How can I motivate my son to do his homework after school?

Episode #3

How can I motivate my son to do his homework after school?

Today’s question comes from Lyla:

“My son is in 6th grade and isn’t motivated to do his homework. He does the bare minimum to get by. Everyday after school, I suggest, plead, scream, command (depends on my mood) that he GET his homework DONE so he doesn’t have to think about it anymore! All he wants to do after school is get on his skateboard. You’d think that would motivate him to get his homework done! When I make him to sit at the kitchen table with his books after school, he dawdles, complains and argues with me. If I don’t say anything, and just let him ride his skateboard, he’ll pull his books out at 10:00pm and fall asleep shortly after. How can I motivate my son to do his homework after school?”

This is such a great question because it’s the classic example of Mom having a perfectly logical and reasonable solution to a problem. Getting the homework done after school is a great idea. The problem is, it’s not working. 

Lyla asks the question, “How do I motivate my kid?” but what she is really asking is “How do I motivate my kid to do what I want them to do?”

Parent Educator Answer – Motivating kids is about finding THEIR currency. Most kids want to get good grades, they just may not want to do the work required. Motivating kids is about finding out what works for them and this takes trial and error.

You can try no video games during the week, pulling out a favorite snack during homework time, sitting down at the kitchen table with them to do your own work. When the possibility of video games is available, it keeps the brain flooded with dopamine and can make it harder for kids to do the boring tasks of reading and homework. Eliminating the option can help. If the lure of free skateboarding time isn’t working, then it’s time to try something else.

The most important thing is to avoid a power struggle and get on the same team as your child. When our kids hit adolescence, it’s helpful to switch from being the authority with all the answers, to the coach and cheerleader, asking “How can I support the player?” They are so wired to rebel against parental authority, they might refuse your idea, just because it’s your idea. 

Answer compliments of spiritual teacher, Byron Katie –

There are only 3 kinds of business: my business, your business, God’s business (Universe)

My business – Creating a conducive environment for homework: distraction free zone, quiet music, relaxing). Create natural consequence for poor academic performance like hiring a tutor, meeting with the teacher or reducing cell phone access. Be sure to reward the EFFORT, not perfectionism. When kids lose motivation to do well, it’s often because their parents have such high expectation and feel such pressure, that they purposefully rebel against them.

Your business – What, how and when your kids do their homework. You can sit at the table and put books in front of them, but you cannot make them read.

God’s business – If school is interesting or boring, hard or easy, it’s God’s business. Do they like to work hard? Are they detail oriented?  Fast or slow? Are they competitive or collaborative? We can help our kids to appreciate who they are and how they best learn. Do they learn best in groups or alone? Or when they are outside and moving? Be careful not to argue with reality, wishing your kid was wired differently. Once you’ve figured out what is God’s business, you can let it go. There is nothing good to gain from arguing with it. 

Movement helps kids process their learning. What if skateboarding is helping him integrate the information he’s already taken in? As our kids grow, we want them to have a good understanding of who they are and how they best learn. As moms, our job is to recognize that there is no right or wrong way. What works for us may not work for our kids and that’s ok.

What gets in your way when you think about giving up your authority? Do you have a fear of letting go control? It’s really common with Supermoms. But trying to control something you have no control over puts us into struggle. 

At sixth grade, Lyla’s identity is still very enmeshed with her son’s grades and behavior. Her ego is probably tied up with her son’s performance and it’s a great age to separate. How can you still be a good mom while your kid has a D in math? Just because your child has a bad report card, doesn’t mean you get a bad report card as a mom.

You can separate out your ability to feel like a good mom, from your child’s grades, by staying in your own business and the things you have control over. This will allow you look deeper at the issue to understand why he is struggling, without making either of you feel like you are doing something wrong.

The most common thought moms have when their kid has bad grades or isn’t doing his homework, is “I’m not doing a good enough job as a mom”. We think we need to do MORE, which gets us all anxious, trying to control the situation.

Circumstance – My kid isn’t doing homework

Thought – I’m not doing enough as a mom / I should be doing more

Feeling – anxious, embarrassed, insecure

Actions – do more, yell, plead, encourage, restrict, get more involved, overreact  

Result – We don’t sound like a coach or cheerleader. We seem needy and attached where our child HAS to great their grades up in order for us to feel calm.

Instead of the thought, “I’m not doing enough as a mom”, what if we changed the thought to something like ….“He’s showing me what works for him and what doesn’t” ?

Feeling – calm

Action – observe, pay attention to, learn more about who he is, what works and what doesn’t.

Result – You both are learning more about how to help the “player” win at the game of school. 

 

Supermom Kryptonite – Unproductive worry. Productive means there is an immediate action step to take. Ask yourself, “Is this productive worry or unproductive worry?” If I’m worrying about his bad grade, I could email the teacher, ask a friend for a tutor recommendation. If there is no immediate action step to take, let it go. 

 

Superpower Boost – Only try to control things you have control over. Figure out what here is mine, yours, The Universe. Example: 

My business: The food I buy, cook, serve and store in my house.

Their business: What they put into their mouth.

God’s business: They have a sensitive palette, hypo-sensitivity, hyper sensitivity, sugar addiction. 

Make sure you only try to control the things you have control over. You always have control of the thoughts you think, the feelings you feel and the energy you bring to the relationship. If you want your kids to obey, make sure you stay in calm, confident energy.

 

Quote “Pay close attention to the particular thought you use to deprive yourself of happiness”  Byron Katie

How do I get my teenager to be nice to me? 

Episode #2

How do I get my teenager to be nice to me? 

Question from Amber:

“I have a great teenager. He’s hard working, fun to be around, nice to his sister, in fact, he’s nice to everyone, except ME. When I sit next to him on the couch, he gets up. When I try to hug him, he ducks away. The other day, he was helping his sister with her math and I said, “Thank you so much for helping her, that is so sweet of you.” He immediately stopped helping and walked away. Everything I say is wrong in his eyes. I’m just want to feel close to him and love on him and he won’t let me. I expected some teenage rebellion but the only thing he’s rebelling against is ME. to be. How can I get my teenager to be nice to me?”

The parent educator answer 

A teenager’s job is to fire their parent. A parent’s job is to earn a place at the board of director’s table. It sounds like your teenager is doing his job. He’s telling you, mostly through body language, your work here is done. I don’t need mommying anymore. I don’t need your approval, hugs, attention or anything that makes me feel like a boy. I’m ready to stand on my own two feet and be a man, take responsibility for my life and I can’t be that man when I have the same relationship with you that we’ve always had. The parents job then, is simply, to let go. Easy, right? 

The life coaching answer

Easier said than done. 

Some helpful questions to ask are: WHY is it so hard to let go? What are you making it mean that he pulls away from you? And what is it that I really want?

Let’s take a look at the facts of the situation. He stands up when you sit next to him. When you try to hug him, he ducks away. He tells you, you are wrong. These are just neutral facts.

Can you imagine another mom might not be bothered by this? She might think, “Finally, some time to myself!” or “Fine! He doesn’t want me around, I don’t want him around.” or maybe she wouldn’t notice or care?

The reason this is bothering you is because of what you are making it mean. 

Right now, with his behavior, I’m going to guess you feel annoyed & frustrated.

We all have a default emotion, something we feel easily often. Underneath this is a hidden, more vulnerable emotion, one that we try really hard not to feel. 

My hunch is that what Amber is making her son’s behavior mean is “I’m losing him” and the feeling she’s trying not to feel is sad.

Some moms have no trouble with sadness but many of us avoid it and get annoyed instead.

In this case, Amber doesn’t want to think about losing her baby boy but every time he pulls away, she clings on tighter. Feeling more & more vulnerable as she tries to control something she has no control over. She thinks, “If he would just be nice to me, then I wouldn’t have to feel insecure.” She’s putting all her power to feel secure and happy, in the hands of her rebellious teenager who is trying to DISTANCE himself from her. The more he pulls away, the tighter she holds on.

The solution to this isn’t to “make him nicer” but to acknowledge the truth of what is happening here.

You are losing your little boy. The relationship you had with him will never be the same. It’s ok to grieve the loss of the wonderfully close relationship you had with him. 

This is not to say you won’t have a relationship with him. It’s just time for the relationship to evolve. Right now, you can’t say or do anything right because of the ENERGY you are bringing to him. It’s so one sided.

When this was happening to me, I was so confused. My husband helped me see it this way…

“It’s like you are his stalker. It doesn’t matter what you say or how you say it. You could be the most perfect mom on the planet, nobody wants to agree with their stalker. No one wants to hug their stalker.” 

The way to get your son to be nicer is to pull your energy WAY back. To grieve the loss of the relationship you had. Treat yourself to a vacation for all the work you put into raising him. Give yourself a certificate, a trophy, something to signify that your work is done and it’s time to change the power dynamic from you as authority/approver/holder of wisdom and put you on the same level as your son so you are both imperfect, learning, growing and changing.

Here are 3 tips to help you let go of your teen so he doesn’t need to push you away.

  1. Love more, care less. When kids are little, love and care go hand in hand. Care involves food, clothing, hygiene, how they spend their free time, etc. As they grow into adolescents, mommy taking care of them, thinking about their food, clothing, hygiene, etc, feels overprotective. Teens want to care for themselves so learning to separate love and care is an important milestone for Supermoms. You will always have “mother’s eyes”. You will always be able to spot potential hazards, ways he could do better, chores that need to be done, better food choices to make, improvements in hygiene, appearance, ways he could challenge himself more and increase his potential. Probably, until the day he dies, you will be able to notice these things. The trick is to love the imperfect teenager he is today (without futurizing and catastrophizing), and care less about the details of how he’s living his life. Focusing on loving more, while caring less about them, will set them free to grow into independence.
  2. “Would I say that to a roommate?” You are co-habitating so using a roommate analogy will help your relationship step into adulthood. You might ask your roommate “How did you do on your test?” but you wouldn’t ask “Did you study?”  You wouldn’t say to a roommate, “Thank you so much for helping your sister with her math” because you are interjecting yourself into his relationship. A simple “you are so nice to your sister” would be enough. You can ask your roommate to take out the trash but you wouldn’t get weepy if she didn’t feel like hugging you.
  3. Focus on yourself. “Who am I if I’m not his mommy?” sends us into an identity crisis. Think about how the lives of your parents changed after you moved out and see if it’s something that looks appealing to you?  If not, you are probably going to cling even tighter. Create a vision for yourself separate from your roll as mom. Supermoms are very involved with their kids lives and the thought of not being needed or wanted in the same way, can cause us to panic.
  4. Create a vision of yourself and your future that excites you. Do you want more time for creative projects? More time for outdoor adventure? Learning a new skill, taking on a new challenge, pushing yourself to play bigger in your life. Is there anything you enjoyed but put on hold when the kid’s activities took over?  Use your imagination to create a picture of your future that is fun and energizing.

Supermom Kryptonite – Letting your teenager take the emotional lead in the home. When we put our ability to be happy in the hands of our teenagers, we ride the emotional roller coaster along with them. If you think, “I can’t be happy until my teen is” it will exhaust you. Instead, you decide how you want to feel, and let your teenager follow your emotional lead. 

Supermom Power Boost – Use your creativity (photography, crafts, etc.) or at least use your imagination to create what you want.

Quote“Live out of your imagination, not your history.” Steven Covey

 

How do I get my kids to listen to me?

Episode #1 “How do I get my kids to listen to me?”

Today’s question 

“I feel like I walk around all day barking orders. ‘Pick up your shoes, turn off the TV, finish your homework, clear your plate.’ I’m exhausted from the constant negotiating and push back I seem to constantly get and want to know, how the heck do I get my kids to listen to me?”  Christina

The Parent Education Answer

For 30 minutes a week, I teach English to kids who are new to our country. Getting kids to listen is to me is very important and the technique is quite simple. You get down on their level, slow your speech, look them in the eye, repeat myself often, check for understanding, and ask them to repeat.

If Christina was to do this, I’m sure her kids would listen to her. It would be hard not to. But what Christina is really asking, is how do I get my kids to OBEY me?

The Life Coaching Answer (how to make actual, long lasting change)

I think the reason Christina is feeling so frustrated and exhausted, is because she has the belief that “They should just do what I say.” When we have the thought “They should do what I say AND THEY AREN’T, we get frustrated and annoyed. When we feel this way, we nag, complain, maybe even avoid asking for what we want because we assume we aren’t going to get it. When we act this way, we aren’t coming from our leadership energy. Kids are wired to follow a calm, confident leader. When we have the thought, “they should obey me” and they aren’t, we lose our confidence and authority. The kids pick up on our whimpy, angry energy and are more likely to ignore and avoid us.

If we want to change this dynamic, we need to question the thought “They should just do what I say.” Is it true? Are you absolutely sure it’s true that kids should obey, every time, immediately without negotiation? Try changing your thought to something that doesn’t argue with reality but accepts the actual situation instead.

“I’m so glad I have a normal kid who doesn’t want to do chores.”

“I can trust my kid to ignore me the first time I ask.”

“She is showing me I’m not in my calm leadership energy.”

When you feel calm and in your leadership energy, that is the time to request something from your child. Look her in the eye, slow your speech and ask for what you want.

The problem arises when we ask our kids to do things SO THAT WE CAN FEEL GOOD. We think that if they would step up and do what we are asking, then we can feel relaxed, calm and appreciated. When we do this, we are putting our ability to feel good into the hands of our disobedient child. Not a great plan! Instead, take responsibility for your emotions first and don’t wait for your kid’s obedience to feel the way you want to feel.

When we take responsibility for our own emotions, we have more control and increase our chances of getting what we want.

The energy of leadership comes from our posture, voice tone, facial expression, eye contact. The thoughts we think are what effect these things. If we think, “My kids will comply when I’m in my calm, leadership energy.” and we focus on the things we have control over (posture, voice, feelings, etc.) we are more likely to get what we want. If we focus on things we don’t have control over (what our child says, does and feels) we feel yucky and are less likely to get what we want.

Today’s Supermom Krpytonite – (the secret energy drain you might not know is making you tired) is EXPECTATION. Listen to the story about my daughter on Halloween and how stressed out I became with the innocent thought: “This supposed to be fun”. Align your expectations with reality to help you feel at peace with any situation.

Today’s Supermom Power Boost is to decide ahead of time how you want to feel. Don’t put your ability to feel good, in the hands of your child. Take responsibility for how you want to feel BEFORE negotiating with your kiddo.

Today’s Quote:

“Expectation is the MOTHER of all frustration.” Antonio Banderas

Is your teen constantly arguing with you?

Try “letting go of the rope” to get your arguing teen to relax.

There is a family therapist in my area who specializes in working with teens. We both speak at the same conference every year and she has a very different take on how to handle arguing teens.

“If your teen isn’t telling you they hate you once a day, then you aren’t doing your job.”

What?!?!   SERIOUSLY?

If my teen was telling me that she hated me everyday, then I would HATE my JOB!

If I hated raising teenagers, I would disengage, avoid them, be resentful of them and white knuckle it until they were out of the house. WE CAN DO SO MUCH BETTER!

Arguing teens and power struggles are very normal, but not much fun. We go back and forth, fighting for who’s right. It’s annoying and exhausting.

Mom – “Get off your cell phone and do your homework”

Teen – “I am! My homework is on my phone.”

Mom – “You can’t concentrate with all those distractions”

Teen- “It helps me study”

When we argue and disagree with our child, we begin a tug of war with them where nobody really wins. Even when we fight for a good cause, it doesn’t give us the result we are looking for.

Teen- “I’m so stupid/ugly/fat”

Mom – No your not honey, you are beautiful inside and out”

Teen- Yes I AM! Look at this ZIT! I’m HIDEOUS!

What happens in a tug of war power struggle, is the teen yells louder and pulls harder in the opposite direction, in order to “win” the argument.

Teen – “I hate school. Ms. Wilson is such a loser.”

Mom – “Now, honey, I’m sure it’s not all that bad.”

Teen – “YES IT IS MOM!  YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND! SHE’S A HORRIBLE PERSON!”

Mom – “Don’t talk that way about people!”

Instead of entering into the power struggle, try “letting go of the tug-of-war rope” by agreeing with them.

—————————————————————————————————————-

Mom – “Get off your cell phone and do your homework”

Teen – “I am! My homework is on my phone.”

Mom – “Oh yeah, your teachers want you to work on Google classroom now. How is that working for you? Do you like it?

Teen- “It’s ok”

Mom – Is it hard to stay focused on school work when your phone has so many temptations on it? Let me know if there’s anything I can do to support you.

——————————————————————–—————————————————

Teen- “I’m so stupid/ugly/fat”

Mom – “Wow, your brain is telling you all sorts of mean things about yourself right now.”

Teen- Well, I AM!  Look at this ZIT!

Mom – I see your zit. I’m sorry that you are feeling ugly. That’s not a fun way to feel. Is there anything I can do?

———————————————————————————————————————–

Teen – “I hate school. Ms. Wilson is such a loser.”

Mom – “Wow! You REALLY don’t like school and you sound especially mad at Ms. Wilson.”

Teen – “School sucks and Ms. Wilson is totally unfair.”

Mom – “You did not have a great day today.”

Teen – “Do we have any food? I’m STARVING”

When we agree with our teens, we diffuse their energy. There’s no need to keep driving home your point, getting louder and more emotional. Eventually the conversation gets boring and your teen moves on.

This “letting go of the rope” strategy will help you ENJOY parenting your teens.

When we enjoy parenting, we engage more with our teens, take classes, read blogs and learn to become better versions of ourselves. Creating homes that feel peaceful, make it a more relaxed and enjoyable place for everyone.

If you aren’t enjoying parenting your teen, schedule a free discovery call to see if life coaching is right for you.

Do you want grateful teenagers?

THANK YOU SO MUCH!  I AM SO GRATEFUL TO YOU!

Thank You so much for letting me into your mailbox! Every time I see a new subscriber sign up, or an long time subscriber open an email, I feel SO MUCH GRATITUDE!

It’s like when I was a kid and the doorbell would ring. I’d get a rush of adrenaline, of optimistic potential, hoping someone was at my door asking if I could come outside and play. When you sign up for something I’m offering, I get a rush thinking, “someone wants to play with me!”

Do you want grateful teenagers?

Did you know research shows expressing gratitude, writing someone a note of thanks, can increase your happiness for a whole MONTH after you send it?  Since the #1 way kids learn is by imitation, let’s try writing our kids a note of gratitude and appreciation. They’ll feel more appreciated by us (which makes them nicer to be around), we’ll be role modeling how to express gratitude, plus we get to feel happier for a whole month! Want to join me?

WARNING – Signing up for my Leading Your Teen Masterclass will increase the feelings of happiness and gratitude in you and your teen. Do not sign up if you want to stay angry. Feelings of peace, confidence and control are common side effects. 

Dr. Martin E. P. Seligman, a psychologist at the University of Pennsylvania, tested the impact of various positive psychology interventions on 411 people, each compared with a control assignment of writing about early memories. When their week’s assignment was to write and personally deliver a letter of gratitude to someone who had never been properly thanked for his or her kindness, participants immediately exhibited a huge increase in happiness scores. This impact was greater than that from any other intervention, with benefits lasting for a month.

Another study, by psychologists Dr. Robert A. Emmons of the UC Davis, and Dr. Michael E. McCullough of the University of Miami, discovered the effect of gratitude this way. One group wrote about things they were grateful for that had occurred during the week. A second group wrote about daily irritations or things that had displeased them, and the third wrote about events that had affected them (with no emphasis on them being positive or negative). After 10 weeks, those who wrote about gratitude were more optimistic and felt better about their lives. Surprisingly, they also exercised more and had fewer visits to physicians than those who focused on sources of aggravation.

Instead of focusing on those things teens do that drive us nuts, write them a letter thanking them for the behavior you would like to see more of. It’s a win-win 🙂

Learn more about Leading Your Teen Masterclass