All posts tagged Training

Young Adults Leave The Nest, But Not For Long.



I came up with a motto, a slogan to help me parent. And it was this: It is my job to make sure that when my children turn 18, I have trained them in everything that they need to learn so that they can open the doors, walk over the threshold, and enter young adulthood with confidence and enthusiasm. I have 18 years to prepare them. It is my job to teach them how to run their life so they don’t need me any longer. But so many kids leave home at 18, young adults, and find themselves at college and don’t know how to manage their lives, how to navigate their lives, how to make simple decisions, how to organize. And they’re forced back home. And I can’t think of anything worse for those kids to admit that they couldn’t make it on their own, or for their parents who have to say “come back home,” knowing that in some way it was their fault. If you find a child who has to come home because they couldn’t make it, this is a chance to start fresh. Look back and ask yourself what areas of this child’s life did you do for them because you thought it would be too hard or they would make a mistake or they would make a mistake and it was just easier if you did it for them. And teach them. It’s not going to be fun, because they see themselves as adults, but they already know that they’re missing some of the life skills that they need to be successful. Sit down, have a heart-to-heart, make a list start at the top, and teach them everything they need to now. Set a timeline that says, 6 months or a year from now we’re going to try it again. This is not the worst thing that will happen to you. Together we’re going to figure this out. We’re going to get you ready to go this time. And you’re going to give it another shot.

PRE-ORDER your copy of The Straight Talk On Parenting HERE

Tweens, Technology and…..Sexting

Sexting. Some parents have difficulty just saying the word, never mind admitting that their child might – just might – be participating in it.  Our sweet, innocent 3rd and 4th graders have suddenly become tweens and teens and they are growing up in a world very different than the one most of us grew up in – a world surrounded by technology. Many children will not remember a time when they didn’t have instant access to a friend living half way around the world or the ability to see their grandparents each week via skype. These kiddos can receive an immediate and accurate answer to a question about pre-historic dinosaurs and link classrooms and share poems with students in Ghana and Kansas. This invaluable technology has also introduced our children to texting, social media, youtube, cyberbullying and yes, even sexting.  With the awesome comes the not so awesome.

As parents we can stay in denial and try to convince ourselves that we have the ability to protect and shield our kids from internet dangers like sexting, or we can get educated, grab our courage and meet our kids where they already are – cell phone in hand deciding in a split second whether or not to send a racy picture or post a decidedly inappropriate picture on social media. Contrary to popular belief, technology is NOT the problem. 

The problem is our lack of preparation around this issue, it’s the lack of intelligent conversation we have with our kids that is the problem and it is our fear of the unknown that is the biggest roadblock. Remember our job as parents is to teach, prepare and work along side our kids as they learn to navigate the world of technology filled with all the pluses and minuses.

Parents come to me confused on how to handle the issues surrounding their tween/teen and technology. This subject often either leads to power struggles between parents and their kids that negatively impact the relationship and the entire topic of responsible technology use gets lost in the mix of fighting and battling or it leads to a “if you can’t beat them, give up and let them” attitude with no structure, conversation or boundaries in place. It’s not unusual for me to ask a room full of concerned parents this question as a jumping off point: “What do you know about your child to ensure that you have set up a structure that will work for her?” Silence. “Uh, structure?” Often the story is, “My son turned 13 and all he wanted was a phone. All of his friends have them and he was dying for his own so he could text and stay connected.  Now, just a few months later, it’s a mess. The phone bill is sky high, he’s on the screen all the time, he’s neglecting homework and family. It’s a nightmare.”

Okay. Let’s back this bus up a bit and see if an analogy will make it clear where we get tripped up.

Before handing someone the keys to a car, that person has

  1. Reached a certain age.
  2. Passed drivers education.
  3. Practiced driving for hours with an experienced driver.
  4. Proven they can handle the responsibility of paying for a car or gas.

Right? And even if parents are scared to death that their son or daughter will get behind the wheel of a car and be in a serious accident, we can’t stop them.  We know this and so we accept it. We prepare our kids and we prepare ourselves for the inevitable.  We don’t fight against it – we work with it.  And that is what makes the difference.  Unfortunately, the same cannot be said when it comes to preparing our kids to handle technology. In many cases, parents skip those steps and go right to the “car” – then realize that their child may not have the necessary skills to adequately navigate the tricky terrain of internet use.  When parents can reframe the idea of technology and create a plan for preparing themselves and their kids for its inevitable arrival, everyone wins.

With a specific concern like sexting, the situation becomes a bit more serious and as a result, a parent’s fear factor increases. The idea of talking openly and frequently with kids about sex is tough enough, now we are forced to combine sex and technology in the same conversation. No wonder parents are sidelining these conversations until they can no longer avoid them.  Here’s the thing, no matter what you do to prevent it, there is a strong likelihood that your child will either sext someone or receive a sext from someone. The goal is to come to terms with this and do what you need to do as a parent to prepare yourself so you can discuss the situation openly and honestly with your child and prevention, danger, recovery, restitution and healing from a humiliating experience.

Include technology in the conversations you have with your children about healthy and unhealthy relationships – sexual and not sexual. If you aren’t comfortable talking about the topic, how do you expect your child to open up and talk to you about it?  Our kids need to know we have the confidence to tackle any difficult conversation with love, respect and understanding.

Here are a few tips to make the process easier.

  1. First, do what it takes to find the courage, to talk with your tween/teen about the various scenarios that might come up and how she/he might handle them.
  2. Ask questions. Find out about your teen’s cyber IQ. How tech savvy is she? Does she realize once something gets out there in cyberspace you cannot get it back? Or does she really think that once the image disappears from Snapchat it is gone for good?
  3. Work in other areas of life with your child to ensure that he has the tools to navigate tricky subjects. Does he accept responsibility? Does he value himself and others? Does he practice empathy and respect? Does he crave attention and long to fit in?
  4. Come to fair and reasonable guidelines with your child around technology use and include sexting in the conversation. Have a plan and stick to it. Remember your kids need to know they can trust you. Following through on an agreement demonstrates this. They may be mad at first, but the bigger message is – you do what you say, which means you can be trusted.
  5. Respect your child’s privacy. Have faith in your child’s ability to keep the agreements. This doesn’t mean turn a blind eye to what is going on, but it does mean that you don’t have an app that sends all your children’s texts to your phone, too. Finding out what is on your teen’s cell phone is about trust and respect. If you focus on those aspects of the relationship, your teen will invite you in – on her terms.
  6. Demonstrate your understanding that being a teen is hard enough; Let your child know that you understand and that the added element of technology, social media and sexting is one that you didn’t have to figure out when you were 12, 14, and 17-years-old. It’s more than just saying that you’re there if they need you. If your child does get in trouble, it is what you do next that matters most.

Does your tween/teen have the courage make their own choices and not succumb to peer pressure when it comes to sexting? What can you as the parent do to support your child’s independence in this area?


What is Your Child Thinking?


Are you living with a child who is constantly challenging your rules, your ideas, the outfits you choose, the lunch you pack, the bedtime you set, or the morning routine you created step-by-step? Do you feel as though this wonderful child is all-of-a-sudden challenging your authority? I get it, you’ve lived for years on this planet, you know your child very well, and you know what he needs to function at his best. It makes sense that you put it all into play. You may often ask yourself, Why is he so defiant? What is he thinking?

And then you go to the grocery store and there is the child, the child you wish was yours just for this moment. You know, that do-as-you’re-told fellow with textbook manners, neat clothing, exquisite restraint, sticky sweet personality and the cherub-like smile that appears just at the most opportune time.

You wonder what is that parent doing, you compare yourself and clamp down further on your own child. Only to receive more push-back and more lip. Before you drive yourself crazy, take a moment and think about what is “motivating” this child to “behave.”

For a Moment, Consider This

Sure, he’s compliant, he’ll follow orders, and never talk back, but do you ever stop and wonder why? Is he afraid of punishment or to disappoint? Is he being bribed and working toward a reward? Or is he praised to the point that he is afraid of making a mistake? None of these thoughts are healthy when they appear in adult relationships, so why are we using strategies that create these thoughts when our kids are little?

One thing we do know is that that child is definitely not learning to challenge the world around him. Of course, it’s not his fault, he’s been trained to be a “great” kid (and yes, we all want great kids,) but there’s something missing in this child’s life: the ability to think, to choose and to do for himself.

Your defiant, obstinate, bossy, pain-in-the-neck child is telling you that he wants to develop his voice, figure out what works best for him, and practice making mistakes and revising his plan. Your job is to support him through this process, because it could get messy.

Thinking kids are Messy

Why encourage your child to think for himself when you already know what’s best and can avoid all that mess? Here’s why: Because, eventually, your child will have to either make his own choices, or go along with the crowd (because you’ve trained him to do this) and although this may not be concerning when you’re living with a 2, 5, or 7 year old, it can be damn alarming when you’re living with a 13 or 16 year old.

Raising thinking children takes effort, however when you consider the alternative, it’s worth it. I encourage you to allow your children time to practice navigating their own lives according to their values, their preferences and their interests, while they are living at home with you. In other words kids who practices making choices when they are little, will be strong enough to make smart, thoughtful, and skillful choices later – when the stakes are higher. They will also know how to take responsibility for those choices, good, bad, or indifferent. And when amends are in order they’ll be willing to make them.

So, the next time your child is willing to make a choice around clothing, shoes, bedtime, food, baseball, piano lessons, ballet, or anything else for that matter, stop and ask yourself, “Is this a chance for me to let my child choose?” Maybe. Maybe not. But it sure is worth a moment of reflection.

Interested in learning more about raising thinking children? Learn how with Vicki’s Tools for Success. Take the time to develop confidence in your parenting decisions and to trust your child to make his or her own choices. (Italicize the paragraph) and linke Vicki’s Tools for Success to the link below.

The Two Reasons Less is More

work is worthIt’s not uncommon for a mom with a seven and five year old to recommend my book to a friend with younger children. The reason a parent of older kids recommends my book or encourages a parent with young children to attend a 6 week class I am teaching is because they know something the parent of the younger children does not.

And that is:

“You can do it now, or you can do it later, but you are going to have to do it – the earlier you start the easier it is – so start now.”

No matter how old your children are when you are introduced to this Less is More Approach to parenting, the concepts and strategies are there to support you as you teach your kids about healthy relationships and support their drive towards independence. This approach is flexible and can be adapted to meet any special circumstances in your family. This short blog is intended to inform those with younger kids who may be wondering – “But really – will it work for kids who are only a year old?”  The answer is yes and  I hope the following summary helps answer any questions you may have.

 This is not really a parenting program.  It is an approach to parenting that you can continue to use throughout your children’s lives, no matter how old they are.

At it’s core, this approach is about two things:

 1.  Helping your children learn what constitutes a healthy relationship through the relationship they have with you, their parent, so that they can enter into healthy relationships with people beyond their immediate family..  This means that the go-to, in-the-moment, not-sure-what-else-to-do strategies, which include nagging, reminding, lecturing, saving, bribing, coaxing, or punishing are replaced with strategies that build cooperative and respectful relationships which makes it possible to limit power struggles and enjoy life with a toddler or a teen.

The relationship strategies I teach are a far cry from the quick fix strategies many parents use to “get” their kids to do what they want or to stop doing something they disapprove of.  What I know, is that if a parent begins incorporating these relationship strategies into their life when their children are very young, they will be among the many parents who have not found it necessary to spend exorbitant amounts of time nagging, reminding, counting, time-outing, threatening or bribing their kids just to get through the day.  Will you get the hairy eyeball from some busybody watching you in the store – you bet, but you will also raise a child who is capable, competent, happy, respectful and responsible so it’s worth a few snarky comments when you consider the reward.

 2.  Providing as many opportunities as we can for our children to become more independent and self-reliant by helping them develop the skills necessary to navigate their fast past, ever changing world with confidence and enthusiasm.  And this begins by allowing them a chance to make simple choices, share in decision making, learning how to self soothe and overcome momentary frustrations and disappointments.

For parents with very young children, it’s important to allow them a chance to struggle, fuss, even cry before we rush to their sides and try and make them happy and content again.  The ability to overcome a bit of frustration or waiting helps them build confidence and is in fact a basic skill that they will continue to develop for many, many years.

If all you do, is take your cues from your child when he shows interest in feeding himself, or getting in the car-seat with help, or putting on a t-shirt, or making toast, you will go along way in laying the groundwork necessary for raising a remarkably capable and responsible young person.

Helicopter Parents Crippling the Next Generation

enthusiasm1It seems that Helicopter Parenting is alive and well and that in spite of all the research that suggests this is a dangerous direction in parenting with negative implications for our kids, families, our communities and our country, there are no signs that this trend is being replaced by a more common sense approach to parenting.  In fact, we seem to be a culture who has accepted that it is here to stay and there is nothing we can do about it.  And this style of intrusive parenting is infiltrating the life of kids over 18 years old, whose parents are still talking to them a dozen times a day, calling college professors, going to job interviews, organizing their lives, making recommendations on food, clothing and the friends they should be spending time with.

As a woman over 50-years-old it is disheartening to think about my future as an over 75-year-old retiree who will be at the mercy of “leaders” who still rely on mom and dad for help in making simple decisions let alone complex, multi-layered decisions with far reaching implications.

Am I supposed to feel secure with the idea that the same individuals who can not seem to manage their way out of a paper bag without their parents direction and guidance and in some cases advocacy, are going to be the same individuals who will be making decisions for us, for ME, when I am old, incontinent and have no teeth?  The world is becoming more complicated, not less which will require future leaders who are smart and thoughtful decision makers, who cultivate relationships of cooperation and collaboration, who can view issues from many sides, who can stand strong in the face of criticism and defend their positions with respect and clarity.

Are you Helicopter Parents asking me to believe that the same kid who needs his or her parents to advocate in a job interview is the kind of leader who can restore a crumbling automotive industry, revamp an entire education system, broker peace talks, put an end to hunger and disease, commit resources to projects that are environmentally sound, and fight for policies that are controversial and forward thinking.  SERIOUSLY?

Maybe instead of a Vice President, a new position will be created in which the advisers are mom and dad who will continue to advocate for their kids, lest they feel unprepared to do it for themselves.  Or perhaps the new press secretary will be a steadfast parent who tells the news hungry journalistic community with their probing questions that the president elect is feeling a little picked on today and could everyone be just a wee bit kinder to said President Elect.

For the life of me, I can’t imagine that anyone in their right mind thinks that continuing this kind of parenting is good for anyone.  I for one am NOT accepting this more intrusive form of parenting as the “norm”, nor will I sit by as more and more parents insinuate themselves into areas they have no business even commenting on, let alone controlling.

Instead of throwing up my hands in frustration and resigning myself to the situation, I WILL CONTINUE to do what I can to offer parents another approach to parenting which will prepare children for the challenges that await them, armed with the skills necessary to navigate a complicated world with grace and dignity.