Parenting with Fierceness: Moving from Pre-Teen to Teen, or Toddler to Pre-Schooler (Hint: It Is Pretty Much the Same)

3rd Grade School Pics

When my kids were about 12, I was in a meeting with a woman with adult children.

She said something wise, which has stuck with me since then and proven true time and time again.

Backing up a little, that day I was at a meeting with providers (which means people who work as professionals with families) discussing how to help encourage a family with a teenager to provide a safe environment where the child could either continue to live or that they could return back to living.

At the time, I was providing Home Based Therapy in Marion County, Indiana.

My role as a therapist was to work with the children and adults in a family to help the adults provide a safe, stable environment to the teens or children which had not been provided one at some point.

The families in this program had experience abused or neglect in some way.

Her words of wisdom went something like this:

‘Toddlers and Teen are just the same. A two year old and a four year old are bursting with the independence that they are trying to obtain. We expect it, and we allow for it.

They are small people, so they can be relatively easy to contain in general.

Teenagers are bigger versions. A 12 year old is like a 2 year old, and a 14 year old is like a 4 year old.

They are much bigger in size, are not nearly as easy to control physically, and are also generally bursting with ideas for their own independence as well’

One of my favorite things about this supervisor was her ability to get her team to provide quality work.

At that time, I was providing direct service (therapy) for 18 months, which was a break from supervising staff. I have supervised staff for the majority of my career, so this experience allowed me to learn from her a little differently than if we were peers.

She supervised her staff in a way which encouraged reliability, communication, and caring for the families they worked with.

She supervised people who worked for the Department of Child Services, which is a very difficult role to be in.

We know that anyone who has gone through their adolescent years, or early twenties, or whenever we ‘broke’ away from our parents in some ways, that it is part of adolescence.

Adolescents have the job of establishing independence. They are more interesting in their peers and their friends, developmentally. Their parents are trying to advise and guide them to making safe decisions.

One of the norms that i have noticed changing a bit in the last few years is about perceived safety and how do we deal with teens and those computers in their hands.

When I was a teen, back in the 80’s, I had some pretty emphatic boundaries. My parents were stricter than many of my friends’ parents in some ways, so if I went on a date in high school we stayed in Tipton.

Keeping my location local helped my parents with a sense of safety, while also extremely limiting our movie and dinner options.

We had one movie theatre with one screen, and a few places to eat but not many of them involved sitting down and ordering.

We were beginning to learn about typing on computers at school, but personal computers would come out a few years later.

How does this apply to you?

Think about how you parent your child, particularly if they are a teen.

I was able to hear Dawn Crossman speak on Saturday at an event called ‘SHIFT’, which was put on by the Peyton Reikoff Foundation.

She discussed some things about parenting intense teens that I have found in my experiences as well.

As teens work to establish that sense of self and figure out who they are, we need to protect them when we can and allow some mistakes, just like we do with our 2 and 4 year olds.

If a two year old is still struggling to walk well, we don’t tell them to stop walking.

We encourage them to figure out how to walk better through those falls where they plop down. I love to watch early walkers run, and just lead with those giant heads.

The same is true for 12 year olds and 14 year olds.

Let them make mistakes they can learn from, while staying aware of their own tendency to, as my husband coined ‘run with the bad ideas’.

He was talking with my son at dinner one night at during those pre-teens years and mentioned ‘you get a ‘bad’ idea, you think it is good, and then you run with it. You just run faster and faster with the idea’.

I tend to avoid using the terms good and bad, but think about this how it relates to you.

My son loves people, loves to have fun, and loves to spend time with friends. We worked, in high school, to encourage him to complete his home work at a pace possibly slower than 100 mph, but we did not monitor it.

Having academically strong children comes with its own sets of perks and balances, and for us one reality was that we never monitored their homework closely.

We did look at their power school, or the school website where grades were listed, and my guess is this conversation either had something to do with hanging out with friends longer than allowed him to have sleep, or it had something to do with turning in an assignment he had missed.

Either way, the example was used that day, and for years to come. Eventually it got shortened to ‘just keep running! Keep running with those ideas’, with a smile and some arm motions imitating running.

As we parent our children, we want to establish a sense of trust when we can.

We want to hold our children, pre-teens, and teens accountable to help motivate them to make decisions that will ultimately help them grow into accountable adults who are productive citizens.

Making it work:

Think about who you want to motivate, who might be acting like a temper tantruming toddler.

How do you encourage them, as they are demonstrating that independence so willfully, to continue to be persistent in ways that help them and to give-in in ways that are holding them back?

I encourage you to think of a way to use that accountability and knowledge of their developmental age as you make rules, consequences, and motivate those in your care.

I hope you enjoy your weekend! Basketball is everywhere if you enjoy watching it.

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Podcast 5: A Team Success Story: Managing with Trust

Click below to listen to a Podcast about a successful team experience at a social service agency. Happy Listening!

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Podcast 3: Parenting Protectively and Fiercely: A story of parenting twins, staff, and encouraging autonomy

www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-m5mfj-abb7e2

Parenting with Fierceness: Some Drawbacks and Perks from a Mom of Twins

I was so excited the day in 1997 when our obstetrician told us we were having twins.

We had waited for them for just a little bit longer than some people do, as fertility was something that I had to work a little harder at than some other things I had set to accomplish in my our 25 and 26 years of life.

We found out at about 20 weeks gestation that they were both boys, so from then on we set to naming them.

As many can imagine, parenting them (let’s face it, being pregnant with them) has had its own set of challenges and rewards.

14 lbs is really too much baby for a uterus, and chasing two 18 month olds was enough to keep anyone on their toes.

I’m not even going to go into potty training two toddlers at once or teaching two of them to drive at the same time.

Who wins?

For today, let’s focus on game playing.

One thing I was never able to completely do was to parent them in a way where one of them was able to consistently ‘win’ at games we played together.

We played a lot of board games (or ‘bored’ games as my husband and one of my sons tend to call them) as they were growing up. The person who won the game was always the person who ‘actually’ won the game.

In Uno, we each tried our hardest to be the one to run out of cards first. In Monopoly Jr., the goal had something to do with Mickey Mouse, so that effort was put forth to win applied to that game as well.

When they were about 4 years old, we got together with a childhood friend of mine whose son is about 6 months younger than they are.

As we were playing, she got a confused look on her face.

‘How do you decide which one is going to win?’

I looked at her with an equally confused look, since the person who won was the person who got the joy of winning.

She went on ‘Well, I tend to let my son win, so if you have two the same age, how do you decide which one wins each time?’

At that moment, I realized how another facet of having and raising twins is different than raising singletons.

My children have never individually been my ‘one and only’.  They have always each been one of my ones and only, but they have also had each other for as long as they have had their dad and me.

Parenting using a Zone Defense

Another incident that comes to mind from around the same age occurred when I took them to a playground with a childhood friend whose son is a little over 2 years younger than they are.

We went to a park in Fishers, Indiana, where she lived at the time.

There was a very large playground there, where we watched our children from far enough back to be able to catch them if any of them got too far away or hurt themselves.

We experienced some frustrations because some of the other parents (or ‘those Fishers parents’ as we called them at the time) watched their children from such a close distance that if their child ran quickly through the playground, the parents had to either book it to the other side of the playground set or jump up and go through the obstacles themselves.

Kind of like a zone defense vs. man to man in basketball. We utilized the zone defense, the one to one parents really put in a lot more legwork.

We were both amused when parents were on the playgroud itself. They had to do some interesting gymnastics to try to keep up with their child as they skirted out of arms reach.

These children, who we have now raised into twenty somethings and now have peers in college and in the workforce, are now much, much bigger than they were at 4 and 2 years of age.

In Summary:

The takeaway from this article is thinking about how, as we parent, are in relationships, and supervise others, are we providing that balance of support and autonomy.

We want our children to stay safe.

Those big giant heads help us to do that as we understand that they cannot meet their own needs.

As we are in relationships where we want our children to grow and become more automonous, how do we provide that support while also enabling them to have some small failures and to be independent in the process?

As someone who has supervised 20 something staff for many years, I started to hear ‘you are just like my mom!’ several years ago.

I have talked with staff about how their parents encouraged their independence, as I encouraged them to separate from their parents in ways that would help them to become adults who are able to work independently and productively.

This task, for me as a supervisor, is much easier than the task is for me as a parent.

As my children moved to Bloomington as 18 year old ‘adults’, I thought of all of the things my husband I had done to encourage their confidence and independence, and all of the things we have done that has allowed them to continue to rely on us.

Putting Into Practice

As you think about the people in your life who you are trying to help become successful, independent, good-enough decision-making adults, what are some areas that you feel you have success in?

What is one specific area that you can look at about what you have done, whether that is with a friend, a spouse, an employee, or a child you have a role in raising, that you can look back on and think

‘I am doing a pretty good job at that task’?

What areas can you think of where you are helpful to someone else?

Now I encourage you to think of an area where you have what I call ‘room for growth’.

As you think about that area, what is something that you think about that you can be doing presently to help yourself, someone close to you, or a future relationship you hope to have?

When you think about that area you have room for improvement in, what is one specific thing you can think about that you will try to be better about?

For me, I encourage myself to remember that 21 year olds have a lot of independence and a lot of questions about how to maintain that independence.

The next task: identify something you’ll do, make a note of it in some way that you’ll remember, then make an effort and do it.

Now decide by when….

Happy Friday! It’s definitely my favorite day of the week!

PodCast 2: Childhood Heroes

Just Mosby and Me

A podcast about childhood heroes, based on an article by a similar name.

Take a listen if you can!

Thanks!

www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-fhh5e-ab73ad

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