Boys need sex education talks with mom and dad

I have a problem.

Once again, I’ve got more girls with their moms signed up for my Time for The Talk class than I have boys.

I’m sure there are lots of reasons why, but I would love your ideas figuring out how to encourage more parents sign their 10-12 year old boys.

This class is so valuable, not just because boys have fun and love spending this time with their Mom, Dad, or Grandpa. It’s always telling when they say things like “Everyone in my class needs to hear this.” and “I’m so glad to know what everyone has been talking about”. 

These are 5 IMPORTANT reasons boys need Time for The Talk, or another parent/child sex education class, as much as girls do.

  1. Just like girls, boys deserve to know the truth about puberty and the changes their bodies will go through. When boys learn about the changes girls go through, it helps them be more compassionate and respectful of the opposite sex.

2. Boys can learn what sex is from a quick google search but they will only learn that sex is for pleasure. What they need to know is that sex is about intimacy, love, trust, and commitment as well as bringing new life into the world. This is immediately implied once parents enter the conversation.

3. Boys need to know what sexual harassment is, how to handle it, and that middle school is the number one time in a person’s life when they are likely to experience sexual harassment.

4. Boys need to understand that emotional intimacy is worth the risk. The number of teens who date has dropped dramatically and is being replaced with casual hook ups and online porn. Boys can have their sexual needs met by themselves with their cell phones. When parents talk  to kids about private subjects, get embarrassed, laugh, share facts and jokes together, kids are getting an experience of emotional intimacy. They see how much closer they feel to their parents and this openness feels good. Parents demonstrate the benefit of being emotionally vulnerable and the bond it creates.

5. Middle school boys are surrounded by sexual content through shared videos, texts, vines, snapchat, and degrading comments made about their peers. Boys need to know how to handle it in a “cool” way when they are put in positions where they feel uncomfortable.

Learn more about Time for The Talk

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.

Can you tell the difference between worry and intuition?

Frilled LizardI used to worry A LOT. I worried about bad things happening to my family, money, health, the planet. I worried about burglaries, car accidents, being late, making mistakes, too much screen time, non-organic foods, you name it, I worried about it. Often, when I was in the middle of obsessing about some future calamity, I would wonder, “Is this my intuition telling me something bad is going to happen?”

Now that I know the difference between my intuition and my reptilian brain, it sounds like a funny question. The reptilian brain is the most primitive part of our brain always screaming loudly, “NOT ENOUGH!  IMPENDING DOOM! BAD THINGS ARE ABOUT TO HAPPEN! LOOK OUT! BE ALERT!” This character inside our brains is very hard to ignore. It’s loud and repetitive and annoying, like sirens going off in your head.

When your intuition speaks to you, you could call it your “higher self”, your gut, your true self, this voice is very quiet. It’s words are always helpful, kind and calm. This voice seems to come from your body, not your brain. It is easy to ignore, speaks in short sentences or phrases, and doesn’t repeat itself. It’s the voice Elizabeth Gilbert heard on the bathroom floor in Eat, Pray, Love that said, “Go back to bed.” When we can get out of fear, get out of our heads, and get really quiet, often this voice will rise up and tell us things like “all is well” or “go for a walk”.  Sometimes it tells us things that we’ve been trying not to hear like “It’s time to divorce”, “I am an addict”, or “my daughter has depression.” While we don’t want to hear these things, if they are coming from your intuitive self, they will accompany a sense of liberation. “The truth shall set you free” so when our worrying, fearful minds are in charge, we are not free. Our reptilian brains trap us in a prison of suffering.

I got to see intuition in action at the She’s All That mother/daughter conference in San Ramon last weekend. I asked for a volunteer and a lovely girl (about 10 years old?) raised her hand. I had her leave the room while I hid an object for a game of “You Are Getting Warmer”. Instead of telling her if she was warmer or colder, the audience was to give subtle, non-verbal cues for her to tune in and to listen carefully to find what she wants (as a metaphor for how to get what she wants out of life, read more about how I use this game here.) 

This young volunteer came into the room, as soon as I explained the game to her, she was off. She went straight for the hidden object like she knew where it was, without looking at any of our non-verbal clues!  This is intuition in action. She. just. knew. Well, this was not the point of the game so I had her leave again and hid it in a much harder location inside somebody’s bag. Again she headed straight to the right spot, one step away from the bag it was hidden in, but this time she had to look around before she found it. This is what intuition looks like: calm knowing, helpful, and often playful.

Kids can listen to their intuition more easily because they are so connected with their bodies. They don’t doubt or question what they know to be true, they trust their gut. Kids are so fun to be with because they are still so connected with their authentic selves. They have active imaginations but they use them for fun, not to imagine bad, scary things happening.  Re-connecting adults with their ability to trust their intuition, their gut, their higher selves is my favorite thing about life coaching.

Ways to reconnect to your intuition:

  1. Calm your fears. Breathing is the best way. Long slow exhales confuse our reptilian brain because in a real fight/flight situation, we would never breathe deeply. Is there any immediate threat to your life? If not, it’s time to breathe.
  2. Accept the reality that you often believe things that aren’t true. EVERYBODY HATES ME. BAD THINGS ARE ABOUT TO HAPPEN. I’M STUPID AND LAZY. all lies. breathe deeply.
  3. Allow your situation to be what it is without trying to change anything. Allow your feelings to be what they are. breathe.
  4. Bring your attention out of your head and into your belly. Breathe and ask a question. What should I make for dinner? How can I earn more money? What does my spirit need? Breathe and become aware of the inside of your torso. Sit quietly and see if an answer arises. If not….
  5. Go on about your day. Take a shower, walk the dog, cook dinner, go to bed. As you get out of your head and move your body, you may notice an answer “pop” into your head while doing a soothing activity. Check and see if the answer gives you a sense of freedom and lightness, and is calm, quiet and helpful. If so, you have tapped in to your higher self. If it feels like it’s coming from your head, creates tension in your body, or creates a negative emotion, you’ve still got some fears in there and it’s back to step 1.

Why you gotta be so mean?

It was the end of lunch time, my freshman year of high school. Girls were gathered in the bathroom talking, fixing hair, applying make up, and getting ready for the bell to ring. About 20 of us girls were gathered in the “vanity room” which had three walls of mirrors and metal counters. One girl made a comment “I hate my nose” out loud, to the mirror. The next girl followed, “I hate my acne.” she declared to her reflection. The next “I hate my eyebrows”, and on it went around the room, each girl declaring her self-hatred. When it got to me I didn’t know what to say. I had never heard my Mom, or any other female pick apart their appearance in this way. I didn’t know this was a thing people did, but I sure as heck wasn’t going to be the one girl who announces “I love everything about my appearance!” I chose to hate my hair, it felt less personal than hating my body that would be with me forever.

Negative self-talk is a learned behavior, just like any other kind of hate. No baby is born hating on anybody, including themselves, (probably why we love em so much.) Adolescence seems to be the time we learn to start judging ourselves harshly. To be a girl in our girl culture, it’s almost unavoidable. We can’t change what we don’t acknowledge so NOTICING we are doing it is the first step to changing. People beat themselves up for all sorts of things, being stupid, being late, being lazy, being forgetful, making mistakes, etc. If we want to change the culture, we need to look at our own self judgement and recognize HOW FRICKIN’ MEAN WE ARE BEING TO OURSELVES! Ask yourself, “Would I ever say that to anyone else I cared about?” Try and imagine your best friend having a bad day where nothing was going right and you tell her, “Don’t be so stupid, what’s wrong with you!? Get your fat ass off the couch and DO something!”

Once we’ve identified the voice of our inner mean girl, we bring in the much more reasonable voice of the best friend. What would YOU say to a friend who is looking in the mirror? “You look fine, it doesn’t matter, you have beautiful eyes and a beautiful smile. Let’s stop the pity party and go have some fun.” or “You had a hard day, take it easy on yourself, put on your pjs and let’s watch The Bachelor.”

Changing the culture of negative self talk starts within all of us. Look in the mirror and say nice things to yourself, about yourself. Cultivate your inner BFF by having your own back after getting beat up by your inner mean girl. If you have a daughter between 12 -14, send her to my summer camp where she will learn to tune INTO her body instead of hating on it. We will listen to our intuition, emotions, inner wisdom and all the wonderful things that reside inside the body.

Priority Registration has begun for my Getting What You Want Girls Leadership Summer Camp. Help your daughter switch her focus from “Where am I not measuring up?” to “Who am I meant to be?”, “What lights me up?” and “What do I want?”

Click here for camp dates & details. 

When an intuitive child hits puberty

We all start out listening to our own internal GPS. If Great Aunt Mary wants us to hug her, and we don’t want to, we won’t. If a movie is too loud, we will cry, hide, or just walk out. If we want to wear our favorite Doc McStuffins nightgown everyday to school, no amount of criticism will change our mind. When puberty starts, along with it comes an increased social awareness: what’s in, what’s out, what’s cool, what’s not. During the ages of 12-16, peer acceptance becomes very important. We are learning to separate from our parents, but we aren’t strong enough to stand on our own so peers become our safety net until we achieve independence. The ability to tune into social cues and interpret meaning becomes key to enjoying the adolescent years. If your child is on either end of this “social cues spectrum”, he or she may start having difficulties at school. 

On the far side of the spectrum are kids who have difficulty understanding social cues, missing nuances, difficulty understanding other people’s emotions and interpreting meaning. They may have a diagnosis like Autism or Aspergers, higher testosterone, or just be more cerebral and “left brain” dominant. School counselors can be very helpful for these kids, taking the subtle and making it clear and concrete.

I like to work with the teens and adults who lie on the other end of the spectrum, HIGH empathy kids. These kids notice EVERY subtlety and can soak up other people’s negativity like a sponge. Kids with naturally high empathy can be very social, but find themselves exhausted with too much social activity, sometimes feeling anxious or depressed when left alone. They have a hard time differentiating their emotions, from everyone else’s, and may find the company of animals and children easier to deal with.sensitive-teen

It’s common for teens, preteens, and many adults, to assume the negative. When we tune in to the people around us, we might notice someone or something is “off”. Maybe it’s a delayed reaction time, maybe it’s a surprising tone of voice, maybe it’s that the words didn’t match the emotion behind. Any of these subtle nuances can make a person question and wonder what that was all about. A highly sensitive or empathic person can feel really bothered by this, they may get physically weak, tired, sick with headaches or stomachaches, get nervous or anxious. Our brain goes to work trying to solve the puzzle of “What was that about?”  and we often end up making it mean something negative about us: “I said the wrong thing.” “She’s mad at me.” “I hurt her feelings.” “People don’t like me.”

It’s important to acknowledge your intuition and respect that it picked up on the fact that “something is off”. We were born with this intuitive ability to sense danger and it’s a valuable skill set to have. (Your intuition is always calm and easy to ignore, your brain is hard to ignore and keeps repeating itself, don’t mix the two.) Our job is to respect our inner GPS sensing “something is off” and but manage our mind and think thoughts that are true and helpful. The adolescent years are when negative self talk explodes. We want to be wary of anyone, real or imagined, who tell us horrible things about our appearance, our intelligence, our futures and our failures.

Beware of these invisible assumptions. We have no idea why your friend’s words didn’t match her emotions. It could be she was distracted, she had a bad morning, was worrying about an upcoming test, just started her period, drank three red bulls, we don’t know. If you are going to allow your brain to answer “What was that about?”, make sure it’s something that feels good to you like, “I care about my friend’s feelings.” “She’s having an off day and that’s ok.” “I can still like me, even if she doesn’t.”

Just because you didn’t want to hug Great Aunt Mary, didn’t mean she was an evil person, or that you were rude for not wanting to hug her. Just because the volume of the movie was too loud for you, didn’t mean you are wimpy. And you, loving your Doc McStuffins nightgown, doesn’t make you weird, unless you like believing that you are weird. Your inner GPS is here to get your attention and guide you, but you get to decide what you make it mean.