When your teen refuses to go to prom

This can be difficult for some parents!

Many parents see prom as a right of passage. Something their teen “should do” or they will regret it. But often it’s our own fears and insecurities that get in the way of supporting our child’s decision. There are many reasons a teenager might opt out of prom.

We think that if our teen goes to prom, then we don’t have to worry about them. But this can keep us from seeing other issues that are really important. Do they have social anxiety or depression?  Are they taking a stance that is aligned with their true self? Do they just not like dancing and feel perfectly fine about it?

If your teen is open to discussing it with you, ask him why he doesn’t want to go and if he likes his reason. If he feels good about his decision, it will make it easier for you to feel good about it, too. Click here to watch the video below.

Moms: It’s time to do LESS

Imagine your middle schooler had a tough day at school: His friends ditched him at lunch, your daughter got a bad grade on her report, a seagull pooped on his jacket, etc. After school, your child walks home with a friend, shooting the breeze, talking about nothing. By the time she gets home, she FEELS BETTER! Something about the slow pace, the exercise, the peer support, the nature time, the independence, makes those problems fade away. Now, at home, she feels relaxed.

It’s more normal in today’s overprotective and over-scheduled culture for kids to get picked up in cars, rushed to activities, asked about school/grades/friendships, etc. Moms are looking for problems to solve, wondering whether to intervene, wanting kids to be happy.

When today’s kids do walk home, they pop their earbuds in, stare at their screens, and disconnect from people around them. Rather than using this valuable time to process emotions and connect in compassionate ways, they avoid and suppress emotions, making them feel even worse.

When trying to understand why rates of anxiety & depression are skyrocketing in today’s teens, it comes down to many small things, having a great big impact.

As parents, we want to smooth the way for them, make it easier, protect them from negative emotions and experiences. But our attempts to make life easier for them, may be costing them their mental well being.

Kids need to feel they can handle life’s mishaps on their own. Having time, moving in nature with friends, to process these emotions is natural. Sheltering kids, for fear they will experience a negative emotion, can delay their growth. Don’t buy into the popular culture that says “A good Mom would do everything for and with her children.” Kids need uncomfortable experiences in order to build internal strength and resilience.

As you are making plans for this summer, try encouraging experiences that push your kids outside their comfort zone.

  1. Send them to summer camp (without YOU!)
  2. Make them earn money: get a job, start a business, organize a garage sale or lemonade stand.
  3. Have them walk or ride their bike, instead of being driven, to summer classes, camps, parks, pools, etc.
  4. Plan an “old fashioned” play date. Invite your friends over with their kids (different ages/genders preferred) and send them out into the street while you and the other Moms play cards and sip cocktails. (and invite me to this one!)
  5. Send them to the grocery store to buy groceries and make dinner for the family.
  6. Let them sleep in a tent in the backyard.
  7. Buy a season pass to an amusement park and drop them off.

This fear based parenting culture needs to stop. Our kids are physically safer than anytime in history but the mental/emotional stress of modern living is taking a toll. Do you have any other ideas?  I’d love to hear them.

The love we have for our kids created this overprotective, fear based culture. We can use the same love for our kids to relax, do less, and show our kids the world is a safe and trusting place.

Managing the inner critic

Brains are so funny.

My webinar on Thursday (click here if you missed it) talked about how important it is to be nice and supportive to ourselves. Especially for our girls today, who are surrounded by perfectionistic expectations, we Moms need to be very careful not to add fuel to the fire. We’ve got to learn to manage our inner critic who says things like “I ALWAYS say the wrong thing.” or “I NEVER get it right” or whatever mean criticisms are being dished out.

So it was pretty ironic that RIGHT AFTER teaching this lesson, I walked the dog and listened to MY inner critic spew her mean girl criticisms at me. Luckily, over the years, the voice has eased up, but it still offers way more “things I should have done differently” than “things I did well”. The basic theme of my inner critic is “You didn’t do everything perfectly”. Which is handy because, of course, it’s always true. What really made me laugh, was coming home from my walk to see an email from someone who attended the webinar saying….”Torie, that was PERFECT!”  

This is one of the biggest problems of how social media is effecting girl’s mental and emotional well being! It doesn’t matter who tells them they are smart, pretty, talented, kind, etc. The beliefs they have about themselves are WAY more powerful and can drown out any other opinions. Unfortunately, we can’t just STOP thinking a thought, even once we realize it’s bad for us. The first step is to DISBELIEVE the thought. This comes from recognizing we have a choice. 

I remember teaching a workshop at the She’s All That Conference (it’s coming up again soon, come if you can!). The participants were asked to fill out evaluation sheets at the end of each session. I didn’t feel I had done as well as I could and my inner perfectionist was BERATING me. The funny thing was, as I was hearing how terribly I did, I’m also looking at the words “Outstanding” “5 out of 5 rating” on almost every evaluation paper! The contrasting opinions made me stop in my tracks and ask myself, “Who do I want to believe?” 

Surprisingly, I wanted to believe my inner critic!  I knew I could have done better, and I really like doing the best job I can do. I was afraid if I believed the evaluations, I wouldn’t try to improve.

I hear clients doing this all the time. We try and motivate ourselves to take positive action, with NEGATIVE emotion. “I’m so fat” does not actually inspire healthy eating. We tend to take care of things we love, not things we hate. “I’m a terrible mother” does not make us more patient and loving with our kids. It makes us more reactive and inconsistent. “I’m going to die if I get a bad grade” might motivate us to pull out the book, but it makes it harder to actually study.

Managing this inner critic is so important. Don’t let yours run rampant and say whatever she feels like saying. Listen to her, understand her motivation, but manage her so that she isn’t the one in charge. Our daughters are watching and listening and they need us to show them how. 

 

Please join my TWO free webinars this week: 

  1. Is your child always on her phone?  Does your son throw a fit when you take away his video game? This webinar will help parents (and teens!) understand media addiction and how it effects the brain. Tuesday, March 27th at 8:00pmPST

  2. The rates of anxiety & depression in teen girls are skyrocketing and most suffer for 11 years before receiving treatment. Don’t less this happen to you. Join me Thursday, March 29th at 8:00pmPST night to understand what’s happening to girls and to learn how to help. www.LifeCoachingforParents.com/sign-up.                                                  

5-minute mood makeover for Moms

You’ve probably heard that practicing gratitude is a good thing to do. The problem is, when something is “good for us” and we hear we “should be grateful for what we have” we feel more obligated than elevated.

I’m not a morning person. I wake up slowly, quietly and a little grumpy. Starting my day by being grateful that I’m alive and that I have a good bed is an easy shift. If I try to be ecstatic first thing in the morning it feels fake. Thinking about my morning latte gets me out of bed but it’s not exactly the mood makeover I’m looking for.

If you really want to elevate your mood, to feel fully alive, appreciated, and full of potential, try being grateful for something you don’t yet have. Think about something you really, really, really yearn for: winning the lottery, swimming with the dolphins while sailing around the Caribbean, your personal villa on Lake Cuomo, winning a coveted award, having 20 more children, whatever your fantasy, write it down in full sensory detail. You are going to use your imagination to create a fabulous feeling.

I used to do this in high school. Instead of doing my homework on the 45 minute bus ride like the smart kids did, I fantasized about the one thing I thought would make my life better: the perfect boyfriend. What he would look like, how jealous everyone would be of me, how he treated me, I’d get off the bus like I was walking on air. (I think one of the reasons teens are struggling today is they are looking at social media to feel bad about what they have, instead of using their imaginations to create what they want….but that’s another blog post)

So let’s do it now!

Imagine you just won the lottery and the holy crap, OMG, mind blown feeling that would come over you. Notice the thoughts that run through your mind, “I never have to worry again!” “I can do anything I want” “I can relax!”.  Allow yourself to be grateful and wowed by this amazing gift! Write down everything you would do. Where would you go? What would you do there? Would I find you Zip Lining through the rain forest of Costa Rica? Skiing all day in Vail then cozying up by the fire with all your loved ones in a beautiful mountain cabin? Sipping a Mai Tai in Maui while watching the sunset on the beach? Chocolate tasting in Brugge?

Imagine the expressions on your families faces when you told them the news. Who would you give money to? What would you buy for your loved ones? Imagine their reaction when they see the gift. Who would be the most excited? Would you have a “Pretty Woman” moment on Rodeo Drive with your fashionista niece? Would I see you at a car dealership with your teenage son? Checking out boats in Hawaii with your hubby? Touring estates in Carmel with your parents and a real estate agent?

Who would you hire? A personal organizer? A really good accountant? An interior designer? The most amazing teachers for your kiddos? A life coach for your husband? 🙂

Write down everything you can think of that you would do and notice how it elevates your mood? It’s important to pick the fantasy that speaks to your deepest yearning. Then, when you are feeling amazing, ask yourself, “What’s one thing I can do today to make my fantasy come to life?”

Aloha & Pura Vida!

 

Is your kid not acting in line with your expectations?

It can happen at any time: 4 weeks, 4 years, or 14 on up.

The child we’re parenting, doesn’t match with the one we expected to be parenting.

Ida’s* story….

Ida thought she had the ADHD thing under control. She adapted her parenting style, adapted his diet, bedroom and after school activities to allow him to be his best self. This Supermom worked with the school teachers and counselors to make sure they understood what his challenges and strengths were. Ida worked hard to help him fit in with the school system and peers, while helping him appreciate his unique gifts. And then he turned 14 and the sh*t hit the fan. Nothing seemed to be working. He was emotionally out of control, stubborn and rebelling against everything she’d worked so hard for. This was NOT what she was expecting. 

Emma’s* story…

Emma was a quiet, gentle, loving mom. She could be content to stay home all day, reading and tinkering in her craft room. Co-sleeping and baby-wearing made her feel closely connected with her daughter. She imagined doing puzzles and art together, quietly co-creating beautiful things. By the time her daughter was 4, Emma was exhausted. Her sweet baby turned into the bully of the playground: pushing, pulling hair, biting, you name it. She would climb anything she could, using furniture to build towers to access higher and higher places. Her art activities lasted about 20 seconds and resulted in huge messes in the house. Emma’s relationship with her daughter was more about keeping her alive than creating beautiful things. 

So what does a Mama do when her expectations are different than her reality?

  1. Take time and recognize that it’s your expectations that are causing you to struggle. When you think thoughts like “She shouldn’t behave this way” or “He should have figured this out by now!” you are making things harder. A better thought to think is “This isn’t what I was expecting and that’s ok.” 
  2. Give yourself permission to grieve the loss of the dream or expectation you had for your kid. Another way to say this is “Be kind to yourself”. Allow yourself to be sad that things aren’t easier and forgive yourself for wanting things to be better. It’s our job to hold a higher vision for our kids but we can do this WHILE accepting they aren’t there yet, and that’s ok.
  3. Hold a higher vision for YOURSELF. What if you’ve got the exact kid you need to help you fulfill your destiny? What if these challenges you are dealing with, are teaching you something you couldn’t learn any other way?  Could it be possible that this crazy kid of yours is growing a side of yourself you didn’t even know you needed to grow?

Ida’s teenage son helped her break out of her belief that “the only path to success is to follow the rules”. Watching him carve his own path through adolescence taught her to let go of expectations and and control and trust in a greater plan. She realigned her values, let go of her people pleasing addiction, and learned to prioritize the things SHE loved doing. By following her son’s example, she made time for mountain biking every weekend, and yoga every day.

Quiet, gentle Emma learned to set clear and consistent boundaries with her daughter. For a long time, she tried to avoid taking the leadership role but once she got the hang of it, she got hooked! She started setting appropriate boundaries in all her relationships, built up so much confidence and self pride that she started selling her art online. She gives herself plenty of breaks from her high energy daughter so she can still be her introverted self. Even though her daughter is still a challenge, she appreciates the lessons she’s learned from her and loves the person she has become because of it.

If you are struggling with a kid who isn’t acting the way you think he/she should be behaving, schedule a free life coaching call. Let’s find out where you can let go, find acceptance, and see if there is a divine lesson in here for you?

 

*names have been changed to protect the exhausted