Sarahah.

Sarahah.

This is a true story.

I can’t tell you all the details, but I can tell you enough.

There is something trending with our teenagers that we need to be aware of. Have you heard of social media apps such as Sarahah?  The ENTIRE purpose of the app is to allow someone to gain anonymous feedback and comments from people within their permitted “friend” group.

A teenager recently shared that she was wondering what people thought of her.  So she laid on her bed, took a break from snapchat, and started a stream of conversation on an app similar to Sarahah with something like “tell me your thoughts”.  She sat alone in her room and waited to hear the opinions of others (remember..she doesn’t know who is responding. She knows it is one of her “friends” but not which one).

She soon sat in disbelief as the meanest, nastiest, most hurtful messages popped across her cell phone.  She read them to me. They were horrific. There were a few nice ones. But really they got lost in the darkness.

Can you imagine what that felt like?  I can tell you. It devastated her. She cried. She got angry. She responded back with venomous words…out of a place of hurt. And so the cycle is created. Or continued?

Parents. These apps and these behaviors are DESTROYING the confidence of our children. They are destroying our sons' and daughters' ability to have healthy relationships because they don't trust.  It is hurting them.   And here is the other thing. Many teenagers aren’t going to come and tell you about it because (perhaps) they weren’t supposed to have this app in the first place.

So now, they will sit alone with their devastation and low self-esteem with little to no comfort. Not because you don't care. Because you don't know. They will wonder not only who said those terrible things, but if they are true.

This is a cycle we have to stop. It is hurting our children.

How can we help?

1.     LOOK at your son/daughters phones!

2.     Have conversations with your son/daughter about these things, inquiring if this type of thing has ever happened to them. DO NOT WAIT until they will come to you.

3.     Teach your children the VERY serious impact of their words, even if they are “anonymous”. Teach them to not be the one on the other end making these destructive remarks. Teach them how to stop the cycle. 

 

 

If you need help creating boundaries around technology, or dealing with the effects of the above mentioned cycle, we can help! www.truenorthtw.com

 

 

 

Go Team

Go Team

Go Team

Ten Tips for fostering HEALTHY sibling relationships

1.    Siblings are a GIFT. Have siblings participate in gift buying for their siblings.  This could look like having sibling(s) help you pick out something for other child/ren, all the way to using their money to pitch in for a gift. Teaching our children to be generous, thoughtful, and kind to their siblings builds strong relationships. 

2.     Personal Space. Allow each sibling to have their own “space and stuff” that they don’t always have to share.  If everything is “fair game” this will breed resentment.  (My older boys share a room. So innately they have to share a lot. We try to respect that sometimes they don’t want to do the same thing, share their favorite toys, and or play together. We have to create the space for this to happen and use the words “Please let ______________ have some alone time for a while in the kitchen so he can finish his project”.  Not only does this eliminate resentment, but helps our children to practice respecting boundaries and breaking entitlement. 

3.     Fight Nice. Kids are going to disagree. However, you must set some ground rules for “fighting fair”.   For example, in our family name calling is NEVER allowed or tolerated and physical altercations are not permitted (to name a few).  Do your kids know what they are allowed to say/do when they are angry at their sibling?

4.     Blame Game. Do not allow blaming unless there is 100% proof!  We encourage our kids to say things like “I think he ate my cookie because he was sitting at my spot and the cookie was gone” VS “he took my cookie!”.

5.     Celebrate!  Practice being happy for each other and verbally pointing out strengths. This often needs to be modeled and practiced…and then it will become a habit!  For example, ask your children something that they think their sibling is really good at.  

6.     “NO COMPARING RULE”. This is a big one in our family (especially because we have twins- but it spans across all siblings groups).   We reiterate often that God makes us all different, gives us different gifts, makes us look different, etc.  We also have to distinguish between celebrating one’s accomplishments vs. boasting..  Boasting is a cousin to comparing and creates the same sense of shame/low self-worth. 

7.     Sorry Equation. Teach your children how to say sorry in a way that is heart-felt and healthy. Sorry Equation = I am sorry for ___________________. The other sibling: I forgive you.

8.      Mirror Mirror. Watch how you talk to or about other adults. Your kids are watching you! If you speak unkindly to/about others, they will probably mirror that with their siblings.

9.     Privacy Please. When/if one child is being disciplined, do not allow the other child to get in the middle. Discipline and punishments should be private out of respect for the child who made the mistake.  Shaming does not build relationships.

10. Positive Language. Your sibling team needs a name.  Whether you refer to each other as “Team Smith”, or “Buddies”, YOU as the parent can create the atmosphere of comradery by using language that promotes togetherness. 

 

My Dear Aunt Sally

My Dear Aunt Sally. Do you remember it? Remember having to learn the ORDER for those long math problems? Or how about good ‘ole Robert? As in Robert’s Rules of Order? Or how about my favorite? Anyone else love watching Mr. Rogers methodically hang up his sweater and neatly hang it in his closet? 

How about our children….what are we doing to teach them order? You see, understanding order and organization can be learned. First, however, we must be willing (and then take the time) to teach it.

Last week we had a rather full weekend filled with trips to Home Depot, the grocery store, and (groan) furniture shopping. Our 6-year-old boys were not thrilled. After all, it was the weekend. They wanted to play. They wanted to go to the park with their new remote control cars. They wanted to ride their bikes.  That is when it dawned on us that we needed to teach them the importance of scheduling our days (even the weekends) and creating an order that allows for productivity, peace, and park time instead of confusion, incompletion, and chaos.

 

So we got out our sticky notes, sharpies, and the lesson began.

We talked about priorities.

We talked about the needs of ALL family members.

We talked about timing.

We talked about planning for FUN.

 

Suddenly their little minds got to work. They began to create the “perfect day” where everything fit.

 

They were proud.

They didn’t complain.

They saw the world outside of themselves.

They helped to create order.

 

This day suddenly became different. They no longer complained about doing homework, but instead asked, “what did we plan after homework”? They no longer were frustrated that we "had to" be home to let their baby brother nap, but instead remarked “Look! We planned it perfectly. He is tired and it is naptime!”.

We hope that this 15 minute-impromptu lesson will teach many skills to span a lifetime: establishing boundaries (what do we have time for and what don’t we), prioritizing, scheduling and having fun, thinking of others, task completion, and an increased sense of self-esteem.  Afterall, outer order contributes to an inner calm....even in Home Depot. 

  

Losing Battles & Winning Wars.

“You may have to lose the battle to win the war.” 

This is a sentence I often hear from clients in my counseling practice. Sometimes it is coming from a lonely wife who “loses” the battle of caring when her husband comes home late from work time and time again.  Sometimes it is from a frustrated husband who “loses” the battle of disciplining his child because it isn’t worth the conflict he will have with his wife.  And most often, it is from a worn-out mother who will allow her child to do (almost) anything instead of fighting with her spirited son/daughter.

In some situations, I think this is a great tactic. But like in all great games of war, participants need to have strategy.  This is the piece that I would argue is missing in order to declare real victory. 

See, too often losing the battle looks a lot like throwing in the towel.  Our children will never benefit from us (parents) throwing in the towel.  In fact, many teenage clients have specifically (and in confidence) told me that they wish their parents didn’t give in so easily. 

I admit. I have lost battles before out of desperation or frustration. I have “lost the battle” of letting my kids do something because it was easier. (Ahem, eating in the brand new car or how about cleaning up after them because hearing them complain about it would ruin the peaceful afternoon?!)  Allowing for life to be easy is NOT the war that I ultimately want to win in my home. I don’t want my children to think that life will always be easy. I don’t want them to think that they will always get what they want. I want to raise resilient and well-adjusted kids.  I am sure you want the same thing.

I also have to admit that I have chosen to lose battles intentionally.  My kids happily eat Lunchables™ on Fridays (gross!). They pick out their clothes (often).  They don’t always have to clean up the playroom, and they (gasp) are allowed to mix Play-doh colors.  I want to win the war on confident (vs. anxious) children. I want to win the war on having a joy filled home.  I am sure you want the same thing. 

I encourage you to ask yourself the next time you say “I am losing ______________ battle”, what war are you winning?  If you can answer that and be happy with the strategy in place, then you have a tactical victory on your hands!

Guess What? Your Children Hear You!

 

I have amazing friends who are healthy in mind and body. They are inspiring to me and I love them.

We had a chance to visit with my friends this week. It was wonderful.  It filled my friendship bucket. 

One particular night we were talking about their business (they are health coaches…and they do a great job at it!) and we began to talk about doing a family health challenge called the 21 day Fix.  All adults were engaged. Things were said like “yeah I could lose 10 lbs.”, “Oh it would feel great to have more energy”,  “I need something to get me motivated,” et cetera.  That’s when I said it. Are you ready? My intention was just to add to the enthusiastic conversation so I said…

 “Yes! I want arms like Kelly Rippa”.   

Laughter and conversation (and healthy snacking) continued when my six year old son changed everything for me.

“Just be yourself.”

“What did you say, buddy?”, I asked.

“He repeated a little quieter (because I think he immediately thought he said something wrong). 

But that couldn’t be farther from the truth. He said everything so right.

See what happened in the kitchen was a confirmation.  Not a confirmation of my arms (they don’t look like Kelly Rippa's (yet). It was a confirmation that:

My children listen to the life values I instill in them and they notice when I don’t abide by them. 

See, I am a therapist. We talk a lot about life lessons, confidence, self-talk, and much more. It is my job. And honestly it is my passion.  So, I interrupted (because sometimes it is that important) the other adults to apologize to them for the fact that I had made a mistake. Something that I had taught them over and over did not match up with what I was doing.  That moment right there is what TRUST is built upon.  Children are looking to see if their world matches up.  We say the stove is hot. Is it? We say that sugar could make their tummy hurt. Will it?  We say to just be ourselves. Do I?  We say to be confident. Am I? 

I should never want anyone else’s arms.  And then I publically in my kitchen thanked my 6 year old buddy for reminding me of an important life lesson that I never want to forget...and want him to hold true for a long time!