How can I help my daughter make friends?


Today’s question: “My daughter is 9 years old and doesn’t seem to have any friends. There are girls in the neighborhood we carpool with, and kids she goes to school, gymnastics, and temple with, but she doesn’t seek these kids out on the weekends or after school. At recess or on weekends, she prefers playing by herself. Her brother, on the other hand, is always with friends: riding bikes, skateboarding, and generally having an active social life. I’m worried that my daughter isn’t going to have close friendships. She’s very opinionated, strong willed, and doesn’t like to compromise, so I understand why other kids may not choose to play with her. She doesn’t seem as bothered by this as I am. She likes to read and be by herself, while I’m the one scheduling play dates. How can I make my daughter make friends?”  Lea

Parent Educator Answer: It sounds like you are doing everything you can to support your daughter’s friendships. It’s wonderful that you have arranged so many opportunities for her to socialize and become familiar with other kids.

Between the ages of 3-9, most girls develop friendships based on proximity and convenience. They don’t discriminate easily and are usually happy to play with whoever is happy to play with them. Birthday parties can be huge during these years because it’s hard for kids to choose which friends they like best.

Between the years of 10-12 (once puberty begins) girls tend to want a smaller, more intimate group of friendships they can build closer bonds with. Developmentally, they are practicing intimate relationships by creating a more manageable group of girls they feel comfortable with. It’s common in these years to have hurt feelings as girls get edged out and left out while best friends are created. It is normal, however, for some girls not to be interested in forming these intimate relationships. In every class, there’s always at least one girl who is happy to play with whoever shows up. She doesn’t mind hanging with a different kid everyday, or even none at all. These kids are valuable assets for to those who have recently been rejected by their friend group. 

From what I hear in Lea’s question, there are at least 5 perfectly healthy reasons why this kid might not like playing with other kids:

  1. She hasn’t entered the stage yet of wanting an intimate friendship or friend group.
  2. She may be the type of kid who is comfortable with acquaintences rather than close friends.
  3. She is exhausted from being around kids all day long and needs time alone to recuperate.
  4. It’s more important for her to be able to hear and execute her own ideas while playing, than to expend energy compromising and explaining her thoughts to others.
  5. She hasn’t found a friend yet that allows her to be fully herself.

Kids who have strong ideas and opinions often enjoy the company of younger children. Younger kids are so excited to have the attention of a big kid, that they are willing to compromise more than children of the same age are. Little kids love the creative ideas for play that big kids come up with, and don’t mind being told what to do. Older kids can make great babysitters or mother’s helpers because they get to play the role of leader, boss, or director that they were born to play.

 

Life Coaching Answer: When our kids don’t have meaningful friendships, this can be a big trigger for moms who place a high value on friendship. It is really easy to “futurize” and “catastrophize”, imagining that they’ll never have friends and be sad and socially rejected all through adolescence. Moms can worry that their kids will ALWAYS struggle to make friends and believe this is a huge problem that needs immediate attention and intervention. 

First, we have to look at the problem that is CURRENTLY presenting itself. We cannot fix a problem in the future that hasn’t happened yet (and may never happen) and trying to do so will make us crazy.

The circumstance here, is that Lea’s daughter is 9. She hasn’t entered puberty yet. She likes reading books (a solitary activity), she doesn’t seek out playdates, she is surrounded by family members and family acquaintances almost every moment of every day, and she prefers to play by herself at recess, after school, and on weekends.

We want to take a look at what mom actually has control over. Can she make her daughter make friends? No. She can arrange playdates, carpools & neighborhood gatherings so her daughter has exposure to other kids and becomes familiar with the people in her life. She can sign her up for summer camps and gymnastics classes, but how her daughter interacts with the kids while there is not within mom’s control.

One thing we mammas do have control over is how we interpret our kid’s social relationships. Without meaning to, Lea may be communicating the idea that “there is something wrong with her daughter” because she doesn’t have the quality and quantity of friendships that her brother has. Can you imagine that there is an introverted mom out there in the world who loves to read, be by herself, and sees nothing wrong with her 9 year old avoiding social interaction? We have no idea how this girls social relationships will change with puberty, middle school or high school. This is a time of rapid development! After a day of obeying teachers and following their curriculum, she may have a higher need of listening to her own voice, directing others, or dwelling in her imagination.

It has never been easier to find one’s tribe than it is today. If you don’t fit in with the tribe of people around you, meetup, tinder, or youtube will help you find your village and connect you with people who appreciate your authentic self. Rather than thinking, “this is a problem that needs fixing”, try thinking thoughts that make you feel at ease.

“She is surrounded by people who love her.”

“She will find her people someday.”

“She is so true to herself that when she finds someone who likes her, they will really genuinely like her.”

“If she’s ok playing by herself, I can be ok with it, too.”

“I’ve done everything I can think of, the rest is up to her.”

“If she wants better friendships, she’ll be motivated to compromise.”

When you feel at ease around your daughter’s social dynamics, you communicate the message that there is nothing wrong with her the way she is. This gives her acceptance and belonging; the whole point of friendships in the first place!

 

Supermom kryptonite: worrying

I used to think that “good moms” worried about their kids. It seemed the opposite of neglect. When my worrying turned into anxiety, I had to make a change. What I’ve learned is that worrying is terrible for kids and robs us of our ability to enjoy our lives. Worrying is imagining bad things happening. Focusing on everything that can go wrong drains our energy and keeps us from appreciating when everything is going right. Once I stopped worrying, I was floored at how much more productive I was throughout my day, how much more energy I had, and how relaxed I was able to feel.

 

Supermom power boost: yoga

All exercise is good for us but yoga seems to be especially beneficial for overworked mammas. My theory is that yoga turns our attention inwards. With kids around, your attention is constantly being pulled outside of yourself. Even when we aren’t with them, we think about them, talk to our friends and partners about them, and get annoyed with them for leaving their mess all over the floor. Yoga brings your attention into your body, focusing on the subtleties of movement, muscles, positioning, and breath. This forced self attention and flowing movement re-energies us in ways beyond a typical workout. In my opinion, yoga is a quick and reliable energy boost.

 

Quote of the Day – “Do not anticipate trouble, or worry about what may never happen. 
Keep in the sunlight.” ― Benjamin Franklin

 

 

When a Chore Chart Doesn’t Work

Episode 6 – How to make a chore chart work

Today’s question:

I’ve tried chore charts in the past, but I have a hard time keeping up with them.

I let things slide, but then it bothers me that my kids don’t help out more around the house.

My older kid is more cooperative than the younger, so I end up asking him to do more work. He complains about the inequity and he’s totally right.

I get so tired of the negotiating and complaining when I ask my daughter to do a simple little task. My current system is unfair and unhelpful. How can I make a chore chart that sticks?   Melinda

 

The Parent Education Answer: 

When chore charts have the most success, it’s because it fits with the personality of the parent or of the kid(s).

Some people love the sense of satisfaction they get from checking a box, the pride from displaying their accomplishments, and the predictability of what is expected of them.

If this sounds like you or your kiddo and external validation is something you value, by all means, create a system and commit to it.

Even if it wanes after a month or two, that’s okay. Just create a new one and enjoy the novelty.

Allow the kids to have input on any adjustments to it.

Most parenting experts suggest not tying chores to allowance but instead reinforcing the child’s role in being a responsible member of the household.

If your kids are reluctant, you may need to provide an incentive like no screen time until chores are complete, or a reward once completed.

Sometimes a chore chart can make a kid want to rebel against it.

“Brag boards” are an alternative where your child gets to post and boast about the chores they have completed.

If you like the chore chart but your kid doesn’t, keep it for yourself as a way to stay organized, but find other motivation for your kid that works for them.

The life coaching answer:

What you’ve got here is a classic example of cognitive dissonance.

This means you have two competing beliefs going on at the same time.

Part of you places a strong value with kids helping out with household chores. The other part of you doesn’t want to negotiate and argue every time you want your daughter to empty the dishwasher.

When we are in cognitive dissonance, any system we implement is doomed to fail.

Your kids will sense your lack of conviction, “forget” to do their chore or talk their way out it. The only way to get a chore chart to work is to decide and commit to it.

Before you declare anything out loud, you’ve got to be clear inside yourself.

Right now, when you think about asking your kids to do chores, how do you feel?

My guess is tired, annoyed, burdened, or some other negative emotion. These emotions cause moms to act inconsistently and sabotage their own chore charts.

The first step is to accept things you have no control over. It sounds like your daughter likes to argue and negotiate. This is just part of her personality, so we need to let that go. Kids don’t generally like doing chores, so let’s not pin our hopes on some magic chore chart that will make them eager workers.

The next step is to decide which of your competing values gets top priority.

What is more important to you?

1. To never argue and negotiate with your daughter

2. To distribute the chores to both kids equitably

3. To have your children contribute to household chores

Which one will you be more proud of in the long run?

If you choose #3, you need to commit to this.

Be proud of your choice. Decide that this is more important and that no matter how much push back you get, it’s for a good cause.

If you incorporate a chore chart, do it with joy and determination.

How you feel about your chore chart is more important than anything else.

Decide you are going to love it.

Decide that it doesn’t have to last forever.

Prepare yourself for arguing, but plan ahead of time to just smile and point at the chart.

You will be amazed at how much more energy you have when you aren’t arguing with yourself inside your head.

Supermom Kryptonite: Open Loops

One of the reasons motherhood drains so many of us, is we are never done.

The tasks are circular, and it’s hard to get a sense of accomplishment.

This makes it even more important that we close as many loops as we can.

Having open loops, or things in our head that we need to make decisions on, follow up on, and complete, is exhausting.

To free up your energy, ask yourself every day: “What is weighing on my mind?” or “What am I trying not to think about?”.

Whatever your answer is to these questions, find a way to close the loop on the issue.

If it’s kids and chores, make a decision and stick with it.

If it’s a conversation you’ve been avoiding, have it and resolve it.

The more decisions you make ahead of time, the more energy, creativity and mental clarity you will have.

Supermom Power Boost: Softening

This is counter-intuitive because we think tension gives us power, and it does in a way.

Think of a runner in the starting blocks of a race.

Their body is tense, and ready to explode into action. After the race they relax and their body softens.

The problem with Supermoms, is the race never ends.

This is not a healthy way to live; we need rest and relaxation time.

Since many Supermoms struggle with this, I’ve found a short cut called “softening”.

Think about something that causes you tension, find the tension in your body, and physically soften it.

Eventually we’ll need to get the brain on board, but this is a quick first step.

This will give you energy because it’s more aligned with how our bodies are designed: to spend lots of time in rest and relaxation.

Quote of the Day

“Tension is who you think you should be, relaxation is who you are.” Chinese Proverb

Would you like help with prioritizing your values and creating more rest and relaxation? Sign up for a free discovery call at www.lifecoachingforparents.com/work-with-me

 

 

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). I can create natural consequences for poor academic performance like hiring a tutor, meeting with the teacher, or reducing cell phone access. I can reward the EFFORT, not perfectionism.

When kids lose motivation to do well, it’s often because their parents have such high expectation and they feel such pressure, that they purposefully rebel against them.

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

 

Staying in “my business”

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! This, naturally, 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. 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’s. 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 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 the country. Getting kids to listen is to me is very important and the technique is quite simple. You crouch down to their level, use very slow and deliberate speech, look them in the eye, make sure you are speaking clearly and repeat yourself if necessarry, check with them to make sure they understand, and ask them to repeat what you said after you.

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 doing it, we lose our confidence and authority. The kids pick up on our wimpy, 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.”

The times you feel calm and in your leadership energy is when 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 could 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 in order 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, and 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: EXPECTATION (the secret energy drain you might not know is making you tired). 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: 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.