Accountability

This year more than ever, accountability is difficult for teens.

People do better at producing results when they are held accountable by someone else – a boss, a teacher, a trainer, a parent, a spouse.

So for teens who are no longer physically handing in assignments or being dropped off at the school door, getting the work done may seem impossible. No one is making them do it, so do they even have to?

While this is a great challenge, it is also a great opportunity for our kids to learn that the most important person they can be held accountable to is themselves. Keeping up with school work may not always seem fun, but it is it worth doing? Not for your teacher, your parent, or your principal, but for yourself.

My clients and I have been talking about what it is they really want. Temporarily most of us want to watch TV, but long(er) term goals always have our best interest in mind. My clients do want to pass high school, get higher education and/or begin a career. With that in mind, the most important person for them to be accountable to is their future selves.

Saying No

For a long time “no” is almost a bad word for our kids to say. We see it as disrespectful or defiant. But when they reach a certain age, we hope and pray they’re able to say no in the right situations.

It’s important for kids to think about when they want to say “no”.

What we value dictates what we let in and out of our lives. I always spend time with my clients discussing their values. It’s something people talk about a lot, but something most of us leave undefined.

What does your teen value? Which values do they want to embody in any/all situation? Which values are important situationally? Which values does your teen look for in a friend/partner?

There is no right answer for these questions, but asking them helps your child (and you) decide what is really important.

It also helps prepare their mind for what it wants to allow and what it doesn’t. Your teen knowing who they are and what they value will make saying “no” easier.

Filtering Thoughts

We’ve all seen it. Two people can be at the same event, see the same scenario play out, or hear the same words, but somehow they walk away with totally different perspectives on it all.

I like to think of this phenomenon as mental filters we use to view everything. Our filters, which determine how we think and ultimately how we feel, are made by our core beliefs.

Our beliefs often go without being said. They work in the background to form what we think.

With my teen clients, we focus on the beliefs they have about themselves.

If your daughter believes she is awkward or weird, that is the filter her thoughts go through when someone forgets to text her back.

If your son believes he isn’t smart enough, that is the filter his thoughts go through when another student is celebrated for excellent work.

Help your teen form their beliefs intentionally. They will create the filters through which your teen views his/her future.

Being a Teen

Being a teen can be really hard. 

I definitely can’t say I remember exactly how it felt to be a teen, and of course, it’s different for teens today.

I do know that some of the time I felt overwhelmed, excited, lonely, social, sad, happy, and a lot more. I still am all of those things sometimes, because I’m human.

Teens have a lot going on.

They spend a lot of time worrying about what other people think of them.  They feel stressed and anxious about the future.  They overreact and say the wrong thing.  

Sound familiar?  

It should.  If you see your child doing these things, it means they’re a teenager. 

Not only that, it means they’re human.  Read that list of things they do again.  If you’re like the rest of us, you’ve done at least one of those things today.  

Life as a human is challenging at times.  Take a moment to remember that that’s true for all of us. 

You’re doing it amazingly well, and so is your child.

If you’re lucky, you have support through the challenges.  That’s why I’m here for your teen.

Self-Confidence

Have you worried about your teen’s confidence level and how it will impact their future?

The key is to not just increase your child’s confidence, but their self-confidence.  

What’s the difference?

Confidence is believing you can achieve a specific task or skill.  Self-confidence is being secure in yourself and your ability to handle any emotion, even when you can’t do something well. 

Your daughter may fearlessly try out for the gymnastics team because she knows she has mastered the skills needed.  That is confidence.

Your same confident daughter may struggle to meet new friends.  She might not want to ask for help when she is struggling in math.  She might do things she doesn’t want to, because she’s embarrassed to say no.

It is easy to be confident when you know you can succeed.  The challenging work is knowing and trusting yourself in the moments that are outside of your comfort zone.  That is why we want our kids to have strong self-confidence.  

Self-confidence will help your teen stand up to peer pressure, try new things, meet new people, ask for help, and overcome obstacles.   

I’d love to help your teen build self-confidence this summer.  

Thoughts on Display

During this time in quarantine, your teen is dealing with a lot of disappointment.

They probably can’t go out to see their friends.

School, proms, graduations, and sports have been cancelled.

The thoughts running through our minds are one thing that can’t be turned off.

In fact, with less distraction, it feels as if the volume has been turned up. We always have chatter going on in our brain – little sentences that feel true, but often are not.

Now, your teen is probably spending a lot more time alone, and all those thoughts that were hidden by staying busy have come out on display.

This can be frightening.

Most teens don’t know how to simply be alone with their thoughts, especially negative ones. They believe they are the only one who has such negative thoughts, so they feel ashamed or broken. It creates a pattern of fear and wanting to hide from themselves often with unhealthy distractions.

Instead, this social isolation can be an opportunity for teens to get to know themselves better, build self-esteem, and learn how to process their thoughts and emotions. So when they’re back out in the world, they confidently know who they are and what they want.

Why Your Teen Seems Out of Control

Your teen can be irrational, and leave you wondering, “What were they thinking?”

You feel frustrated, because their choices show no rationale, and their attitudes come out of nowhere. The truth is, they don’t know how to explain their moods or implusive behavior either.

The brain is our command center for all behavior, so let’s take a closer look at what’s going on with your teen’s brain.

We all have a concious mind (upper brain) and a subconcious mind (lower brain).

Step one in a teenage brain’s development is the lower brain, which houses all of the big emotional reactions.

This is why so many parents see a drastic change in their child’s temperment in the preteen/early teen years. The brain goes through many major changes in the adolescent years, but the first is in that lower part of the brain.

The part of the brain that builds logic, reasoning and communication skills develops later. With this in mind, it makes total sense that your teen doesn’t know how to self-regulate, especially when they don’t know about the changes happening in their brain. They simply feel the big emotions and don’t understand why.

So, this does not mean that they “get away” with all of their behavior, but it can help you have some compassion for the unpredictability you see.

Even with the lower brain growing rapidly, the upper brain is remarkable and can learn to manage the thoughts and emotions of the lower brain with some intentional practice. I wish I had learned that skill as a teen!

This is what coaching is all about, and why I do what I do. There is no need for your teen to feel there is something wrong with them when they have big emotions. They can learn to use their upper brain, so the lower brain doesn’t take over.

The Watcher

Becoming “the watcher” of your mind is necessary in gaining self-awareness. It means you are able to separate yourself from your thoughts and simply observe without being a part of the story you’re telling yourself.

It is especially helpful for busy moms feeling overwhelmed. When you’re feeling stressed and your mind is running crazy fast, it’s easy to feel out of control. Stepping outside of that chaos as “the watcher” can bring it all back in perspective in a matter of seconds.

This is a skill, and therefore takes practice. It can be awkward and strange at first, and that is part of the process.

Here are three components I found helpful when watching my own thoughts.

Compassion

It is important that you see your thoughts through a non-judgemental lense. Remember you are not your thoughts – you are simply watching them. There is nothing wrong with having “negative” thoughts. It only means that you’re human.

Don’t tell yourself what you should or shouldn’t be thinking. We all have the good and the bad, that’s part of life. So when you are observing your thoughts, just be curious about it all.

Journaling

Writing everything down on paper is a good way to slow it down and see everything, especially when you’re overwhelmed. If journaling feels awkward to you (like it did for me at first), I recommend setting a timer for 3-10 minutes, gradually adding more minutes over time, and requiring yourself to write that entire time. No matter what it is, get everything that comes in your head on the paper.

Afterwards, you my want to look through the thoughts to pick out what are indisputable facts versus the ideas you have about the facts. That is where you can see what you are creating. It doesn’t mean you need to change anything about the way you think, but it can help you gain perspective on your circumstances.

Question Everything

When we are in our own head, it is so easy to believe the stories we tell ourselves. It feels like we can’t help the way we feel, believe or think. As you practice listening to your thoughts, don’t assume any of it to be true.

Ask yourself why you believe what you do; how someone else might see it differently and why; what if you’re wrong; why are you choosing to think what you’re thinking.

Again, it doesn’t mean you have to change anything about what you think, but using this skill of “the watcher” means you are objectively seeing what your mind does. Our human brains run through about 60,000 thoughts a day whether or not we monitor them. Think of all the power we are giving up if we don’t use those thoughts intentionally.

Losing Control

It is so easy to see how life is out of our control.

Our brains quickly see all the things that we can’t change. It is way easier than seeing the things we can change, because that requires work.

When we blame other people or the circumstances of our lives, there is nothing we can do. As upsetting as that can be, it also takes all of the responsibility off of us. This is a relief to our brain, because it is always looking to conserve energy. It’s our default setting.

So when you feel like you’re losing control over your children or some other area in your life, look for what you can control.

When it comes to other people (even our children), you’re right – we can’t control them. Teens lie, don’t get the grades we want, make the wrong friends, make dangerous choices, don’t clean up after themselves, and the list goes on.

Our thoughts, emotions, and actions are what we can control.

I didn’t always believe that. I thought there was no way to change the resentment I felt towards my mom, because it was HER actions that caused them. I thought I can’t help but feel frustrated and yell when my students don’t listen to me.

The reality is nothing can cause me to feel something other than the thoughts I have about it.

Which gives me back my control, and you can reclaim control too.

Then we can make decisions about moving forward from a much more intentional place, creating the relationships and results we want.

I now coach teens and parents. Use the link below to meet with me and see what coaching can do for your family!

What does your child believe?

Beliefs are an interesting thing. Most of us think it’s just the way we see the world, as if it’s out of our control.

A belief is simply a thought we’ve been thinking repeatedly for a long time.

With intention, we can choose our thoughts.

This makes all the difference.

Because our beliefs are our most practiced thougths, they happen automatically. We usually don’t even notice it.

This can be a great thing if it’s a belief that serves us.

However, many times our beliefs are holding us back.

I was working with a teenage client who believed he was a lazy person.

He had evidence to support why he believed that (what others said, what he did), but he also had evidence to support that he was not lazy.

This is where he got to choose.

Believing he was lazy, he felt unmotivated, disempowered, and inadequate. Of course, from that place, he didn’t produce the actions he wanted to or feel confident in his abilities.

We discussed how differently his feelings and actions would be if he chose to think he was hard-working, rather than lazy.

Notice what you believe about yourself and what your children believe themselves. Challenge those beliefs, especially when they don’t serve you.

You can believe anything about yourself. Why not make it amazing? How would you act differently if you believed amazing things about yourself?

Let me help your teen build empowering beliefs about themself. The first step is a free 30-minute parent consultation to discuss your child’s needs.