Technology Control

Have you been frightened by what you’ve found on your child’s device?

You’re not alone.

Most parents struggle to find the appropriate boundaries around their child’s phone or tablet.

Ultimately, only you know what is best for your family, but I will share my suggestions based on research and stories I’ve heard over the years.

First, use real potential consequences to discuss the dangers of social media. When you hear a story on the news, share it with your teen in an open discussion. Show them the lasting effects of misusing social media. This has a greater impact than simply lecturing or advice giving.

Second, present any device as a privilege. As Lisa Damour suggests in her book Untangled, it is wise to tell your child up front that you will occasionally look at your child’s device without warning. This could mean physically having the phone to look through or using an app that allows you to access the contents of their device from yours.

Explain to them that it is not out of a lack of trust, but as a form of protection. They can use this as an excuse to anyone sending them inappropriate messages or requestions. Often kids themselves are scared of the situations they get themselves into and wish they had an out as easy as, “My crazy mom checks my phone all the time so I can’t send you a picture.” As time goes on, you can check the phone less frequently depending on your trust and comfort level.

This strategy also eliminates the idea of “spying.” Many parents get worried, decide to look at their child’s phone without them knowing, and then feel that they’ve violated their child’s privacy. Of course you will look through the phone if you are concerned about safety, so set the standard right away. It is always a possibility you could see what’s on there.

If your teen has gotten into drama through their device or social media, I can help them sort through it and start fresh. Sign up for a 30 minute parent consultation to discuss your child’s needs.

Motivation

Knowing why we do what we do is what keeps us going when it’s not easy.

When motivating your teen (or yourself), it’s helpful to know the two different types of motivation.

Intrinsic motivation comes internally from a desire for satisfaction and accomplishment.

Extrinsic motivation is the result of any pending outside reward or consequence.

Both intrinsic and extrinsic serve there purpose and have a place.

Extrinsic motivation can be very useful for trivial tasks that are of little interest. Intrinsic motivation builds self-worth and the perserverance to overcome obstacles.

Together, the two forms are most powerful, although it’s harder to instill intrinsic motivation. Encourage your child’s internall drive with purposeful conversation and modeling the behavior yourself.

Ask your teen about why they might want a particular grade or accomplishment. Continue to ask why until you get to the heart of their reason. Help them identify what they’ve learned after a challenge or success. Discuss how they’d like to grow in the future, what they are curious about and what they enjoy.

Demonstrate your desire to complete challenges out of curiosity and an eagerness to learn. Show them when you’ve been challenged, that you still enjoyed the process and what you’ve gained from it.

Setting goals and building motivation is a huge facet of my coaching program. If you’d like to help your teen look to the future, sign up to meet with me today!

What, Why, and Who

After setting my goals for 2020, I gave them a little more thought this week.

I’ve always found that the questions we ask ourselves are so important, so I wanted to share some questions I asked myself.

For each of my 2020 goals, I asked What? Why? and Who? These are questions I learned from my life coach teacher to help focus our goals.

WHAT? Ask yourself what it is you want to achieve and how will you know you’ve acheived it. For example, one of my goals is to read more. That alone is hard to measure and therefore easy for my brain to talk myself out of (when watching TV seems more comfortable). So, I made my goal measurable by changing it to I want to read two books a month.

WHY? Ask yourself why you are reaching for that goal. The reason behind what we do is always what motivates us. Keep asking yourself why until you find a compelling enough reason to combat all the mental arguments you’ll make in the future.

WHO? Ask yourself who you have to become to accomplish the goal. You haven’t done it yet, so there is a trait you may need to master to do that or a habit you need to implement. Maybe you need to be consistent, vulnerable, open-minded, or disciplined.

I love working with teens on setting their goals and am happy to meet with you if you think coaching could be a good fit for them.

Happy New Year

Now that the gift-giving holidays have past, we are looking towards the new year.

What do you want in 2020?

How do you want to change in 2020?

In order to answer those questions, look back at what went well in 2019.

What do you want to change?

What do you want to continue?

Especially with your children, take the time to think about what worked for your relationship and what didn’t.

Ask yourself what emotions you want to drive your interactions with your teen in 2020.

Often as parents, we feel worry, frustration or fear. Of course this is normal, but not the emotions I want driving my actions.

This year, I want to be aware and intentional. When worry, frustration and fear come up for me, I want to allow them. I do not want to allow them to dictate my interactions with others.

Set up a free parent consultation to learn how to be more aware and intentional.

Semester Grades

What are you making your child’s grades mean?

What does your child make their grades mean about themself?

These are decisions. The answers are not dictated by the grade on the paper. You and your teen get to choose what B+ means and what a C- means. The letters themselves are neutral.

How do you want to approach the discussion about grades?

Be curious about how your teen views their grades. Help them see the consequences, both positive and negative, of their grades. No matter the consequences, explain their worth is not defined by their grades.

If you and your teen are seeking to improve grades, ask your teen and yourself why? Reasons for what we want will drive our emotion, and therefore the action we take (or don’t take).

Set specific goals and plans in place for the next semester.

Set up a free parent consultation to see how coaching can help release stress and anxiety around grades, so your teen can focus on an action plan towards their goals.

Natural Consequences

Sometimes, as parents we are too involved. Other times we are not involved enough.

When you are unsure what consequence or reward should be given, try asking yourself, “What do I want them to learn from this?”

As kids get older, many times the consequence will happen without any parent intervention. So, maybe the fallout they are getting from school, friends, or a coach is providing the lesson already.

When you do need to step in, try relating the consequence directly to their behavior. Instead of simply drawing a hard line, explain that you have reasons for your decisions. They probably won’t agree, and that’s okay. I am not suggesting you get in a battle of convincing them you’re right.

Show them the connection between their choices and their freedoms by saying things like, “I would love for you to be able to go out with your friends, but as your parent I wouldn’t be doing my job if I let you go knowing that you’re not making responsible choices.”

Again, they won’t magically like the consequence. But when presented this way, it gives them a new perspective to think about their actions.

Similarly, reward them with explanation. Let them know when they are able to stay out later, it is because their responsible choices have earned more trust.

Adolescence is the transition to adulthood. The good and bad consequences issued ideally prepare them for what they can expect in their future job, relationships, and overall independence.

Reflection

In my expereicne teaching, parenting, and in personal relationships, reflection has been my most powerful tool.

Often when we have difficult moments, we want to forget them. After an arguement, we want to simply move on and be happy that it’s over.

When we do that, we practically guarantee that the drama will repeat itself.

After a stressful exchange with your child (or anyone), take the time to reflect on what led up to the disagreement. Be aware of your thoughts in the moment that led you to react the way you did.

With self-reflection, I am always able to see how I can take responsibility for my part. Then, I can prepare myself for how I want to think, feel, and act in a similar situation, no matter what someone else says or does.

Coaching can instill the practice of intentional reflection in teens. We look at how we can best empower them to make choices they will be proud of.

Appreciate the Good

When times feel strained and you feel stretched thin, it can be hard to see the good. Sometimes if we want our life to feel better, we have to really try.

Take the time to look for the good. What things are you thankful for?

As a parent, it’s especially important to take time to look for the things you are thankful for in your teen. Not just that you are thankful for them, but what about them do you appreciate.

I have a toddler, and saying “thank you” is a practice I am trying to do more intentially. When he is kind, thoughtful or helpful, I take the time to get down at his level, make eye-contact, smile and say “thank you.”

He smiles proudly and usually says “thank you, mommy” right back.

My gratitude feels like a reward to him.

Many things change from toddler age to teenage, but the desire to be appreciated does not.

If you feel disconnected from or frustrated with your teen, look for the moments that don’t feel hard (even if you have to look really hard), and express your appreciation genuinely. Suddenly, there is more to be thankful for than you realized.

Teaching Kids to Fail

In an era of increasing anxiety, helping our kids fail is more important than ever before.

Psychologists agree that anxiety is a helpful tool to alert us to danger. If our child is offered a ride by a stranger, we want them to have anxiety that leads them to make a safe decision.

Anxiety is caused by a fear of failure. This is where we want to step in to help our children work through the anxiety and learn to fail. Experiencing failure is essential to keeping anxiety and fear at manageable levels.

Say your child is feeling anxious about a test for which they forgot to study. If you decide to call them out of school so they can have they day to study, you are teaching them that they cannot handle the anxiety of taking a test for which they are unprepared.

Failures build capability. Your child will undoubtedly face other situations in which they are less than prepared. Of course they will feel nervous and scared in those situations. When they realize they can make it through, even if it means failing, and still be okay, they learn that the fear does not need to control them. Trying at the risk of failure is how we grow.

I can help your teen build confidence in the face of anxiety and failure.

Teenage Problem Solving

When your teenage son or daughter comes home upset, it can be our adult instinct to tell them how to solve the problem or assure them that it’s not much of a problem in the first place. Instead, I want to offer you three simple steps that will help you better understand your teen and strengthen your relationship.

  1. Listen. Use curiosity and empathy to recognize what is bothering him/her. Make statements like, “Yeah, I can see why you felt left out when she didn’t invite you over,” to show that you understand their feelings. Often, this may make them feel comfortable to keep talking and you can find out more about the situation than you would otherwise. Be grateful that they are coming to you to vent, and try not to use it as a teaching moment.
  2. Offer. When parents give unsolicited advice, teens often tune it out. The developmental need for independence makes them want to try different solutions than you suggest. After listening, make an open offer. Saying, “If there is anything I can do that would make this easier for you to deal with, let me know” shows you are willing to help without throwing out unwanted guidance.
  3. Trust. While you want to support your teen, you also want to show you trust in their ability to deal with challenges. If they do come to you for help, brainstorm ways they can manage the situation without your direct involvement. For example, plan a difficult conversation they need to have with a teacher, but resist the urge to call the teacher yourself. Allow your son or daughter the chance to fix the problem or maybe make it worse. Either way, it’s a valuable learning experience, and it’s better they learn the tough lessons while under your roof.