Stealing, sneaking and lying about it

Question of the Day:

“Thanks so much for the podcast! I am really enjoying you approach and using it with my kids has helped a lot. 

My almost 8 year old has been sneaking and lying for a couple of years now. I used to keep candy around the house but stopped because she would steal it and keep it under her pillow or bring it to school. She steals little toys from school, toys from her sister and friends, and I even found $40 in her nightstand that she stole from my wallet. A couple of months ago she took our house keys without asking and lost them–she lied about it at first and then confessed. Nothing I do seems to help. 

When I confront her, I tell her to just ask for what she wants. She apologizes and seems remorseful — or maybe worried/scared because she is “in trouble”. I tell her that she’s down a bad path with this habit that could end up with shoplifting and juvenile hall (catastrophizing?). 

We have a bit of a personality clash because I am such a rule-follower. She is doing fantastic in school, her teachers rave about her but she does break rules sometimes. I am worried she will steal my jewelry next. She does have a lot of jealousy over her younger sister and sometimes explodes if she feels that her sister is getting more attention. Please help!    Esther

Parent Education Answer:

I want you to take a look at the things your daughter is sneaking: candy, toys, money, keys. She is taking treasures. Things that other people VALUE. Kids steal things that others value as a way to feel that value inside themselves. For whatever reason, your daughter doesn’t feel treasured and thinks that taking other treasures will help her get this emotion. 

The jealousy she has over her sister and the perception that she gets more attention all point to a feeling of unworthiness. 

When adults feel unworthy, they often find external ways to feel more valuable. We might go shopping for nice things, shrink ourselves down to conform to society’s definition of beauty, or try to make people like us.

Think about it like this: It’s the end of a rough day, you are just settling in to watch your Netflix show. The thought, “I have ice cream in the freezer” comes to mind. You promised yourself you wouldn’t snack at night. You don’t like what the scale tells you. You want to eat healthy food. Most of the time you resist the urge but sometimes, you cave. You say to yourself, “I deserve it” “I earned it” and you indulge. 

It’s similar to what your daughter is doing. Most of the time, she resists the urge. Occasionally, especially when it’s been a particularly rough day, she gives in to the impulse. 

Your daughter is showing you that she doesn’t feel good enough as she is. It’s easy to treat lying, stealing and sneaking as a moral issue but this feels like an emotional issue to me. 

If it was a moral issue, she wouldn’t show remorse or try to hide it from you. She knows it’s wrong but she’s still looking for a solution to an internal problem. 

 

Life Coaching Answer:

I love that you caught yourself catastrophizing and futurizing and yes, in a case like this it is SO EASY to do. What makes it hard to address this as an emotional issue and try to fill our daughter up with love, is  because of what you are making it mean about her and you. Especially as a self described “rule follower” I can only imagine how awful this must be for you! 

Embarrassment is “I did something wrong”. Shame is “I am wrong. I’m a bad person.”

It sounds like you are making your daughters stealing mean something that is causing you shame. Nobody likes feeling shame so we do our best to run away from it. The funny thing about it is as soon as you shine a compassionate light on it, it goes away. It can only live in the dark, when we aren’t acknowledging it’s there. 

It’s easy to think: “My daughter is stealing & lying, she’s doing something wrong. She must be a bad person, therefore I must be a bad mother.” 

When we believe we aren’t doing it right, and feeling ashamed, we want to stay hidden. We don’t want to ask for help.

The only way to get her to stop, is to address the root cause. We need to fill up her love tank so it overflows with self worth and value. She needs to know what a treasure she really is. 

I would start by taking her to a family therapist who works with children. For whatever reason, the love you’ve been giving her isn’t getting through. She can’t receive it. This is not a reflection on you, just a personality trait. If she had an allergy, you would take her to an allergist. If she’s showing signs of poor emotional health, she needs a mental health counselor. Kids are unique when they come into this world with their own paths. She isn’t a bad kid, but she is showing you that she needs inside help. 

The second thing I would do is to understand her love language. There are a handful of books written about this concept that people give and receive love in different ways. The 5 love languages are: words of affirmation, quality time, gifts, acts of service, affection. You might be giving your daughter words of affirmation, telling her how much you love her, but it’s not getting through because it isn’t her love language. Perhaps hers is gifts? Or quality time if she complains about sister getting more attention? Read the book and determine her top two love languages so you can fill up her love tank in ways that she is more likely to receive. 

The third thing I suggest is an urge jar. My life coaching teacher Brooke Castillo came up with this concept for her weight loss clients who were learning to resist an urge to overeat. I think this could work with your 8 year old.

Many teachers keep a marble jar on their desk and when kids behave, they put marbles in the jar. This works similarly only every time you resist an urge, you put a marble in a jar. There is something so satisfying about the clanking sound and watching it slowly fill up. 

My hunch is that there are many times when your daughter feels bad about herself and DOESN’T steal, sneak or lie. Let’s reward those times by putting a marble in the jar every time she resists the urge to take something! You can tell her that the marbles are symbolic of how much love you have for her. When she fills up her marble jar, she gets a reward of some kind. 

 

Supermom Kryptonite – Motivation for Misbehavior

Not understanding a child’s MOTIVATION for misbehavior keeps us focused on the behavior. This is frustrating because nothing we try works because we aren’t addressing the root of the problem. 

When we can’t understand our child’s behavior, we start catastrophizing, futurizing, making it mean we aren’t doing enough or they are bad kids. 

The main motivations for misbehavior are:

  1. Excitement
  2. Revenge
  3. Display of Inadequacy
  4. Superiority
  5. Power
  6. Attention
  7. Peer Acceptance

When we know our child’s motivation, we can find ways to give them what they want, but on our own terms.

 

Supermom Power Boost: Finding shades of gray

Many of us think in black and white terms. Stealing is bad, Giving is good. Lying is bad, truth telling is good. I’m either a rule follower or a rule breaker. Often, this black & white thinking ends up biting us in the butt. Try and make room, in your mind and in your vocabulary, for shades of gray. 

We are all good moms, who occasionally say things we regret.

We all follow rules we like, and ignore ones we don’t. 

We all can be generous at times, and selfish at other times. 

We are all kind people, who sometimes say mean things. 

Finding the shades of gray, gives you room to be an imperfect human who is also wonderful. 

Quote of the Day:

“Inside every child is an ’emotional tank’, waiting to be filled with love. When a child really feels loved, he will develop normally but when the love tank is empty, he will misbehave. Much of the misbehavior in children is motivated by the cravings of an empty ‘love tank'”.  Gary Chapman

Grumpy Kid After School

Ep 36 – Grumpy After School Kid

“Everyday after school, I feel like I’m walking on egg shells around my son. He’s 7 years old and in second grade. After school, the littlest thing can lead to a major meltdown. He says he HATES school and refuses to talk about his day. His teacher says he’s a great kid, learns quickly and follows every rule. When grandparents and friends ask him how he likes school, he shrugs and says, “It’s ok”. With me, however, he claims he HATES IT. It seems like he’s having a hard time coping and I miss my happy summer guy. How can I help him adjust to the stress of a long day in 2nd grade?” Kate

Parent Educator Answer:

The traditional advice for a stressed out after school kid is to start with the basics: food and sleep. Bring a healthy snack in the car or offer one as soon as they get home. Going to bed earlier in the evening could work wonders but don’t forget about the beauty of an after school nap. Both my teenagers took to napping after school when they have time to squeeze one in, it’s not just for pre-schoolers. 

Pay attention to what helps your child recuperate the best. Some kids verbally discharge the stress of the day (that doesn’t sound like your boy), some need to physically discharge by going to a park, jumping on a trampoline, or hopping on 

their bike and riding around the neighborhood. 

It can be really difficult for young kids to transition from the structure of school to the freedom of home. It usually helps to have a simple structure to ease the transition. Maybe you can sit at the table, eat a snack and play a game?

When my son was in preschool, I would take him into the backyard and we’d peel and eat an orange. Don’t make it complicated, just a little structure and your calm attention can work wonders. 

If you’ve got a cuddler, have him curl up on your lap in a rocking chair. Sing, play music or don’t say a word. 

The fact that your kiddo is melting down at home shows you he feels safe and loved enough to express his negative emotions. 

Wondering if zoning out on youtube or watching video games count as down time? Watch your child after it’s time to come off. Does he seem calm, cool and collected or is on the verge of a meltdown? How kids react when screen time ends will tell you if it’s helpful or not. 

One more thing, kids cannot learn effectively when they are stressed. Caring for his mental and emotional well being should take precedent over homework, especially if he’s doing fine academically at school! Feel free to modify or eliminate homework until he is better able to cope with the school day. Studies show there are no academic benefits to kids doing homework, until middle school. 

 

Life Coaching Answer:

What gets in our way from observing our kid and figuring out how he best recuperates from school? Our own stress!

When our child says, “I HATE school!” The first thing we want to do is talk him out of it.

“It’s not that bad, you don’t HATE school.” We want to say.

His statement bothers us. We think we’re doing something wrong if our child hates school. We want our kid to be positive, optimistic and happy…..every day…..even when he is sitting on hard chairs, listening to a teacher talk inside four walls, dependent on 30 other kids to do what they are supposed to do. 

Rather than dismissing this hatred, allow him to feel it. It doesn’t mean anything has gone wrong.

Once you have shown him it’s ok to feel whatever he feels, try expanding on your child’s emotional vocabulary. Go through the alphabet and every day think of an adjective to describe school that begins with a different letter. School is Atrocious, Boring, Crazy, Demanding, etc. This shows your child you are listening and validating him, without taking his drama too seriously. 

Another thing that gets in our way from being this patient, peaceful, playful parent? 

THEIR obnoxious, annoying, explosive, temperamental, selfish behavior! 

When our kids are touchy and temperamental, we get touchy and temperamental, too! Emotions are contagious and when they feel stressed, we stress out too. 

Be mindful of what you make your child’s behavior mean. If you think “This is terrible and he needs to change right now!” You are going to have an explosive, teary afternoon. 

If you think, “I can show him how to relax” or “We are learning what works best for him” it can calm you down and keep you from getting pulled into the drama. 

One more thing I see parents getting pulled into is the idea that someone or something at school is CAUSING the stress. 

Certainly, do your due diligence and make sure your child is physically and emotionally safe at school. We hate things because of the thoughts we think in our mind. Our negative thinking, causes us to feel negative emotion, which makes us look externally for some cause of this problem. It’s easy to find at school because there are so many imperfect teachers teaching imperfect curriculum to imperfect students under the supervision of an imperfect administration. 

When we think that someone or something is causing our child to suffer, we get combative. We want to fight for justice. We think our cause is a noble one but it can really ramp up the suffering for ourselves and our child. 

Blaming someone for our negative emotions makes us feel powerless. Suddenly, we become dependent on people we don’t even like to make us feel good. Putting our ability to feel happy in the hands of others will always make us feel helpless and powerless. 

Accept that school, teachers, and homework will always be imperfect. Your child gets to decide how he wants to feel about that. If he wants to feel hatred, that’s his choice. You get to decide how you want to feel about the fact that your child hates school. 

Take charge of the things you have control over, and accept everything else is as it should be. 

 

Supermom Kryptonite – Jumping down the well 

When our children are struggling and suffering, sometimes we try to help by “jumping down the well” with them. It’s as though our child has fallen down a well and is sitting on the bottom calling “Mom, Help, I’ve fallen down a well!”

We spring to action and jump down the well to join them in their misery. Now both mom and child ae sitting at the bottom of the well, miserable. Now you both cry, “Help! It’s dark and cold down here and we can’t get out!” You think you are helping but you feel worse because you have fallen down the same well. Your child feels better because he isn’t alone but also believes he can’t solve his own problems. You are stuck with solidarity but not solutions. 

In order to ACTUALLY help your child, you’ll need to stay above ground. When you are above ground, you can see things from a different perspective. You can offer suggestions, point out foot holds. You can remind him that there is a world outside the well worth working towards. If you are content with where you are, and believe in his capabilities, soon he will find his way out of the well. When he does, it be HIS victory. He gets to be the hero of his story, not you. Plus, he learns the meta skill of how to climb out of a well so when it happens again, he’ll know what to do. 

Supermom Powerboost – Delegate

Sometimes our ego gets in the way and we think we should be all things to our kids.

If your child is struggling with the academics of school and taking him off homework isn’t a viable option for you, try delegating this job. 

You could hire an educational consultant or tutor. You could hire a high school or college student to help. Grandma, your retired neighbor or someone off Craig’s List can be responsible for overseeing your child’s homework. Make sure your child approves of your choice because their motivation is HUGELY important. They may want older sibling to supervise or choose to Facetime their cousin or friend for help, great!

Watch and observe if your child needs help with the content, motivation, paying attention or just making it more fun, and delegate accordingly. 

 

Quote of the Day:

“We have to go from what is essentially an industrial model of education, a manufacturing model, which is based on linearity and conformity and batching people. We have to move to a model that is based more on principles of agriculture. We have to recognize that human flourishing is not a mechanical process; it’s an organic process. And you cannot predict the outcome of human development. All you can do, like a farmer, is create the conditions under which they will begin to flourish.” Sir Ken Robinson

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

 

Clarify My Back-to-School Mom Goals

Question of the Day: Mom Goals

“Dear Torie,

School is starting soon and I am excited to get back to routine. I’m a stay-at-home mom of three and all of them will be in school full day. I’m finally going to have free time to do something for me, but I’m not sure how to spend this precious time! I want to exercise, socialize, read, watch movies, volunteer, but I’m also thinking some extra money would be nice so working part time is also an option. From previous experience, I know that if I’m not deliberate about it, I’ll just end up running errands and cleaning the house without kids. I just don’t want to waste my hard earned freedom by continuing to do things for the kids and not for me. Can you help me clarify my back to school ‘mom goals’?”   Rebecca

 

 

Parent Education Answer:

Taking time to think about YOU and what you want is so important, not just for your own happiness, but so you can be refreshed and energized for your kids. 

It’s common in our perfectionistic parenting culture to place a higher importance on caring for our children than caring for ourselves. The belief that everything we do should benefit our kids is misguided. Over-parenting robs children of their own efficacy. YOU get to feel capable and responsible, but your child feels needy and dependent. Taking care of YOURSELF is one of the best things you can do FOR your kids! 

Do you know anyone whose mother does not take good care of herself? Have you ever had a friend whose Mom did not take care of her physical health, emotional health, or financial health? It is a HUGE drain on the child! 

Here are three things I have found that seem to benefit all Supermoms:

  1. Clarity – Knowing who you are and what you want. 

Your question, Rebecca, is a perfect one to help you step out of the weeds of your everyday life and think about what you most want to accomplish. The beginning of the school year is a great time to evaluate which areas of your life need a refresher. 

Go to www.LifeCoachingforParents.com/back-to-school and sign up for my free webinar. I will send you a life balance wheel where you will rank, on a scale of 1-10, how fulfilled you currently feel in each category: health, family, social/community, spirituality, surroundings, contribution to society, fun and recreation, finances, romantic relationship, career. Your lowest category may be the one to devote more time to in order to feel balanced and fulfilled. Pick ONE area to focus on and make it your priority. 

2. Energy – Did you know you can CREATE energy?

I used to think it was something people either had or didn’t have. I believed my energy fluctuated based on outside circumstances: how much sleep I got, how my kids behaved, whether my house was messy or clean. Now I’ve learned that I can create more energy with my thoughts by processing emotions, making decisions, overcoming fears, closing loops. Some of my Supermom clients increase their energy by singing, playing the piano, reading, sitting in the sunshine, planning a vacation, not to mention exercise, sleep and healthy foods. If you want to accomplish a lot in your day AND feel peaceful and balanced, choose to spend your free time on an activity that boosts your energy. 

3. Accomplishment – Being a mom involves a lot of circular, repetitive tasks: laundry, cooking, cleaning. If you don’t get a sense of accomplishment from a job, you might get stuck in the mind-numbing trap of taking care of others without really feeling engaged in your activities. Focusing on what you want to accomplish every day can pull you out of the weeds and into a more productive, conscious mindset that focuses on your highest objective. Plus, accomplishing tasks gives you a feel-good dopamine hit so even by writing things down, then checking them off, you can get a sense of satisfaction.

Some of my ‘at-home’ mom clients have found a sense of accomplishment from refurbishing old furniture, decorating their homes, scrapbooking, trying new recipes, or creating a budget. There is no right or wrong way to feel accomplished, just focus on the feeling you are yearning for and go after it.Mom goals

Life Coaching Answer: What gets in our way?

Believing we aren’t worthy of our own time, money and attention. 

Imagine you are looking through the nursery window in a hospital. You see bassinets in a line with little babies swaddled in their blankets. Some are sleeping, some are staring, some are fussing, all are adorable. You look at the fourth one down with the pink hat and you say, “That one there, she’s not good enough. She’s not as deserving as the others. She isn’t worthy of having as much success, relaxation, or joy as those other babies.”

Worthiness doesn’t work that way! There is no such thing as being “unworthy” or “not good enough”. It’s not a competition. You have worth because you have blood in your body. Is a baby who gets tossed in a dumpster by its parents, less worthy or deserving? NO. Is a baby born with birth defects or disabilities any less deserving of success, joy, or relaxation? NO. You are no better and no worse than anyone else. Your kids are not more deserving of love, attention and happiness than you are. You are teaching them how to treat you. As you prioritize yourself and your needs, they will learn that your needs are also important. 

 

Supermom Kryptonite: Giving from an empty cup. 

I LOVE taking care of others. Giving is a part of my nature and makes me feel alive and connected. 

Until it doesn’t. 

Sometimes giving feels like a sacrifice. Sometimes it feels like an obligation. 

I am not going to say you should stop taking care of your children, your spouse, your partner, your boss, your sister, your dogs (the list goes on doesn’t it?). 

I am going to say it’s time to stop giving from an empty cup. 

The cup represents your energy; your spirit. It needs to be full in order for you to feel happy, healthy, and well-balanced. When you have so much love and energy filling your cup that it overflows, that is when you give. Whatever spills onto the saucer is to give away. 

You might be thinking… “Torie, I have never had a full cup and I don’t know how to get one. I have to give from an empty cup because my children need me and it’s all I’ve got.” 

If that’s the case, then consider working with a life coach. Life coaches are trained to help you plug your invisible energy drains and help you fill up your cup on a regular basis so you can be the best version of you. 

 

Supermom Powerboost: Saying Yes to kid play

Want an energy boost? Try saying yes when your kids ask you to play. If you are like me, your first response to, “Mom, do you want to play?” is “absolutely not”. But 5 minutes of shooting hoops, jumping on a trampoline, or tossing a volleyball around really does boost my energy. Not only do I get my blood pumping, but I feel like a younger, cooler mom who can get out of her head for 5 minutes. 

If you’ve got younger kids, just lay on the floor and see what happens. A parent laying on the floor is like a magnet to little ones. They start crawling all over you like a jungle gym and playing and wrestling like little lion cubs. Five minutes of presence while playing will give you a boost of energy and keep you feeling young. 

 

Quote of the Day:

“Rest and self care are so important. When you take time to replenish your spirit, it allows you to serve others from the overflow. You cannot serve from an empty vessel.” • Eleanor Brownn

How to get husband to help out

Question of the Day: Husband Help

“How can I get my husband to help out more? I feel like all the responsibility is on me. I make more money than my husband, I do more of the parenting, food prep, house cleaning, arranging child care, carpools, you name it, I’m doing it. When I’m not feeling pissy and resentful, I can notice that my husband helps with some things. But most of the time, I’m frustrated that the majority of the parenting burden weighs on my shoulders. What do I need to do to get my husband to step up and take on more responsibility?”     Diana

Parent Educator Answer: Getting Husband to Help

If you want your husband to help out more, try these 3 things:

  1. Be specific and straightforward. Make a list of what you’d like accomplished. Get rid of the idea that he should just know what to do. Set him up for success by asking him to do a specific task (like empty the dishwasher, as opposed to “help out more”).
  2. Respect his differences. His version of clean may not be the same as yours. That’s ok. He doesn’t “see the mess” the way you do and that’s fine. You’re different people. Allow him to do childcare or chores his way, even if it isn’t up to your standards. Micromanaging will only make him resist helping. 
  3. Show appreciation when he helps. I know it’s not fair, no one thanks you for cleaning the kitchen every day. But if you want your partner to pitch in, tell him how it feels to walk in the laundry room and see all the clothes folded neatly into piles. Express your gratitude at being able to kick your heels up at the end of the day and watch a TV show. Men like to solve problems and rescue. Reward the behavior you want to see more of with words of appreciation and kindness.husband help

 

Life Coaching Answer:

This is a classic scenario for a Supermom to find themselves in. 

Supermoms don’t tend to think of themselves as “super”, they just routinely and unconsciously put on their cape and take care of business. Supermoms do great in school: show them the hoops to jump through and they do it.

They are responsible and reliable and they get rewarded with external praise: good grades, professional accolades, etc. Fulfilling obligations is easy and it seems like the right thing to do. 

When we see our partners do things differently, drop the ball, parent imperfectly, forget things or behave inconsistently and we think, “I need to pick up the slack.”  It comes so easily to us and we are so invested in doing motherhood right, that we just do it. Before long, we feel like we are holding the world on shoulders, responsible for the lives and well being of many people. 

One of the things that bothers me is when I tell people that I’m a life coach for moms who are exhausted, overwhelmed, and resentful and they say, “So, like, every mom.” 

NO!!! These are not normal signs of motherhood!

These are signs of caregiver fatigue! Feeling guilty when you take time for yourself is not normal. It’s a sign you are out of balance!

I’m going to guess that you grew up in a culture that encouraged “fulfilling obligations” over “following your bliss”. Whether from parents, religion, schools or the media, you were raised with the idea that there is a ‘right way’ to do things.

Doing things right, fulfilling obligations and taking responsibility was praised and rewarded. You may have had an innate personality that wanted to follow the rules and be of service, but when 90% of your life feels obligatory, it’s time to re-evaluate your habitual way of doing things. 

Deviating from Culture and Norm

Deviating from culture is NOT EASY! We worry about what our parents will think, what co-workers and other moms will think, but mostly, we worry about what our own inner martyr will say when we kick up our heels to relax and start prioritizing our own “selfish” wants and desires. That inner martyr is mean, so we’d rather just keep working instead of listening to that mean inner voice. 

Deviating from an unhealthy culture is important. Slavery would still be legal if not for a few people who listened to their inner guidance. The culture, the laws, all said slavery was fine. This didn’t sit well with everybody.

Some people felt uncomfortable and they listened to this discomfort. Listening to negative emotions helps improve our culture.

Right now, anxiety and depression are at an all-time high amongst adolescents. There are many signs that our culture is unhealthy. The way to change it is to listen to the internal compass, rather than blindly obey the culture.

If you are like most of my clients, when your husband loads the dishwasher or offers to help arrange the carpool, your critical mind jumps into gear: “He’s not doing it right”, “It’s easier just to do it myself than explain it”, “Why can’t he just do it the way I want”. Because your brain is thinking, “There’s a right way and a wrong way” or “I have to do all the work” we get stuck on proving ourselves right. 

Even when you go to your husband crying with exhaustion, and he steps up by grocery shopping or taking the kids out to dinner, it still doesn’t feel like enough.

“Supermom does all the work”

The reason you want your husband to help out more is because of how you WANT to feel. This discomfort with the culture of “Supermom does all the work” isn’t sitting well with you. You want to feel free, valued, supported, and appreciated. 

Let’s imagine for a minute that you had a magic wand and you could make your husband do everything you wanted him to do. Can you picture that? He brings you coffee in bed, gets the kids dressed, fed and off to school, he cleans up the kitchen after feeding them a healthy breakfast. How do you imagine you would feel? 

Relaxed. Grateful. Appreciated. 

This is what you are really yearning for. You think you can only get it by having your husband help out with chores. But these feelings are coming from a thought in your head. What is the thought you would be thinking if you felt relaxed, grateful and appreciated?

This is so nice. I can do what I want. He really loves me. 

It’s these thoughts that will give you the feeling you are looking for, regardless of what your husband does or does not do. 

You release the burden of obligation by releasing the thoughts: “I have to do everything around here.” “It’s my responsibility” “I have to do it right” “I should do more, be more, etc.” 

Once you release these beliefs, you’ll be more fun to be around. Your husband can put on his SuperDAD cape, help out more, and have a wife who is grateful and appreciative of him. 

husband help

Supermom Kryptonite – Confirmation Bias

Confirmation Bias means we prove to ourselves what we already believe. When we believe we have to do all the work, we scan our environment looking for all the work that needs to be done, and all the things our husbands aren’t doing.

There are people who believe Trump is a good president and they can find evidence to prove their belief true. There are people who believe he is a terrible president, and they can find evidence to prove themselves correct. What we believe is SO IMPORTANT because it will determine what we experience.

Do you want to believe you do all the work? It might make you feel capable and responsible, but it won’t help your husband step up and contribute. Try believing “My husband likes to help.” This thought will make it easier for you to implement the strategies up above. “My husband appreciates everything I do” will help you feel supported and valued and give you the strength to keep going. 

 

Supermom Powerboost – Focus

Focus is very powerful. What we focus on, expands. 

If you focus on how much your husband isn’t doing around the house, you will feel mad and overburdened. 

Don’t let your culture choose what you focus on. The U.S. has a strong culture of fear. Every time you turn on the news, you collect evidence to prove we live in a scary place where lots of bad things happen, even though, we live in one of the safest countries, in the safest time in history.

Use your higher, more conscious brain to decide what you’d like more of and then choose to focus your attention on that.

Want to feel more loving? Focus on what you love about your husband.

Want more relaxation? Tell yourself there is nothing you HAVE to do right now and notice how it is always true.

Want to feel more appreciated? Write down a list of things you appreciate about yourself. Invite your family to add to the list. Imagine that your family is so grateful for everything you do and notice how it makes you feel better. 

Quote of the Day: “Always remember, your focus determines your reality.” George Lucas

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