How do you fix the daily parenting issues that drive you mad or tug at your heartstrings like…
(Inside: Two parenting ingredients that will improve your relationships with your big kids and help everyone better thrive.)
Your smart kid gets poor grades.
Or leaves a tornado trail of their stuff always.
Or only knee-jerk-reacts instead of pausing, thinking, and then responding.
Or doesn’t have a place to connect.
Oh man, oh man, haven’t we all been there over-and-over again as our little (big) humans learn.
My friend group had a really good conversation around this where words were flying, vulnerable stories cracked open, and glimpses behind the closed doors of raising big kids were shared.
We chatted over the best seasoned burgers I wish I could share with you, but instead, thought I’d give our conclusion. Including real-life examples, because we’re boots-on-the-ground every day and “in theory” isn’t reality.
When trying to help kids mature through things not serving them, here are the top two things we think are needed…
Parenting Ingredient #1: An unwavering belief that our kids are highly capable.
Because they are. Gifted. Smart. Wonderful. A knowing of our kids’ capabilities beats in our hearts. And my 20+ years of teaching high school only fuels the stubbornness in my belief that every teen wants to and can thrive.
So, when we interact with our kids, we never question if they want to flourish; we speak to their mature side assuming they do. For example, if we want to work with our kids on picking up, we say things like, “We know a clean space brings you comfort and makes your brain feel more in control, so you need to pick up after yourself. I know we’re about to leave, but it’ll take 5 minutes. No biggie, I’ll wait.”
Connect with your kids over these 400+ conversation starters.
Parenting Ingredient #2: A consistent focus on the one thing we’re working on.
You can’t parent everything. We narrow it down to our priorities, and then we’re clear and consistent about what the family’s working on. Again, if it’s getting big kids to pick up after themselves, it could look like this:
1. Conversation about WHY: “The next phase of your life is roommates. You will have better relationships with your roommates if you are kind to them by not leaving a mess.”
2. Question about BARRIERS: “What’s getting in the way of you picking up?”
3. Set up clear, realistic expectations and routines.
4. Tie reality to it. “Yes, you can go out with friends, but your space needs to be straightened first.” (We worked on this recently, and, truly, it took minutes for my kids to go back and tidy up.)
5. Then be consistent for about 4-6 weeks. (That’s the hard part!)
With a belief in our kids’ abilities and a clear, consistent focus on our goals, change will happen. Study after study shows the people who make the biggest impact in the kids’ lives are the parents.
Once we work on these things, will they last forever? Maybe. Or maybe not.
Do I think our kids will go through another challenge once we overcome this one? Yes.
Push limits or make poor choices? Yup.
That’s all a part of the journey.
But, moms and dads, we’re teaching our kids a place to start when they see something in their life that isn’t serving them well and they want to change. With a strong belief in our bigs, conversations around the family focus, and consistency, we do move our kids forward. We are making an impact.
It won’t be perfect, but that doesn’t mean we can’t be effective. And in raising big kids, that feels like so much hope.
Shopping for your family?
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best book lists for tweens;
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Your brain bounces between your day at work, what time(s) your kids need to be at practice, your teen’s missing school assignments, that you haven’t called your mom lately, the load of the laundry to be switched, “What’s for dinner?” and “Why are 3 of my brain-tabs frozen?”
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Cheryl is a mom of 3 boys, wife, speaker, high school teacher, and author of Empowered Moms & Kids. She has a Master’s degree in Educational Leadership and is passionate about learning and teaching. On www.empoweredmomsandkids.com you’ll find inspiration and encouragement for moms raising tweens and/or teens. Read more in the “about” section of this page.