Categories
Awesome Moms

Ways to Regain Parental Power

For those of you visiting me for the first time, welcome! I’m Deborah Ann Davis, award-winning author and Parenting Coach.

The following blog post is an excerpt from my upcoming parenting course. It’s going to be so powerful, and will provide tons of techniques, conversation starters, solutions, and strategies that you’ll be able to use right away. Check out the first excerpt from the course here: https://DeborahAnnDavis.com/positive-relationship-characteristics/

The course will be out sometime in September. I can hardly wait!

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Ways to Regain Parental Power

Let’s face it, even with the best-laid plans in place, there are always going to be struggles, clashes and problems. With this in mind, I’ve identified 6 common behavioral patterns that tend to reduce your parental control, plus solutions to help you get back on track.

Here are the scenarios I’m going to cover:

Scenario #1: Regaining Parental Power Lost Through Revisiting Decisions

Scenario #2: Regaining Parental Power Lost Through Trying To Be Your Child’s Best Friend

Scenario #3: Regaining Parental Power Lost Through Collaboration Without Parameters

Scenario #4: Regaining Parental Power Lost Through Power Struggles

Scenario #5: Regaining Parental Power ThroughKeeping Your Cool

Scenario #6: Regaining Parental Power Lost Through Conversation Landmines

SCENARIO #1: LOSING PARENTAL POWER THROUGH REVISITING DECISIONS

Your kids will want to discuss/debate/argue about a decision that doesn’t suit their desires. (My parents called that “nagging.”) If you change your mind the fourth time they bring it up, you are teaching them to bring it up four times so they can get their way. If you hold out until their fifth attempt, then five tries becomes their personal sweet spot.

REGAINING PARENTAL POWER LOST THROUGH REVISITING DECISIONS

Solution #1: Establish a family policy BEFORE a conversation about wanting change comes up. 

That policy? 

“As far as changing household rules is concerned, no immediate decisions will be made. ALL follow-up discussions will be held in 24 hours. That will give everyone time to calm down and rethink their positions.”

Remember: Research is your friend! Encourage your kids to research their side of the conflict, and bring you RELIABLE evidence to support their position for the next discussion. (That means no Wikipedia.)

However, just because the conversation will be resumed does NOT mean the decision will be changed. It merely allows your debating darlings to have another conversation about it. 

Listen to their side, and check their sources. Then share your side and your sources. With all the research being shared, you can invite them to have a discussion. Just make sure you remind them that ALL follow-up discussions will be held in 24 hours.

Don’t worry. They’ll get used to this policy if you’re consistent.

What if you’ve told your daughter she can’t attend an unsupervised party, and her anger escalates as you stand firm.

Solution #2:

Say This: “Like I told you before this discussion began, we can revisit this tomorrow if you still want to discuss future parties, but I’ve made my decision about this one. I love you too much to let your anger change my mind. However, you are welcome to do some research and come up with reliable sources that support your point of view. You can share what you find with me tomorrow. I love you, and I hate seeing you upset.”

SCENARIO #2: LOSING PARENTAL POWER THROUGH TRYING TO BE YOUR CHILD’S BEST FRIEND

Adult and child roles get confused when disciplinary resolutions are based on not upsetting the child. 

I get it. You’re exhausted because you have too much on your plate. When your Littles blow up, or your Middles throw you under the bus, or your Teens convince you you’re ruining their life…(Spoiler Alert – you’re not!)…who wouldn’t want a shortcut to a peaceful night?

But, bribing, cajoling, distracting, and caving in only serve to keep momentary peace. Plus, small children never learn how to handle “No” in a graceful and emotionally strong way – a very important skill for functioning well in school.

When the goal is to maintain peace, that path eventually backfires. All it does is teaches Littles that, in order to achieve their goal, they must first launch a tantrum.

Fast forward to Middles and Teens. When the parent doesn’t want to jeopardize their best-friend relationship with their kids, they don’t enforce deadlines and limits in order to stay on their good side. These folks make excuses for their kids’ rude behavior, blaming outside factors, which, of course, teaches their cherub to do the same.

Not only does this direction make it difficult for your kids to function out in the world, but it also doesn’t allow for a peer to fill the best friend role. Your children need to navigate life within their age group. Those lessons are important.

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Did you learn something new? Obviously, there is more to this, but I’m saving it for the course. 

I hope you enjoyed the second sneak peek into my upcoming parenting course.  You can read the first sneak peek here: https://deborahanndavis.com/positive-relationship-characteristics/

As always, any and all feedback is welcome. I’d especially like to know what topics you’d like me to cover. We can figure it out together. Email me at info@DeborahAnnDavis.com

You got this!

Deborah

Categories
Awesome Moms

Positive Relationship Characteristics

Positive Relationship Characteristics

Recently I asked for some ideas for a title for my new parenting course. This week I thought I’d share an excerpt from it, specifically from:

MODULE 6. VIDEO 2: Positive Relationship Characteristics

Provide Unconditional Love. The most powerful characteristic of a positive Parent-Child Relationship is Unconditional Love. That means you love your child – no matter what. More importantly, your child believes that your love is unconditional, that you love them, no matter what, even when 

  • they misbehave
  • or break the rules
  • or get low grades

You even love them when they say they hate you. None of that affects your love for them, no matter what.

Your unconditional love makes your precious children feel safe and secure. It makes them braver, and more willing to explore and take risks. It’s the biggest gift we can give them. Plus, the more we remind them they’re loved unconditionally, the better equipped they are to handle adversity.

Spend Quality Time With Your Kids. All that unconditional love loses its punch if you don’t share time together. 

Quality time, like kids, comes in all shapes and sizes. 

  • It can be the big grand gestures, like a trip to a carnival, or a butterfly farm. 
  • It’s sharing a blanket on the couch while you read. 
  • It’s private time behind a closed door where secrets are shared with parents. 
  • It’s you showing up at the game, or performance, with your cell phone on airplane mode. 
  • It’s that meal you cook together, and that laundry you fold to dancing music, and that fort you construct in the living room. 

It’s the things that become memorable for your kids, and why they love their family culture and traditions. It’s the way you show them they matter without using words.

Keep Your Promises. If you say you’re going to be there, BE THERE. Your absence hurts their hearts. If your outside obligations potentially will interfere, tell your child you probably can’t make it to his recital, and the reason. Then show up if you can, and turn it into a big surprise.

Or, if you can’t make it, watch a recording of it with your child, along with some homemade popcorn, plus your entire focused attention. Even if you’re out of town, you can video chat and watch the performance together. That extra effort will convey how important your child is to you. How you show up will affect how they will show up in the world.

Keep Consistent Rules. EVERYONE lives by a set of rules. The key is to be consistent in enforcing your rules, and be consistent with the consequences when broken. 

It’s vital that our children learn to live by your rules at home. Otherwise, they won’t be able to function properly within the classroom, or out in society when they become adults.

Rules are clear statements about how your family takes care of one another, and how they treat each other. Kids should understand the consequences to their actions before they act. Rules create a stable world for your child. That stability teaches them to trust their expectations about you…and how you’re going to treat them.

Some rules can be negotiated as your kids get older, but some rules absolutely should not be negotiated, ever:

  • Their safety, including driving, dating and curfew
  • Their education, such as homework, scheduling study time for exams… things like that.
  • Their health, like nutrition, alcohol, sex, drugs
  • Anything to do with becoming an adult

I call these the Non-Negotiables. These are the things your kids can’t judge for themselves. Their undeveloped brains can’t see the big picture. Of course you have to revisit these rules from time to time as your kids mature, and adjust them accordingly…but plan for it. Otherwise, you’ll be unprepared when your kids come up with some new request. After all, you don’t want your mouth hanging open when they come begging to go to an unsupervised party.

Make Your Kids Feel Safe. Your kids watch you all the time. They hear your arguments behind closed doors. They see your anxiety as you watch the news. Their young friends feed them a steady diet of their immature view of world events. They privately try to understand what all this input means, and their imagination takes them… who knows where? But wherever that is, it doesn’t feel safe.

You can help them by addressing their anxiety. Sit them down individually, and ask them what they think about the current world situation, or the country’s situation, or the latest news story. If you’re not comfortable about that, ask them what their friends, or teachers, or coaches think about it. Sometimes it’s easier to go in the side door, than to broach a subject head-on.

Then, LISTEN. 

Don’t offer advice. 

Don’t suggest. 

Don’t share. 

Don’t judge. 

Just listen. 

Say things like, “Interesting.”  “Hmmm.” “I understand.” If you want insight as to what may be causing your child’s anxiety, this is a way to do it. 

Then you reassure them. Say something like this…

“Sometimes I hear things that make me worried, but that just lets me know something needs handling. I got this. Your job is to be a kid and grow up strong and happy. I’ll take care of the rest. And, if I don’t know how to take care of something, I’ll find someone who does. You don’t have to worry. I got your back. Even if the next school year is screwy, I’ll figure out how to make it work for you. You and me, we’re a team. I got your back. You don’t have to worry.”

Then, repeat that message every time your child is stressed, or at least once a week. They always need reminders.

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I hope you enjoyed this sneak peek into my upcoming parenting course.  Feel free to share this excerpt with other parents. Any and all feedback is welcome. The course should be out sometime this fall.

You got this!

Deborah 

Categories
Awesome Moms Walking the Walk

Summer Love of Fairs

In keeping with June’s Fun in the Sun theme, here is a list of fairs in my area. Do a similar search for where you live, and go enjoy the summer with your kids. 

Deborah is at the CT Renaissance Faire in 2015

I fell in love with fairs when I was a small child, and I’ve been going ever since. They’re responsible for my first YA series, Love of Fairs. 

Fairly Certain and Fairly Safe

If you enjoy humorous suspense with a surprise ending, pick up a copy of Fairly Certain, the tale of a computer geek who finds himself in Merry Ol’ England during the Robinhood era. And get a copy of Fairly Safe, a story about what happens when Mistaken Identity collides with Secret Identity when witness protection is blown. 

Grab a fun summer read, and I’ll see you at the fairs.


Buy Fairly Certain: Smashwords, Kindle, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, IndieBound, Kobo, iTunes

Buy Fairly Safe: Smashwords, Kindle, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, IndieBound, Kobo, iTunes

Categories
Awesome Moms

May’s Parenting Strategies

Mother’s Day Month ends today, so I’m going to use this post to share links to what we did. There’s a lot of helpful info contained here, so you bookmark this post so you can come back and watch when you have time.

Also, the longer videos are time-stamped so you can go directly to the topic you want. Enjoy, and get ready to have an Awesome summer!

Facebook Live Q&A. Watch this special Parenting Q&A just for Mother’s Day. Submit your questions for future Q&As at info@DeborahAnnDavis.com.

00:00 Intro
1:30 Is it okay for my younger child to watch the same TV that my older children are watching? Is it okay for them to read the same books?
4:00 How can I reduce my child’s academic stress?
7:40 The other moms in my daughter’s class seem to be handling quarantine better than me. How can I catch up?
11:19 How can I de-escalate a blow-up I can see coming a mile away?
15:40 How do I approach my daughter after she slams the door?
17:50 Closing

Facebook Live Reading from “How To Keep Your Daughter From Slamming the Door.”

00:00 Intro
00:40 Are you an awesome mom?
6:00 “How I’m Awesome” Activity
7:00 Continue reading from “How To Keep Your Daughter From Slamming the Door.”
14:15 Conclusion

Awesome Mom Tribe Origin Story.

Read more at https://DeborahAnnDavis.com/the-mom-tribe/

Facebook Live Reading from “Manifested Blessings.”

00:00 Introduction
00:58 Excerpt Reading from “Manifested Blessings.” The story is called, “A Hole In My Heart.”
10:00 Excerpt Reading from “How To Keep Your Daughter From Slamming the Door.”
15:10 Closing

Mom Minute Video: 3Rs of the Awesome Mom Philosophy.

I know you’re busy (after all, you’re a mom), so these Mom Minutes are deliberately kept short.

Facebook Live Reading from “Power of Your Inner Brilliance.”

00:00 Introduction
00:55 Introducing “The Power of Your Inner Brilliance.”
01:50 Excerpt Reading from “The Power of Your Inner Brilliance.” The Story is called, “The Positive Side of a Crushing Experience.”
20:40 Closing

Mom Minute Video: Train Your Brain.

I know you’re busy (after all, you’re a mom), so these Mom Minutes are deliberately kept short.

Mother’s Day Story

Watch to learn why mother-daughter relationships are important.


Get Deborah’s books at https://www.amazon.com/Deborah-Ann-Davis/e/B00QI4CEGU/

Categories
Awesome Moms Tell Your Tweens + Teens

Do You and Daddy Still Have Sex?

Here’s a mother-daughter relationship breakdown:

“Hey, Mom?”

I froze at the sound of my daughter’s voice, trying to figure out if I should run and hide, or stay and chat. There’s something in its questioning quality that, after years of experience, told me I should’ve run. However, it was too late. She’d cornered me in the laundry room.

“Yes, honey?” I heroically kept my voice from quavering.

“Do you and Daddy still have sex?”

BOOM! I knew it! I had heard that little something in her voice warning me I was about to be blindsided.

But, I was ready. I knew exactly what to do. I’d been fielding these kinds of questions ever since she started school. What unnerved me was wondering what gem she was about to hit me with. I responded with my fallback deflection.

Why do you ask?”

You see, when your child corners you with questions you may not be ready to answer, responding with another question is a great deflection. Besides, many times the question she’s asking is not what’s really on her mind. It’s the product of whatever she’s been mulling over. My question cuts to the heart of the matter.

Questions like, “Why do you want to know?” refocus her mind on some earlier experience that had led to the question. That’s really what she wants to discuss, so we have a loving conversation while folding laundry. Crisis averted! 

In our family, these moments typically originated from a conversation at school, or a scenario in some show.  Sometimes it even came from a book. Those moments provided insight to her mind’s workings. We were able to offer guidance, and we strengthened our parent-child bond in the process.

It worked like a charm for years… until she reached her sophomore year.

“Hey, Mom?”

“Yes, honey?” I jammed my hands into my pockets to hide my clutching fingers. Lately, the questions were getting into more uncomfortable areas.

“Do you and Daddy still have sex?”

Yup, the little voice had warned me! I squared my shoulders and proceeded with confidence. “Why do you ask?”

“No reason. I just want to know.”

Deflection deflected? That was new. Slogging on despite the initial failure, I calmly place my hands on my lap. “What made you bring that up now?

“I’ve been thinking about it for a while, and I really want to know.”

I was in uncharted waters here. This was the first time distracting questions hadn’t worked. It looked like I might actually have to answer her this time. But, I had one more trick up my sleeve.

I leaned in, looked her in the eye, and said, “Don’t ask me a question, honey, that you really don’t want to hear the answer to.”

She blinked at me once, spun around on her heel and fled out the door… and never brought it up again. 

Years later I shared a laugh with my cherub when I reminded her of that story. I couldn’t resist teasing her. “Do you want to know the answer now?”

“Ewww, Mom! No!”

The end. 😉

For mother-daughter communication worksheets and tips check out the rest of my blog at DeborahAnnDavis.com

Categories
School Stuff Tell Your Tweens + Teens

Make a Fresh Start With “Yet”

Does is seem like your teen is thinking, “My relationship with my mom is falling apart” around report-card time?

How would you like a simple tool that will undo the emotional damage of report cards and grades? How about three tools?

Report Cards are misused and misinterpreted pretty much across the board. Most parents don’t recognize the harm inflicted because they were raised under the Report Card Reign. 

Here’s the thing. As much as we’d like students to understand that report cards reflect progress, young children see grades as a reflection of whether their teachers like them or not.  They don’t necessarily understand it’s a representation of what they accomplished. 

Unfortunately, that view doesn’t always change as they get older.

And, as much as we’d like parents to view report cards as progress reports, parents see report cards as an indicator of how involved they should have been in their child’s schooling… almost like that C- in biology is actually a C- in parenting.    

Low grades = low self esteem for kids

Low grades = low self esteem for parents

Sadly, self-esteem gets tangled up with grades. Those report cards can make your kids feel good about a high grade (that they don’t really understand how they got, so the teacher must really like them), or bad about themselves because they didn’t measure up, disappointing parents and teachers alike.

I’m putting together 3 techniques that will give you a fresh way to view grades and Report Cards – as tools at your disposal. Then, I’m going to teach you how to use this tool to maintain proper perspective about your kids’ grades. Finally, I’m going to teach you how to use this new perspective to positively impact how your KIDS see their grades, so they can use them as tools, too.

Here’s the great news. With this info, you’ll be able to use the summer to help your kids get their feet planted under them in time for a fresh start next year.

#1 – Tools At Your Disposal

Report Cards are tools, and nothing more. They provide information that you can harness for your child’s success and well-being, but first you have to be able to put things into perspective in order to do that consistently. 

Grades reveal you your child’s areas of strength, and areas that need attention. They are not about whether your child is a good student or bad. It’s all about whether your cherub can navigate the classroom situation while trying to learn. 

Low grades are merely flags that indicate changes need to be made. Once you, the teacher and your child figure out (as a team) how your child can successfully learn, things will improve.

When you learn to use Report Cards as tools, your kids will follow suit. That will be empowering for both of you!

#2 – Keeping Perspective

Report Cards are tools for analysis. They are not good or bad. They just are. Your perspective is adopted by your kids, and has longer lasting effects on them than a mere grade. If you see Report Cards as tools that provide information, so will your kids. 

Even if you’re darlings are getting stellar grades, perspective is important. When you learn to objectively analyze grades instead of being emotionally jerked around by them, you can more easily figure out the next steps to benefit your kids. However, when you get emotional about Report Cards, you keep your kids in an emotional flux about their schoolwork, instead of focused on learning.

I highly recommend you read my earlier article, The Inner Game of Tennis before you continue here. It will help you handle the whole Report Card situation with a fresh perspective. 

#3 – The Power of “Yet”

At some point, academia is going to overwhelm your kids. Something at some time will make them struggle. When that happens, they need perspective to help them through. You can give them a healthy perspective by sharing this:

No one hands a report card to the parent of a toddler and says, “Your child gets a B- in walking.” 

No one tells a young child, “You get a C+ because you’re still using your training wheels.”

That’s because everyone knows that with practice children master those skills. Learning to walk and learning to ride a bike are universally recognized as processes that have to be learned over time.

 So, instead, we encourage them wherever they are in the process. “You almost have it. You might not have it YET, but you will.”

How come we don’t look at education the same way? We should be telling our parents and students, “Your report card shows you haven’t mastered long division YET.”

“Yet” is so powerful. It puts perspective on how far you’ve progressed, and gives you encouragement to keep going. Parents who understand the power of  “yet” say supportive things like… 

“You almost have it. You might not have it yet, but you will.” 

and…

“We’ll have time to get after that this summer. We’ll find a fun way to approach it.

 You’re going to feel so confident going back to school next year!”

No one gives up when they believe in “yet.”

3 Empowering Techniques 

Get a fresh start on the whole grade-thing starting today. Go ahead. Claim the power. 

  1. Recognize Report Cards are merely a diagnostic tool, and not a representation of who your child is.
  2. Adjust your perspective from an emotional one to an objective one.
  3. Use the power of “yet” every chance you get, and encourage your kids to do the same.

That’s all you have to do. You got this!


Join my Talk To Teens 2021 series for more about this topic! Register here: https://www.parentweenconnection.com/Talk-About-Teens/

July 31 & August 1 – Rocking Back to School

October 23 & October 24 – First-Quarter Check-In

Categories
Awesome Moms Tell Your Tweens + Teens Walking the Walk

A Fresh Start for Your Parenting Role

Here’s one way on how to improve mother-daughter relationships:

The Phone Call:

Her (voice distressed): Mom, do you have time to chat?

Me (stopping what I was doing): Sure. What’s my role here?

Her: I don’t know. I guess I just want to vent. Let me finish before you say anything.

Me: No problem (then clamping my mouth shut)

Her (25 minutes later): … I’m the kind of person, that when he…

Me (resisting the urge to chime in): Mm-hmm

Her (10 minutes later): What do you think?

Me (floodgates open): Do you feel like the situation is taking some of your power away?

Her: Yeah, I guess I do.

Me: I get it. Let’s look at that together.…   

Me (45 minutes later):  How are you feeling now?  

Her: You know, Mom, I feel like it’s going to be alright.   

Me: That’s because it is going to be alright. It always was.

Her (laughing): Thanks, Mom.   

Is that an example of brilliant parenting, or what? It used to be that when I heard distress in my daughter’s voice, I would immediately jump in with sage advice. I gave that up a long time ago. Why? Because 75% of the time she ended up emotionally exploding, which, to me seemed to come out of nowhere. We’d go to our corners, with her feeling worse than when she started, and me feeling blindsided, ineffectual, and fully aware that I had let my daughter down when she had come to me for help.

Then, one glorious day, I heard her when she said (once again), “Mom, that doesn’t help me at all!” Instead of backing off and feeling snubbed, I asked her what would help… and she told me

Epiphany! If I found out at the beginning of the conversation what she needed for help, we could avoid the blow ups.

That changed everything, but believe me, it didn’t happen overnight. The urge to emotionally rescue my child was an ingrained habit, overwhelming in my compulsion to make things better for her. But, I was determined to have us share a good relationship, and gradually things shifted.

Nowadays, I ask what role I should fill (Mommy, friend, listener, advisor, comforter) right after I hear that initial emotion-filled, “Mom!” 

I probably do it right about 90% of the time. The other 10% messes up when the magical clamp on my mouth somehow loosens, and I chime in before she’s ready to hear it. (Don’t judge me. I’m a mom.) Regardless, we’ve evolved from “Mom doesn’t get me” to “Mom can help me.” Her trust in our relationship has built back up, even though I haven’t been perfect at it. 

It worked for me, and it can work for you. All you have to do to narrow that widening gap with your kids is to make a Fresh Start using this simple technique. Instead of anticipating their needs based on how you see the world, ask them what role they need you to fill at this moment. And then, do your best to fill it.

Make it a formal Fresh Start by sitting down your kids during an emotionally neutral time, and telling them you want to try something new. Try saying something like this:

Sometimes I want to fix things for you so much, that I don’t hear what you’re trying to tell me. I just wanted to let you know that I’m going to try something different. When you come to me with a problem, I’m going to ask you what you need from me. I can be a listener, a hugger, an advisor, whatever you want – you tell me what you need me to do, and I’ll hear you. We’ll solve your problem together.

Sharing your Fresh Start with your kids will

  • keep them from being confused when you try it for the first time. 
  • make your intentions accountable.
  • allow them to remind you when you forget to ask which role you should fill.

The next time your child wails, “Mom!” you’ll be ready. 

  • When he needs you to listen, listen and don’t talk.
  • When she needs you to cuddle, hug and listen.
  • When they need advice, tell them what they need to know.
  • When she wants to vent, let her vent without judgment (it’s just venting). 

Accept that there will be a learning curve. From personal experience, I can tell you first hand that it may be difficult to keep your mouth shut. When I made my Fresh Start, my daughter was old enough to respect my attempts to improve our relationship. Despite her own emotional turmoil, it wasn’t unusual for her to interject a good-humored, “Mom, what did we say your role was supposed to be?” since it wasn’t unusual for me to get so caught up in the topic, I’d prematurely start offering advice. 

Sometimes, I still can’t help myself, but that’s okay because after years of positive results, she’s confident that my goal is to help her when she wants help – and even now – to cuddle her when she needs a hug.

Make a Fresh Start. It’s well worth the effort. You’ll gain your kids’ trust by making them feel heard and understood. Someday, you may even overhear them sharing your pearls of wisdom with their friends. Now, that’s awesome!

Bonus: This technique actually works with the other personal relationships in your life (spouse, siblings, parents). Try it!

For more parenting advice, get “How To Keep Your Daughter From Slamming the Door,” today. https://amzn.to/3s8sysl

Categories
Tell Your Tweens + Teens

Boosting Your Child’s Self-Worth

Are you wondering how to repair a broken relationship with your daughter?

I’m a big proponent of boosting Self-Worth; self-esteem, not so much. Read Self-Worth Versus Self-Esteem to better understand my reasons.

Think of Self-Worth as being a pound cake, and self-esteem as being a dusting of powdered sugar on the top. The powdered sugar is a different kind of sweetness, but its presence is not necessary for overall cake enjoyment. A high sense of Self-Worth is what you want your kids to develop. They can dust it with self-esteem boosters, but solidifying Self-Worth is where it’s at.

Children with high Self-Worth are more likely to make healthy decisions despite peer pressure. We all want that. The earlier they learn to recognize their basic Self-Worth, and focus less on self-esteem, the more confident they’ll become as a person. 

Here’s what you can do to impress upon your kids how valuable they are: 

  • Provide unconditional love. (“I’ll love you, no matter what.”)
  • Create opportunities to succeed so they’ll learn to take positive risks.
  • Treat failures as what they are – tools to assess how a situation played out, and an opportunity to create a different outcome. 

Unconditional Love 

Your kids deserve your love. That’s a given. They don’t have to earn it. They don’t have to pass a test to show they’re worthy of it. They deserve your love because they are who they are. Today is probably the best day to remind them of that.

Bonus: If you love your children no matter what, they will learn to love themselves, no matter what. Tell them you love them because of who they are, not because of what they do. Good or bad grades, win or lose the game, musically inclined or tin ear, you love them regardless, and forever, because of who they are. They need to know how lucky you are to have them in your life.

Create Opportunities

Learning is every kid’s default mode. If you leave a child alone in the room with a paperclip, they will figure out what a paperclip is capable of. Without a paperclip, they will invent a way to pass the time. That’s why it’s so easy to create opportunities for your child to take positive risks. Every time your child masters something, they feel competent and worthy. 

If you have Littles, think of all they’ve achieved already. In a few short years, they’ve learned to crawl, walk, talk, eat, think, run, dress, share, count, read – it’s amazing, really. Every moment is a chance for them to try to master something else. They come fully equipped with self-confidence and Self-Worth… until someone starts comparing them to other kids.

How about those Middles? They’ve learned how to conduct themselves in public, organize, do sports, use computers, consider what they read, calculate, process, analyze, interpret, and create. They have come so far, and have so much to be proud of. It’s absurd for any of them to have low self-esteem, yet nearly all of them do. 

You can help rescue your Middles by comparing where they are now to where they were this time last year, and the year before. Drive that lesson home by reminding them how much you love who they are, no matter what.

And then, there are those Teens, the top of the adolescent food chain. Most of them are slogging through deep puddles of self-esteem breakers and boosters because they are living vicariously on the internet. Their self-concept is defined by social media’s selfies, likes, follows, and comments… the things that make life temporarily bearable or constantly miserable. Their view of themselves is dictated by how they feel they measure up to their peers. That puts their self-esteem on a neverending rollercoaster ride, and increases the suicide rate in our children.

Teens rarely look at how far they’ve come, or recognize the huge amounts of learning they’ve achieved. They don’t appreciate the skills they’ve honed in their hobbies and extracurricular interests because they aren’t noted on report cards; and if it isn’t noted on a report card, its progress feels irrelevant. 

Your job is to remind them about their accomplishments with a simple walk down Memory Lane. They are so much more sophisticated and grown than they were three years ago (that’s just a random number I picked). A couple of photographs and some reminiscing, interlaced with “I love who you are so much!” will bolster their self-concept, and reinforce their Self-Worth. And as a bonus, have them imagine where they will be in three years if they keep progressing the way they have been.

Failures = Learning Opportunities

No one wants her child to fail, but let’s keep it in perspective. When that staggering baby plops down on its diaper-padded bottom, no one says, “Ooh, he failed at walking!” Nevertheless, at the moment in time, that’s exactly what has happened. 

So what?

It’s no big deal. Baby will get up and stagger around again, sometimes with help, and sometimes without. Failure is part of life. It’s why we learn to improve things, and how we learn to cope. Being judgy about failure is an unfortunate mistake. It’s time to reframe our thinking to see failure as a tool you can use to assess how a situation played out, and as an opportunity to create a different outcome.

Let’s take a failed test as an example. Instead of talking about the grade, first review the adequacy of the test preparation. Your student can identify if enough time was spent studying, or whether there’s another issue at play. (I also suggest having this conversation during the summer with anyone who took final exams, no matter how they did. Removed from the situation, kids will be able to objectively look at their preparation process, and figure out how to do it better next year.)

My friend’s son was flunking college. She had a discussion with him about reducing his partying, only to find out that he didn’t party at all, and that he spent a lot of time trying to study. The fact that he wasn’t retaining anything led to a doctor’s visit, and the discovery that his memory was being impacted by undiagnosed Lyme disease. He ended up withdrawing from school to mend, but resumed the following semester, and eventually received his degree with flying colors. Thank goodness his low grades raised a warning flag.

Secondly, look for distractions that may hinder retention. Congrats if you find some. Without that failed test, you might not ever have discovered which distraction was hampering your student’s learning. Now you can intervene with a plan.

Every failure is a teachable moment. Take advantage of them!

Why Boost Your Kids’ Self-Worth

Anxiety and depression in our children is increasing across the board, while taking positive risks is decreasing, as is forming positive relationship connections. Something has to be done. 

Self-esteem boosters are temporary at best, and may feel fake at worst. Propping up your kids with applause for everything they do is like building a foundation on a house of cards. Leaving their emotions at the mercy of adolescents on social media is like having no foundation at all.

If you want to understand what’s happening to them, watch the movie, “The Social Dilemma.” Then, watch it again together as a family. Its scary message changed our lives for the better. No doubt it will affect your understanding of what your kids are experiencing online.

Enhancing Self-Worth, on the other hand, has a long term effect because it’s based on children recognizing and appreciating the strides they’ve made, regardless of how the world tries to influence them. It’s about understanding that they are valuable and loveable just because of who they are.

You can significantly improve your child’s sense of Self-Worth by: 

  • identifying unconditional love for them, and then providing it
  • reminding them of positive risks they’ve taken in the past, and encouraging them to do it again
  • reframing failure as an opportunity to create a different outcome

… and finally, by modeling the behaviors you want them to embrace.

In the process, you may rediscover your own Self-Worth. Wouldn’t that be a great thing to model for your beloved children?

Merrily,
Deborah

Categories
School Stuff Tell Your Tweens + Teens Walking the Walk

Self-Worth Versus Self-Esteem

March marks the one-year mark for the pandemic lockdown. Congratulations for making it through a very difficult time. If you’re old enough to be reading this, you may still be waiting for “normal” to return so that you can return to feeling better about yourself or your situation.

Stop waiting! Feel better about yourself or your situation now.  You are in control of your feelings (even though sometimes it doesn’t seem like it). Why not focus on the good things about yourself and your situation? You’re worth it.

First, a couple of definitions.

self-esteem –  thinking well of yourself, especially when you believe others think well of you

Self-Worth – thinking well of yourself because you know you are valuable, capable and loveable

How is your sense of Self-Worth doing? 

The external negative opinions of others can dent your internal self-esteem. So can your inner critic, who compares you to the external world (how you look, who you know, what you do, what you’ve won) and judges you unworthy. Achieving high self-esteem depends on whom you know, and what you compare yourself to.

On the other hand, Self-Worth is based on internally recognizing your own growth, progress, accomplishments, and abilities. Knowing your inherent value keeps you steady in the face of naysayers. You feel worthy and loveable, regardless of how many followers you have, or whether you can physically keep up, or how much money is in your bank account. You are inherently valuable. So are your children.

I came through the school system at a time when the focus was on boosting self-esteem. In addition to recording grades, report cards now recorded participation. Kids were congratulated for their report card results, but not necessarily for obtaining knowledge. The value of progress was lost. Even in sports, every child received a trophy. These are shallow trappings that boost self-esteem, but do nothing for a child’s sense of Self-Worth. Instead, kids privately feel like frauds, and work to make sure they aren’t found out. 

Me and College Grades

I remember getting a 98% on my first college test, all multiple choice questions. I had not adequately prepared. More than half of the questions I guessed, and I wondered why the rest hadn’t been covered in class (Spoiler Alert: they had been). I inferred (erroneously) from that A+ that I didn’t need to study. Yes, that explains why I barely passed the class, dinging my fragile teenage self-esteem in the process. 

Because I was focused solely on the test grade, I never bothered to see which questions I had gotten right, or why they were right. The knowledge didn’t matter, as long as I got a grade that fluffed my self-esteem. 

Fast-forward five years to my last semester. What a difference! Somewhere in there I had finally selected a major (fifth time’s the charm) and a career path as a Science Teacher (cue reverent music). 

Knowing that the following school year I’d be on the other side of the ol’ teacher’s desk, I decided to skip the party trip during my very last College Spring Break, and instead stayed on campus to study for an Anatomy and Physiology lab practical. 

Believe it or not, it was an easy decision. Grades no longer drove me. Acquisition-of-Knowledge was in the driver’s seat… co-piloted by Need-to-Know-More-Than-My-Future-Students. 

I was so proud of what I accomplished that very rigorous week because I felt prepared for my first job as a Science Teacher. My strong sense of Self-Worth stemmed from my view of my personal achievement, and not from comparing myself to the other students. My Self-Worth didn’t need a pat on the back for me to appreciate how far I’d come. 

The Pat on the Back

Don’t get me wrong. I love the pat on the back. It’s part of my personality type. But, too many times, self-doubt creeps in there because that pat comes from some outside person. Since I don’t know how others measure “good,” too often I wonder if the patting person is just being kind. 

For example, when I wrote How To Keep Your Daughter From Slamming the Door, I knew I was providing an important, easy to process resource for parents. Every chapter was created with all the attention and detail I normally put into my lesson plans. There was no question in my mind about the book’s value.  

You would think that glowing reviews would reinforce that, and sometimes they do. However, occasionally, my inner critic needles my self-esteem by questioning why the review was so complimentary. Was the reviewer just being kind? Was the reviewer simply being helpful and encouraging me? 

Once I become aware of this destructive behavior, I recover by revisiting what I already know: 

  • The reviews are so complimentary because the book is so good. 
  • The reviewers were not just being kind because if they write unfounded reviews, readers won’t value their work.
  • Just because I find the review helpful and encouraging doesn’t mean that’s its purpose. The review is not for me. It’s for the parents who are looking for help. 

It’s not all about me. It’s about the book. Once I reorient myself to reality, and stop comparing myself to the outside world, the uncomfortable emotions melt away as my Self-Worth reasserts itself (Yay!). 

When I push all that clutter out of my head, and look at what I’ve accomplished, there is no doubt that I’m kicking butt and taking names. That’s Self-Worth, baby!

If it’s this difficult for us adults to shut off the self-doubting noises, imagine what it’s like for our kids. It’s a good thing that my next post will be on how to boost your kid’s sense of Self-Worth.

Meanwhile, if you are already a Self-Worth Warrior, please share what you do to focus on how far you’ve come in your life. It will help everyone to hear other examples, and reinforce what you’re doing at the same time.

Merrily,
Deborah

Categories
Awesome Moms Tell Your Tweens + Teens

Free Connecticut Fun

This week I came across a parent requesting the names of Connecticut “museums or the like” that have free or discounted days. (I’ve alphabetized the responses below.)

There were 30+ responses. Is that a great example of reaching out for support – and receiving it? Instead of parenting like you’re alone on an island, find people who are experiencing situations like yours. They contribute to you, and you contribute to them.

Please share any free or discounted family activities that you know of. Make sure you include which state or country it’s in. Here’s a list of comments for Connecticut:

“We just went to the Aldrich Museum this past Saturday. It is free the third Saturday each month. It’s a small museum but tend to have great exhibits.”

Audubon Society.”

“The Bronx Zoo is free on Wednesdays. Advance reservation required.”

CT Science Center in Hartford used to offer discounts to homeschoolers. Not sure of what going on now.”

“I don’t know if the Feinstein Jr Scholar Program is in CT, but if it is, the children get a Jr card. That card provides all sorts of free admission and discounts. Like Mystic Aquarium is one. You can take the child and two additional people for free.”

“You probably could pull up the Feinstein program right online and get one.”

“It appears you can order a card. You need to put in a school though.”

“There is a program called Free Fun Fridays, but it’s only during the summer, through the Highland Foundation. You pick any of the locations participating that Friday (in Mass only) and just get there early because those days can get pretty busy. I don’t know if they’re still doing it due to the pandemic but you can check.”

“The Libraries used to have discount passes. Not sure if they are doing that with Covid though. Local public libraries have free passes available to borrow. They tend to get booked up early though, so be sure to reserve them in advance.”

“Also try your local library several of them have free or discounted tickets.”

“You can get a museum pass at your local library.”

“If you get Snap, Mystic is free for the recipients.”

“Nautilus and Submarine Museum in Groton is always free.”

“We usually get a membership to a museum that has reciprocal benefits to other museums. Our New England Air Museum family membership was $100 and they are part of the North American Reciprocal Museums program, so we have used it to get in free to a lot of other museums.”

“Old Sturbridge Village is charging half price for kids admission now, and sometimes they have free admission days on Mothers Day or Fathers Day.”

Peabody  Museum in New Haven usually has free days in Thursdays from September to June. With everything being shut down, not sure if they’re open. They were also in the middle of remodeling. Children’s museum in New Haven, too.”

Roger Williams Zoo does the same thing with other zoos and museums.”

“If you have a membership for Roger Williams Zoo, you get free admission to the Boston Museum of Science.”

Wadsworth Athenaeum Museum is currently free, you have to book online.”

“The Wadsworth Athenaeum is currently free, operating at reduced capacity. 

You can get timed tickets online.”

The White Memorial Nature Center is free, for kids, one week every month! It’s a really great nature center. And definitely tie in a little pond boardwalk hike!”

Categories
Awesome Moms

6 Steps For Improving Your Relationship With Your Daughter

The relationship with her mother is the most important female bond in a daughter’s life. She needs it because

  • children are too heavily influenced by media and young friends, especially if their relationship with their parents is strained or volatile. They need you to provide balance with the world.
  • your relationship with your daughter builds trust, and teaches her how to handle herself in other relationships.

A loving relationship built on trust is possible, even if your daughter’s behavior is starting to become difficult to handle. It’s important to find a solution early before the relationship spins out of control.

Here’s a quick outline for improving your relationship with your daughter by building her trust. FYI, everything here is addressed in depth in How To Keep Your Daughter From Slamming the Door with plenty of mother-daughter relationship activities to go through.

  1. Learn and practice conversation starters.
  2. Stock up on strategies for handling conflict.
  3. Make and keep rules and consequences.
  4. Increase your engagement with your daughter.
  5. Set aside time devoted to fun that you two spend together.
  6. Take some time out for you to keep yourself centered and balanced.

Step # 1 – Learn and practice conversation starters.

  • Prepare a list ahead of time.
  • Use the examples in “How To Keep Your Daughter From Slamming the Door” or make up your own.
  • Ask other moms how they engage their daughters.

Step # 2 – Stock up on strategies for handling conflict.

  • Have a plan in place before conflict arises.
  • Step Back and Come Back when the conversation gets heated.
  • Count to ten before answering.
  • Do Deep Breathing and the other Quick Fixes.
  • Model the behavior you want your child to employ.

Step # 3 – Make and keep rules and consequences.

  • Share rules and consequences with kids before they are needed.
  • Kids can discuss, but you own the Adult Role, so you make all decisions.
  • Enforce consequences when a line is crossed. 
  • Avoid disciplining out of anger. Wait until your distress decreases before discussing consequences. 
  • If rules need adjusting, change them after a proven period, and never at the start of something new (like a new school year).

Step # 4 – Increase engagement with your daughter. 

  • Ask open-ended questions that can’t be answered yes or no.
  • Use magazine articles to start a conversation by asking her opinion.
  • Share stories of you and your mom with your daughter.

Step # 5 – Set aside time devoted to fun that you spend together.

  • Brainstorm ideas that can include others (family members, BFFs, neighbors).
  • Spend a girls-day together (nails, hair, make-up, shoes).
  • Plan a day trip with her BFF and the BFF’s mom to some unique event.
  • Spend a day cooking food together for the entire week with music you both like.

Step # 6 – Take some time out for you to keep yourself centered and balanced.

  • Read something positive, uplifting, exciting.
  • Meditate or listen to encouraging songs.
  • Go for a walk with your friends.
  • Move your body to upbeat music.
  • Take a long luxurious bath.

Hopefully, recognizing how basic these solutions are will encourage you to attempt them. Just make sure when you make changes that you tell your family ahead of time. Otherwise, they might freak out when things switch up out of nowhere.

For more info on relationship building with teenage girls, see the books, “How To Keep Your Daughter From Slamming the Door” and “How To Get Your Happy On.”

Feel free to contact me at info@DeborahAnnDavis.com if you’d like to discuss a particular situation. It takes a village.

Deborah

Categories
Tell Your Tweens + Teens

To Compare, Or Not To Compare… That’s the Academic Question

Children are wondrous Works-In-Progress. The way they grow and develop is nothing short of a miracle. The biggest error we make, and the gravest injustice to our kids, is to compare them to others. We all do it. We can’t help ourselves because that’s the way we were raised.

We were taught that trophies and report cards represent accomplishments, when in actuality, mastery and life application are what matters. Those exterior symbols may reflect your children’s achievements, and in turn, may boost their self-esteem, but those positive effects are temporary at best. 

They also are the foundation for developing an Imposter Syndrome in your child. When we, including kids, are not sure if external praise is deserved, we doubt our ability. Deep down inside we suspect a mistake has been made, and privately we know we really aren’t as nice, or intelligent, or strong, or beautiful, or likeable as the world thinks we are. That creates an underlying fear of being exposed as a “fraud” if the “truth” comes out.

Win or Lose, It’s How You Play the Game

It’s time to let go of the emphasis of awards based on comparison. Instead, focus on our kids’ personal progress. That’s what builds the foundation for long lasting self-worth. They progress, they know it, and no one can take that away from them.

When I coached basketball to middle schoolers, I always emphasized personal improvements. A trophy from a well-fought contest feels better than one received from a blow-out game against a significantly weaker team. Of course the girls were happy to win either, but the latter felt hollow and mildly embarrassing to our players in the long run. 

So, to make sure they played their best in a way they could be proud of, we changed the objective. Instead of merely racking up points, the goal now was to execute five passes before attempting a shot, or to make sure everyone on our team scored before you got another basket, or to rack up rebounds. Then we’d compare their individual progress to previous games so they could value their own improvement.

Winning because the opponent was weak creates that feeling of being a fraud. But figuring out how to break your personal rebound record by five more rebounds is something a player can own and value, since rebounds happen no matter who you’re up against.

The opposite held true, also. When faced with a tough competitor, win or lose, we always focused on their personal best. We told them that they had no control over who showed up on the other team. The only thing they could control was which part of themselves they brought to the game. Losing didn’t have the same kind of sting for young girls when they accomplished some personal best. They owned it, and it built up their internal self-worth. That lasts a lot longer than a self-esteem boosting trophy that the team earns.

Thwarting the Imposter Syndrome In Our Children

The same holds true in the classroom. School systems that use A,B,C,D,F  as their protocol (their version of a trophy) have an external reward system in place. Other schools use a Pass/Fail system to recognize student work. My personal favorite is the system that measures actual progress with criteria like Emerging or Mastery. When any of these systems focuses on individual development, the student is more likely to own their progress, and build self-worth. But, usually the goal is to do what the other kids are doing at the same speed they’re doing it, and in the same way they do it. 

I believe distance learning is especially difficult for students trained to have their self-esteem derived from comparing themselves to other students. Robbed of the ability to lean over and ask other students how they did on a test or project, they no longer have a measuring stick for propping up their self-esteem. Now, they risk being exposed as an imposter in front of their parents. If this is affecting your children, you may see

  • increased irritability and anxiety
  • hesitancy to try new things for fear of getting them wrong
  • tendency to withdraw

I also believe that parents trained to value letter grades, and whether their child is “keeping up,” find distance learning nerve wracking. Their focus on the school’s external yardsticks exposes their own imposter syndrome. They doubt their ability to be the home-teacher, forgetting that they were the ones who taught their kids to walk, talk and explore… and most likely without any specific training of their own. 

You can easily shift the focus from the external to the internal by comparing where they were this time last year, academically, athletically, etc. An emphasis on using the appropriate yardstick (personal progress) will help your kids eventually make the shift themselves, and thereby build their self-worth. 

Teach Them How To Be Smart

I kept a banner on the wall in my classroom that stated, 

“Smart” isn’t something you’re born with. “Smart” is something you become.

Anyone can become “Smart.” You just have to work at it. The brain improves the same way a muscle improves. If you challenge a muscle with exercise or movement, you become stronger. If you challenge your brain with schoolwork, art, music lessons, or puzzles, you become smarter. The more you practice, the greater the change. 

Understanding this puts the power to improve in your child’s hands. It also converts the negativity of mistakes into the positive realm of learning experiences. When something doesn’t workout right, the brain now knows to find an alternative. 

You got this!

If you’d like more, reach out to me at info@DeborahAnnDavis.com.