Positive parenting. Acceptance, Attunement, Confidence, Resilience.
This is what it’s like to be a teenager: They’re under a constant performance evaluation. They are always reminded of something they could improve. We can find fault in almost everything they do. We minimize their concerns telling them there are more important things to worry about – which is true for us as adults, but not for them as kids. We want to help them build resilience and teach them how to be healthy and smart, and the best way to do that is to help them build their own internal motivation to succeed in life. Internal (vs. external) motivation comes from purpose, autonomy, and mastery.
Kids who feel respected, valued, loved, and most importantly; accepted don’t go on to become bad adults. They go on to become confident good citizens who respect and value others because they don’t have to instinctively defend themselves. Let’s give them some freedom to make mistakes and to fail so that they can figure out what works for them.
Some examples of how to give your kid more acceptance and autonomy:
- You notice that they’re teaching for potato chips instead of carrots. Skip this one. Have a healthy meal for dinner.
- You see that their clothes don’t really match that well. Let it go. They will figure it out.
- They tell you about how they made a plan with their friends to cut corners on their school project to pick the easier subject and not work that hard. Let it play out. Don’t criticize, but rather just be happy for them that they are using their resources in a creative way to be successful.
Leave the little things to them and check in on the big things. Always keep in mind that they are just people trying to do their best every day. You get to teach them how to live well by being the best example, trust me, they notice when we don’t do what we say we’re going to do, they’re watching you. They want your approval. They want your encouragement. They want to make you proud even if you don’t feel like they’re acting like it. Pick your spots.
Give them boundaries; clear expectations so they know how to succeed, but not nit-pick or give too many reminders, if they don’t get it done, enforce the consequence without anger or disappointment. Keep it transactional and compassionate.
For example: If the chores or homework didn’t get done by 6, (or whatever the expectation is), you calmly and confidently say, “Hey, it’s 6, I see you haven’t gotten your stuff done. No more phone/games/etc. (or whatever the pre-arranged consequence is).” If they get mad, that’s okay, they don’t have to like it or agree with you, no one likes being held accountable, that’s normal. Just let them huff and puff (within appropriate boundaries) and go back to whatever you were doing. Try not to get stuck in the trap of a power struggle or argument, or explaining yourself to try and get them to understand. When they’re already upset, it’s not the time for a lesson. Let them know it’s okay to be mad, and you’re not mad or upset with them, “You deserve to have a parents who help you learn and grow. You deserve parents who keep their word so you can trust us.” Let them know that they can come hang out with you, and you love them no matter what they do.
Balance critical feedback with pride and support. When you mean what you say, and you follow through with calm confidence, they will trust and respect you more. They will be much more likely to drop the attitude and start taking your advice.