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Hello everyone,

This Fall I will be providing an important new lecture to school parent groups called:

IT’S TIME TO TALK: Parenting in the age of technology

This will be a unique and interactive discussion with parents.  Parents will have the opportunity to learn about and discuss the following:

  • The connection between technology use and mental health
  • How much screen time is too much
  • The link between ADHD and Tech overload
  • Strategies to help your child lower his/her anxiety
  • How much sleep is acceptable for your over-scheduled child
  • Creating leaders not followers
  • Your role as a parent

………… And much more!!

 

I am getting more calls than ever from parents with children suffering from anxiety, depression and behavioral issues.  What parents don’t know is that the cause of these issues is  the countless hours (8 or more hours per day) that their kid’s spend plugged-into their smart phones, computers, video games and ipads.  Yes, their brains are being re-wired and the result is an inability to cope with “real-life” issues.  This lecture will cover all of this and will include lot’s of real cases I’ve dealt with.  Please spread the word.

Email me at tom@tomkersting.com and I will send you the flyer for this important lecture.

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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

Positive Parenting

Positive Parenting

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

Recent Lecture on technology hurting our kids

http://www.librarymedia.net/cap

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

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.

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.

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.

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

Five Simple Ways to Strengthen Your Relationship With Your Children

Five_WaysFive Simple Ways to Strengthen Your Relationship With Your Children

If you’re a parent, chances are you’re working more hours than you’d like, and you’re feeling a little guilty about the limited time you get to spend with your children. Perhaps you’ve missed a few too many evening sporting events or school activities. I’ve been there, so I can identify with how you’re feeling. One thing I’ve learned is that if the quantity of time you get to spend with your children is sometimes limited, you can make up for it with quality time.

When your children are older they’re not going to remember that you missed four of the 12 basketball games they had when they were in the 5th grade. What they will remember are the little, everyday things you did with them. It’s the little things, done consistently, that pack a big punch.

Here are five things you can begin doing with your children on a daily basis that will not only be high in quality, but will also teach them how to be wonderful and loving adults one day. After all, our children learn just about everything from us.

  1. Get Home Early: I listed this as number one because it is the most important. It is also the hardest. Our jobs demand more from us these days and our families suffer because of it. I don’t care how you do it, but make it a priority to try your hardest to get home at a reasonable hour during the week. Many of my friends and associates don’t see their children at all Monday through Friday because they don’t get home until 9:00 PM or later when their children are already sleeping. Yes their jobs are demanding, and their bosses need them, but I promise they will have regrets later because their children need them more. If you fit into this category, try to make an effort at least one day a week to get home relatively early. It’s a start.
  2. Tuck them in to bed at night: Make this ritual—every night. I do, and my kids love it. I am a big fan of tucking the little ones in, lying in their bed with them and having some hugging and snuggling time. This physical closeness teaches them how to connect with their powerful, emotional side. Our children will learn how to feel and be loved. Out of everything we teach our kids, this might be the most important. If you don’t get home from work until after they have already fallen asleep, it’s OK to wake them from their grogginess and give them a kiss good night. Don’t worry, kids are resilient and will fall right back to sleep.
  3. Enter their world: There’s a good chance that when the weekend arrives you want to relax, read the paper and do your own thing, as you should. However, it is important to your children that you participate in some of the things that they like to do. Sure you might not like the idea of playing with dolls or shooting the basketball around when it’s 30 degrees outside, but your kids sure will. I’m not saying that you should participate with them in every one of their activities, just some. They need independence too. What I’m saying is that if you show a vested interest in what your children are interested in, they will feel proud and noticed.
  4. Have dinner with your children every night: A couple of years ago I hosted a television pilot for Food Network called, “Can Dinner Save My Family?” Boy, would it have been great if Food Network picked up the series, because the traditional family dinner is slipping away and our children are suffering because of it. All of the statistics show that families who have sit-down dinners together most nights of the week are far more likely to be stable. When I say “sit-down” dinner, I’m talking about eating and talking to one another without any electronic devices included, just good-old fashioned family dinner.  Research has found that teens that have two or fewer family dinners per week are twice as likely to smoke daily and get drunk monthly compared to teens who have 5 family dinners per week.
  5. Watch Television Together: OK, if you know me and a lot of what I write about and lecture about, you know that I’m pretty much anti-technology. But one thing that my wife and I and our two children do together several nights a week is lay down in my bed and watch a show on The Discovery Channel or maybe America’s Funniest Home Videos — something that is either educational or fun. We do this for about a half an hour right before my kids go to bed and it is only allowed if my kids have completed their homework, taken a shower and brushed their teeth. It really is great family bonding time as we’re all cozied up together and laughing together. We learn together and we love together.

Stop Feeling Like Crap and Start Feeling Great

Feel_Good_NowI think a lot about who I am and what my mission is, and something hit me this morning while I was running on the treadmill. I am a person who feels great every day and I know why—because I practice it, and I want everyone in the world to do the same. It’s all about using your time wisely.

For example, when I am running on the treadmill, rather than mindlessly watching the television screen that is attached to the treadmill or listening to music, I close my eyes about halfway and focus my attention on my thoughts and feelings. I visualize my goals and aspirations. During these “hypno-runs,” I focus on the good things in life. I give thanks for all that I am blessed with and I visualize a great future. The treadmill isn’t the only place where I practice this. I practice this mindfulness while I’m driving. I practice it when I take a break at work. I practice it whenever I have downtime, and I’ve been doing it for years.

The fact is, you too can feel great every day, but you don’t because no one has ever taught you how.  I’m going to teach you how, because feeling great is the key to success—period. Once you conquer you, you will start to conquer everything in your life, including your relationships, your job, and your future.

Here’s where I want you to begin. Start by becoming aware of your inner voice, those inner conversations you have with yourself every day. This self-talk is something we all do all day long. When you practice tuning-in to your self-talk, the way that I do when I’m in the car or on the treadmill, you will quickly notice that most of your self-talk is, well, crap. It is filled with fear, worry and doubt, because that is what you have been exposing yourself to. The only way to change this negative mental program is by becoming aware of it. Then you can begin the changeover process toward creating thoughts that are more positive and inspiring. You will become the captain of your own vessel.

Start thinking about everything in life that you are grateful for. Do you have your health? Is your family healthy? Do you have a job? Do you have food and water?  Do you have a bed to sleep in and a roof over your head? Think about all of the wonderful things that lay ahead. Direct your thoughts towards the things that you want, the things you like, and the things you are passionate about.

Think about it for a moment: if the inner conversations you have with yourself are positive and encouraging, don’t you think your emotions will correspond to those thoughts? Of course they will! Take a guess as to what happens when your emotions are positive and encouraging. You become motivated and confident. You start to feel great. Can you see the cycle? Stop the worrying and start taking control of your thoughts. Do this every day for a month and check back with me. I guarantee you will be a different person.

Here’s a self-hypnosis/mediation audio file that can get you started.