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Kids to College: Survival Guide for Parents

Parenthood has two big transitions, when your children arrive and when they leave.  Both can be terrifying.  And after saying goodbye to your college student on move-in day, one of the hardest things to come to grips with at home is the sudden lack of information. You’re excluded from your student’s experience in a new way, and no one can invite you in except your student — and that’s only if they want to. That doesn’t mean you disappear from their lives.  But it does mean you play a different role.  You’re going from manager to consultant and supporter.

Here are some things parents and other professionals suggest to make the transition better and healthier for everyone.  The following tips have been collected from several articles and books that are proven to be effective and trustworthy.  Give these ideas a try.  

Give them space. College students need a grace period to meet people, get involved in campus life and focus on their new environment without constant reminders of home. No matter how eager they are for college, it’s not easy to get used to new surroundings and sleeping in a new bed. This is hard for some, extremely hard for others and super easy for a few.  Give them the space to figure it out. That doesn’t mean you don’t have conversations, but follow their lead. One of your kids may text constantly, while the other might not touch base for weeks on end.  

Be prepared to listen then let go. Often kids call or text when they’re feeling low, and trust me, you’ll hear about the roommate drama, the rotten exam or the malfunctioning laundry machines. But once kids have unloaded, they move on, leaving you to worry into the night about a problem that likely doesn’t exist for them the next day. Or if it does, it’s their issue to solve. Try not to let their download ruin your day. It’s probably not ruining theirs.

Offer guidance, not a quick fix. If your child is struggling with a normal issue, such as not finding people they like, hear them out (see above), because a sympathetic ear is helpful. But don’t leap to offer a fix, such as contacting a resident adviser on their behalf. We want our kids to become competent and independent, and they need to develop problem-solving skills. They also won’t learn to get comfortable with discomfort and build resilience if we handle things for them.

Point them to resources. When your student complains about homework or a dorm challenge, ask them about resources on campus, and nudge them to pursue those avenues. You should no longer be their one stop shop when it comes to solutions.  They need to seek out other avenues.  Colleges have staff ready to help students. Resist the urge to micromanage. If students don’t know where to start, suggest they check with their resident adviser. Resources include the tutoring center, academic advising, career services center, student health clinic, financial aid office, multicultural center, first-generation center and more. Engaging with other students and professional staff is the best way to adjust. Keep pointing them back to campus.

Ordering groceries for them? Stop. You’re paying for a meal plan, after all. And no, your student doesn’t need a laundry service. Campuses provide washing machines. Students need to develop life skills, and now’s the time to start. Their roommates and future partner will appreciate your not making life too easy for them. Hold back on all the extras.

Know when to get involved. You know your child best, and no one is paying attention like you are. If you suspect a mental-health condition is sending your student into a tailspin, or if they’re experiencing a recurring illness or unfamiliar allergy that doesn’t sound normal, it’s okay to ask questions and follow up. When a health or safety issue isn’t being addressed in a timely way, a phone call from a parent can make a difference.

I understand that this sounds simple but it’s not easy.  I am always here to help.  Don’t hesitate to reach out if you have questions!  Give us a call at (562) 537-2947.  

Written by Lisa Smith

6 Ways to Raise Awesome Teenagers

Really, the first thing that I will tell you is to disbelieve the myth that teenagers are sullen, angry creatures who slam doors and hate their parentsSome do that (that’s when parents call me), but the overwhelming majority do not.  I’ve worked with thousands of teens so I can testify to this.  Expect more from your teen than a lousy attitude and lazy work ethic.  Teens are awesome so expect awesomeness!  Here’s how, according to Christie Halverson but with my commentary.

1. Love Them Fiercely

Yes… fiercely.  As in everything about them as much as you can imagine loving another.  Love their whit, their quirks, their messy hair, their scattered minds, their funky style, their type A, B or C personality.  Love it all because they are growing in to glorious humans and you get to be a witness to that and you get to profoundly influence what they are growing in to.  But just loving them isn’t enough.  Love them so much that they are overwhelmed by it, inspired by it and  propelled by it.  Love them so much that they can’t help but experience it and be comforted by it.  Demonstrate this love regardless of their performance.  Love them fiercely just because they are yours.

2. Listen Extravagantly
 
When they walk in the door after school, you have a precious few minutes when they will divulge the secrets of their day with you.  Be excited to see them. And if that is hard or impossible because of bad behavior then call me and we can work that out.

Put down the cell phone. Don’t waste this time making dinner or taking a phone call or working on the computer. Look them in the eye and hear what they are saying. Be empathetic. It is really hard to navigate high school and middle school. Don’t offer advice at this time unless they ask for it. Don’t lecture. Just listen. It makes them feel important and valued. We all need to feel that way.

3. Say Yes More Than You Say No

The world is forever going to tell them no. For the rest of their lives, they will be swimming in a stormy sea with wave after wave of “you’re not good enough” and “you can’t do this” crashing down on their heads. As adults, we experience this often.  It’s draining, discouraging and defeating.  Don’t be that voice in their life.  Of course, there are things they can not do.  But do you need to be the one to point that out?  Or can they learn that on their own with you still being their cheerleader?  If nothing else, instill in them the belief that they are not limited and they can do anything if they’re willing to work hard enough for it.  Be the YES, YOU CAN in their lives. Help them leave the house every day feeling invincible.

4. Say No Often

I know.  I’m killing you with “say yes” then “say no”.  There’s a reason so stick with me.  This is more about saying no to experiences that will be harmful to them or expose them to too much, too early in their life.  

You need to say no to experiences and situations that will set your child up for harm or unhappiness. Don’t let them go to the parties where they will be forced to make a choice about alcohol at age 16 in front of their peers . Don’t let them stay out until three in the morning with a member of the opposite sex… or anyone for that matter.  Teenagers need to be home and asleep in the middle of the night.  Be the parent. Set up rules for their safety, both physical and moral. You would think this rule goes without saying, but trust me, I’ve known a shockingly large number of parents who don’t. 

5.  Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff

When living with teenagers, it can be so easy to see the backpack dropped in the middle of the living room or the socks on the sofa as laziness. Or the bedroom scattered with dirty clothes as irresponsible. And sometimes it is.  But sometimes it’s not.  Instead, and before you open your mouth to yell at them, put yourself in their shoes. Find out about their day first. Maybe they are feeling beaten down, and they just need to unwind for a minute and tell you about it. Ignore the mess for a bit and put your arms around that big, sweaty kid and give him a hug. Talk to him about his world. Find out what he did, wants to do, and dreams of doing. THEN, and only then, ask him to pick it up and put it away.

That being said, do you completely ignore the state of their bedrooms all the time? No, you do not. But pick your battles, and and pick the appropriate time to fight them. Once every seven to 10 days or so, tell them their bedrooms need to be picked up. Which they will do more happily because it’s not the running loop of a nagging mom. They know when you  ask, it needs to be done.

6. Stand Back and Watch the Magic Happen

If you let them, these glorious creatures will open their hearts and love you more fiercely than you could possibly imagine. They are brilliant, capable, strong spirits who bring with them a flurry of happiness. They are hilarious and clever. They are thoughtful and sensitive. They want us to adore them. They need us to adore them. They love deeply and are keenly in touch with the feelings of others.  I know, I know… it doesn’t always feel that way.  But it’s almost always that way.  If you go at it from that perspective you will find yourself responding differently to them, embracing them instead of trying to remake them.  Imagine the power in that and the impact it will have on them as a human and on your relationship!  

I understand that this sounds simple but it’s not easy.  I am always here to help.  Don’t hesitate to reach out if you have questions!  Give us a call at (562) 537-2947.  

Written by Lisa Smith

When Your Teen Isn’t Ready to Go Back to School

I hear the sighs of relief and the shouts of joy from parents as the first day of school draws near.  I also hear the groans and the tears from the teens who are experiencing the back to school blues.  

This time of year brings a mixture of frustration and excitement for teens. They love getting new school clothes, seeing their friends again and driving themselves to school, for those who have a license. But they don’t relish the returning structure of earlier bed times, homework and the possibility of getting Mr. or Mrs. Meanest-Teacher-Ever for a teacher.

Even though our teens have been through the going-back-to-school scene for years, they still need our help to make that transition as smooth as possible.  Consider these practical things you can do as a parent.

Express expectations clearly. Now is the time to establish expectations and goals for the coming school year.

  • Do they need reminders about who can be in the car with them when they’re driving?
  • Are you revisiting curfews?
  • Are you creating space for homework? It’s a great idea to set up a special area for kids to do their homework — not in their room where they are isolated and have too many distractions. Talk through the what, when, where and why. That will cut any arguments during the school year over getting his work completed.

Have those conversations before school starts so your teens understand your expectations.

Go over their schedule with them. Several weeks before school starts, your teens will probably receive their class schedule. This is a good time to talk with them about their classes and teachers, along with any potential problems or concerns. Then together, strategize ways they can respond to those issues in a healthy way.

Help them get organized. Sometimes the stress of the new and unknown can overwhelm teens. By guiding them to take baby steps, you can help relieve some of that stress. I know one family who together pulled out all the notebooks and binders and put them in order of class schedule, marking each subject and period number. So simple, but it dramatically reduced their teen’s stress. Help your teens think through how they’d like to organize their locker, supplies and clothes. By brainstorming with them (not for them), you can bring a sense of excitement to an otherwise mundane task.

Once you and your teens have eliminated possible stress points, you can focus on making sure stress stays at bay by balancing school, social and personal time.

Encourage sleep. Teens need sleep — and a lot of it. But with smartphones, Netflix and extracurricular activities, sleep often gets pushed aside. And when teens are sleep deprived, they’re cranky and don’t handle stress well. All the adults can relate to this!  Since a regular bedtime is healthy and necessary for academic success, start at least a week before school by making sure your teens get to bed at a decent hour. (Studies suggest they need at least nine hours of sleep a night.) That also means they disconnect from technology. Have them leave their mobile devices and laptops outside their bedroom at night. I know parents who have a technology “box” where everything gets stored by 9 p.m. Why let your teens get distracted through the night with texts and other temptations to stay awake?  And trust me when I say they DO get distracted throughout the night by technology even if they swear otherwise.

Limit extracurricular activities. No, your teens don’t have to be involved in everything. This could be a whole other blog but don’t get me started on that.  Let them pick an activity a semester. If the activities are adding to their stress load, however, you don’t have to feel guilty about saying no.  This is a life lesson about balance. One that, as parents, we need to be modeling.  

Milton Berle was probably thinking about teenagers when he said, “The human brain is special. It starts working as soon as you get up, and it doesn’t stop until you get to school.” Of course he was kidding (or was he), but parents can do a lot for their teens by teaching them that with school, along with so many things in life, it’s the pain of discipline or the pain of regret. Starting on the right track with good back-to-school decisions can help teens, and parents, adjust to a new school year.

I understand that this sounds simple but it’s not easy.  I am always here to help.  Don’t hesitate to reach out if you have questions!  Give us a call at (562) 537-2947.  

Written by Lisa Smith

Can Your Child Learn From Observing If Their Eyes Are Always On a Screen?

Screen time is no substitution for observational learning. As our society is changing the overuse of electronics is a concern in regards to children’s learning at each age of development. Children learn so much about their world through observation and copying behaviors they see and the use of electronics is limiting their observations because their eyes are on a screen instead of watching the world around them. 

Consider young children, as new parents we see that when our children are very young they are watching us and learning from our behavior. We call this observational learning or modeling. Children will pick up a behavior and reproduce it and we as parents can often see ourselves in their behavior. Hopefully they are picking up on the good behaviors and we are trying to be good role models for them. We will hear them saying words that we say or reproducing mannerisms of ours. 

This is exciting to see how quickly they learn and how observant they are. But my concern is that very young children are watching us with our phones, they see how the phone is coming into the relationship. Some parents are constantly taking pictures of their child which distracts from the moment. So in this instance with very young children the phone is interrupting the interaction between parent and child.

As the child gets older the ability to learn through observation continues to be blocked by the phone or other electronic device. When my own children were young, before cell phones, I took them to a restaurant as an opportunity to teach them how to behave in that setting. Now parents go to restaurants and everyone at the table has their own device and no one is interacting. The observational learning is no longer happening. The child is missing the opportunity to engage in face-to face interactions with adults and peers. This is how social skills are learned and when they miss this lesson it can result in social anxiety as they get older and lower quality relationships overall. They need to learn how to read non-verbal cues, communicate effectively with others and develop relationships with others.

Then comes the teen years and this is when they become consumed with their own phone and miss so many opportunities to learn and experience the world around them. Continued use of the electronics results in a need for continued stimulation and an inability to delay gratification. According to Dr. Nicole Beurkens;

     “Because of the continual stimulation they tend to get bored more easily when life is not fast paced enough. This leads to a lower frustration tolerance and  the tendency to give up on tasks and situations without persevering or problem solving before moving on to the next thing.”

We need to remember what is important in parenting and what is the goal? I believe that  teaching our children to function in the world so they can hold a job, have relationships and handle the challenges that face them as they grow older is a goal. So it is our job to give them an understanding of how to interact with others, how to handle frustration, how to delay gratification and problem solve on their own. They need to be interacting with their world in order to learn these skills. Make sure you are creating an environment that allows this to happen and they will have the tools they need when it is time to leave home.

Written by Lisa Strong



                      

The 3 Things Your Teen Fears Most

What your teens fear most is quite different from what may keep you awake at night. Most parents’ worries are theoretical and future-based — fear for their teens’ safety at school and their ability to compete in an increasingly tough world, college applications and their kid getting a job.  Teens, in contrast, fear what is already directly in front of them. While social media stretches their global perspective, what’s on their minds most is narrower than what you might think.

Dr. Kevin Leman believes that three innate fears drive teen reactions. He also believes there are antidotes to each of those fears that only you can provide.  When you know those fears and what your teens need most from you, you can provide what’s already within your control — lasting antidotes to help them power through and develop resilience.  Let’s get to it!

Fear No.1: REJECTION
Who doesn’t want to be liked and accepted? But with teens, this craving trumps all else. Worse, in the peer jungle, liking is based on who’s highest on the food chain for the day, so rejection is hard to escape. I’ve had many clients who’ve been ditched by a best friend then refuse to leave the house for days because they were so crushed.   I’ve had others who lived and breathed sports only to get cut from a team then want to quit everything and change schools.  Not exactly demonstrating resilience.  Here’s the rejection antidote… unconditional love and acceptance at home.  Since rejection is part of life, learning how to handle it positively is critical. If your teens end up in the dirt of the peer heap or fail to make a team or club, listen, empathize, and then offer perspective. Do not judge their feelings or compare them to your own.  With this kind of love and support your teens can learn to take rejection in stride and become resilient.

Fear No. 2 UNCERTAINTY
Your teens may act like nothing bothers them, but they worry constantly. Ever-present on their minds is the survival-of-the-fittest peer environment in which even those on the highest rock can be dethroned at any moment. That makes their world outside your nest rocky, but throw in uncertainty at home — like a parent who has unpredictable work schedules or whose parents are getting divorced — and the uncertainty can be paralyzing.  The uncertainty antidote… stability at home.  When your teens arrive home, they need a safe, calm atmosphere where they can sort out their thoughts and the events that threw them a curveball that day. You are the constant in their rapidly evolving universe. They need to know you’re there, not leaving, will accept them and that they are a priority over your work.  And remember, role-modeling unchanging character, priorities, and most of all, a rock-solid presence guarantees a foundation stronger than any uncertainty your teens face.

Fear No. 3 BEING THE TARGET
Fear can reign in competitive or vicious peer groups. Anything “different” about your teens, including clothes, “loner” status or the simple fact they’re breathing next to an insecure guy who needs to ensure he’s top dog, paints a big target on their backs. With the ease of spreading rumors on a smartphone, it’s not just face-to-face bully encounters anymore. Social media’s anonymity and few , if any consequences mean anyone can say anything about anyone at any time and share it at the press of a button, and it’ll remain indefinitely in the electronic universe and your teens are acutely aware of this, all the time.  The antidote… is a balanced perspective and a “we’re in this together” guarantee. Bad things do happen, and people can be so mean sometimes.  Both are facts of life, so it’s better to prepare your teens before it happens, if possible. Share a time when you were targeted. Point out that many bullies behave as they do because they’re insecure, and taking someone down makes them feel temporarily important. Knowing that truth and knowing you have their back removes some of the sting.

Every time your teens step out your door, that trio of fears hangs heavily over them. Is it any surprise, then, that they sometimes react to that high stress by picking on a sibling or even you? But when you understand what’s really going on behind the attitude-of-the-moment, you can provide support for their daily trek into the teen jungle.

I understand that this sounds simple but it’s not easy.  I am always here to help.  Don’t hesitate to reach out if you have questions!  Give us a call at (562) 537-2947.  

Written by Lisa Smith

The Challenge to Identify Your Values and Stand Against The Flow

Living in Orange County and raising a family here brings its own challenges. There is pressure to succeed both socially and financially. Our children are watching us and learning from our behaviors what is important to us and what we value. Being clear in our own heads of what values we want to pass on to our children will guide our behaviors. But life is complicated, because of the pressure to succeed and compare ourselves to others we can loose our way and I believe this is making our families unstable.

It does take effort and courage to identify your core values and then to stand up for them. Social media has created an environment that is high in intensity. Setting yourself apart can feel very vulnerable. As our children grow up they are much more concerned with fitting in and having “likes” so to identify yourself and your family as something different than the norm is frightening. 

For example as we are raising our family there is pressure to keep up with everyone else including what they have, how their house looks, what toys their children have, what clothes they wear and what they are doing socially. That may mean you have to work more hours than you want too to earn the needed money and you’re missing time with the family. Is that really what you want?

There is also pressure to enroll our children in multiple extra curricular activities because you want them to have every opportunity and not to fall behind, but then we realize that we are always rushing and not having meals together at home. Or your child is invited to so many activities and going to these events brings expectations. You may have to bring a gift, take time away from something else or feel like you have to reciprocate and put on your own event.  But if you don’t participate then your child may fall out of acceptance in this social group, you yourself won’t be connected to these parents and you may have to stand alone in your value of family time and a slower pace. 

We need to consider that your child is watching you and if you don’t stand for something different, they will feel the pressure themselves to keep up and perform. Why wouldn’t they, what they are seeing is you succumbing to the pressure to keep up and if that is what they see then they make the assumption that it is what you value.

Some values supported in earlier generations were, faith, integrity, personal responsibility, a strong work ethic and the value of being selfless. These showed themselves in a family with religious attendance, family dinners, community service and holding our children responsible for their actions. It concerns me that some young families are getting caught in the current of social pressure and not taking time to evaluate their values and what they want to teach their children.

I am not promoting a set of specific values but I am encouraging you to think about what you want to show your children that is important to you and this takes thought and intention. It does take effort to fight the current.

Written by Lisa Strong

Is the Effort or the Result More Important?

I had just finished a very full, long, challenging and draining week.  My best friend noticed I was looking especially defeated and worn out.  I went on to tell her that I was frustrated that the outcomes I’d hoped for, worked so hard for that week had largely gone unmet.  I spent a few minutes berating myself before she interrupted and asked me if I could be proud of all the effort I had put in rather than disappointed that I didn’t get the results I had expected.  The question left me speechless.  I’ve been thinking on it ever since.  Is the effort or the result more important?  I’ve been wondering if I’m being too easy on myself to just pat myself on the back and say “good try.”  I started thinking about this from a parenting point of view as well as a coach and hard-working small business owner.  

Most parents tell their children that effort is what matters.  But as adults we have to produce good results to be successful.  That’s quite a mixed message and one worth sorting out.  

Anthony Moore, a well known blogger said “The process is infinitely more valuable and important than the result.

When you commit to the process — never giving up, creatively overcoming setbacks and obstacles, trying new strategies — a powerful metamorphosis happens. You literally transform in the process. This change is the real value. People who “just want the prize” miss this entirely. They don’t realize how valuable and powerful the transformation is, which is only possible from taking the hard way around.

In the words of James Allen from As a Man Thinketh:

“Even if a man fails again and again to accomplish his purpose (as he necessarily must until weakness is overcome), the strength of character gained will be the measure of his true success, and this will form a new starting point for future power and triumph.”

If you want true, lasting success in any area, you must undergo the process.”

I believe in this case the word “process” could be interchanged with “effort.”  If we want true and lasting success we must put in effort at every turn.  Sometimes that effort will yield us the exact result we are hoping for.  Sometimes, however, that effort will stretch us, grow us, train us, strengthen us and transform us… allowing us to be a better version of ourself.  Yes, we must put in maximum effort and we must often allow ourselves to rest in that and feel proud of it.  And we must know that this kind of effort will inevitably bring the results we hope for at some time and in some way, even if not exactly what we expect.

So, my answer to my own question… both, effort and results are important.  True effort will always bring results in one form or another.  And that is what we need to teach our children… and each other.

I understand that this sounds simple but it’s not easy.  I am always here to help.  Don’t hesitate to reach out if you have questions!  Give us a call at (562) 537-2947.  

Written by Lisa Smith

6 Ways to Monitor Your Teen and Social Media

Like it or not, for better and for worse, social media is here to stay.  The question now is how you’re going to monitor it with your teen.  There are lots of options but I’ve narrowed it down to six common and effective tips.

1. Set the ground rules.  When is social media access allowed and when is it not?  What sites and content are acceptable, which are not?  These ground rules should apply to the whole family whenever possible.

2. Educate Yourself!  What sites are your kids on?  What is the difference from one site to the next?  I understand it’s easy to be overwhelmed or feel like you don’t have the time to learn all there is to know about social media but you must. You can’t bury head in the sand.  

3.  Use All of the Privacy Settings.  All the devices your kids use should have strict privacy settings. These settings include who sees online social media posts, what social media sites are permitted and virus blocking on all devices.  Safety first!

4. Insist on full access to all social media accounts.  Of course your teen will argue this on the basis of privacy.  But this is a non-negotiable parameter.  Teens are less likely to share inappropriate content and more likely to stay safe when they know you will check up on them.

5.  Teach them how to protect their online reputation.  Teens don’t give this much thought so  it’s your job to teach them.  Kids can be impulsive and may not think about how their social media usage affects their ability to get a job or college entrance in the future.

6. Be a good example!  Whether we want them to or not, our kids follow our lead. Let’s be a good example in this area as we practice smart online usage and etiquette.  I promise they are watching.

Social media doesn’t have to be a bad thing… but it does have to be monitored. 

I understand that this sounds simple but it’s not easy.  I am always here to help.  Don’t hesitate to reach out if you have questions!  Give us a call at (562) 537-2947.  

Written by Lisa Smith

How to Help Your Hurting Teen

As a teen and family coach who has worked with thousands of teen, I often hear parents talk about how much their teen is hurting emotionally. In today’s unpredictable world, encountering hurt is as inevitable as paying taxes. It’s even more so for your teen. Add intense peer pressure, a friend’s betrayal, derogatory comments on social media, the cultural rearranging of values and family structure, and it’s no wonder teens face significant trauma.

No parent likes to see her children in pain. When your teen is hurting, you can follow these three principles to help them work through the hurt and develop strength and resilience.

Acknowledge The Pain
Ignoring a hurt doesn’t make it disappear. But you can comfort your teen by saying, “I know you’re hurting. If that happened to me, I’d be hurting, too.” That speaks volumes to your teen about your support.  Don’t compare their pain to any of your pain… past or present.  Don’t tell them to “let it go.”  Don’t talk on and on about the situation at hand with sage advice or anything else.  Just listen, validate and support.

Listen Without Judgement
Emotions are not right or wrong. They’re simply what your hurting teen feels. If you want them to talk, sometimes the best thing to say is nothing.  Stop yourself from telling them what to feel and what not to feel.  Don’t tell them why they shouldn’t be feeling the way they do.  Just accept them right where they are and remember that they are teenagers… most things are a big deal to them!  They will mature emotionally as they grow up and they deserve the time and space to do that without judgement.

Strategize How to Handle the Situation Together
Don’t rush in to fix the problem!  Rather than solving the problem for your teen, encourage him to strategize a path to healing. 

Helping your teen brainstorm his next move will make him more resilient in the future. On the other hand, rescuing your teen from emotional hurt weakens them and promotes a victim mentality. Yes, there are times when he should get an adult involved. But most of the time, them staying in the fight and proactively problem-solving will help them stand strong in life’s storms that we know are sure to come.

When your teen has followed through on their plan, cheer the effort: “What happened to you was really tough. But you were strong and rose above the situation.”

Your belief in your child means more than you will ever know.  

 I understand that this sounds simple but it’s not easy.  I am always here to help.  Don’t hesitate to reach out if you have questions!  Give us a call at (562) 537-2947.  

Written by Lisa Smith

How to Encourage Empowerment vs Entitlement

Thousands of families and kids later I have become able to identify the fine line between an empowered child and an entitled one.  You want your kids to feel empowered. You tell them to speak up, be assertive and reach for their dreams. But what happens when you give your kids too much power? They become entitled which is quite different than empowered. An empowered kid has a strong sense of self, ambitions, dreams and direction.  An entitled kid is bossy, demanding, dependent and usually not enjoyable to be around.  Here’s how to build empowerment without crossing the line in to entitlement.

1.  Give your kids what they need, not everything they want.

Showering gifts on your kids may feel good to you, but children develop an unhealthy sense of entitlement when there are no limits on their wants. Free stuff is okay now and then, but too much free stuff always backfires. And I do mean always.  The more kids are given, the less they appreciate, and the more they demand. When it comes to gifts and rewards, moderation is best. A few meaningful items have more meaning than an endless bounty of plenty.

2. Never let your kids diss you.  

I am routinely shocked by the way children speak to their parents. And that’s saying a lot since I’ve worked with thousands of families!  I see children yell, curse and even hit their parents. Nothing destroys the peace of a household more than parents who let their kids get away with such shenanigans. No kid wants a parent he or she can push around. Kids who talk down to their parents suffer from low self-esteem, poor peer relations, depression and a lack of structure and parameters. So if your kid disses you regularly, don’t be wishy-washy. Put a stop to it. Be firm about behaviors that are unacceptable and strive to create a culture of mutual respect in your family.

3. Don’t be a “Fix Everything Parent”.  

Fix Everything Parents are the hardworking superheroes of parenting, willing to do anything for their child in a heartbeat. However, they have a terrible habit of swooping in and saving their kids from frustrating situations. By doing so, they keep their kids dependent, rob them of growth opportunities and create gaps in their emotional development. Kids with Fix Everything Parents don’t think twice about bossing or manipulating them. It’s better to teach your kids how to work through frustration and come up with their own solutions. Don’t save the day! Remember, frustration is the fossil fuel that drives maturity. Helping your kids work through frustration is far more empowering than saving them from it.


4. Don’t be afraid to be unpopular.  In fact, be ready for it!  

Being a good parent requires making unpopular decisions now and then. If you surrender to temper tantrums or avoid conflicts to purchase peace, you’re setting the stage for bigger problems in the future by teaching your kids that negative behaviors get them what they want—and that’s the last message that you want to send. Grow a backbone, don’t be afraid to be unpopular. Model empowerment.  In the end, your kids will appreciate and respect you more for it.

5.  Fortify your leadership
Put an end to your kids ruling the roost before it begins. Foster an environment of mutual respect in your family and empower your kids with healthy habits that will last them a lifetime.

I understand that this sounds simple but it’s not easy.  I am always here to help.  Don’t hesitate to reach out if you have questions!  Give us a call at (562) 537-2947.  

Written by Lisa Smith