Trusting Your Teen

Trusting your teenager is one of the hardest things to do. We are surrounded by potentially hazardous situations that we feel we need to protect them from. Making the shift from “managing” your teen, to respecting and trusting your teen is SO difficult. It’s just so much easier to focus on what they aren’t doing and point it out to them. Luckily, our teens push back and resist our managing so much that it makes changing ourselves seem like the less painful alternative.

I spoke at Carondolet High School recently talking about how to create more balance in the lives of our stressed out teens. They are under a lot of pressure to do everything “right”. One Challenge Success survey showed the thing that stressed them out the most is disappointing their parents. When we remind them, “Clean your room, study for your test, don’t forget your jacket, stop spending so much time on your phone, etc.” We don’t even realize we are sending the message that they aren’t good enough as they are.

I wrote up a list of things to say or text to teens to show them more support and trust. My hope is to plant a seed in parents heads of what our words would sound like if we reinforced the behavior we wanted to see, instead of pointed out all the things we don’t like. I hope this list inspires you to come up with some of your own.

“Hey, just want to say thanks for cleaning up the entry way, I loved the way it felt to come into a clean entry way.”

“Guess what? You were right! I didn’t have to remind you about ____. I was wrong. Next time, feel free to remind me how responsible you are.”

“By the way, there is nothing you have to do today. The day is yours.”

“I’m so impressed with all you are doing. You are managing your busy calendar so well.”

“I’m pretty good at finding things to worry about but with you, I can’t. I just know that you will have a great future and you will handle it all beautifully.”

“I trust that you will figure things out.”

“I don’t know how you do it. I sat in a meeting for an hour and was so bored and restless. You impress me.”

“I never would have had the courage, at your age, to do what you did today.”

“How did I get so lucky to get such a great kid.”

“You are just amazing.” “Here’s $20. take the day off and just do nothing. You deserve a break.”

“You do a great job of putting up with me. Hang in there, I’m almost fully trained.”

“I love it when you stay true to your values, even if it means you argue with me.”

“Thank you so much for helping clean up after dinner. It meant the world to me.”

“I love it that whether your grades are good or bad, you know you can tell us the truth.”

Parents – Remember to focus and reinforce the behavior you’d like to see more of.

The one thing stressed teens need from Mom and Dad

How helping fix problems and focusing on struggle can make it harder for our teens.

I had a hard time when I first became a Mom. Besides the normal, new mommy angst of “Am I doing it right?” I had a difficult baby. He had a hard time eating and sleeping. He needed constant movement, would get easily overstimulated yet easily bored and cried constantly. I needed support and I needed it bad. I joined as many new mom support groups as I could. One day, I found myself sitting in on a cement wall, alone, in someone’s backyard, watching my child, finally happy, sitting and playing with little rocks. The house was too noisy or crowded for my sensitive baby so I sat, exhausted, angry and lonely outside with the garbage cans and the dog poop. All the other moms were inside sipping coffee and chatting while their babies played happily on the floor.

Every once in awhile, a well-meaning Mommy would come out to check on me “You should come inside. He just needs to learn to deal with it. I’m sure he’ll get used to it after a bit.” A few minutes later, another Mom would come out, “You know what I do, I sleep with my baby, that way she feels secure and comfortable in the daytime.” After that I got, “What if you came inside and just breastfed him, then he’d feel comfortable and you could visit with us.” All the advice was valid and helpful but it just made me feel angrier and more alone. What I really needed was someone to say, “It’s really hard isn’t it. Some days just totally suck but you are such a good mommy. I don’t know how you do it all. Here’s a cup of hot coffee.”

I think we do the same thing to our teenagers. We underestimate the amount of stress they are under and we offer helpful suggestions and advice when all they really need for us to say “It is so hard and you are doing a great job. I am so impressed at how well you are managing. Here’s a cup of tea and a cookie.”

The more we can offer this kind of compassion and support, the better chance our teens have of developing their own compassionate “inner best friends” that encourages them through the tough times. Adolescence is the age where we start to develop our own “inner mean girl” who says things like, “What’s wrong with me?” “Why can’t I get it right?” “Nobody likes me, I’m stupid, ugly, fat, lame”, “I’m going to fail”, whatever. This inner mean girl will take charge and steer our life if we don’t get a hold of her and cultivate an equally strong inner best friend.

Kids learn by imitation so the best way to help them cultivate a kind inner voice is to hear us say it to them. In order to offer compassion to our teens, however, we first need to offer it to ourselves. Think about it, these kids of ours used to light up when we walked in the door, now they close it on our face! They thought we were beautiful no matter what we looked like, now they criticize our outfits, our hair, our singing, our choice of words (or is this just me and my kids?). Our babies have turned on us and that totally sucks! We used to look to their joy and exuberance to cheer us up at the end of the day, now we have to work hard to not be pulled into their negative spiral. No matter what we say, we are wrong. Our babies have done a 180 and it’s ok to give ourselves sympathy and recognize this is a hard phase for us, too.

Once you are feeling heard and validated, we can take a minute to recognize that the teen years are inherently stressful. You have this body whose hormones are out of whack, that is highly tuned in to other people’s thoughts and opinions, who can spot a fake a mile away yet are surrounded by inauthentic teenagers. Our teens have brains and bodies that are wired to be outside, moving constantly, listening to their own internal voice, yet are sitting on hard chairs, between 4 walls for 7 hours a day, listening to other people’s ideas. Today’s adolescents are swimming in perfectionism and sometimes, all they need to get through another day is compassion.

Our teens don’t always need us to fix their problems or focus on the struggles with our helpful suggestions, sometimes they just need to know they can do it on their own. “You are doing an amazing job, I can’t believe how well you are managing.” “Do you know what a mess I was at your age?” “By the way, there is nothing you need to do today. The day is yours.” “I try to worry but when it comes to you, I just can’t think of anything. I just know your future is bright.” “You have such a good head on your shoulders, I know you’ll be able to solve any problems that come your way.” “How did I get so lucky to get such a great teenager?”

It’s not easy to let go of worry and control and start trusting our kids to figure things out by themselves. That’s why I created “Leading Your Teen” teleclass.

Would like some support figuring out whether it’s time to lean in or let go? Click here and I’ll tell you all about this 5-week class designed for parents who want to worry less, love more, and create a more peaceful relationship with their teens.

Discover your purpose

Are you too busy taking care of the kids to discover your purpose?

I want to tell you a story about an amazing woman I’ll call Sara. She has poured everything into her role as Mom. She volunteers for the PTA, hosts amazing birthday parties for her kids, makes cupcakes for the soccer team, drives a minivan and loves it. Sara is ALL IN on this Mommy thing. But at night, when the kids go to bed, she drinks a little too much wine and eats a little too many brownie bites. She’s happy with her life, but she knows something is missing. There is a nagging voice inside her head that knows she’s meant for more. Although Sara craves more purpose and meaning, every time she tries to figure out what to do, she gets confused, overwhelmed and filled with doubt. She doesn’t like feeling this way, so she fills her life with more distraction. “Let’s sign Kylie up for basketball and maybe being scout leader won’t be so bad.” The busier she is, the less she has to face this void that seems to be getting louder, despite the wine, kids and carpools.

Parenting our kids can be a really convenient, socially respectable way of avoiding our own calling. What Sara doesn’t realize is that this void, this nagging yearning for more, is her ticket to a really wonderful and exciting life! What keeps her stuck, is she doesn’t have the tools to walk through the doubt, the fears and the confusion. Here’s a typical conversation I have with my life coaching clients.

Client – “I have no idea what I want to do with my life.”

Me – “Ok, well, let’s pretend for a minute that you did know. What do you think it might be if you DID know what you want?”

Client – “Well, this would never happen of course, but if I could do anything, I always thought it would be fun to be a ______________.” (real estate investor, writer, event planner, firefighter, stay-home Mom, travel blogger, photographer, life coach, interior designer, nurse, etc.)

The client already knows what they want, or if they don’t have an exact job title, they can clearly describe exactly what they want. But discovering your calling and admitting it out loud can stir up a lot of fear. Fear of failure, fear of being who you are, fear of what other people will think, just fear. So instead, she talks herself out of it and gets back to focusing on the kids.

Parenting is a convenient decoy because it’s honorable, wonderful, difficult and very consuming. It’s only in those quiet moments, late at night, when we face ourselves, that we know we are hiding from our greatness.

What Sara doesn’t know, is hiding from her true calling, has a cost.  Overtime, she will start to become more negative and cranky. She’ll get frustrated with herself & her family, embarrassed that she can’t stop eating brownies or be happy with her current role. She might even focus in on or create another problem (health, weight, money, relationships, kids) all to avoid dealing with something that would be a such a wonderful part of her if she could allow it in!

If you relate to Sara and countless other Moms who yearn for more than just motherhood, take 10 minutes of quiet time, pull out a journal and ask yourself these questions:

  1. What do I really, really, really, really want?
  2. What is the feeling I’m trying not to feel?
  3. What’s the worst thing that could happen if I followed my dream?
  4. What would I dream if I knew I could not fail?
  5. What would I do if I could not care what people think?

These questions will get you started. But it really does help to have some outside perspective to help you see where you are blocking yourself from your own happiness and success.

Don’t waste time, schedule your free discovery call today. www.LifeCoachingforParents.com/work-with-me

How to transform tragedy into love

My Facebook feed is filled with fears and concerns over the recent mass shooting at a concert in Las Vegas. People are angry, sad, scared and trying how to not feel so vulnerable in this violent world. Venting on Facebook is kind of like yelling at your kids. It releases tension in the moment, you feel heard, but sometimes it creates more problems. When we focus on sadness, fear, anger or blame, we run the risk of spreading more negativity in the world.

To truly transform tragedy into something positive, try this approach before you post.

  1. First, ask yourself. Am I in danger? Are there any immediate threats to me or my loved ones? If you are fine in this moment, tell your brain it’s ok to relax and take some deep breaths.
  2. Ask yourself: What is the feeling I’m trying NOT to feel? Your default might be to worry, blame, get mad or scared, but what is the feeling underneath that you try hard not to feel? Let’s find that one. Vulnerability is sneaky, yet popular feeling to avoid, could that be yours?
  3. Allow yourself to feel this feeling, whatever it is. Name it, drop below the neck and locate where in your body this emotion resides. Emotion means energy in motion so see if you can identify the quality of energy. Does it feel like a solid, liquid or gas? Is it warm or cold? Does it feel heavy or tight? What color is it? Allow this feeling to be there without resistance.
  4. After about 2 minutes, find the emotion of compassion in your body. Where do you feel a sense of love & compassion? What color is it? Is it shiny or dull? Can you get a picture of it?
  5. Then offer the compassion to the part of your body that is experiencing the negative emotion. Infuse the negative emotion with compassion. See if you can transform the quality of the negative energy into a positive one.

Once you have allowed yourself to feel your feelings, your brain is freed up to think logically.

I used to have a thought that “Bad things can happen to my children anywhere, at any time, and I won’t be able to handle it.” These thoughts kept me very diligent, always worrying, watching for the next possible threat, never relaxing or trusting that things were going to be fine. It was an exhausting way to live. I used worry, anxiety and overwhelm as a way to avoid feeling the more authentic emotion of fear. 

The truth is, bad things CAN happen to our children anywhere at any time. That is a fact. We have no idea what the future will bring. But would you recommend I THINK about this scary fact, all day, every day? Probably not a helpful place for my mind to dwell. Plus, my brain will miss other important facts like, WE LIVE IN THE LEAST VIOLENT TIME IN THE HISTORY OF THE WORLD. Don’t believe me? Ask Harvard Psychologist Steven Pinker.

We get to decide what we think and how we want to feel. Don’t you want to enjoy living in the most peaceful time in the history while still accepting the fact that bad things could happen at any time? I do! So I don’t watch the news, I don’t share negative posts on facebook, and I make sure I don’t lie to myself with things like “I won’t be able to handle it if something bad happens.” Total B.S. In a real crisis, I tend to get clear headed and calm. I know how to feel my feelings. I know how to reach out and ask for help. Turns out, I’m actually pretty good in a crisis and I’ll bet you are, too.

Once you have transformed your negative energy into compassion for yourself, it’s time to put it to good use. Who do you know that might be suffering right now that you could reach out to? Could you send flowers to someone who might be lonely? Could you write a card to someone who lost a loved one last year? How about donating to organizations that help mentally ill or people suffering from weather related disasters. Let’s all spend a minute visualizing the gun lobby receiving our compassion and deciding, on their own, “that enough is enough”.

Love casts out all fear. Love is always an option. When you feel lost as to what action to take, ask yourself “What would love do?”

Not feeling it? It’s ok. Just schedule a free discovery call at www.LifeCoachingforParents.com/work-with-me

How to stop yelling at your kids

3 steps to stop yelling at your kids and end morning mayhem.

Do you know this scenario?

“COME ON, HURRY UP! It’s time to GO! Stop playing around, you’re going to be late for school. For the last time, GRAB YOUR DAMN LUNCH! You’d forget your head if it wasn’t attached to you! I’m LEAVING NOW. Get in the car already!”How to Stop yelling at your kids

The first five minutes of the car ride is angry and nagging, justifying our frustration, but by the time we get to school we’ve calmed down enough for the guilt to start creeping in. We might even squeeze out an “I love you” or “Have a good day” before they leap out of the car, happy to get away from such a cranky mommy. For the next hour, we feel like shit. “Why am I such a bitch?” “What a horrible way to start the day.” “What’s wrong with me and why can’t HE JUST HURRY UP so I don’t have to yell!”

The first step to stop yelling at your kids, is to understand why you do it in the first place. Yelling releases tension and energy. Keeping our feelings of frustration inside doesn’t feel good, so like steam escaping from a boiling pot, we release it by yelling. We feel better in the moment, but worse later on.

The second step to stop yelling at your kids, is to find the thought that causes your feeling of frustration. Emotions come from our thoughts. We can’t change our feelings but we can change the thoughts we think. If we find that a thought isn’t true, helpful or is resulting in something we don’t like, we can replace it with something more helpful.

Some of the more common thoughts Moms have that cause yelling are…
“He should move quicker” “He’s doing this on purpose” “Yelling is the only thing that motivates her.”
“We’re going to get in trouble” “This is embarrassing” “I can’t be late” “I’m never late” “I should have gotten up earlier” “You are trying to drive me crazy.”

The truth is, everyone is late sometimes. Some kids are naturally fast movers, and some kids naturally move slow. It’s human nature to move even slower when we don’t want to go somewhere. I notice that I move slower whenever I feel pressured. I don’t do it on purpose, but it explains why I was always chosen last in P.E.

To argue that kids “should move faster” isn’t helpful. It’s like arguing with human nature.

The third step to stop yelling at your kids is to accept things as they are. “My kid moves slowly in the morning.” “I get up later than I want to.” “Even when I try my best, sometimes I will be late.” How do you want to feel about these facts? You get to decide. You can feel frustrated, or you can choose an emotion that doesn’t lead to yelling, like peacefulness. Try the thought, “I want to be peaceful and efficient in the mornings” and see if it affects your emotional state in a positive way.

Once you are feeling calm and accepting about your mornings, your mind is more open to new ideas. Try these yell free life hacks to get kids into the car in the mornings:

Have a morning soundtrack. Play the same music set every morning so kids know that when Michael Jackson starts singing, it’s time to be dressed and eating breakfast downstairs. When Pharrell starts singing “Happy”, it’s time to get your shoes on and into the car. Practice on the weekend so they know the routine and reward them (and yourself) after three consecutive days of yell-free mornings.

Keep a “late happens” kit in the car so there’s no excuse to stress. This ziplock bag can contain a hairbrush, hair band, granola bar, sunscreen, deodorant, sugarless gum (for bad morning breath), a pen for signing last minute permission slips and a few dollars for buying lunch.

Have fun helping the kids create a morning routine poster. Include funny photos of them pretending to brush teeth, eat, or use the toilet. Encourage your kids to decide what would work best for them in the morning (maybe they need to go to bed earlier in order to take more time in the morning)? Buy them an old fashioned alarm clock so they can be self motivated and rely less on mom. Learning to switch your thinking will keep you plenty busy. 

Make the car a nice place to be. My daughter loved her chewable vitamin so I only let her have them in the car. A frozen waffle folded in half with peanut butter and a glass of milk makes for a quick & easy breakfast to go. Get the heater going, play some nice music and give your kids the happy, relaxed mommy you want them to have in the mornings.

If you want to stop yelling but haven’t been successful, schedule a free discovery call at www.LifeCoachingforParents.com/work-with-me