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?
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.”
“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
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:
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
Help Torie! I am nervous about summer! I’m a stay home mom and I WANT to be one of those chill moms who loves hanging out by the pool sipping lemonade. My kids are 5, 7 and 9 so I’ve done this enough times to know that I’m not a great summer-mom. I love the structure that the school year provides but I’m not good at creating a structure for myself at home.
I signed them up for swim lessons and some other activities but I’m nervous about not getting enough time by myself. My friends that love the slow-paced, lazy days of summer. The idea of it appeals to me but the reality is, I’ll probably be crazy by July. How can I make the most of my summer? -Stephanie
Parent Educator Answer: When you are nervous about summer
Summertime is important for the mental, emotional and physical health of children. There are two pass times that will optimize this quality time for kids: downtime and pursuing passions.
Children’s brains need the lazy, slow-paced days of summer to integrate learning, build relationships, and recalibrate to life without stress. It’s also a great time to discover and pursue passions that they might not have time for during the school year.
If your child loves baking, allowing her extra time to do get creative in the kitchen is a great use of summer.
Whether it’s building a hammock out of duct tape or learning to dive into the pool, giving kids time to choose activities freely increases the motivation parts of their brains.
Sorry kids, (and tired moms), the negative consequences of screen time on children’s physical, mental and emotional health are still outweighing any positive effects.
Find passions to pursue in the real world to maximize summer. TV and video games are too physiologically stressful to be considered downtime.
Life Coaching Answer: With the kids squared away, it’s time to talk about MOM.
Stephanie, you sound like a classic “obliger”. Gretchen Rubin wrote a book called The Four Tendencies which describes 4 different tendencies that come into play when someone wants to take change a habit.
The Obliger Mom
One tendency she calls, obliger. Obligers have an easy time meeting EXTERNAL expectations (we show up on time for appointments, we remember to attend Back to School nights, etc.) but we have a hard time with INTERNAL expectations (going to the gym, making time for ourselves, etc.)
You say you do well with the structure of school but are worried about getting enough time by yourself.
Other tendencies (Upholder and Questioner) have an easy time meeting INTERNAL expectations. Meaning, if they want to lay in the sun and read a book every day, they do it. If they want to work out, they head to the gym easily without any drama.
The problem for Obligers is the KIDS start to take on the role of “external expectations”.
It’s easy for us to obey the demands of others: “Mom, can you drive me to Sophie’s?” “Mom, I’m hungry.” “Mom, can we go to the pool today?”
It’s almost like we lose the ability to hear our own voice. We feel imprisoned by the demands of our kids. Waiting for them to be happy and satisfied before we can listen to our own voice.
Obliger moms have an especially hard time being home with kids all day.
Rather than wishing you were the kind of mom who can just chill and enjoy a slow-paced summer, learning to work with your natural tendency will make life much easier. Here are 4 tips to help obliger moms enjoy summer more.
4 Summer Tips for the Obliger Moms
Recognize that waiting for your children to be happy and satisfied isn’t working. They will never push you out the door saying, “Go take care of yourself now, Mom!” If you want to feel better this summer, it’s going to have to come from your desire to give your kids a happy summer mommy.
Start every day with a paper and pen, asking yourself “What would I LOVE to accomplish today?” “How do I want to feel while accomplishing these things?” “When I look back on my day before going to bed, what will I be most proud of?” Sit in the driver’s seat of your brain and tell it what to focus on.
Build upon external expectations. Have a friend meet you at the gym. Tell your kids you have an appointment with your book at 3:00 and it’s their job to make sure you don’t miss it. Sign up for a class for YOURSELF. Make an appointment with a life coach.
Use a timer as your external accountability. “I have 15 minutes to clean and then I get to relax.” or “I will drive you to your friend’s house if you’ll let me read for 30 minutes first.” The world benefits from obligers, but putting ourselves last has a cost to it. It’s time to prioritize your goals, dreams and desires, and show your kids the value of pursuing things that are important to you.
Supermom Kryptonite: Compare and despair.
It’s so easy to “compare and despair”. We go on Pinterest or Instagram and see other Moms so happy and creative, we think we should be different than we are. Everyone else appears to be having an easier time than us so we assume we should be different.
Instead, try thinking about adapting your life as a mom to your particular personality. If you like external expectations, sign up for classes and make appointments with friends and life coaches to help you work towards your goals.
If you are introverted and need extra time to be inside your own head, respect that and check into a hotel by yourself for 2 nights.
Take time every day to reflect on how things are going: What do you miss? What do you yearn for?
Motherhood is not a one-size-fits-all. The goal is to give your kids a happy, fulfilled mom. Make sure you are paying attention to who you are and what you want, rather than what everyone else is doing.
Supermom Power Boost – Read the book, The Four Tendencies by Gretchen Rubin
Understanding your tendency can help you have compassion for yourself and others. Compassion always feels good and boosts our energy.
If you get frustrated with yourself, “Why can’t I be more easy going?” or “Why is it so hard for me to break this bad habit?” this book will help answer your questions.
There’s no one tendency that’s better than another (although Gretchen Rubin says Obligers don’t tend to like being obligers, where the other tendencies enjoy themselves more).
I WISH this book had been required reading before marrying my “Rebel” husband. It would have saved me many years of frustration, trying to get him to do what I wanted him to do.
Raising a rebel child came with its own brand of craziness. Since all teenagers have a rebellious streak, I recommend reading how to motivate a rebel for anyone raising an adolescent.
Whether you are an Obliger, Rebel, Questioner, or Upholder, understanding and ACCEPTING your tendency makes life easier and more fun.
We tend to project our expectations onto our family, thinking they should be more like us. When you identify your loved one’s tendencies, it’s easier to enjoy them for who they are.
“One of the best ways to make yourself happy is to make other people happy. One of the best ways to make other people happy is to be happy yourself.” Gretchen Rubin
My son is finishing up 7th grade and had a terrible year. He is BEGGING me to homeschool him next year. He’s always struggled with reading but got through elementary school with help and support.
He’s a bright kid, knows everything about every type of animals and their habitats. He loves turning over rocks and finding bugs of all kinds. My joyful nature-lover has turned into a miserable, despondent lump.
We made him stick it out all year, hoping things would get better but he struggles with just about everything school has to offer: sitting in a classroom, listening, learning, doing homework.
He makes friends easily but I’m worried about how homeschooling will limit his socializing and mess up his opportunities for college and future. What should I do about my miserable middle schooler? -Lynnette
Parent Educator Answer: Middle School Misery
This “middle school misery” is more common than you might think.
Kids who have undiagnosed learning disabilities can get through elementary school just fine, but middle school magnifies problem areas.
The workload creates a bottleneck for kids with attention problems.
Too much information comes in (that they are NOT interested in) causing attentional fatigue. This mental fatigue causes kids to zone out and miss critical instruction.
Kids who struggle to pay attention at school do not have a focusing problem when it comes to things they WANT to be doing.
Some kids have the ability to HYPERFOCUS on things that fascinate them. However, having too much uninteresting information at school doesn’t leave much time left over for one’s passion.
When there isn’t time to learn about things that truly lights them up, you’ll end up with a grumpy, zombie child.
Kids without learning disabilities can struggle with traditional school as well.
Highly sensitive children can soak up the insecurities on a middle school campus so that they feel lost and drained of their own energy.
With so much pressure put on kids to perform and the fast pace of society, the mental and emotional health of students is of high concern.
Any kid who has a predisposition toward anxiety may find their symptoms ramping up during these sensitive years.
Our brains are not designed for the amount of input we are currently taking in. I’ve even noticed a change in my ability to focus my attention.
I used to read all the time but now my mind wanders more and struggles to keep attention on the page. I have to be really selective about what books I read because so few will grab my attention.
Life Coaching Answer for Middle School Misery
Let’s start by accepting reality as it currently is today. You could argue that society is too fast-paced.
Perhaps schools should be designed to nurture the whole human being, not being so focused on college and the workforce.
It would be great if our educational institution were able to meet the unique needs of all children.
Could your child learn to adapt better to the system he is in? Maybe.
For clarity and peace, let’s just accept the schools as they are and your child’s brain and personality as it is.
Your son has an easy time making friends. Let’s assume that will continue wherever he goes.
He has an appetite for learning the subjects he is interested in which will probably rekindle once he has some free time and mental space.
We don’t know what the future will bring. If he stays in school, he may enter such a depressed state that he can’t handle high school, let alone college and beyond.
The same thing may be true if you pull him out and homeschool.
All we know is that, right now, he is struggling with school and he thinks he has found a solution.
An easy way to increase happiness is to offer contrast.
When you are blazing hot and you jump in a cold pool, it feels fabulously refreshing. If you are cold and jump into the same pool, it feels terrible.
Trying to drink 8 servings of water a day is tough for me, but when it’s hot and I’m thirsty, water is the best beverage on the planet!
I’m wondering if you could increase your child’s happiness by offering a contrasting experience.
I’m going to tell you a few different scenarios of other moms who were in your shoes. Surprisingly, they found homeschooling scenarios worked for them.
I can’t tell you what is right for you or your child. Only you know what’s best for you and your situation, but perhaps these stories from others will help you access your own wisdom.
My son incurred a head injury when he was 11 and could no longer function at school. ‘
His hormones were completely out of whack (cortisol through the roof and almost no adrenaline).
He couldn’t sleep at night, couldn’t get up in the morning, and felt easily overwhelmed and overstimulated.
He accrued many absences the first quarter of sixth grade and trying to keep up with assignments was stressing him out.
By November, it was clear: he wasn’t getting better.
We pulled him out and finally treated the concussion we should have treated back in May.
He enrolled in an online school, I worked from home, and he continued to play soccer.
By April, he was well enough to go with his class to 6th grade science camp for a week in nature. The more downtime he had, the more he could recuperate.
Life at home with mom for six months made him appreciate his classmates and the structure of school. He returned to school for 7th grade and stayed.
Sheri pulled her son out of middle school at his request.
Her job allowed her to work remotely so she enrolled him in a Shakespeare theater program where he read, studied, performed, fundraised, learned set design, etc.
He got to study every aspect of theater with others who shared his passion, while she worked on her laptop and phone.
For the other subjects, he worked online or with a tutor at the kitchen table. It’s been a few years and he has no interest in going back.
Katherine’s daughter’s anxiety was unmanageable. She felt pressured and was missing lots of school due to headaches and other vague symptoms.
Katherine found a retired teacher on Craig’s List with dyslexia training who was willing to come to her house for 3 hours a day, 5 days a week.
Her daughter missed her friends and did not like this new arrangement.
She still saw her friends after school and at gymnastics, but she relaxed, worked hard to get caught up academically, and learned to manage her anxiety.
The next year she felt stronger, more capable, and ready to return to school.
Eileen’s 6th-grade daughter was sinking into depression.
Everything about school seemed like a chore: the work, the social dynamics, being pulled out for extra academic help.
Her parents pulled her from school and divided up her studies between mom, dad, and grandma.
They increased her time at her favorite horse ranch to 12 hours a week. To their delight, they watched the light come back in her eyes.
They don’t know what they will do next year, but they will let their daughter’s happiness and mental health guide their decisions.
I hope these examples of other moms give you support and guidance as you make a difficult decision.
Supermom Kryptonite – information overload
Information overload occurs when the amount of input to a system exceeds its processing capacity.
Too much information causes a bottleneck in the brain. This thus increases feelings of stress and overwhelm and reducing the quality of our decisions.
The amount of information that we take into our brains continues to skyrocket.
If you think of a typical newspaper being about 85 pages, in 1986 we received about 40 newspapers full of information every day.
In 2007, this rocketed to 174 newspapers full of information we are taking into our brains every day.
Having too much information streaming in not only affects our children’s mental well being but ours too.
When we are trying to make important decisions, like what to do about our child’s education, it’s easy to get bogged down in information and choices.
Be wary of spending too much time online, googling, and gathering information.
The world is changing fast. It’s more important than ever that you slow down, focus on your child’s well being, and listen to your gut intuition.
Which leads me to recommend today’s supermom power boost, Forest Bathing.
Supermom Power Boost
Forest Bathing basically means to go into a forest and stay awhile.
Breathe. Sit. Walk. Savor.
Since I am writing this from my campsite in a magnificent redwood forest on the California coast, I couldn’t help but choose this for today’s power boost.
Forest bathing is a technique that originated in Japan during the 1980s and is suggested for preventive health care and healing in Japanese medicine.
Researchers in Japan and South Korea have gathered significant scientific literature on the health benefits of spending time under the canopy of a living forest.
Forest bathing (immersing yourself in a forest) is shown to have several benefits. It boosts immune system function, reduces blood pressure and stress, improves mood, sleep, and energy levels.
Being in the woods is shown to increase focus, especially in children with ADHD.
For moms, trying to make important decisions, there is tremendous value in cutting out all external input and listening to your own gut intuition, voice and values.
Let the forest shift you into a relaxed, receptive state FIRST. You will then notice how your creativity and quality of thinking improve.
Quote of the Day:
“We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.” Albert Einstein
I feel so silly asking this but it’s really weighing on my mind! What should I do for mother’s day? I know it’s MY DAY to do whatever I want to do, but I can’t figure it out. Every idea I have feels exhausting. I thought I would invite both grandma’s over for a family celebration but I can’t seem to commit to it. Going out to a restaurant with my kids and long wait times sounds terrible. I’m afraid to lose my one day a year where I have permission to be selfish if I don’t pick something soon! -Erin
I don’t think this is a silly question AT ALL. I actually think it’s a very important one and one that will show up every birthday and mother’s day. The big milestone birthdays can be especially difficult because there is extra pressure to make it spectacular.
Life Coaching Answer:
As I read your question, I’m wondering if you feel like you lost yourself in parenting?
Our wants and desires are key to the essence of who we are. It’s difficult to answer the question, “What do I want?” when we have disconnected from spirit.
Here are some signs that you have disconnected from your spirit:
You feel tired a lot.
You go through the motions of the day, without feeling fully engaged and alive.
You feel lonely and confused.
You’ve tried to solve your problems but it doesn’t change how you feel.
You can tell me what your kids want, your husband wants, your mother in law wants, but struggle to answer the question, “What do I want?”
Reconnecting with your essence is easier than you might think but it helps to understand how you lost the connection in the first place.
How often do your kids ask, “What do you want to do today, mom?” “What do you feel like eating?” “What outfit would you like to wear?” “What did you learn today, Mom?” “Did you have fun at the grocery store?”
The people you are with the most, stopped asking you what you want. So you stopped asking yourself that question.
I love that Erin is asking the question “What do I want to do for mother’s day?”
Unfortunately, it’s tied in with pressure and scarcity so she feels like she has to pick the perfect thing for her, her family, and suck it up for the rest of the year.
You deserve more than ONE day of the year to think about what you want!
When we aren’t giving enough attention to our spirit, we may inadvertently put unrealistically high expectations on this ONE-day event.
It’s easy to slip into thinking this one needs to be perfectly rejuvenating, inexpensive, make everyone happy and bring me back to feeling like myself again.
Let’s throw the perfectionism out the window!
I suggest you declare another day just for you to remove this scarcity around mother’s day.
I always tried to switch father’s day with mother’s day in my family. The golf courses are packed on father’s day but empty on mother’s day so we go against the tide and swap them. We’ll hit a day spa on father’s day and enjoy the absence of crowds, but you have to be careful.
Moms that are good at self-sacrificing and putting everyone else’s needs first, need to watch out for the temptation to skip over their day altogether. If you hear your brain saying, “I can skip it” or “I don’t really need it”, don’t believe it!
Claim your day, set aside some money, know that resistance might come up but don’t allow it to take over. Then start fantasizing about what you really, really want.
Look around you. Everything you see around you began in someone’s imagination. Your job is to let go of rules, fears, and just dwell in your imagination.
What would you do if you could not care what people thought?
What would you do if you had a day to yourself and nobody knew it?
What if you had no fears and endless cash?
If you hear your brain saying “That could never happen” or “I can’t afford that”, tell it to relax, you are just dreaming as a way to reconnect with your essence.
Children are constantly in transition, which means that our needs as parents are constantly in transition, too.
When they are babies, we just want sleep.
When they are pre-school age, we just want our own attention.
When they are angsty teens we might crave more joy and peace. What do you crave? order? calm? nature? adventure?
One year for mother’s day I was craving productivity and quiet time by myself. So much of my life was spent in circular tasks that never gave me a sense of actual accomplishment.
I sent my family away from the house for 5 hours and painted the dining room. It was so fun. Just me, my thoughts, my music, my aesthetic with a very tangible result I could look at every day.
Write out your fantasy mother’s day in your journal and give yourself permission to want whatever the heck you want. No judgment. No expectation.
Supermom Kryptonite: Maximising
In 1956, prize-winning economist, Herbert A. Simon wrote a paper about the different ways people make buying decisions. He coined the terms “Maximiser” and “Satisficer”.
Maximisers expect themselves to make the most informed, intelligent decisions with the most long lasting benefits.
Most of us would expect that “maximizing” one’s decision making would lead to superior and more satisfying results. Psychologists, however, have discovered no difference in the quality of decision but a big difference in one’s ability to be content with their decisions.
Maximisers are more likely to struggle with making a decision and then beat themselves up afterward if it proves to be less than ideal.
Putting pressure on themselves to make perfect decisions with the most long lasting benefits, drains their energy by making us avoiding decision making altogether.
In Erin’s scenario, she may be trying to “maximise” her mother’s day experience by putting too many expectations on one day.
She wants to tap into her essential self and use this day to reconnect with what she wants, but she also wants to make the grandmas happy, and not be perceived as “selfish”.
Supermom Powerboost: Satisficing
Simon combined the words “satisfy” with “sufficing” to coin the term satisficing. A “satisficer” is one who looks at what they want to gain (or maintain) and chooses based on modest criteria.
They don’t feel pressured to make a perfect decision with long lasting benefits, they just want it to be good enough for right now.
“Satisficers” find contentment with what they have and don’t worry that there might be something else better out there.
What researchers have found is that “satificers” are generally happier than “maximisers”.
They have an easier time making decisions, don’t beat themselves up afterward for making “bad” decisions, (they don’t even label decisions as good or bad!) and don’t dwell in negative emotions like buyer’s remorse.
They make decisions based on what they want at the time, and allow their wants to change over time.
Becoming more of a satificer will boost your energy, your happiness and your decision making abilities.
Making decisions based on what is good enough for you right now, requires you to KNOW what it is you WANT.
This is an easy thing to lose when you are a busy mama, but that’s why it’s the first step towards claiming a day just for you.
Quote of the Day
“Knowing that you’ve made a choice that you will not reverse allows you to pour your energy into improving the relationship that you have rather than constantly second-guessing it.”