Indiana girl at heart 46062 317-350-0037 tparke@terriswritings.com MWF 9a-12p Tuesday-Thursday 2p-4pm Also by appointment

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 4: Parenting with Fierceness: Natural Consequences and Raising the Bottom

Click Below for a podcast about parenting with fierceness, including allowing our kids to receive some natural consequences. Based on an article of a similar name. Happy listening!

www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-cib59-abe6c1

Parenting with Fierceness: Raising the Bottom

One of my favorite roles as a professional has been teaching a class for first-time substance users who were teenagers.

The program occured in Clinton County, Indiana and was funded through the Probation Department to help educate youth about substance use and abuse in order to help prevent future under-age/illegal use.

One of the phrases I used in that role was ‘raise the bottom’.

I have found, as a therapist working primarly with teens and youth, that encouraging the adults who are helping to provide teens with structure and consequences to ‘raise the bottom’ to be somewhat of an ambiguous term that at times needs an explanation.

When I think of this term, I also think of ‘failing small’.

Failing small is when we allow those in our lives, or in our care, to fail so that they experience some failure which can help motivate them to make some changes based on the consequences they receive.

For my own children, one of the tactics we used as parents was to state ‘That’s one consequence’ in the middle of a 4 year old’s temper tantrum.

Continue with the tantrum? That’s two consequences.

The actual consequences were discussed and determined later, when both the child and the parents had a clearer head.

I know, for myself, if I had followed the urge to hand out a consequence at the time it would have sounded something like ‘you are never going to leave your room again!!’ or ‘time out, no movie, no gameboy, and no television for the rest of the night!’

For children in the heat of anger and tantruming, this can sound very much like a challenge they will try to win.

During my sons’ middle school years, I supervised a Pregnant and Parenting Teen program. The program was staffed in 8 hour shifts.

The staff frequently became very frustrated with the residents in our care.  At the time I supervised this program, my own children were in middle school.

In addition, I have quite a stubborn streak, which can help me in guiding those who are dealing with people who like to be persistent. Those working to connect and motivate frequently experience an amount of frustration.

“If you decide to go toe-to-toe with a teenager, they will win”

“They are better and more locked into winning this battle, so as stubborn and persistant as you feel you may be, they are still going to get the better of you due to their super-power ability in this area”

Those are some phrases I said consistently when supervising staff who were having some frustrations.  

We then worked together to problem solve some trauma-informed, natural consequences to attempt to motivate our teens who were pregnant or parenting.

Now let’s think of this area in terms of parenting your own children:

When we raise the bottom, we allow our children to experience a natural consequence to their choice.

An example of this could be wearing shorts on a cold day. The child/teen will be cold if they do not dress appropriately for the temperature.  That is a consequence of dressing for summer in the winter.

If you do not turn in your homework, your grade will reflect that. A ‘0’ score brings down a percentage much more quickly than a score of even 50%, so turning in your homework will help your grades if you are motivated by grades.

These get tricky, because we as parents tend to remember all of the things we wish we would have known when we were teenagers, and can recognize that lecturing and informing our child about this will certainly motivate them.

Which it probably will, it just may not motivate them in the way you are seeking.

If they are self motivated, they may not need much guidance in terms of completing their homework.  If they are high achievers, the grades or feedback themselves generally motivate them.

As we think about what areas we want to work on as parents or employers, I encourge you to think of 1-2 things you’d really like to focus on.

I encourage parents to tackle one area at a time with a child in their life who is generating some frustration.

When I am meeting with teens or pre-teens, I encourage them to learn to recognize what the consequences are for their choices before they do the act of whatever thing they may be choosing to do at that time.

Learning to recognize their feelings about conseuqneces and whether or not they are motivated to change their behaviors based on the potential consequences is another area for teens and parents to think about as they make choices and consequences to them.

Utilizing In Your Life.

I would like you to think about something you’d like to focus on with someone who is in your life at this time.

What behavior would you like to spend less time focusing on talking about or dealing with, and how would you like to allow your child to spend more time allowing your child to experience that natural or prescribed consequence?

Some sources of frustration might be related to spending money on meals, movies, etc; working on grades/homework; or anything that is causing you frustration as you and your child interact.

Now I encourage you to set aside a time to meet with the person who you are having some frustrations with, and talk about some ways to handle this differently.

Maybe you check their grades less often, or you monitor their spending a little bit less, or maybe you give them less access to funds.

Now that you have thought of what to talk about, and thought of a time that might work for a conversation, I encourage you to talk during a peaceful time.

This time could be in the car on the way to somewhere, it could be during a meal, or it could be a scheduled time where you take into consideration their schedule and how they will respond at that time of day.

It could be at a time that just ‘pops up’. We call these teachable moments, and you as the adult or other participant in the relationship can work look for opportunities as they arise naturally.

One time that I will discourage you from choosing, when dealing with teens, is right when they wake up. Clearly, though, that is up to you.

To summarize:

‘Raising the Bottom’ means letting the person in your life experience real consequences to their behavior to help motivate them to make change vs. saving them/protecting them from all consequences.

I hope you can experience a little less frustration in an area that has been frustrating for you.

Thanks for reading!

 

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!

Celebrating Second Place!

Click below to read a story of success and optimism from a late ’80’s class in Tipton, Indiana. The experience helped shape success in the students, players, band members, cheerleaders, and the community.

https://link.medium.com/aQErYlo1gV

Playing some Pick Up Basketball

Happy reading!

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