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

Constantly nagging and repeating myself

Episode 42 – Constantly nagging and repeating myself

“I feel like I’m constantly nagging my kids to do things. Hang up your jacket, put your clothes in the hamper, clear your plate, turn off the xbox and do your homework — It’s like I only have two channels: the “nagging, frustrated, annoying mom” channel and the “leave me alone, I just can’t deal anymore channel.” I am so tired of repeating myself, but it’s the only way to get them to do anything. I’m certain there is a THIRD channel, and it feels like everyone else has found it except for me. How can I get them to this magical place where they do what they are told without constantly nagging and repeating myself?”

Danielle

Parent Education Answer:

This is BY FAR the most common complaint I hear from moms asking to join the Supermom is Getting Tired Facebook group. So you are certainly not alone in this dilemma. I’m sorry to say there is no magical place, but you are right in thinking there is a THIRD channel.

Why do so many moms hate repeating themselves? There is nothing inherently wrong with this act. We might say “I love you” every day and that doesn’t bother us. We repeat ourselves when we say “excuse me” “please” and “thank you”.

The reason it bothers moms to repeat themselves is because of the energy we are rooted in when we do it. It’s the same nagging, reminding energy that makes us not like ourselves. Our kids don’t want to be around us when we are acting this way, but neither do we.

When we nag, repeat, and remind, it’s coming from a place of defeat. It’s as if we’ve already lost.

The kids didn’t do their homework like they were supposed to, so we are rooted in failure. They failed, which means I failed. We repeat ourselves: “Stop goofing off and do your homework.” “Quit talking it’s time to focus.” “You are running out of time.” When you communicate from this energy, everyone feels like a loser.

Sometimes we are jumping the gun and assuming ahead of time that they will fail. “Don’t forget to feed the dog.” “Remember to brush your teeth before bed.” “You’ve got a big test tomorrow, you better take your book out.”

These future reminders PRESUME they won’t do it. You don’t trust them. When we communicate this way, we are subconsciously sending the message that they need you or they can’t do it on their own.

Kids like to feel capable and competent so they will either
Believe us, and not do things unless we remind them.
Reject us, ignore us, and rebel against us.

Nagging actually teaches kids to NOT listen.

The Third Channel: Because Nagging Isn’t Working

The “third channel” is the calm, confident channel. Believing your child WILL listen the first time, and following that up with action.
The moms that participated in my Confident Kid Challenge were also stuck in the ‘nagging to get anything done’ cycle. Listen to how they pulled themselves out:

Sara: Yesterday my daughter was reading a book and never heard me say (about a dozen times) that it was time to leave for piano lessons…so she got left at home. It took her 30 minutes to realize we’d left. She was a hot mess of emotion and “why didn’t you tell me! You could’ve shaken me to get my attention!” I wasn’t emotional about it, other than to express sincere empathy that it wasn’t fun leaving her and that we missed having her there. Today she’s come each and every time it’s been time to go somewhere.

Jontue: My kids were making a huge mess in the living room and were told if they made a mess they would have to clean it up (including vacuuming) themselves. Well, they continued to make a mess. Afterward they threw a fit and cried about having to clean it up. I wanted to take the vacuum from them and clean it up (faster and easier), but I let them struggle through it. It took them about 3 times as long as it should, but they did it. I also discovered that my kids can vacuum (who knew?).

How do you get out of the cycle of you nagging and reminding your kids?

  • Allow them to experience negative emotions.
  • Follow through on natural consequences.
  • Allow them to struggle
  • Let them make their own decisions.

That third channel you are looking for is calm, clear, and confident. You become rooted in the energy of trust, believing your child will learn lessons from this experience.

Popular career advice is to make yourself indispensable to your employer: work so that your company depends on your skills, talents and expertise.

With parenting, our job is to do the opposite. We need to make ourselves dispensable, non-essential. One step at a time we reduce our role in our child’s life. We learn to love more but do less and care less. The goal of parenting is to work ourselves out of a job, and into unconditional love.

Life Coaching Answer:

What gets in our way of doing these four things for the benefit of our kids?

WE DON’T WANT TO FEEL UNCOMFORTABLE.

Watching your child struggle or feel sad is HARD!

Somehow we got the mixed message in our culture that “doing everything right” is more important than raising independent adults. We want our kids to become more responsible without us having to do the hard work of watching them suffer and struggle.

Letting go of control is hard for many of us Supermoms, but the more you do it, the easier it gets.

I love the warm and fuzzy cuddles as much as anybody. I would be very happy if the whole world could live in blissful harmony. But when I see the research about how detrimental it is to the psychological well being of our kids to coddle and try to prevent them from having negative experiences, it motivates me.

It’s hard to feel happy while watching kids experience the negative consequences of their actions or inactions, but you can feel PROUD of yourself. We’re proud when we do things that are hard to do.

You can also feel compassionate and purposeful. These emotions can keep you in your calm, confident energy.

 

Supermom Kryptonite: Empathy Dials

Close your eyes and imagine two dials are in front of you. Both dials are labeled 1 – 10. The first dial has the word ME on it. Notice what number the dial is pointed to. The second dial has the word OTHERS on it. What number is this pointed to.

If your ME dial is turned way up, and your OTHER dial turned down, you are going to struggle to put yourself in other people’s shoes. It will be hard for you to feel compassion and understanding for what your kids might be experiencing.

You may find yourself frequently irritated and annoyed by your kids. They might say you are mean, that you don’t understand them and they try to avoid you. If so, see if you can turn your “ME” dial down, and your “OTHER” dial up inside your imagination.

If your OTHER dial is high and your ME dial is low, you will feel exhausted. It will be hard to hold your kids accountable and allow them to experience negative emotions. You may feel lost and overwhelmed with a whole lot of responsibility on your shoulders.

People might tell you that you are “too nice” and that you should “let go” more often. If I ask you how you are doing, and you tell me how your kids are doing, your “ME” dial is too low. In your mind’s eye, see how high you can get this dial to go up, and simultaneously turn down the “OTHER” dial.

Supermom Power Boost – Invisible problems require invisible solutions.

Just because we cannot see something does not mean the problem isn’t real. When a kid sees monsters under the bed, what helps her feel safe is “monster go away” spray that she keeps in a spray bottle near her bed.

“Over-empathy” is an invisible problem. Empathy is your ability to understand and share the feelings of another.

You can’t see how much empathy a mom has for the kids, but you sure can see the consequences of it: fatigue, overwhelm, a decrease in life satisfaction. Moms who have their “OTHER” dial up too high struggle to parent with calm confidence and to follow through with natural consequences. When you learn how to turn your ME dial up and your OTHER dial down, you reconnect with your dreams and desires. You get a break from responsible caretaker and start feeling ALIVE in your life again.

Sometimes we all we need to do is to learn to use our imagination to create what we want.

 

Quote: “As soon as you trust yourself, you will know how to live.” Goethe

nagging and reminding

 

Letting go of homework hassles

Episode #41  How to stop hovering and let go of homework hassles?

Here is our question of the week about a mom struggling with her kid’s homework hassles.

“I know I shouldn’t be managing my children’s homework so closely but I can’t seem to let go. If I don’t stay on top of them, check in, nag and remind them, they won’t do it! I would rather hover over them than deal with the Sunday night freak out when they realized they didn’t do it. In the past when I tried, my daughter panics and yells, “You should have reminded me! This all your fault!” How do I get out of this cycle of over-managing my children’s homework?”

Anonymous

Parent Education Answer:

The first step to breaking out of a cycle is to recognize you are in one and that both you and your child are perpetuating it. This is the very important first step and you’ve already accomplished it.

Next, you’ll want to take a look at WHY you want to change this pattern. If your reason for wanting to stop micro managing is because “You’re supposed to”, it won’t be compelling enough.

One research study showed that parents who judge their own self worth by their children’s achievement report more sadness and diminished contentment with life in general. Another shows the more time a mom spends caring for children, the more troubled her marriage becomes.

For many Supermoms, even saying, “I want to change because I don’t like feeling this way” or “I value my marriage” isn’t enough. We want to know our child will benefit from us changing our behavior. We love to do things that are good for our kids!

Four reasons why letting go and trusting your kids to make mistakes is good for them:

  • A 2016 study from Florida State University found parents who tell kids when to eat, sleep, and exercise, are more likely to raise kids with health problems. When they turn into adults and mom stops reminding them, they are less likely to care for their bodies.

 

  • Psychologists at the University of Washington studied more than 200 kids and their moms for 3 years. And found that when a child already had pretty good judgement and self-control, too much guidance and not enough independence raised the risk of them feeling anxious and depressed.

 

  • A 2014 study from the University of Colorado found that adults who grew up with helicopter parents are less likely to possess the mental control and motivation they need to succeed. Over-parented kids aren’t used to tolerating discomfort. Their parents shielded them from pain and prevented them from dealing with hardship. In addition, they are used to immediate gratification.

 

  • MANY studies found that college students whose parents hovered were more likely to take medication for anxiety and depression. When a parent tries to prevent their child from experiencing negative emotions, it robs them of the ability to regulate their own emotions, leading to less life satisfaction.

Not only is letting go control of your child’s homework appropriate, it will alleviate your burdens, making you more relaxed and fun to be around. It can improve your marriage and give your kids the mental and emotional skills they need to function successfully and happily in this world.

Managing Homework Hassles

homework hassles

Now that you know WHY it’s important to let go and allow your kids to manage their own homework, let’s look at HOW.

The four steps when it comes to delegating to kids:

First, I do it for you.
Then I do it with you.
Then I watch you do it.
You do it independently.

Is it time to let go and let him figure it out on his own?  Maybe he’s only 6 and not ready for that.

If you’ve been pulling the homework packet out of the backpack, laying it on the table with a sharpened pencil, and telling him what to do and how to do it, maybe it’s time to move to step two. Encourage your child to take out his own work, decide what to do first, and ask for help when he needs it.

If you are already doing this, move to step 3. Be in the room with him, but do your own thing. Cook dinner or work on your own projects rather than your child’s work. If he truly gets stuck, you are there to help but not to correct. Make sure he knows it’s ok to turn in work that is wrong or incomplete to avoid perfectionism.

Schools have systems in place for incomplete homework. Sometimes all it takes to motivate your kid is not getting a sticker on a chart or having to miss out on recess to finish their assignment.

I remember my son coming home from first grade and saying,

“You’ll be proud of me Mommy.”

“Why?” I asked.

“Because I got my star moved from green to yellow.”

“Why would I be proud of you getting a warning?”

“For the experience of it!”

I had taken a class on how to help bright, perfectionistic kids and celebrating mistakes was a tool I had been working on.

 

Life Coaching Answer:

What gets in our way from being this chill parent raising independent kids and celebrating mistakes?

Fear of doing it wrong. We put so much stock in being like everyone else, EVEN WHEN EVERYONE ELSE IS DOING IT WRONG!

When we look around the park, everyone else is following their kid around, with  outstretched arms ready to catch them from falling or prevent them from stealing toys and eating sand.

We get together with other moms and talk about our worries. Who is going to be the one mom that says, “Everything is great, I have nothing to worry about”?

We go on social media and see everyone posting their teenager’s victories and we think, my kid doesn’t have a 4.4 GPA, I must be doing it wrong.

Homework Hassles and Overparenting

Here’s a story that happened to my neighbor. He let his daughters (age 12 & 13) ride their bikes on the trail near our home. It was their first time and he drove to different points along the trail and honked and waved as they rode by.

Ten minutes later, he pulls into his driveway and the police are at his door. They got a report that a man in a white van was harassing two girls on the bike path.

Peer pressure is a powerful force and when everyone else is over-parenting, it feels like the right thing to do, even when it clearly isn’t.

The other thing that gets in our way is we think our child’s emotional outburst is a sign that we are doing it wrong.

My Own Story

I remember when I was a freaked out, perfectionistic new mom, trying to do everything right for my newborn. I read that you shouldn’t allow visitors for the first two months because of the babies sensitive immune system. The problem is, friends wanted to come visit and my extroverted self was going CRAZY being home all day.

So I called my brother-in-law the doctor and he said, “Ideally (which is what I was striving for) you want your baby to not get sick at all in the first two years of life so as not to compromise his immune system, then get him as sick as possible between the years of 3-5 in order to build his immune system.”

The Lesson

I think emotions work similarly. Jump to the rescue every time your baby cries in those first few months of life. After that, encourage them to experience the full range of human emotions as often as possible.

Let them fight with toddlers over toys, don’t help them when they can’t master a skill. Allow them to experience a skinned knee, the frustration of not being able to open their cheese stick, and the feeling of being left out by their older sibling.

I encourage you, for the sake of your kid’s mental health, to be the mom whose kid gets a 3.0.

Be proud of NOT showing up to every performance and every game.

Brag about sending your 9-year-old to sleep away camp on his own.

Celebrate your child’s misfortunes, broken hearts and bruised egos.

Being able to experience the full range of our emotions is what makes us feel fully ALIVE. Knowing you can manage your own life, relationships and emotions gives you a sense of personal sovereignty and competence that is irreplaceable.

 

Kryptonite: over-stimulation

I’m writing this in a gym with loud music blaring, florescent lights glaring, 20 balls flying around the gym in multiple directions, listening to four different conversations going on around me, sitting on a hard wooden bench with fans blowing the smell of teenage sweat around me.

Our world is too. damn. stimulating.

Even in our homes, we’ve got T.V. ’s flashing lights and sounds at high speeds. Our phones are buzzing with notifications, calling to us with flashing lights and the allure of escaping into a game or someone else’s facebook-perfect life.

The amount of mental stimulation we are experiencing today is unprecedented. Between hovering moms and kid’s fears that they aren’t measuring up to Instagram-perfect lives, the rates of anxiety in ourselves, as well as our kids, are skyrocketing.

Our brains are not designed to take in so much stimulation. We are left with racing thoughts, worrying and trying to control our external world as a way to calm our inner world.

Too much stimulation is one thing that secretly drains our energy so finding ways to reduce input can really help.

 

Power Boost – Take a break from modern living

Brainstorm ideas with your family to think of fun ways to reduce stimulation. Threatening to take away TV’s, cell phones and video games can make it feel like a punishment. Kids and teens benefit SO MUCH from a break from all the stimulation. Here are some ideas to help you feel like a human again.
Fake a power outage and play charades by candlelight
Sleep in a tent in the backyard
Go to the beach
Take a picnic lunch and fly a kite
Find a cozy spot to curl up and read books as a family
Play a board game by a fireplace
Play a party game outside.
Get crafty and artistic
Play a musical instrument

Got more? Post them on the Supermom is Getting Tired Facebook Page and share your ideas to create a more relaxed, less anxious home life.

 

Quote of the Day:

 

“Why did parenting change from preparing our kids for life to protecting them from life, which means they’re not prepared to live life on their own?”― Julie Lythcott-Haims, How to Raise an Adult: Break Free of the Overparenting Trap and Prepare Your Kid for Success

Nervous about the empty nest

Question of the Day: Empty Nest

“I feel so strange. My oldest just left for college, my youngest has started her junior year of high school. These are busy and exciting times but I’m nervous about the empty nest. I distracted myself with the busy-ness of college but deep down, I just don’t want to think about what’s next for ME. I’ve had the same job for ages and it’s fine. My marriage and my friendships are fine. My health is fine. Being a mom gave me purpose, adventure and community…..I loved it. But now what? I would like to be excited about the next season of life, but I don’t know how to get there.”  Amber

Are you nervous about the empty nest? Go to https://LifeCoachingforParents.com and schedule your free coaching call

Episode 35 – We are being brainwashed:

Do you remember being pregnant and setting up the nursery, folding cute little onesies and socks? The anticipation of this major life event was exciting! We didn’t know what was going to happen. There were risks involved with bringing that baby into the world and keeping it alive. Women gathered around to help us prepare and celebrate this milestone event. 

We were warned about the lack of sleep, the poopy diapers, the breastfeeding nightmares, but we didn’t care. We naively walked into this love-filled prison called parenting. 

And it sucked! 

And it was amazing! 

We laughed and we cried.

 Argued with our partners.

Lost old friends. We gained new ones.

Why did we think it was exciting instead of terrible? 

In a word….HYPE

The media images made it look soft and sweet, lovely and clean. We saw adorable babies and cute little clothes Darling pictures of pastel-coloured nurseries and beautiful pregnant women. 

The reality of being pregnant: nausea, swollen feet, stretch marks and peeing on oneself, never made it into these media images. 

New moms spend a lot of money and companies want to capture this market so they create a lot of media hype. But we got a lot of hype from friends and family, too. 

Everyone around us was excited for us. Telling us to savor the moments and enjoy it all.

Imagine for a minute there was just as much media hype about the empty nest. That every college brochure contained pictures of parents having the time of their lives. Sipping margaritas on the beach, hiking on beautiful mountain trails, enjoying outdoor concerts at wineries under sparkling lights.

Picture friends rallying around you, telling stories of how amazing their first year was. Jealous and excited for you to be saying goodbye to your college student. They agree it’s hard but plead with you to “savor every moment because it goes so fast.” They tell you, “You are going to do great” 

Friends and family shower you with gifts. These gifts don’t add clutter to your home (moms at this stage don’t need more things), these gifts are experiences: An Italian cooking class, a bioluminescent kayaking tour, a road trip to explore the national parks, an intuitive painting class. Your presents are all about fun, friends and freedom.

I think it’s time we start creating some HYPE around the empty nest. 

empty nest

If the dominant emotion about becoming a mom is LOVE. The dominant message about the empty nest would be FREEDOM.

The beautiful (and terrifying) thing about this stage of life is there ISN’T strong external pressure telling you what it should and shouldn’t look

like. Whatever your parents did during this transition, is probably what you expect to do. If you look around, you’ll probably notice many divorces happening in this stage. You’ll see people embracing long-forgotten passions, reinventing their careers, or taking up a hobby they always longed to try.

Just like a prisoner who is released from prison, freedom doesn’t always feel good. We find comfort in the familiar, rather than fully enjoying the freedom that comes with this stage of our life. 

When too much freedom feels scary, we start saying things that make us feel safe: I have to pay these college bills, I can’t do what I want, No one will do it with me. 

We settle back into our comfort zone, only without the love that filled it when our kids were younger. 

Supermom Kryptonite: Not Understanding The Cycle of Change

In order to embrace this season of life and make the most of it, it’s best to understand the cycle of change that Martha Beck teaches. She claims that change always happens in a predictable pattern.

Square 1 – Death and Rebirth

Mourning your old life and exploring your new one. This stage often feels terrible (and most of my clients come to me during this stage). We feel empty and aimless. We can’t go back, and yet our future isn’t clearly defined yet. It feels terrible but it doesn’t mean anything has gone wrong. In fact, the mantra to help one through this transition stage is “I don’t know what the hell is going on, and that’s ok.”

This is your opportunity to choose a new identity. Without a lot of social pressures, you are free to tune inward and listen to what your heart really yearns for. Only if you follow this internal compass will you find happiness and excitement in this stage of your life.

Square 2 – Dreaming and Scheming

Once you have truly let go of your old identity and former life, and tuned inward to listen to your heart’s desire, you’ll start getting ideas for a life you are meant to live. You might see something on Facebook and think, “That looks fun” or you might get a picture of how you would redecorate your child’s bedroom. It starts as an image in your mind that lifts you up. 

When you give yourself permission to dream and scheme, these inner visions will slowly become clearer in your mind. Eventually, you will know which action steps to take. The mantra for this cycle is “There are no rules and that’s ok.”

Square 3 – The Hero’s Saga

This is where the rubber hits the road. You take your dream from imagination into reality. Eight times out of ten, things don’t go the way we planned so the mantra for this stage is “This is harder than I thought it was going to be and that’s ok.”

If your idea is to start a business, move out of state, start dating again after divorce, or train for a half marathon, this mantra will help you through. It’s called The Hero’s Saga because this is what Joseph Campbell identified as the “Hero’s Journey” that folk tales, movies and books are all about. The trials and tribulations of square 3 make for really good storytelling. 

Square 4 – The Promised Land

This is the stage where our dreams are finally coming true. The blood, sweat and tears of square 3 have mellowed out. You are now a runner. You are settled into your new job, home, or identity. There are minor tweeks and improvements but it’s generally easier to navigate.

The mantra for this stage is, “Nothing is changing and that’s ok.” Some people don’t like square 4 and will deliberately enter into square 1 (possibly in another area of their life) just to shake things up. Generally, though, this is where we get to enjoy the fruits of our labor. 

 

Supermom Power Boost: Finding a metaphor to represent your life

Today, I was walking through a garden with a big patch filled with pumpkin vines. It was full of bright pumpkin blossoms, big, sunshine yellow flowers, shining gloriously against the green vines. A few had started to close and on one, I noticed a small, little green pumpkin had started to grow. 

I thought to myself, we are like these blossoms, happy and settled in our roles as a mom to our kids. When they leave the house, it’s like the blossoms are closing. It feels sad, it feels like a death, we don’t even realize that we are meant to become pumpkins. 

These blossoms were never meant to permanently bloom. We were always meant to have a second stage of life, equally as important, lovely and exciting. Saying goodbye to raising children doesn’t have to be sad. You can be excited for this stage of life if you recognize how the cycle of change works and that being a pumpkin is just as good as being a flower. 

All you need is a little hype.

If you find yourself feeling stuck in an empty nest, and aren’t getting the feelings of community, adventure and purpose, then hiring a life coach is a great idea. If you have this longing, then you are meant to have it!

Going after your heart’s desire will make your life exciting for sure. Just like the pumpkins, we are meant for growth and transformation. When everything is “fine” it’s a sign that you’ve stopped growing. 

It sounds to me like you are perfectly set up for an exciting year. You just might need someone to help you across the scary parts to get to the amazing parts. 

Got some goals you’d like to set for yourself? Schedule your free strategy call https://LifeCoachingforParents.com

Quote of the Day: (paraphrased)

“Don’t fear loss so much that you abandon yourself in order to keep things stable. Losses aren’t cataclysmic if they teach the heart and soul their natural cycle of breaking and healing.” -Martha Beck

 

Letting go of a sunscreen power struggle

Question of the Day: Power Struggle over Sunscreen

“My kids put up a huge stink when it comes to wearing sunscreen. I can get them to wear hats and sun shirts occasionally, but every time they step into the sun, I get so anxious. We live in a sunny place, near the beaches, so this is a frequent problem. I think my oldest is genuinely sensitive to the texture of sunscreen. He used to freak out when we tried to wipe his face or if his clothes got wet. My second child just copies his brother and has turned sunscreen into a huge power struggle.

I just want to relax and enjoy a day at the beach but I get so anxious that doing so is really difficult. I need to let it go but I can’t help but think they are going to get skin cancer and die and it’s going to be my fault.” Louise 

power struggle over sunscreen

Parent Education Answer:

The parenting rule of thumb with power struggles is to avoid them at all costs. As a parent, you CANNOT WIN a power struggle. They will play out in one of two ways:

  1. The parents use coercion to manipulate children into doing what they want. They might use guilt, fear, threats, sarcasm, yelling, or any attempt to control or force the child to do something against their will. Sometimes this works and they get the kids to wear their sunscreen, but the cost is that kids learn to ignore their own wisdom and depend on an outside authority to make decisions. Children who surrender their will to their parents learn to blame others for their mistakes, feel helpless to change on their own, and make other people responsible for their happiness. 
  2. If your child “wins” the power struggle they feel victorious. They get the benefit of depending on themselves for wisdom and happiness, but they can’t ever wear sunscreen or they feel like a loser! In order to prove that they are independent-minded kids, they cannot do what you want them to do. Wearing sunscreen would feel like giving you a victory rather than it being a choice they make from their own thoughtfulness. 

Both of these scenarios create separation and disconnect between parent and kid. Power struggles are lose-lose situations. 

Think of a power struggle like a game of tug of war. The harder you pull in one direction, the harder your kid needs to pull in the opposite direction. Tug of war creates a winner and a loser. Getting into this power struggle is like teaching him how to dig his heels in and not budge. 

Avoiding the Power Struggle

The way to avoid a power struggle is to stand in your authentic power. You do have wisdom beyond your kids. Present the pros and cons, but let their action be their choice. 

In your calmest, most confident voice, offer them some options:

  • You can either wear a hat and shirt, or you can wear sunscreen. 
  • You can either wear sunscreen and play in the sun, or not and stay in the shade.
  • If you want to play soccer on the beach, you’ll need to have sun protection.
  • Would you prefer stick, cream, or spray? You can apply it yourself or I can do it for you. 

Giving your children options will help them trust their own inner guidance to make decisions that are right for them. 

 

Life Coaching Answer:

What gets in the way for moms is our biology. Our brains are wired to look for potential hazards. Especially once we become moms, we scan our environment looking for things that can harm our precious ones: My child’s fair skin is exposed to the sun. Sun causes cancer. Wearing sunscreen prevents harmful skin damage. It seems so easy and obvious to our brains, doesn’t it? 

Every mom I know have an invisible instruction book called How to be a good mom. In this book, it says things like, “A good mom makes sure her children wear sunscreen at the beach.” “A good mom is always available to her kids.” “A good mom doesn’t allow her children to suffer negative emotions.”

There are rules about everything: What kind of grades our kids should get, how they should treat their siblings, when it’s ok to quit a sport you signed up for. You name it, we’ve got rules about it in our invisible instruction book. 

This invisible instruction book can cause us a lot of frustration. We get really annoyed when our children won’t let us be the mom we want to be! Our ego gets involved and we put our ability to feel like a responsible, caring mother into the hands of our strong willed children.

We cling really tightly to being right and accomplishing whatever goal we think will make us feel like a good mom. This makes us parent from fear, instead of love. 

Throw a little anxiety into the mix with the thought, “My children are going to get cancer and die!” and you’ve got the recipe for a power struggle.

When we get caught up in “catastrophizing” and “futurizing”, like we seem to be with this thought, our brains react as though there is an immediate problem to solve.

Blood rushes to our extremities, our hearts start pounding, our eyes focus on that beautiful pale skin and we leap for the sunscreen like it’s a life raft. We are in fear. Our kids sense it and want nothing to do with it. 

We think, “If they would just put sunscreen on, then I could relax.” But chances are, this anxious brain will just find something else to focus on, worry about, and catastrophize. 

Parenting from Love, not Fear

In order to relax and parent from love instead of fear, we need to question the anxious brain. We start by recognizing that there is no IMMEDIATE threat. Even though your brain perceives one, your kid won’t allow you to take the one productive action step you want. So instead, take a deep breath and realize that in this moment you and your children are safe. 

Once you have calmed your brain down, you can take a logical look at the belief that is triggering this fight or flight response. “My children will get skin cancer and die.” Is that true? Maybe. If they are fair-skinned. If it runs in the family and your kid spends lots of time outdoors without protection. But, they probably won’t get skin cancer this year, or in the next 20 years.

Maybe they’ll just get the minor little squamous cells and use cream to remove them. Maybe they’ll get a melanoma and have it scooped out. Will they die of skin cancer? Possibly, but not likely. They can visit doctors and have screenings. They can also change their minds and start wearing sunscreen at any point in the future. Maybe they’ll start tomorrow or next year? In the grand scheme of their life, will a sunburn or two cause tremendous harm? Probably not. 

 

You want to walk through all the other scenarios with your logical brain. Find someone you know who has been through treatment and ask yourself, “Does his skin cancer diagnosis mean he had a terrible mother?” 

 

Then ask yourself, “How can I still be a good mom, even if my child doesn’t wear sunscreen?” 

By offering my kids choices?

Letting him experience natural consequences and the pain that comes with a sun burn?

By letting go so that sunscreen can be his idea and not mine?

 

When we have love for ourselves, it makes it easier to have it for our kids. But it all starts with letting go of fear. 

 

Supermom Kryptonite: Right-Fighting

Are you always trying to “win” an argument? Do you get overly emotional when people don’t agree with you? Do you insist on having the last word? 

Everyone likes to be right, especially when you know you ARE! 

Is wearing sunscreen at the beach the right thing to do? Of course! You have the wisdom to share and taking care of one’s health is the right thing to do. 

But when raising kids, sometimes we need to enjoy our own validation, inside our own heads. Our kids want to be right sometimes, too. And they may fight you for it. But fighting to be right puts you at odds with your child. Instead of feeling connected, you feel adversarial. 

Let go of the rope, whenever you feel your child tugging on the other end of it. Ask yourself, “Would I rather be right or be happy?” or “Would I rather be right or have peace in my home?” 

 

Supermom Powerboost – Humor vs Power Struggle

When you catch yourself in anxiety brain, fighting to be right, or parenting out of fear, try to add a little humor.

Did you catch yourself chasing your son around with a sunscreen bottle? Turn yourself into a zombie and start repeating, “I want to eat pale skin.” Does your child take off her hat as soon as you put it on? Try putting it on her foot, or her stuffed animal, or the dog instead.

Slipping in the humor disarms a building power struggle. You may be surprised at how willing your child is to comply when you are acting as a Disney Princess or Darth Vader instead of mom. 

Quote of the Day:

“Once we release our fears as a parent, we can walk WITH our children as fellow students and travelers. That is the ultimate purpose of parenting.” Dr. Shefali Tsabary

Attention seeking behavior

This Week’s Question: Attention Seeking Behavior

Hello Torie,

I recently found your podcast; thank you for providing such great information. I want to pick your brain about parenting a child who shows more attention seeking behavior than her siblings.

My middle child (a 9 year old) is constantly pointing out how life is unfair for her and how everyone else has it better. I try my best to be as “fair” as possible to each child. I also point out how even though it seems like everyone has it better than her, she actually has a lot to be grateful for as well (which I know doesn’t go over too well).  My other two kids are pretty laid back and compliant, so, in comparison, she seems more needy!

When she was younger, this would manifest as a lot of crying spells/meltdowns over seemingly insignificant things, which I know is normal, but her behavior was so unlike my other two.  She also tends to be the instigator when it comes to any sibling fights.
She will still say things like, “You don’t love me,” or “You don’t care about me,” and I tell her firmly that’s not the case (obviously!!). One common situation is that my youngest is very attached to me and will reach for my hand when we’re walking, so naturally, I oblige. But then my 9 year old will complain that I’m holding her sister’s hand instead of hers.
In the past, I’ve given her more attention and tried to make her feel special, but once I take away this attention, she melts down and seems to demand even more. She responds well to time together and one-on-one attention, but even then, it has to be on her terms (I have tried to initiate on my own, and she will be indifferent at times).
How do I balance the attention she needs versus the attention that she wants?
-Grace

attention seeking behavior

 

Parent Educator Answer:

This is a great question to talk about defining and accepting your child’s TEMPERAMENT.  Temperament refers to the different aspects of a personality.
Grace is calling this “attention seeking behavior” but sometimes when she gives her attention, it doesn’t work. What I’m hearing in this behavior is a temperament that is sensitive, dramatic, persistent, and intense.
The great thing about kids is that often they tell you exactly what they are thinking. Grace’s daughter genuinely believes that life is unfair. She thinks, at times, she isn’t loved or cared for as much as her siblings. She truly believes she is getting the short end of the stick.
There is nothing her mom can do about what her daughter chooses to believe. We cannot make people think differently (clearly she’s tried already to convince that she is loved and treated fairly).
There is no amount of attention mom can give her to make her think differently. She could spend 48 hours straight one on one time, come home, hold little sister’s hand, and she’d be right back to thinking, she doesn’t get enough love. So trying to get her to think differently, through words or actions, isn’t going to change her.
When a child is intense and dramatic, we tend to see them as powerful. They seem so strong and capable, we get annoyed that they don’t act differently. We tend to match their intense energy, yelling, and putting in the time out. This is why I’d like to add the word “sensitive” to describe Grace’s daughter’s temperament.
She’s been having meltdowns since she was little. She struggles to feel safe and loved. Her brain easily goes to a fear response. Nobody acts their best when scared. We don’t know why she was made this way, it’s no one’s fault, the world needs all kinds of people.
Thinking about having a sensitive child helps us slow down, quiet our voice, lower our posture, speak softly and kindly. When her emotions overwhelm her, her brain goes into fight or flight. Our goal as parents to help her shift out of fear so she can access the logical, calmer parts of her brain. She cannot get there on her own.
We don’t have to agree with what she is saying to calmly validate what she is feeling. “I understand you feel like nobody loves you. You feel jealous of the attention I’m giving your sister. It’s hard for you to believe that you get as much as your siblings.”
Think about if you truly believed you weren’t loved by your mom. How would you feel?  It would be so scary to be a 9-year-old kid thinking your mom doesn’t love you or she cares more about your siblings than you. Even though we know it’s not true, she thinks, at that moment, that it is. She’s terrified. So she screams, yells, and fights for love and attention.
If you were to come to her, get down on her level, touch her, use a calm voice, repeat what you hear her saying, it would calm her down. It would also make it hard for her to believe you don’t love her when you are clearly making her feel seen, heard, and felt.
We cannot make our kids think differently but we can help them feel seen, heard, and felt. In a nutshell, that’s all we really want.

Life Coaching Answer:

I remember talking with my parenting coach and having this huge a-ha. I was embarrassed because I was supposed to be this “parenting expert” and yet I was pulling my hair out with trying to understand my strong-willed four-year-old. But I sucked it up and hired a coach and I’m so glad I did! The lightbulb went on when I realized, “It’s her TEMPERAMENT”.
Arguing with her temperament was like arguing with God. This is how she was wired, who am I to think she should be different than she is? From that day on, once I accepted her rebellious, strong-willed, non-people-pleasing personality, life got so much easier!
What gets in our way when we see a difficult personality trait in our kids, is the belief that we can change them. This will exhaust and frustrate us. It’s not our job to change their personality, but to work with it and appreciate them FOR their personalities.
I think Grace is doing this. She sees the value in her daughter’s strong will, but she’s arguing thinking she “shouldn’t act this way” or “If I was a more attentive mom she wouldn’t behave this way.” This will just anger her and make her tired.
Trying to control something we have no control over will drive us crazy. Personality is something we cannot control. A good question to ask yourself is: “How can I be a great mom to a kid who is sensitive, intense, and scared?
Imagine there is another kid like yours out there in the world. Let’s say she’s having a meltdown at a park. She is saying, “You don’t love me” to her mom. You are watching this scene and thinking, “Wow, that mom is a really great mom.”
You are totally impressed at how she is handling her daughter’s meltdown. Imagine what she is doing? What is she saying? What energy or emotion is she rooted in?
The reason our children’s personalities bug us is because of how WE FEEL AND ACT when they annoy us. We don’t like that our kids can turn us into yelling, out of control, crazy people!
If we got to be the PARENT we wanted to be, their behavior wouldn’t bother us. We try to control their behavior so that we can act like a good parent. This doesn’t work so well. Putting the focus on OUR feelings and behavior works much better. You get to decide how YOU feel and behave, regardless of how your child acts.
Focusing on controlling the one thing you have control over will feel much more empowering.

Supermom Kryptonite – Therapy

I believe one of the reasons we live in a culture of perfectionistic parenting is because of therapy. You’ve got a whole generation of women who went to therapists and learned all the things our parents did wrong.
A common goal of therapy is to take you back to childhood situations where you didn’t receive what you needed and give you the compassion and empathy that you needed at that time. It works. It feels healing and healthy.
But the side effect of it is an entire generation of women who have learned that there is a right way and wrong way to parent. We learn that doing the wrong thing can have devastating consequences and cause pain to our children.
If we are to be good parents, we need to always say and do the right things and prevent our kids from experiencing negative emotion. Therapists don’t say this, it’s just a side effect of the therapy model.
Children are going to experience negative emotion. Parents are going to yell, mess up and say the wrong thing. There is no way that any parent can do everything right. The reason I like life coaching so much, is you learn how much control you actually have.
No parent, spouse, or child has the power to make you feel anything you don’t want to feel. It gives you permission to be imperfect, but still strive to do your best. Accepting the things you have no control over, like your child’s temperament, helps you relax and enjoy things as they are.

Therapist vs Life Coach

There is a time and a place for therapy so since I just bagged on it, let me tell you where I see the value.
Therapy was based on the premise that a client is mentally and emotionally unwell, and it’s a therapist’s job to bring them up to a state of wellness.
Life Coaching works with the assumption that a client is already mentally and emotionally healthy and stable, they just want to feel better, change something up, go after a goal, settle into a new identity, etc.
People hire life coaches to help them with parenting, career, relationships, creative pursuits, athletic pursuits, entrepreneurial pursuits, etc.

Supermom Powerboost – Therapy

A client is better served by a therapist when they have experienced trauma and they’ve never spoken about it. Whether this trauma was during childhood or adulthood, it’s so helpful to tell your story to a compassionate witness. To revisit this traumatic story, once or twice, talk to someone without judgement.
A therapist helps you identify the emotions you felt and interpret the trauma in a way that is empowering. It can be hard to move forward in life without this, so it really can serve an important and helpful role.
Once you have told the story of your trauma to a compassionate witness and processed the emotions of the event, repeating that story again can actually keep you stuck in the past. Life coaching is more present and future-focused.
I don’t care so much about what happened in your past, but about how those events might be impacting your future and getting in the way of creating a life you want.
If you feel like it’s time to “open this can of worms” and finally speak out loud about something that has haunted you for a long time, find a therapist in your area. You won’t get a boost of energy right away, but over time, cleaning up the past will help you feel more energized about your future.
If you don’t have a trauma that needs verbalizing and you just want to feel better, try life coaching.  If you’ve already been to therapy and you want your life to continue to get better and more aligned with your higher self, go to www.LifeCoachingforParents.com/work-with-me
Quote of the Day is the Alcoholics Anonymous Serenity Prayer. I always thought this was a perfect fit for parenting.
“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” 

How can I protect my kid from a bully?

Today’s Question: The Bullied Kid

“My 9 year old daughter was bullied all year by the same boy. I brought my concerns to the teacher multiple times and told the yard duty to keep an eye on her at recess. On the last day of school he purposely pushed her down while they were standing in line and knee got all banged up. When I came to pick her up, the teacher said she fell and banged her knee but that she was fine. She was NOT FINE! She needed support! And why was he even allowed to stand next to her in line? The teacher knew this punk ass kid had been picking on her all year. I am livid!

I talked to the principal and she was trying to defend him saying he has behavior issues and the counselor was working with him. Um, NO. The teacher knew what was going on and still made her stand next to him in line. I’m so upset. I’m at the school all the time volunteering. My daughter hides behind me whenever she sees him, she’s terrified. I’m trying my best not to go crazy on them but this is not ok.

School is out for summer but I’m worried about this repeating next year. How can I ensure this student is not in her class? I want to help her feel safe but I don’t trust the school to look out for her. How can I protect my daughter from this bully when the school won’t?”    Allison

bullied kid

Parent Educator Answer: Why Do Kids Bully

I’m so sorry you’ve had to deal with this Allison. When I first started working as a parent educator (18 years ago?) no one talked about bullying. Slowly, people started talking, and boy did it spread like wildfire! Every American Idol contestant has been bullied in school. Educators made efforts to bully-proof their schools. Anti-bullying campaigns raised awareness. This problem is taken much more seriously now than in the past.

Because this term gets used so much, I think it would be helpful to define it. Bullying is the use of coercion and force to abuse and intimidate. In order to be considered bullying the behavior must include:

  • repetition
  • an intentional act to hurt or harm
  • an imbalance of power

It sounds like your daughter has been exposed to some repetitive behaviors this year. We don’t know if the boy’s intention was to hurt your daughter. He could have been mad that she was walking too slow, or annoyed that she was in his way. It could be he was going to push whoever was nearby and your daughter was an easy target.

It seems like this shouldn’t be important because the fact remains your daughter got hurt, she is scared of him, and the teacher hasn’t been able to protect her. This is important because the word bullying is often misused.

Sometimes, it’s just mean behavior. For example, in the last podcast, Andria wrote in about how her daughter tells girls she’s not their friend any more and gives them the cold shoulder. It would not be surprising, in this day and age, for this hurt girl to claim “bullying.”

The third criteria, the imbalance of power, is important to take a look at. It sounds like your daughter and this boy are the same age. If your daughter is in a minority race, religion, sexual orientation, then there is an imbalance of social power. If there is a significant size difference or she is disabled in some way, there can be a physical imbalance of power.

If there is no external imbalance of power but just a perceived one, where he thinks he can pick on her because she’s an easy target, then it may just be mean behavior.

Whether it’s real bullying or just mean behavior, finding ways for the victim to feel powerful is the most important thing.

The Bullied Kid: What To Do

Here are some ways to support your daughter so that you and she feel powerful:

  1. Talk to your daughter about things the teacher or yard duty could do to help her feel safe. We can’t make him “be nice to her” and the teacher can’t be expected to protect her from him all the time. Would she feel better if he switched seats or classrooms? Could she ask friends to stick by her side at recess? Encourage her to problem solve and ask for what she wants.
  2. Teach her to use powerful words with authority figures to get the attention of adults. Words like harassment, abuse, bullying, hostile environment are attention-grabbing and powerful. When kids are scared they tend to shy away, like a turtle pulling into its shell, hoping no one notices them. This makes them appear like an easy target to those looking for one.
  3. Document and share everything. The school’s hands are tied in many ways, but you and your daughter can help get the result you want by focusing on facts, safety, and sharing your documentation.
  4. Write an email to the principal stating how if this aggressive behavior continues next year, you will hold her out of school until they can provide a safe situation for your daughter. Be clear that you are holding the school accountable for her absence and they will need to make arrangements so it doesn’t impact her academics negatively.

Parents really do have a lot more power to affect change in schools than they realize.

What’s most important is for your daughter to feel heard, seen, felt, and protected. We are wired to experience bad things. This is not the issue. She can handle boys being mean, angry, and stupid. She can handle getting physically hurt and feeling scared. That’s just part of being human who is alive on the planet. Our job is not to prevent bad things from happening to our kids.

Our job is to help her feel supported, understood, and powerful.

We want our children to be able to identify an injustice and believe they have the power to change it. In order to create system wide change, we need to have confidence, persistence, and understanding.

Life Coaching Answer:

I’ve been teaching various parenting topics for 18 years: friendship challenges, puberty, money, anxiety, raising a reader, toilet training, you name it, I taught a class on it.

But I will NEVER teach a class on bullying and here’s why.

Right now, think the thought, “My daughter is being bullied.” Notice how you feel when you think that thought. Defensive? Tense? Tight? Ready to leap into action? What kind of action do we want to take from this state? We want to fight.

With clenched fists, we brace ourselves. We want to punch that bully. Or his parents. Or the school. The THOUGHT “My child is being bullied” makes us want to bully right back!

It’s a natural response. We are powerful momma lions wanting to protect our children, heck, ALL CHILDREN from these bullies. We think things like: “He needs to be taught a lesson.” “He can’t go around hurting people.” “The schools can’t allow kids to behave this way.”

None of these thoughts is helpful.

We can teach this boy lessons in kindness but we can’t make him learn. He does go around hurting people so clearly he CAN hurt people. The schools are obligated to educate all children, even ones with behavior issues. They can instruct and provide consequences, but there are protocols they have to follow before they can legally remove a child.

When we hear the word bullying, we jump into fight mode. This makes US feel powerful, but doesn’t help our KID feel powerful. It also doesn’t help us jump through the necessary hoops in order for productive action to be taken.

The schools need us to write down the specifics, exactly what FACTS took place, but it’s hard to do this when we have such a strong emotional response. Instead of helping schools take appropriate legal action, we get mad and stay mad.

Empowered

If you really want to help your daughter, remove the word bullying from YOUR vocabulary, but encourage HER to use it. She feels empowered because she knows bullying is wrong and this isn’t her fault. You can help her stay focused on taking productive action to make her school a better, safer place for everybody.

The best result to come from bullying is the victim learns her words have power, she feels supported, and believes that she has the ability to create social change.

Supermom Kryptonite – Complaining

In episode 16, I mentioned that getting together with girl friends and venting about frustrations can be very helpful. Venting your emotions into a journal or with a trusted friend, can release the pressure, helping you think more clearly and hear your own wisdom.

Complaining is repeating the problem from a place of powerlessness. It implies that nothing is going to change and you are helpless. Every time we repeat the same negative story, we reinforce the synapse in our brain, making it stronger and feel truer. Be careful not repeat anything that you don’t want to grow. Complaining not only makes us feel tired and helpless but negatively impacts the mood of those we are complaining with.

 

Supermom Power Boost – Let off steam

In order to access our calm, logical, and effective part of our brain, Momma Lion needs to let off some steam. We want to honor the anger, it’s an important emotion to have. Anger signals injustice. Don’t suppress it, instead:

  • go to kick boxing class,
  • scream your head off at your daughters swim meet
  • rip up a magazine
  • stomp on a cardboard box

Let your kid see mom process anger in a healthy way so they learn healthy ways to let it out.

Today’s Quote of the Day

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed; it’s the only thing that ever has.” Margaret Mead