Interview with Dr. Dan Peters

Interview with Dr. Dan Peters

When I was raising my sensitive, anxious, intelligent little boy, Dr. Dan Peters was a god send. He had an incredible way of explaining what was happening in my child, without making me feel like I wasn’t doing enough. So many parenting books triggered my inner perfectionist and left me feeling inadequate but I loved learning about the inner working of children’s brains from Dr. Dan. (I can tell I was nervous/excited because I said “you know” a million times!)

 

Dr. Dan Peters is a psychologist, author and co-founder of Parenting Footprint, a podcast and online community with the mission to make the world a more compassionate and loving place, one child and parent at a time.

Dr. Dan is an author, speaker and contributor to many books and articles related to parenting, family, giftedness, twice-exceptionality, dyslexia, and anxiety.

He is Co-Founder/Executive Director of Summit Center (CA), specializing in the assessment and treatment of children, adolescents, and families, with special emphasis on gifted, talented, and creative individuals and families as well as anxiety.

I mentioned him on my podcast interview with Debbie Reber because he also has a sleep over summer camp for gifted youth.

 

Book: Dyslexic Advantage 

Documentary: The Big Picture

 

Listen to hear the answers to these questions:

How do you define giftedness, dyslexia?

What is 2e or twice exceptional?

 

Client question: What do you do with an angry outburst like this…?

“My 9 year old son thinks his life was perfect before his sister was born. She recently won an award at school and he LOST it! Saying she ruined his life and he wants to kill her.”

Client question: How do I manage a 16 year old who is obsessed with video games? 

“Left to his own devices, my 16 year old will play 12 hours of video games. I’m worried he is ruining his life. How much intervention and management is appropriate for a 6’4″ teenage boy.” 

 

What are signs of anxiety in teens and tweens?

 

When is a good time to consider medication?

 

Why do you think anxiety is on the rise in todays kids?

What are 3 things parents can do to encourage brain health?

 

Entertaining a young child so mom can work from home

Coaching Call – How to entertain a young child so mom can get work done?

Episode #58

Listen in as I coach a mom trying to keep her 5 year old entertained while she works from home.

Question of the Day:

Today’s Question comes from Carola Fuertes. Carola is a weight loss coach looking for parenting help for her 5 year old son. If you are ready for a compassionate approach to weight loss contact her at www.CarolaFuertes.com or www.naturalweightcoach.com

“My husband and I both work from home and our five year old is out of school for the summer. He is reckless, climbing up on counters, finding things that we’ve hidden, dangerous things like medications. For his own safety, I need him to stop getting into everything but he won’t listen to me. 

I explain to him why I have boundaries and he doesn’t listen to me or my rules. I like that he cares about what he wants and goes after it, but for safety reasons, we need him to obey. I can’t seem to make him do what I say. I feel powerless, frustrated and defeated. Sometimes it feels like he’s doing it to spite me which makes me mad. I might yell, throw a fit, put him in time out, but then I’m parenting in a way I don’t like.”

How can I stop my son’s reckless behavior without yelling?

 

 

 

How do I help my “differently wired” kid make friends

Today’s Topic: How Do I Help My “Differently Wired” Kid?

Here to help me answer this question is Debbie Reber, author of Differently Wired: Raising an Exceptional Child in a Conventional World

Differently Wired author Debbie Reber

 

Debbie Reber is a parenting activist, New York Times bestselling author, keynote speaker, and the founder of TiLT Parenting, a website, top podcast, and social media community for parents who are raising differently wired children. Her newest book, Differently Wired: Raising an Exceptional Child in a Conventional World, came out in June 2018. After living abroad in the Netherlands for the past five years, Debbie, her husband, and 15-year-old son recently moved back to New York City.

 

Words to Ponder on from Debbie Reber, Author of Differently Wired

  • Remember that there is no one right way to be a teenager or have a social life. Check your expectations and don’t compare to yourself at that age or other kids.
  • Play the odds. Try different interest-based camps and classes. They may not go well, but you never know what will click.
  • Focus on the long game.
  • There’s nothing wrong with socializing online.
  • One friend is all they might need.

I took the opportunity to ask Debbie about a few other common scenarios my Supermoms struggle with.

What advice do you have for a mom who is just starting on this journey? Her 5-year-old is getting into trouble in kindergarten and the (private) school is talking about asking him to leave? 

 

Do you have advice for moms whose child got through elementary school but now that in middle school, they are having difficulty. They’ve been diagnosed and have trouble managing the complex workload and now mom feels like she has to sit with them for hours after school to help them focus on homework?

 

 

Supermom Kryptonite:

Thinking that your son’s friendships should look like your own. Not only might there be a brain-centered difference, but there may also be a gender difference.

Boys, as they grow into men, tend to be more project-oriented. They might have one or two friends they get together with for certain activities: online games, working on a project, and that’s enough.

Girls and women can sit around and talk for hours without needing to have something to show for it. Be sure to check your expectations and realize there are many ways to feel socially satisfied and your son’s might be very different than your own.

 

Supermom Power Boost:

Go for a walk, learning and listening to (my suggestion) Debbie’s self care podcast!

Quote of the Day:

“I can predict that life with my differently wired kid will be unpredictable.” Supermom of an adult daughter with autism. 

Teenage sugar addict

Teenage Sugar Addict

In Episode 49, I answered a question from Tina about her pre-teen daughter possibly dealing with sugar addiction. This topic isn’t talked about much in parenting circles. Hence, I thought it would be good to dedicate another episode to it. This comes after the last two weeks of chocolates, candy canes, gingerbread houses and cookie decorating. So, let’s start the new year off with a teenage sugar addict.

Mia is a 17 year old who realized sugar was affecting her negatively and completely gave it up in middle school, ON HER OWN!

I wanted to know if there was anything her mom said or did that helped her come to this conclusion. Tune in, or better yet, have your sugar-crazed kiddo tune in, to learn HOW and WHY Mia completely stopped eating sugar.

You’ll learn….

-How she realized sugar was causing her problems.

-What it was like to completely go off and what it taught her.

-How she copes with peer and family pressure to eat sugar.

-What her parents did that was helpful, and what didn’t help at all.

Happy New Year!

Is my child a sugar addict?

This episode’s topic: Sugar Addiction in Kids

sugar addiction in kids Is My Child Addicted to Sugar?

I’m struggling with my daughter (age 14) being so ungrateful and unwilling to help out.
I’m thinking I need to stop making nice meals for her since she’s not willing to make so much as a piece of toast for herself. She’d rather sit on her phone and, if I let her, she’ll go without eating or grab whatever sweet snack she can find.

It was important for me to teach my kids how to prepare healthy meals for themselves and my son will do it on occasion. We give him lunch money because when he buys lunch it’s healthy. My daughter, however, will just buy rice crispy treats and pirates booty or won’t eat at all.

I’m worried about her addiction to sugar and have thought about her seeing a nutritionist but, with the attitude, I’m thinking family counseling could be useful. Could sugar addiction be the cause of so much negative behavior? Tina

Episode 49: Sugar Addiction in Kids

Parent Educator Answer:

Let’s talk about sugar addiction. Many people might minimize it or laugh it off, but it can be a real problem for many people. This isn’t just “OMG I’m addicted to peppermint mochas,” It is a physiological addiction that affects the brain.

I am not a nutritionist nor an addiction expert but my son had an experience with sugar addiction so I’m happy to talk about it in simple terms, from a mother’s perspective.

The way I understand it, sugar releases dopamine in the brain. Dopamine is a feel-good chemical that floods the brain and creates cravings. When the dopamine high from sugar wears off, withdrawal symptoms set in.

Understanding the Brain

The brain requires even more sugar to bring the same good feeling, creating a craving for sweet foods. Without the dopamine inducing substance, sugar addicts feel tired, restless, anxious or depressed, making the craving even stronger to alleviate the unpleasant feeling.

Signs of sugar addiction can be: headaches, lethargy, fatigue, craving sweet and/or salty foods, insomnia, hiding sweets, making excuses or deals regarding sugar, avoiding foods without sugar, turning to sugar when feeling negative emotion, going out of your way to get sugar and feeling guilty about sugar intake.

Could Tina’s daughter’s negative attitude be a result of sugar addiction?

Absolutely.

But being ungrateful and unwilling to help, could also be a normal teenage state of mind. If you are seeing that she is constantly negative, fatigued, lethargic, fighting with her brother, avoiding emotions, and seeking out sugar to the exclusion of other foods, the root of the problem might be sugar addiction.

In a way, we were lucky. When my son was 12, he had a QEEG done of his brain and they told us he had the marker for addiction, meaning his brain was wired similarly to the brains of people who struggle with addiction.

We thought this was good information to know before he goes off to college and gets exposed to alcohol, drugs, and tobacco. Later, when he developed a terrible sugar addiction, we had already prepared ourselves and could spot the signs of addiction.

Predisposition

I learned that some people have a predisposition for addiction but you don’t really know what will trigger it. Whether it’s sugar, alcohol, video game addiction, gambling, or porn, it’s all coming from the same place: dopamine.

Different brains react differently. It is not a character flaw nor a sign of bad parenting. Getting frustrated with your child for not being able to manage her sugar intake is like getting mad at your child for having dyslexia.

I found a quote about addiction by Luke Davies. He defines it like this: “When you can stop, you don’t want to and when you want to stop, you can’t.”

In the case of my son, my husband and I sat him down and told him, “We recognize this is a real problem.  We love you, we are on your side and we will help you.”  I remember his Dad saying, “It’s the three of us, against the addiction.”

Once he was able to experience life without sugar and noticed how much better he felt, he felt motivated to manage it and his eating habits more.

Life Coaching Answer:

It can be agonizing to watch our teens struggle with a problem. We want them to change their behavior so that we can feel better and stop worrying so much! We think, “If you could just DO better, then I could FEEL better.”

Step 1

The first step to helping you get out of your own way is to acknowledge your maternal instincts or intuition.

Thank your higher self for alerting you to the fact that something isn’t right.

What happens is our maternal instincts start sounding an alarm bell. We try to shut it off by changing our child’s behavior. This doesn’t work, so we try to make peace with an alarm bell constantly ringing in our heads.

Instead of that, thank it for doing its job. Acknowledge that your instincts are picking up on something that needs addressing.

Step 2

Accept reality. Instead of saying, “She shouldn’t be acting this way”, accept that this is exactly what’s supposed to be happening.

Allow your teen to have problems. The reason you haven’t been able to solve this problem is that it isn’t yours to solve.

Your daughter needs to be involved and motivated. She needs to experience the problem as hers, with you and Dad there for support, love, and guidance. Find the facts of the situation and deal with them head-on.

Step 3

Drop the Rope. Right now you and she are on opposite ends of the rope, playing a game of tug of war.

She wants sweets. You want her to eat healthily.

The more you pull in your direction, the more she will pull in the opposite. It’s hard, I know, but it is so helpful to drop the rope and walk around to her side of this tug of war game.

Let her know you are here to support her. Her guilt, although invisible, is a big part of the problem.

Once she knows you are on her side, and that it’s not her fault she has this predisposition, she can start releasing the guilt that is keeping her stuck.

Think about how you would handle it if you found out she had dyslexia. You wouldn’t be mad or expect her to fix it on her own.

You would help her find resources, outside experts, encourage her to be patient with herself.

Once you thank your intuition, accept this as HER problem that might be with her for the rest of her life, and get on her team, then you can move to step 4.

Step 4

Hold a higher vision. It is really easy to see problems our teenagers are dealing with and catastrophize and futurize.

It feels to us like an immediate problem we need to fix or else bad things will happen.  This intensity, however, will only make your daughter pull harder in the opposite direction.

Parents can help their struggling teen by imagining that their struggle has a purpose. I found it very helpful to believe that my son would use his challenge to help others.

Imagine she will overcome this someday. Communicate this belief with her.

Tell her that overcoming this will deepen her compassion for others and give her a broader understanding of the world.

Let your daughter know that you believe in her ability to do hard things, ask for help, and prioritize her health and happiness.

We aren’t meant to go through life without problems, but we are meant to grow because of them.

Let her know those good things wait for her on the other side, and you are there to support her every step of the way.

Supermom Kryptonite – “Putting on the cape”

Many of my clients are excellent at “putting on the cape.”

They see their child suffering in some way and they “put on their Supermom cape” and fly to the rescue.

We love feeling capable and saving our children from problems; we were made for this! But sometimes we don’t have the resources necessary to help our kids solve all their problems.

Expecting to be able to solve any problem your child ever has will drain your energy. You will know if this is your situation because everything you tried hasn’t worked.

It could be that it’s your child’s problem to solve.  All you need to do is drop the rope and join her support team.

It could also be that your child isn’t capable of fixing the problem on her own. It’s time to add outside experts to the panel. Just make sure it’s all of you, against the issue.

If we are dealing with addiction, we are dealing with a brain that has been hijacked. Getting professional help can be life-changing.

“Putting on the cape” and trying to do everything FOR our teens will drive us both crazy and exhaust us. Instead, hang up the cape, step into your daughter’s shoes and try to see things from her perspective.

Supermom Power Boost – Do something impossible

When my son’s Naturopath described the cleanse she wanted him to go on (no sugar, no gluten, no dairy), my first thought was “There is no way I could do that”.

Of course, there is nothing like the health of your child to motivate you. My husband and I didn’t feel right asking our 12-year-old to do something we wouldn’t do ourselves so we put ourselves on a cleanse. No sugar, gluten, dairy, no coffee, no alcohol, NO FUN!

But it was FASCINATING.

I learned so much about my eating habits. Something about the hormonal change made me feel weepy and wacky. I didn’t miss sugar at all, which surprised me, but I missed corn of all things.

My husband LOVED how he felt: clear-headed and energized.

My favorite thing that came from this experiment was doing something I never thought I could do. When you have the belief “I could never do that,” and then you do it, it makes you wonder “What else am I saying I could never do, that I’m fully capable of doing?”

If you want a boost of energy, try a cleanse. Or bungee jump, take a vacation by yourself, start a blog, something where you currently think, “I could never do that”. Do whatever crazy thing strikes your fancy just to prove to yourself how capable you truly are!

Quote of the Day:

“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” The Serenity Prayer from Alcoholics Anonymous

What if you don’t like your kid?

Our topic for this episode: do you have an annoying pre-teen?

Episode 44: Annoying Pre-Teen: What if you don’t like your kid?

“My daughter is a pre-teen, and already immersed in puberty and the mood swings and irritability that goes with it. Getting her to do anything is a battle: homework, chores, coming to the table to eat, putting her device away, going to bed, you name it. It takes every ounce of patience I have to get through the week with her. By the time the weekend rolls around, I. AM. DONE.

This weekend, as my husband is heading out the door, he says to me: “Don’t let her sit on her phone and watch Youtube all day. Find something fun the two of you can do together.”

It sounds like a great idea. I used to love being around her and would like nothing more than to have something fun we both enjoy doing. The problem is, she doesn’t like doing anything I like and when I try, it becomes another battle. She complains, argues, insults, and criticizes everything I do. I would not want to spend time with anyone who treats me this way. Yes, I love my daughter, but she treats me like the enemy.

I feel so guilty, but I really don’t like my being around my pre-teen right now.”

 

Parent Educator Answer:

From a parent educator’s perspective, nothing has gone wrong here. The situation you are describing is exactly what is supposed to happen.

Pre-teens are supposed to start separating from their parents, especially their moms. Mother-daughter identities get enmeshed with each other. We feel proud when our child excels, we feel happy when they are happy and sad when they are sad.

Does your child ever get embarrassed by your behavior?

“OMG Mom, you are not going to wear that.”
“Don’t you dare dance or sing in the car, EVER.”

Have you ever been embarrassed by your child’s behavior?

“Don’t talk to your friend like that! She was trying to be nice.”

“Your grandma is coming over so please be on your best behavior and for God’s sake, clean up your mess before she arrives!”

These are signs of enmeshment, where our ego identifies with our child’s behavior and vice versa.

Understanding Your Teen

Teens and tweens will criticize, insult, argue and reject our ideas as a way to individuate. It’s a sign that your daughter is ready to see herself as different, unique and competent. Through bickering, girls can affirm that they are separate individuals from their mom with their own tastes, personalities and preferences.

It is developmentally normal for pre-teens to reject family activities or parental ideas of fun, (unless a friend can come along with them). When they reject our suggestions of fun things to do, it’s as though they are saying “I’m not a baby anymore”.

Child development experts suggest holding tight to participation in family activities such as holiday dinners with grandparents, going to church, chores and other family rituals. Let them complain and argue all they want but hold tight to these things.

They may start to seem like an annoying pre-teen. You cannot make your child be nice or enjoy spending time with you.

Instead, encourage them to develop a “group identity” separate from you. Many tweens will do this naturally by adopting a best friend or tight group where they dress alike, talk alike and do everything together.

These days, group identity can take place online. Following certain YouTubers or face-timing with friends helps the tween feel safe while learning to stand on her own. Tweens benefit from a transitional bridge between being one with their family and feeling confident enough to be independent.

When we see our kids rejecting our ideas of fun to sit on their phones all day, we see it as a terrible waste of time. But when kids play online games, Facetime, YouTube, Netflix, vsco, and tic toc, it’s really more about understanding the culture of their peers, identifying as someone who is socially “in the know”, and exploring interests separate from mom.

annoying pre-teen

Life Coaching Answer: What gets in our way from viewing this as normal tween behavior instead of an annoying pre-teen?

The circumstance you described is completely neutral. But it doesn’t feel neutral because of what you are making it mean.

You feel guilty so you must be making it mean something like, “Something is wrong with me”, “I’m a bad mom”. “If I were nice, I would like her.” “I should want to be around her.” or “She shouldn’t want to be on her phone all day.”

Notice how you feel when you think these when you start looking at them as an annoying pre-teen? Guilty. Awful. Heavy.

How do you parent when you feel terrible? You suck it up. Try harder. Get annoyed with yourself and her.

When we feel guilty and annoyed, we tend to parent inconsistently and have trouble sticking to rules around phone time and family obligations.

What is the result of parenting this way? You feel like a terrible parent. This reinforces your belief that you are doing it wrong and you are a terrible person.

Changing Your Perspective

In order to see your daughter’s behavior as normal and a sign of healthy social development instead of an annoying pre-teen, you’d have to give up the belief that you are bad and wrong.

Sometimes we hold onto beliefs like “I’m bad” or “I’m not a nice person” as a way to motivate ourselves to be better.

It’s like this: “At my core, I’m bad and mean. I need to remind myself of this in order to motivate myself to be nice.”

This might work for a little while but the long term effect of this is exhaustion and irritability.

You don’t like being around someone who complains, criticizes, argues and insults you, SO WHAT?

Let’s imagine for a minute that you didn’t think this was a problem. If you believed that you were a good person, and felt neutral about your daughter’s behavior, what do you think you might do?

You certainly wouldn’t let your husband’s parting comment bother you. You’d probably leave her alone, which it sounds like is what she’s wanting. You might drop her at a friend’s house and enjoy your own company, guilt-free.

If you believed, at your core, that you were a kind and loving mother. You would look for ways to prove yourself right. This might involve paying attention to your own needs. Spending time with people who uplift you instead of insult you. It might mean cooking her food or buying her a gift or whatever felt kind and loving to you.

Believing we are kind and loving, makes us act kind and loving. No guilt. No drama. Just unconditional love. Where your pre-teen can say or do anything and it doesn’t take you away from feeling loving.

 

Supermom Kryptonite: Motivating yourself out of negative emotion

Many of us use negative emotion to motivate ourselves to do something. We think telling ourselves “I’m a bad person” will make us act nice.

We used this in school: We’d tell ourselves we’re going to flunk a class to motivate us to study for a test.

For instance, if we want to lose weight so we tell ourselves how fat and lazy we are in order to motivate us to exercise. We think this will make us go to the gym and eat healthily, and it might once or twice, but over time it just makes us feel bad about ourselves.

Even if we do lose weight, we don’t feel any better because we are still thinking mean things about ourselves. What’s the point of losing weight if you feel terrible either way?

Motivating yourself with negative emotions will give you a negative result. Telling yourself, “I’m going to flunk if I don’t study” might get you a good grade but it will increase your stress and make you dislike school.

Believing, “I’m a bad person if I don’t like spending time with my ornery pre-teen” might motivate you to make an effort and do things together, but leave you feeling guilty and resentful.

When we motivate ourselves out of positive emotion, it’s easy to keep going. We don’t get burned out or resentful because feeling good is its own reward.

 

Supermom Powerboost: Liking your own child.

Of course, we all want to like our own children. But sometimes the best way for us to do this is to not be around them so much.

When my son was 13, I used to think maybe there was a reason families would send their 13-year-olds off to apprentice for an uncle.

I would love to send my daughter to be a live-in nanny for another family so she can be more appreciative of what she has and learn some skills.

My husband pointed out that I always talked about having another baby when we were away from our children for the weekend. Apparently, I never mentioned at the end of an exhausting day!

What thoughts can you think about living with an ornery teen, that help you feel like a kind and loving mom? I would start with “I love her, but I don’t enjoy this phase and that’s ok.” or “I’m not supposed to like this behavior.”

How much time can you spend with your child and still think kind thoughts? It may be easier to like her when you aren’t spending so much time together. Certainly it’s easier to like her when you aren’t telling yourself that she shouldn’t be doing what she’s doing, and you shouldn’t be feeling what your feeling.

You don’t want to convince yourself something is true if you don’t believe it. If you say, “I love this phase of her life” and that feels like a lie, it will not work. We want to think something that feels true and gives us a softening feeling in the body. “I don’t like her and that’s ok” “I’m prioritizing my emotional well being over her screen time, and that’s ok.” “I’m a good, but imperfect mother.”

 

Quote of the Day:

“‘It is what it is’ This means we parent our children as our children are, not as we might wish them to be.” Dr. Shafali Tsaberry

Stealing, sneaking and lying about it

Question of the Day: Stealing, sneaking and lying about it

sneaking“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.

Then you see that 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: Handling the Sneaking Kid

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 Love Tank

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. Sneaking doesn’t mean she isn’t a bad kid, but she is showing you that she needs inside help. 

Understanding the Love Language

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 Urge Jar

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 sneaking 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 – such as sneaking – 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.

There are rules we like which we follow, and ignore ones we don’t. 

At times we 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