Conversations are our most powerful tool for teaching resilience, modeling the behavior we want our children to emulate, and connecting with our kids.
In fact, the strength of our relationships with our tweens and teens can be measured by the strength of our conversations.
Conversations that are candid and non-judgmental create relationships that are trusting and resilient, whereas conversations that are one-sided and agenda-driven create relationships that are fragile and disconnected.
In fact, the conversation is the relationship.
The first pillar in Resilience-Based Parenting™, our 52-skill toolkit for raising teens and tweens (and loving it), is about empowering the conversation and changing the relationship you have with your teens and tweens.
In this pillar, you will learn to:
When you change the conversation, you change the...
The stories you tell about yourself become self-fulfilling prophecies. They drive your behavior, influence how others respond to you, and either empower you to achieve your dreams or place unnecessary limits on your potential.
Let's look at an example. Imagine that you are a high school student and you tell yourself this story: "I am not very good at school."
This belief would make you feel insecure and anxious in the classroom, which would likely make you reluctant to participate, as well. This would cause your teachers to judge you poorly and give you lower grades, which would corroborate your belief in your academic ineptitude.
All this would probably make you less likely to try very hard at your schoolwork, which would further perpetuate the cycle.
On the other hand, if you told even a slightly more empowering story, the cycle would perpetuate on a more positive track. Imagine if this were the story instead: "It sometimes takes me longer, but I always figure it out."
Helping someone we care about feels good. We feel useful and connected when we support people we love.
Why, then, are we so reluctant to let others help us?
Often, we believe that if we ask for help, or even allow others to volunteer support, we will be a burden. We think we should be able to handle our problems on our own. We believe that putting our own needs ahead of someone else’s makes us selfish. We might even think we do not deserve to be taken care of.
However, if we dig a little deeper, we might realize that these beliefs do not serve us.
Why would we push someone away when we could take the opportunity to feel more connected by allowing someone to witness our vulnerability?
Why would we choose to go it alone when we could take an opportunity to be loved by someone?
Why would we choose to feel unworthy when we could take an opportunity to feel deserving?
If you have ever taken care of a loved one when they needed it, you know that it feels good to demonstrate how much...
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.
We all get to choose who we want to be friends with, and who we don’t want to be friends with. This means that at some point or another, your child will want to be friends with someone who doesn’t want to be friends in return. This can be hard to come to terms with, but there’s really only one way around it: Back off, and find somewhere else to initiate a friendship wherein feelings will be reciprocated.
But what about that murky gray area where your kids have friends, but they feel like they are outsiders? When they feel like the third wheel?
And what happens when your children are the ones who are making others feel left out?
Groups of three are particularly difficult because someone always feels a bit like an outsider, so it's worth starting a conversation with your kids about how they show up in friendship triangles—whether they are on the inside or the outside.
The strategy for being on the inside is...
Sometimes, hard as we try, the words we say to our kids just are not effective. For whatever reason, they don't resonate with our kids. When we say them, our kids feel annoyed instead of inspired. They think we are lecturing them, or they think we are not very aware.
And if you think about it, I bet you can come up with a few phrases that your parents repeatedly said to you that always rubbed you the wrong way.
We can be more effective parents if we ask our kids what these words and phrases are. Perhaps your 11-year-old son is tired of hearing you say, "When I was a kid ..."
He will tell you that times have changed since you were a kid and that he is a different person than you are. As well-intended as the advice is, it goes in one ear and out the other ear because your son discounts it as irrelevant and out of touch.
Of course, we know that you have wisdom to share with your child, but this method of conveying it is ineffective with your child, so trying a new tactic might...
Conversations are the backbone of a relationship. Conversations that are deep and authentic result in relationships that are close and long-lasting. When kids know how to have great conversations, they can build strong, supportive relationships.
Knowing how to have great conversations is a skill—one that can be learned. A good way to start teaching this skill is to teach your kids to ask great questions.
When kids learn how to ask great questions, they can start interesting conversations. And perhaps more importantly, they can start new friendships. Great questions get people talking. They invite people to open up and they allow the questioner to show that they actually care about the answer—that they are really listening.
If your children learn this skill, they will be perceived by their peers as interesting, curious, and engaging. They might also become the allies to the shy kids, who will deeply appreciate someone taking the time to...
One Resilience-Based Parenting question that comes up a lot is: What should parents do about social media?
It seems like kids change their behavior when they get on social media. They get snarky. They get aggressive. They use language they wouldn't necessarily otherwise use.
So parents are left with just taking it away. They don't know what else to do.
But when we just punish our kids, they resist. And what we want for them, ultimately, is to be able to use social media responsibly, in a way that serves them.
When a classmate insults your child, what should you say?
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?...
Receive the first five chapters of Kristin MacDermott's book: It Takes Two Minutes to Shift Your Mindset and Build Resilience.