– By Michael Oberschneider, Psy.D.
At our insistence, our 17-year-old son is going to get a summer job. Well, that’s what he agreed to, but we are two weeks into the summer and guess what … he doesn’t have a job yet. He’s applied to two places online (so he says) but no phone calls, no interviews and no job yet! Any advice on how to motivate a mopey teen that just wants to play video games and hang out all summer?
Dear Concerned Parent:
While you “agreed” for your son to get a job this summer, finding a job doesn’t seem to be a priority for him. I recommend that you sit down with him for a talk on the topic. First, be proactive and positive in your message; sharing with him that a job will put money in his pocket, will give him a sense of purpose and accomplishment, and will increase his social skills and independence, is a lot better than negatively telling him to get out of the house and get to work.
Second, your son needs to find a job because the job isn’t going to find him, so I think you need to manage things more as parents. Yes, he can keep applying to larger companies online and wait, and wait and wait. Or, he can go on foot to fill out applications. The Ashburn Patch posted that it had 20 part-time jobs in Ashburn last week alone, and there are many help wanted signs hanging up in storefronts and restaurants throughout Loudoun County.
Why don’t you make getting a job a positive parent-child moment where you drive around together to hunt out help wanted signs in nearby shopping centers; you could go fill out a bunch of applications and have lunch together. And keep in mind, the more applications your son fills out, the sooner he will be hired. Wishing you both a fun a productive summer.
Our 4-year-old daughter can’t get enough of her princess costumes and fancy dresses, and she wants to wear them everywhere. From summer camp, to birthday parties and to bed, she wants to be Belle, or Anna or Elsa, or Snow White or Rapunzel or Sophia the First, etc. It’s not a big deal most of the time, but sometimes it’s not appropriate, like when she ruined one of her favorite costumes on the playground last week. Every time my husband or I try to redirect her or explain why she can’t wear her costumes or dress up at certain times, she has humungous temper tantrums. Everything is princess and all of the time. Any thoughts on how to turn a princess back into a normal little girl?
Actually, at 4 years of age, your daughter’s desire to be a princess is very normal, but I understand your frustration. Setting limits with children isn’t always an easy thing to do, especially when a child is very passionate about something and “no” is hard to accept. Perhaps you could start by agreeing with your daughter on the types of places where it’s “okay” for her to celebrate her princess self and places where it’s “not okay.” For the places where it’s not okay, I recommend coming up with an action plan. For instance, your daughter and you could agree to have a costume or two on hand, and she could dress up either before or after a “not okay” event or activity. Planning ahead of time and getting your daughter involved and excited should help (e.g., you could help her pick out her costume and fold it nicely to keep in the trunk of the car if you are going somewhere). You could also come up with princess alternatives with your daughter where she could take her Barbie or a doll or a princess storybook in tow. She could also watch a downloaded princess movie or movie clips on an iPad or phone when it isn’t possible for her to dress up.
As frustrating as your princess conflicts can be at times with your daughter, take comfort in knowing that this is a phase that will pass. And remember to enjoy this precious time with your daughter because these sorts of moments go by fast.
Michael Oberschneider “Dr. Mike” is the founder and director of Ashburn Psychological and Psychiatric Services. He has been featured on Good Morning America, CNN and other popular media spots as a mental health expert. He has received the Washingtonian Magazine “Top Therapist” honor for his work with children and teens. Go to AshburnPsych.com or call 703 723-2999.