Letting go of homework hassles

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

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

Anonymous

Parent Education Answer:

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

There are four steps when it comes to delegating to kids:

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

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

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

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

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

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

“You’ll be proud of me Mommy.”

“Why?” I asked.

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

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

“For the experience of it!”

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

 

Life Coaching Answer:

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

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

We look around the park and everyone else is following their kid around, arms out stretched ready to catch them from falling or prevent them from stealing toys and eating sand.

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

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

Here’s a story that happened to my neighbor. He let his daughters (age 12 & 13) ride their bikes on the trail near our home. It was their first time and he drove to different points along the trail and honked and waved as they rode by. Ten minutes later, he pulls into his driveway and the police are at his door. They got a report that a man in a white van was harassing two girls on the bike path.

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

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

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

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

I think emotions work similarly. Jump to the rescue every time your baby cries in those first few months of life. After that, encourage them to experience the full range of human emotions as much as possible. Let them fight with toddlers over toys, don’t help them when they can’t master a skill, allow them to experience a skinned knee, the frustration of not being able to open their cheese stick, and the feeling of being left out by their older sibling.

I encourage you, for the sake of your kids mental health, to be the mom whose kid gets a 3.0. Be proud of NOT showing up to every performance and every game. Brag about sending your 9 year old to sleep away camp on his own. Celebrate your child’s misfortunes, broken hearts and bruised egos. Being able to experience the full range of our emotions is what makes us feel fully ALIVE. Knowing you can manage your own life, relationships and emotions gives you a sense of personal sovereignty and competence that is irreplaceable.

 

Kryptonite: over-stimulation

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

Our world is too. damn. stimulating.

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

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

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

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

 

Power Boost – Take a break from modern living

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

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

 

Quote of the Day:

 

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

Episode 39: Playing Bigger with Sara Dean

Question of the Day: “How I make time for me when there are so many things to get done?”

There is so much good stuff in this episode, I couldn’t write it all down! Be sure to listen to this important conversation about…

Making time for Mom.

Moving the needle forward.

Listening to your higher self.

Using kids as an excuse to stay in your comfort zone.

Playing bigger in your life. 

Embracing discomfort.

Supermom Kryptonite: “Playing Small” or staying in your comfort zone.

Supermom Power Boost: Make a “Courage List”. Look back on your life and list all the times you were courageous.

Learn more about Sara Dean and the Shameless Mom Academy at ShamelessMom.com. 

Listen to her podcast or join the Shameless Mom Facebook Group

Time Anxiety

Episode 38 – Time Anxiety

“From dawn to dusk, I am working. Constantly rushing from one activity to another. Getting the kids out the door and me to work. In the afternoons, I’m running to get them to soccer, buying groceries, taking phone calls, checking emails. By the time my kids are in bed, I’m exhausted. All I can do is zone out in front of the TV. 

I’m sure this sounds typical, like every other working mom, but my problem is…I feel like it’s not enough.

I work 14 HOURS A DAY, and then get annoyed with myself for “wasting time” at night.

The constant pressure and stress about being late and feeling like there is never enough time, is too much. Even on the weekends it is difficult for me to relax. 

This may be typical, but it’s starting to affect my sleep and my ability to enjoy my life. I see my son starting to stress out about being late and I don’t want to pass this on to him. How can I shake this feeling that whatever I do, it’s never enough?”  -Amy

 

time anxiety

It sounds like what you have is “Time Anxiety”. Time Anxiety shows up in 3 ways:

 

Current Time Anxiety

The daily feeling of being rushed. Fear of being late and disappointing someone. Fear of being early and wasting time. This panicky and overwhelmed feeling comes from trying to control something we have no control over. We think this makes us responsible, productive and reliable but it really just causes us to feel stressed and anxious. The underlying belief is that we must maximize our time or we are doing it wrong.

 

Future Time Anxiety

Worrying about what could happen in the future. These moms struggle to feel contentment in the moment for fear that “the other shoe will drop”. If I take a day to relax, more work will pile up. We love our kids so much we start imagining something bad happening to them or how we’ll cope when they move out of the house.

We are so afraid of feeling a negative emotion in the future (regret, sadness, loneliness) that we start practicing it now. The underlying belief is that being afraid of the future will somehow alleviate our suffering once the future arrives. 

 

Existential Time Anxiety

The sense of time slipping away and our existence, as we knew it, ending. This can show up as a fear of death but also a fear of losing our looks, our youth, or our kids. Moms can also fear losing opportunities to get back into the workforce, switch career paths, try new things, take risks, etc. The underlying belief is that time is running out. 

 

Parent Education Answer 

Overcoming time anxiety is difficult because it shows up is so many areas of life! The best answer to how to reduce your stress around time, is to work with a life coach or therapist who has experience with time anxiety. 

Step One – Accepting

Time stresses us out because we don’t have control over it and we think we should. Accepting that the passage of time is outside of our control and letting go of our fears is step one. 

I had a lot of time anxiety before I found life coaching.

My biggest triggers were fear of wasting time, not getting enough done, and being late. I remember driving with my kids in the car and being so upset with myself for not leaving sooner, for taking the slower route, for not checking traffic.

I was beating myself up, in front of my kids. My oldest was already showing signs of perfectionism: not trying new things if he couldn’t be good right away, throwing fits if he lost a game, etc.

The lightbulb went on for me on this drive. I realized my kids were picking up on my habits and I didn’t like it. From that day on, I have learned to forgive myself when I’m late. It’s as though I believed stressing about being late made be a better person. If I was flustered, remorseful and apologetic, they wouldn’t think poorly of me.

I was so worried they would think I was disrespecting them, and it bothered me that I couldn’t control their perception of me, so I just disrespected myself. 

Step Two – Undoing Fearful Thoughts

Undoing our fearful thoughts is step two. But if I tell you to stop thinking about how much time you have left here on earth, how you are going to regret wasting time and to relax around being late, suddenly time is all you can think about. You need someone else, outside your brain, to help you dissolve the thoughts that are making you anxious.

Letting go of the ILLUSION of control, shrugging your shoulders and saying “oh well, late again”, will make you feel vulnerable. No one likes feeling vulnerable, so we cope by taking control of how we spend our time. 

I have a teenage client with time anxiety. Whenever she isn’t studying, she feels guilty and stressed. She struggles to relax, have fun, sleep because she perceives it has a slippery slope to failure. Stress is never the ticket to success, it’s just the ticket to more stress. Working hard with enthusiasm, joy, passion and love are much more effective emotions to work from.

Step Three – Overcoming Time Anxiety

The third step to overcoming time anxiety is to take a look at the thoughts you are thinking whenever you are stressed, and get clear on your VALUES. 

What is most important to you in this life? 

How do you define a successful day? 

What emotion do you want to be rooted in while driving kids to soccer? 

How will you know when the cost of the activity outweighs the benefit? 

How do you want to feel in the mornings before school? 

You really do have a choice and committing to your values, instead of your fearful thinking, will help you feel better.

Life Coaching Answer – 

What gets in our way from:

  1. accepting the things we cannot control?
  2. dissolving negative thinking?
  3. committing to our values?

Our human-ness.

When we are scared, our brains think there is a REAL EMERGENCY. We don’t have time to look within and uncover our fearful thoughts and values! 

Our sympathetic nervous system gets activated: hearts start racing, blood rushes to our extremities, body is tense, jittery and ready for action. This is not the time to try to analyze your thoughts and think about your values! Your brain thinks it’s going to die!

In order to overcome time anxiety, you’ll need to take a look at your thoughts in your brain when you are relaxed and safe. 

If your anxiety is bleeding into nights and weekends, you may never have a time you feel relaxed and safe. If you did, the last thing you want to think about it is the stuff that triggers your anxiety! 

Anxiety likes to stay hidden. It doesn’t want you to talk about it! So it will say things like,

“It’s not that bad.

“I’m no different than anyone else.”

“How is talking going to help?”

“I don’t have the money to hire someone.” or, the classic

“I don’t have time to deal with it!” 

 

These all will feel true but it’s really just fear. Your brain will think talking about the anxiety will make it worse, but it won’t. We live in stressful times, in a stressed out country and learning to manage your fearful brain is SO important and worthwhile.

Supermom Kryptonite Scarcity

Scarcity is an incredible motivator. When kids think there isn’t enough of mom’s attention to go around, they will fight and scream for it. When we plan to start a diet on Monday, we’ll eat extra calories on Sunday. You can use scarcity to your advantage but make sure you are using it, don’t let it use you. 

I’m running out of time will always stress you out. Try switching it to, “I have plenty of time”.

Or use scarcity thinking to help you slow down and enjoy the moment. “I don’t want to miss these precious moments with my kids” can bring your attention to the present and out of future/past thinking. Being in the present moment always feels better.

 

Power Boost – “Oh, Well”

I was taking a parenting class specifically geared towards raising kids with “perfectionism, giftedness, and anxiety” and the teacher taught me these two magic words, “Oh Well”.

She said it was important to model using these words often with our kids.

“Your friend doesn’t want to play with you right now?” Oh well.

“You lost the game AGAIN even though you tried your best?” Oh well.

“Your sister is cheating and changing the rules?” Oh well.

But I found these words to be especially helpful for ME and my time anxiety.

“Late again”? Oh well.

“Binge watched an entire season on Netflix?” Oh well.

“Didn’t get anything accomplished today?” Oh well.

Try it out and see if it helps your inner perfectionist calm down and relax a little more.

 

Quote of the Day:

“Time you enjoyed wasting, was not wasted.”  John Lennon

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

perfectionistic teen

Perfectionistic Teen

Question of the Day: Perfectionistic Teen

This is about Jenny and her perfectionistic teen:

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

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

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

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

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

perfectionistic teen

Parent Education Answer: Handling Your Perfectionistic Teen

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

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

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


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

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

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

Ask Yourself

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

Perfectionistic Teen

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

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

Life Coaching Answer:

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

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

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

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

ARTICLES LIKE THIS IS WHY I STARTED THIS PODCAST

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

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

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

Working on Yourself

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

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

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

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

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

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

Supermom Kryptonite – Suppressing our inner perfectionist. 

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

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

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

Supermom Power Boost – Queer Eye Netflix Show

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

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

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

Quote of the Day 

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

Carol S. Dweck www.mindsetonline.com 

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

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