Ask Lisa: The Psychology of Parenting

Ask Lisa: The Psychology of Parenting

Raising kids can be a bumpy, stressful, and uncertain process – which is why Dr. Lisa Damour is here to help. The New York Times Adolescence columnist and author of bestsellers Untangled and Under Pressure brings her sane, informed, and practical perspective to your timely and timeless parenting questions. Cohost Reena Ninan, a world-class journalist who has covered the White House while packing a breast pump, makes sure to get you the answers you need.... Show More

Episodes

February 23, 2021 26 min

A parent writes in asking for help to address a teenager's marijuana use. Some teens are turning to drugs in this pandemic as they are looking for ways to cope with the sadness and boredom. Dr. Lisa explains what actually works in getting kids to stop using drugs and how to talk with kids in a way that's likely to keep them from becoming involved with drugs in the first place. Dr. Lisa talks about choices kids might make in...

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Should you speak up when you disagree with the approach other families are taking with their Covid rules? Reena discusses the latest news on the spread of the British mutation and Dr. Lisa describes the mental maneuvers we make when trying to rationalize behavior. How do we find peace when we feel uneasy with what other families are doing? And how do you talk with children about the fact that different families follow different rul...

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When kids hit thirteen they often become highly emotional. What happens in the brain and the body during this time? Dr. Lisa explains and also talks about the process of "separation-individuation" where young people seek to define their own identities - often by being hard on their folks.

Parents sometimes assume that age thirteen is the beginning of adolescence. But is it really? And how can you help a tween or teen who...

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How do you get kids to understand the importance of hygiene? A mom writes in that her son is making life unbearable at home because he refuses to take regular showers since he has spent much of the year learning remotely. Dr. Lisa explains the concept of habituation - the process of growing accustomed to sensory input - and discusses with Reena the science behind sensation and perception. Lisa offers strategies to help kids underst...

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A single mom writes in feeling worried because her daughter is questioning her gender. Dr. Lisa explains what we understand about gender identity and sexual orientation, and offers advice on what to do when you are at an impasse with your child. Parents often feel they need to drive the bus on getting to a desired outcome, but that's not usually the best approach. Lisa and Reena talk about how to think with your child about com...

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It’s not always easy to be the grownup in the room. What are the teachable moments for our children as we watch alarming events unfold in Washington DC?

How do you move beyond intense polarization? Lisa talks about research conducted by social psychologist, Henri Tajfel, who survived WW II only because his German captors never discovered that he was Jewish. Tajfel explains how the Nazis are not so different from us. How does his re...

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Parents are finding it hard to get their children to feel motivated about school, especially when they are learning remotely. Dr. Lisa explains strategies that might help and how parents can help kids keep the academic train on its tracks. Lisa and Reena talk about supporting children for whom school is an uphill battle, even under normal conditions, and what parents should do if they are the ones who feel like they are drowning. R...

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Lisa and Reena kick off the new year with a look at positive psychology. What is it and how exactly does it work? How do you stay positive when things aren’t rosy? Reena asks about the psychology of manifesting. Does it really work? They also look at sadness and happiness. Lisa shares why the two emotions don't cancel each other out but, instead, often live side by side. In other words, the presence of negative does not mean th...

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When can your kids get vaccinated? If my child has recovered from Covid-19, how long does immunity last? How do you know when it’s really safe to send your kids back to school?  Lisa and Reena get answers to key medical questions about kids and Covid-19 with special guest expert, pediatrician Dr. Cara Natterson. 

CARA NATTERSON, MD, is a pediatrician who has been helping schools with Covid-19 health and safety plans and a ...

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We like to think that time can heal a lot, but when do we need to worry about the pandemic's lasting impact on our children? Lisa introduces us to the concept of “ordinary magic” - protective processes that happen at home which can shield children from persistently difficult circumstances. Lisa and Reena discuss the research on resilience and what it teaches us about kids who thrive during hardship and how parents can help.

Res...

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December 8, 2020 30 min

What’s the limit for children socializing online? Many kids use social media to connect with their friends and as an escape from the monotony of this pandemic. Lisa walks us through the pros and cons of being online - from when getting lost in distractions can be a good thing to when digital technology can be detrimental to a child’s development. Lisa and Reena unpack the research on how best to take a break, especially when our ki...

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December 1, 2020 30 min

How do you approach your child when you know they may be struggling but won’t open up? Lisa shares what she learned when she asked teens why they sometimes clam up around their parents. Lisa and Reena consider how much parents really need to know about the details of their kid's lives and the different ways to support children and help them process their emotions, even when they play their cards close to their chests. For paren...

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Navigating the holidays under Covid has its own pressures. A season that should be marked by joy is being met with sadness and loss by so many. Lisa explains how taking time to mourn the temporary loss of our regular traditions can help us deal with, and move past, these emotions. Understanding that it won’t always feel this way can help children cope with uncertainty. The silver lining is that finding our way through intensely sad...

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High school seniors are feeling the disruption of the pandemic as they tackle the college admissions process.  How do we help them manage these uncertain times while they plan the next chapter of their lives?

Special guest and New York Times bestselling author Jeff Selingo joins us to answer your questions about applying to college in a pandemic. Drawing on research from his brand new book, Who Gets In & Why: A Year Inside Col...

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How do dads differ from moms when it comes to raising kids? Lisa unpacks the research on the different roles each parent plays while pointing out that there are no hard and fast gender lines in parenting and that you don't have to be a parent to play a powerful role in a child's life. Lisa and Reena talk about the dynamics that often unfold between dads and daughters and mothers and sons, especially in the context of adoles...

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Students are finding it hard to focus on school in the midst of a pandemic. But laying a good foundation for how homework gets done is a skill that can be carried into adulthood. Lisa explains the psychological research behind two different kinds of motivation: intrinsic and extrinsic. Is it appropriate to reward kids for doing their work? Lisa discusses what parents can do to help kids self-motivate and stay on task.

Lisa's O...

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How can parents help children cultivate the ability to have tough conversations? How do we teach tolerance? Lisa explains the building blocks of civil discourse and the emotional and developmental skills that help kids engage peers constructively on the charged topics of politics and race.

Laurel's Center for Research on Girls, civil discourse resources (scroll down for "Engaging in Civil Discourse" brief): https://lcrg...

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Eating concerns are an issue in many families, especially during the Coronavirus pandemic. What should a parent look out for? When is it time to be concerned? And what happens in the mind of someone who struggles with an eating disorder? A new survey by WETA/PBS Newshour finds that teenagers ranked body image as their top source of concern in the pandemic - with boys expressing this worry almost as often as girls. Lisa looks at the...

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Parents are faced with new pressures under Covid-19, and many of us are barely holding it together. When does having personal struggles translate into bad parenting? While it's important to be honest with our kids, Lisa explains what’s not okay for your kids to see and experience as you are working through a difficult time. Adding to the pressure, many parents have lost their supportive networks. We no longer see other parents ...

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What really works when kids just won’t listen? Dr. Lisa explains there are two different mental states that parents should toggle between — warm parent and robot parent. She explains how cultivating a joyful relationship with kids puts money in the account from which parents write their disciplinary checks. If you're clashing with your teen, it’s never too late to turn things around. And those raising younger kids find out why ...

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