5 Rules To Follow After Buying Your Child A Phone This Holiday Season

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1. Keep your child’s room clean of screens:
Your child should never have any type of electronic device in his room, period. This includes televisions, computers, and handheld devices. No matter how much grief you get, remember that you are in charge. Keep those screens out of the bedroom.


2. Your child’s phone is your phone:
Although your child’s phone is a gift make it clear that it is still yours, not hers. Make rules that the new phone is to be handed to you at a certain time every night and that he or she will never be allowed to sleep with it next to her. The temptation to communicate via text and social media will be too strong, thereby creating sleep disturbances and other issues.


3. No electronics during dinner:
Make a rule that dinnertime is family time. No phones or televisions can be used during this important time, by anyone—including you. Make dinnertime sacred.


4. Limit screen time for entertainment purposes (including TV) to two hours per day:
Yes, I get it. This sounds like an impossible task, but this is what the Academy of American Pediatrics recommended for children over eight years of age before they lightened their guidelines. But I still agree with the old ones.


5. Be a role model:
This means spending less time with your beloved device when you are with your children. Turn off your device during dinner and whenever you are in the presence of your children. Our children need us to be present when we are around them, not distracted. 

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Brand New Book

disconnected-cover-conceptWe see it everywhere: at the park, in restaurants, and inside our homes and cars—kids connected to handheld devices and disconnected from the world around them. According to the latest research, the average thirteen-year-old spends eight hours per day, seven days a week, glued to a screen. Yes, this is problematic, but for every problem there is a solution.

In Disconnected, renowned psychotherapist and longtime school counselor Tom Kersting explores the device-dependent world our children live in and how it is impacting their mental and emotional well-being. Research shows that too much time in the cyber world is re-wiring kids’ brains, affecting their ability to flourish in the real world as anxiety, depression, and attention issues soar.

Thankfully, it is not too late to save our children. Kersting provides simple strategies to help reduce screen time as well as a host of meditative and mindfulness techniques to help our kids reclaim their brains, and their lives.
Click here to purchase

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Positive Parenting

Positive Parenting

Here is an article on Kars 4 Kids website that I contributed to.

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Recent Lecture on technology hurting our kids

http://www.librarymedia.net/cap

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Technology is Ruining Our Children

Here is the link to a recent article written by the Bergen Record about my recent lecture called:

Digitally Distracted

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5 Tips for ‘Surviving Marriage’ with Your Spouse

Keep these 5 tips in mind when talking with your spouse.My new television series, Surviving Marriage, premieres tonight at 10:00 P.M. on A&E Network. There will be nine, 1-hour episodes in Season One. Each episode will highlight a different couple with a unique set of problems destroying their marriage. Although each couple’s story is different, they all have one thing in common—they are terrible communicators. Poor communication is the theme with nearly every struggling couple I work with whether it’s in my private practice or on television.

Couples with strong relationships are excellent communicators because their style of communication has little to do with talking and everything to do with listening. When you feel heard, you feel respected and validated. It’s that simple and it goes both ways in a relationship. Couples whose marriages are struggling, like the ones on Surviving Marriage, lack this simple ingredient. Here’s why:

The problem most troubled marriages face

No two people see things the same way, including you and your spouse, and this often leads to problems. For example, you might find it unfathomable that your partner hates a certain restaurant that you love or loves one that you hate. Or, maybe you and your spouse have different political views, and you just can’t understand how your spouse can see it that way. Whatever your differences are, over time they can turn into a battle between two forces (you and your spouse) attempting to sway the other to “my” way of thinking. You become fixated on your need to be right and your partner’s ludicrousness that your relationship becomes a competitive, stubborn battle that leads to one place—resentment. Neither you nor your spouse will lay down your sword. In fact, you’ll do anything just to prove that you are right, including destroying your marriage. All because you were too stubborn to listen to and respect your partners opinions and keep yours to yourself.

Here are a few tips to help you become a better communicator and possibly save your marriage before it is to late.

1. Zip It

Our natural reaction when we here something we don’t want to hear or something we disagree with is to become defensive. We immediately defend our opinion on the matter and will go to the ends of the earth to prove the other person wrong. Sound familiar? Have you ever done this to your spouse? If you have, try biting your tongue and swallowing your pride. It does a marriage good.

2. Apologize

Why is it so hard to say, “I’m sorry?” The inability to say these two simple words destroys so many marriages it’s sad. I find this absurd. If these words never leave your mouth I’d advise you to start practicing using them now. If it feels really hard for you to do this then that’s the sign that you need to do it.

3. Pick Your Battles

Do you become agitated when you have a disagreement with your spouse? If so, you need to stop this behavior. If you feel strongly about a particular matter tell your spouse that you respect his/her opinion on the matter but you respectfully disagree. You don’t need to prove why you are right and he/she is wrong. That will get you nowhere good. It’s all in the delivery.

4. Schedule some talk time

That’s right, in today’s technology driven world, there is less face-to-face communication between couples because they are too busy communicating with their phones and tablets. Take time every day to unplug and sit down with your spouse and actually talk. This is the miracle grow that every relationship must have.

5. Do a good deed

Everyone knows that when your spouse responds positively to something you’ve done unexpectedly, like putting the laundry away, that you want to do even more good deeds. So start doing some random, good deeds and you’ll start a whole new cycle of positive chemistry in your marriage.

There is no question that marriage takes work but you need to look it from a different angle. It’s not about what your spouse can do for you, it’s what you can do for your spouse. Commit yourself to what you can do better and I guarantee your marriage will be much healthier.

Follow me on Twitter!

Follow to get marriage advice from me, dalily!Want the inside exclusives on Surviving Marriage on A&E? Connect with me on Twitter! I also cover many subjects – especially: marriage, parenting, kids and general, and much more! Click here now to go to my page.

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Kids are from Mars, Parents are from Venus

Kids_are_from_VenusWhy kids struggle to survive on Planet Earth and how parents are following in their path

It’s no wonder kids can’t cope in today’s world. They’re not living in it! If you were to hop in a spacecraft and land on Mars, do you think you’d be able to cope on that harsh planet? Of course not. Well, I’ve got news for you: countless kids are experiencing the same thing—from Planet Earth.

Total panic or total emptiness

Every week the problems are getting worse with kids. I know, because I see it firsthand. I’m on the front lines in the battle. As a school counselor by day and private practice therapist by night, I’m like the undercover cop that sees everything going on in a school of 1,200 students. I get to peer into their family life too, and it’s pretty scary from my view. If you were to shadow me for a few days, you’d see what I mean. I’m talking about one kid after another coming to my office in a state of total panic or total emptiness. The ones with the panic issues all have two things in common: they are good students that are pushed to excel academically, and they are addicted to their smartphones or laptops. The result—school-work procrastination and a malleable brain that is living most of its life on another planet called cyberspace, a place far from Earth.

The other types of kids, the empty ones, seem a lot like apocalyptic zombies. They stroll into my offices with very flat, monotone dispositions. They seem utterly clueless about everything that has to do with what it means to be human. And they have an excuse for every pearl of wisdom I provide them. Most of them are actually more intelligent than the over-anxious kids, but their report cards say otherwise. They find it impossible to connect the dots between working hard in school and future success. Like the over-anxious kids, their brains have also been programmed to live on planet cyberspace, far away from Earth. Their outcome? Failure and more depression.

What is really going on?

I hate to sound all doomy and gloomy, but I need to tell you the truth about what is really going on. As parents, we see only what we see – our own child’s life. We don’t see the other 1200 kids in their school and what their lives are like. Every day my colleagues ask me, “What is going on?” And I tell them the same thing I’m telling you. It’s the machines, the screens. They have become your children’s world, and the result is an inability to function on this foreign planet called Earth, much the same as you would experience if you tried to inhabit Mars. It just doesn’t work.

Parents want answers

When the school related problems surface for these kids, when their grades go down or they become school avoidant, the parents want answers and they come to the school administrators or counselors for the answers. They want to know what the school is doing wrong, and what the school is going to do to motivate their child or fix their anxiety. When I tell them that the key is in their hand – all they have to do is pull the cyber plug – they just don’t want to hear it. So instead, they bring their children to psychiatrists, pump them with drugs and come back to the school with accommodation demands, such as extra time for tests and assignments, or extensions for handing in late work. Of course it is the school’s duty to help the children, because their problems are not their fault, but why aren’t parents getting it? How are they not seeing what I’m explaining to them? What will it take for parents to finally, well, get it?

Do you have question about your technology-addicted child? Contact me anytime.

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The Power of Personal Commitment

CommitmentMy week began with a 13-year-old boy, struggling to find the motivation to do his homework. He flat-out asked me, “How do I make the commitment to do my homework?” Next was a 22-year-old marijuana smoker who constantly makes excuses for not stopping, even though he knows it’s putting his life on pause. Finally there was the 28 year old who wanted to lose the weight she’d gained, but could not consistently find her way to the treadmill. The recurring theme at my private counseling practice last week—commitment.

What prompted me to write about the topic of commitment was my client who wanted to lose weight. She knew she needed to exercise more consistently, but just couldn’t get herself to do it. At the beginning of our session, we were talking about good habits versus bad habits, and she mentioned that it takes 66 days to form a new habit. That comment got me thinking, so towards the end of our session I revisited it. It got me thinking about my own level of exercise consistency.

Here was my issue. For the last fifteen years, I’ve been waking up at 5 a.m. and going to the gym five days a week. Over the last year something changed in me; I started hitting the snooze button and sleeping in more than I ever have, bringing my gym attendance down to four d
ays a week. So here’s what I did. I made a deal with my client. I told her that if she agrees to exercise for 66 straight days that I would do the same. She took the deal and we are now both committed to getting on track. And more importantly, we are both motivated.

What is a commitment?

In a nutshell, a commitment is a promise that you make to another person or to yourself. The good news is that most of us are excellent at keeping the promises we make to our friends, colleagues and family members but we are lousy at keeping the promises we make to ourselves. So how do you become good at staying committed to your goals, your personal promises? Here are a few tips:

  1. Make a deal: Let’s say you want to get into yoga, but you’ve been making excuses and still haven’t started. A good way to get going is to find a friend that also wants to start yoga. If you sign up together, you are more likely to attend, because you will feel obligated not to ditch your friend. The same holds true with starting a new diet or joining a gym.
  2. Look in the mirror: Look at yourself in the mirror and make a legitimate commitment to yourself as if you were making an important promise to your best friend. It’s as simple as that. It has to be real, though. In order for you to stay committed, you have to pack a big punch.
  3. Post It: Take a packet of post-its and write your specific goal on a bunch of them. Then stick them in places that you frequent, like the dashboard of your car, or the bathroom mirror, or the refrigerator. This is a good way of keeping your goal — your commitment — fresh in your mind. You are now more likely to act on that goal.
  4. Visualize: Practice 5- or 10-minute mediations each day for a week. The meditations must relate to your goal. For example, if you want to get on the exercise bike five times a week, visualize yourself doing so. The key to effective visualization is to attach a feeling to the things you’re visualizing. If weight loss is your goal, imagine the feeling you’d feel after you have lost the amount of weight you desire to lose. Really feel it. If doing your homework is your goal, imagine the feeling you’ll feel when your report card reads all A’s and B’s. Really feel it.

As of today, I have gone to the gym eight straight days. I plan on attaining the goal of 66 straight days.

Talk to me anytime about the power of personal commitment.

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A&E Network Presents New Original Real-Life Series “Surviving Marriage”

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A&E NETWORK PRESENTS NEW ORIGINAL REAL-LIFE SERIES “SURVIVING MARRIAGE” TUESDAY, MARCH 24 AT 10:00PM ET/PT

SERIES FOLLOWS COUPLES STRANDED ON A REMOTE ISLAND IN A LAST DITCH EFFORT TO SAVE THEIR MARRIAGES

New York, NY – February 17, 2015 – A&E Network presents the new original real-life series “Surviving Marriage,” which follows couples on the brink of divorce who are stranded on a remote island for an extreme form of therapy designed to repair their troubled marriages. The hour-long, nine-episode series produced by Big Fish Entertainment premieres Tuesday, March 24 at 10:00pm ET/PT on A&E.

With their relationships on the rocks, each week one couple takes the plunge to spend five days together on a secluded island deep in the South Pacific to try to rectify their marital issues. Left alone with no modern conveniences and limited access to food and water, these pairs have only each other to rely on as they navigate the challenging and treacherous conditions on the island. The couples must complete a series of physical and emotional exercises specifically designed by marriage experts to solve the serious issues tearing them apart. Guiding viewers through the experience are Dr. Colleen Long, licensed clinical psychologist, and Dr. Tom Kersting, family therapist, who help navigate the couples’ often volatile journeys, where a simple act can unearth years of pent up aggression, regret and pain.

Throughout the season, viewers will meet a new couple each week including: Cleburn and April, high school sweethearts who struggle with hot tempers and are haunted by past indiscretions; Josh and Alethea, who married young and 18 years later are still trying to find their own identities; Damian and Randi, who find it difficult to maintain a balanced relationship with an imbalance of power and decision making; and Dennis and Tamar, who struggle with financial burdens that are weighing down their marriage. On their last day on the island, after five days of battling deep seeded marital issues that seem beyond repair, the couples must decide if they want to recommit to their marriages or end them once and for all.

“Surviving Marriage” is produced by Big Fish Entertainment for A&E Network. Executive producers from Big Fish Entertainment are Dan Cesareo, George McTeague, Doug DePriest and Johnny Petillo. Executive producers from A&E Network are Shelly Tatro, Drew Tappon and Sean Gottlieb.

About A&E Network

Now reaching more than 96 million homes, A&E is the home to quality original content that inspires and challenges audiences to BE ORIGINAL. A&E offers a diverse mix of uniquely immersive entertainment ranging from the network’s original scripted series, including “Bates Motel” and “The Returned” to signature non-fiction franchises, including “Duck Dynasty,” “Wahlburgers” and “Storage Wars.” The A&E website is located at aetv.com. Follow us on Twitter at twitter.com/aetv and Facebook at facebook.com/AETV.

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15 Sites and Apps Kids are Heading to Beyond Facebook

Click below to read about 15 Sites and APPS that kids are going to beyond Facebook.  There is some very important stuff that parents need to know.

15 Sites and Apps

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