Stealing, sneaking and lying about it

Question of the Day:

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

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

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

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

Parent Education Answer:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Life Coaching Answer:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Supermom Kryptonite – Motivation for Misbehavior

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

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

The main motivations for misbehavior are:

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

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

 

Supermom Power Boost: Finding shades of gray

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

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

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

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

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

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

Quote of the Day:

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

Grumpy Kid After School

Ep 36 – Grumpy After School Kid

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

Parent Educator Answer:

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

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

their bike and riding around the neighborhood. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Life Coaching Answer:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Supermom Kryptonite – Jumping down the well 

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

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

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

Supermom Powerboost – Delegate

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

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

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

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

 

Quote of the Day:

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

Lazy teenage sloth

FREE WEBINAR LINK www.LifeCoachingforParents.com/back-to-school

 

Question of the Day: Lazy Teen

Dear Torie, 

“My 13 year old daughter is driving me crazy.  She lays around all day like a lazy teen sloth, scrolling mindlessly on her phone. When I ask her to do something, she’ll say “ok” but never does it. I arranged my life around these kids so they could have the best opportunities to succeed. When I see how unmotivated and ungrateful she is I feel like I’ve wasted my time. I’m very hardworking and responsible and I just thought they would absorb my values. I feel disrespected when she lays on the couch, zones out, ignores me. I’m worried my daughter will always be like this and it’s too late to teach her to be different.”

Paulalazy teen

 

This might be the most common complaint I hear from moms of teens. It really boils down to a generational culture clash. 

Think of a typical 50’s mom whose teenage son starts wearing bell bottom pants, floral shirts and growing his hair long. Mom and Dad start freaking out because of what they are making it mean ABOUT THEM.

They feel embarrassed that they are raising a kid who is so disrespectful to their values. They think their child will be a loser who will never get a job because he doesn’t understand the importance of showing respect to authority through civil obedience. The kid just thinks he is making a fashion choice and adapting to new cultural norms. 

Today we’ve got a culture clash between hardworking moms who demand a lot of themselves, and typically lazy teenagers who refuse to adapt to our stressed-out ways. 

We also have a problem with kids who DO absorb perfectionistic values, work their butts off in school, stress about SAT’s and AP classes, and push themselves to be their best.

These kids don’t bother us hard-working mamas because we relate and it feels normal. (If your child’s stress does bother you, email me and let me know). Usually, we don’t recognize this as a problem until it threatens the mental or physical health of our kids. 

There have been times when I catch myself telling my teenager to “try harder, work harder, live up to your potential, grab life by the horns, seize the moment, do more, put yourself out there, etc.“

In a nutshell I am telling my healthy, balanced teenager: “Can’t you stress a LITTLE BIT MORE so I can feel like a better mom?” 

I hope my kids think I’m crazy and disregard my fearful pleas. If they don’t, I worry all they hear me say is “You aren’t good enough as you are.” 

Parent Educator Answer: Let’s talk about normal adolescent behavior:

Verbal aggression / verbal jousting / arguing, 

Difficulty tolerating the feeling of frustration, 

Withdrawl from family (physically and emotionally) and increased interest in peer relations.

Sleeping longer and harder with an increased appetite. 

Impulse control, risk taking and susceptibility to peer pressure.

Concerned with physical appearance

Fighting for independence and testing limits: ignore rules, argue rules, or refuse to obey rules. 

Quitting things they used to enjoy

Selfishness

Changing Identity (gender, sexual identity, socio-political identity, etc.)

Mood Swings 

 

To Paula, I’d say congratulations. It sounds like your 13 year old has officially entered adolescence and is a typical teenager. Is it too late to teach her to be different? Kind of. She HAS absorbed your values. She knows what YOU want for HER. Now is the time for her to figure out what HER values are and what SHE wants for HERSELF.

 

Life Coaching Answer: What gets in our way from peacefully raising a typical teenager? 

Three things: Our ego, our expectations, and Futurizing & Catastrophizing

#1 Our ego

When we see our kids laying around, scrolling their phones and appearing like a lazy teen, we make it mean that we have failed in our job as mom.

Because when we have tried to lay around ourselves, kick up our heels and just hang out, we beat ourselves up for it! 

We have this negative voice in our head that yells and keeps us from having too much fun or enjoying too much relaxation.

There are many countries around the world that would think this is insanity. That the best and most important parts of life come when we are relaxed, hanging out and savoring moments of doing nothing. 

We want our teenagers to get busy, work hard and do something so that we can relax! We think we can’t relax unless everything on our to-do list is complete but this will never happen! 

It’s possible that our teenagers are wiser and less susceptible to cultural insanity than we are. What if they are here to remind us of the importance of relaxation? 

Can you imagine there is another lazy teen, somewhere in the world right now, scrolling on her phone while laying on the couch?  Imagine that you see her mom in the kitchen and you think, “Wow, she is a really good mom.” “I really admire the things she is saying and doing.” In your mind’s eye, what do you imagine a good mom would say and do, while a daughter lays on the couch?

Notice that it is possible to be a good mom and have a lazy kid. In fact, you can be a good mom, no matter what your teenager does or doesn’t do. You are two separate people and it’s time to untangle your ego identity, from her behavior.

#2 Our expectations

Can you imagine there is a parent in the world who isn’t bothered by their teenager having a lazy day, laying around scrolling on their phone? It is possible. 

When parents expect the teen years to be really dreadful, filled with sneaking out of the house, failing grades and back talking, and they see their teenager lazily scrolling on the couch, they feel relieved. It doesn’t bother them at all! 

If your pediatrician told you that when your child turns 13, she’s going to need lots of time to zone out, lay around, and get physical and mental rest, and the best thing you could do as a mom is to encourage this sloth-like behavior, you would feel like a successful parent because your expectations would be different.

The problem is that we Supermoms have high expectations for our behavior, as well as our children. We think they will slowly, gradually take on more responsibility, more confidence, and become tall children we are proud of.

We forget, however, that no one self-actualizes at 13 years old.

That the teen years are filled with insecurity and fear as they try to carve out an identity separate from mom & dad.

It’s hard to remember that adolescence is the most stressful time in a person’s life (according to psychologists) and all the dramatic physical, social, intellectual and emotional changes cause them to need more sleep, more rest and less pressure. 

 

Under STRESS, we REGRESS, and when moms can EXPECT imperfection, it’s easier to RESPECT imperfection.

#3 Furturizing & Catastrophizing

When we see any negative behavior in our teens, we want to be on the lookout for our brains favorite passtime, imagining a big, dark and scary future.

Catastrophizing Thoughts: 

“She lays around ALL DAY”……does she really? Or is there an occasional potty break in there? Maybe a walk to stare in the pantry or leave the fridge door open? 

“When I ask her to do something she NEVER does it”……Is that true or does it just feel true? 

“I’ve wasted my time”…..Wow, can you imagine telling yourself that the last 13 years of your life has been a waste of time? That’s a pretty mean voice in your head who loves to beat you up, not one to listen to and believe. 

Futurizing Thoughts: 

“My daughter will ALWAYS be like this”. If we were to listen to that mean voice in your head, the end of this sentence would probably be, “…..and it’s all my fault.” 

“It’s too late to teach her to be different” is probably true but it’s coming from a voice in your head that really wants to throw you under the bus. It’s the same voice that keeps you from joining her on the couch and saying, “Yes, let’s kick up our heels and watch some Tic Tocs. Teach me how to play wordscapes or Brick Breaker. How do you use the face swap filter again? 

You’ll want to build a relationship with this mean voice in your head. Notice she is the one that won’t let you rest, wants to tell you what a bad mom you are and how your kids are losers and it’s all your fault. This voice is creating a lot of unnecessary drama and keeping you from enjoying THIS stage of your life. 

Decide how you want to feel, while raising perfectly imperfect teenagers, and get this mean voice out of the driver’s seat of your brain. 

Once you’ve moved this voice out of the way, you can remind yourself that, though she may appear a lazy teen, this is a TEMPORARY phase in your teen’s life and you can help her through it by being compassionate to the needs of her growing body, mind and spirit. 

 

Supermom Kryptonite – blame

Blame is like cookies. It tastes good in the moment but too much, over time, leaves us feeling a little sick.

When we think, “If my kid would change I could feel better.” we get a temporary reprieve from that mean voice in our head that wants to beat us up.

We think, “It’s not me, it’s them” and we get a break. Over time, blaming someone else for our emotional upset leaves us feeling powerless and helpless to change. 

Thinking my teenager’s lazy, rude behavior is all my fault doesn’t feel good either.

First, question the thoughts that are saying that her behavior is wrong and bad. Once you are feeling neutral about the behavior and have quieted your inner mean girl, you can ask, “How am I contributing to her behavior?” and “What do I have the power to change?” 

 

Supermom Powerboost – Understanding your energy cycles

Now this question is not asking, “How long can you relax before the mean voice in your head tells you you are lazy and wasting time.”

The question is, “What are your natural energy cycles?” Do you feel energized in the morning but drained in the afternoon? Do you feel tired after eating carbs and energized after yoga class?

Having a compassionate understanding of your energy cycles will help you recognize you and your teen are different people. 

Help your kids get to know their natural energy cycles. Do they feel drained after being at school all day? Does it help them feel energized to socialize after school, nap or be alone for a while? How many hours of social media can they enjoy before it starts to drain them? Are 2 back-to-back Netflix shows rejuvenating but 4 are suppressing?

Help your child get to know her own energy cycles with compassionate curiosity and self-awareness. When you can honor your own energy cycles, you’ll find you have the power boost you need to help your daughter discover hers. 

Quote of the Day “Teen “addiction” to social media is a new extension of typical human engagement. Their use of social media as their primary site of sociality is most often a byproduct of cultural dynamics that have nothing to do with technology, including parental restrictions and highly scheduled lives. Teens turn to and are obsessed with whichever environment allows them to connect to friends. most teens aren’t addicted to social media; if anything, they’re addicted to each other.” 

Danah Boyd, author of “It’s Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens.”

Worried about starting middle school

Question of the Day: Middle School Worries

Today’s question is from a mom worried about her son starting middle school.

“My son is starting middle school and I worry about all the things he’s going to be exposed to. Vaping, drugs, girls, social media, bullies, online porn, you name it, I worry about it.

He is such a happy, sweet boy and I don’t want his peers to ruin his innocence. Part of me thinks I should talk to him about some of the things he’ll be exposed to. But the other part of me thinks I should keep quiet and let it unfold as he experiences it.

How can I prepare him for the big, bad world of middle school without scaring him or giving him more information than he is ready to handle?”    Catalina

middle school worries

Parent Education Answer:

I think there are many parents who share the same middle school worries and apprehension. I heard this a lot from the parents who came to my classes on “How to Talk to Kids about Sex”.

They wanted to be the ones to tell their kids about how babies are made but they get nervous about taking away their innocence. Rather than saying the wrong thing or giving too much information, they end up saying nothing at all.

In a way, your instincts are correct in not talking to him from your worrying energy. Emotions are contagious and you telling him about your fears and all the middle school worries could do one of two things:

– Scare him. He might mirror you and become equally worried and stressed.
– Reject you. Kids don’t like the energy of worry. He may disregard your helpful information and not want to listen to you, be around you, or confide in you later, if he thinks it will worry you.

I believe knowledge is power.  This could be a great opportunity to inform him of things he will be encounter. But keep in mind that only if you are in a calm confident energy.

Benefits of  Information

When parents inform their kids about vaping, sex, drugs, etc. before they are exposed to it, there are many benefits:

  • Kids learn they can talk to their parents about anything that comes up.
  • When your middle schooler hears something taboo, he doesn’t need to rely on peers or youtube to answer questions because they already received information at home.
  • Talking about personal, important things builds trust and brings you closer.
  • Middle schoolers are surrounded by peers willing to give their opinions and judgments easily. When they also have the voice of their parent in their head, it helps them make an informed decision.
  • Kids tend to rise to our expectations. If we expect them to do drugs and get bad grades, they probably will. If we expect them to encounter such, but not partake in unhealthy activities, they probably will do that.

Format of Discussion

Think about this format when talking to your kid about difficult subjects: information, consequences, opinions, choice.

Let’s take online porn as an example.

Information: Porn is short for pornography. It refers to visual materials (mostly digital these days) containing explicit display of sexual organs and/or activity intended to stimulate erotic feelings (as opposed to aesthetic or emotional). Showing pornography to children is considered illegal and obscene.

Consequences: Some people experience it as harmless and healthy. Others experience it as addictive, exploitative and damaging to relationships.

 

Opinions: Your Dad and I don’t want you watching it because it’s going to give you an unrealistic picture of what sex is like in a real relationship. When you are in a real relationship someday, we want you to experience the best of it.  This includes emotional intimacy, companionship, friendship and love, not just the physical aspects of sex.

 

Choice: We realize we can’t control what you view on the internet but we hope you choose will things that uplift your spirit and not watch things you feel you should hide. We also want you to know, you can come to us if you ever have concerns or you encounter something that feels weird or icky online.

 

Life Coaching Answer: Handling Middle School Worries

What gets in our way from being this calm confident parent discussing these middle school worries and informing our child of unhealthy risks of middle school? FEAR.

Fear of what could happen, fear of letting go, fear of how other kids will behave, fear of losing the child you have known, fear of him getting hurt, fear of watching our baby suffer, fear of not being able to help him solve his problems, fear dressed up in multiple outfits.

When we feel fear in the absence of immediate threat, we struggle because there is no productive action step to take.

It helps to know that fear is an instinct to keep us (and our loved ones) out of harm’s way. We are hiking, we see a snake ready to strike, we freeze. Some crazy person running towards us yelling, we run away.

Hence, our brain’s fear response is brilliantly designed to keep us safe, except for when there is no clear reason for our fear.

When we feel fear, yet everything around us appears safe, we go into our heads and try to figure out why we are scared. We look for an explanation for our fears: school shootings, bad guys, drugs.

The news will give us plenty of logical reasons why we have this fear. It makes our worries seem valid and important.

Fears and Worries

Worry pretends to be helpful. It makes us feel like we are DOING something productive but we aren’t. All we are doing is making it harder to help our children navigate a fear-filled culture with confidence and ease.

In order to prepare your child for some of the negative things he might be exposed to in middle school, you’ll want to release these middle school worries and process the fear.

Fear is just an emotion. It is energy in motion and it shows up as a vibration in the body.

Close your eyes, take a deep breath and notice what fear feels like and where in your body you feel it. The more you stay with this feeling, without having the need to run away from it, the easier it will move through you.

Our brain thinks we’re going to die but if you look around you, and all is well in this moment, it’s safe to process this feeling so that you can return to a state of calm.

From the sound of things, it looks like your son is healthy, happy and safe. He is going to school in one of the safest countries in the world, in one of the safest times in history. He’ll be with other kids who have been raised in a safe environment, having all their basic needs met.

Worrying gives you the illusion of safety, but it really doesn’t help.

Once you’ve allowed yourself to feel the feeling of fear without reacting to it, you’ll notice you feel calmer.

Your Mindset

This is when you want to engage the brain and ask, “What do I need to think and believe in order to talk to my middle schooler calmly?”

“I want him to have knowledge so he can make his own decisions.
“This is good information to know” might be a helpful thought.
“I trust him to make good choices.
“I’m earning my good parenting sticker today”
“I want to be the kind of mom who can handle tough subjects.”

Once you are feeling calm and ready to give your child “Information, Consequence, Opinion, Choice”, you may need some additional resources.

Middle school is a great time to shift from being the person with all the answers, to learning things together with your child. Which is handy because a lot of us don’t know about the dangers of vaping, social media, or today’s potent marijuana options.

Marlene Mahurin from Nevada County’s Tobacco Use Prevention and Education program, recommended a great video to watch with your kids. I will post a few of my favorites but I encourage you to look through Google on your own. Find a few to watch that you think will resonate with your child’s personality. Just be mindful of who is publishing the video.

Recommended Resources

Common Sense Media has GREAT videos and is a resource you should know about from school shootings to sexting https://www.commonsensemedia.org/
The Nevada County TUPE video on vaping http://nevco.org/programs-services/tupe/

Sex Education (for 9-12 year olds) http://TimeforTheTalk.com

Marijuana https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FvszaF4vcNYConsent https://youtu.be/pZwvrxVavnQ

Gender Fluidity https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=udI-Go8KK2Q&feature=youtu.be

Sex Education (for parents and high schoolers) https://youtu.be/L0jQz6jqQS0

How to ADHD https://howtoadhd.com/videos/

 

Today’s Supermom Kryptonite – Your media diet.

Just like the food we eat impacts us, even if we don’t notice it immediately, the media we take in affects us, too.

If your media diet consists of Fox News, Criminal Minds and CSI, it’s no wonder you feel a lot of fear. If your media diet consists of Queer Eye, romance novels, this podcast and video chatting with friends, you probably feel a lot of peace. In order to stop worrying, try changing your media diet.

I remember going to bed one night and noticing I felt gross. It felt like I had just eaten a bunch of junk food but I hadn’t. I realized the “junk food feeling” was because I just watched 20 minutes of “Housewives of Whatever County” before I went to bed.

This show might be just what you need at the end of the day to lift your spirits. That was what I thought, but it wasn’t healthy for me.

Especially before bed, I have to be very careful about what I take into my brain.

It’s amazing how easy it is to keep up with current events without ever watching a single newscast. Thus, I limit my social media exposure and seek media that uplifts me. That way, I can maintain peaceful energy for my clients, and kids, to come home to.

 

Supermom Powerboost – Allowing your kid to experience negative emotion

  • It is common in today’s perfectionistic parenting culture to believe that it’s our job to protect our children from having any negative emotion ever. We genuinely want our children to be happy and successful, every second of every day, forever. First, because this is what we think a good mom would want. Second because we don’t know what to do with ourselves when they have a negative emotion.
    When we understand that allowing children to “feel all the feels” is IMPORTANT and NECESSARY, then we focus on what we want to feel WHILE they are feeling sad, disappointed, angry or scared. You can:
  • allow your child to feel a feeling without taking it on as your own.
  • feel proud of yourself for letting your child have a negative experience.
  • feel satisfied knowing that this negative experience is teaching him lessons he could never learn on his own.

Trying to ensure that your child only has positive experiences and emotions is exhausting. In contrast, allowing your child to experience negative emotions, (without making it mean anything has gone wrong), will free you and boost your energy.

 

Quote of the Day:

 “Worry never robs tomorrow of its sorrow, it only saps today of its joy.” Leo Buscaglia

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 

Letting go of a sunscreen power struggle

Question of the Day: Power Struggle over Sunscreen

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

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

power struggle over sunscreen

Parent Education Answer:

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

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

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

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

Avoiding the Power Struggle

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

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

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

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

 

Life Coaching Answer:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Parenting from Love, not Fear

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

By offering my kids choices?

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

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

 

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

 

Supermom Kryptonite: Right-Fighting

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

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

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

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

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

 

Supermom Powerboost – Humor vs Power Struggle

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

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

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

Quote of the Day:

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

Fighting siblings


Today’s Question: Fighting Siblings

“I understand that it’s summer and my kids are spending a lot of time together but constantly fighting siblings is so annoying! Mostly arguing, stealing toys, tattling, but it can escalate to hitting, biting and total meltdowns. It bothers me to see my kids treat each other so poorly. I try to limit their screen time but it’s so tempting to give in just so I can have some peace! No matter what I do, the problem persists and I feel like I’m failing at teaching my kids how to love each other.”

 

Parent Educator Answer:

It is so common for moms to see behavior they don’t like and think, “This is a problem and I need to solve it.” So we go to work, breaking up fights, resolving conflict, separating kids or taking away toys or whatever the triggers are. If this works, great. If not, it might be you are trying to solve a problem that isn’t yours to solve. 

Imagine your daughter and son are fighting over whose turn it is. One yells, the other bites, then pushes, then tattles, you know the drill. I find it helpful to separate out who is responsible for what. 

Your daughter is responsible for the words she chooses to say to her brother and the way she chooses to say them. It’s her business whether she bites, hits, kicks, or whatever she does with her body.

She also gets to choose how she wants to feel about her brother’s actions. If she wants to interpret his behavior as mean, unfair, or a competition to rise to, that is up to her. Write her name on a piece of paper with a circle and write down everything that is your daughter’s business. 

Then we move on to kid #2. Put his name on the paper with a circle and write down his words, his feelings, his actions. He gets to decide what he wants to think about his sister’s behavior, his mom’s behavior, and his own.

If he wants to believe he is right and everyone else is wrong, that’s his choice. You can let that go. If he thinks the world is unfair and you love his sister more than him, that goes in his circle. That is his problem to solve, not yours. 

God’s business

The 3rd circle is God’s business. Even if you aren’t a God person, anything YOU don’t have control over goes here. The fact that you have two children who share living quarters is God’s business.

Your children’s innate personalities, we throw those in God’s circle, it’s just how they are wired. The fact that many siblings fight with each other as a way to learn social dynamics isn’t our business. Kids can be like puppies, fighting, wrestling and learning social boundaries.

Watch your children argue with each other. Could they leave the room at any time and are choosing not to? Is it possible they are ENJOYING fighting with each other? “Verbal jousting” is more entertaining than a lot of other things kids could be doing. If one kid is having fun by fighting, and the other one isn’t, God’s business.

So what’s left? If what your children think, say, feel and do are not your problem to solve? What the heck is mom’s business? 

Your business, Momma, is what YOU choose to think, feel, and do. You get to decide what you want to believe about your fighting kiddos and the rules you set in your home. To do that, we’d better dive into life coaching.

Life Coaching Answer: Rules for Fighting Siblings

When we think “This is a problem and I need to fix it.” We put on our Supermom cape and go to work. We get to the bottom of things. From there make decisions. We yell and put kids on time out. We give consequences. If this works, great. The problem comes when this DOESN’T work. 

If the result is that our kids are still arguing and we are still thinking this a problem and I need to fix it. We start spiraling up (yelling more, getting more annoyed with them) or spiraling down (walk away, give up, stop caring).

When we have the thought, “This is a problem and I need to fix it” and WE CAN’T, we feel like a failure. We start thinking things like, “I’m failing at teaching my kids how to love each other.” This thought makes us feel completely dejected, hopeless, and ashamed, which makes Supermom feel very, very tired. 

I know you want fighting siblings to get along, but that’s really up to them. They get to decide what kind of relationship they want to have with one another. You can suggest peaceful ways to interact, you can let them see you resolving conflict in peaceful ways with your friends and family. Learning to let go of things you have no control over will set you free. 

 

fighting siblings

One thing that is your business are the rules you establish in your home. Kids like clear, consistent expectations for behavior.

It makes them feel safe when they know what to expect, and that an authority figure will follow through with 100% predictability. 

Some House Rules

I suggest my clients establish House Rules that everyone abides by. Rules that everyone in the house agrees will make for a peaceful place to live. For example:

  1. No name calling.
  2. No hitting or hurting.
  3. Ask first before borrowing someone else’s belongings

Post these rules on the fridge or a public place where everyone can see. Make sure your kids know what the consequences are for breaking these rules then follow through.

You may want to say things like “use nice words” but that may make a better consequence. Let’s say your daughter hurts her brother’s feelings, her consequence may be that she find some nice words to uplift him. 

Fighting siblings have been common since the dawn of time. To think, “I must not be doing it right if my kids are fighting” is not helpful. Just like a teacher isn’t responsible for your child’s grades, you aren’t responsible for your child’s relationship.

You get to TEACH kids how to treat each other. Teach them your values, establish rules and expectations, teach them to apologize and make amends, but whatever they do with your amazing lessons is their business. 

Supermom Kryptonite – Being the hero

I remember when my son was scary sick. Trying to figure out what to do, I was bouncing from doctor to doctor. It was stressful – I was scared and nearly lost my mind when they sent his prescription to the wrong pharmacy, right before closing time. I felt like I was all alone in trying to solve his health problems.

So I pulled out my life coaching notebook and this amazing thought popped into my head, “I was made for days like this.” Suddenly I had a burst of energy. My Supermom cape was ON! I could totally handle this. I’m great in a crisis. This is my son, who better to come to the rescue than his mother? Yes, I am the perfect person for the job. So I researched and persisted. Then I found alternative practitioners who knew how to help. The hero in me came through and I felt great about all I did to help him. 

So why is it a kryptonite? 

Because then he turned 14 and I was fired. He wanted to be his own hero. Seems he didn’t want my help anymore and he wanted to solve his own problems. 

This sounds great on paper, but it was an identity crisis for me. It’s not like he was perfect, the just wanted to be left alone with his own problems to solve. It was a rough transition and to be honest, it’s still hard to not be allowed to help. I loved being the hero. 

Some kids never become their own hero. I’m sure you know some adults who need mom and count on mom to come to their rescue.

It is easy for kids to get stuck feeling helpless, unwell or incapable. Moms may inadvertently keep their kids from “adulting” in order to hold on to their role as a hero. 

I was lucky I had life coaching colleagues who warned me. “Be careful not to let your son identify as a sick person and you as his care giver.” I didn’t like hearing it, but another coach told me, “Your son doesn’t have a problem because you have taken it from him.”

Being a Supermom feels great, but don’t get stuck there. Make sure you hang up your cape frequently. Let fighting siblings work out their own problems, allow them to struggle, so they can be the heroes of their own lives. 

Supermom Powerboost – Ear phones

When kids are going at it with each other, it can be really hard to ignore. You can think about the benefits of bickering and how your kids are learning about respecting boundaries and resolving conflict.

If that doesn’t work, pop on a noise-cancelling headset. These babies are the best mom invention I know. Not those tiny airpods that your kids can’t see you wearing. Big, obvious earphones work great to demonstrate you are not listening, nor interested in hearing about your children’s conflict.

No amount of “MOOMMM” is as compelling as your music, your podcast, or, let’s be honest, the beautiful sound of silence.

Putting big earphones on is a non-verbal way to say to your kids, “I trust you to work it out”. When kids see you disengaged, they realize this relationship is theirs to figure out and you are giving them permission to solve their own problems. Only if they break a house rule do you need to go in between the fighting siblings. Let them be their own hero.

Quote of the Day:  “My Mom taught me a lot. A lot about minding my own business and leaving other people’s business alone. And let them think what they want.” Ray Charles.