then you can take action if you want to afterwards. But unless you've accepted it to be as it is, then you're you're resisting it, and then you can't deal with it.Rachel Richards:
Love that. So not but yes, brilliant. I love that. All the links to the research that I've done, and the useful articles that you in the book, they're all on the podcast notes. So please, if you this has affected you in any way, do go into them, there's some really great rate means of help out there. And CBD and antidepressants, they, they really can make a difference.Susie Asli:
And simple breathing techniques are unbelievably helpful. I mean, they really do make such a difference. And there are loads on the square breathing. As long as there's millions, I could give millions, but they really are because what they do is they they settle the nervous system and they allow you to be with whatever it is, they really do make a difference.Rachel Richards:
I love it. Don't forget to breathe. And you're in the gym and like Breathe, breathe, breathe along. Most of us don't breathe properly. Have you or your team struggled with anxiety, mindfulness is a surprisingly effective way of tackling it. If you want to talk with Susie, you can reach her at Susie azulene mindfulness.co.uk. Now Susie, we've had some lovely feedback from Jess about Episode 10, how to support your team through tricky friendships. She called it absolutely brilliant and said I really needed this on Saturday when my daughter was in tears again. Even though she's a mental health social worker and thought she had lots of skills, nothing has prepared her for teenagers and helping her daughter through high school, Jess, gosh, you are definitely not alone. And it's actually really helpful to hear that professionals are also struggling with some of these things, because we were still individuals, we're still human beings. And we get pulled into these things, don't we?Susie Asli:
Absolutely all you can hear from you know, I've been practicing mindfulness for years, and I fall intoRachel Richards:
everything. And just that we recognize, yeah. And she asked why girls who bitchy? Well, I don't have an answer. But I have told my daughters, I think it's because they put under terrible amounts of societal pressure, from a young age to conform to things that are impossible to conform to. I've lined up a really interesting interview to talk about an intervention for girls aged 11. And plus, where you sort of have a year program of meeting up and talking about everything, and it's protective. So it's designed to help girls make that transition into the teenage years without being having to resort to these kind of more toxic behavior. So yeah, it's coming up soon. I'll actually let you know when it's when it's when it's here. Now want to a topic that comes up time and again, with teenagers. What do we do about creating rules for our teens? And how do we enforce them? Do we give rewards punishments consequences? It was so much easier, wasn't it when you would just? Yeah, okay. There was a total years which weren't that great. But you know, generally you had you set your your house up a certain way. And that was the way it was supposed to be. So if you had rules, they were fairly compliant when they were younger. Susie's looking at me blankly. I don't actually understand what you're talking about. This isn't my that's my territory. And Emily says in terms of our house rules, we haven't had too many teenage based ones yet. But she says that we have had to sit down as a family to discuss mealtime rules a while ago for all of us. It was horrendous with everyone getting grumpy at everyone else. So we wrote down what the rules would be and displayed them next to the table and everyone had permission to call everyone else out for breaches. It worked a treat. Brilliant. But you can just hear you can hear mealtime. Thank you don't doSusie Asli:
that y'all didn't do number four on the list.Rachel Richards:
But it works. Do you this is the point. So for her family, she saw a problem there and went Okay, so let's have a meeting. And we can try and find a solution that works for all of us, which is brilliant.Susie Asli:
I asked my daughter about this because I knew we're going to discuss rules. And I was thinking What rules do we have?Unknown:
And I asked my extreme end of this. And we do have rules. I askedSusie Asli:
her she's 14 and she kind of looked blankly as well, and when I don't know. And then she sort of thought, Well, we do have rules, but she sort of internalized them. But then we rarely do you know, she goes up at a certain time for bedtime and her brother has to pack his bag before he goes to bed. Otherwise, it's absolutely chaos. And there are some you know, absolutely specific things. And we used to discuss some of the rules. You know, some things work, some things don't come into the meal to dinner time, still an issue. So we regularly revisit how we do that. So what are the rules? We used to have a family meeting about whether one of them could stand up at dinner or not?Rachel Richards:
When they were younger, that would trigger my husband.Susie Asli:
Yeah, well, I know the four of us Am I want my yeah Anger son was used to stand up and go in, you know, kick a football around in the corner of the kitchen like a softball. Like he was possessed. This isn't teenagers, this is younger, and it annoyed some of us and then didn't annoy others. So we had a family meeting about it and came to the conclusion that it was okay if he stood by his chair, or was my daughter's the rest of us weren't really that bothered, but she was. And then as soon as he was given permission, so we did a vote. He could stand up at dinner, but he needed to stay by his chair and not wander off to the other side of the kitchen. All right there. Yeah, yeah. And then he did it way less interest, and it's still a family. Do you know if he stands up at dinner time? Yeah, but I'm allowed. We had a meeting about but you've got to stand right there. That's very funny. But they were part of it. So what's,Rachel Richards:
what's great about that is that you had an opportunity as everybody in the family to listen to what was an issue for one person and not an issue for another person. So you could all hear each other's reactions, and it kind of gives people a sense of who they are, yes. And what matters to them. So your daughter now will be quite clear that for her that this matters more than for some other people. And it's all part of getting to know yourself, matters as well. Yeah, exactly. And learning how, okay, the best way to deal with this is rather than scream at someone else, or throw things at them or sulk, is to actually have a conversation and try and listen to each other. Yeah, and find a solution learn well,Susie Asli:
what actually is important, rather than just going with the rule, you know, what actually does matter? Does this actually bother me? No, not really. Oh, yes, actually, it does. So I need to rule that.Rachel Richards:
And I think one of the really difficult things about parenting teenagers, for many parents, is the adjustment. So for the parents, who tend to be a sort of command structure, and prefer that way of parenting, having to slip more readily into being aware that they are going to be a different opinions can be quite difficult to think. So when you're having a situation where you're prepared to sit down and listen, again, your teenagers respect, and but it can feel awkward, you feel uncomfortable. I thinkSusie Asli:
it's a really good point. Because if it if that is the situation you've had previously, then then teenagers, they I mean, they can't bear being told what to do. I mean, none of us can be honest. Teenagers hate it. And they also hate as we all do. Pointless rules.Rachel Richards:
Yeah, the point, this is one of our take pointless rules.Susie Asli:
So he's just there, because we did it 10 years ago, or five years ago, and we still doing it, but there's no point to it, they will break it. And then if rules are important to you, there'll be a fight about it.Rachel Richards:
Yes. So we've, it's something that really matters to you, you need to kind of explain why it really matters to you. And it sounds annoying, because you're making the money and having to support the household and everything. But it is sort of part of teaching them how to grow up and deal with the outside world. So if you want buy in, if you want buy Exactly, exactly. So the fascinating thing about rules is that every time we create a rule or a law, you have to consider the ways that people will try and get around it. So this is this is a problem for the government, that they will set up a rule or law, and they have to spend a lot of time questioning what impact it's going to have on people's behavior. So for example, taxes, if you raise taxes in this way, then a tax avoidance will happen in this way. It will, it will trigger behead certain behavior. So when we're setting up rules, we've always got to remember the teenager may find a way around it. So one of the fascinating ones I looked at was this mother who said I'm feeling a bit irked because I homeschool my daughter. And I have told her no online gaming or games until all your work has finished. And I've just discovered she's been getting up at five o'clock in the morning, doing all of her work so that by 10 o'clock, she's able to play a game with her friend who lives in a different state, very smart. And she said, I just feel a bit anxious about it. But I don't know what to how to feel. And I just thought, well, wow, you've got such a great girl. Because what she's done is she's looked at the role you've set up, and she wants to make it work for her. She's figured out something that it takes some adults a long time to figure out how it's up to her. And she's doing she's living within the rules. So this is the problem with setting rules, because there's a spirit of a rule. And then there's the rule. Yes, you will. Yeah. And you will find people who will look at a rule and just walk around it.Susie Asli:
And I think teenagers particularly wants to look like they don't like to be told what to do. So they will find the loophole, and they will find the exception and they'll they'll do it. Susie, youRachel Richards:
have different types personality types when it comes to rules.Susie Asli:
Yeah, there's this amazing lady called Gretchen Rubin, who's written lots of lovely books. She's about happiness. And she's done lots of experiments as to how to be happier quite few years ago. And one of her more recent things is what she calls the four tendencies, which I think is amazing. And again, it's category. And she has and it's all about we're different types and it depending on whether we need to meet in our expectation ends or outer expectations. So she has four categories. And there are upholders. And basically, they want to know what should be done. And they are the upholders. They want to meet outer expectations and inner expectations. We have obligers, who will meet outer expectations and resist in expectations. We have questioners who resist at outer expectations and meet inner expectations. And they, they, you know, they need to know the why, right, and rebels who want freedom to do something in their own way. And they resist outer and inner. And the reason as to why it's useful is to how do you how do you manage? How do you make choices in your life. So, for example, if you're an obliger, and you meet outer expectations, but you struggle with meeting inner expectations, so say you want to get fit, but if you arrange to meet with a mate, and say, Let's go for a run together, you will show up because you need to meet our expectations is amazing. It's brilliant. It really is really, really helpful. And there's a she has a quiz, which is also a really fun.Unknown:
website, there's a website, yeah, GretchenSusie Asli:
Rubin, the four tendencies. And I did it with my kids, and my son's girlfriend was there as well. And it was just fascinating. It really helped them to understand. So me and my eldest were both questioners. So I will absolutely follow rules. If I believe in them, I think I think I'm the same. If I don't believe in them, I don't think that they are worth it or worthwhile, or they have any sense to them. I won't, whereas other people will follow the rule, because it's a rule. My daughter's like that she wants a rule, and she'll follow it because it's a rule. And then if you don't have that understanding, it's also really helpful, you know, relationship wise that you understand each other why you're doing what you do. Rebels are a bit annoying, you know, they just hate my son thought he was a rebel, but he wasn't really a question. But knowing that it's really, really helpful.Rachel Richards:
That is absolutely, but I think I think I'm also a questioner and problems. So I'm a questioner, who had parents who didn't really have explicit rules in any way. They were arbitrary. Yes. And because of that, I questioned everything, and really did my own thing. Yeah. So yeah, you need to be fairly clear about this. And actually just coming back to the rules. What's interesting is, I was talking to a parent quite some time ago, I'm talking about sort of teenager times. And he said, You know what, I think you pretty much want to set down the rules when they're young. And then when they're older, you've got to trust them that they understand what they are. I don't completely agree. But I think what he was talking about was a set of rules that had to do with your values. Yeah. And so the one of the websites I looked at, which I'm not going to send people to, and I'll explain why in a minute, but one of the one of the websites was great, because it said, there are two distinct types of rules, one of them has to do with your value, your core value system, and those won't change. So it doesn't matter whether they're seven or 17, they are the same lying and, you know, kindness and all those things. And then there are the rules that do are age appropriate. So they matter, because what will happen is there will be certain times at which you make decisions that they can, they need to change. Yeah, and those are need to be fluid, and they need to be discussed. And they need to be something that you are conscious of, because if you're not conscious of those rules, and the need for them to adjust as the child gets older and turns into a teenager, and then you know an older teenager, then you can come into a little bit of a friction and sticky wicket. So I thought that wasSusie Asli:
really brilliant. I love that I love that difference between what are your core values? And you know, we've talked about that before, if you don't know what your values are, then how can you possibly make rules really, seriously? If you don't, if you because then you need to explain them as Yeah, you need to do it. Otherwise, you're willy nilly plucking them out of your childhoods, what you think society wants, or what your neighbors doing, you know, and that don't sit down in a quiet and what what, what's important to me, then how do you know,Rachel Richards:
and that's a really important point, because I think the pressure of society can make us feel shame, if we're not doing things in a certain way, or we feel that our children aren't living up to what society seems to be saying, we need to know what we feel because that's much more important, I think.Susie Asli:
And then we can use those categories if we want to do the fun quiz, you know, but you know, and I think it's important to say that there's no judgment in any of those categories. I mean, some of them sound more fun or more liberal than others don't know. But if you're somebody or you have a child who really like structure and rules, if you're your child's and obliger I have one is really useful, and there's no judgment in it, but it's if she has rules if she has a list of things she needs to do, she'll do them and it actually makes her karma.Rachel Richards:
Yes, yes. If you don't put rules in place that are clear, the teenager can feel unsafe, and they can feel unloved because whilst it can feel like they're pushing back all the time, and they're disagreeing with you which they won't do so much if you get by it by having discussions. They actually they have their framework of caring. And that's why they they do actually matter.Susie Asli:
And they will admit that to you mine have admitted things to me like that in the past. Like, I'm glad you did that. Yeah, later, and I'd be like, Oh, wow. Really? Yeah. Write that down.Rachel Richards:
Now, they're very well, family.com website, I put a link in to the podcast. Fantastic. If you like categories, because some people like a sort of general idea. Some people really, really want to know what what what am I supposed to be talking about here? So they break it down into rules that promote safety? Like, what are your rules about driving curfew? What's the curfew time, and it changes throughout the age? Rules? It teaches morality, honesty, treating others respectfully, rules that encourage healthy habits. So establishing work times. spare time, what how much electronic use? Are you allowing in your house? Self Care, healthy eating good sleep habits? So you can actually take one category at a time and say, What do I think about this? How I thought about it? And do my kids understand where I am on? And do they agree with me? Yeah.Susie Asli:
Can you discuss it when we discuss it? Yeah,Rachel Richards:
I have I have I miss something. Rules that prepare teenagers for the real world like money management, self discipline, so that the you know, just let them have the natural consequences so that they have to learn and rules that enhance social skills like, you know, how do you teach your teenager to deal with troublesome friendships and dating, how much contact you're allowing them? What's their emotional regulation? You know, do you have you teaching them how to manage their anger, things like that. So I thought that was a really, really fantastic website to access. And you can either write these things down and put them on a wall, if your house needs that, because sometimes people you'll get the kids who get Yeah, but you didn't say that? Well, yeah. It depends on what type of child rightSusie Asli:
or just sort of a discussion that you have ongoing, something you just said, which which wrangles as well is something that I've used a lot is natural consequences. When you talk about rules, I think that can be the most effective way of, of finding or finding the edge, you know, natural consequences of instead of having an you know, rule that we stick to, well, what's the natural consequence of not doing it? So you know, the obvious one is homework, instead of going Have you done your homework and making sure they've done it, the natural consequence of them not doing it is they get in trouble at school, or they fail the tests because they haven't got the right information. So youRachel Richards:
see, you are spot on. And I've got one example that happened today. So for the last few days, my daughter has been saying, Oh, we can go in a bit later. Nobody really cares, new, they don't notice it's fine. It's fine. It's fine. And so I said, Okay, so what you're going to miss form time. Yeah. And that's not a problem. So I just said, Fine. Okay, I'll take you in a bit later. Today. She said, Mommy, we got to leave early. We got to leave. And I said, Are you like you're rushing and she went, you know, we've got to get in. And I thought, okay, the natural consequences, really. We didn't discuss it. I didn't bother going there. But she's realized, andSusie Asli:
they learn it in such a different way from mom going, you have to do this. That's not my problem. My son did that. She was getting out of the house in the morning and they get the train and now post COVID They seem to still be in COVID, timetabling. I don't know whether that will never change. But there's only two an hour and if they get one, it's fine. If they get the next one. They are, you know, quite late for school, or they're late anyway. And we got to a point where he was like, always laid out they're always late and I was falling into that trap of Come on. You ready? Come on, hurry, hurry, hurry, hurry. And he just one morning went Mom, can you just not do that can you can leave me alone. If I missed the train, I missed the train. But you reminding me every two minutes is not helping at all. And it's making me really stressed. So can you not do that? And I went, Oh, that's a really good idea. Yeah, I'll be up for that. So there was no you know, you need to leave the house by this time, and come on, hurry up. And he's missed it once. And the natural consequence of that, for him who's very sociable is he has to sit at the train station by himself without his mates do the 15 minute walk on his own. And he has to explain when he gets to school, why he's late. So he's only done that once.Rachel Richards:
Fantastic. And that's a wonderful way of letting our teams start to take personal responsibility. I do think in terms of consequences, because people often say, so what should I do? How do I punish my child, they've done this wrong that. So first of all, the way you start putting the rules in place will make a difference to what you need to do if they don't live up to the rules. Because if you've previously agreed that these are good rules, is far they're far less likely to break them. However, there are children who are very inclined to do the opposite of what they think they're supposed to be doing. So in terms of consequences, because I prefer consequences to punishments, I think punishments is a terrible word to use, because you're not, you're not trying to punish your child, because people don't really learn well from punishment, giving them consequences. So it's interesting because you know, my husband sometimes says, well, The whole thing about, you know, parking in somewhere where we shouldn't Park is, if you're prepared to pay the fine, then that's fine. So he's got that sort of attitude to things which our prime minister seems to have do. But if you can pay the fine, then that's fine. And I think that's missing the moral responsibility of behaving correctly, which I would subscribe to. But again, you can talk about that you can say, well, you're just a transactional rule, Abed, whereas, you know, so the problem with setting in specific consequences is they will look at it and think, Well, if it's, you know, if it's that consequence, that's not such a bad thing for me, I don't really care. So you actually have to have consequences that are meaningful and relate to the thing that they're doing. So if they are behaving poorly online, if they're using bad language, you know, treating people, you know, doing things you don't like, you remove the online element, but not for a long time. So there's these massive decisions like, oh, that's no TV for the rest of the month, or you know, your phone is gone. The problem with that is that it causes much bigger problems, because it doesn't actually correct the behavior necessarily. All it does is create friction. So it's better to do an inching forward. So you take it away, take away the phone, for you say it's 24 hours. If they do it, again, repeat offenders it escalates. So it's better if you've got it. But you also then say, well, you've got a problem managing your online behavior. So clearly, there are all sorts of other issues there that we need to unpack. So I'm going to protect you from yourself. So rather than making it a punishment, saying you're a bad person from doing their thing, you say, clearly, you're struggling with something that's very hard. And people your age can struggle with that. So I think you're not old enough. And that really hits home. Yeah, I don't think you're old. Coat. Yeah. So you take it away, and say I'm protecting you.Susie Asli:
Yeah. Or dealing with the, you know, if it's digital dealing with the because it's a distractor, isn't it? My, my sense, was trying to revise and was just scrolling on his phone. So you know, going in and going, right, I'm taking your phone away? I mean, what, what, that's just power weirdness. So it was like, Do you want to give me your phone because I can see, it's really difficult for you to, it's really distracting you let me help you.Rachel Richards:
It's exactly the same with my daughter, and it had the exact same response. So it is about saying what I need to enable you to be a person you want to be Yeah. And so these are the things I'm putting in place to help you get to be the person,Susie Asli:
why are you enforcing these things? It's often quite a power thing, you know, that a lot of people don't like the idea that somebody's not doing what they've asked them to do. And it's worth having a look at that. Maybe, you know, they haven't done it. I said you had to do it, you haven't done it. And that triggers us massively. And it triggers us because I guess it's a control thing, or we think it's disrespects whatever your personal interpretation of that is, but it just can be very triggering. Why is that triggering you? Why does it matter if they've unpacked the dishwasher today, or they're going to do it in an hour or you know, whatever the situation is? And yes, you might get to the place we're going to actually that's really, really important that you know, just have a look at it.Rachel Richards:
And we don't want parenting to turn into sanction bullying, know where you because it can we can trip over into that if you're not careful.Susie Asli:
We know so much about what that means. And the consequences of that. Now we know what that that's, that's that's kind of old, I thinkRachel Richards:
it's very old fashioned. So we'd love to know, if you have any suggestions or if there's anything else you'd like us to cover, you can find us on Facebook, Instagram, and help at teenagers untangled.com. And if you need any help with mindfulness techniques, then as I said before, Susie is available for online consultations as well as in person. Next episode, we delve deeper into anxiety and look at self harm. So what's going on? And how can we help a teenager who starts down that path? One of my daughters has got personal experience of friends going through that. And it's very distressing for everybody. The one thing she said as a result of it was you don't get one person suffering. Everybody is involved. So also, what's your talking style as a parent? Are you a hot and cold tap or perhaps a best friend so we love our categories. Next week, we're going to do parent talking styles, and how you can adjust your parent talking style to get the best out of your relationship. Brilliant. Can't wait. That's it for now time to schedule in a family meeting. And if it makes you feel anxious, just remember our ice breathing, breathing, breathing, breathing,Susie Asli:
and it's okay to stand up at the table. It's okay toUnknown:
stand up. Or maybe not.Rachel Richards:
I think my husband would get he's really really stickler for being at the table until you're not at the table. Anyway, thanks for listening. Goodbye. Goodbye for now.