3 Ways to Get Kids to Clean Their Room (Plus a bonus!)

Kids clean their rooms, true story or urban myth?

Kids clean their rooms, true story or urban myth?

1. De-clutter it. It's all your stuff - you bought it, you own it. Get a REASONABLE amount of stuff in their rooms. I've been in your houses people. TOO. MUCH. STUFF.

2. Chill-the-***-out. If we are worked up, emotional and disappointed in them, guess what?! They will HATE cleaning their room because we are being big ole jerks. Remember, what gets fired together gets wired together.

When we FIRE negative energy around tidying rooms. We blame, shame and use pain to try to motivate them to clean up. We accidentally WIRE tidying room with stress and anxiety and kids begin to avoid at all costs tidying their rooms. I'll say it again, what gets fired together gets wired together.

3. Slow and Short. Ask your child how long they can tolerate cleaning. Take 5 minutes off that time and use a timer. Even if they are being super good at cleaning and cooperative, STOP at the designated time. Better to leave the party when you are still having fun then to regret what you do late night, ya know what I'm saying, people? Also, move glacially, slowly. Try to do less. I don't know why this works, but try it. If I'm overwhelmed, I slow waaaaaay down!

BONUS GUEST BLOG FROM PEP LEADER SUZANNE RITTER!

Summers with young children are bitter sweet; filled with lazy afternoons, slip and slides, popsicles and filled with rinsing sand and sunscreen from burning little eyes, pushing hot, hungry children around town and singing for hours in the car to sick or tired ones on the family vacation. 

Raising young children can be physically exhausting and mentally numbing. While we all have parenting challenges, did you know many can be prevented, avoided sidestepped or at least handled more effectively? 

In Bootcamp you can expect to:

1) Gain a better understanding of your child’s development and what it means to be an effective parent in today’s world.

2) Learn to set limits and solve behavior problems calmly and consistently.

3) Use positive discipline methods to address tantrums, power struggles and other misbehavior. 

4) Foster cooperation and responsibility.

5) rediscover the joy of parenting

ENJOY, RELAX, HAVE FUN!

It's time to CHILLLLLLLL . . . . . . . 

It's time to CHILLLLLLLL . . . . . . . 

I can hear you over the internet . . . . "Finally, a post that's fun and not bossy or depressing."  It's a relief, it's summer, it's fuuuuuunnnnnnnnn!

Having fun together is one of the best, most effective and life enhancing relationship tools.  Better than a well crafted "I Message", better than a routine (well, wait, hold on, I love me a routine), better than a logical consequence, better than a lecture.

We forget that laughing together, sharing a delightful moment, going on an adventure is the real glue that binds us. The relationship is where we find the powerful influence we are searching for.  Summer is the perfect time to add in the fun, the spice, the laughter.  Here are some ideas for you.

Banangrams - great for all ages, funny, and the teeniest bit educational for any over achieving parents out there.

Hiking - not too long (seriously, I know YOU can go 5 miles), just a couple miles, somewhere pretty with a sugary and yummy snack, in a nice portion control size baggie.  Outside + fresh air + movement + not too long + yummy treat = fun memories or awful memories that are fun to share later.  Win or Win.

The Onion - Seriously?  Honestly? It's not called, "America's Finest News Source" for no reason.   There is something for everyone, here are a few of my favorites:  Man Treats Mother to Details,  More Colleges Offer Dick Around Programs, and this one just slays me, I am giggling right now . . . Cracks In Facade Visible As Teen Enters Third Day Vacationing With Friend’s Family.

Cooking - if you cook stuff they want to eat and you let them help it can be a lot of fun.  Some hard won tips -- cook with only one child with you in the kitchen, otherwise it's all elbows to the ribs and complaining about who gets to do what.  Also, let them cook messy.  So much more fun if you aren't tense and wiping up every dang spill behind them. 

Ignore them.  Some benign neglect is just perfect for summer.  Don't get roped in by them whining at you, "I'm soooo bored."  If you hear them coming, head for the bathroom with your kindle and feign stomach distress, they'll figure something out.

Watch the unfolding with the fireflies.  Fireflies are magical little creatures that come and go so quickly.  A perfect metaphor for watching our children (or ourselves) unfold.  We are all unfolding into the people we are supposed to be. Sometimes instead of coaxing, worrying, lecturing, nagging, reminding, checking, double checking . . . we can just sit back and relax, enjoy who they are today, enjoy who we are today.  Then we can watch the fireflies and laugh about all the fun we had that day. . . what could be better?

It's NOT My Fault!

Our complaining can lead us to what we need to work on!

Our complaining can lead us to what we need to work on!

Messy children, whiny children, a bad back, a crummy boss, a lack of motivation, too much procrastination, a stale marriage, a load of debt, a cluttered house, n extra 15 lbs, an 'experimental' teen (drugs, drinking, sex), an unsupportive mother.

It's easy, comfy and safe to stay in the rut of complaining and blaming. As a MASTER of this type of thinking, I know it's a long road to nowhere worth going. Trust me, or don't trust me, and come meet me later when you are done with your own long road to nowhere worth going. We can meet on the path to responsible (not enabling) thinking, behaving and action. How?

1. NOTICE that you are complaining. Are you telling the same story again and again? Are you kind of excited to tell the story to strangers about this tragic thing that HAPPENED TO YOU? Now, this is tricky, the telling can be cathartic, affirming, opening and good. The over-telling can be habit forming, keep us stuck, whiny and victimized.

2. TRY NEW LANGUAGE. Easy as that (hahahhaha), try some of these new phrases to lead you out of victimization and into new thoughts, new habits and new action. AND . . . Bada Boo Bada Bing,  NEW RESULTS. This will take a LOT of practice. Luckily life throws lots of whiny kids, stale marriages, bad backs, crummy bosses, cluttered house and  extra pounds to keep us in practice.

EXAMPLES
Instead of: You should clean your room.

Try: It's important to me that you know how to clean up after yourself. Would you be willing to meet once a week for 15 minutes to tidy your room?

Instead of: I need to lose 10 lbs.

Try: I choose to focus on realistic portions for the next few months until I am back to a healthy weight range (plug in actual number!)

Instead of: You NEVER are on time.

Try: I am often waiting for you when we say we are going to meet. Tomorrow,  I'm willing to wait 15 minutes and then I'm going to go ahead and leave and run errands.

REPEAT as needed.

For more expert information, inspiration and language, read, PEP (Parent Encouragement Program) Leader Suzanne Ritter's Washington Parent Article, Empowering Yourself With Words. Check it it out for more details!

 

 

3 Things My Teens Taught ME

It LOOKS like they are relaxing, but really, they can be very wise . . . . 

It LOOKS like they are relaxing, but really, they can be very wise . . . . 

I've been living with teens for about 6 years now. And while I thought it was my job to teach them, turns out they taught me a thing, or three.

1. I don't have to be liked to be loved.

My younger teen looked at me, at our final college tour, and said, "I don't know how, but EVERYTHING you do is annoying." This wasn't my first rodeo so I took this comment lightly. I texted the quote to his older brother who laughed heartily and said, "I remember those days, it will pass." I left him alone, not 15 minutes later we were sitting together laughing at the dinner the table. Teens teach you ARE annoying AND they love you anyway.

2 Control Doesn't Make a Grown-Up

Too much control can make us feel like good parents, that our kids our safe, that they will have a straight shot out of adolescence. Turns out, too much control makes you tired and angry and makes them sneaky and rebellious. Now, we can't give up. We still need to provide teens with firm boundaries and appropriate limits. However, control isn't an insurance policy and doesn't teach them much except how to work a work around.

3. I Don't Have All the Answers

Once I got used to this one, it was very, very relieving. I don't know the best way to get homework done. I don't know how tired they are. I don't know their interior goals. Now, it's taken me these full 6 years to start correcting my OWN righting reflex (the reflex to comment on every darn thing someone is doing and how they could do it the teeniest bit better because you really love the person). My instinct is still to tweak how they do stuff, but sometimes I catch myself BEFORE, sometimes during, and when I do it after, I can apologize.

3.5 Teens are Hilarious & Insightful

I love that you can let your guard down with teens, watch edgy tv shows and movies, share in discussions of current events, and generally they crack me up. I've also found that my teens know me very well and can offer up insightful advice to me. Tweak a decision of mine to make it better, modify a reaction to be a wee bit more sane and deliver it (mostly)  with a sense of humor so I can receive it.

"I Told Them" Challenge

A little less of this . . . then let me know what happens

A little less of this . . . then let me know what happens

Who is up for a CHALLENGE?!

Anyone else want parenting to be as easy as, "I told them . . . blah, blah, blah." Then from the TELLING the child will CHANGE. Ummmmmm, how's that working?

Let's take a week and change up our game. Here's some transformations from "I told them . .  " to inspire you to take NEW action and possibly get a NEW result. 

BEFORE: I told him to have his karate pants ready or I wasn't driving. In the moment, I yelled and shamed him WHILE finding his karate. Berated him in the car that I would NEVER do it again. Reminded him the next week to prepare. Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

AFTER: I asked him the night before if he had everything ready for karate and offered to help. He declined. About 5 minutes before we needed to leave for karate I informed the household I was going to the car to be ready to drive to karate. I went to the car. I put on a podcast. I waited. 5 minutes AFTER we were supposed to leave the child came out with a karate top and sweats. The world kept spinning. It was magic.

BEFORE: I told them they HAVE to wake up on time. I am serious THIS time. I couldn't take it after the third snooze and went up and yelled at them to come down.

AFTER: I offered to get another alarm clock for the hallway if they thought it would help to get up out of bed. I gave them a $30 budget. The next morning I went for a walk during the snooze time. I came home and everyone was still asleep, alarms blaring. Eventually they woke up, they had missed the bus. We had pre-arranged how they could get to school using Uber with THEIR allowance. They hurled some insults at me that I wasn't helping, they got ready and UBERed to school. The world kept spinning. It was magic.

BEFORE: I told them to stop fighting. I got up and went to where they were fighting and yelled at them and punished the older one because he was mean. Then I had to follow through with the punishment of no play date and had to endure 45 minutes of complaining. I told him to stop complaining, he wouldn't so I took the phone away.

AFTER: The fighting was bothering me. I got up and went to where they were fighting. I invited one of them, with my hand outstretched, my body language serene and escorted them to their bedroom. I then requested 30 minutes of alone time for all of us. I read the paper.

INSTEAD OF:

 "I told them. . . . "

TRY

I asked him . . . . (and then I listened).

I got up and pointed to the item that needed to be put away.

I de-cluttered the bedroom so the child could clean it up in 15 minutes.

I washed the clothes that were in the hamper.

I stopped buying microwave popcorn for two weeks because no one could remember to throw out the bag.

I offered to help BEFORE the stressful time. I did what the child requested (often times they don't want our help so we get to do NOTHING).

Don't Want to Do IT? Buy It a Drink!1

This clever client needed to clean out her house in a week. To keep herself motivated she created these GOODIES to entice, lure, and woo her to complete the task. I LOVED IT!

We all have those tasks we just DON'T want to do. And while rewards aren't so great to try to MAKE someone else DO SOMETHING, let's not throw the baby out with the bathwater, people!

A well placed drink, date, goodie can help us to SHOW up to the dreaded task. Here are some things that came to my mind as datable tasks, what do you think?

1. Laundry + TV Show

2. Taxes/Paper Work + Peppermint Mocha

3. 20 Minutes of Tidying + 20 Minutes of reading a romance (the NYTimes, a magazine)

4. 30 Minutes of Writing + 15 Minutes Facebooking/Tweeting/Noodling online

5. Menu Planning + Glass of Wine

PS: I love the Pomodoro Method App to stay on track!

Clean Your Closet, Solve Your Parenting Problem - For REAL!

If we decluttered our houses and our calendar, think how many parenting problems would solve themselves. The magical art of tidying up is truly magical in a family setting. Declutter the kids room and -- badaboobadabing --they can clean it up themselves in under 15 minutes (they won’t all the time, but they CAN!). Declutter our calendar and when (NOT if) it takes our four year old forever to walk to the car, we can handle it, we can enjoy it, we can embrace it.

I know none of us has time, however, meditation can help purge your brain and emotions of negative spirals.Headspace is what I use and I think it slowly, tortoise-like, has altered my brain. Not in an instant and not in an earth-shattering way, but noticeably and meaningfully.

Next time you are in a parenting pickle, give your brain a rest and clean out your closet. Throw out all the yucky hangers, take out the half-torn dry cleaning bags, and pitch all the clothes that are stained and don’t fit or make you feel bad about yourself. I can practically GUARANTEE a new, interesting and innovative parenting solution will bubble up from the process.

Oh My GOSH! You are so LUCKY (UnLucky?)!

Maybe . . . . 

Maybe . . . . 

There is a Buddhist tale where a man wakes to find 5 wild horses in his yard. The neighbors proclaim, "You are so lucky!" The man replies, "Maybe." The man's son takes a wild horse out to ride the next day, gets thrown and breaks his leg. The neighbors proclaim, "You are so unlucky!" The man replies, "Maybe." The next day soldiers come to town to recruit all the able-bodied young men for war, the son with the broken leg is not recruited. The neighbors proclaim, "You are so lucky!" The man replies, "Maybe."

Last fall our son tried out for the soccer team, he didn't make it. We were sad, he was so unlucky. His friends banded together and talked to the coach suggesting the coach might have overlooked our son. The coach agreed to a second look and he made the team. We were happy, he was so lucky. Four weeks into the season he was escorted up our front walk by a friend, his knee covered in ice. He had torn his SECOND ACL and needed surgery.  We were sad, he was so unlucky. 

Aha! MAYBE. We just don't know the unfolding, we don't know the end of the story. As a chronic reactor this is a hard lesson. My feelings and thoughts are determined by the previous few minutes of life events. EdLine tells me my children handed in their homework - so happy! A teacher sends an e-mail to tell me that things are being overlooked and forgotten, my day is RUINED. Where does this happen to you. They get a good grade on the test, we are so lucky - or maybe the child is in too easy a class and isn't grappling and practicing study skills. They have a playdate that ends badly, we are so un-lucky - or maybe they learned something valuable about socializing? They made the team, we are so lucky - or maybe they are going to miss out in being in the school play?

Next time we can feel ourselves reacting, replace the knowing with a maybe and see what happens. Maybe can get us out of reactivity and into reality. In reality we have a fighting chance to course correct, make creative change, or learn something new!

It's Always Something!

Seriously . .. . ?!

Seriously . .. . ?!

When you have kids, there is ALWAYS something, wouldn’t you agree?  I wish we could just get used to that. Suffering would be reduced by ½ if we could embrace, expect, enjoy the always somethingness of our lives.

When I started having babies my uncle would give me the same advice, over and over. “Once you figure out one phase, another phase starts.” And I was all, “Yeah, yeah – that’s for losers I’m taking parenting classes so pshaw, stop bugging me. Don’t take this the wrong way, BUT you guys didn’t know what you were doing in the 70’s. We GOT this, thanks anyway for your help.”

Sigh.

Dear Uncle – you were so right! Parenting classes didn’t make the always somethingness go away. Not dressing my kids in polyester matching ensembles from Sears didn’t make the always somethingness go away. To say I was surprised, upset, shocked – all understatements. Anyone else out there easily wounded by reality?

With kids, no – let’s not pick on the kids anymore, with people there is always something. There is always hurt feelings, there is always disappointment, there is always unmet expectations, there is always misunderstanding, there is always illness & injury. There are always surprise bills. Kids don’t always get into the school of their/our dreams. There are always home repairs. There are always mean friends.

But let’s not let the always somethingness ruin our summers. Along with the always somethingness there is always joy, there is always laughter, there are always sarcastic and hysterical friends, there is always Netflix. There is always another chance, another day, another moment.

I don’t think I can ever embrace always somethingness, but I’m going to work on tolerating it. I am going to work on it not sapping my joy, my strength, my energy. I’m going to accept the always somethingness like I accept the wilting daffodil stems that you have to let soak up the sun after they bloom. I am going to do my best not to complain about the always somethingness.  Because if it’s not one thing, it’s another! (hahahahha)

Follow me on Twitter: @BalancingAct_DC, https://twitter.com/BalancingAct_DC

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I Got 99 Problems . . . .

Oh, if only we could squish out all our problems. Don’t we all think AND believe, “If everyone would just do as I say, then we wouldn’t have any problems.” Seriously?!

However, let me give you a mind bender, a real thinker. Could it be that problems are where it’s AT? Hear me out people, don’t click away quite yet. Problems are where we find the humility, the stretch, the new, and the bold. We need the April Showers to get to the May Flowers part of the situation.

Examples

Toddler Tantrums: Gives us practice in accepting the moment, noisy as it may be. Helps us handle someone else’s strong emotions without taking it personally. Opens our eyes to the child that is becoming right in front of us. No longer a baby, the tantrums lead us to give our toddler positive power, train them in helpful tasks (sorting socks, folding napkins, holding the grocery list).

Elementary School Age - Waking Up on Their Own:  Allows us to practice letting go (good to practice before we get to the tween/teen years). Gives us practice in observing the child that actually lives with us. Do they wake up to the alarm? Do they need two alarms? Do they need to go to bed earlier? Do we need to uphold screen limits more stringently? All these things are better to learn when our child is 8, 9 or 10 then waking them up until they go to college and THEN . . .  BOOM, they have to learn what kind of waker-upper they are. Better to be late for 3rd grade a few times then miss ½ a semester of 8am expensive Philosophy 101 classes because they don’t know how to wake up.

Tween/Teen Device Wars: Allows the tween/teen to practice independence. We can grapple with our values, with our opinions about screens. A time to consider handing responsibility for paying for the device to the teen. Illuminates OUR relationship to devices (may be just as monkey mind as the teen, checking, re-checking, posting, liking).

Problems help us understand ourselves. Problems help us define, refine and uphold our values. Problems are to be shared. Avoid the habit of heavy lifting all alone. When we work alone in problem solving we lose out on creativity, camaraderie, energy and inspiration. Problems are like the rain that washes away the pollen, the wind that blows the leaves out of your yard, the summer storm that sweeps away the humidity. It sucks when it’s happening and we feel fresh and new when it’s done.

Who Do I Need to Be?

Who do WE need to become to get from the OLD way to the NEW way?

Who do WE need to become to get from the OLD way to the NEW way?

I laughed, I cried, I saw my strengths, I cringed at my faults during Vicki Hoefle's workshop, Growing a Grown-Up. Vicki makes the everyday parenting foibles universal, hilarious and understandable. I recommend her book, Duct Tape Parenting to any and all. If you don't have it, click, click, CLICK and get one now!

We walked through a Road Map exercise, which I think is utter genius. We plot where we are on a given topic and where we want to be. One box for me, one box for my child. There are lots of steps on the way, but what really, REALLY struck me was the part of WHO DO I NEED TO BECOME in order for the FAMILY, CHILD, RELATIONSHIP to bloom in the way I am looking for. 

UGH. I don't wanna change, I want THEM to change. Once THEY change, I can be the parent I wanna be. Easy peasy, lemon squeezy.

Alas, turns out Vicki is a badass. No whining. No sugar coating. No beating around the bush. Into the heart of darkness we go! I discovered I use "disappointed" and "controlling" as a way to get my kids to help make dinner. Guess what I get in return? Those children of mine "ignore" me and "don't do it". My solution, just cook the damn dinner myself and be all martyr-y and complain-y and overall sit in a stew of false superiority. 

On my map I plotted who I wanted to  become and what came up for me was "delighted" and "flexible". I want my kids to to be "creative" and "capable".

Of course I want to START with THEM. "Ok guys, you two need to be more capable and creative, and then I will be delighted and flexible, but UNTIL YOU change I will remain tight lipped, demanding, controlling and disappointed. Thanks! Love you." 

Darn it Vicki! Thank you . . . . . . 

 

I Will Gladly Pay You Tuesday For a Hamburger Today

Freedom, however, is not the last word. Freedom is only part of the story and half of the truth. Freedom is but the negative aspect of the whole phenomenon whose positive aspect is responsibleness. In fact, freedom is in danger of degenerating into mere arbitrariness unless it is lived in terms of responsibleness. That is why I recommend that Statue of Liberty on the East Coast be supplemented by a Statue of Responsibility on the West Coast.
— Viktor E. Frankl

I hear you internet, "Why is Paige combining wise Viktor Frankl with Wimpy from Popeye?!" BECAUSE, kids are the eternal Wimpy, and parents must uphold the the wisdom of Viktor Frankl.  

Kids ALWAYS want more freedom. In the short term, freedom feels good, and free, and fun. HOWEVER, freedom is empty and dangerous if it isn't balanced with responsibility. 

Here are some real life scenarios - kid asks for freedom, parent considers how to balance with responsibility.

Kid: I want an i phone, eeeeevvvverrrryyyooooonnnneee else has an iphone. AND they get to be ON IT WHENEVER they want!

Parent: Hmmmm, do you have money every month to pay for the service? How will you handle bed time? People with iphones really need a steady income, what ideas do you have to make some regular money? People with iphones need good brakes (self-control).

Kid: I want to sleep-over.

Parent: Sleepovers don't include much sleep, will homework be done before you leave on Saturday afternoon? Please provide me with the parent's name and cell phone number so I can check in. How many sleepovers seem to work for you in a month? 

Kid: I want a later bed time.

Parent: Please go online and tell me what the recommended amount of sleep is, here's a website to start . What are you going to do with your extra time awake? How is waking up to your own alarm clock going?

Kid: I want new clothes.

Parent: The clothes in your bedroom currently aren't being cared for. I'd be willing to take you shopping once your current clothes are purged, washed and off the floor for four weeks. Do you have a budget? I'm willing to match you dollar for dollar to buy new clothes. I'd be willing to drive you to the mall this afternoon if we can get this corner of the basement tidied up  before we go.

Kid: I want to join this dance troop.

Parent: (Thinking: oh no, this is expensive and this kid hasn't stuck with anything much over the years, plus the driving . . . THE DRIVING!). Sounds exciting! I'd be willing to pay for 1/2 of this term, are you willing to use some of your savings to pay for the other 1/2? I'd be willing to drive 1/2 of these weekends, can you contact some of your friends and see if their parents might consider carpooling?

 

Parenting Media Association's Gold Award

So exciting! See below a review of an award winning article co-written with Robyn Des Roches. Thanks to parenting experts Alyson Schafer and Patti Cancellier (from the Parent Encouragement Program) for their insights and quotes. Link to the original article below.

Gold: Washington Parent, “Ages & Stages”; Robyn Des Roches, Paige Trevor
The quality of advice on critical parenting topics is superb and refreshingly original. When cutting through the complicated mess of boundaries (permissive vs. positive parenting), for example, the column takes a direct approach: Don’t let fear of parental tyranny turn the child into a tyrant. Ideas abound for taking a sounder approach, as they do in an article on managing children’s behavior in intense situations like funerals and weddings. The column is a good case study in ways to deliver original, authoritative solutions to thorny problems.

21st Century Parenting Challenges*

 

Have you ever dressed your 4-year-old because you can do it faster, or told your 7- year-old she has to wear a coat when she says she isn't cold? Can I get a show of hands of other parents who have "helped" their fifth grader on a Science Fair tri-fold board because we can cut straighter and center the background paper more evenly? Who can join me in having our tween's long-term assignments on OUR calendar?

Why do we parents fall into the trap of overprotecting our kids from short-term struggles and underpreparing them to cope with life's long-term challenges? Intellectually, we know that overparenting undermines a child's initiative and sends him or her off into the world unprepared to make independent choices and own the consequences of those choices (both positive and negative). Yet it can be difficult to translate that knowledge into practice.

21st century challenges

The use of "parenting" as a verb is a new phenomenon. It's also a tricky concept to define because the nature of "parenting" is an ever-changing business. Over the 18 years we are considered "active parents" (raising a minor child) we move, ever so gradually, from needing to protect our children to needing to prepare them. As much as we may try to straighten the road and take out the bumps for our beloved children, we all know life is filled with obstacles, setbacks, road blocks and weather we can't control. The real job of "active parents" is to work ourselves out of a job in those 18 years.

Hal Runkel, author of "Scream Free Parenting," believes parenting has changed in recent decades as a result of the 24/7 news cycle, the Internet and the ability to check our children's grades, school attendance and whereabouts at any moment. Runkel says, "If we think our number one job is to protect our child, then anxiety is going to drive the boat. We will want to know before they make a mistake or get into trouble."

Instead, we need to redefine our number one job as preparing children to live as independent adults. As Runkel notes, "The more we protect them, the less we prepare them. Think - I am supposed to protect them in the service of preparing them, not vice versa."

Loosening the reins

Runkel suggests that parents set a goal of having no rules for children by their senior year in high school. Senior year becomes a dry run for college, with freedom and responsibility living side by side. What can we expect to happen during senior year? Mistakes! In the wise words of Mark Twain, "Good judgment is the result of experience, and experience the result of bad judgment."

Parent educator and educational consultant Wendie Lubic (a.k.a., The College Lady) observes that when we first receive our children, we manage every aspect of their lives - when they go to bed, the books they read, the screens they have access to and the rhythm of their day. As kids grow older, parenting morphs from managing kids to being their on-demand consultants. "Guidance is important, if it is solicited," Lubic notes. But she warns that consultants have to wait to be asked for advice: "If it's unsolicited, then you are crossing the line."

Three steps to breaking the over-protecting habit

What can we do when we discover that we are overprotecting and underpreparing our kids? How can we face our fears with courage?

As a first step, we need to become mindful of the three-pronged response that kicks in when problems arise - a response comprised of thoughts, emotions and actions. Let's say a child has not yet mastered the skill of consistently turning in his homework. This situation triggers anxious thoughts: "Did Joe hand in his homework today? If he doesn't, he will get a B- for the quarter and say goodbye to the Ivy League." Our anxious thoughts fuel anxious emotions, and our knee-jerk actions might be to check online, text the child, find the homework in his bedroom and drive it to school.

Does this prepare the child to turn in his homework independently, or does it merely reinforce his dependence? If our response is not in the service of preparing, we can plan a better response for the next time. By changing one or more of the three prongs, we can move from anxious protecting to compassionate preparing.

ACTIONS: Take a break. Leave the scene. Go on a 20-minute walk. Any of these actions will help create space for new thoughts and emotions.

THOUGHTS: Remember Mark Twain's words of wisdom: "Good judgment is the result of experience, and experience the result of bad judgment." You might also think: "In the long run my child will need to remember his work. I believe he is capable. Better to experience forgetting when he is in eighth grade than forgetting in college. He remembers to hand in his homework more times than he forgets."

EMOTIONS: After 20 minutes of walking and trying on new thoughts, emotions will downgrade from anxiety and fear to compassion and curiosity. We will be able to greet our child after school with an open mind, an understanding heart and true curiosity about how he handled his problem. Kids are much more creative, capable and motivated than we give them credit for.

Practice makes progress - for adults as well as kids

When we find ourselves overparenting, we can take our good-hearted love, tweak it a bit and transform protection into preparation. Calming our own anxiety allows children space and time to grapple with the responsibilities that life throws at them.

With practice our children will become prepared. And prepared young adults can go about the business of living their own big lives and protecting themselves.

Common examples of over-parenting

Dressing preschoolers instead of letting them practice doing it themselves 

Waking up school-age kids instead of letting an alarm clock do the job 

Nagging about homework instead of encouraging the use of a planner and schedule 

Checking grades more frequently than the child does 

Doing extra credit work for the child rather than holding them responsible 

Worrying more about their future then they are 

*Originally Published in Washington Parent, March 2017

 

Your Gonna Hear Me ROOOOOARRRRR!

Have you ever seen Jimmy Fallon's lip sync contest where Kevin Hart does Roar? Ok, if you haven't, take a minute, your day will be made. If you have, watch it again, I'll wait. 

AMAZING, am I right?! 

This came to me thinking of how joyful and life affirming ROARING your anger out can be. Now, it can't be lashed out AT people, or used to shame. But ROARING your truth, your self-respect, now THAT is where it's at. And Kevin Hart is nothing but pure joy ROARING!

With Anger on the brain, here are five quick tidbits to get us thinking about how to ROAR with joy!

1. Anger is a part of the human experience, you ain't gonna get rid of it.

2. Anger shows us the way to deeply held values, places where we have been hurt and are trying to fix it, where we are being disrespected, ignored or overlooked.

3. Anger hides scarier emotions like - fear, anxiety, loss of control, not being heard, overwhelm, feeling smothered.

4. Anger gets people MOVING. It's why we keep using it. And, anger depletes the relationship- makes it smaller, spikier, stingier.

5. Repressed anger is still anger. All of us "NICE" people . . . we are pissed too. Unexpressed anger can be just as damaging to a relationship as aggressive anger. When we are not authentically representing ourselves, or when we let our beloveds 'get away' with bad behavior because it makes the day quieter - we ain't doing anyone any favors.