Teen alcohol party

Episode 45 – Teen stole alcohol and served it to her friends.

“Last night was Halloween and my daughter (age 16, straight A, athlete, good kid) invited some friends over for a Halloween party in the basement. There were about 10 teens, boys and girls, hanging out, playing party games, watching Stranger Things. My husband and I were home and keeping a distant eye on them. We heard happy sounds coming from the basement.

One of the parents must have pulled up to our house and texted “I’m here” because two kids came upstairs and said goodbye as they walked out the front door. They reeked of alcohol as they walked past! I ran downstairs and found the kids had snuck one of our bottles of liquor and mixed it with their sodas! They had all been drinking! It was a school night! One girl even drove herself so I had to drive her home, leaving her car at our house. I’m so livid I don’t know what to say.

I don’t know what to say to my daughter, to the other parents who trusted me to supervise their kids! My husband doesn’t think it’s a big deal. He says it’s totally normal, and I’m sure it is, but for some reason that is not helping me. I want to do the right thing but I don’t know what that is.”
-Ashley

Group Of Teenagers Drinking Alcohol In Bedroom

Parent Educator Answer:

I’m sorry that you feel duped by your daughter and grateful nothing bad happened as a result of your unintentional Halloween party. As I’m sure you are aware there could have been some pretty dire consequences from hosting a party with alcohol to minors.

It sounds like a good time was had, no one was puking or getting in trouble. I can’t tell from your question if the other parents are aware that drinking occurred but it sounds like knowing what to say to them, as well as your daughter, is what you’d like help with.

Your daughter needs to experience consequences for her actions but since nothing bad actually happened, you’ll want to impose some consequences of your own.

My parent educator answer is for you and your husband to sit down with your daughter when everyone is calm and talk to her using these four steps.

Step 1 – Calmly and clearly explain the problem:

Give your daughter some factual information.

It is against the law to serve alcohol to minors. The reason the drinking age is 21 is that the brain is in an active growing period during the teen years. Whatever substance you introduce during this time can cause the brain to form around it, building a dependency. Around 25, the frontal lobes of the brain are fully formed and therefore is a better age to introduce any mind altering substance.

If one of your friends had driven home intoxicated, they could have lost their license, been arrested, paid a fine, hurt or killed someone else or themselves. The consequences of your simple act of stealing and drinking alcohol could have been tragic. It is also possible that your Dad and I could have been arrested, sued, pay fines, and have this incident permanently on our criminal record.

When people drink alcohol, they are more likely to engage in risk taking behaviors. It impairs judgement and leads to making poor decisions.

 

Step 2 – Explain the real and current problem.

Continue talking to her about the current problem and listen to her side of the story.

We are very grateful none of those things has happened. So the biggest problem facing us today is that we lost trust in you. Trust is something that takes a long time to build but can be lost in an instant. Even if you apologize and say you will never do this again, we can’t trust that. You will need to earn back our trust by showing us, through actions over time, that you are telling the truth.

We would like to understand what was going through your head last night. What motivated this action? What were you thinking and feeling? Please tell us your side of the story so we can get a clearer picture from your perspective.

 

Step 3 – Impose Consequences

You can ask her what consequences she thinks would be appropriate or decide on some yourself. Just make sure you and your husband are on the same page.

We would like you to write a letter of apology to the parents of each friend who was at our house on Halloween. You don’t need to say they were drinking, as you really don’t know. Just let them know that alcohol was served and you now understand how serious the consequences of this could have been. They trusted you to be a positive influence on their teen and you violated that trust. Your Dad and I will also be calling the parents to let them know what has happened.

The liquor cabinet will remain locked from now on and you won’t be allowed to attend or host parties for the remainder of the school year.

Depending on your daughter’s version of the story, you may want to restrict access to certain people or revoke driving privileges, things like that.

 

Step 4 – Follow through

Make sure you follow through on the consequences you impose or she will learn you don’t mean what you say. You want to trust her again. Model that for her by showing her what trust looks like: meaning what you say and saying what you mean.

 

Life Coaching Answer:

Before you can do ANY of that, you need to give yourself some much needed TLC and compassion. You’ve got a whole bunch of negative emotions spinning around: anger, fear and the big daddy of all sucky emotions….shame.

Anger is a quick and easy default emotion for most of us. In its healthiest form, it’s a signal that an injustice has taken place. Your daughter violated your trust and that sucks.

Fear is future thinking. Worrying about what could have gone wrong, what the other parents are thinking about you and your daughter. Worrying about things you don’t have control over. You can apologize and inform the other parents, but then you can let it go. Fear and worry are a waste of energy and don’t serve anyone.

Shame is the emotion we all dread feeling. Nobody likes feeling shame but we all have it so it’s worth getting to know it. The way I think about it, embarrassment means “I did something wrong”, shame means “I am wrong. Something is wrong with me. I’m a bad person.”

Resisting it and running away from shame, will make it last forever. If you can allow it, say hello, and confess it to a compassionate witness, it will go away.

Just because shame is common, doesn’t mean it needs to stay. Shame is an emotion that is coming from a thought in your mind. Your daughter snuck alcohol and served to her friends, this doesn’t make you a bad person. But my hunch is you thinking some pretty bad things about yourself: “The other parents are going to think I’m a bad person” “The other parents won’t trust me with their kids.” “I’m untrustworthy and irresponsible.” Something that is coming from a perfectionistic part of your brain that says “I’m either a good person or a bad person”.

Your husband doesn’t share this black and white thinking. He’s not worried about what other people will think and he doesn’t see it as a mark against his character. He might be mad that she violated his trust but he’s not making it mean that HE has done anything wrong.

It’s very common for parents to enmesh with their kids and feel shame when their child does something wrong. Your daughter made a mistake, but you didn’t. When you recognize that you didn’t do anything wrong, you are a good person and worthy of trust, then it will be much easier to problem solve this situation with your daughter.

 

Supermom Kryptonite – Shame

According to the dictionary, “Shame is a painful feeling of humiliation caused by the consciousness of wrong or foolish behavior.” What this means is that shame, this horribly toxic emotion, comes from our beliefs about ourselves, that we are disgraceful and not worthy of compassion. When it sits in us unnoticed, it causes us to act desperately.

The reason I presume Ashley is spiraling in shame is because of her level of desperation. Shame causes us to act desperately, craving acceptance because we are unable to give any to ourselves. The most self-destructive behaviors: addiction, violence, bullying, eating disorders, all have an element of shame to them. If Ashley was to try and talk to her daughter, and the other parents, from shame, it would not come out the way she wanted it to. When we act from negative emotion, we get a negative result.

The good news is that shame can only live in the dark. Once we shine a compassionate light on it, it cannot survive. Telling your story to a compassionate witness, as Ashley did by writing this question, will help her find compassion for herself. When she can feel like a loving, caring mom, despite her daughter’s alcohol party, she will find the courage to have the necessary conversations from a calm and peaceful place.

Supermom Power Boost: Understanding your shame spiral

There are days when you just feel HORRIBLE for no reason. You get mad at your husband, you complain to your sister, you vent with a girl friend and you take it out on the kids, but it doesn’t go away. You keep beating the same drum, looking to feel better. Chances are you are in a shame spiral.
A shame spiral is continually thinking negative thoughts about yourself that isolate you from others. “I’m not worthy” “I’m not good enough” “I’m a bad person”. Complaining and blaming is our attempt to connect, looking for forgiveness and acceptance.

Understanding how you act when you are in a shame spiral will boost your energy next time you find yourself in one. Sometimes, just putting a name on something makes a crazy, out of control emotion feel manageable.

How do you act when you are in a shame spiral?

Mine is a two part response: First, I get mad and blame everyone around me for making me feel bad. Then, once I realize I’m in a shame spiral, I call people that I know love me and ask them to tell me why they like me and why I’m a good person.

Shame is a natural human emotion (and a sign that you are not a sociopath) so it’s nothing to be embarrassed about. When we can understand how we act in a shame spiral, and what to do to makes us feel better, we can bring it out of the dark (where it controls us) and move into compassion. When we have empathy and compassion for ourselves, it’s easier to act courageously and in ways that we are proud of.

Quote of the Day:

“If you put shame in a petri dish, there are three ingredients it needs to grow exponentially: secrecy, silence and judgement. If you put the same amount of shame in a petri dish and douse it with empathy, it can’t survive.” Brene Brown

What if you don’t like your kid?

Episode 44: Annoying Pre-Teen: What if you don’t like your kid?

“My daughter is a pre-teen, and already immersed in puberty and the mood swings and irritability that goes with it. Getting her to do anything is a battle: homework, chores, coming to the table to eat, putting her device away, going to bed, you name it. It takes every ounce of patience I have to get through the week with her. By the time the weekend rolls around, I. AM. DONE.

This weekend, as my husband is heading out the door, he says to me: “Don’t let her sit on her phone and watch youtube all day. Find something fun the two of you can do together.”

It sounds like a great idea. I used to love being around her and would like nothing more than to have something fun we both enjoy doing. The problem is, she doesn’t like doing anything I like and when I try, it becomes another battle. She complains, argues, insults, and criticizes everything I do. I would not want to spend time with anyone who treats me this way. I love my daughter, but she treats me like the enemy.

I feel so guilty, but I really don’t like my being around my pre-teen right now.”

 

Parent Educator Answer:

From a parent educator perspective, nothing has gone wrong here. The situation you are describing is exactly what is supposed to happen.

Pre-teens are supposed to start separating from their parents, especially their moms. Mother-daughter identities get enmeshed with each other. We feel proud when our child excels, we feel happy when they are happy and sad when they are sad.

Does your child ever get embarrassed by your behavior?

“OMG Mom, you are not going to wear that.”
“Don’t you dare dance or sing in the car, EVER.”

Have you ever been embarrassed by your child’s behavior?

“Don’t talk to your friend like that! She was trying to be nice.”

“Your grandma is coming over so please be on your best behavior and for God’s sake, clean up your mess before she arrives!”

These are signs of enmeshment, where our ego identifies with our child’s behavior and vice versa.

Teens and tweens will criticize, insult, argue and reject our ideas as a way to individuate. It’s a sign that your daughter is ready to see herself as different, unique and competent. Through bickering, girls can affirm that they are separate individuals from their mom with their own tastes, personalities and preferences.

It is developmentally normal for pre-teens to reject family activities or parental ideas of fun, (unless a friend can come along with them). When they reject our suggestions of fun things to do, it’s as though they are saying “I’m not a baby anymore”.

Child development experts suggest holding tight to participation in family activities such as holiday dinners with grandparents, going to church, chores and other family rituals. Let them complain and argue all they want but hold tight to these things.

They may start to seem like an annoying pre-teen. You cannot make your child be nice or enjoy spending time with you.

Instead, encourage them to develop a “group identity” separate from you. Many tweens will do this naturally by adopting a best friend or tight group where they dress alike, talk alike and do everything together.

These days, group identity can take place online. Following certain YouTubers or facetiming with friends helps the tween feel safe while learning to stand on her own. Tweens benefit from a transitional bridge between being one with their family and feeling confident enough to be independent.

When we see our kids rejecting our ideas of fun to sit on their phones all day, we see it as a terrible waste of time. But when kids play online games, Facetime, YouTube, Netflix, vsco, and tic toc, it’s really more about understanding the culture of their peers, identifying as someone who is socially “in the know”, and exploring interests separate from mom.

annoying pre-teen

Life Coaching Answer: What gets in our way from viewing this as normal tween behavior instead of an annoying pre-teen?

The circumstance you described is completely neutral. But it doesn’t feel neutral because of what you are making it mean.

You feel guilty so you must be making it mean something like, “Something is wrong with me”, “I’m a bad mom”. “If I were nice, I would like her.” “I should want to be around her.” or “She shouldn’t want to be on her phone all day.”

Notice how you feel when you think these when you start looking at them as an annoying pre-teen? Guilty. Awful. Heavy.

How do you parent when you feel terrible? You suck it up. Try harder. Get annoyed with yourself and her.

When we feel guilty and annoyed, we tend to parent inconsistently and have trouble sticking to rules around phone time and family obligations.

What is the result of parenting this way? You feel like a terrible parent. This reinforces your belief that you are doing it wrong and you are a terrible person.

In order to see your daughter’s behavior as normal and a sign of healthy social development instead of an annoying pre-teen, you’d have to give up the belief that you are bad and wrong.

Sometimes we hold onto beliefs like “I’m bad” or “I’m not a nice person” as a way to motivate ourselves to be better.

It’s like this: “At my core, I’m bad and mean. I need to remind myself of this in order to motivate myself to be nice.”

This might work for a little while but the long term effect of this is exhaustion and irritability.

You don’t like being around someone who complains, criticizes, argues and insults you, SO WHAT?

Let’s imagine for a minute that you didn’t think this was a problem. If you believed that you were a good person, and felt neutral about your daughter’s behavior, what do you think you might do?

You certainly wouldn’t let your husband’s parting comment bother you. You’d probably leave her alone, which it sounds like is what she’s wanting. You might drop her at a friend’s house and enjoy your own company, guilt-free.

If you believed, at your core, that you were a kind and loving mother. You would look for ways to prove yourself right. This might involve paying attention to your own needs. Spending time with people who uplift you instead of insult you. It might mean cooking her food or buying her a gift or whatever felt kind and loving to you.

Believing we are kind and loving, makes us act kind and loving. No guilt. No drama. Just unconditional love. Where your pre-teen can say or do anything and it doesn’t take you away from feeling loving.

 

Supermom Kryptonite: Motivating yourself out of negative emotion

Many of us use negative emotion to motivate ourselves to do something. We think telling ourselves “I’m a bad person” will make us act nice.

We used this in school: We’d tell ourselves we’re going to flunk a class to motivate us to study for a test.

We want to lose weight so we tell ourselves how fat and lazy we are in order to motivate us to exercise. We think this will make us go to the gym and eat healthily, and it might once or twice, but over time it just makes us feel bad about ourselves.

Even if we do lose weight, we don’t feel any better because we are still thinking mean things about ourselves. What’s the point of losing weight if you feel terrible either way?

Motivating yourself with negative emotions will give you a negative result. Telling yourself, “I’m going to flunk if I don’t study” might get you a good grade but it will increase your stress and make you dislike school.

Believing, “I’m a bad person if I don’t like spending time with my ornery pre-teen” might motivate you to make an effort and do things together, but leave you feeling guilty and resentful.

When we motivate ourselves out of positive emotion, it’s easy to keep going. We don’t get burned out or resentful because feeling good is its own reward.

 

Supermom Powerboost: Liking your own child.

Of course, we all want to like our own children. But sometimes the best way for us to do this is to not be around them so much.

When my son was 13, I used to think maybe there was a reason families would send their 13-year-olds off to apprentice for an uncle.

I would love to send my daughter to be a live-in nanny for another family so she can be more appreciative of what she has and learn some skills.

My husband pointed out that I always talked about having another baby when we were away from our children for the weekend. Apparently, I never mentioned at the end of an exhausting day!

What thoughts can you think about living with an ornery teen, that help you feel like a kind and loving mom? I would start with “I love her, but I don’t enjoy this phase and that’s ok.” or “I’m not supposed to like this behavior.”

How much time can you spend with your child and still think kind thoughts? It may be easier to like her when you aren’t spending so much time together. Certainly it’s easier to like her when you aren’t telling yourself that she shouldn’t be doing what she’s doing, and you shouldn’t be feeling what your feeling.

You don’t want to convince yourself something is true if you don’t believe it. If you say, “I love this phase of her life” and that feels like a lie, it will not work. We want to think something that feels true and gives us a softening feeling in the body. “I don’t like her and that’s ok” “I’m prioritizing my emotional well being over her screen time, and that’s ok.” “I’m a good, but imperfect mother.”

 

Quote of the Day:

“‘It is what it is’ This means we parent our children as our children are, not as we might wish them to be.” Dr. Shafali Tsaberry

Rules for Dating Daughters

Episode 40: Rules for Dating Daughters

Dear Torie, 

My 14 year old girl (she is our oldest) is a freshman. She has been talking to a boy, who seems very nice and respectful, for over a month. They are in a big group of friends together. I need help with boundaries. They now want to meet downtown and hang out. I was fine with them hanging out in a big group but now I feel more nervous about them getting together by themselves.

Is this anywhere on your blog or podcast?  I searched and did not find anything.

Thank you so much!!!!

Andrea

rules for dating daughters

 

Parent Education Answer:

Before we talk about rules for dating daughters, let’s clarify the difference between rules, values, and boundaries. They are often used interchangeably in parenting (I think, because some of us don’t like the idea of giving rules to our kids) so I will differentiate. 

Boundaries

Boundaries are decisions you make inside your own head to protect yourself. I have a personal boundary (an agreement I’ve made with myself) that, if someone yells at me, I will walk away and remove myself.

Yelling feels like a personal attack. I don’t like it. I’m not telling anyone what to do. People can yell as much as they want, it’s just I remove myself every time someone yells at me.

You’ll often hear people demand that someone else respect your boundary. It’s not anyone else’s job to respect your boundary, it’s your own. 

If I have a boundary that I don’t work on Sundays, and my boss calls me to ask a quick question, it’s my job to respect my boundary and not reply until Monday.

Setting a boundary is deciding what action step you will take.

Andrea says she needs help with boundaries but I think what she’s looking for are rules and values.

Rules

Rules are established by an authority figure and/or agreed upon by a group. They can be written or unwritten.

I have rules for my house that hold true for anyone that enters. No name calling. No hitting or hurting. Get yourself up in the morning. Whoever does laundry gets to keep the cash they find in the dryer. You must wear clothes to the dinner table.

Rules are very clear. Kids like rules (as long as there aren’t too many of them) because they like to know what’s expected of them. Kids like to be able to blame their parents’ rules if they feel like they are getting into a situation they aren’t ready for. “My Dad said if he finds me vaping, he’ll take my phone away.” or “I’m not allowed to have a boyfriend until I’m 16.”

Parents might even notice kids making up rules that they never actually said: “I have to get straight A’s” or “My dad will kill me if I cut class.” 

As adults, we recognize that the world is nuanced and situational, but kids tend to think more in black and white. Find some rules that you can stick to with CONVICTION and follow 100%. Do not make rules that you cannot keep or your kids will learn to disregard your authority. 

Some rules parents set

“Cheat on your test, lose video game privileges for the year.” 

“Always keep your location turned on on your phone.”

“If I ever see you text and drive, you will lose car privileges for the month.”

“Be home by 11:00”

“No sex until you are at least 18” 

“No alcohol will be served to a minor in my house, ever.”

Same goes for rules for dating daughters. Short. Easy. Clear.

If you find your rules aren’t working, you can change them. Don’t feel like you are locking yourself in forever.

If Andrea’s daughter is wanting to hang out downtown with a boy, the most relevant rules might be “don’t shoplift” or “keep your phone and location services on”.

If you feel strongly that your daughter shouldn’t be alone in public with a boy, you could make it a rule, but it’s pretty unrealistic. You could have a rule that your teen isn’t allowed to be alone in her bedroom with a boy with the door closed. That rule would be easier to uphold.

Values

I think what really needs attention here is VALUES.

Values are something you hold as important to you. Values change over time and differ from person to person. When you were 14, your highest value may have been being popular. Now, as a mom, it might be keeping your children safe. 

I think what’s happening is Andrea doesn’t know what her values are around her daughter’s dating. This is all new to her, and she is unsure about what to communicate to her daughter about her expectations.

We expect our kids to uphold our values.

If you are a member of the Mormon church living in Provo, Utah, you don’t have to wonder what to say. The expectations around dating are very clear and shared by the culture around you.

Communicating the rules for dating daughters

If this isn’t your situation, you might struggle to really know what your values are especially for rules for dating daughters. Many modern-day parents don’t share the same values their siblings, neighbors, even their own parents.

When there is no clear culture around us, we’ve got to do a little work to figure out what are values are. 

The most dominant culture our kids are exposed to today is social media and whatever youtube channels they watch. If we don’t talk to them about OUR values, the media is more than willing to share ITS values with your children. 

It’s worth taking the time to figure out what your values are around romance and dating and communicate them to your teens. 

  1. Talk to your partner in parenting and ask, “When do we think our kid should have sex for the first time?” It’s hard to communicate a clear message if you and your partner can’t agree on what your values are. 
  2. Communicate your values and expectations to your teenager. 
  3. Ask your kid questions about THEIR values and expectations:
  • -When is the right age to have a boyfriend? 
  • -What is the right age to have sex for the first time?
  • -What are you hearing that feels inappropriate to you? 
  • -Has anyone broken your trust? How do you know if can trust someone? 
  • -What does hooking up mean? What are your values around relationships? 

 

Life Coaching Answer: 

What gets in our way from communicating values and expectations to your teens about dating and romantic relationships? Good, old-fashioned fear. 

Fear of something bad happening.

Or the fear of letting go of control.

Fear of our child experiencing negative emotions.

Perhaps the fear of saying or doing the wrong thing as a parent.

Then there is the fear of uncertainty.

Maybe the fear of regret.

When we try to communicate our values and expectations from a place of fear, it doesn’t come out the way we want it to. We start putting our worries onto our kids. Because our worries usually involve past personal regret and/or a catastrophic future, rather than a current reality, our kids dismiss us and think we are crazy. 

I think Andrea’s instincts here are pretty good. I think she knows better than to talk to her daughter from this nervous energy. Better to calm down her fears on her own first and get clear on the message she wants to communicate. 

The best way to move past fear is to talk it out, or write down exactly what you are afraid will happen.

Are your past teenage experiences coming into the picture? Are you afraid of what other people will think? Do you think you won’t be able to handle it if your daughter gets hurt? Are you afraid you will be a grandma before you are ready?

Questions to ask yourself before talking to your teen

What do I want my daughter to think about herself and her ability to navigate healthy romantic relationships? 

 

When I talk to her about my values and expectations, how do I want my daughter to feel?

 

What do I want her to do differently as a result of our conversation?

If you can communicate openly with your teen in this relaxed, not fearful way, she will learn that you are a valuable resource and open to helping her navigate the exciting and complex world of dating.

Supermom Kryptonite: Our own past 

You would be amazed at how much past hurts can come back to haunt us. When your kids grow into the same age you were when you experienced something traumatic, suddenly life feels overwhelming.

Whether it was a friendship betrayal, parental divorce, sexual abuse, or a broken heart, any unresolved issue from your past can rear its ugly head and make parenting our kids so much harder. 

Telling your story to a compassionate witness is step number one. If you don’t have a partner or friend who can just listen, stay neutral, and offer compassion, hire a therapist.

You just need to tell the story of what happened to someone compassionate. If you’ve done that once and you think it’s still got a grip on you, try life coaching. 

What happens in these past events is that we pick up a belief that we carry forward into our future. “People aren’t trustworthy.” “If I had tried harder and been better, my Dad wouldn’t have left.” “Every time I love someone, they leave me.” “I can’t handle being hurt again.” 

It’s these beliefs that we need to dig up, question, and then decide whether we want to hold on or let them go. 

Supermom Powerboost: A thought download

A thought download is something I’ve been doing since I was 14 and first started writing in a journal.

One of my life coaching teachers, Brooke Castillo, coined this phrase where you take out a piece of paper, or a keyboard, and write down every crazy thought that goes through your brain. 

This helps us in many ways. 

First, it gets our thoughts out of our heads and onto paper which immediately gives us relief.

Second, it helps us separate out from our thoughts, and shift to being a more neutral observer of our own thoughts. This is the benefit of mediation: being able to have thoughts but not attach to them. 

When you read back over your thought download, you might notice your thoughts are dramatic, black and white, mean, or not even true. When they are out of your head and onto paper, it makes it easier to access the logical part of our brains that questions.

Is it really true that I am a loser? 100% of the time? That just because I yelled at my kids means I’m ruining them forever?

The third benefit of a thought download is it shifts you into the part of your brain that can logically question and analyze the value of these thoughts. This makes it easier to re-frame them and deliberately choose thoughts that give you the feeling and result you want. 

The Takeaway: Setting the Rules for Dating Daughters

Communication is the key here. Being able to take it apart and knowing the rules we want to communicate starts with knowing the values and boundaries we want to set.

Quote – “First love is a little foolishness and a lot of curiosity.” George Bernard Shaw

 

Lazy teenage sloth

FREE WEBINAR LINK www.LifeCoachingforParents.com/back-to-school

 

Question of the Day: Lazy Teen

Dear Torie, 

“My 13 year old daughter is driving me crazy.  She lays around all day like a lazy teen sloth, scrolling mindlessly on her phone. When I ask her to do something, she’ll say “ok” but never does it. I arranged my life around these kids so they could have the best opportunities to succeed. When I see how unmotivated and ungrateful she is I feel like I’ve wasted my time. I’m very hardworking and responsible and I just thought they would absorb my values. I feel disrespected when she lays on the couch, zones out, ignores me. I’m worried my daughter will always be like this and it’s too late to teach her to be different.”

Paulalazy teen

 

This might be the most common complaint I hear from moms of teens. It really boils down to a generational culture clash. 

Think of a typical 50’s mom whose teenage son starts wearing bell bottom pants, floral shirts and growing his hair long. Mom and Dad start freaking out because of what they are making it mean ABOUT THEM.

They feel embarrassed that they are raising a kid who is so disrespectful to their values. They think their child will be a loser who will never get a job because he doesn’t understand the importance of showing respect to authority through civil obedience. The kid just thinks he is making a fashion choice and adapting to new cultural norms. 

Today we’ve got a culture clash between hardworking moms who demand a lot of themselves, and typically lazy teenagers who refuse to adapt to our stressed-out ways. 

We also have a problem with kids who DO absorb perfectionistic values, work their butts off in school, stress about SAT’s and AP classes, and push themselves to be their best.

These kids don’t bother us hard-working mamas because we relate and it feels normal. (If your child’s stress does bother you, email me and let me know). Usually, we don’t recognize this as a problem until it threatens the mental or physical health of our kids. 

There have been times when I catch myself telling my teenager to “try harder, work harder, live up to your potential, grab life by the horns, seize the moment, do more, put yourself out there, etc.“

In a nutshell I am telling my healthy, balanced teenager: “Can’t you stress a LITTLE BIT MORE so I can feel like a better mom?” 

I hope my kids think I’m crazy and disregard my fearful pleas. If they don’t, I worry all they hear me say is “You aren’t good enough as you are.” 

Parent Educator Answer: Let’s talk about normal adolescent behavior:

Verbal aggression / verbal jousting / arguing, 

Difficulty tolerating the feeling of frustration, 

Withdrawl from family (physically and emotionally) and increased interest in peer relations.

Sleeping longer and harder with an increased appetite. 

Impulse control, risk taking and susceptibility to peer pressure.

Concerned with physical appearance

Fighting for independence and testing limits: ignore rules, argue rules, or refuse to obey rules. 

Quitting things they used to enjoy

Selfishness

Changing Identity (gender, sexual identity, socio-political identity, etc.)

Mood Swings 

 

To Paula, I’d say congratulations. It sounds like your 13 year old has officially entered adolescence and is a typical teenager. Is it too late to teach her to be different? Kind of. She HAS absorbed your values. She knows what YOU want for HER. Now is the time for her to figure out what HER values are and what SHE wants for HERSELF.

 

Life Coaching Answer: What gets in our way from peacefully raising a typical teenager? 

Three things: Our ego, our expectations, and Futurizing & Catastrophizing

#1 Our ego

When we see our kids laying around, scrolling their phones and appearing like a lazy teen, we make it mean that we have failed in our job as mom.

Because when we have tried to lay around ourselves, kick up our heels and just hang out, we beat ourselves up for it! 

We have this negative voice in our head that yells and keeps us from having too much fun or enjoying too much relaxation.

There are many countries around the world that would think this is insanity. That the best and most important parts of life come when we are relaxed, hanging out and savoring moments of doing nothing. 

We want our teenagers to get busy, work hard and do something so that we can relax! We think we can’t relax unless everything on our to-do list is complete but this will never happen! 

It’s possible that our teenagers are wiser and less susceptible to cultural insanity than we are. What if they are here to remind us of the importance of relaxation? 

Can you imagine there is another lazy teen, somewhere in the world right now, scrolling on her phone while laying on the couch?  Imagine that you see her mom in the kitchen and you think, “Wow, she is a really good mom.” “I really admire the things she is saying and doing.” In your mind’s eye, what do you imagine a good mom would say and do, while a daughter lays on the couch?

Notice that it is possible to be a good mom and have a lazy kid. In fact, you can be a good mom, no matter what your teenager does or doesn’t do. You are two separate people and it’s time to untangle your ego identity, from her behavior.

#2 Our expectations

Can you imagine there is a parent in the world who isn’t bothered by their teenager having a lazy day, laying around scrolling on their phone? It is possible. 

When parents expect the teen years to be really dreadful, filled with sneaking out of the house, failing grades and back talking, and they see their teenager lazily scrolling on the couch, they feel relieved. It doesn’t bother them at all! 

If your pediatrician told you that when your child turns 13, she’s going to need lots of time to zone out, lay around, and get physical and mental rest, and the best thing you could do as a mom is to encourage this sloth-like behavior, you would feel like a successful parent because your expectations would be different.

The problem is that we Supermoms have high expectations for our behavior, as well as our children. We think they will slowly, gradually take on more responsibility, more confidence, and become tall children we are proud of.

We forget, however, that no one self-actualizes at 13 years old.

That the teen years are filled with insecurity and fear as they try to carve out an identity separate from mom & dad.

It’s hard to remember that adolescence is the most stressful time in a person’s life (according to psychologists) and all the dramatic physical, social, intellectual and emotional changes cause them to need more sleep, more rest and less pressure. 

 

Under STRESS, we REGRESS, and when moms can EXPECT imperfection, it’s easier to RESPECT imperfection.

#3 Furturizing & Catastrophizing

When we see any negative behavior in our teens, we want to be on the lookout for our brains favorite passtime, imagining a big, dark and scary future.

Catastrophizing Thoughts: 

“She lays around ALL DAY”……does she really? Or is there an occasional potty break in there? Maybe a walk to stare in the pantry or leave the fridge door open? 

“When I ask her to do something she NEVER does it”……Is that true or does it just feel true? 

“I’ve wasted my time”…..Wow, can you imagine telling yourself that the last 13 years of your life has been a waste of time? That’s a pretty mean voice in your head who loves to beat you up, not one to listen to and believe. 

Futurizing Thoughts: 

“My daughter will ALWAYS be like this”. If we were to listen to that mean voice in your head, the end of this sentence would probably be, “…..and it’s all my fault.” 

“It’s too late to teach her to be different” is probably true but it’s coming from a voice in your head that really wants to throw you under the bus. It’s the same voice that keeps you from joining her on the couch and saying, “Yes, let’s kick up our heels and watch some Tic Tocs. Teach me how to play wordscapes or Brick Breaker. How do you use the face swap filter again? 

You’ll want to build a relationship with this mean voice in your head. Notice she is the one that won’t let you rest, wants to tell you what a bad mom you are and how your kids are losers and it’s all your fault. This voice is creating a lot of unnecessary drama and keeping you from enjoying THIS stage of your life. 

Decide how you want to feel, while raising perfectly imperfect teenagers, and get this mean voice out of the driver’s seat of your brain. 

Once you’ve moved this voice out of the way, you can remind yourself that, though she may appear a lazy teen, this is a TEMPORARY phase in your teen’s life and you can help her through it by being compassionate to the needs of her growing body, mind and spirit. 

 

Supermom Kryptonite – blame

Blame is like cookies. It tastes good in the moment but too much, over time, leaves us feeling a little sick.

When we think, “If my kid would change I could feel better.” we get a temporary reprieve from that mean voice in our head that wants to beat us up.

We think, “It’s not me, it’s them” and we get a break. Over time, blaming someone else for our emotional upset leaves us feeling powerless and helpless to change. 

Thinking my teenager’s lazy, rude behavior is all my fault doesn’t feel good either.

First, question the thoughts that are saying that her behavior is wrong and bad. Once you are feeling neutral about the behavior and have quieted your inner mean girl, you can ask, “How am I contributing to her behavior?” and “What do I have the power to change?” 

 

Supermom Powerboost – Understanding your energy cycles

Now this question is not asking, “How long can you relax before the mean voice in your head tells you you are lazy and wasting time.”

The question is, “What are your natural energy cycles?” Do you feel energized in the morning but drained in the afternoon? Do you feel tired after eating carbs and energized after yoga class?

Having a compassionate understanding of your energy cycles will help you recognize you and your teen are different people. 

Help your kids get to know their natural energy cycles. Do they feel drained after being at school all day? Does it help them feel energized to socialize after school, nap or be alone for a while? How many hours of social media can they enjoy before it starts to drain them? Are 2 back-to-back Netflix shows rejuvenating but 4 are suppressing?

Help your child get to know her own energy cycles with compassionate curiosity and self-awareness. When you can honor your own energy cycles, you’ll find you have the power boost you need to help your daughter discover hers. 

Quote of the Day “Teen “addiction” to social media is a new extension of typical human engagement. Their use of social media as their primary site of sociality is most often a byproduct of cultural dynamics that have nothing to do with technology, including parental restrictions and highly scheduled lives. Teens turn to and are obsessed with whichever environment allows them to connect to friends. most teens aren’t addicted to social media; if anything, they’re addicted to each other.” 

Danah Boyd, author of “It’s Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens.”

perfectionistic teen

Perfectionistic Teen

Question of the Day: Perfectionistic Teen

This is about Jenny and her perfectionistic teen:

“Hi Torie, I recently started listening to your podcasts after finding Brooke Castillo from a friend.” 

(If you haven’t heard Brooke Castillo’s podcast, I highly recommend it. She is one of my life coaching teachers and her podcast is called The Life Coach School Podcast. If you’re looking for a new podcast to listen to check her out for sure.)

Jenny says, “I’m fairly new to this life coaching stuff, but I’ve seen huge changes in myself since listening and applying the principles you and Brooke teach. I find that I’m not sure how to help my children discover these amazing liberating principles. 

My oldest, who’s 13, is a lot like me (or who I was). He’s a total people-pleaser and major perfectionist. This sweet boy does everything he can to try and control everyone else’s happiness to his own detriment. I think he thinks that, if he’s perfect, I (or his teachers) will be happy.

When I try to give him suggestions or point this out he calls himself “dumb” and a “failure”. In fact, he is calling himself these things almost daily! Just today he said, “I’m so dumb why can’t everyone else see that?!” This is a constant issue for him. He would rather get a worse grade or not perform to his full ability, than to talk to his teachers or coaches and admit he doesn’t understand how to do something. How do I help this well-intentioned but out of control boy? He is literally destroying and hindering himself to make everyone else happy.”

perfectionistic teen

Parent Education Answer: Handling Your Perfectionistic Teen

Here are some parenting tips that you can implement to help your perfectionistic teen (or child no matter what age). 

  1. Celebrate mistakes – It’s a tricky one to do when you are a recovering perfectionist yourself, but it’s worthwhile. Go around the dinner table and ask everyone to share their biggest mistake. Whoever made the biggest faux pas gets the biggest dessert. Talk about your “failures” or embarrassing mistakes you made when you were his age. We can mess with his mind by viewing mistakes as a good thing. We make mistakes when we take a risk, push outside our comfort zone, and live life to the fullest and live as a human.

Right now, your son feels shame, when he even contemplates making a mistake. Shame can only live in the dark. When you bring it out into the light, laugh at it, own up to it, and celebrate it, it loses its power.


2. Two magic words
– Incorporate these magical two words into your vocabulary. “Oh Well” Using these words on a daily basis is one of the greatest ways you can help your child learn to go with the flow. “We’re late again. Oh well!” “I didn’t get my homework assignment in on time. Oh well!” “I was too scared to talk to the coach about getting more play time. Oh well!” “I’m trying to make everyone happy except for myself, Oh well.” Try it and notice how your muscles relax and the tension melts away. 

  1. Personality Puppet Show –  I like to tell kids that they have a personality puppet show going on in their brains. When your child is calm, grab a piece of paper, sit down with him, and draw pictures of your inner perfectionists. Together, create characters out of the voices in your heads that say, “You aren’t good enough.”

Does it sound like a male or female voice? Is it more of an animal or cartoon character? What kind of clothes does it wear? What kind of movements and facial expressions can you imagine? Really create a clear visual of this inner perfectionist. Draw a speech bubble over its head with the things it likes to say: “I’m dumb” “I’m stupid” “Whatever I do is never enough.” 

Ask Yourself

To begin with, ask yourselves: “Would I want to be friends with somebody who spoke to me that way?”  “Would I ever talk to somebody else like that?” If not, thank your inner perfectionists for trying to keep you safe, tell her, “Your opinion is noted, but not welcome.”  Feed her a snack and send her out for a walk. She or he will be back anytime you do something outside your comfort zone. Talking to authority figures sounds like a trigger for your son, so expect this inner perfectionist to show up every time he admits his imperfection. 

Perfectionistic Teen

As you write and talk about your inner perfectionists, you will remove the shame of it. When you can separate out this character from the other parts of you, it creates breathing space. You realize, “I am not my inner perfectionist.” “I am the one who can observe it.” 

Also, encourage your son (when he’s calm) to think of a time when he made a mistake and he didn’t beat himself up for it. I guarantee there was a time! Maybe he spilled some milk or forgot his jacket at a friend’s house. It can be very simple like he forgot to put the toilet seat down. Have him notice the voice that didn’t make a big deal about it. What did it say? It was probably something very easy going like, “Oh well!” or “No big deal”. Show him that he already has this voice in his head. Ask him which voice he would rather be friends with? Which voice does he respect more? 

Life Coaching Answer:

What gets in the way of being able to implement these strategies? Well, I’m sure you realize that your own in her perfectionist is going to get into the way. 

When you have a situation like Jenny has here with her perfectionistic teen, it’s not unusual for a mom to type into the search bar “How to help a perfectionistic teen”. What comes up, is a lot of articles that make you feel so bad about yourself that you are unable to help your son. 

You read an article with well-meaning advice like “It’s crucial to teach this to your children.” Your children are watching how you react to every situation.”  “Make sure you are modeling good behavior.” “Children need to know blah blah blah so don’t dismiss it because you need to demonstrate these skills….” 

It’s easy for a perfectionistic mom, worried about doing everything right, will read this and think, “I suck. His anxiety is all my fault. I totally screwed him up and I’m doing it all wrong.”

ARTICLES LIKE THIS IS WHY I STARTED THIS PODCAST

It’s true, that there are at least 20 different things that mom can do to help her son’s perfectionism. But listing 20 ways MOM needs to change, overnight, or else SHE is causing her son to be unhappy and stressed. Umm…NOT HELPFUL!

So what keeps us from helping our kids deal with their perfectionism? Our own perfectionism and a culture that feeds right into it. 

The best way for Jenny to help her son is to pay attention to her own emotions and keep doing what she’s doing, to tame her own inner perfectionist. Focusing on herself and her own growth, while staying away from media that make her feel like she isn’t already perfect as she is.

Working on Yourself

Work on yourself, in front of your son, in these 3 ways:

  1. Talk out loud about what your inner perfectionist saying. “I can hear my inner perfectionist getting mad about my being late. She is saying, ‘I should have left earlier.’ ‘I should have allowed more time.’ ‘I’m such an idiot.’ ‘They are going to be mad at me.’ I would never talk that way to anyone else. It’s super mean! So, I’m going to send my inner perfectionist to Starbucks and just say, ‘Oh well!'”
  2. Talk out loud about your emotions. Because your son is 13, I would start by modeling this yourself. Say, “I’m feeling embarrassed because I didn’t do everything perfectly. My cheeks are hot and I feel like crawling into a ball and hiding.”  Or, “I’m mad at myself because I said something dumb. I wish I could take it back. I feel tension in my shoulders and my fists are clenched.”

If he was younger, I would ask him where in his body he feels the emotion, what color is it, what it feels like, etc. Perfectionism is a kind of anxiety and anxiety is an avoidance of emotions. When you can learn to process emotions, there is no need for anxiety. 

  1. Love more, care less. This is something I work on in my Leading Your Teen Masterclass. 

First of all, love the person your kid is today, with flaws and imperfections, and care less about how he shows up in the world. Care less about his grades, whether he talks to coaches or teachers, but love him more, as the perfectly imperfect 13 year old he is.

It helps to know that, care, unchecked, can feel controlling. Love is expansive, compassionate and is just what a stressed out perfectionistic teen needs. Take the pressure off by accepting him just as he is today. 

Supermom Kryptonite – Suppressing our inner perfectionist. 

When we first realize we’ve got this voice in our heads that is mean and not helpful, our first instinct is to kick it to the curb and get rid of it. When we hear our kids saying, “I’m dumb” we want to jump in and shut that awful voice down! We tell them that of course they aren’t dumb and as you’ve learned, that doesn’t work. He gets annoyed that you don’t agree with his mean and limiting beliefs! 

The same is true for us. When we deny or suppress our inner critic, it creates tension, resistance, and “exploding doormat syndrome” where we explode at minor problems.

Instead, try turning the volume up on this mean, critical voice. When we turn the volume up and, create a character and personality associated with this voice, there is no resistance. It allows us to see it separately and not believe that everything this voice says is true. It also teaches us that if we can turn a voice up, we may also be able to turn it down. 

Supermom Power Boost – Queer Eye Netflix Show

If you are going to have a harsh inner critic, you’ll want to have a powerful inner cheerleader, too. We can be this for our children, but sometimes we need inspiration. I find the Fab 5 from the Queer Eye show on Netflix to be a great source of inspiration.

These 5 men help someone change without making them feel bad for being the way they are. The show offers life makeovers, but also love, kindness, and compassion. Watch this feel-good show for inspiration and ideas on how to support yourself and your kids, while being perfectly imperfect.

Whenever I’m feeling embarrassed or inadequate, I like to pretend the Fab 5 are talking to about me. “We love Torie, she’s gorgeous, look at her fabulous self, she’s so great”. It makes me smile every time. We all need our own cheerleading squad to help us cope with being imperfect in a perfectionistic world. 

Quote of the Day 

“If parents want to give their children a gift, the best thing they can do is to teach their children to love challenges, be intrigued by mistakes, enjoy effort, and keep on learning. That way, their children don’t have to be slaves of praise. They will have a lifelong way to build and repair their own confidence.” 

Carol S. Dweck www.mindsetonline.com 

When my daughter says she’s fat

Question of the Day: “What do I say when my daughter says she’s fat or talks negatively about her body?”

I’ve been asked this question many times over the years. Because I’ve been teaching sex education since the dawn of time, people assume I also know how to answer questions about body image, but it really isn’t my area of expertise.

To help me answer this question, I’ve called in my colleague Susan Hyatt.

Susan Hyatt is a master certified Life Coach who has helped thousands of women to transform their bodies and lives. She’s the creator of the Bare Process, the Bare Deck, the Bare Podcast, and an online community called Bare Daily. Susan has gained an international following of women who love her honesty, humor, and fearlessness.

Susan has been featured in Cosmopolitan, Woman’s World, Seventeen, and O: The Oprah Magazine, and was a Finalist for the Athena Award, honoring her work in the field of women’s empowerment.

What should a mom say when her daughter criticizes her body and says “I’m fat”?

Susan: “When a young woman says ‘I’m fat,’ it’s usually an invitation for conversation because they are feeling less than confident. Some kids use ‘fat’ as an insult but others are starting to reclaim the word fat saying, “So what if I’m fat? Why is fat an insult?” When your daughter talks negatively about her body, ask her to tell you more.”

“Don’t jump into fat being a terrible thing. So what if you are? Is that a big deal to you?”

“If you ask more questions they might elaborate, ‘my thighs are getting big’ or ‘I over-ate.’ You’ll want to ask questions so your daughter can think deeper about what it means to live in the skin she is in. If she says, ‘I weigh more than I did last month.’

Separate thoughts from facts

You can help her separate her thoughts from the facts. The fact is I gained 5 pounds. My thoughts about that are: “I should be skinnier then I am.” She gets to choose what she wants to think, about the facts. 

Torie: “I think the natural response for many moms when their kid makes a negative statement about themselves (“I’m fat, I hate my body, I’m ugly”) is to say “No you aren’t honey, you are beautiful just the way you are.” This creates a resistance and doesn’t seem to give us the result we want, which is our kids to think positively about themselves.”

Susan: “Yes, When we immediately jump in and say, ‘No you aren’t fat. You are beautiful,’ not only does it cause our kids to push back against us, but we reinforce that gaining weight is a horrible thing. Kids may think ‘She has to say that, she’s my mom,’ or they will argue and advocate for the thing they think is horrible: pinching their fat belly to PROVE that they are right and we are wrong.”

“If you agree with them, and start to talk about exercise or weight loss, that’s not a good plan either. Parents should be neutral, get more info, and talk [to their kids] about confidence and taking care of themselves from place of love. We’ve been trained to think [being] fat is the worst thing you can be. There are a lot worse things you can be in this world than having a few extra pounds on your body.

“The culture of ‘fat phobia’ has done a lot of damage to the mindset of women. Clearly pushing back against being fat and seeing fat as an insult isn’t working. The obesity epidemic in America has tripled since the 80’s.”

“Many people think they can beat themselves into submission, trying to motivate themselves with negative self talk. It’s the opposite of what a human body needs.”

Torie: “I can remember being a freshman in high school, and after lunch all the girls would gather in the vanity room before heading back to class. It was a room with mirrors on all four walls, and girls would fix their hair or put on makeup before heading to class.

I remember one day, one of the girls looked at her reflection and said, ‘I hate my nose’ the girl to her left said, ‘I hate my hair,’ on it went, around the room. I hadn’t learned how to hate on my body yet (thanks, Mom!) but I wasn’t going to be the ONLY one who says, ‘I love my body’ so I made something up about hating my eyebrows and on it went.”

“Do you remember the first time you picked up on the idea that you were supposed to hate your body? What would you have loved to hear at that age?”

Susan: “We want this sense of belonging, we’ll do and say things that are terrible for ourselves just to belong. It takes a lot of courage, even as grown women, to be the one in the room saying I love my body as it is.”

“I was 11, with my older sister, who is 6 years older than me, playing with a Polaroid camera. I had a box fan to blow my hair, while we took pictures and played.  She was holding the photo up to the light to develop when she gasped and said, ‘Oh my god your thighs are big.’ My first thought was, ‘Oh my god, I’ve been walking around and something’s wrong and I didn’t even know it. She’s my older sister so she must be right. I need to diet; I need to shrink myself.'”

“I would have loved to hear: You are more than your appearance.”

“We are trained to believe our external appearance is our commodity in the world. Our power comes from how attractive we are to the male gaze.”

“I would have loved to hear: you are fine as you are. You have a lot more to offer the world than thin thighs. It’s important to compliment your daughters on things other than their personal appearance. ‘I love how smart you are, how artistic; that was such a kind thing you did. I love your questions. You are so curious.”

“We need to communicate to our daughters that their value in society is beyond how thin they can get.” 

There is an entire industry built around keeping you believing something is wrong with you. Don’t believe it and don’t buy into it.

Torie: “Teenagers have this natural rebellious streak, so giving them something to push back against can be helpful. Saying the media messages are designed to keep you small, not using your voice, can evoke their inner rebel.”

Susan: Tell your teen, “We want you to be a big, bold, brave version of yourself and the best way the diet industry can keep you from that is to keep you focused on your thighs. A diet teaches obedience.  Do you want to be obedient or do you want to shake stuff up? All that time spent counting, obsessing, weighing, ruminating is time that could be spent making an impact on the world.

The fastest way to grow any economy is to empower girls and women. We are 83% of dollars spent in consumer industry. The patriarchy wants you to be quiet and distracted, Why? Because an empowered woman in the patriarchy is a dangerous woman. If we have any hope of closing the pay gap before 2026, it’s going to be from disrupting the pattern of dieting.

Take a look at social media news feeds and make sure it feeds you, not depletes you. How do you feel while scrolling? Curate news feeds and beware of your mental diet. Make sure it’s filled with all shapes and sizes.

Life Coaching Answer: What gets in your way from saying the right thing?

Susan: “Moms have been steeped in diet culture just as much as the kids. Most moms want something different for their daughter but they don’t believe it for themselves. Learn together.”

“My sister was no villain; she was steeped in her own issues and diet culture. Be honest and say, ‘When I was your age, (or last week), I was envious when I saw my friend on social media because I thought, That’s never going to happen for me or I wish I looked like that.’ I’m learning to tell myself different things, let’s work together. I don’t want to waste my time pinching my fat in the shower, getting dressed a million times, then not going out because I don’t look skinny enough.”

It can become a bonding thing. 

Torie: “When you can humble yourself and admit you don’t know everything, it will create an easier relationship with your teen.

Try saying, ‘You’ve listened to me criticize my body for the last 12 years, but now that I hear it coming out of your mouth, it doesn’t feel good to me.’ How about we figure this out together?

Kids are in a major growth journey, why not join together? Ask your daughter, ‘Am I still a good mom, even though I have extra weight on my body?'”

Susan: “When teens think you are trying to be the authority, they won’t listen. This isn’t about having the perfect conversation, just opening the channels of communication.

If you lecture them about feeling positive about their bodies, they won’t respond. Aim for a collaboration or invitation.”

Torie: How do you balance the idea “I’m perfect as I am AND I want to change?”

Susan: “We’re all messy works of art. I can love my country and recognize we have work to do. I can love my body and decide to get ripped abs but from a place of love and peace, not oppression and obedience.

How does it feel to have that goal? When you think about a weight loss or exercise goal, does it feel like a celebration? Is your motivation from a healthy place or a dangerous place. 

How you feel about your goal will determine the result you get.

Supermom KryptoniteBeing rooted and taking action from negative emotion.

Torie: “Taking action from negative emotion can drain your energy. You might do the same things as someone else like eat healthy and exercise, but if you do it from shame or self hatred, it’s never going to give you the result you want.”

Susan: “Exactly, if you go to the gym while rooted in fear and anxiety over what might happen if you don’t, it’s not going to work. If you are exhausted from self-care, then your self-care is rooted in fearful, graspy, needy energy. Others go to the gym because they love the feeling they get when they go. This gives them a positive self image, emotions and motivation to keep going. Be a woman who takes amazing care of herself from a place of love.”

Supermom Powerboost – Move your body.

Want a quick boost of energy? Put on your favorite playlist and dance, by yourself, for 5 minutes. That is an instant mood booster. Check out Susan’s “Summer of Yes” playlist. Or, copy Torie and sing and dance to your favorite broadway show tunes.

Quote of the day:

“It isn’t about the physical weight you have to lose, it’s about the mental weight that blocks you from loving yourself.” Susan Hyatt

Check out Susan’s BARE book and mother-daughter book club www.Letsgetbare.com BARE daily membership community. Listen to BARE podcast. Follow on Instagram: @SusanHyatt

 

Middle School Misery

Today’s Question: Middle School Misery

My son is finishing up 7th grade and had a terrible year. He is BEGGING me to homeschool him next year. He’s always struggled with reading but got through elementary school with help and support.

He’s a bright kid, knows everything about every type of animals and their habitats. He loves turning over rocks and finding bugs of all kinds. My joyful nature-lover has turned into a miserable, despondent lump.

We made him stick it out all year, hoping things would get better but he struggles with just about everything school has to offer: sitting in a classroom, listening, learning, doing homework.

He makes friends easily but I’m worried about how homeschooling will limit his socializing and mess up his opportunities for college and future. What should I do about my miserable middle schooler?    -Lynnette

Parent Educator Answer: Middle School Misery

This “middle school misery” is more common than you might think.

Kids who have undiagnosed learning disabilities can get through elementary school just fine, but middle school magnifies problem areas.

The workload creates a bottleneck for kids with attention problems.

Too much information comes in (that they are NOT interested in) causing attentional fatigue. This mental fatigue causes kids to zone out and miss critical instruction.

middle school misery

Kids who struggle to pay attention at school do not have a focusing problem when it comes to things they WANT to be doing. 

Some kids have the ability to HYPERFOCUS on things that fascinate them.  However, having too much uninteresting information at school doesn’t leave much time left over for one’s passion.

When there isn’t time to learn about things that truly lights them up, you’ll end up with a grumpy, zombie child.

Kids without learning disabilities can struggle with traditional school as well.

Highly sensitive children can soak up the insecurities on a middle school campus so that they feel lost and drained of their own energy.

With so much pressure put on kids to perform and the fast pace of society, the mental and emotional health of students is of high concern.

Any kid who has a predisposition toward anxiety may find their symptoms ramping up during these sensitive years. 

Our brains are not designed for the amount of input we are currently taking in. I’ve even noticed a change in my ability to focus my attention.

I used to read all the time but now my mind wanders more and struggles to keep attention on the page. I have to be really selective about what books I read because so few will grab my attention. 

 

Life Coaching Answer for Middle School Misery

Let’s start by accepting reality as it currently is today. You could argue that society is too fast-paced.

Perhaps schools should be designed to nurture the whole human being, not being so focused on college and the workforce.

It would be great if our educational institution were able to meet the unique needs of all children.

Could your child learn to adapt better to the system he is in? Maybe.

For clarity and peace, let’s just accept the schools as they are and your child’s brain and personality as it is.

Your son has an easy time making friends. Let’s assume that will continue wherever he goes.

He has an appetite for learning the subjects he is interested in which will probably rekindle once he has some free time and mental space.

We don’t know what the future will bring. If he stays in school, he may enter such a depressed state that he can’t handle high school, let alone college and beyond.

The same thing may be true if you pull him out and homeschool.

All we know is that, right now, he is struggling with school and he thinks he has found a solution.

Offer Contrast

An easy way to increase happiness is to offer contrast.

When you are blazing hot and you jump in a cold pool, it feels fabulously refreshing. If you are cold and jump into the same pool, it feels terrible.

Trying to drink 8 servings of water a day is tough for me, but when it’s hot and I’m thirsty, water is the best beverage on the planet!

I’m wondering if you could increase your child’s happiness by offering a contrasting experience.

I’m going to tell you a few different scenarios of other moms who were in your shoes. Surprisingly, they found homeschooling scenarios worked for them.

I can’t tell you what is right for you or your child. Only you know what’s best for you and your situation, but perhaps these stories from others will help you access your own wisdom.

My Son

My son incurred a head injury when he was 11 and could no longer function at school. ‘

His hormones were completely out of whack (cortisol through the roof and almost no adrenaline).

He couldn’t sleep at night, couldn’t get up in the morning, and felt easily overwhelmed and overstimulated.

He accrued many absences the first quarter of sixth grade and trying to keep up with assignments was stressing him out.

By November, it was clear: he wasn’t getting better.

We pulled him out and finally treated the concussion we should have treated back in May.

He enrolled in an online school, I worked from home, and he continued to play soccer.

By April, he was well enough to go with his class to 6th grade science camp for a week in nature. The more downtime he had, the more he could recuperate.

Life at home with mom for six months made him appreciate his classmates and the structure of school. He returned to school for 7th grade and stayed.

Sheri

Sheri pulled her son out of middle school at his request.

Her job allowed her to work remotely so she enrolled him in a Shakespeare theater program where he read, studied, performed, fundraised, learned set design, etc.

He got to study every aspect of theater with others who shared his passion, while she worked on her laptop and phone.

For the other subjects, he worked online or with a tutor at the kitchen table. It’s been a few years and he has no interest in going back.

Katherine

Homeschooling versus M,iddle School Misery

Katherine’s daughter’s anxiety was unmanageable. She felt pressured and was missing lots of school due to headaches and other vague symptoms.

Katherine found a retired teacher on Craig’s List with dyslexia training who was willing to come to her house for 3 hours a day, 5 days a week.

Her daughter missed her friends and did not like this new arrangement.

She still saw her friends after school and at gymnastics, but she relaxed, worked hard to get caught up academically, and learned to manage her anxiety.

The next year she felt stronger, more capable, and ready to return to school.

 

Eileen

Eileen’s 6th-grade daughter was sinking into depression.

Everything about school seemed like a chore: the work, the social dynamics, being pulled out for extra academic help.

Her parents pulled her from school and divided up her studies between mom, dad, and grandma.

They increased her time at her favorite horse ranch to 12 hours a week. To their delight, they watched the light come back in her eyes.

They don’t know what they will do next year, but they will let their daughter’s happiness and mental health guide their decisions.

I hope these examples of other moms give you support and guidance as you make a difficult decision.

Supermom Kryptonite – information overload 

Information overload occurs when the amount of input to a system exceeds its processing capacity.

Too much information causes a bottleneck in the brain. This thus increases feelings of stress and overwhelm and reducing the quality of our decisions.

The amount of information that we take into our brains continues to skyrocket.

If you think of a typical newspaper being about 85 pages, in 1986 we received about 40 newspapers full of information every day.

In 2007, this rocketed to 174 newspapers full of information we are taking into our brains every day.

Having too much information streaming in not only affects our children’s mental well being but ours too.

When we are trying to make important decisions, like what to do about our child’s education, it’s easy to get bogged down in information and choices.

Be wary of spending too much time online, googling, and gathering information.

The world is changing fast. It’s more important than ever that you slow down, focus on your child’s well being, and listen to your gut intuition.

Which leads me to recommend today’s supermom power boost, Forest Bathing.

Forest bathing
My happy place

Supermom Power Boost

Forest Bathing basically means to go into a forest and stay awhile.

Breathe. Sit. Walk. Savor.

Since I am writing this from my campsite in a magnificent redwood forest on the California coast, I couldn’t help but choose this for today’s power boost.

Forest bathing is a technique that originated in Japan during the 1980s and is suggested for preventive health care and healing in Japanese medicine.

Researchers in Japan and South Korea have gathered significant scientific literature on the health benefits of spending time under the canopy of a living forest.

Forest bathing (immersing yourself in a forest) is shown to have several benefits. It boosts immune system function, reduces blood pressure and stress, improves mood, sleep, and energy levels.

Being in the woods is shown to increase focus, especially in children with ADHD.

For moms, trying to make important decisions, there is tremendous value in cutting out all external input and listening to your own gut intuition, voice and values.

Let the forest shift you into a relaxed, receptive state FIRST. You will then notice how your creativity and quality of thinking improve. 

Quote of the Day:

“We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.” Albert Einstein