Friendship conflicts: “You can’t come to my birthday party”

“You can’t come to my birthday party” – Dealing with friendship conflict

Episode #59

“Our daughter seems to have good friends in general but somehow, at 5, there’s already drama! Every day someone tells another girl they won’t be their friend anymore or that they’re not invited to their birthday party next month etc. She also has a terrible time when she’s not in charge of what she and her friends are playing. How do you coach a young girl through communication and understanding they’re thoughts and feelings? She is a very sweet and kind girl with a stubborn and hard headed streak. Right from birth the doctor and nurse told us she’s going to let us know what she thinks.”

“She comes to life when she gets to direct everything that’s going on and has full attention on whatever she wants to play. She has flourished with kindergarten and is always excited about her day at school and can’t wait to go back.”

Sarah

 

Parent Education Answer:

 

It sounds like you are interested in teaching your daughter some emotional management. The reason she is saying, “You can’t come to my birthday party” or “I’m not going to be your friend anymore” is because she is experiencing an emotion she doesn’t know how to deal with. 

 

Your daughter sounds like a natural born leader. She comes to life when she is in charge and is very vocal and communicative. These are excellent qualities we don’t want to squash. We do however, want her to have friends while she climbs her way to the top so the trick is to teach her some emotional management techniques. 

When other kids aren’t obeying her, I imagine she gets frustrated, annoyed and disappointed. Can any Supermoms relate to this? It’s a pretty typical reaction. Our kids or husband won’t pick up after themselves, we feel frustrated and powerless, so we snap, yell or manipulate them into doing what we want. Hurt people will hurt people. Annoyed people say annoying things. Disappointed people, disappoint others. 

There are a few ways you can help your daughter deal with her feelings of frustration, disappointment, or powerlessness.

  1. Talk about your own feelings. An emotion is one word, a thought is a sentence in your mind. Start describing your emotions with the phrase, “I feel _______.” (sad, mad, happy, scared). Put a poster on the wall with different emojis and work together to expand her emotional vocabulary. Make sure you model using vulnerable emotions like “I feel disappointed” or “I feel embarrassed”. Notice what your daughter is feeling and say out loud, “You feel excited” or “You feel defeated”. 
  2. Role play with her. Use her dolls or lego people to work out common disagreements. Show how sad the doll is when she hears she won’t be invited to her birthday party.  Make a rule that they aren’t allowed to say “You can’t be my friend anymore”. Instead, teach them to say, “I’m feeling frustrated” or “I’m sad and need a break”. Model how to take deep breaths, apologize and forgive.
  3. Teach the girls how to have a conflict. It is not only normal, but important for kids to learn how to have conflict. Playing with other kids is the perfect opportunity to teach them how to compromise when you don’t get your way. When it gets heated, point out what you are seeing and hearing: “It sounds like Sophia wants to play with the kitchen, and you want her to play dress up. I’m sure you will figure out a compromise.” Or “It sounds like Julia would like to play by herself for a while.”
  4. Help your daughter understand herself. Make comments like, “I see your fists clench and you hold your breath when your friend isn’t playing the way you want her to.”  “I notice you really like to be in charge but Emma also likes to be in charge. Is it hard when you both like to be the boss? “Which of your friends appreciates it when you take charge and is happy to follow along with your ideas?” 

Life Coaching Answer:

What gets in our way from helping our children learn to resolve conflict? Our inner people pleasers. 

So many Supermoms get stuck thinking that good friends never fight or say mean things. When you hear that YOUR DAUGHTER is emotionally blackmailing other girls, withholding friendship and birthday parties, we get embarrassed! Moms often think this is TERRIBLE because we view our child’s behavior as a reflection of ourselves and our parenting. 

When our child is flourishing academically, socially, physically, we feel like successful moms. We relax and feel satisfied in our job as parents. But as soon as there is a problem, we blame ourselves. It’s just SO EASY to think, “I’m not doing it right” or “I should have done better”.

If this motivated us to take productive action, it wouldn’t be a problem. The problem comes because thinking, “I’m not doing it right” or “I should have done better” makes us feel inadequate and embarrassed. When we feel this way, we blame. We get mad at our kids, ourselves, we avoid conflict, we stop inviting kids over. We try and get our kids to behave so that we don’t have to feel like lousy parents. When we are avoiding our own negative emotions, we aren’t going to be teaching effective conflict resolution skills.

In order to follow the parent educator advice of patiently observing, modeling and teaching kids that it’s ok to have a conflict, your ego can’t be involved. This kind of teaching requires a mom to feel calm and confident. Can you imagine there is another mom out there in the world, raising a bossy 5 year old who withholds friendship and parties, that you think is a really good mom? Create that image in your mind. How does that mom talk to her daughter? How does she talk to other moms about the kid conflicts? 

It is totally possible to be a good mom and have a bossy daughter. 

Supermom Kryptonite: Downplaying awesomeness

Do you struggle to accept a compliment? Do you downplay your achievements and deflect praise when it comes your way? How are you at receiving and appreciating gifts? If you have a pattern of dodging positivity, you may subconsciously be draining your energy. 

The reason some people get uncomfortable with compliments and positive attention, is that it doesn’t match what we say to ourselves inside our own head. We spend all day thinking, “I’m not doing enough” or “I’m failing as a mom”. We can’t wrap our brains around someone contradicting our inner dialogue.

When we attach our ego to our children’s behavior, it means we struggle to accept praise about our children, too. It’s more comfortable to throw our kids under the bus sayin, “I’m sorry my daughter is so bossy” or “My daughter should be nicer.” 

We don’t want to brag about our kids so we err on the side of humility, which sometimes turns into pointing out children’s flaws.

There is a difference between bragging and being proud of your children. Bragging means, “My kid is better than your kid.” Pride means, “I think my kid is amazing, and I don’t take credit. I think your kid is amazing, too.” There is plenty of awesomeness to go around. No need to minimize, deflect or downplay. We are all moms in the trenches, parenting perfectly imperfect children, all of us worthy of praise.

 

Supermom Power Boost – Consider Banning Bossy

There is a movement to ban the word bossy when describing a girl’s personality. Popularized by Sheryl Sandburg and supported by Beyonce, Condoleeza Rice and the Girl Scouts of America, this movement says that bossy undermines female leadership. Boys aren’t called bossy, they are called strong leaders. 

Support girls leadership by banning the word bossy from your vocabulary. I want to live in a world where girls who are strong willed, powerful leaders, feel proud and confident to show this side of themselves without a negative social backlash. 

Teach your daughter to be an effective leader. Join the movement, buy t-shirts and tote bags, by going to http://banbossy.com/

Quote of the Day:

“Let me take a minute to say that I love bossy women. Some people hate the word, and I understand how “bossy” can seem like a shitty way to describe a woman with a determined point of view, but for me, a bossy woman is someone to search out and celebrate. A bossy woman is someone who cares and commits and is a natural leader.” ― Amy Poehler

 

Entertaining a young child so mom can work from home

Coaching Call – How to entertain a young child so mom can get work done?

Episode #58

Listen in as I coach a mom trying to keep her 5 year old entertained while she works from home.

Question of the Day:

Today’s Question comes from Carola Fuertes. Carola is a weight loss coach looking for parenting help for her 5 year old son. If you are ready for a compassionate approach to weight loss contact her at www.CarolaFuertes.com or www.naturalweightcoach.com

“My husband and I both work from home and our five year old is out of school for the summer. He is reckless, climbing up on counters, finding things that we’ve hidden, dangerous things like medications. For his own safety, I need him to stop getting into everything but he won’t listen to me. 

I explain to him why I have boundaries and he doesn’t listen to me or my rules. I like that he cares about what he wants and goes after it, but for safety reasons, we need him to obey. I can’t seem to make him do what I say. I feel powerless, frustrated and defeated. Sometimes it feels like he’s doing it to spite me which makes me mad. I might yell, throw a fit, put him in time out, but then I’m parenting in a way I don’t like.”

How can I stop my son’s reckless behavior without yelling?

 

 

 

Youngest Child Syndrome

Episode 57 – Youngest Child Syndrome

Question of the Day:

“I have three kids, ages, 9, 6 and 2. My two year old is fiercely independent and loves to help around the house, cook, clean, and do everything the older two are doing. He’s hyper aware of what’s going on even if the adults are trying to hide it or talk about adult things, he jumps in and asks about it. He throws massive fits if he doesn’t get what the older kids have. In an effort to prevent his tantrums, I’m asking my older kids to hide their toy, eat and watch TV later when he’s not around. I’m teaching my older kids to be sneaky to avoid him freaking out when he can’t do what they are doing. Is this a good or a bad idea?”  Adrienne 

 

Parent Educator Answer:

It is so normal to want to avoid situations that cause our kids to freak out. No one enjoys a tantrum. When our kids are happy it makes it easier for us to believe we are doing a good job and creating a peaceful home life. You’ve got three kids, including a challenging two year old, if you make it through the day, consider yourself successful. He’s two, this is a temporary situation and you have found a way to make it easier on yourself.

It sounds like you’ve got “Youngest Child Syndrome” in action. When psychologist Alfred Adler first wrote about birth order in 1927, he identified certain characteristics that were common in these kids. Because youngest children often feel left out and learn to fight for attention, certain characteristics can develop: 

Youngest kids tend to be socially savvy, manipulative and charming. They often take unnecessary risks, and are described as creative and confident. These children can also be viewed as less capable, spoiled and dependent.

It’s so tempting to want to baby the baby of the family but there is no way he’s going to stand for that! 

My parent educator advice would be to find ways to channel your youngest son’s competitive personality. Tell him, “Scooters and bikes are for big kids. You won’t be able to learn until you are at least 5.” but then let him try and watch him prove you wrong. 

Say, “There’s no way you can clear the dishes off the table before the timer goes off.” or “I wonder which kid can pick up the most toys in the shortest amount of time?”

Here are some tips to setting your your youngest child up for success:

  • Let your children figure out their own relationship. Try not to interfere and they will find their own ways of interacting that work for them.
  • Make sure your youngest has chores and responsibilities, too. Older siblings can feel resentful if the youngest gets away with breaking rules or has freedoms they don’t have. 
  • If someone gets hurt, don’t assume and blame the bigger kid. Everyone takes responsibility for their actions. If the baby gets pampered or receives more positive attention from mom and dad, older siblings may subconsciously punish him out of jealousy.
  • For two years, your older kids have been hearing you prioritize the baby. “I’ve got to get your brother to bed.” “I can’t play with you because of your brother.” Make sure your older kids hear you saying telling the two year old to wait. For example, If the two year old wakes up from a nap crying, say to the baby monitor, “I’m with your sister right now, you can wait.” If he’s wailing for a snack, very calmly say, “I’ll get it as soon as I’m done helping your brother.” You probably say “We need to go pick your brother and sister up at school” but the older kids don’t hear you say that. Make sure they overhear you prioritizing them, to their youngest sibling.
  • Tell your older children about “Youngest Child Syndrome” and ask if they think you are spoiling him or giving him too much freedom with too little rules. 

The more you can help your older children feel positively toward the younger one, the less he’ll need to fight to be accepted and keep up. 

Life Coaching Answer: 

I think your maternal instincts are nagging at you because you intuitively know you don’t want to parent out of fear. When you tell your kids to be sneaky to avoid your two year old throwing a tantrum, it’s coming from fear of his reaction. It’s not right for anyone to feel responsible for another person’s emotions. 

If you heard another mom say, “I always let my daughter win the game because if she doesn’t, she throws such a fit that my afternoon is ruined.” You would feel compassion for her, but your instincts might also kick in and wonder, if maybe once in awhile, she should let her daughter lose so she can practice losing gratefully. 

When you ask your kids to be sneaky, it can be like you are teaching your older kids, “It’s your responsibility to make sure your brother and mother have a good day.” This builds resentment in the older kids.

It’s natural to want our older children to be our allies in raising the youngest one and creating peace in the home. 

I used to do the same thing to my older son. I would tell him to be sneaky and hide things from his sister so she wouldn’t throw a fit. Regretfully, I would get mad at him if he provoked his sister or said something that would cause her to freak out. I remember the day this all changed. 

I was shopping at a store, trying to decide which cheese to buy and I realized I was afraid of my 4 year old child’s reaction if I chose the wrong cheese. My fear of my own child was controlling my behavior. I knew I didn’t want to make decisions out of fear so from that moment on, I made it my mission not to try and control my daughter’s mood or behavior. I let her throw as many tantrums as she wanted. I thought life would be more peaceful if I could control her tantrums but really life got more peaceful when I stopped trying to control her tantrums. 

Do our actions have an effect on others? Absolutely. Is it our fault if someone reacts negatively to our actions? Absolutely not. 

We want to be really clear with our kids that they are not responsible for their sibling’s mood, nor is it their job to make sure our afternoon goes smoothly. 

We tell kids, “You made your sister cry” but really, this isn’t possible. No one can cause a negative feeling in someone else, without their permission. Your son throws a tantrum when he sees his brother watching TV because he thinks, “It’s not fair!” “I should be able to do whatever he is doing!” We don’t get to choose the thoughts our kids think. We can offer alternative suggestions, “It is fair. When he was two he didn’t get to watch this show” but, as you may have noticed, this doesn’t work so well. 

A circumstance cannot cause an emotion. Losing a game doesn’t make a child mad. The child is mad because they have a thought like, “I should have won.” or “You cheated”. Some kids might get sad when they lose because they have a thought like, “I never win” or “I’m stupid”. Other kids aren’t bothered by losing, they think thoughts like, “that was fun” or “I like that game.” 

You can ask your children to hide their “privileges” from the two year old until he grows older and learns to manage his emotions better. Just make sure they are choosing to do this out of kindness, not obligation. Your youngest gets to feel and express whatever emotion he wants and no one has to feel responsible for that. You don’t want to get into a situation where one child controls the whole family. 

If allowing a child to lose a game is an opportunity to teach the art of losing gracefully, think of your son’s tantrum as an opportunity for the family to detach from his expression of emotions.

What gets in our way from detaching from our children’s meltdowns? 

Beliefs such as…

“He shouldn’t act this way” 

“If I was a good mom, I would be able to prevent this meltdown.” 

“I can’t deal, this is too much to handle.” 

Expressing emotions is not just normal, but super important. 

We need kids to yell, scream, stomp, rage, cry, collapse, forgive, apologize, and move on because it’s a sign of healthy emotional development!

The natural consequences of your youngest freaking out are that his older siblings aren’t going to want him around. They might invite him to play when he’s being cute and funny, but not when he’s throwing a fit. This will motivate him to act cute and funny instead of loud and intense, without you having to do anything at all. 

 

Supermom Kryptonite – Ignoring your instincts

Ignoring your instincts is common but it can drain your energy because you can’t put your finger on what’s bothering you. Sometimes it’s enough to say, “something’s off” and carve out time to figure it out later. Write in a journal, talk to your life coach, and see if you can figure out what exactly your instincts are saying. Pay attention to where you have enough mental space for your intuition and best ideas to come to you. Is it in the shower? Driving in the car? Going for a walk? You will be amazed at how much energy you have when you are aligned with your own integrity. When your thoughts, feelings and actions are all in line, it is an incredible feeling and worth taking the time to be in your own integrity. 

 

Supermom Power Boost – Allowing your kids to learn by experience

I was on a sailing catamaran in Hawaii this week with a family of 3 young boys. There is a part of the boat that is covered in taught netting, strong enough to sit on but if you drop anything, it sinks to the bottom of the ocean. The oldest boy, Jack, saw this netting stretched above the water and immediately started walking toward it. With big eyes and a tentative step, he put his weight onto it, stepped both feet on, and then looked back at his parents and asked, “Can I go on here?” 

His younger brother, Noah, sat on the solid surface of the boat, safe in his moms arms for the first third of the trip. Only after watching his brother, Dad, and other passengers sit on the net, did he feel ready to try it himself. By the time Noah had warmed up to this new experience, Jack was already off climbing into the sail, exploring below deck, and getting into mischief.

It’s possible, Adrienne, that your youngest son is an experiential learner like Jack. How a child approaches new situations is hard wired into their personality. Some kid’s natural instinct is to observe before they step in. Other kids leap before they look. If you have a kid who likes to jump in and try things before getting all the information or receiving permission, try to let them do it as long as it’s safe. 

Let him try to cook in the microwave, get close enough to a hot oven to experience the heat first hand, eat so much candy he throws up, put together legos for age 7+ and figure out how to work the TV remote. This may not put a stop to his tantrums but his anger will be focused on a rage to master a skill, rather than at you. As you accept his personality and the loud tantrums that go along with it, you can start to see it as amusing instead of a problem you need to solve. 

 

Quote of the Day:

Siblings: children of the same parents, each of whom is perfectly normal until they get together.” Sam Levenson

 

Where are my friends?

Mom friendships change as teens become more independent

Question of the Day: 

“My teenagers are getting older and more independent. I know I need to let go, but I’m having a hard time. I think what scares me the most is being alone. So many of my friendships were formed through my children’s activities (soccer moms, theater moms, etc.). I’m worried about what my social life will look like after my kids leave the house. Already I’ve noticed a drop since my daughter got her driver’s license. I need a strategy to make and maintain friendships at this point in my life.” 

Alyssa

 

To help me answer this question, I have a special guest, Suzy Rosenstein a coach for mid-life women and host of Women in the Middle podcast. 

Suzy defines midlife as more a stage than age, although people think about it being between 45-65 years old. As we enter into emptying nests, big milestone birthdays and menopause, it’s easy to find ourselves in a midlife funk. 

She found herself in a midlife funk, knowing she was dissatisfied but not knowing why or what she wanted to change. When she got a surprise lay off notice after 18 years with the same company, she hired herself a life coach and set off to regret-proof her life.

After coaching many midlife women, one of the top regrets she hears about is about friendships. 

While raising kids, friendships are built-in and convenient so for 20 years we didn’t really have to exercise the friendship muscle. As our kids grow into adulthood, it’s time to be intentional about our relationships and who we have in our lives. 

Three tiers of relationships

1 – The Inner Circle – Partner, parents, siblings, children

2 – Friends, colleagues, acquaintances

3 – Neighborhood, community, people you interact with, take classes with, etc. 

 

It’s important to start thinking about what I really want. Which tier am I missing and would like to focus on more? Do I want to vacation with girlfriends? Do I want to feel more connected to my community? Or do I just want someone to talk to about my day? 

 

Supermom KryptoniteRegret-proof your life

Living with a fear of future regret can be a real energy drain. When you feel like something is missing, you want to pursue a dream and you don’t, this inaction is today’s Supermom Kryptonite. Doing something different in mid-life means leaving your comfort zone. But ignoring your desires keeps you stuck in familiar discomfort. 

To regret-proof your life, focus on these three areas: 

  1. Self-care – What do you want more of? Less of? Do you have a relationship with your body that you want? Are you the woman you want to be?
  2. Professional contribution –  Is your work in alignment with what’s important to you?
  3. Relationships – Aside from mom friendships, are you creating the friendships and personal relationships you want to have? 

mom friendships crisis

Be intentional about living the life you want to live. 

Supermom Power Boost – 9 Secrets to get unstuck in your 50’s

www.suzyrosentein.com/ninesecrets 

 

Quote of the Day: 

“Try thinking about what you CAN do as often as you think about what you are afraid to do.” Suzy Rosenstein 

Disrespectful kids leave stuff everywhere


Disrespectful kids leave stuff everywhere.

Question of the Day: Dealing with Disrespectful Kids

“My kids are so disrespectful! From the second they walk in the door, they throw their backpacks, shoes, jackets all over the house. They KNOW they are supposed to hang them up and put their lunch leftovers on the counter but they don’t. They leave it in their backpack until the food starts to smell disgusting. I am constantly on them to pick up their stuff, it’s exhausting. What do you when your perfectly reasonable requests are constantly ignored?” Jane

disrespectful kids leaving stuff everywhere

 

Parent Educator Answer: 

My first answer is to come to the Raising Responsible Kids online workshop on Saturday, February first! Here, I’m going to go over everything you need to know to delegate effectively. 

 

You didn’t say how old your kids were, but I’m going to guess they are school-aged and clearly old enough to master the task at hand. 

 

With little kids, you would want to be more instructive, “Put your sandwich bag in the trash and rinse your lunch box out in the sink.” With older kids, ask them before you get into the house if they know what your expectations are for their backpack, shoes, jacket, and lunch. If they say they do, then remind them with just one word. 

 

If you are like most Supermoms, we use way too many words. We nag, lecture, complain and it just makes our kids tune out and ignore us. It also annoys them, which makes them NOT want to do what we are asking. A simple one-word reminder: “shoes” or “lunchbox” should do the trick. 

 

If you watch them walk into the house and remind them with a word as soon as they drop their stuff on the floor, soon it will become a habit and they will do it automatically, If not, go back to the first step and ask them before they walk into the house if they know what to do with their stuff. 

 

Simple, easy, boring. So why is it such a challenge for SOOOO MANY OF US?

 

Life Coaching Answer: 

The reason these simple instructions are so hard to follow is because you are pissed! 

When we perceive our children’s behavior as disrespectful, we get MAD. The positive side of anger is to help us notice injustice. But to get kids to clean up, we need to be calm, patient, and confident. So what gets in our way from teaching our kids how to manage their belongings is our perception that the kid’s behavior is disrespectful. 

Are you absolutely sure that your kids are trying to disrespect you by dumping their stuff? If a handyman walked into your house and dumped his toolbox and coat by the front door, would you think it was disrespectful?

When you were lugging around a baby in a car seat, did you ever dump your diaper bag and car seat by the front door when you walked into someone else’s house? If so, were you trying to disrespect the homeowner? Of course, not. 

 

When you think your kids are disrespecting you, you get mad. You are short with them, you yell, nag, your tone, and posture changes. You lose the leadership energy that makes kids do what you ask. 

 

So often we want to quickly switch to a better feeling thought. We think, “anger is bad, patience is good. From now on, I will be calm and patient until they learn the routine.” and you do it for a day or two, but a week later, you are right back to feeling disrespected. Has this ever happened to you? 

 

If so, it’s time we honor the anger. It is true that the distribution of duties in the home is unjust. You have WAY more on your shoulders than anyone else, and it isn’t fair.

When we learn how to turn the dial up on our anger and allow it (away from the kids), then we also learn how to turn it down. Trying to suppress anger can last forever, but allowing anger to move through your body in a physical way, can only last for 90 seconds. 

 

Think about a toddler throwing a tantrum. Notice how PHYSICAL it is for them. They cross their arms, scrunch their face, clench their fists and stomp their feet. Find a private place and do it with me now.

Anger is a healthy and normal human emotion but, societally, women are not given permission to feel it or express it. Put your body into a position of anger: stand up, clench your fists, stop, hit the pillow on your bed.

It is 100% unfair that you do so much for these kids with so little appreciation in return. They will never know how much work you do for their lazy butts all day long. Really let yourself go there, feel the fire in your belly, swear, let it all out. 

 

After 90 seconds you might notice you feel better. Emotion is energy in motion. When we suppress it and try not to feel it, we distance ourselves from ALL the emotions. When we can fully allow anger, disappointment, and shame, we also get full access to joy, love, and peace.

 

This is what we are trying to get when we complain to our husbands. We get annoyed because they tell us how to fix our problem when really we just want to feel felt. We want to feel like he gets the struggles and frustrations we went through that day. When we vent to our girlfriends or cry or go to a kickboxing class, we feel better after because we processed the emotion and moved it out of our system. 

 

Teaching kids to take responsibility for themselves is really quite simple. The problem is there are a lot of barriers that get in our way from delegating to them. We:

  1. label their behavior as disrespectful.
  2. think a good mom should be able to do all the work.
  3. don’t want to watch our kids struggle or suffer. We’d rather rescue them.
  4. want them to do it “right” the first time without the learning curve.
  5. feel bad putting more on their to-do list. 
  6. resist relaxation. We pride ourselves on being busy and overwhelmed. 
  7. want to feel needed. 

 

We will be working on these at the Raising Responsible Kids workshop, so please join. You will leave there with a clear strategy and an experience of being in calm, confident energy. You will learn how to talk to kids in a way that makes them want to obey you! 

Go to: lifecoachingforparents.com/workshop

 

Supermom Kryptonite: Over-parenting. Doing too much for our kids. 

I ran into my friend at the hardware store the other day, she was buying light bulbs for her son’s bathroom after noticing they were out. I asked if she was going to replace them herself or have him do it. She paused and looked at me incredulously, “Should I have HIM do it? I should! I shouldn’t even say anything, I’ll just leave the lightbulbs on the bathroom counter!” 

Mamas, her son is 20 years old. 

When our kids are little, we show we love them by taking care of them. Care and love are intertwined. As they grow into adolescents, we need to separate the two.

We need to stop caring FOR them so much. Continuing to do things for them that they are capable of doing themselves can delay their maturity and lessen their self-esteem. 

When we continue to take care of them, we treat them like the child they were instead of the adult we want them to become. Many teens will push back against our over-parenting and show us that it’s time to back off, others will not.

Many teens will continue to ask for our help because they lack confidence in their own abilities. Confidence comes from competence and the only way to build competence is to make lots of mistakes. 

If my friend’s son was living in a house with other 20-year-old men, they might live in a dark bathroom for weeks before someone thought to change a lightbulb. They might light a candle or use their cell phone flashlight before one of them decided to take action. This seems ridiculous to us as responsible adults!

The problem is so easily solved with a simple trip to the hardware store! But here’s the thing: something magical happens on that day he decides to go to the store, buy a light bulb, and screw it in without anyone telling him what to do or how to do it. The magical thing that happens when our teens do things by themselves without our input is self-efficacy. 

Self-efficacy

Self-efficacy refers to an individual’s belief in his or her capacity to execute behaviors necessary to produce specific performance attainments. It reflects confidence in the ability to exert control over one’s own motivation, behavior, and social environment. 

 

Self-efficacy is a superpower. We know. We’ve got loads of it. We are super responsible and capable and it feels good! But, without even realizing it, we can rob our kids of self-efficacy because we aren’t willing to let them live in a dark bathroom, or get a bad grade on their report card, or go away to summer camp, or make a mess trying to cook something in the kitchen. 

 

Supermoms don’t like to watch their kids struggle. We feel like we have to do everything right, and having kids who suffer and struggle doesn’t seem right to our perfectionistic brains. Combine that with our need to feel needed and our love of taking care of our babies, it becomes really easy to stay stuck in a habit that feels good to us but is problematic for our child’s self-efficacy.

Over-parenting drains your energy because it keeps all the burdens of responsibility on your shoulders. It also creates this nagging voice in the back of your mind that says, “Shouldn’t my kids be doing more by now?” 

Learning how to watch your kids make mistakes and not make it mean anything has gone wrong, is one of the things we’ll work on in the Raising Responsible Kids workshop this weekend. 

If you think you err on the side of over-parenting, you need to join my workshop this weekend. 

Supermom Power Boost:  Get sneaky to restore balance

I have a client with a husband who loves golf. She gets annoyed that he takes off for 5 hours on a Saturday to go do his own thing. When we dug deeper, we discovered that if she was to take off for 5 hours on a Saturday to do something she loved, she would feel guilty.

She had the belief that a good mom should want to be with her kids every weekend. So instead of taking turns with her husband to do activities she loved doing on weekends, she just wanted her husband to be stuck at home with her. If she isn’t going to have fun, then he shouldn’t either. 

The problem with this belief that “self-sacrifice is good and self-indulgence is bad” is that Supermoms end up totally out of balance. Our instinct is to restore balance so we end up sneaking our indulgences, behind our own backs.

Since we struggle to proclaim, “I’m going to a spa for 5 hours every other Saturday” we indulge unconsciously by drinking wine, eating sweets, and staying up later than we mean to binge-watching Netflix. We mindlessly scroll through our phone as a way to give ourselves a break, instead of saying, “I’m going to order myself DoorDash and face time with a girlfriend for an hour.” 

Mommy Time

Instead of letting our subconscious try to restore balance in a way we don’t actually want, I recommend an illicit affair. I’m not saying to go cheat on your husband but go have an affair with your creativity. Call it “Mommy’s special time” but don’t tell them what you are doing.

Explore an interest, write your novel, paint or draw, wander around the city with no agenda, visit museums, eat whatever you feel drawn to, indulge in something frivolous and nourishing to your soul. The key here is it cannot be noble. It must feel indulgent in order to restore balance. 

Tell your family you are traveling for work, but really just enjoy the quiet cleanliness of a hotel room by yourself. 

Put your kids in the gym daycare, then lie in a lounge chair and read a book. 

Go on a silent retreat or yoga retreat. Take 5 hours and go dancing, skiing, or golfing. Park your car somewhere, write in your journal or listen to an audiobook while looking at a beautiful view. Tour open houses in a beautiful neighborhood.

I walk my dog on a popular trail near my house. Sometimes, when no one is looking, I start skipping. You cannot skip as an adult woman, without also laughing at yourself and feeling joyful. Or, if I’m listening to some catchy music, I’ll sneak in a few dance moves when I think no one is looking. 

I’m hoping this three-hour online workshop will be a stepping stone for you. If you can carve out three hours for a workshop on a Saturday to do something that is good for you and your kids, maybe next time you’ll take thee hours to do something fun and frivolous just for yourself. 

Deliberately sneaking in an indulgent pleasure will help you feel balanced. When we feel some equanimity, we don’t need our husbands and kids to suffer along with us. They can have frivolous fun and so can we. Next time you go to a hotel room, try dumping your stuff on the floor, kicking off your shoes and not caring where they end up and see if it feels like indulgent fun to you. 

Quote of the Day:  “Do anything, but let it produce joy.” Walt Whitman

How do I help my “differently wired” kid make friends

Today’s Topic: How Do I Help My “Differently Wired” Kid?

Here to help me answer this question is Debbie Reber, author of Differently Wired: Raising an Exceptional Child in a Conventional World

Differently Wired author Debbie Reber

 

Debbie Reber is a parenting activist, New York Times bestselling author, keynote speaker, and the founder of TiLT Parenting, a website, top podcast, and social media community for parents who are raising differently wired children. Her newest book, Differently Wired: Raising an Exceptional Child in a Conventional World, came out in June 2018. After living abroad in the Netherlands for the past five years, Debbie, her husband, and 15-year-old son recently moved back to New York City.

 

Words to Ponder on from Debbie Reber, Author of Differently Wired

  • Remember that there is no one right way to be a teenager or have a social life. Check your expectations and don’t compare to yourself at that age or other kids.
  • Play the odds. Try different interest-based camps and classes. They may not go well, but you never know what will click.
  • Focus on the long game.
  • There’s nothing wrong with socializing online.
  • One friend is all they might need.

I took the opportunity to ask Debbie about a few other common scenarios my Supermoms struggle with.

What advice do you have for a mom who is just starting on this journey? Her 5-year-old is getting into trouble in kindergarten and the (private) school is talking about asking him to leave? 

 

Do you have advice for moms whose child got through elementary school but now that in middle school, they are having difficulty. They’ve been diagnosed and have trouble managing the complex workload and now mom feels like she has to sit with them for hours after school to help them focus on homework?

 

 

Supermom Kryptonite:

Thinking that your son’s friendships should look like your own. Not only might there be a brain-centered difference, but there may also be a gender difference.

Boys, as they grow into men, tend to be more project-oriented. They might have one or two friends they get together with for certain activities: online games, working on a project, and that’s enough.

Girls and women can sit around and talk for hours without needing to have something to show for it. Be sure to check your expectations and realize there are many ways to feel socially satisfied and your son’s might be very different than your own.

 

Supermom Power Boost:

Go for a walk, learning and listening to (my suggestion) Debbie’s self care podcast!

Quote of the Day:

“I can predict that life with my differently wired kid will be unpredictable.” Supermom of an adult daughter with autism. 

My kids are staying up too late!

Today’s Topic: Kids Staying Up Too Late

Dear Torie,

“I am wondering what type of consequences to set for my 10-year-old daughter. She shares a room with her 12-year-old sister. I am having the toughest time with them falling asleep at night. From the moment my husband and I kiss them goodnight, it is almost an hour and a half before they are asleep. The repetitive getting out of bed and coming to us with all sorts of things: “I am scared about a show I saw or snakes under my bed”, or whatever! They have twin beds and will try to get in each other’s beds to “help calm each other down but rarely this works”. My girls are thinkers and thus when they lie down both of them are ruminating about the day, etc. 

I am getting to bed too late and unable to have downtime. This frustrates both my husband and myself.

I struggle as to either take away things (what would those be—don’t want to take away play dates as those are important for building social skills for her right now) or reward (marble jar, or no?). I like to intrinsically motivate my children but this is affecting the whole family and I’m unsure what to do.” 

I asked Andria what she has tried that worked or didn’t work and she told me what consequences her kids currently valued. She also added: 

“The 10-year-old wants to use my 12-year-old as a coping mechanism to help her fall asleep. My 12-year-old being the compassionate, nurturing person she is, will go and lie with her. And then….they start bickering about the stuffed animals on the bed, etc.”

 

Parent Education Answer: 

How to get kids to fall asleep at night? 

Let’s take a look at what you have control over, and what you don’t. 

You cannot make your children sleep. You cannot stop them talking, climbing into each other’s beds, or coming to find you. You cannot turn off their brains for them or make them feel tired and peaceful. 

Knowing What You Can Control

You can control what you do when they come to your bedroom asking for water, attention, etc. You can help them create an environment that is conducive to rest and relaxation. You can HELP THEM problem solve THEIR issue of busy, overstimulated brains and a sister who sacrifices her sleep to try and help her sister. 

This is such a classic Supermom question. I define a Supermom as someone who is very involved with their kids, loves mothering, and tries really hard to do everything right.

We tend to think every problem our kids have is ours to solve. If you find yourself banging your head against the wall, unable to effect the change you want, chances are, it’s because you are trying to solve something that is not your problem to fix. 

Anxious Environment

We live in an anxious, overstimulating culture, visual and auditory information coming at us all hours of the day, without enough physical movement to process, purge and rest in the non-verbal, creative part of our brains.

Generalized anxiety is highest in rich countries like the U.S., Australia, and New Zealand.

You could solve this problem by moving your family to a country with lower levels of anxiety, relaxed people, reduced mental stimulation, and an abundance of nature and watch your daughters drift peacefully off to sleep at the end of a day.

If that isn’t on your bucket list for 2020, let’s move to something else you have control over. 

Helpful Tips With Kids Staying Up Too Late

You could help your daughters create an environment that is more conducive to rest and relaxation. For example: 

kids staying up too late

-No media input an hour before bed. 

-Time for the girls to sit, talk, and process the day with each other. 

-Do yoga stretches together to get them out of their heads and prepare their brains for sleep. -Meditate together or listen to a guided visualization designed to help prepare the brain for sleep. 

When it’s time for them both to sleep, it sounds like having something for their brains to think about would help.

Because you mentioned your girls are “thinkers” you might try a bedtime story podcast like Be Calm on Ahway Island or the Stories Podcast. (Listening to things like podcasts and audiobooks doesn’t count as “screen” time because listening activates the areas of the brain that are good for us.)

The idea is to address the core issue of your daughters’ busy brains at bedtime, rather than seeing it as a discipline issue that requires consequences, and to empower THEM to experiment and figure out what works for them and what doesn’t.

Making sure they get enough exercise in the day time or doing calming yoga stretches before bed can help get us out of our brains and into our bodies. 

You might consider giving your 12-year-old permission to ignore her sister. Can she wear noise-canceling earphones and read a book in her bed? She is trying to be kind but her “helping” isn’t working. It’s teaching the 10-year-old to look to someone else to solve her problems instead of learning that she has the ability to calm herself down. Just like Momma thinks this is her problem to solve, older sister might be thinking the same thing. 

 

What else do you have control over? 

You get to decide what time YOU go to bed and how to handle it when they get up and come to you. You can model for your 12 year old what it looks like to ignore the 10-year-old. Not in a mean way, just a way that makes it really boring and unrewarding for her to get up and come to you. 

If your kids are getting back up after bedtime and coming to find you, the trick is to be non-reactive. You don’t want to be overly kind and affectionate, or overly annoyed and exasperated. If getting up to see mom is as boring as staying in bed, they will lose motivation.

Now if your daughter comes to you and finds your door locked, you taking a shower, reading, or sleeping, it’s going to naturally steer her away from getting up out of bed. If you say you prefer your children to be intrinsically motivated, this is how you help create it.

 

Life Coaching Answer: What to Do with Kids Staying Up Too Late

What will get in the way? 

End of the day fatigue and the feeling of losing control. 

At the end of the day, we are TIRED. All we can think about it is “When am I DONE?” 

We want to have nice, quality time with our precious ones, give love and cuddles, and then pay attention to ourselves for the first time in 23 hours. 

It is REALLY HARD to implement these strategies at this time of day. 

Under stress, we regress. Most of us default to either overly authoritative or overly permissive. 

When Andria is tired, her default seems to be to look to consequences, “What can I take away” which is another way of saying, “I want there to be an action I can take to feel in control.” If we think, “There’s nothing I can do, I have no control over when they go to bed.” isn’t going to feel good either. 

We think, “I just need to get them to sleep and then my husband and I can relax.” 

We put our ability to feel relaxed and enjoy the evening in the hands of our ruminating, chatty children. This doesn’t work very well. Any time we try to control something that we don’t have control over, we will get frustrated. 

Focus on the things you DO have control over. 

What time you go to bed.

How you feel.

How you respond to their problem.

Whenever a mom is wanting to change up a bedtime routine, I suggest practicing it early in the day. Make a game out of it.

Walk through the steps of the new routine before everyone is exhausted. Take pictures of the kids: brushing their teeth, getting their jammies on, doing yoga, etc.

When night time comes, you just have to remind them of the new routine that they already have a positive association with. 

Supermom Kryptonite – Thinking every problem is ours to solve.

It is so easy to get stuck in the habit of fixing our kids’ problems. When they were younger, it seemed like everything fell on our shoulders.

This is too much weight for one person to carry, especially since problems will increase as life becomes more complex. When kids’ adolescence starts, it’s good to practice letting go of trying to fix things. 

You might notice moms start to lose their status as the one and only “She who must be obeyed”. Kids give more credence to teachers, babysitters, coaches, YouTubers, often even Dad’s status gets elevated over Moms.

You might give your daughter the same advice as her gymnastics coach, but your words fall on deaf ears while the young, pretty teenager’s words get put on a pedestal. 

Trying to maintain that “mother knows all” status can drain your energy when, developmentally, your kids are more interested in guidance from peers, older teens, young adults, or relatives who aren’t so involved in their daily lives. 

In Andria’s case, she can encourage her daughters to solve their own problems (ask an older cousin or babysitter for suggestions). She can also delegate to an external resource like an app or podcast designed for tweens.

There are many: Calm, Insight Timer, Simple Habit, Headspace, that have bedtime stories, progressive relaxation, or other auditory ways to facilitate sleep. The goal is to cultivate your children’s resourcefulness, and show them that many people can help them accomplish their goal. 

 

Supermom Power BoostDelegate!

Want to know how to get your kids to eat broccoli? So did social scientists.

They discovered one of the most effective ways is to sit your child down at a table and have them watch an older teenager (of the same gender) sit across from them and happily devour a bowl of broccoli. No talking, just role modeling. 

You can use this natural tendency kids have to listen to outsiders to your advantage. 

Email your pediatrician before an appointment. Ask her to mention the importance of vitamins, sunscreen, or exercise or whatever you are tired of nagging about.

Email your child’s teacher or coach.  Ask him to please praise your son for making mistakes and trying new things because you are working on developing a growth mindset. 

Ask your friend to compliment your child on something her new haircut if he is feeling insecure. 

Find a YouTuber or “influencer” who preaches self-love and care. 

Ask your niece to come over and help your daughter organize her bedroom. 

Have an uncle you trust, talk to your son about safe sex and respecting women. 

You do not have to be all things to your children! Utilize your village and expand your child’s circle of trust. This encourages independence, resourcefulness, and a feeling of safety as your child grows into adulthood. It also frees up your time and energy, helping you feel supported by your village.

 

Quote of the Day:

“Embrace it. Especially because of the lives we live, a lot of times other people have to care for our kids and you have to have that mommy time. Get your sleep!” Jennifer Hudson