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Category Archives: Control

Get your school year off to a great start!

The beginning of the school year is just around the corner. This is the time that most parents begin thinking about how to have the school year go well. For the last few weeks I have been working with a lot of parents with their kids to make agreements about getting ready for the school year.

When making agreements it works best to have it be a collaborative effort rather telling your kids “how it will be”…and giving them something to rebel against. (Mediation has a high success rate because most people tend to “self-comply” when they are involved in making the agreement.)

Tips for success:

  • Choose a time to talk when your relationship is calm and the atmosphere is friendly.
  • Let your kids know, ahead of time, what your expectations are.   “We need to talk about what happens when school starts and  make some agreements about how we will deal with things.”
  • Avoid lecturing about all of the things they’ve done wrong in the past. A simple, “We’ve had problems in the past with you finishing your homework, let’s see what we can agree on to make that better this year” is all you need to say.
  • Remember that you are working together. If there is a big difference between what you want and what your kid wants and you can’t agree, consider allowing them to have an opportunity to show you that they can handle the responsibility of taking on something new.
  •  Make sure you have consequences in place.
  •  Never say, “I told you so.” (You know how much you hate it when someone says that to you, right?)
  • Make sure to address all aspects of the agreement. Get very specific.
  • Have consequences be as logical as possible.
Some common agreements:
  1. Bedtime. Decide together on bedtimes for during the week and on weekends. (“Do you want me to remind you about your bedtime?”)
  2. Get clear about what “being in bed” means to each of you? ( Getting ready for bed? Being in bed with the lights off? Being in your room for the night?)
  3. Getting up in the morning. (What do you need to do in the morning? How long does it take? What time do you need to leave?)
  4. Will you wake up by yourself? Do you want me to wake you up? What happens if you don’t get out of bed?
  5. Homework/grades~getting it done/parent involvement/grade expectations.
Some common consequences:
  1. If kids can’t be “in bed” when they have agreed to be, they need to start getting ready for bed earlier.
  2. If kids can’t get up in the morning, bedtime gets moved to an earlier time.
  3. Homework is done before they get to “go play”. (Hang out with friends/video games/TV/computer time.)
  4. If homework is not getting done or grades begin to fall, they lose privileges (“play”) until past homework is caught up and grades come up.
Have fun with this! Kids can be creative and enjoyable when they feel respected by you and know that they have a voice in the process for agreement.
For more tips and information visit “Upcoming Workshops” page.
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How to deal with “lying” and create a larger circle of support for your kids

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Lying is a common problem that comes up for parents. The thing that’s really soooo bad about lying is that it destroys trust. We lose the ability to trust what they tell us. It also undermines the “moral” character that we are trying to instill.

So why do our kids lie to us? Most commonly it is because they are afraid to tell the truth because they are afraid they will get in trouble (and they will get lectured or lose privilege) or that we will freak out…or both.

One of the things that I love about working with groups is that some parents have brilliant and inspired strategies. Before I share their stories, I want to challenge you to examine a few ideas about your relationship with your kids.

1. “Mistakes” and “bad decisions” are some of the greatest opportunities we have to learn.

2. When was the last time you got punished for making a mistake or a bad decision? What did you learn from being punished?

3. What does your child learn from punishment? (Frequently they learn to “get sneakier” or to “lie better”.)

4. Would it be more beneficial for them to learn to deal with the problem they have created?  (I am, in no way, suggesting that they shouldn’t have consequences.)

5. Do you really need to know EVERYTHING that your teenager does?

6. Do you need to be “the one” that your kid talks to OR can you encourage them to have a relationship with another adult ~ hopefully one who will be available to offer them guidance and support?

7. Do you want your child to tell you the truth so that you have information about the guidance and skills they need or so that you can “catch them” doing bad things?

Stories from the front lines:

This courageous woman is a “New mother”. Her first child is a 14 year old girl whom she is adopting. When she was first confronted with lying she told her daughter why she didn’t want her to lie and what she did want: “I want to trust you and believe you.” Then she offered her alternatives: “If you think I can’t handle the truth, tell me so. Say, “I can’t tell you because I think you’ll freak out.” OR “Can I tell you now but not talk about it until you calm down?” OR “I can’t talk to you about this so I talked to my auntie about it instead.” or even, “I can’t tell you the truth because I am afraid to.” After offering alternatives she requested, “Just…don’t lie to me.”

Another mom offered her daughter a six month “statute of limitations”. “If you did something more than six months ago and I didn’t catch you, you can talk to me about it now and not get into trouble for it.” When she did this, her daughter began sharing some of the things that she had done. Mom was able to keep her word and it opened the door to be able to offer her daughter guidance, information, problem solving skills, and support in making better choices in the future.

We WANT to hear the good stuff. We NEED to hear the hard stuff. If we want to trust our children to tell us the truth, they need to be able to trust that we can handle it in a positive way…or hook them up with someone who can.

Looking for more hints and tips on parenting teens? Check out “Upcoming Workshops”.

Stop Trying to Control Your Teen

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Our children go through many stages while growing up, but as parents, there are three distinct roles that parents have during this time.

• From birth until about age 7 (when our kids go from learning to read, to reading to learn) our role is to be their “teacher”. We teach them to talk and walk, read and write, and we teach them how to live in our society.

• From then until they hit puberty, our role shifts to become their “manager”. We manage their schedule ~ appointments, activities, school work ~ we oversee their lives. For many parents, this is their favorite time. They get to be in charge and their kids still like them.

• When most kids hit puberty, they fire their manager and they become “unmanageable”. This is the time when our role as parent changes again. At this age, our children are ready to begin the arduous journey of learning to become adults. Our job is to help them learn how to do this. Now we get to become a resource for them. We get to be their “mentor” (read: “Learn how to become your teenagers ‘life coach’”).

Sounds simple right? Why doesn’t it happen that way? Why do teenager’s have a reputation for being so darn difficult? When you were a teen, did you have someone who mentored you into adulthood? For most of us, the answer to that is a resounding “NO”. Parents have a tendency to “parent the way we were parented” so how would we know that a shift in our role is even possible? Most of us do what our parents did ~ try harder to control our kids. But…the harder we try to control them, the more they resist…the more unmanageable they become. They become “difficult” to deal with and pretty soon, they have even stopped talking to us and roll their eyes, grunt, sigh, or show some other sign of disgust whenever we try to talk to them.

In the coming weeks we will explore some ways to begin to shift this relationship as you move into your changing role as your teenager’s mentor and life coach. In the meantime, here are some ideas (that will be expanded on in the next post) to consider:

Kids learn respect by being treated with respect. Treat them with the kind of respect that you want to be treated with. You set the standard (and the example) that you expect them to comply to.

Pay attention to the way you talk to/treat your kid. Ask yourself, “How would I feel if someone talked to/treated me this way?” If your answer is, “I wouldn’t like it,” chances are, your kid doesn’t like it either.

NEVER engage in a power struggle with your teenager (most parents don’t even win power struggles with their 2 year olds). We’ll talk about how to get out of power struggles next week.

Want more practical tips and techniques? My next workshop starts May 24, 2011. Get the details and register on my Upcoming Workshops page.