We are pleased to offer this opportunity for parents as we continue to look for ways to come along side each of you in your parenting journey. Mrs. Stephanie Dickinson, an RCS parent, is working with us to provide weekly tips for parents. We trust you will find these tips helpful to you and to your student(s).
March 9, 2019
Just like girls develop physically and mentally, they also develop socially. (Boys do, too although their social development looks a little different…) than girls. We’ll let David tackle that one!)
As they develop, I believe there are a few important truths to instill in them across the ages. But, keep in mind, it is normal for their focus to shift from you…to having a best friend…to having a “group” to find a sense of belonging. And, then, yes, the focus will likely shift to the opposite sex—but that is WAY down the road, so we sure don’t want to borrow trouble for now!
For now, she’s starting the progression of developing friendships with other girls. In doing so, we want her to learn a few important truths to undergird her relationships. One is that there are ALWAYS two sides of the street. She will come home from school having hard her feelings hurt by some friend or even teacher countless times over her school-age years. You want to start by listening. She longs to feel heard and understood. It can even help to reflect her feelings back with empathy. “That sounds really hard.” “Yes, it makes so much sense that would make you sad” kinds of comments.
Second, ask her questions. What does she want to do about it. What does she think would help the situation. Every time we ask kids questions, we not only prompt their problem-solving skills, but we also remind them that we believe in their problem-solving capabilities. It reinforces in them that we believe in them—both who they are now and who they’re becoming.
Finally, help her learn boundaries. Every time I speak at a parenting seminar about girls, I talk about the combination of strength and kindness. We want her to learn boundaries that not only are kind to others, but are strong. “I want to play with you, but not when you treat me like that.”
I may be going out on a limb, but I have a hunch, that all of us women who are reading (or writing) this article, would have significantly healthier relationships had we learned these important truths at eight or eighteen—rather than in our adulthood.
How can I coach my son in friendships?
Generally speaking, navigating the maze of friendships isn’t as hurdled or complicated for boys as girls. Unfortunately, boys don’t know how to be as supportive in their friendships as girls. The bottom line - both genders can learn something from the other.
Boys tend to have an ability to forgive and move on. They don’t linger and harbor resentment. They can be angry with a friend in the morning, and happy to hang out by afternoon. It’s a gift, and we want to support and call out this strength.
In terms of challenge, boys (and males of all ages) are highly competitive creatures. Unless we’re aware, competition can become a relational strategy. As valuable a context as sports are, it can’t be the only context. Otherwise, he can get stuck in a pattern of being only against and not for someone. Similarly, competitive talk can become a pattern within conversation. Every time a friend names a success, a boy’s instinct becomes “one upping.” Role-play is a useful, experiential tool to help boys practice being supportive and loyal.
Boys also need coaching in how to go deeper. Males have a tendency to stay on the surface in relationships, whereas females go deeper. Boys benefit from practicing one or two questions that allow them to swim below the surface. This training prepares boys to be adult males who know how to share life honestly with a few close friends.
March 3, 2019
A 27-step program for good parents gone bad|y
Wendy Mogel, PhD
I’ve written these steps to provide encouragement to well-intentioned, loving parents who feel powerless to stop themselves from overindulging, overprotecting, and overscheduling their children; parents who get jittery if their offspring aren’t performing at a high level in every area; parents who have unwittingly allowed traits like self-reliance, resilience, and accountability to slip to the bottom of their parenting agenda.
1. Don’t mistake a snapshot taken today with the epic movie of your child’s life. Kids go through phases. Glorious ones and alarming ones.
2. Don’t fret over or try to fix what’s not broken. Accept your child’s nature even if he’s shy, stubborn, moody, or not great at math.
3. Look at anything up close and you’ll see the flaws. Consider it perfectly normal if you like your child’s friends better than you like your child.
4. Work up the courage to say a simple “no.” Don’t try to reach consensus every time.
5. Encourage your child to play or spend time outside using all five senses in the three-dimensional world. How come only troubled rich kids get to go to the wilderness these days? Sign them up for scouts or send them to camp for the longest stretch you can afford. Enjoy nature together as a family.
6. Don’t confuse children’s wants with their needs. Don’t fall for the smooth talking fourth grader’s line about the urgent need for a smartphone “in case of an emergency, Mom!” or teen’s claim that a new car “is so much safer than your old van.” Privileges are not entitlements.
7. Remember that kids are hardy perennials, not hothouse flowers. Let them be cold, wet, or hungry for more than a second and they’ll appreciate the chance to be warm, dry, and fed.
8. Abstain from taking the role of sherpa, butler, concierge, secret police or short order cook. Your child is hard-wired for competence. Let them do for themselves.
9. Before you nag, remind, criticize, advise, chime in, preach, or over-explain, say to yourself “W.A.I.T.” or “Why am I talking?” Listen four times more than you talk.
10. Remember that disappointments are necessary preparation for adult life. When your child doesn’t get invited to a friend’s birthday party, make the team, or get a big part in the play, stay calm. Without these experiences she’ll be ill-equipped for the real world.
11. Be alert but not automatically alarmed. Question yourself. Stop and reflect: is this situation unsafe or just uncomfortable for my child? Is it an emergency or a new challenge?
12. Learn to love the words “trial” and “error.” Let your child make mistakes before going off to college. Grant freedom based on demonstrated responsibility and accountability, not what all the other kids are doing.
13. Don’t be surprised or discouraged when your big kid has a babyish tantrum or meltdown. Don’t confuse sophistication with maturity. Naturally occurring setbacks cause normal regression. Home is the soft landing after their taxing day.
14. Allow your child to do things that scare you. Don’t mistake vulnerability for fragility. You have to let her take steps on her own, without holding your hand, if you want her to grow increasingly independent and self-confident. Let her get her learner’s permit when she comes of age.
15. Don’t offer a nuanced critique of her best friend or crush. Your friends in school weren’t an all star line-up.
16. Don’t take it personally if your teenager treats you like crap. Judge his character not on the consistency of in-house politeness, clarity of speech, or degree of eye contact but on what teachers say, whether he’s welcomed by his friends’ parents, and his manners towards his grandparents, the neighbors, salespeople, and servers in restaurants.
17. Don’t automatically allow your child to quit. When she lobbies passionately against continuing an activity or program that “isn’t how I thought it would be!” it’s tempting to exhaust yourself selling her on the benefits. Instead remind yourself that first impressions are not always enduring; that a commitment to a team or group is honorable; and that your investment (of time and/or money) is not to be taken for granted. But do take her reasoned preferences into account when making the next agenda.
18. Just because your parents weren’t as attuned to your emotional needs as you might have wished, refrain from trying to be popular with your children. Watch out for the common parental pattern of “nice, nice, nice…furious!”
19. Avoid the hordes of humble-brag parents lest you begin to believe that your child is already losing the race. Remind yourself that grades, popularity, or varsity ranking are not a measure of your worth as a parent. Recognize that those other parents are lying.
20. Wait at least 24 hours before shooting off an indignant email to a teacher, coach, or the parent of a mean classmate. Don’t be a “drunk texter.” Sleep on it.
21. Consider the long-term consequences of finding work-arounds for the “no-candy-in-camp-care-package” rule. If you demonstrate that rules are made to be broken and shortcuts can always be found, you have given your child license to plagiarize or cheat on tests.
22. Maintain perspective about school and college choices. Parents caught up in the admissions arms race forget that the best predictor of a good outcome are the qualities the student brings to campus rather than the perceived status of the school.
23. Treat teachers like the experts and allies they are. Give your child the chance to learn respect; it’s a more important subject than Algebra 2. Remember how life-changing a good relationship with a teacher can be.
24. Praise the process and not the product. Appreciating your child’s persistence and hard work reinforces the skills and habits that lead to success far more than applauding everyday achievements or grades.
25. If you want your child to be prepared to manage his future college workload and responsibilities, take care before you hire a tutor, a private coach, or college application consultant. You can’t fit them all in a dorm room.
26. Practice sensible stewardship of your child’s online activities by evaluating her level of maturity, accountability and judgment in other areas. Rather than lurking, snooping, sniping or giving up… educate yourself about the ever changing cyber-landscape.
27. Treat ordinary household chores and paid jobs as richer learning opportunities rather than jazzy extracurriculars. With real world experience, your child will develop into an employable (and employed) adult. That said, accept that older children will get chores done on AST (Adolescent Standard Time).