Sleep Patterns in Teens

Sleep helps with growth and psychological peace. This could help shed light on why little babies sleep so much. However, as one grows, the number of hours they sleep decrease. This is thanks to responsibilities, and in some cases, stress. However, doctors recommend at least 7 – 8 hours of sleep for the well-being of the mind and body. Contrary to popular belief, teens require more hours of sleep, averagely 9 – 10 hours. This is because body growth is at its prime during teenage years. Also, teenagers are involved in vigorous activities like sports for a significant part of the day (if they are not consumed by their “screens”). This leaves them fatigued by the end of the day. However, many teens have a different sleep pattern from the general population.

Many teenagers end up staying up late into the night. And most of them do this voluntarily when they are allowed to. We can blame it on a number of non-natural factors but medical practitioners have proved that the biological clock of teenagers changes slightly during puberty. That is why teenage boys and girls find it “lame” to sleep before the clock hits midnight. The ripple effect of this is that they tend to sleep longer in the morning. However, school won’t let them sleep past 7 am (for those lucky to even sleep up to that time).

Why sleep patterns change in teens

The biological reason

The circadian rhythm is the scientific term for the body’s biological clock. Hormonal changes during puberty trigger growth and maturity in teenage boys and girls. Among the hormones that experience a change in their normal release is melatonin. Melatonin is responsible for sending neural signals to the brain to alert the body that it is now time to sleep or time to wake up.  Change in the normal production of melatonin leads to a delay of its production. Therefore, teenagers tend to feel sleepy about two hours after the adults, on average.

The non-Biological reason

Teenagers are the single most active age group when it comes to technology. It is normal to see teenagers always staring at the screens of their phones while interacting on social media, or staring at bright screens on the laptop or television when catching up on their favorite series.  Production of Melatonin is largely dictated by the amount of light the brain receptors acknowledge. Staring at bright screens past 8 pm alters the normal production of melatonin as the brain receptors perceive that it may not be night time yet. This leads to lack of sleep for a while before body fatigue catches up.

How to deal with sleep patterns in teens

Parents need to understand that sleep patterns in teens cannot be changed at the snap of a finger. The classical “time to sleep” battle between a parent and a teenage child is only natural. However, there are steps that can be taken to ensure teenagers get sufficient sleep.

  1. Parental Involvement – Parents involved in their teenager’s life can control how much TV is being watched past 8 pm and can also regulate cell phone, tablet, and video game usage. This helps in stopping further delay of melatonin production.
  1. Hygiene – Taking showers at night has been proven to aid in sleeping better.
  1. Active involvement – Being actively involved in vigorous activities during the day should leave the teenager exhausted and ready for sleep when its time.

Dr. Eric Nach, Ph.D., M.Ed., A.S.D. Cert. Developmental and Behavioral Specialist and Associates
5458 Town Center Road, Suite 7, Boca Raton, FL 33486.
Telephone: 561-990-7305

Learning To Accept Criticism

Sometimes the feedback we get from others isn’t pleasing even though it may be accurate. Many of us struggle with criticism. We look for explanations to justify the issue and react in defense to what has been said. Some people result in anger, hatred and even attacking the person who gave the feedback. But being able to handle constructive criticism calmly is very critical. It helps us to identify our weaknesses and work towards improving them. Here’s what you need to remember:

Don’t react immediately

The first reaction you will probably have after receiving constructive criticism is likely not going to be nice. You may want to give that nasty facial expression, enter into defense mode or attack the person. Don’t do it; just hold back and process the situation. Remind yourself that you need to stay calm.

Think of the value of feedback

Consider the person’s feedback as information that you can otherwise use to improve your skills, relationship and any other area of concern. Perhaps that person had a certain expectation of you that you probably did not meet. Try and get rid of any preconceived notions that you may have of the person who is giving the feedback. Whether it is a coworker that you do not like or someone you don’t get along with, understand that constructive criticism may come from all sources.

Listen with an aim to understand

You need to listen closely to the information that is being delivered to you. Overcome the temptation of interrupting the person as they share their thoughts. Do not try and analyze their thoughts but instead understand their perspective of things. Try and give that person the benefit of the doubt. It may help you to look at things in a way you never thought. The only way that you will actually benefit from the feedback you receive is if you engage in a very productive conversation with the person giving it. Don’t reply in a defensive and mean tone.

Express appreciation

Even though you are not supposed to overdo this, thank the person who shared the feedback with you. Simply taking your time to say thank you doesn’t mean that you agree on everything the person said. It is simply a gesture that you acknowledged that they took time to evaluate you and share information that could help you become a better person or produce greater results.

Get more clarity

Once you have processed the feedback, it’s probably a good thing to ask questions in order to understand the person’s perspective. Ask questions that are related to the issue that was being raised. You can also ask about methods or solutions to address the issues raised. You can use specific examples to try and understand the person’s perspective and what can be done in similar circumstances. At the same time, share your perspective. You can even request for time to follow up if you would like to close the discussion. At this point, you can express what you will change going forward and agree on the next steps to take.

Dr. Eric Nach, Ph.D., M.Ed., A.S.D. Cert. Developmental and Behavioral Specialist and Associates

5458 Town Center Road, Suite 7, Boca Raton, FL 33486             ph(561)-990-7305

How Can I Teach My Child Empathy?

Empathy is the ability to put oneself in another person’s shoes. It’s being able to understand and be sensitive to people’s feelings whether they are strangers, friends or family members. With empathy comes gratitude, hope and compassionate for others. It’s important for you to start training your child early enough how to tune in to other people’s emotions. Children need to know that they can consider people’s feelings other than just their own. If you would like to make a conscious effort to boost such positive experiences for your young one, below are a few tips to get it done:

Take notice of everyone around you

When you are rude to the waiter when he/she brings the wrong order, understand that your child is likely to take notice. One of the best ways to teach our kids anything is by being an example. So be understanding in all these situations in the presence of your child.

Write ‘thank-you’ notes together

It’s important for children to learn how to show gratitude to others. Convey to your child that the recipient of that note would feel happy when they receive it. Let your child know that you are doing this to make the person feel appreciated.

Stay on lesson

Remember that kids watch your every move. You need to be consistent when it comes to displaying empathy to others. This could mean watching how you communicate as parents and apologizing in front of the kids if you say hurtful things to each other.

Emotional reflection

Make it a tradition to talk and discuss together during dinner. You can start by allowing each child to appreciate something good that was done for them that day. This emotional reflection will allow your child to feel loved and cared for which gives him/her room to feel the same for others.

Understand your child’s needs

Sometimes your child will be a little grumpy just because she/he is sleepy or hungry. It is important to show her/him that you acknowledge how they’re feeling. Don’t be quick to put off your child when she/he acts up. Be calm and show understanding of what they’re going through.

Volunteer with your child

It’s important for your child to know the harsh reality as soon as possible. It could mean taking them to the homeless shelter to help in serving food every Christmas. Acts like this will show kids that they have been blessed and are required to help others. Children need to see that helping the needy is a responsibility and not something they can choose not to do.

Expose them to life’s differences

Present kids with an opportunity to encounter people who are different. For instance, taking your kids to interact with other children who have special needs will help them to know how to handle someone who is not exactly like them even as they grow up. Children need to be shown that there are other kids with serious medical issues and need to be shown empathy. Talk to your kids regarding this before you decide to take them.

Dr. Eric Nach, Ph.D., M.Ed., A.S.D. Cert. Developmental and Behavioral Specialist and Associates

Is Anxiety Always Bad?

Anxiety and stress are somewhat inevitable in this life. You only need to know how much is too much and manage these unpleasant experiences the best way possible. In fact, anxiety can be a good sign because it shows that you actually care. You need to learn how to manage anxiety without letting it overwhelm you completely.

Focus on the positive effects of anxiety

Think of anxiety as something that can bring you some positive effects. Get rid of the mentality that anxiety can only be associated with negative effects. For instance, when you are stressed you are more capable of focusing on the tasks at hand because your mindset is occupied on the situation that is causing the stress. As a result, you will be able to get more done and be productive focusing on the important tasks.

Build your resilience

The good thing with stress is that it makes you tougher. You will be able to deal with tougher situations mentally and physically when you go through some level of stress. It helps you to create deeper connections with people around you and also strengthens your belief helping you focus on priorities. Research shows that stress helps in production of growth hormones that boost immunity and help in rebuilding cells in the body.

Choose to interpret things in a positive way

Learn to interpret situations in a positive way. It really helps if you learn to look at things in a different perspective. You will get a more balanced and sometimes accurate view of the situation if you carefully process what is causing you anxiety. Think of what it would be like if you turned the issue upside down. Think about what you would say to a loved one going through the same situation. How would you help someone else to look at the issue from a different angle? Changing your perspective can really help to get a positive feel of things.

Focus on moving forward

Replace anxiety with the steps you need to take in order to get the best possible outcome. What do you need to do in order to boost your performance and get back on the right mood? Always remember that not all stress is bad. How you choose to navigate the stress is what matters most. Choose to handle it to the best of your ability and attain your goals.

Use anxiety as a performance enhancer

Think of anxiety as something that would help you to become better at facing situations in life and actually performing better. Think of how you can move forward from challenging situations and be proactive. If you do not perceive the situation as a threat, you will not be forced to respond in a fearful way. However, if you look at it as a challenge then you would be overwhelmed with fear and fail to resolve the situation. Shift your perception by focusing on the hidden benefits of the situation. Remind yourself that you have the strength to handle it.

Dr. Eric Nach, Ph.D., M.Ed., A.S.D. Cert. Developmental and Behavioral Specialist and Associates

The Ultimate Checklist Of Life Skills Needed By A College Student

You are about to leave your comfort zone, the home you have known for years, for college. Your parents have taken care of you over the years, which might mean that you missed out on important lessons on how to do things for yourself. Are you really ready for life outside of your parents’ watch? Here is a checklist of life skills you need to survive on your own as a college student. See how you score-it might inform you on whether or not you are ready to live on your own.

  • Doing your laundry

You should be able to figure out the details that go into doing your laundry well. This include knowing how to sort clothes and how much detergent to use and so on. If you haven’t learnt this already, you will have a pretty difficult time seeing that wearing clean clothes is an everyday necessity.

  • Making a budget

While in college, you will be required to foot your bills and keep track of your expenditure. It doesn’t matter if you are paying this out of the wages of a part time job or through your parents’ assistance, you need to have a budget to guide you.

  • Making your bed

While in college, there will be no one to make your bed for you. If you wake up and leave behind a messy bed, you will find the same waiting for you at the end of the day. Seeing as college dorm rooms tend to be a bit on the smaller size, a little mess goes a long way. As such, you might want to keep things tidy by learning how to make your bed properly.

  • Tying a tie

You might get invited to formal events during your college years. Formal events require that you wear a tie. Learn how to tie a tie. While at it, it is also necessary to learn the proper way to iron clothes. You do not want to wear a tie over a creased shirt!

  • Changing a tire

You should not have to call AAA every time your car needs changing.

  • Using a gas pump

There are more self-serve gas pumps compared to full-serve ones. Do you know how to use one? If not, it might be time to learn.

  • Using coupons

Money is hard to come by when you are in campus. If you can, make use of coupons and watch your costs decrease.

  • Sewing buttons

You do not have to throw out your shirts every time a button comes off. Replacing buttons is something that everyone and not just grandma should know.

  • What to do in case of an emergency

Whether it is a car accident or a dorm room incident, you should know what is expected of you and respond appropriately. Granted, thinking about accidents can come across as morbid and you do not want to be that morbid college student. However, accidents do happen and you should be well informed in order to offer the necessary assistance in the event of one.


Dr. Eric Nach, Ph.D., M.Ed., A.S.D. Cert. Developmental and Behavioral Specialist and Associates

Soft Skills Can Be Hard!

Soft skills are the interpersonal traits that allows us to effectively relate to how others think and act. These skills enhance our personal interactions and lead to greater social, personal, academic, and work performance and satisfaction. Unlike hard skills, which are the technical and knowledge skill set we bring to our work or classes, soft skills are interpersonal and can be applied in many more situations.  Soft skills encompass personality traits, such as optimism, communication skills, teamwork, listening, responsibility, social skills, personal motivation, advocacy, problem solving, giving and receiving feedback, decision making, flexibility, and conflict resolution skills and abilities which can be practiced, such as empathy. Like all skills, soft skills can be learned, once taught.

Definition of Soft Skills

Soft skills are personal attributes that allow us to effectively relate to others. Learning, practicing, and applying these skills helps us build stronger personal, social, and work relationships. Often schools place the focus of our career development efforts on hard skills – technology skills, knowledge, and other skills that specifically relate to our ability to get work-related tasks done. This means we may neglect to develop our soft skills. However, some of us have a particularly difficult time learning soft skills and need to learn them through direct instruction, such as the classes offered at the As a result, they are an investment worth making.

Empathy and the Emotional Intelligence Quotient

When we demonstrate empathy, we create connections with others, which can help to build teamwork or otherwise create shared goals and mutually enjoyable experiences. Empathy also helps to develop stronger interpersonal connections between peers, team members and colleagues, which is as important as shared goals or complementary skills when it comes to accomplishing tasks in our personal, social, school, or work lives.

Empathy is one component of what is known as Emotional Intelligence, or EI. Emotional Intelligence is the ability to recognize and manage our feelings so that they are expressed appropriately by society. Exercising emotional intelligence helps to create caring, reciprocal, productive relationships.

There are four key components to Emotional Intelligence:

  • Self-awareness: The ability to recognize our own feelings and motivations
  • Self-management: The ability to appropriate express (or not express) our feelings
  • Social awareness: Our ability to recognize the feelings and needs of others, and the norms of a given situation
  • Relationship management: Our ability to relate effectively to others

Taken together, these skills make up our Emotional Intelligence Quotient (EQI). The EQI is a measure of your ability to exercise soft skills such as empathy.


Professionalism is simply the ability to conduct ourselves with responsibility, integrity, accountability, and excellence. Acting with professionalism also means seeking to communicate effectively with others and finding a way to be productive. Professionalism involves what may seem to be small acts, such as:

  • Always reporting to work on time and returning promptly from breaks
  • Dressing appropriately
  • Being clean and neat
  • Speaking clearly and politely to peers, customers, and clients
  • Striving to meet high standards for one’s own school or career work
  • Performing in a manner consistent with our own moral and ethical standards

Learned vs. Inborn Traits

Because soft skills are talked about as traits of a person’s character, it may seem as though you have to be born with them. While some soft skills come more easily to one person than they might to another, soft skills are not inborn. Like all skills, they can be learned. Because we all have our own preferences and ways of moving through the world, some soft skills may be more difficult to learn than others. But if we think back, there are also aspects of our hard skill set that were difficult at first, though they now seem to come quite naturally to us. We develop soft skills in the same way we develop hard skills- direct instruction and practice. You don’t have to be born with great listening skills to become an amazing listener – you can learn and build these skills throughout your life.

Make that first interaction a memorable one; be respectful, make eye or facial contact, shake hands firmly, listen closely and respond to questions. 

Dr. Eric Nach

Dr. Eric Nach, Ph.D., M.Ed., A.S.D. Cert. Developmental and Behavioral Specialist and Associates