Help Kids Avoid Friendship Drama

Teaching your kids to be floaters can help them avoid friendship drama. 

Being a floater means they can float among various social groups. They have friends from club soccer, from their current school, and from elementary school. They have a friend from summer camp, a couple friends in older or younger grades, and a few friends from their parents’ social groups.

Often, children latch onto one best friend. While this is normal (and even great), having only one friend can create problems down the road. What happens when your child and the friend have a falling out, when the friend moves to another state, or when the friend moves onto other interests and friendships? 

When your children are floaters, the impact of friendships that drift-off is less devastating. 

Floaters are also less upset when they are excluded from things. After all, they have other places to go, people to see, and things to do.

Being able to float in and out of social groups has the added...

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"He Called Me Ugly"

When a classmate insults your child, what should you say? 

I have a fundamental belief that people—including children—appreciate being leveled with. They feel more confident when they are given an accurate representation of reality. On the flip side, they feel unsure when they are given bogus information.
 
You need not look much further than your own children to see evidence of this. Children learn to spot a parent’s gush at an early age and, the older they get, the more they realize that Mom and Dad see them through rose-colored glasses—glasses that the rest of the world isn’t wearing. The more often Mom and Dad's words conflict with reality, the less likely their words will have any power.
 
So as painful as it is when someone says something unkind to a child of yours, your best bet is to level with your child. Postpone the gushing and the over-the-top praise, which reminds them that you love them, but gives them little...
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How to Stop Being Triggered by Your Kids

Why is it that our children, the people we love the most in the world, can trigger us so easily?

We all have hot buttons—situations or events or even words our kids say to which we react strongly, or even overreact. One second, we feel calm and at peace. The next, we are flooded with emotions and spinning out of control.

Often, we feel ourselves behaving in a way that is irrational. The triggers might even seem absurd. We cannot pinpoint exactly why we feel so angry over seemingly trivial things that our children do or say, but nonetheless, our emotions are hot.

Other times, our triggers feel justified. We can support and justify our anger with example after example. Nonetheless, we dislike feeling so angry and out of control and would rather respond to our children calmly.

Why is this? Why can things our children say and do make us overreact? And what can we do about it?

Fortunately, when we understand why triggers occur, we can take steps to eliminate them so that we can...

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When Children Have Big Emotional Outbursts

It's hard for anyone, much less a child, to take constructive feedback and listen to reason or act in a way that is logical when they are flooded with negative emotions.

You likely have personal experience with this—when you've been so upset that you just couldn't think straight.

There is science to this—a reason you cannot think straight when you're flooded with emotions.

The part of your brain that is emotional and reactive is very different than the part of your brain that is systematic and logical. You cannot tap into the logical part of your brain when the emotional, reactive part of your brain has taken over.

Your thoughts and your emotions always match.

When you are experiencing a huge, negative doomsday, destructive emotion, you are naturally flooded with equally catastrophic thoughts.

When you understand that it isn't possible to have a reasonable discussion when emotions are running high, you can change your approach...

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When Children Say Horrifying Things

Question: During a play date, my friend’s seven-year-old daughter announced: “I’m fat! Look at my tummy! Why does it stick out?”

We were all horrified, especially because she is tiny—maybe even underweight. I think she was just saying it to see our reaction. What should our reaction have been?

Answer: Here is a great mantra to remember when children say something concerning:

Stay calm. Be curious.

Stay calm because sometimes the adult’s reaction is much, much worse than the problem, and it gives the child too much attention for something that might not need attention. Beyond that, responding in horror to issues of body size or looks—either through gasps or words—communicates to the child that you believe being “fat” (or “ugly” or whatever the word might be) is something to be terribly upset by—and this can cause a cascade of problems down the line.


What if the child later struggles with weight?...

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Talking to Your Teen About Self-Esteem

self-esteem Sep 08, 2020

Most parents try to combat teenage insecurities by telling their children that they are lovable and perfect just the way they are. This doesn't work. The truth is that we all have to earn our own self-worth, and parents need to teach children the skills to do this.

When our teenagers feel awkward, we tell them that who they are is enough. We tell them that they should love themselves exactly as they are. We tell them they are perfect.

And, yet, they don’t believe us. They feel like outcasts. They worry that they are not enough. They wonder what is wrong that they do not love themselves. They even feel guilty for not loving themselves.

And here is why: The truth is that we all have to earn our own self-worth. If your teenagers want to feel worthy and lovable, they have to believe that they are living up to their own standards of worthiness and lovability. They have to earn their own love. Believing that they should love themselves is not enough. They must decide what...

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When Parents Fight

As much as we might wish to avoid it, arguing with our spouses in front of our children happens. 

This does not mean we are bad parents. In fact, if we can remain calm and respectful during a disagreement, it can even be healthy for children to witness us work through a touchy subject—especially when there is a resolution on the other side. 

When couples have healthy rules of engagement for conflicts, children are able to form healthy conflict resolution models for themselves. 

 

Healthy conflict involves: 

  • Active listening
  • Validation
  • Speaking about your experience (using "I statements") while avoiding blame. 
  • Striving for both people to get their needs met, and 
  • Apologizing when that is warranted.

If you can achieve some (or sometimes all) of this, you are a conflict resolution rock star. 

But what happens when parents get into a fight they wish their children hadn't seen? 

Our thought is this ...

First, it happens.

...

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Replace "We Can't Afford It"

beliefs money self-efficacy Sep 01, 2020

Here is a tip for helping your children build healthy, resilience-based paradigms about money:

Replace "We can't afford it." 

This phrase, and the belief it expresses, sets up a paradigm of being powerless with regard to money. But if you frame your spending decisions as a choice, you take your power back. 

Instead of saying, "We can't afford it," try, "I am not going to choose to spend my money on that today." 

Sometimes, you actually can afford it; you simply don't want to spend your hard-earned money on the trivial or useless thing your children is asking you to buy.

If you say, "We can't afford it," you are wasting an opportunity to say something that proactively builds a better paradigm about the relationship between values and money. More on that in a bit ... 

Even if you truly cannot afford it, saying that over and over to your children build a disempowered model in their heads of your family relationship with money. It communicates that you are never...

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Labeling Kids, and the Imposter Syndrome

At some point or another, someone has assigned you a positive attribute, and you secretly, shamefully, believed that you fell short.

One of my son's friends is known for being outgoing. When he went away to college, though, he felt shy and insecure.

People used to say things to him like, “It’s so easy for you to make friends!”  

Inside, he felt like he was struggling to find a social group. He thought that maybe he was a fraud—that he didn’t really have this great friend-making attribute that everyone had assigned to him.

When you tell your children that they are something—whether that is a positive or negative thing—you risk simultaneously and inadvertently telling them that they cannot be something else. 

This comes at a risk. A child who is told that she is smart will freak out a little bit (or a lot) on the inside when she cannot tackle a problem, or when she makes an error. 

I hope no one finds out my secret, ...

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Here Is a Strategy for Getting Your Kids to Confide in You

We all hope that our children confide in us. But sometimes, they might feel afraid to tell us what is really going on.

Or, they might feel embarrassed. 

Here's a great way to keep the lines of communication open.

Let your kids pick out a journal they love. Tell them that if they ever feel afraid to tell you something, they can write it in the journal and leave it under your pillow.

Promise them that you will do your best to write your response on the next page of the journal and leave it under your child's pillow.

Of course, there may be times when your children disclose something that requires a one-on-one, in-person conversation.

But often, you can save your children a little embarrassment or anxiety by simply letting the conversations occur in a journal. It will help your children open up and continue to confide in you as their lives become more and more complex.

If you like this tool, check out Resilience-Based Parenting, where we provide 52 tools for raising...

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