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January 2016 Newsletter

How Your Parental Relationship Impacts Your Teen

by Sophia Dyer, MFT
Whether we like it or not, our children are watching us all of the time. Children begin life by taking in the world around them, studying the way people interact, and absorbing all the information they can. This continues throughout life in what we actively teach them and in what we show them. It is no different when it comes to the relationship they observe between their parents. Whether it is a cold look, a whispered remark, a tender kiss, or a loud yell, children are always paying attention and what they hear and see can impact them. In a study done by McCoy, Cummings, and Davies (2009), they found that if a child is repeatedly exposed to negative parental conflict, they will be at an increased risk for developing emotional difficulties.
This isn’t to say that parents should never argue. All relationships have conflict and all parents will disagree at times. What’s important is the way in which parents communicate about their problems and what they show to their children. It is important to think about the effect that your words and actions can have not only on the other adult, but on your children as well. So what can you do?      
When arguing with your partner or co-parent, try to limit the amount of disagreements had in front of your children. It is okay to save disagreements for later and discuss them at another time. Also, if you are having an argument while they are present, think about how you want them to speak to others when they disagree. Model a calm demeanor with respectful language. Watching parents work out conflict in a respectful and appropriate manner can be a positive learning experience for them!
Realize that it is okay to take a break during an argument if you are finding it hard to stay calm. Just because an argument or conflict arose, does not mean you have to solve the problem right away. Sometimes taking even a 5 minute break can help you collect your thoughts, take some deep breaths, and identify positive ways to move forward. However, it’s important to come back to the conversation to make sure the issue is addressed.
Try to avoid yelling and criticizing your partner or co-parent. While tempting to do in the heat of an argument, these things can actually cause an argument to get worse. Criticizing the other person increases defensiveness. Additionally, yelling heightens an individual’s emotional state, and not just your partner’s but your child’s as well.
Outside of disagreements, find positive ways to connect with your partner or co-parent. This might include doing activities together you both enjoy, complimenting each other, and noticing the positive things your partner is doing. By showing appreciation for the other person, you begin to increase the amount of positive experiences you share with them, which can help when a disagreement or conflict comes up later.
And lastly, let your children see the ways in which you show your partner you love and care for them. Children are watching and noticing all of the interactions you have with your partner in front of them. Showing them the ways you demonstrate love and care for another person will help them build the skills they need to show love and caring for others.
Kids are like sponges. They absorb everything. Making a commitment to model calm and respectful disagreements will decrease the potential impact on their mental and physical health while teaching them positive coping skills at the same time. It will promote positive change in your relationships too!
McCoy, K., Cummings, E. M., & Davies, P. T. (2009). Constructive and destructive marital conflict, emotional security and children’s prosocial behavior. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, and Allied Disciplines,50(3), 270–279.

About The Author

Sophia Dyer is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and the Executive Director of Los Gatos Teen Therapy's sister center, Family Therapy Center of Silicon Valley. With a special focus on couples and relationships counseling, she uses a client-centered and strength-based approach to clinical assessment and treatment. Sophia provides a supportive and welcoming environment in which her clients can explore challenging emotions and experiences to grow and develop as individuals. Additional areas of interest include depression, anxiety, trauma, sexuality, and life transitions.
Los Gatos Teen Therapy Has A New Website!

As we welcome in the New Year, we are proud to introduce our newly designed website! It was created with our clients and our community in mind, so we hope you find it both informative and helpful.

Click here to see our brand new website!

New DBT Skills Group Begins February 2!

The DBT Skills group is a 4-month structured program. It is composed of four four-week skills modules. Each module includes 2 teen groups per week on Tuesdays and Thursday from 5:30-6:45pm and 2 parent groups per module on every other Saturday from 9:00-10:15am. Each four-week module is $995. New members can join at the beginning of each module.

In this group, your teen will gain skills that will help him / her learn how to better control his / her attention, emotional responses, and behavior. Your teen will also learn how to improve his / her problem solving and decision making skills all while increasing his / her ability to communicate effectively with other people.

To sign up or get more information, please contact us at 408.389.3538 or
Los Gatos Teen Therapy is now hiring a Full-Time Licensed Therapist/Supervisor and a Full-Time Pre-Licensed Therapist.
Learn more here.
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Los Gatos Teen Therapy provides individual teen therapy, family therapy, group therapy, parent support counseling, and in-home teen and family coaching 7 days a week, including afternoons, evenings, and weekends. For more information, contact us at 408.389.3538 or
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