PEP’s Noted Author Series Comes to DC Area – Tips on Parenting Tweens and Teens

A Less-Is-More Approach to Parenting Tweens or Teens



One of my favorite events each year, PEP’s Noted Author Series, is a great combination of education, entertainment, and parenting community at its best.  This year’s duo of speakers promises to be an amazing line-up of tips and ideas you can bring home to your own families.  Events are filling fast for November 19-20 in the DC/MD/VA area, so grab your seats, and get ready for some #MomTastic information.  Full disclosure, I’m a volunteer Board Member at PEP, and I’m a huge believer as you know in parenting education and collaboration.

Here are some excerpts from interviews each speaker had with Katherine Reynolds Lewis that I hope you’ll find useful.

Letting Go of Your Tween or Teen

By Katherine Reynolds Lewis

Michael J. Bradley is a practicing adolescent psychologist and award-winning author of Yes, Your Teen is Crazy!  Loving Your Kid Without Losing Your Mind.  He shared some insights with Katherine Reynolds Lewis about how parents can cope with the tumultuous experience of raising an adolescent…

Parents talk about something called teen rebellion. Most of us believe there’s no such thing, any more than there is neighbor rebellion. Your next door neighbor may disagree with you about politics and house color and music. I don’t think you say they’re being disrespectful. We’re different, but we can live together. That’s the new configuration.

Adolescent brains are works in progress. The last part that gets wired in is the most difficult part – judgment, mediating emotion, good long-term decisions. They wire all the passion stuff first – the sex, popularity, instant gratification – and the last thing that gets wired in is the brakes. It’s a really scary ride for a period of time.

Parents have to make a decision early on about what their mission is. Most parents decide their mission is to control their child. We advocate that your real mission should be to teach your child to control himself. It involves using respect-based techniques where you try to help your child think through things and learn, so the child can one day sort those things out on her own.

A Less-Is-More Approach to Parenting

By Katherine Reynolds Lewis

Vicki Hoefle is a parent educator and author of The Straight Talk on Parenting: A No-Nonsense Approach on How to Grow a Grown-Up and Duct Tape Parenting: A Less Is More Approach to Raising Respectful, Responsible, and Resilient Kids Here are some of her insights she shared with Katherine Reynolds Lewis about her five-step plan to becoming an effective, engaged parent of kids who solve their own problems.

Parents are under a lot of pressure in life in general, outside of their role as parents. There’s a lot of pressure to perform, to succeed, to get ahead, and that filters into their parenting. Then parenting becomes another vehicle for that stress-induced performance anxiety. That wears us down.

What if you took one step to the right and a half step back so your kids could see the world they’re being asked to navigate? You can be involved but you’re just far enough away that the child can develop their own assessment skills, the difference between good and bad choices, learn how to overcome frustration, how to make amends, to reach out, to take a healthy risk. You would be close enough to watch this and offer a little commentary, when asked, so you find that balance between being involved and taking over.

Parents have a sense that there’s a way to create more balance in the family. Then it’s about introducing them to these five foundational pieces:

  1. Focus on developing relationship strategies. If what you’re going to do is going to fracture the relationship with your child, don’t do it. That includes nagging, reminding, counting, bribing, giving in, because each of those fractures the relationship a little bit. Over the course of 10 years, it’s no wonder that tweens find their parents unpalatable, because there’s a crack in the foundation. When you establish a good relationship with your kids, they’re more cooperative and they’re more responsible. Those are the byproducts of a healthy relationship.
  2. What we generally call discipline strategies are really control strategies. We have a chance to help our children develop self-control, self-regulation, along with many other character traits, if we stop focusing on compliance and start focusing on character development over time. The benefit is if you focused on teaching your kids self-control early, by the time they were 7, there would be little fighting between children, you’d be able to trust they wouldn’t be on the computer when they weren’t allowed, and when they got into middle school, they’d have the mental muscle to say, “I’m not going to cheat on the test.”
  3. The third is to quit your job as the maid. We give our kids 18 years to master all the self skills, social skills and life skills they’re going to need to live a healthy and fulfilling adult life. That is messy, and it takes them time to learn. There’s this propensity to make things neat and tidy. We can do it faster and better but what we give up is the ability to be emotionally available to our kids. When you’re doing, your attention is somewhere else. They need us to be emotionally available when they get into a tough spot. They don’t need us to be doing their laundry, making their lunch. How do you make that shift in an organized way so the family isn’t thrown into chaos?
  4. This idea that our children should be happy all the time. The human experience is one of ups and downs. Our job is to ensure that our children know how to pick themselves up when they are down, not to ensure that they are never down. There’s this added pressure on parents that their children should always be happy, that their children are never upset. I talk about what stops us from allowing our kids to have temper tantrums, what stops us from letting our kids be frustrated, left out, to fail, so over the course of 18 years they don’t worry about making a mistake because they know how to pick themselves back up. We’re seeing the results of the kids who don’t have that resiliency, because that’s where the anxiety comes from, the increase in cutting, promiscuity, that is the result of kids who are incredibly emotionally immature because of parents who save them from even the smallest disappointment in life.
  5. The last piece is this idea that parenting isn’t about what happens between 0 and 18, it’s really about what happens between 18 and 80. When you get into that mindset you’re no longer worried about being the perfect parent or having the perfect child. You’re much better at moving through a difficult moment with grace and ease because you’re not raising a 7 year old. It opens up the possibility that we do not have to be so stressed about a child who’s rude, or clothes are mismatched, or gets a C in algebra for a year until he decides he doesn’t want to get a C any more. It’s to look beyond this moment that is so awful that it threatens to drop us into a pit of despair and instead say, “This is nothing, this is something the child will pass through on his way to maturity.” It inspires parents to go back to being a real mentor, a real leader, a real resource to their children, instead of saying, “I will do your life and then I will drop you on the freeway when you’re 18 and then you will have to enter traffic on your own.”


A Less-Is-More Approach to Parenting Tweens or Teens



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