By the time our kids reach high school, we will be tempted to “let them go” and “cut the cords”.
My son stood before the crowd. He looked sharp. Before leaving for the speech competition, he discovered how to create the coolest known knot for his tie by searching YouTube.
Ready to win this competition.
This son is a natural born entertainer.
Something magical happens when he’s given the opportunity to speak on stage.
When given the assignment to memorize 40 lines from a Shakespeare play, this child throws his head back, laughs and gets a gleam in his eye. “how long will you give me?”
He then proceeds to memorize the ENTIRE first scene and knocks his performance out of the park.
This day was no different.
His speech written, practiced, and memorized, he respectfully rolled his eyes at me when I suggested he jot down a few notes on an index card “just in case…”
Even though your teen believes they know everything…
They need your help, guidance, and strength more than they did as little kids.
The transition from being a middle-schooler to being a fully capable adult is like running a medieval gauntlet.
Some kids skate through their adolescence unscathed.
Many Kids need
- extra care
- and a full measure of grace
Mama, you and I need to “go the distance” with each and every teen.
Our job doesn’t slow down when our kids hit high school.
When our kids hit 12-years old, parents should receive a beautifully wrapped box containing a
- life vest
- crash helmet
- handwritten card that reads,
“Put these on and SMILE. Things are about to get interesting.”
Truth’s About Parenting and Teaching Teens
This is not the time to loosen the reigns.
Adolescence is the wonderful time when kids really buck against authority, stretch their legs and spread their wings. All while being confident that, “I’ve got this”
But don’t let go.
With the crazy flooding of hormones, teen brains can really struggle with rational thought and emotion. Frances Jensen, a pediatric neurologist at Children’s Hospital in Boston, explains,
“a teenage brain is just an adult brain with fewer miles on it.”
But it’s not.
To begin with, she says, a crucial part of the brain — the frontal lobes — are not fully connected.
“It’s the part of the brain that says: ‘Is this a good idea?
What is the consequence of this action?’ ” Jensen says. “It’s not that they don’t have a frontal lobe. They do. And they can use it.
But they’re going to access it more slowly.”
Some kids flourish during this season of life becoming “Captain of their Own Destinies”- even conquering the world.
But, some don’t.
Some turn on a smokescreen to trick us into seeing they have the world by the tail when in reality they are drowning in the new level responsibility, decision making, and plain old work required in their almost adult life.
- Your teens will be able to work independently
- They will want to do it “all by myself”
- Arrogance will be visible
- Mistakes will be made
- They will need you to be in control without being controlling. (Who said parenting is easy?!?)
When my son began his speech, he was shining.
He captured everyone’s attention with his opening statement and kept the entire audience on the edge of their seats, right until he forgot his speech…
He put his head down and took a deep breath. He repeated his last sentence and got stuck again.
I squirmed in my seat and silentely fed him the next line telepathically. My superpowers failed. Even though I knew his next lines by heart, I couldn’t get him to hear me. He was alone.
He courageously stood there for about 3 minutes.
Three painful, silent, slow minutes.
This was a friendly crowd and everyone in the audience held their breath and waited.
Finally, he looked up and smiled.
“I am so sorry,” he said. “I just can’t remember the rest of my speech.”
And then he walked off stage.
When they FAIL
I wish we could guarantee success for our kids.
Wouldn’t it be great to teach them to wear helmets, sharpen their pencils, and stand on stage and have life give them standing ovations for everything they do?
But it won’t.
Teach them what to do when they try really hard and miss the mark or when they give something everything they have and still crash and burn.
Failure is not falling down.
Failure is refusing to get back up.
Teach Kids to FAIL
- Mindset: Make sure your kids understand that FAIL stands for First Attempt In Learning. No one gets everything right the first time everytime. No one.
- Regroup. When they miss the mark, encourage kids to breathe. Even retreat a little. Sometimes they just need time to catch their breath, lick their wounds, rest their brains (or egos) and to reach down to find the courage to try again.
Secret Steps to Success for Teens to Memorize
- Get back up
After his speaking competition, my son walked around the room smiling. He congratulated every contestant and told them why he enjoyed each and every one of their speeches.
When the grey haired men encouraged him to use an index card, he glanced at me and smiled. “That’s a great idea,” he’d reply graciously.
Parenting through Adolescence. Practical Stuff
- Stay connected. Talk, laugh, joke and LISTEN to your teens
- Monitor their eating and sleeping habits. Make sure they drink enough water, eat their veggies, and sleep well every night. (Back to the basics. They’re gonna want to run on 30 minutes of sleep, coffee and French fries)
- Maintain (or regain) parental control over screens that suck their brains out through their eyes. Every home is different, but find your limit and set concrete boundaries. Smart phones are scientifically proven to lead to depression, loneliness, and lack of confidence. So limit your kids’ phone usage.
- Be willing to go the distance WITH our kids.
- They’re struggling in math? Search for answers together or find them tutors. Sit at the table while they finish their assignments.
- Practicing a speech? Listen to them practice, give positive feedback, and make suggestions. “maybe you should jot down a few things on an index card. I know you’ve nailed every speech you’ve ever given, but it’s a good habit.”
- Model perseverance. Show your won confusion and talk them through your journey of digging down to find the answers. Share your excitement when you “finally understand!”
- Get help. If you do not understand an assignment, concept, or assignment reach out and find help. Even You tube can be a great resource!
In today’s selfie world, kids can be tricked into thinking success comes easy for everyone.
Shoot. Mamas can believe that too. Just looking at Pinterest or facebook status’ can make us believe we are the only ones who struggle.
Let’s tell our kids truth and give them skills to cope with reality.
Life is hard, practice does make perfect, and win, lose, or fail, I will be there to cheer you on.
Crazy, wonderful, hormonal teens.
They need us more when they fall down than when they cross the finish line.
Remember, they don’t need:
- Our sympathy
- “I told you so…”
Parenting teens is exhausting, challenging, wonderful, humorous, stressful, and unbelievably rewarding.
It can also be heart wrenching.
They’re not the only ones learning.
What to Give Your Teen After an Epic Failure
My son gave me a huge hug.
His eyes filled with tears and he hugged me tighter and longer than typical for a teen.
“I guess it was time for me to learn humility,” he whispered in my ear.
I gave him a squeeze. “I’ve never been so proud of you,” I whispered back.
Mama, don’t let your kids go just because they are 2 inches taller than you.
Hand them their life preserver, parachute and crash helmet and SMILE.
“Things are about to get interesting.”