Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Thoughts from a Facebook time out

Have you ever set an impulsive or unrealistic consequence?
Do you shake your head in embarrassment knowing you disciplined first without knowing the facts?
Did you feel so fearful of a situation that you responded with undue caution or restriction?

Sigh.  Hi, Parents.

I write this as I sit in my first week of a Facebook time out.                           

Yes.  Me.  Good girl managed to tick off Facebook within her second week on the site!

I inadvertently triggered a Facebook algorithm that led to suspicion of spamming so they put a block on my account. I can't like or reply to my Facebook posts.

Well intentioned followers are trying to talk to me and I won't be allowed to reply for three more weeks!

What a helpful reminder about the consequences we set for kids.

Facebook did it all wrong.
  1. They consequenced without asking questions
  2. They didn't allow me to discuss what had happened or let me explain my side
  3. Something that I did by accident in 5 seconds led to a punishment lasting 4 weeks
  4. They didn't explain what I should do instead.  I had to ask a friend.
  5. They taught me nothing.

However, as I sit in my unrealistic consequence, I can tell you how you can do it better for your child.

Here's a consequence guide to help you have a fair response:
  1. What is the behavior you are trying to address? 
  2. Why is it wrong and what do you want to teach instead?
  3. Check in with yourself.  Are your feeling calm? If not, take space.
  4. Check in with your child.  Is he/she calm? If not, provide some cool down optionsThere will be time for consequence later.
  5. Using a calm tone, at your child's eye level, ask your child what their intent was behind the behavior
  6. Correct the thinking error.
  7. Explain what you wanted to see instead.
  8. Name the consequence. Connect it to what you wanted to teach in #2.
  9. After the consequence, quickly check in with your child, reinforce the lesson and reconnect.
It's so much easier said than done, I know.  Sometimes answers like this just lead to more questions

Do you have a question? 
Ask me here in the comment session.
I'd be happy to answer. 

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Taking the Mystery Out of Talking to Teens

A recent LinkedIn discussion centered around the question "If you had five minutes to share your greatest passion, what would it be and what would you say".

My answer: "How to Talk to Teens".  Yep.  Seriously.  No big world issue.  No big political discussion or hobby. Just straight talk on Talking to Teens.

Here's the thing.  I think teens are one of the most disenfranchised groups in our world today.  They are misunderstood and discounted. 
The biggest mistake I hear in "teen talk" is silence. 

It is so often assumed that there is no point in talking to teens because they won't listen.  It's assumed that they are just going to go off and do whatever they want anyway, so why bother telling them what to do.

This makes me crazy!

Tell kids of all ages what you want them to think.  If you have an opinion on sexual behavior between teens, let your teen know what your value is.  They should know where you stand on underage drinking, behavior on social media platforms, and a whole host of other things. 

When you assume that your teen has already made up his/her mind, you are giving up your personal power. 
You are handing your influence away. 
To who?  To their friends.  To other people on Facebook or Twitter.

Teens tend to isolate at times.  It is normal kid behavior and developmentally appropriate for them as they learn to separate from you.  That's ok. Give them their space but always create opportunities for them to come back when they are ready, rather than letting them stay gone.
No matter, what, keep talking to your teens. 
They may not talk back all the time but that doesn't mean they aren't listening.

Here's another secret.  Teens have a lot of opinions of their own.  They care about things.  They are developing their own social conscience and are determining their values.

Ask them what they think.  Show teen curiosity about their ideas and opinions.  Ask a follow up question.

Teens behavior can make us all nervous.  It can seem mysterious and foreign and we can worry about risk.

Don't be afraid to ask the tough questions. 
Just like we hear over the loud speaker in public transportation stations, "If you see something, say something".
If your teen is acting in a way that you don't understand, ask and show curiosity. 
The answer is often a lot less scary than whatever you are assuming it to mean.
Meet your teen where he/she is at.  While you may be expecting a good 1:1 conversation, you may learn that your best conversations happen in the car when they are protected from the pressure of eye contact. 
And as must it pains me to say it and you to read it:
Teens are texting these days and they are reading texts.
An easy way to keep in contact with your teen is through texting. 
Don't just text rules and reminders about curfew. 
Keep in touch with conversation. 
You'd be surprised in what you might get back.
Of course, as with anything, text in moderation. It can't be your sole mode of communication with your teen.
What's most important here is that you keep the conversation going.
You'll maintain your relationship with your teen.
 You'll increase the likelihood that when they have a tough decision to make, it's your voice they hear. 
Ok, so that probably was longer than a 5 minute talk.  As you can see, it's my passion. 
If you're needing help connecting with your teen, contact me, and we can get started on helping you get that conversation going.


Sunday, June 2, 2013

We're All Just Grown Up Kids

One of my favorite "Heather-isms" is that "We are all just grown up kids".

When, as adults, we are struggling with something, if we tune into what a kid would need in that situation, we often find the answer.

Recently, in my quest to "dare greatly", I have been tackling new things.

As with anyone, they have brought up some old school insecurities that make me want to run away, hide, and challenge myself another day. 

This weekend, in an effort to burn off some of that stress and worry, I challenged myself with two new workouts. Yesterday was kickboxing at a real MMA gym that involved real boxing gloves and bag.  Today was a free Ultimate Bootcamp class outside.  If you're in the area, you know that means sit ups and push-ups in 90 degree weather!

If you told me last year that I would be doing those things, I'd have laughed and told you that you had mistaken me for someone else, someone more bad ass!  However, this weekend, that bad ass was me!  I overcame two new challenges that I never thought I would before. It reminded me of an important lesson that I try to teach kids:

Sometimes, if you find something that causes butterflies in your stomach, you can remind yourself of something brave you did and use that memory to tell the butterflies to go away.

As I continue to dare greatly and tackle those insecurities, I can remind myself of what I accomplished this weekend and use that to power through doubts and fears.

Parents, you are always tackling new things either as a parent or simply as a grown-up.  These moments can sometimes leave you with doubt and insecurity.  You might tell yourself that someone else would be doing a better job.

In those moments of doubt, remind yourself of the greatest challenge you overcame. 

Use that memory to fuel yourself through your current insecurity.  

I promise you.  You've got this.