About Dr. Polly Dunn

Child clinical psychologist, wife, and mom of four blogging about her 'Perfectly Imperfect' parenting solutions.

Updated blog coming soon…

Our site will be under construction in the coming weeks, with lots of plans in store for 2014.  Stay tuned!


Back To School Tips For Your Teen

When our kids were in elementary school it was obvious what we had to do to get them ready for the new school year.  Registration.  Check.  Meet the teacher night.  Check.  School supply shopping.  Check.  Pictures on the first day.  Check.  You know the drill!  If you’re like me, by the time your kids reached middle school you had the whole routine down to a science. 

Then they hit junior high.  And high school.  And things changed.  Those same kids that needed us to help them get back to school when they were little overnight became, dare I say, INDEPENDENT.

It’s at this point that parents like us have a decision to make.  How are we going to approach our teen’s new found independence?  In my experience, parents typically choose one of three paths to follow as our teens mature to young adults. 

With the first we allow our kids all the independence they want.  Letting them make their own decisions and essentially letting them spread their wings and fly.  While we continue to support them financially and offer guidance when asked, we begin treating them much more like adults.

Parents along the second path stay heavily involved in all aspects of their teen’s life and try to manage all of their decisions despite their teen’s likely resistance. 

And the third?  It’s the path in the middle.  Somewhere between allowing your teen full independence and you keeping total control.  With this path, you slowly give up your control as your teen moves towards their eventual independence.

Personally and professionally, I like the path in the middle.  Teenagers are still children who need nurturing and guidance from their parents.  But they are also at a time in their development where they need to express their individuality and learn to make decisions on their own. [Read more...]


Bonding Activities With Your Teens

When our kids get older, it becomes harder and harder to connect with them.  But as parents, it’s especially important for us to continue to put in the extra effort it takes to cultivate relationships with our tweens and teens.  Check out my top ten ideas for engaging your teen in activities you’ll both enjoy:

Learn a new skill as a team.  Decide together what you’d like to learn and go for it.  Cooking, photography, music, and art classes are regular offerings in most communities.  Or learn how to kayak, play golf, or tennis.  Really feeling adventurous?  Learn a foreign language together!   

Play a game.  Sure traditional board games are great, but teens are hooked on their electronics and there are lots of fun games that you can enjoy with them.  For instance, play a game of ‘Words With Friends’ on your smart phones.  Start a two player game on a tablet.  Even see what those video games of theirs are all about.  I promise, it will be fun!   

Complete a project.  If you’re like me, then you probably have a lot of projects around your house that need completing!  Whether you wash the cars, paint a room, or work in the yard together, there’s a lot of satisfaction (and bonding) that comes from finishing a project together.  Or pick a DIY Pinterest inspired activity or craft and work with your teen to get it completed.

Share your hobbies.  Think about the things you like to do.  Now share those interests with your kids.  It could be taking them to your painting class, letting them make a scrapbook with you, or bringing them along to set up your fantasy football team. 

Learn about their hobbies too.  Have them play some of their favorite music for you and tell you about why they like it.  Watch a movie they love together.  Then let them tell you about their other interests and see where you can find common ground. 

Have them teach you.  Are you lost when it comes to social media?  When someone asks you to upload or download something do you even know what they are talking about?  Well, guess what?  You teen knows all these things.  Have them give you some tutorials.  You’ll know more and be impressed with how technologically savvy they are! [Read more...]