Trust your gut, not your snap chat feed


Do you ever feel overwhelmed by your kid’s use of technology?

Between homework assignments, researching, online video games, snapchat, texting, youtube, reading books, and easy access to inappropriate content, it seems our whole world is being overrun by technology. For many parents, it feels like technology is taking away childhood.

Parents of adolescents face an interesting challenge. It’s natural for young teenagers to want independence and privacy as they create identities separate from their parents, but the place they seem to want independence is online? How do we keep our kids safe in a world we can’t see or control?

Join me for a free webinar:

Trust Your Gut, Not Your SnapChat Feed.

This webinar will cover 5 things parents can do to help their child build a healthy relationship with technology. Click the button below to register for the free webinar held on Tuesday, April 11th. (A recording will be sent to those who cannot make it live).

CLICK HERE


Below is something I call The Ten Commandments of Texting. (Say it with a loud deep voice for dramatic effect.) Some of it might sound basic but kids don’t know if we don’t tell them. Right now, lessons are being learned by watching others make mistakes and get in trouble. The more we can teach ahead of time, the fewer consequences our kids will have to suffer. Print this and post on your refrigerator, or better yet, share on social media and encourage your kids to do the same. 

The Ten Commandments of Texting 

  1. The person in the room gets priority over the person on the phone. Apologize or ask permission before using your phone in front of them. A quick “excuse me one second” goes a long way.
  2. Never chat with strangers online. Don’t give out personal information to people you haven’t smelled.
  3. Never text when you are angry or hurt. Be nice to yourself. Allow yourself to feel what you are feeling then text “I’ll call you” or “FaceTime?” so you can resolve conflict in an appropriate way.
  4. If you see something online or on a group chat that feels weird, icky, or not right, screenshot it and share it with a trusted adult.
  5. Never send or post anything you wouldn’t want to see on a billboard in front of your school.
  6. Beware of using sarcastic humor, it can sound mean instead of funny. Use extra thank you’s, please’s, and emoticons to soften blunt words.
  7. If your media time leaves you feeling yucky, bad or grumpy; unfriend, unfollow or just turn off your phone. Seek happiness and positivity.
  8. Group texts are annoying! Use them only when necessary and don’t add people without permission.
  9. If you message someone three times without a response, stop messaging them. Call, talk in person, or give up.
  10. Devices need a bedtime and days off. Unplug, set boundaries, or take a break. We all need a digital detox once in a while.

The only problem you will ever have

Friendship problems can be confusing, overwhelming, and very common. But really, all problems boil down to just one thing: The problem is we think we shouldn’t have problems.

Friendship problems are here to help us grow. Our problems teach us about empathy (for ourselves and others). They help us figure out who we are, what we like, and what we are willing to tolerate. Conflict helps us to let go and move on, or bring our relationship to a deeper level. Conflict teaches us the importance of advocating for ourselves and communicating our needs in a respectful way. Friendship problems are a super important learning opportunity!

Nicole* could feel her friends pulling away. They started sharing secrets and planning things without including her. They were still kind to her but she felt left out. What should she do?

Shay* was ready to branch out and make new friends. She loved her old group but was ready for something new. Despite her efforts, her old friends were not interested in bringing in any new ones. Shay didn’t want to hurt her old friend’s feelings, but she felt pulled to expand her social circle. As she did, her old friends got mad and unfriended her. Shay wants to shake off the guilt and sadness she feels so she can enjoy her friendships but she doesn’t know how.

Please join me for a mother/daughter workshop and tea, all about female friendships on Saturday, Nov. 16th from 1:00 – 4:00. You and your 10-14 daughter attend together for this helpful and fun mini-retreat. We’ll use our friendship issues, conflicts and girl drama to learn some important life lessons and build skills around empathy, self-compassion, positive self-talk, asking for what you want and standing in your power. Games and activities will help reinforce the lessons. Tea and goodies will be served and the cost is $60. per mother/daughter pair. ($30. individual price). This afternoon workshop will be held in my home so space is limited!

Reserve your spot today by clicking here: 

http://lifecoachingforparents.com/classes/mother-daughter-workshop/

pre-teen girls texting while hanging out at their school

*Names changed to protect these sweet girls

What kind of messages are you sending to your kids?

Are you aware of the parenting energy you are sending?

Energy is a tough thing to talk about because it is so hard to see, but the more I coach, teach and parent, the more I see how valuable it is to spend time thinking about.

Kids are especially sensitive to the energies people put out. It takes us a while to learn how to stop trusting our instincts and talk ourselves out of our gut emotions. Energy translates through body language, voice tone, face expressions, eye contact, etc. Take a look at these photos to see which one you think looks like the energy you parent from, and which you think would be most effective. I’m sure I’m do all of them, depending on the day. The last photo, I believe, shows the energy that works best for teens.

 

Young female teenager annoyed by angry mother

To me, the mom in this photo says “I know what’s best for you and I’m in charge” and “you are messing up”. It feels punitive and self-righteous, which is probably why we see the teen resisting. Moms often do know what’s best and are in charge, but it can be communicated with the energy of mutual respect. When a parent helps her teen find her own inner wisdom, everybody wins.

 

 

Loud Parent with RadioIt could be said that this Mom is ignoring her teen, maybe even deliberately trying to act like she isn’t bothered by her. Is she trying to embarrass her? Is she trying to drown her out and ignore her? Either way, it feels inauthentic. Neither Mom or daughter feels seen, heard and felt. Teens can spot a fake a mile away and the energy repels them.

 

 

 

Cute baby girl learning to walk

While this leaning in, attentive, encouraging energy works great for little ones, if we use it with our teens they feel smothered by it. Adolescents are trying to figure out who they are without us, but it’s hard when we are always there, giving them our thoughts, opinions and attention.

 

 

 

Mother Worried About Unhappy Teenage Daughter

You can almost hear this Mom saying, “I’m worried about you, sweetheart.” “You need to be careful, there are scary things out there.” We want to give kids our worries so we feel better, but teens tend to be black & white thinkers. “When I’m with my Mom I feel bad, so I don’t want to be around her.” Look at the Moms delicate touch, her gentle posture and averted eye gaze, she is communicating the message, I am weak and vulnerable and so are you. Kids want to feel strong and capable, not worried and weak, so they resist, or worse, join in and start living from fear.

 

Here we see from the Moms dropped head and collapsed posture that her son is comforting her. While Emotional hug, boy and his motherit’s great to have a son who shows empathy and affection, it’s not healthy for him to take on the role of adult. Kids can sense when we feel weak, desperate for a hug, or needy for more involved in their life. When our energy feels weak, needy or clingy, they rebel, HOPEFULLY!  If not, they can set themselves up for a lifetime of psychological problems and ignoring their needs by taking on the role of adult. Teens are supposed to be self-centered. When we take care of our emotional needs in healthy ways, we teach them to do the same.

 

I always come back to this picture as the best example of the most effective energy for parenting teens. This Mama duck is facing forward, watching where she is going but attuned to her ducklings. She knows they are there and is showing them how to navigate their way through the world. She’s teaching them to avoid potential hazards while believing they are strong and capable. When one wanders off course, she returns to nudge the wanderer back on course. She never worries but if one is in danger, she will quack loudly and continuously until someone comes along to help. If the ducklings aren’t sure what to do, they just look to Mom who is always there with a calm and loving presence. (Can you tell I’ve had experience watching Mama ducks interact with their ducklings?  They used to hatch near our swimming pool every spring.)

 

Want to learn more about parenting teens?  Click here to learn more and register for my 5-week telecourse.

Obviously these photos can be interpreted in a number of ways but thanks for indulging me in my interpretation as a way to talk about the energy of parenting. I did a similar exercise in high school drama class and it was fun to relive it! 🙂

 

 

 

 

“Smother” Nature and the art of letting go

Sometimes, writing a letter to someone that you never intend to send is the most therapeutic thing you can do.

Thoughts about my teenager….

I’ve been seeing signs that it’s time for me to let you go. You withhold affection when I try to hug you. You side with Dad on everything (even when we are saying the same thing!). You seem to want more privacy and even my presence makes you tense up. It’s hard for me to be demoted from my former status of “almighty-center-of-the-Universe-Mom”. It wasn’t that long ago when just walking in the door made you squeal with delight. Now I see things are shifting for you and although I know it’s normal and healthy, it’s still hard.

Your job, right now, is to separate from me. I get this intellectually. Even when I stop nagging about studying for your test or the latest online danger, I know you can feel my worried, hopeful, caring, needy energy. I remember when I was your age and how hard it was for me to give my Mom a compliment or thank her for all she did. When I was a teen, giving my Mom something that she wanted, felt like giving up a piece of my soul that I just couldn’t spare.

Letting go of you feels like giving up something precious. It feels like not caring about you. It feels like being a bad mom. I don’t even know where to start but I know it’s something I need to do. If I don’t, I think the next four years will be a giant battleground. If I hold tight to my control and expectations for your life, I will increase your stress and resentment, build a wall between you, your Dad and I, and make us all miserable. If I care too much about your grades, your social life, your activities, your appearance, your online presence, and your future, I fear you will sabotage your success to earn your freedom. I need to release you so you can figure out who you are meant to be, other than my child. It’s time for me to love more and care less.

I say goodbye to the tight bond we had, knowing it will never be the same again.

I say goodbye to the belief that I am responsible for your success.

I say goodbye to my expectation that you should be better than you currently are.

I say goodbye to my belief that I know what’s best for you.

I say goodbye to the idea that I can and should protect you from negative emotion.

I say goodbye to the idea that worrying and managing will keep you safe.

I give you permission to make stupid mistakes like every other teenager on the planet.

I give you permission to be insecure and imperfect, like every other teenager on the planet.

I give you permission to surprise me about the person you are becoming.

I give you permission to fail, if that’s what you need to do, so that your victories can be your victories and not mine.

This isn’t just your independence day, it’s also mine. 

As a thank you for the unconditional love you gave to me, I will continue to appreciate and love myself the way you showed me when you were five. I free myself from the idea I need you to be happy, in order for me to be happy. I allow myself to believe I am a good Mom, no matter what shenanigans you get yourself into. I choose to calm down and relax enough to access my instinctual intelligence, that way I’ll know when to step in if you should need me.

Thank you for the years of love and companionship you have given me. I love you and I release you.

Register for the free webinar this week to learn about living with teens without losing your mind.

www.LifeCoachingforParents.com/got-teens

How to win a power struggle

Some kids seem to be born to fight for power. As parents, we look for our child’s “currency”. We need to know if our kids value screen time, dessert, or outings with friends so that we can use it to lure them into good behavior. But what if your child’s currency is power? What if he rebels against your ideas, suggestions and rules, simply because they are YOURS? Young female teenager annoyed by angry mother

Trevor was a sweet, yet strong-willed four year old. He started going pee in the potty when he was 3 and enjoyed the power of standing and watching himself go like his Daddy. His parents tried to get him to sit on the toilet and go #2 for over a year but he wasn’t interested. Instead he would call to his Mom to come and put a diaper on him every time he needed to poop. She tried everything to get him to sit on the toilet but HE knew that was what SHE wanted. If he complied, it would be HER victory, not his, and he just couldn’t give her that. They were in a power struggle and he wanted to feel powerful more than anything else. It wasn’t until she stopped paying attention and caring that he felt free to use the toilet.

The fighting for independence we see in toddlers is very similar to the fighting for independence we see in teenagers. Lying, sneaking, manipulating can all be ways kids assert themselves as separate from their parents. The push and pull of affection is another common sign your child is developing a separate identity with hugs and cuddles one minute, and recoiling away like you have a contagious disease the next. It’s important to take a look at what you REALLY care about. If you REALLY care about your daughter’s good grades and study habits to the point that it’s a daily conversation, that’s probably where she’s going to rebel against you. If she surrendered to your will, and started studying and getting good grades, she could see this as you winning the power struggle. Teenagers want to feel powerful so it’s possible she would sacrifice her grades, to feel like she is winning.

There really is no way to win a power struggle. The best way to win a power struggle is not to enter into one. Often, if the parent “wins” it’s because they have dampened the child’s spirit, taken away their power, shown a lack of empathy and lost of trust in the relationship. If the child “wins” they learned to ignore people’s boundaries, that they are more powerful than their parent (which is scary for a kid), and that they can’t trust their parent to protect them from potential dangers.
If you have a strong-willed child, it’s important to give them a wide berth. Try to give them as many opportunities to feel powerful as possible. When kids play with toys, create imaginary worlds, and make believe, they are the king or queen of their world. As they grow older, they can take charge of what to make for dinner, how to decorate their room, how, when and where to study, choose their clothes and hair styles, things like that. When you do want to set a clear, firm boundary, plan on engaging them in the conversation. Explain your logic calmly, get their input, feedback and cooperation. When they feel their desire for power is respected, it’s easier for them to respect your boundaries and trust you to have their back.

Are you signed up for the free Raising Teens webinar on October 13? www.LifeCoachingforParents.com/got-teens