How to set boundaries with kid’s screen time?

Episode #5 “How to set boundaries with kid’s screen time”

Today’s question – “The cell phone and video game use in my house are getting out of control. How can I set boundaries with my kids that they will actually follow? I’m ready to throw the damn phones out the window.” Maggie

What is a boundary? A lot of parents confuse setting boundaries with telling kids what to do.

Think of it like a property line of a house. My neighbors can do whatever they want. It’s not my business how they talk to their kids or yell at their dog. It becomes my business if their dog poops on my lawn. Setting boundaries is about what I am going to do when my boundary is violated. I get to decide if I want to offer a poop bag, yell at the dog, put up a sign, etc. My neighbor can let his dog poop on my lawn every day if he wants, he just needs to face the consequences. Maybe I’ll put his photo of him and his dog and post it around the neighborhood. Who knows? The point is that setting boundaries are about me deciding what I’m going to do, not telling someone else what to do.

Parent Education Answer – Setting boundaries around screen time is about defining what your limits are, and what you will do when it gets violated.

Hating on the phone and wishing it would go away is not helpful. Instead, get really clear about what the rules are and make sure you can stick to them every time.

What can I stick to with 100% conviction? 

Phones downstairs charging at bed time

No phones at the dinner table.

Keep location permissions on.

Text Mom back right away.

No video games on school nights.

It’s very similar to your kid running into the street. The message we send our kids is, “I will stop you every time until you stop yourself.”

Mom is 100% predictable, confident and convicted. It’s easy for you to reinforce it because it’s in line with your values and because you also aren’t running into the street.

If you want to make sure your kids respect and obey your rules, don’t set them unless you have these 4 things in place:

Clarity – Make it clear and obvious, avoid vague words. 

Conviction – Every single time anyone brings their phones to dinner, you will be asked to put it away. 

Calm Confidence – Watch your voice tone, eye contact, posture and make sure your request is aligned with your values.

Consequences – Everyone should know what the consequences will be before the rule gets broken.

Continually Reinforce – With everyone in the family, with boring repetition.

When you designate a house rule that everyone obeys, your job gets much easier. As kids approach adolescents they are going to push back on your rules, especially if they see you getting to do something they want to do! If Dad gets to play Call of Duty on a school night or Mom sleeps with her phone next to her bed, your child is going to argue for the same privilege.

Expect kids to violate our rules around screen time and have a plan in place on what YOU will do, WHEN they break the rule. Decide your consequences ahead of time…”If you violate this rule, I will….”

  • Give your phone to the neighbors for two days.
  • Hide the xbox controllers for the weekend.
  • Stop paying your cell phone bill. 
  • Increase parental restrictions on phone.
  • Disable your snapchat app. 

Life Coaching AnswerThe problem comes when parents think….

“I just want it to go away” “I don’t want to deal” “I’m afraid of his reaction” “She’s not going to listen anyway” “He should just know better” “I shouldn’t have to deal with this”

This self-defeating chatter will really get in your way from setting boundaries with your kid’s screen time. Take out your journal and write all the thoughts that come up for you when you think about setting limits. Notice how you feel and act when you think these thoughts. Make sure you aren’t trying to set boundaries from this negative energy. Ask yourself, “What would I need to think in order to set clear, consistent rules around screen time?” 

Thoughts like “I got this” or “This is important to me” can be very helpful.

If you want help with this, schedule a free life coaching session at www.LifeCoachingforParents.com/work-with-me 

 

Supermom Kryptonite – Avoiding reality and putting our head in the sand can drain our energy. PRETENDING like something isn’t bothering you will wears you down. It’s kind of like clutter in your house. Just thinking about our clutter makes us feel heavy and tired. Thinking about getting rid of stuff, donating or throwing away, makes us feel lighter. There are invisible energy drains that weigh us down, even if we can’t see it. A good way to counter this is to ask yourself this question every morning in your journal: “Is there anything that’s weighing on my mind that I’m trying not to think about.”

 

Supermom Power Boost – Clarity. Know who you are, what you want. What your values and goals are. It makes decisions easier. It’s energizing to know what you want and where you are headed.

 

Quote of the Day- “I allow myself to set healthy boundaries. To say no to what does not align with my values, to say yes to what does. Boundaries assist me in remaining healthy, honest and living a life that is true to me.” Lee Horbachewski

 

Want to ask Torie a question? go to www.lifecoachingforparents.com/record-my-question

How do I get my teenager to be nice to me? 

Episode #2

How do I get my teenager to be nice to me? 

Question from Amber:

“I have a great teenager. He’s hard working, fun to be around, nice to his sister, in fact, he’s nice to everyone, except ME. When I sit next to him on the couch, he gets up. When I try to hug him, he ducks away. The other day, he was helping his sister with her math and I said, “Thank you so much for helping her, that is so sweet of you.” He immediately stopped helping and walked away. Everything I say is wrong in his eyes. I’m just want to feel close to him and love on him and he won’t let me. I expected some teenage rebellion but the only thing he’s rebelling against is ME. to be. How can I get my teenager to be nice to me?”

The parent educator answer 

A teenager’s job is to fire their parent. A parent’s job is to earn a place at the board of director’s table. It sounds like your teenager is doing his job. He’s telling you, mostly through body language, your work here is done. I don’t need mommying anymore. I don’t need your approval, hugs, attention or anything that makes me feel like a boy. I’m ready to stand on my own two feet and be a man, take responsibility for my life and I can’t be that man when I have the same relationship with you that we’ve always had. The parents job then, is simply, to let go. Easy, right? 

The life coaching answer

Easier said than done. 

Some helpful questions to ask are: WHY is it so hard to let go? What are you making it mean that he pulls away from you? And what is it that I really want?

Let’s take a look at the facts of the situation. He stands up when you sit next to him. When you try to hug him, he ducks away. He tells you, you are wrong. These are just neutral facts.

Can you imagine another mom might not be bothered by this? She might think, “Finally, some time to myself!” or “Fine! He doesn’t want me around, I don’t want him around.” or maybe she wouldn’t notice or care?

The reason this is bothering you is because of what you are making it mean. 

Right now, with his behavior, I’m going to guess you feel annoyed & frustrated.

We all have a default emotion, something we feel easily often. Underneath this is a hidden, more vulnerable emotion, one that we try really hard not to feel. 

My hunch is that what Amber is making her son’s behavior mean is “I’m losing him” and the feeling she’s trying not to feel is sad.

Some moms have no trouble with sadness but many of us avoid it and get annoyed instead.

In this case, Amber doesn’t want to think about losing her baby boy but every time he pulls away, she clings on tighter. Feeling more & more vulnerable as she tries to control something she has no control over. She thinks, “If he would just be nice to me, then I wouldn’t have to feel insecure.” She’s putting all her power to feel secure and happy, in the hands of her rebellious teenager who is trying to DISTANCE himself from her. The more he pulls away, the tighter she holds on.

The solution to this isn’t to “make him nicer” but to acknowledge the truth of what is happening here.

You are losing your little boy. The relationship you had with him will never be the same. It’s ok to grieve the loss of the wonderfully close relationship you had with him. 

This is not to say you won’t have a relationship with him. It’s just time for the relationship to evolve. Right now, you can’t say or do anything right because of the ENERGY you are bringing to him. It’s so one sided.

When this was happening to me, I was so confused. My husband helped me see it this way…

“It’s like you are his stalker. It doesn’t matter what you say or how you say it. You could be the most perfect mom on the planet, nobody wants to agree with their stalker. No one wants to hug their stalker.” 

The way to get your son to be nicer is to pull your energy WAY back. To grieve the loss of the relationship you had. Treat yourself to a vacation for all the work you put into raising him. Give yourself a certificate, a trophy, something to signify that your work is done and it’s time to change the power dynamic from you as authority/approver/holder of wisdom and put you on the same level as your son so you are both imperfect, learning, growing and changing.

Here are 3 tips to help you let go of your teen so he doesn’t need to push you away.

  1. Love more, care less. When kids are little, love and care go hand in hand. Care involves food, clothing, hygiene, how they spend their free time, etc. As they grow into adolescents, mommy taking care of them, thinking about their food, clothing, hygiene, etc, feels overprotective. Teens want to care for themselves so learning to separate love and care is an important milestone for Supermoms. You will always have “mother’s eyes”. You will always be able to spot potential hazards, ways he could do better, chores that need to be done, better food choices to make, improvements in hygiene, appearance, ways he could challenge himself more and increase his potential. Probably, until the day he dies, you will be able to notice these things. The trick is to love the imperfect teenager he is today (without futurizing and catastrophizing), and care less about the details of how he’s living his life. Focusing on loving more, while caring less about them, will set them free to grow into independence.
  2. “Would I say that to a roommate?” You are co-habitating so using a roommate analogy will help your relationship step into adulthood. You might ask your roommate “How did you do on your test?” but you wouldn’t ask “Did you study?”  You wouldn’t say to a roommate, “Thank you so much for helping your sister with her math” because you are interjecting yourself into his relationship. A simple “you are so nice to your sister” would be enough. You can ask your roommate to take out the trash but you wouldn’t get weepy if she didn’t feel like hugging you.
  3. Focus on yourself. “Who am I if I’m not his mommy?” sends us into an identity crisis. Think about how the lives of your parents changed after you moved out and see if it’s something that looks appealing to you?  If not, you are probably going to cling even tighter. Create a vision for yourself separate from your roll as mom. Supermoms are very involved with their kids lives and the thought of not being needed or wanted in the same way, can cause us to panic.
  4. Create a vision of yourself and your future that excites you. Do you want more time for creative projects? More time for outdoor adventure? Learning a new skill, taking on a new challenge, pushing yourself to play bigger in your life. Is there anything you enjoyed but put on hold when the kid’s activities took over?  Use your imagination to create a picture of your future that is fun and energizing.

Supermom Kryptonite – Letting your teenager take the emotional lead in the home. When we put our ability to be happy in the hands of our teenagers, we ride the emotional roller coaster along with them. If you think, “I can’t be happy until my teen is” it will exhaust you. Instead, you decide how you want to feel, and let your teenager follow your emotional lead. 

Supermom Power Boost – Use your creativity (photography, crafts, etc.) or at least use your imagination to create what you want.

Quote“Live out of your imagination, not your history.” Steven Covey

 

Is your teen constantly arguing with you?

Try “letting go of the rope” to get your arguing teen to relax.

There is a family therapist in my area who specializes in working with teens. We both speak at the same conference every year and she has a very different take on how to handle arguing teens.

“If your teen isn’t telling you they hate you once a day, then you aren’t doing your job.”

What?!?!   SERIOUSLY?

If my teen was telling me that she hated me everyday, then I would HATE my JOB!

If I hated raising teenagers, I would disengage, avoid them, be resentful of them and white knuckle it until they were out of the house. WE CAN DO SO MUCH BETTER!

Arguing teens and power struggles are very normal, but not much fun. We go back and forth, fighting for who’s right. It’s annoying and exhausting.

Mom – “Get off your cell phone and do your homework”

Teen – “I am! My homework is on my phone.”

Mom – “You can’t concentrate with all those distractions”

Teen- “It helps me study”

When we argue and disagree with our child, we begin a tug of war with them where nobody really wins. Even when we fight for a good cause, it doesn’t give us the result we are looking for.

Teen- “I’m so stupid/ugly/fat”

Mom – No your not honey, you are beautiful inside and out”

Teen- Yes I AM! Look at this ZIT! I’m HIDEOUS!

What happens in a tug of war power struggle, is the teen yells louder and pulls harder in the opposite direction, in order to “win” the argument.

Teen – “I hate school. Ms. Wilson is such a loser.”

Mom – “Now, honey, I’m sure it’s not all that bad.”

Teen – “YES IT IS MOM!  YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND! SHE’S A HORRIBLE PERSON!”

Mom – “Don’t talk that way about people!”

Instead of entering into the power struggle, try “letting go of the tug-of-war rope” by agreeing with them.

—————————————————————————————————————-

Mom – “Get off your cell phone and do your homework”

Teen – “I am! My homework is on my phone.”

Mom – “Oh yeah, your teachers want you to work on Google classroom now. How is that working for you? Do you like it?

Teen- “It’s ok”

Mom – Is it hard to stay focused on school work when your phone has so many temptations on it? Let me know if there’s anything I can do to support you.

——————————————————————–—————————————————

Teen- “I’m so stupid/ugly/fat”

Mom – “Wow, your brain is telling you all sorts of mean things about yourself right now.”

Teen- Well, I AM!  Look at this ZIT!

Mom – I see your zit. I’m sorry that you are feeling ugly. That’s not a fun way to feel. Is there anything I can do?

———————————————————————————————————————–

Teen – “I hate school. Ms. Wilson is such a loser.”

Mom – “Wow! You REALLY don’t like school and you sound especially mad at Ms. Wilson.”

Teen – “School sucks and Ms. Wilson is totally unfair.”

Mom – “You did not have a great day today.”

Teen – “Do we have any food? I’m STARVING”

When we agree with our teens, we diffuse their energy. There’s no need to keep driving home your point, getting louder and more emotional. Eventually the conversation gets boring and your teen moves on.

This “letting go of the rope” strategy will help you ENJOY parenting your teens.

When we enjoy parenting, we engage more with our teens, take classes, read blogs and learn to become better versions of ourselves. Creating homes that feel peaceful, make it a more relaxed and enjoyable place for everyone.

If you aren’t enjoying parenting your teen, schedule a free discovery call to see if life coaching is right for you.

Do you want grateful teenagers?

THANK YOU SO MUCH!  I AM SO GRATEFUL TO YOU!

Thank You so much for letting me into your mailbox! Every time I see a new subscriber sign up, or an long time subscriber open an email, I feel SO MUCH GRATITUDE!

It’s like when I was a kid and the doorbell would ring. I’d get a rush of adrenaline, of optimistic potential, hoping someone was at my door asking if I could come outside and play. When you sign up for something I’m offering, I get a rush thinking, “someone wants to play with me!”

Do you want grateful teenagers?

Did you know research shows expressing gratitude, writing someone a note of thanks, can increase your happiness for a whole MONTH after you send it?  Since the #1 way kids learn is by imitation, let’s try writing our kids a note of gratitude and appreciation. They’ll feel more appreciated by us (which makes them nicer to be around), we’ll be role modeling how to express gratitude, plus we get to feel happier for a whole month! Want to join me?

WARNING – Signing up for my Leading Your Teen Masterclass will increase the feelings of happiness and gratitude in you and your teen. Do not sign up if you want to stay angry. Feelings of peace, confidence and control are common side effects. 

Dr. Martin E. P. Seligman, a psychologist at the University of Pennsylvania, tested the impact of various positive psychology interventions on 411 people, each compared with a control assignment of writing about early memories. When their week’s assignment was to write and personally deliver a letter of gratitude to someone who had never been properly thanked for his or her kindness, participants immediately exhibited a huge increase in happiness scores. This impact was greater than that from any other intervention, with benefits lasting for a month.

Another study, by psychologists Dr. Robert A. Emmons of the UC Davis, and Dr. Michael E. McCullough of the University of Miami, discovered the effect of gratitude this way. One group wrote about things they were grateful for that had occurred during the week. A second group wrote about daily irritations or things that had displeased them, and the third wrote about events that had affected them (with no emphasis on them being positive or negative). After 10 weeks, those who wrote about gratitude were more optimistic and felt better about their lives. Surprisingly, they also exercised more and had fewer visits to physicians than those who focused on sources of aggravation.

Instead of focusing on those things teens do that drive us nuts, write them a letter thanking them for the behavior you would like to see more of. It’s a win-win 🙂

Learn more about Leading Your Teen Masterclass 

How to get your kids to go to bed on time

Are you doing the Back to School Happy Dance! YEAH!!  woo-hoo!

via GIPHY

But oh my what a pain it is to get kids to go to bed at night, so they can be on time for school in the morning.

Last spring, I wrote a blog about how to get kids out of bed in the morning so now seems like the perfect time to write about how the heck to get them to bed.

Here’s the problem: Some kids are easy. They just go to bed. This sets us up with the expectation that ALL kids should easily just go to bed. Combine our expectation that it be easy, with our own end-of-day fatigue, and you’ve got a recipe for conflict and drama.

If you struggle to get your kids to bed on time, read through these steps and see where you can focus your attention to help you get a peaceful evening routine.

The first step

is to accept that your child just doesn’t like going to bed, without blame or frustration. Being a night owl, and taking a long time to wind down at night, are wired into us. What makes people sleepy is when certain hormones, like cortisol and adrenaline, rise during the day, and drop at night. Lots of things can mess with this hormone production: not getting enough exercise or daylight, getting too much blue light from screens, or artificial light after dark. When puberty hits, and stress of any kind, these hormones can get out of whack. It’s not always our kid’s fault if they are up until midnight and can sleep until noon. If you start trying to change your child’s bedtime routine by trying to change something you have no control over, you will frustrate yourself. Acceptance and compassion must come first.

The second step

is to get your kids on board with the idea. As you may have noticed, you cannot make someone go to sleep who doesn’t want to. Pay attention to what motivates your child. Some kids are motivated to please their parents and like being seen as responsible. (How awesome is that? If this is you, enjoy it!)

For the rest of us, we have to get clever. Some kids are motivated by fun, (and watching mom lose her sh*t at bedtime is entertainment for them!). Other kids are motivated with bribes (“I’ll give you a $1. if you are in bed before 9:30, but $5. if you are in bed by 9:00.” You can encourage going to bed without complaining by rewarding with treats in tomorrow’s lunchbox. If you have a kid that is motivated by power, partner with them to design a bed time routine that works for both of you, making sure they think it’s all their idea.

Many Supermoms can get caught up with an idealistic picture of what the bedtime routine should look like: reading books, cuddles, pillow talk, but if this isn’t working for you it’s time to let it go. My daughter hated reading (so much for the years I spent as a reading specialist.) Instead, we played games before bed for about 8 years. Now that she’s in high school and I’m older than dirt, I want to go to bed earlier than she, so we had to switch up our bedtime routine using step 3.

The third step

is all about making your home conducive to sleep. I remember one power outage we had. After our makeshift dinner, we hung out by candlelight, talked, played charades, and all 4 of us were SO SLEEPY and ready for bed. When we checked the clock it was only 7:30pm! Melatonin is released when it gets dark outside. If you want your kids to get sleepy, turn off the stimulation. Fast moving images on TV and video games, release chemicals in the brain that tell us to wake up and get moving. Try making it darker in your home an hour before bedtime. Light candles, take baths, play music or just turn the wi-fi off all together.

With our constantly wired world, sleep rates are dropping for kids and teens, making it even harder for moms to get kids up and out of bed in the morning.  The first step in improving the morning routine, is to make sure they are getting enough sleep. By accepting the things you cannot change with compassion, understanding what motivates our children, and creating an environment conducive to sleep, you can create a more peaceful morning and evening for your whole family.

Are you looking for support establishing routines that work for you and your family? Schedule a free discovery call at www.LifeCoachingforParents.com/work-with-me