Making a Difference in Your Teen’s Life

Parenting teens is so different than parenting younger children. Parenting young children involves teaching them about the world, giving them boundaries, and keeping them safe. The older they get, the more parents learn about who their child is and what their child needs to grow into adulthood. Home can provides a place where teens can talk about their day and ask questions in a safe environment. In that way, parents try to provide the scaffolding and unconditional love that allows their teen to take healthy risks and learn from their experiences.

Recently, a parenting professional by the name of Laura Kaine sent out a YouTube video called “You are Special” by Nick Vujicic. A few years ago, I saw another presentation of his. He was speaking to high school students about never giving up. In this presentation, he gave the message that if he could do the things he does with no limbs, they should be able to accomplish anything they put their mind to. This message leaves us with the reality that our teens must choose to put their mind to it. When teen are struggling to make that choice, parents have to try to stay in relationship and support their teen as much as possible.

Of course, parents are not unaware of the power of peers. Who your teen chooses to spend time with provides another context for information. Sometimes it is the parent’s role to intervene when that information is either inaccurate or creating an unsafe environment for their teen. It is important to remember that even though it can feel like your efforts go unnoticed, parenting is involves conveying unconditional love, providing appropriate boundaries, and having lots of conversations. It doesn’t mean that you are going to get it right all the time because we are all human. But, as much as possible parents can try to have an open dialogue with their teen instead of lecturing them.

Check out this video about the impact of parents …. it is inspiring! AND continue to remember that you really do make a difference.

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What are the Consequences & What Happens If They Don’t Work?

As parents, we know our teens are going to make mistakes. Sometimes these are small mistakes, and other times they are pretty big mistakes….mistakes that fill our souls with fear for our teen. What comes of these mistakes can vary, but one thing is for sure…eventually there are consequences for their actions. Consequences can take many forms. They can happen naturally or they can be imposed on teens by parents, teachers, administrators, or other authorities. They can be immediate, or they can be the result of events that take place over several months or longer.

You have probably heard the term natural consequences. In their purest form, natural consequences don’t require any intervention. For example, a boy who is running through the hall at school falls and hurts himself, or a girl who is being mean to a friend is ignored during lunch time. That sounds simple enough, right? The problem lies in the fact that our teens do not always get natural consequences for their actions. In fact, sometimes they are rewarded instead! Maybe the boy who ran through the hall gets the best presentation time because he got to the sign-up sheet first, or the girl who was mean to a friend is flooded with affection by the other girls who want her attention. What if natural consequences don’t work?

When consequences don’t naturally happen, parents try to instill logical consequences. These are consequences that make sense, or match the behavior that is being discouraged. When a boy “borrows” the car without asking, he loses driving privileges for a period of time. When a girl posts something inappropriate on her Facebook wall, she loses access to her account for a period of time. Experts suggest giving logical consequences as often as possible. Again, that sounds simple enough, right? Not always! Sometimes the logical consequence does not come to us, or we simply react with whatever comes to mind first. Your daughter fails to turn in her homework and you give her extra chores, or your son misses his curfew and you take away his cell phone. The consequences don’t really match the behavior.

How can you get better at using logical consequences? One option is to allow the natural consequence to happen, even when it is difficult for you as the parent. For example, let the daughter that isn’t turning in homework get the grade she earns. As hard as it is, this can create an opportunity for discussion around how she feels and what she would do differently. She will have to own it completely. When we as parents take responsibility for their grades, they don’t have to own their choices. Another option is to ask your teen what he/she thinks the consequence should be. Often, their consequence will make sense and be harsher than the one you would have given. This allows you to talk less and listen more. Asking questions like, “What do you think we should do” or “How are we going to handle this? can get them engaged. Finally, make it clear when there isn’t a choice. Every family has their own beliefs and values that set the foundation for how the family works.

What can you do if the consequence doesn’t work?

  • Ask yourself if the consequence fit the misbehavior. The farther the consequences get from the behavior, the less likely they are to work.
  • Give yourself some time. Don’t feel pressured to give an immediate consequence; sometimes you have to think about it for a while. Tell your teen how you are feeling and set a time to talk about it in the near future.
  • Search for the natural consequence and ask yourself if you are willing to let it happen.  While these are not always immediately apparent, they can surface when you take time to think.
  • Consider timing. Making decisions in the heat of the moment can be difficult or lead to impulse reactions. Give yourself, and/or your teen the necessary time to calm down.
  • Remove the anger. Say how you feel or how you imagine this makes your teen feel.  You can empathize and be kind at the same time that you give a consequence.
  • Establish respect. Make sure your teen knows you are upset with the behavior, but still accepts him/her.
  • Encourage positive behavior. Try to catch your teen being “good” by acknowledging when they are helpful, caring, cooperative, and supportive.
  • Give yourself a break! This is hard work sometimes.

Are You the Best Parent You Can Be?

Parenting teenagers is like a delicate dance that requires a great deal of strength, fineness, passion, and humility. We often ask ourselves, “Am I being the best parent I can be?” Early in my career, a professor from a parenting course said, “Every parent is trying to be the best parent they can be.” I never forgot that! What did he mean? I found myself thinking things like, “Is every parent really the best parent he or she can be?” and “What about parents who abuse or neglect their children?” But, the professor went on to explain himself. He said, “A person’s parenting comes from two sources: how they were parented, and what they learned about parenting after they left their home.”  After they leave the home, parents learn from things like attending parenting classes, reading books, participating in parenting support groups, and having coffee with other parents who share the common goal of raising children. Each of these is largely led by our own desire to seek out new information and gain support from others who share in our experiences.

But, parenting is not that clear cut.  The relationship you have with your teen is also influenced by what your teen brings to the relationship. Teens introduce their own unique personalities and developing perspectives. Over time, they grow to become the person they are through the people with whom they spend their time, the neighborhood in which they live, the schooling available in their community, and the social and political climate of their times.  Ultimately, the parent-child relationship becomes its own entity, one that encapsulates all the knowledge, experience, and perspectives that both the parent and the teen bring to the relationship.

As teenagers develop their own independence and differentiate from their parents, they are faced with the fact that they still carry with them the voice of their parents. Herein lies the conflict.  Teens hear this voice, and may even agree with the voice. Still, they want to express their own unique self. For this reason, teens will sometimes do things that completely contradict their parents, or even themselves. Experts say that by the time they reach adulthood, most teens accept the voice of their parents as  part of their own. They are better able to recognize and appreciate parts of them that came from their parents, while also acknowledging and integrating their own knowledge. beliefs, and experiences.  This path can be long and mucky for everyone involved as each person tries to recognize and appreciate all three entities: the parent, the child, and the parent-child relationship.

Parenting is no easy task. It is a life long journey, and one that pushes our thinking and pulls at our heart strings.  Below are some ways to enhance the parent-child relationship:

  • Do some soul searching. Where do your parenting practices come from? What parenting styles are you most drawn to?
  • Read up on parenting practices, especially if you want to parent in ways that are different than your upbringing.
  • Find other parents that you can talk to, show support, and gain support from during this important time. This can give you new ideas, while also normalizing your experiences.
  • Share appropriate readings with your teen. This can put them at ease if they see you reading lots of parenting books.
  • Let your teen organize some activities to do together. This allows you to share in your teen’s expressions of self.
  • Set the boundaries, rules and expectations, but allow for individual expression within those boundaries. Sometimes the more we completely discourage something, the more teens want to do the very thing we are discouraging.
  • Embrace the ways in which your teen is different than you.
  • Understand that the parent-child relationship is ever-changing as both you and your teen learn and grow.

Happy Parenting,

Shelly

Parenting Teens With Influence or Control

I didn’t think it was possible, but the other day my daughter looked at herself in the mirror and texted her friends for exactly two hours! We were on a road trip, driving home from a weekend stay at the cabin. The weather was nice as we cruised home with windows cracked and music on. I looked over at my daughter who had gone quiet almost the second we got in the car. With the passenger side mirror down, she was meticulously brushing her hair, moving single hairs, trying up-do’s and down-do’s. She applied lip-gloss, mascara, and powder. Then, between breaks of texting her friend, she went back to moving single hairs so that they were in the exact right place. To be honest, I found myself feeling really annoyed. I found myself thinking things like, “We finally have time in the car together and you are totally self-consumed!” I went as far as to think, “Was I ever like that? Did I spend hours and hours just looking at myself?” I even found myself feeling a little angry. I thought, “When I was a teen, and went on long rides with my parents, I HAD to endure their company. I couldn’t have conversations with my friends as if my parents were not even there! If I chose not to talk to my parents, I had to sit in silence…thinking!” I immediately wanted to say “Haven’t you looked at yourself long enough! Or, “Put that phone away and talk to me!” Before I said anything, I sat quietly with my feelings. I felt irrational, rejected, and unsure of how to handle this interaction. (Jeanie, mother of a 12 year old)

What should Jeanie do? Clearly, Jeanie is feeling a lot of emotions. Her daughter may not be fully aware of what’s going on, but she can probably tell something is wrong since roughly 80% of our communication is non-verbal. While her daughter plays a role in this interaction, how Jeanie reacts can have a big influence on the outcome. Let’s think a little deeper about what it means for a parent to have “influence”.  Experts point out that there is an important distinction between having influence and having control. To have influence is to have an effect the actions, behavior, and/or opinions of another. Alternatively, to have control involves exercising restraint, giving direction, dominating, or making commands. How might these look different for Jeanie? If Jeanie is trying to instill influence she might say, “I really enjoy spending time with you. I am sad that you are texting your friends instead of being present with me. I hope we get an opportunity to spend some one-on-one time together before we are home. That would help me feel important to you.” If Jeanie uses control she may say something like, “You need to put your phone away right now. You have been on that phone since we got in this car. It is really frustrating that you are so self-consumed and don’t even see how your actions are affecting me.”

Which feels better? Which do you think will have a bigger impact on the daughter’s feelings and actions? By focusing on having influence, Jeanie relates to her daughter on an emotional level. She shares her feelings and her hopes. This allows her daughter to focus on her own feelings and consider how her actions are affecting her mom. Using control can make the daughter defensive and less likely to think about how her mom is feeling. Language like “you are so self-consumed” and “you don’t even see how your actions are affecting me” can sound judgmental and blaming to the teen. She may put her phone away, but that doesn’t necessarily translate into a good interaction with her mom.  It is more likely that she will be angry and pull away more.

Using this technique can be challenging for parents, especially since many of our reactions come from deep, internal feelings and past experiences. Sometimes they come from things that have been eating at us for a long time. Maybe Jeanie has let her feelings about cell-phones pile up, and this car ride was the straw that broke the camel’s back. Maybe Jeanie has been feeling rejected or ignored by her daughter since her she entered middle school. Letting these negative feelings pile up can result in angry outbursts or “snapping”.  In reality, Jeanie may be afraid that she is losing the close relationship she has always had with her daughter. It can be more effective to share this feeling in a compassionate way. The Dalai Lama said that anger creates havoc, manifests problems, and undermines virtues. He went on to say that compassion is the root of all relationships. It is through love, compassion, and concern for others that we find true happiness. When these are in abundance, even the most uncomfortable circumstances are manageable.  With this in mind, parents can share intense feelings using influence instead of control. Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Practice addressing your feelings right away. Stuffing them away for later usually results in anger, and/or fear that you have lost your ability to have influence.
  • Recognize were your feelings are coming from. Is it something your teen is doing or has your teen triggered existing feelings?
  • Identify the emotion that you are feeling and share it with your teen. This will help your teen connect with you instead of defending his/her point.
  • Use compassion as much as possible. Compassion communicates that you love and understand your teen. It also shows your teen that you are reliable.
  • Give yourself a break. Say sorry and try again if you catch yourself responding out of anger and/or fear.

Happy Parenting!

Shelly

Parenting From Fear Can Be Crippling

Years ago I attended a Tony Robbins conference. It was a pretty intense three days and over the years, one of the biggest things that stuck with me was the idea that fear is crippling. Imagine walking into a room with about 350 other people, and hearing someone say, “You are going to walk on fire tonight!” I waited for the metaphor, but quickly realized that this really was the plan. Even though I immediately turned to my husband and said, “I’m not going to walk on fire tonight”, I actually did.

Some would say  that success has everything to do with the scientific fact that our bodies have a relatively high heat capacity, and coals and hardwoods are very good insulators. From this point of view, a person with “normal” soles won’t get burned as long as the coals are the right temperature and he or she can walk quickly across. Others would say that a person has to be in the right state of mind to produce enough energy to deflect the fire.  They have to believe they are mentally prepared and capable. Regardless of one’s belief, our instincts tell us, “Don’t walk on fire or you will get burned“.   Putting that fear aside required avoiding negative self-talk, and breaking through limiting beliefs about my ability do it.  It required trusting that what seems true in theory was also true in practice.

If you are interested, here is a little clip on the controversy and intended effect of fire walking.

How does this relate to parenting teens?  Being the parent of a teenager, you have probably noticed that your teenager is more independent.  Both in how they act and what they think, they are searching to better understand themselves and their place in this world.  Letting them do this can be very scary for parents. They may try on different styles, music, or friendship groups. They may explore different classes or job opportunities. They may even scare you at times because they say or do things that seem contradictory to the teen you believe you know so well.   As alarming as all this can seem,  parenting from this place of fear can backfire on you! This is because fear often prompts parents to respond with anger, hostility, frustration or shameful undertones. This type of reaction from parents can develop into fear in the teenagers themselves.  In other words, teens that feel as though they are going to be yelled at or shamed may choose to exclude their parents from the circle of influence all together. They may lie, withhold information, or even act out to  show they have control.

The fire walking activity is done to teach people to put fears aside.  As hard as a may feel to put aside fears of getting burned, I think it pails in comparison to putting aside fears of things that can compromise the health, well-being, and safety of our teens. We know that our teens will increasingly make decisions on their own, but we fear:  Will they make a bad decision?  How will bad decisions effect their future? Will they be safe? Will their actions hurt someone else? One of the ways parents try to manage this fear is to  control the situation as much as possible by setting rules and boundaries that protect teens.  If we fear our son will drink at a party, we may forbid him from going. If we fear our daughter is falling in with a “bad” peer group, we may restrict her from spending time with certain friends.  While the intentions are good, let’s look at a couple ways this could backfire on the parents.  A teen may say,  “My parents won’t let me go to the party, so I will just sneak out at 10:30 and you can pick me up around the corner” or “My mom won’t let me spend time with you, so we will have to make sure we see each other at lunch and meet up at the mall as often as we can.”

Does this mean that we simply condone behaviors or allow our teens to do things we don’t want them to do because they may do them anyway?  No. Parents still need to do what they can to protect, teach, model, care for, and love their children. The real question is: If parenting from a place of fear backfires, what do we do instead? Forbes and Post, authors of the book “Beyond Consequences, Logic, and Control” suggest using love instead of fear to maintain influence.  What does this look like? Let’s look at the drinking party. Forbes and Post offer this type of response:

Honey, you are 15 years old and probably feel as though you are perfectly capable of making your own decisions. I can imagine that no matter what I say you are going to make the decision that you feel is best for you. I would like for you to stay home because I don’t feel that the environment will be safe and I will worry about you tremendously. That being said, I know that you are going to do what you feel is best. I do love you though.”

This response connects the teen with the parent at an emotional level and communicates love and concern for his/her safety.  The teen feels less defensive and less compelled to argue with the parent.   This puts the teen in a better position to listen, and consider what the parent is saying.  Parenting involves constant reevaluation of what is working and what is not.  While this approach may not work for every parent or in every situation, it gives you an alternative way to attack the rebellion, lying, or acting out that can happen in the teen years. Start by looking inward and identifying your own fears. Then, see what kind of loving conversations you can have with your teen about issues that are important to you.

Happy Parenting,

Shelly

Motivating Teens: Helping Them Meet Their Potential

I have three children: 13 (boy), 17 (girl), and 19 (boy). Over the years, I have experienced so many feelings about being a parent, and I have asked so many questions about whether I am doing it right. I am desperately trying to establish reasonable boundaries, set fair expectations, and show unconditional and never-ending love to my children. I don’t just love my children because they are my children, but because they are truly interesting, fun, and enjoyable people to be around. Still, they make mistakes. And in those moments, I question what I could have done differently? How could I have protected them from these mistakes? Is it a reflection of me, or my parenting? One minute they look like they have it all together, and the next they are caught fighting at school, not turning in their homework, or even worse…..” I know they are good people and I hope they embrace life with all their potential.

Does this sounds at all familiar? As parents, we want our children to be happy and we want them to reach their potential. We worry and we hope we are doing it right. It is important to recognize that parents play an important role, but they are not fully responsible.  In reality, a teen’s motivation, or desire to instigate and sustain certain goal-directed behaviors, is often out of our control.  Stay engaged by  considering ways in which you can have influence, and paying attention to other people, activities, and contexts that help your teen meet his/her needs.

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs. Resized, renamed,...
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Abraham Maslow is a famous psychologist who believed that people are motivated by a series of needs, with some needs taking priority over others. His famous Hierarchy of Needs outlines five levels, each of which must be met before moving onto the next. His description of how people prioritize their needs can help explain what motivates teens to engage in certain behavior over others.

Maslow called the first four levels “deficit” needs because they represent voids that must be met in order to continue developing.  In the final level, “self-actualization”, people have met all their deficits and can focus on growing as a person and developing their true potential.  Self-actualized people are motivated by budding goals and desires for fulfillment.

It makes sense to say that a teen cannot work on developing a strong self-esteem if the basic needs of food, water, shelter, and physical and emotional safety are not being met.  Similarly, without a strong self-esteem, it is difficult to be creative and fully accepting of yourself and others. It is important to recognize that teens are immersed in a variety of contexts that contribute to their development in each of the five levels.  For example, while teens can gain a sense of love and belonging from family, they also need to feel like they are accepted as part of a peer group. As they move up the pyramid, teens continually set goals about who they want to be.

Importantly, who they want to be is impacted by how they see themselves.  For example, it is easier to say “I want to get straight A’s this semester” when you see yourself as good at school, hardworking, and/or intelligent.  Teens are more motivated when they think they can change, “I can get into the orchestra if I take lessons this summer.” And they are discouraged, or even quit trying, if they don’t think they can change.  “I can’t be on the cheerleading team because I am not athletic.” You can also stretch your teens perceptions of themselves by helping them extend present behaviors into the future.  For example, “Getting straight A’s will look great on your college application.” or “Trying out for cheerleading will help you get in shape and give you exposure to other sports you may like.” Helping teens reach their potential involves helping them set goals that stretch their current perceptions of themselves. It is moving them from a belief of “I am who I am” to “I can be who I want to be”. Below are some ways to apply Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs to our parenting:

  • Pay attention. Consider how your teen’s behavior is related to a particular need they might be trying to meet.
  • Do everything you can to make your home physically and emotionally safe
  • Provide unconditional love and instill a sense of belonging in the family. A sense of belonging comes, in part, from being a contributing member. Find ways in which your teen can make an ongoing investment in the family.
  • Learn about your teen’s peer group. Talk about what it means to belong to that group. Group norms and values are typically shared and can guide behavior. You want your teen to see the link between how the group defines itself and the activities/behaviors it engages in.
  • Help your teen reach his/her potential. Emphasize your teen’s ability to make changes and control his/her future. Teach your teen to seek out the resources he/she  needs to grow.
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Understanding & Motivating the Middle School Student

Picture this dialogue….

Daughter: “Mom, I can’t go to school today!” (Stomping down the stairs)
Mom:  Hugging her, mom says, “Why? Are you feeling ok?”
Daughter: “Are you kidding? Look at my hair….I can’t go to school looking like this! Can you imagine what my friends will think when I walk in looking like this!” (Tears pouring down her face)
Mom: “I am sorry hunny. You have to go to school. Is there anything I can do? How can I help?”
Daughter: “Don’t worry about it! Nobody can help this! I’ll just go. I can tell it is going to be the worst day ever!”

Has this, or something like this, happened to you? Has your child hit middle school? Whether your child starts middle school as a 6th or 7th grader, this is a time of massive and intense growth.  Their bodies are flooded with emotions, making them susceptible to overreaction and mood swings.  Because of the number of changes that take place, it can be a confusing, exciting, and challenging time for both parents and teens. One of the biggest things you will notice is your teen’s friendship network expands at the same time that they are adjusting to increases in school work.  While grades remain important, how their hair looks for the day can sometimes rival as the top priority.

To a teen, middle school can be a great adventure. To a parent, it can be very scary! Parents may worry that their child is pulling away from family and relying more on friends for company and support.  Parents may also begin to notice competing motivations between academic and social goals.  This is because middle school is the transitional period when children begin to develop social and moral competencies, as well as intellectual skills. Both are important, but for different reasons.  Making friends, being accepted, and gaining support from a group of peers is important to your child’s developing sense of self.  Learning study skills and building good habits with regard to school is important for lifelong learning.  While it is easy to compartmentalize the social and academic aspects of your teen’s life, it is important to understand that they actually go together. Research shows that those who feel connected to and supported by peers, parents, and teachers do better in school.  Part of our role as parents is to recognize this and help teens develop skills to balance social and academic commitments.

Of course, parents want to see their children do well in school and in social situations. We have all heard, or even said ourselves, “I want my children to have it easier than I did“.   While some studies have shown that the transition to middle school can make young teens vulnerable to declines in self-esteem and even grades, others have provided guidelines to protect young teens from potential setbacks.  Here are a few things to think about as you help your teen develop good relationships and navigate their new school environment. All of these involve engaging in conversations, listening, and trying to understand what motivates your teen:

1.  Instill an interest in learning. When middle schoolers can find satisfaction in the process of learning, they are more likely to persist in the face of challenge or failure. They are also more likely to feel good about school.

2.  Focus less on achieving something than on the process of learning.  Sometimes, middle schoolers can be motivated simply to achieve a good grade on a test or a high status position in a particular peer group.  This desire to achieve is often driven by expectations, values, and foreseen consequences (good and bad) that are placed on them, either individually or by those whose opinions matter. Pay attention to whose opinions matter most to your teen, talk to them about why those opinions matter, and encourage them to surround themselves with people who share common expectations and values.

3.  Understand that middle school is a much bigger world than elementary school.  This can make it harder for teens to build relationships with teachers.  Because these relationships are related to academic success, it is important that parents help teens find ways to connect with their teachers.

4. Don’t loose site of what it was like to go to middle school.  Reflecting and sharing what it was like for you can help your teen disclose their own experiences.  Tell them what you think. Even when it doesn’t seem like it, your teen is looking to you for guidance and support.

5. Stay connected to friends and the parents of friends. Develop coffee times, book clubs, or other social settings where you can get to know one another.  Share your values and expectations, and let other parents know you are invested in raising healthy teens together.

6.  Understand that it is sometimes through failure and setback that teens learn the most. Don’t rescue teens from their mistakes. Instead, be there to help them understand and learn from their mistakes. It is through their personal experiences that they will develop their own motivations.

Investing in our children is an emotional experience and one that can be joyful when things are going well and painful when we have to see them struggle.  Helping them to stay on track in school requires accepting their increased motivation to spend time with friends as a normal developmental process, while also helping them learn new strategies to find the balance between social and school commitments. Being able to find balance is a life skill that will serve them for many years to come. And remember that having a bad hair day is a really big deal, with perceived social ramifications. Sometimes it is best to say nothing. Empathize and be present with them, and don’t take their lashings personal. You are their anchor, their harbor in the storm of middle school.

Motivating Teens: What Does Self-Control Have To Do With It?

Think back to when you were 4 years old.  What would you do if someone put you in a room with a marshmallow and asked you not to eat it?  What if the person said you could have two marshmallows if you could wait 15 minutes to eat it? Would it be easier to hold off then? In the short video below, Dr. David Walsh suggests that the ability to resist the marshmallow is linked to happiness, school success, popularity, and overall adjustment, all the way up to 18 years of age.

The message is clear. Saying no to our children and teaching them to say no to themselves could be a great benefit to them.  Why?  Because the ability to withhold immediate gratification of the small pleasures in life could help them achieve bigger goals. Being able to resist immediate gratification requires self-control and achieving goals requires motivation. So, let’s look at how motivation and self-control work together. Continue reading “Motivating Teens: What Does Self-Control Have To Do With It?”

Raising Teenagers: Interview with Steven Spierer

Teenagers are a breed of their own, and raising teenagers is not an easy task.  Recently, I was invited to speak with Steven Spierer on Talk Radio One about raising teenagers and building healthy parent-child relationships.  Having raised teenagers himself, Mr. Spierer frequently incorporates information about parenting into his show. Check out his website at http://www.talkradioone.com/  He has some great stuff!

Happy Parenting!

Shelly D. Mahon on the Steven Spierer Show

 

Motivating Teens: The Role of Independence

The need to feel as though our behavior is truly chosen, not imposed upon us, may be its strongest during adolescents.  During this time between childhood and adulthood, teens are striving for independence at the same time that they still need guidance from their parents.  As children move into adolescence, they are motivated by a strong desire to be seen as more mature, capable of making decisions, and worthy of being treated as though they are getting older.  Just the other day a 12 year old girl said to me, “I really don’t like Paul [a 20-something year old in her martial arts class] because he treats me like I am a little kid.  I know that I am not grown up, Continue reading “Motivating Teens: The Role of Independence”