Category Archives: Teens

Unlock Positive Change in Your Child When You Adjust Your Expectations

Grumpy SonQ. My son is 11 and an only child. His first reaction to everything is negative, a sigh, makes a face and moans. This is the reaction to every meal (even stuff he likes), an outing he likes or even just being asked to watch tv with us. When we try to do fun family stuff he moans. Nearly every time he enjoys the activity and tells us afterwards, when we ask, that he loved it. He just wants to be playing on his iPad or watching TV on his own in his room. He says these activities take time from his gaming. I get frustrated because I plan these family activities around what he likes to do and yet he moans about going. Then it causes a row because no matter what we do he never gets excited or happy.

A. Constant negativity is very wearing. Especially if you take it personally. What I mean by that is: Does your frustration stem from thinking you have failed to raise a happy kid? Do you think his negativity is your Read more…

Teaching Your Children Self-Control

tired momYou come home at the end of the day. Maybe you’ve picked up one child from daycare and another from a playdate. Your tired, you don’t have anything prepared for dinner, and you long for some space.

And your kids go at it. Even if its loud fun screaming, it’s draining. But if it’s fighting or demanding, you just don’t have any dealing power. You end up shouting for them to be quiet, to just get along and stop bothering you. Of course you know that won’t work. They will come at you harder. But you can’t even think straight. You need quiet and time.

You know that, but your kids don’t. This is why parenting is the hardest job on the planet. You must continually twist your perspective to understand what your kids understand. Not many parents do that. You tell them what to do—or else….

The expectations on your kids, the messages they hear is they should know better, they should be more considerate of your needs, they listen and do what you say.

What you are Read more…

Why Building Connection Early Can Save Battles with Teens

 

Mom and Son

I often read Meghan Leahy’s advice in her column On Parenting for The Washington Post. I saw this headline, How do I connect with my teen son while respecting his independence, and had to read what she would say to this mom. After all, this is totally my wheelhouse. She said it so well that I wanted to share it with you. I hope that parents of little children read it as well. Focus on connection shouldn’t wait for the teen years. 

I work with so many parents of teens who were able to get them to do what they were told as younger children. These parents thought they were doing the right thing, but controlling, coercive methods of parenting—like time outs, threats, removing favorite things, grounding—tend to backfire when the child reaches the age of realization that they don’t have to do what they’re told anymore. They can even switch their allegiance from annoying parents to peer groups.

To be the parent your kids still look to for support and guidance, connection and problem solving rather than threats, blame Read more…

Why Rules Feed Resistance and Agreements Build Respect

Mom and SonQ. I’ve been a long time subscriber and benefitted on how to handle parenting issues mostly when my kids were very young. Now my son has turned 18 and feels entitled to stay out as long as he wants. For me and my husband, we still think that house rules apply but I’m finding it very difficult to give logical reasons why my son should abide by some rules when my husband does the exact same thing. Is there any better way to handle this or what reasons will be valid in this situation?

A. The reason you are having a hard time coming up with logical reasons is because there are none when it comes to holding authority over your 18 year old. He should be in a place by now where he has authority over himself. That comes from slowly and gradually pulling back your authority from your child as he becomes able to handle things on his own.

Children live with parents for as long as they do because of all the things they must do that Read more…

How to Help Kids Stop Hoarding Screentime

Kids on ScreensScreentime? How About Freetime Instead

As a concerned parent worried about how much time your kids are spending on screens, is it possible you might be adding to the problem in a number of ways. There is no question your job as a parent is dramatically more difficult since video games, YouTube and social media have infiltrated your homes. This is not an easy time to be a parent. You have so little control over how these programs hook your children, but I want to address some of the areas where you do have control and give a few ideas of what you can do.

Understand your child’s attraction

The draw of gaming is self-mastery. Video games are devised so that your child grows in competency to master a level on his own. It cannot be overstated how attractive this is to your child. No adult is peering over his shoulder telling him what he is doing right or wrong. This should inform you about how much children love to be masters of their experience.

When you criticize and judge Read more…

Self-confident Kids are Best Prepared for Success

 

Teen With Father

Q. I have enjoyed reading many things on your website. My husband and I are the owners of 1 integrity child and 1 harmony child. The first makes me nearly lose my mind as I am an integrity person as well. My question is how do you help them understand that the world doesn’t revolve around their perceived needs? My own experiences were tough, and it took counseling to finally work through my own self esteem challenges. It is and has always been exhausting. He is 18 and a good boy. He is polite, smart, well-adjusted, and has tremendous integrity BUT argues with us over nearly anything not being done his way. We try to get in his head and help him, but life will not always accommodate that, and he fears failure. I would love any insight you could provide.

A. The fact that your son is polite, well-adjusted with tremendous integrity says that you have raised him respectfully. But your fears of the outside world not accommodating his temperament are misplaced. He will learn from experience what tracks Read more…

Hear Bonnie Harris Talk Connective Parenting on the Safe Home Podcast

I was so honored to sit down as a guest recently with Beth Syverson, who has created the Safe Home Podcast with her son, Joseph Nakao. It’s a terrific resource that focuses on helping struggling teens and their families find their healing path.

In this episode, we talked about the question: HOW CAN WE BE MORE CONNECTED WITH THE KIDS IN OUR LIVES? Talk about being aligned with my Connective Parenting approach! It was a really meaningful conversation and I hope you get to give it a listen. You can find it here…

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From “Toilet Talk” to Curse Words: How Forbidding Turns Curiosity into Weaponry

Q. We have a 4-year-old turning 5 next month, and we have a lot of toilet talk going on. We’ve tried ignoring it, explaining why it’s not okay and that it’s not okay to use in our house. Nothing seems to work. He just lays around and says: penis, boobies, vagina and other words. No swear words but typical toilet talk. Also he’ll poke me or others and say I can see your booby, bum bum etc. Also with his 1-year-old sister and dogs. Any advice would be appreciated as it’s starting to be such a theme and hard to help him know that it’s not okay to yell this and say it all the time.

A. Actually, it’s you who needs to know it is okay. Your son is right on target developmentally when it comes to “toilet talk.” Four and five-year-old’s have curiosity about their bodies, compare themselves to others, especially the opposite sex, and want to discover what bodies do and what makes them different. Because they are this age, they get silly about it all.

Unfortunately, Read more…

When (and when not) to Talk to Your Kids About Sex

Mother and DaughterQ. While listening to one of your insightful podcasts, “Mom, When Can I Start Watching Porn?”, I heard you say “that the best time to start introducing your children to the mechanics of sex and how babies are made and born is between 4 and 6, before it becomes embarrassing, shocking and awkward. If you are saving “the talk” until kids ask, you may wait forever.” I have two daughters, ages 5 and 1. I always answer their questions as honestly as possible except when she was three and I was pregnant. She asked: “Mom, how did my baby sister get in there?” Not prepared, I froze. What, when and how do I share the answers to her future sex ed questions before she is too embarrassed to ask me? 

A. Don’t wait for the questions. They may never come. Sometime, ask her, “Do you remember when I was pregnant with your sister, and you asked me how she got inside me? I didn’t think you were old enough to understand then but now I think you are. Would you Read more…

Are You Looking at School Success the Wrong Way?
Child Doing HomeworkDo you teach your children that their school performance is for you? That’s one way to diminish school motivation.

All parents want their children to love school and learn lots. For too many children, the school years are a prison sentence to be endured. School often falls short of its intended role to encourage and motivate children’s natural love of learning and has become rules and curriculum to satisfy a set of statistics. School must be handed over to our children. They must know they have our support in doing the best they can. Some kids flounder in public school. They need your support more than anyone.

When a child thinks he must perform for a parent or a teacher, motivation drops. When he believes he is not meeting your expectations, it drops even more. To have intrinsic motivation to learn, children must feel good about themselves. That should be the number one goal of education. That means adjustment within the system to suit each child’s manner of learning. Hard to do. Much is left up to parents.

Many children Read more…