Advice for Awesome Moms: Talking With Your Kids Matters Even More

How are your kids doing in school this year? Our vulnerable student population needs so much more support right now, more than any other time in our lifetime.

Many of their families have undergone traumatic events (loss of loved ones, loss of jobs, illness), that have fueled stress, conflict, and, in too many cases, physical abuse. Those kids are either yours, or attending school with yours.

An Awesome Mom’s Question

Dear Deborah,

My daughter’s middle school was totally screwed up by the pandemic, and now that she’s in high school, she doesn’t want to be there. It’s not like she wants to be homeschooled either with all the [mess] going on here, and I don’t know how to help her.

Today Talking With Your Kids Matters Even More

I’m not sure what kind of mess exists in your home, but listen, Mom. There’s no judgment here. Everyone needs support when things fall apart. If the mess in your home is sorrowful, or angry, or violent, that cycle needs to be interrupted. Reach out and get some support!

Visit https://www.thehotline.org if you are a victim of abuse. Call the a Child Abuse Hotline 24/7 (1-800) 4-A-Child or (1-800) 422-4453 for support, and/or to interrupt your own cycle of anger.

Now, to address your concerns.

All of our students are missing two critical years of proper age-appropriate socialization due to the pandemic. Without the lost year (or more) of the social support that attending school provided (friends, teachers, counselors, coaches), currently they feel sad, uncomfortable and alienated. After all, when they finally returned to school, both they, and their friends had come back changed. They didn’t know how to pick up where they left off in 2020. (Not many of us did.)

Student anxiety is off the charts, compounded by kids not knowing how to interact with other anxious kids. A friend of mine is the vice principal in charge of the 450 sophomores at her school. Tenth graders are one of my personal favorites, and it breaks my heart to hear that over 100 of them have lost credit for the year already due to absenteeism… and the school year isn’t even half over yet!

Schools don’t have time – or personnel – to address this situation individually, or even in small groups. And even if they did, they don’t have the training.

That means, Mom, it’s up to you.

Feeling Safer and More Secure = Increased Resiliency

Wait. Do you mean you don’t have the training, either?

That’s okay. There are too many moving parts (other kids, school, teachers, grades, emotions, fears, worries, etc.) for you to swoop in and save the world. That’s a job for Supermom (a character from American mythology), so relax.

What you’re going to do, Awesome Mom, is create a stronger connection with your child, a reliable tether to you that will make her or him feel safer and more secure. That’s your superpower.

Remember, if the household is filled with frustration and anger, Awesome Moms reach out to a counselor or therapist for help. You’re job is to help your kids feel safer and more secure, and thereby increase their resiliency, which will mean they will be able to deal with stuff better. Outside support will give you the tools you need. Meanwhile, all you have to do is talk to them.

5 Conversation Strategies for Awesome Moms

Conversation Is the Key to Connecting with Your Kids

Strategy 1: Positive, constructive conversation is the key to connecting with your kids. The more you and your kids talk, the more resilient they will become. You can talk about anything! You don’t even have to discuss the situation at school (even though it’s always looming in the background). As far a topics are concerned, the sky’s the limit. Although, FYI, historically, asking “How was school today?” has typically been a conversation killer.

Strategy 2: Instead, prepare a bunch of topics ahead of time. Find funny comics, interesting pictures, family albums—anything can become a resource for you. I realize I’ve mentioned this strategy in other posts, but it’s a great way to build up the foundation of your relationship.

Strategy 3: Here’s one Conversation Topic example. Below you’ll find a list of links to free and royalty-free images. It’s a great resource, for your kids, and for you.



All you have to do is forward the list to your kids to use for their school projects. (That’s the teacher in me.) And then, Boom! You have a conversation topic you can use to start a conversation! Here are a few variations on ways to introduce the topic:

“Have you seen any of these before?”

“What do you usually use for pictures?”

“Which resource do you prefer?”

“Which one would you recommend for someone like me?”

“Let’s see who can find the craziest [funniest; prettiest] picture in 3 minutes!”

Strategy 4: Avoid telling your kids what they should use them for… unless, of course, they ask. In that case, have at it. Just change what they should do, to what they could do (“You could use the pictures in your cover.” versus “You should use the pictures in your cover.”). The former comes with a hint of collaboration that’s missing from the latter.

Strategy 5: While you’re at it, you could supersize your chat by creating a Teachable Moment. Share the importance of giving credit where credit is due. (That’s the teacher in you.) They’ll understand it better when they’re grown, but for now, you can have them imagine someone else being mistakenly praised

  • for something they did
  • or for something cool they created
  • or for some job they completed.

When your kids give their sources credit, they avoid doing that to someone else. That, of course, builds good karma… and avoids the P-Word (plagiarism).

That should get the conversation flowing! Positive conversations make your kids feel closer to you, and more comfortable around you. In turn, those simple moments make them feel supported, and you know perfectly well that when you feel supported, you’re more resilient. That ability to bounce back is what’s going to help your kids thrive. The best part is it will help you, too.

You got this, Mama!

Have fun with your kids today!

Happily,

Deborah

PS You can also find a lot more parenting strategies in my book How To Keep Your Daughter From Slamming the Door, plus tons of novel activity ideas you can try with your kids. Have fun parenting!


Have questions? Contact Deborah today.

About the Author

Are you overwhelmed or frustrated with your role as a parent? Deborah Ann Davis (B.S. in Science Education, M.Ed. in Supervision, and W.I.T.S Personal Trainer Certified) is a parenting coach and strategist who can help you sort things out.

Book your free chat with Deborah today, and sort things out together.

Whether you’re looking to bring more positivity into your life, or you’re ready to up the strategies in your Parenting Toolkit, she’s eager to help you put happiness back into your parenting.

Deborah has decades of experience dealing with teenagers – as a mother, and as an educator. Over the years, she has helped hundreds of families, using her expertise.

Learn how to improve your mother-daughter relationship today. Every minute you delay prolongs the isolation your child feels while disconnected from you. She’s waiting for you to figure it out, so why not skip the “trial and error” parenting route? 

Book your free chat with Deborah today. You’ll be glad you did.