6-Ways-to-Make-Your-Child-Feel-Loved this School Year

As parents of school-aged kids, many things feel uncertain and out of control right now heading into a new school year.

We have little control over whether our kids get to go to the classroom right now or if they have to be schooled virtually from our kitchen table.

One choice we do have, despite our circumstances, is the ability to make our child feel especially loved in our home this school year and beyond.

6-Ways-to-Make-Your-Child-Feel-Loved this School Year

1. Light a Candle of Honor

One of our favorite family dinner traditions we regularly did around our dinner table when our kids were younger was the Candle of Honor.

Each night (or whenever you want), choose one child (or adult) to honor because of a positive character trait they showed or something they accomplished that day. Light a candle in front of your honoree, acknowledge why you chose them before the meal, and let them blow the flame out while everyone gives them a round of applause.

The candle of honor tradition is such a small, simple, and fun way to acknowledge and impact your family members.

Be prepared for younger children to get upset or complain when they aren’t chosen. Thankfully, this too shall pass as they learn that their turn will indeed come around. The Candle of Honor becomes a strong family tradition as you teach your children to celebrate one another regularly in your home.

2. Turn an ordinary moment into an extraordinary one

As a mother of five, it can be difficult to feel like I’m giving everyone the attention they need or deserve. So, I’m always seeking out simple opportunities to celebrate each of my sons and daughter so that they feel uniquely cherished in our family.

Our youngest got to go back in person to school first, so on the night before he headed back to the classroom, I threw a little after-dinner celebration focused on him.

candle-of-honor-simple-celebration

  • Instead of just handing our son the variety pack of camouflage washable masks I had purchased him for school, I used it as an excuse to throw him a little Back-to-School after-dinner celebration.
  • I googled how many days had passed since his last day of school before the pandemic shut everything down and wrote on a blank notecard, “After 192 days, you get to go back to school.” Yippee. Hooray. Whoo-hoo.
  • After dinner, I lit the Candle of Honor and presented him with a slice of cheesecake (that Kneaders mistakingly gave me when I ordered a cherry pie for myself) and a recycled gift bag with his set of masks and a hand-me-down chapter book from a friend.

This simple celebration cost me nothing but a little time. I threw the idea together in a matter of minutes yet my intentional effort made my son feel special and loved.

This is the name of the game friends.

Be on the lookout for ordinary moments that you can simply turn into extraordinary ones with a little extra effort this school year.

3. Talk around the family table 

It’s so vital that we create space in our families to talk around the table, breakfast bar, or wherever you gather with your people regularly. Get to know who is in your child’s world this school year- virtually or in the classroom. Know the names and happenings of their friends, enemies, teachers, bus drivers, cafeteria workers, and the other people they encounter every day.

Ask your students what’s bothering them about their school year so far?

What are they enjoying? And in turn, tell them what’s going on in your life.

Our homes need to be a haven where we gather consistently with our people over meals and speak truth and love to one another.

4. Encourage contribution

Find ways for your children, from toddlers to teens, to help out around your home. Even though your son or daughter will most likely complain about unloading the dishwasher, doing their laundry, or scrubbing a toilet, having regular chores helps children feel a sense of belonging which equates to feeling loved.

raise-Contributors-kids-chores

Not only should your son or daughter be contributing to the good of your family home, but it’s essential that they also learn to contribute to your local community and the world at large.

5. Create a meaningful school year photo album

One of my favorite back to school traditions is putting my sons’ and daughter’s annual school photo into their You are Loved School Days album (which I happened to design.)

School-Photos-Keepsake-Album

When we take the time to intentionally create a meaningful keepsake book with their school photos each year, it tells our child that they matter and that they are loved.

If you haven’t started an annual school year album, you can check out my simple product to help you do so HERE.

6. Start a dialogue journal

A dialogue journal is a perfect way to begin one-on-one communication with your child by writing back and forth to one another in a simple notebook.

Grab a barely used notebook and start a dialogue journal with your school-aged kids to help them improve their penmanship and to get more comfortable expressing their thoughts, feelings, and ideas through the written word. It also makes a fun keepsake to look back at later in life.

To learn more about starting a dialogue journal with your student, click HERE.

What other ways are you striving to show love to your student this school year?

Teach-High-Schoolers-Personal-Health

As my firstborn sons wind down their senior year of high school, I question what I still need to teach them over these next couple of months before launching them off to their respective college campuses come August.

One area where we parents seem to fall short in our teaching is helping our son or daughter manage their health.

In general, we do a relatively good job of talking with our kids about the importance of eating a healthy diet while getting proper exercise and plenty of sleep. Yet, are we failing to prepare our kids to manage their health when they leave our homes?

From the many stories I’ve heard from doctors and nurses, I’m thinking so.

12 GIFTS TO GIVE YOUR HIGH SCHOOL SENIOR FOR GRADUATION

Emergency Room Nurse Charity Hollywood says she consistently sees ill-equipped young adults stream into the emergency room where she works near a large university campus in Arizona. She says that she is striving to raise her 6-year old twin sons to be confident and capable from a young age and encourages other parents to prepare their children better when it comes to managing their health.

What skills do young adults lack when it comes to their health?

What can parents do differently while raising their kids so that they can launch adults who are more confident and capable when managing their health?

Teach-High-Schoolers-Personal-Health

Read more

Dialogue-Journals-with-foster-children

While many of us are finding ourselves at home with our family members during this season of the Coronavirus pandemic, it can be challenging to figure out positive ways to spend our time while helping our kids grow in the process.

Two important areas we can devote our efforts to right now is strengthening family communication and our kids’ life skills. 

Over our summer breaks, I used to do dialogue journals with my elementary school-aged kids to help them:

  • Improve their penmanship.
  • Get more comfortable expressing their thoughts, feelings, and ideas through the written word.
  • Think about the thoughts and feelings of another in this interactive form of communication.
  • Create a keepsake from their childhood to be cherished later.

What you need to start a Dialogue Journal

All you need to start your dialogue journal is a simple notebook and a writing instrument. Nothing fancy required. I even like to recycle the kids’ old school notebooks that still have plenty of unused pages left in them. (Rip out the used pages!)

Dialogue-Journal-with-kids-coronavirus-quarantine

As the parent, you begin the journal by writing Dear Son or Daughter and the date. Then, tell your child something about your day and ask them a question. Leave the notebook on their bed or somewhere they will naturally find it. Then, your child is to write you back in the same format, asking you a question as well. And the journal gets casually passed back and forth creating improved penmanship, communication, and a keepsake to look back on.

TIP: You can liven up the notebook covers even with sayings or photos of the two of you on the front. I used to do a dialogue journal with the foster teen I mentored, and it was an excellent way for us to “talk” about the hard stuff that’s sometimes difficult to express in person.

Dialogue-Journals-with-foster-children

TIP: You could even do a Dialogue Journal with a friend or loved one who lives locally too. Ride your bike or drive over and drop the notebook at their door, and they can do the same when they are done.

Ask questions to get your child talking about their feelings and thoughts about their experience in quarantine and what they are missing this summer.

Click Here for 20 questions you could ask your child in your Dialogue Journal or use the cards to communicate around your family dinner table!

Use this time to strengthen your family communication through starting dialogue journals with your children. Not only will your son or daughter learn pertinent skills for today, but you will intentionally create a keepsake to be cherished tomorrow as well.

Have you done a dialogue journal with your child before?

 

Family-Meeting-Agendas

Growing up, I hung out at my best friend Mary’s house a lot, and, every once in awhile, Mary’s mom would tell me it was time for their family conference and that I was going to need to leave. As my two feet carried me home, I thought about how their family ritual seemed ludicrous. My parents didn’t do this sort of thing in our home, so why in the world would my friend’s family need to have meetings when we didn’t?

As I aged, I began to appreciate the fact that Mary’s family set aside sacred time for them and them alone. Her Mom wasn’t worried about catering to me or anyone else that she had to send home. They had an intentional system to connect, and I carried that idea forward into my family today.

Monthly-Family-Meeting-Agenda

WHY SHOULD PARENTS CREATE A HABIT OF HOLDING FAMILY MEETINGS?

Because families today are going in all directions. Holding mindful family meetings is a way to slow down and purposely connect with your family members regularly. These meetings are a relaxed way for everyone to gather and communicate together.

Family meetings are a time to get honest about the strengths and weaknesses of your family and to talk about how things are going within your family unit and individually. Family meetings are meant to be fun and promote a sense of belonging.

HOW OFTEN SHOULD YOU HOLD FAMILY MEETINGS?

Weekly? Monthly? Quarterly?

Decide what works for your family according to your current schedule. If you have younger kids, it will be easier to meet up around the family table for weekly meetings. As kids get older, this becomes more difficult, although just as important. 

Adriane Thompson of Raising Kids With Purpose says she and her husband, along with their three sons ages 9, 6 and 1, meet on Sunday evenings and “the meetings are usually a mix of screaming, running around, dancing, and cheering with a dash of order.” She says that even with the chaos, something amazing happens:

  • Our kids have input on decisions that impact them.
  • Problems or challenges get addressed in a judgment-free zone.
  • Our family values are highlighted and reiterated.
  • We find out if something is going on with someone that didn’t come up during the week.
  • Everyone feels like they are part of something bigger than themselves and that they have others cheering them on.
  • Chores and family contributions are assigned.

HOW LONG SHOULD YOUR FAMILY MEETING LAST?

Adriane says they keep their weekly family meeting to 15 minutes. “When we first started having meetings, we would all say something nice about each person in our family. Then once all the compliments were finished, that person would get to dance around the house hearing us chant their name. My toddler loved this part. But what ended up happening was the meeting got dragged out making it too long to keep attention,” she said.

WHERE SHOULD YOU HOLD YOUR FAMILY MEETINGS?

I want our “formal” dining room table to be a place where we regularly gather for connective tech-free time together, so this is where we hold our meetings.

The Thompsons’ prefer to switch up where they meet, and Adriane says, “You may even want to consider changing it up once a month and doing it at a park, a froyo place, Chick-Fil-A or somewhere where the kids can have fun afterward.”

FIGURE OUT YOUR PURPOSE 

Claim what it is you want to accomplish through holding your family meetings.

“The goal of a Family Meeting should be to open communication between everyone in the family. Allowing our kids to have a voice gives them autonomy, but also in this type of environment they can get a lot of guidance and know who is ultimately in charge,” says Adriane.

SET THE MOOD

Purposely set the mood and tone of the room to match how you want your family meeting to feel. Do you want it to be fun and upbeat, or do you want it to be serene and serious? Our family meetings always include a dessert, and I light candles so that the space feels calm and inviting.

Adriane agrees to include a special treat for the kids to enjoy during the meeting. “This can be anything from popcorn, special smoothies, muffins to frozen yogurt. Our kids aren’t used to getting a lot of sweet treats, so a family meeting is a perfect time to let them indulge a little,” she says.

END THE MEETING WITH A FUN RITUAL OR FAMILY EVENT

When you have younger kids, you can add an element of fun to the very end of the meeting, such as a dance party or something silly.

For those with older kids, Audrey Monke, Mother of 5 and Writer at Sunshine Parenting says, “Playing a board game or watching your favorite TV show together could be a reward for having the meeting.”



Family-Meeting-Agendas

PLAN YOUR AGENDA

Both Adriane and I, have Family Meeting Agendas that we print out and use for our family meetings, while Audrey says, “You don’t have to get fancy with your agenda. We keep ours on a legal pad, and we take turns being the “chair” of the meeting. Leading the session is good communication practice for kids.”

DOWNLOAD ADRIANE’S WEEKLY FAMILY AGENDA HERE

HERE’S WHAT TO INCLUDE ON YOUR AGENDA

  • What’s working well in your family, and what’s not working so well?
  • What changes do we need to make and what do we want to keep the same?
  • Talk about a value or life skill you want to strengthen.
  • Discuss how well you are serving and loving other people.
  • Coordinate the Family Calendar.
  • Discuss any needs for school or work projects, so you get out of the habit of running out last minute for that poster board!
  • Do you want to payout allowance or any other rewards?

Raising Kids With Purpose Family Meeting Agenda-10

HOW TO KICK OFF THE MEETING 

Start By Saying Something Nice

We used to start our family meetings by turning to the person next to us and saying something we loved about them. Complimenting one another no longer flies with the teenagers, but that practice certainly made for some sweet memories and strengthened our bonds.

Use Conversation Starters

Our family loves using Conversation Starter products around the table. Our favorites are Togather or Food With Thought These questions always seem to lighten the mood of the meeting, and we gain better insight into who one another are. 

Say Highs and Lows

You can also begin with Highs and Lows, where everyone thinks of something positive and something not so positive that recently happened to them.

OTHER GREAT IDEAS TO INCLUDE

Word of the Week

Adriane says her family picks a word from a “words to make you sound smarter” list or “words to study for the SAT,” and they discuss the meaning as well as try to use it throughout the week. I love this idea!

Meal Planning 

Take the time during meetings to plan your weekly dinner menu or to plan for school lunches. Get the whole family involved in what they want to eat for the week and decide who is going to help shop and make the meals too!

No matter if we are raising toddlers or teenagers, we must take the time and make an effort to connect with them regularly. Family meetings tell our kids that they matter. That our family matters. That our thoughts and actions matter.

Setting aside this sacred time for your family, whether it be weekly, monthly or quarterly, is a perfect way to let your kids know you care about them and the overall health of your entire family.

What do you think is important to include in family meetings?



Sharents- Kids-Deserve-Privacy-Please

We’re headed off on a week-long family trip, and in our excitement, we post pictures on Facebook of our departure from the country.

Our son receives a prestigious award at school, so we proudly post him holding his certificate on Instagram. #proudmom

It’s our daughter’s birthday, so we lovingly celebrate her by sharing a collage of pictures throughout her life even though she’s not even on the social platform.

Yes, we are proud of our offspring.

Of course, we want to share our child’s cute face and shining moments for friends and family to see.

Naturally, we’re excited to head off on that much-awaited family vacation. 

But, should we be sharing our kids’ images and our precious family moments online?

Sharents- Kids-Deserve-Privacy-Please

With June being Internet Safety Month, it made me think about my ‘sharenting’ habits and question if it’s a problem posting all that we are on our social feeds?

Are there risks to our ‘sharenting’? 

Dr. Lisa Strohman, Psychologist and Founder of Digital Citizen Academy, says absolutely and it’s why she doesn’t do it. She is a mother of two tweens who you won’t see anywhere on her social media feeds. She and her husband purposely keep their children offline.

“Neither one of us post anything about kids on social media,” says Strohman. “I’m really specific what I allow to be tagged as well. It’s not my right to post on my child’s behalf when it’s not their choice.”

Where do we draw the line between our freedom as a parent to post and a child’s right to privacy?

“I am a full believer that kids should come into adulthood with as little digital footprints as they possibly can,” says Dr. Strohman. “As a parent, I feel it isn’t our place to ‘brand’ them at a place in time with something that could come back and haunt them later. I mean, who would want our hairstyle from the ’80s to show up in any searchable database?”

Why we may need to change our ‘sharenting’ habits

Parents need to understand that the choices they make today could impact their child ten years from now. “If I’m sharing something about my child that they did when they were seven, who is going to see that?” questions Dr. Strohman. “You have zero control if you post on social, where those images go.”

Podcaster and Writer, Meagan Francis witnessed this firsthand when someone lifted her photo from Facebook and turned it into a meme that quickly went viral. Having a stranger turn her difficult mom moment into a viral meme was never her intention when she originally posted her picture, yet it’s the reality that can happen to any of us who post our images and stories online.

Allow your child to create their own digital identity.

“I recommend that you don’t post about your kids. You are creating a digital footprint on behalf of them that they haven’t created themselves or wanted to,” says Strohman. 

But, if you must post, think long and hard about what information you are putting online. What is the purpose of posting that image or story?

Most parents say they are posting on social media to keep families up to date with the latest photos of the kids. “The problem is when you do this publicly rather than in a file sharing program that doesn’t make it public like Dropbox or Google Drive, then you have no control who will see them, rip the images and use them in a way that you could be horrified to find out later,” says Dr. Strohman.

Put your child’s pictures back in the photo album where they belong.

Sharents need to mindfully print and preserve precious family photos instead of constantly posting them on the internet.

Rachel Musnicki spoke for many kids in her article on Your Teen Magazine, “We hate it when you tell our friends embarrassing stories in person; it’s worse when you post them on Facebook. Remember, nothing ever goes away on the Internet. We don’t want to be followed by that embarrassing nickname or baby picture on the Internet forever. I’d be mortified beyond belief if pictures of me with braces were on the Internet. Some images should remain hidden in a photo album.”

Consider removing images you’ve already posted of your child.

My daughter is embarrassed that when you google my name, a photo she doesn’t like comes up of her from five years ago on our RV sabbatical around the United States. At the moment she was okay with me posting the image, but five years later she wants it removed from cyberspace.

Fortunately, I know the owner of the podcast where it appears, and she agreed to take the image down. Other photos will remain online as they are attached to freelance articles that I’ve written, so they may unfortunately forever live on the web.    

Make a conscious choice to find other ways to connect with family and friends.

When prom season rolled around, I had to refrain from adding my teens’ pictures to the feed. Several good friends asked to see photos, and I was able to share the images with only my closest family and friends. 

My sons posted their prom pictures on their social media accounts, which is how it should be. We want to let our child create their digital footprint, instead of us building it for them.

What if we’re not ready to stop our ‘sharenting’? 

What should we consciously do before we post our child’s images and information online?

3 Things You Should Never Post

1. Don’t post your travels in real time.

You should never post ahead of or during a vacation.

“You are absolutely inviting people to your home especially if you are listed on the state website listing homeownership,” says Dr. Strohman. A driver’s license or a travel itinerary shared online could be valuable information for identity thieves and burglars. At least wait until you are back before posting your memorable moments.

2. Don’t post celebratory birthday messages.

With just a name, date of birth, and address (easy enough to find in a geotagged birthday party photo on Facebook, for example), bad actors can store this information until a person turns 18 and then begin opening accounts.

 “There is a lot of information people can pull from knowing your birthday,” says Strohman. “It takes away a huge unknown variable, for instance, if you are trying to steal someone’s identity.”

Get-Kids-Permission-Before-Sharing-on-Social-Sharents

3. Don’t post images of your child that they didn’t approve.

Always ask your child permission to post their image online and then respect their wishes if they say no. Also, understand that even if your child says yes today, they may later be embarrassed or upset about that photo living online later. 

Never tag your child or use their real name when posting their images either.

Remember that less is more when it comes to our ‘sharenting’.  Let’s be more mindful about the risks and consequences of posting on our child’s behalf. 

Have you experienced any issues from posting your child’s or family images online?

Fortnite-Video-Game-Playing-Parent-Expectations

My son was never a gamer. He played sports, hung out with friends and did typical dirty boy stuff.

Enter Fortnite: Battle Royale.

The popular video game is now my son’s competition of choice and playing Fortnite is his way of hanging out with friends. Even though it makes me out of my ever-loving parental mind watching my offspring sit there with headphones on shooting at animated characters on a screen, I’m allowing it in our home, but not without limitation.

Playing video games should be an earned privilege, according to Dr. Lisa Strohman, Psychologist and Founder of Digital Citizen Academy.

Is playing Fortnite an earned privilege in your home?

Fortnite-Battle-Royale-Video-Game-Parent-Expectations-For-Teenagers

As summer approaches and more downtime is on the horizon, I urge my fellow parents of Fortniters to begin to set family guidelines around gaming now.

FIRST UNDERSTAND WHY YOUR SON PLAYS FORTNITE

Belonging

Kids naturally have a need to belong and be part of the group. Playing Fortnite fulfills the human need for attachment to other people. The team approach of the popular video game is like being on a playground with friends.

It’s Addictive

There is the ability to have rankings and feel accomplishment and status, so it’s exciting…. and addicting. We must be careful that video games are not medicating our children, just as we adults might turn to alcohol, shopping or other deterrents to mask our reality.

It is ‘Free’

Battle Royale is a free game yet comes at a cost. “There is always a trade-off for the free video game, says Dr. Strohman. “It costs our child no money to begin playing, yet Epic Games collects all of our kids’ data.” Fortnite generated $223 million in one month alone. What appears to be free at the onset, is costing our kids along the way.

All the Cool Kids are Playing

It doesn’t help that our sons are watching their heroes play Fortnite in their downtime. “The game industry is very savvy bringing in the celebrity aspect to further entice our kids and create even more frenzy around it,” says Dr. Strohman. “They want to see who they can rub elbows with. Of course, our teenager would love the opportunity to take Rapper Drake down.”

Parenting the Fortnite Addict in the New York Times

Fortnite-Battle-Royale-Video-Game-Parent-Expectations-For-Teenagers

3 THINGS PARENTS SHOULD DO FOR THEIR FAVORITE FORTNITER

1. Communicate about healthy consumption

According to Dr. Strohman, parents must treat technology the same as they do food. “We would never allow a steady diet full of sugar, so why would we allow a steady diet of video games and technology? she says. “If you saw your children eating gummy bears for breakfast, you would sit them down and talk about how it is unhealthy.”

Parents must do the same thing when it comes to video game consumption. We must talk to our child about why a diet full of screens isn’t healthy and then we must be willing to set firm boundaries around gaming in our homes.

2. Create opportunities to build empathy

How are these first-person shooter games affecting our kids?

There is no research to show that first-person shooter games, such as Fortnite, creates actual violence. “But, what it has shown is escalated aggression,” said Dr. Strohman. A heightened alert system increases aggressive tendencies which reduce empathy in our kids. The concern is that this is becoming habitual.”

The world needs us to raise empathetic humans. Parents must mindfully create plenty of opportunities for our children to learn empathy through real-world experiences in our families and communities. Especially if we know that video games are numbing our children to this critical value.

4 Technology Battles Parents Must Fight

3. Write out your parental expectations for earning the privilege of gaming

How does your child currently earn the privilege to play video games in your home?

I asked Dr. Strohman if the list I gave my teenage Fortnite playing son was perhaps over the top? Was I crossing the line from a firm and loving authoritative parent to a demanding authoritarian parent with my expectations?

Fortnite-Video-Game-Parent-Expectations

“Your list is absolutely awesome,” said Dr. Strohman. “If your son isn’t responsible enough to wear his retainers then how can he earn the privilege of playing video games?”

Nothing like an expert to tell you that your parenting tactics are spot on. Sorry son….

Decide what boundaries you need to place on video gameplay and overall technology use in your home.

It’s okay if our kids think we’re crazy, mean, or super annoying. It’s fine if our expectations make our child temporarily unhappy. It is our job to teach and lead our children to a life of significance and meaning and I can guarantee you too much time on an addictive video game is not achieving that goal.

Have you set boundaries on your son’s Fortnite play? What’s working for your family?

Want more wisdom from Dr. Lisa Strohman? Check out her website here!

To learn about Dr. Strohman’s book Unplug and other books on parenting our kids on screens check out my Parent On Purpose Amazon store!

gifts-for-16th-birthday

How does this…

triplet-sons-driving-16

Turn into this… in a few blinks of an eye.

I’m not sure how we’re already at this stage in our family, but I have to say these guys are way more fun now than they ever were 16 years ago!

The big question I’m asked is did we buy them three cars for their milestone birthday?

Not a chance.

If there was no car with a bow, no epic party or promised iPhone X, then what did we give our 16-year-olds besides a little cash?

Sometimes we can get so caught up in what material item to buy or what Pinterest worthy event to throw, that we forget what’s really important to give our kids- the gift of lifelong values.

gifts-for-16th-birthday

1. The Gift of Desire

All my sons desired for their birthday was to get their drivers’ licenses and hit the open road. They wanted the gift of freedom as they turned 16, and that’s what we gave them- a ride to the DMV.

There was no party, no promise of the latest electronic or a new car. We had simply instilled in our boys the desire to set up their own appointments online to take the driving test the minute they could on their birthday. I wasn’t even aware that you could do that. Good for them.

Read more

7-things-your-daughter-should-not[-post-on-instagram

223 likes.

527 followers.

We know that Instagram numbers matter to our daughters.

You are so perfect.

Love you so much.

The feedback our girls receive on their Instagram posts matters even more.

But does your daughter know what matters to you when it comes to her presence online?

Read more

8-things-parents-need-to-stop-doing-for-teens-this-school-year

Don’t judge me if you happen to see my kids eating packaged Ritz crackers for school lunch.

Don’t judge me if they’re on the sidelines of PE because they forgot their uniform.

Don’t judge me if they didn’t turn in their homework because it’s still sitting home on their desk.

What some may view as a lack of parenting, is what I deem parenting on purpose, as we work to build necessary life skills in our kids.

I stopped making daily breakfasts and packing school lunches long ago.

I don’t feel obligated to deliver forgotten items left behind at home.

School projects and homework are not any part of my existence.

How do we raise competent adults if we’re always doing everything for our kids?

Let's parent our kids to be capable adults! I love this Ann Landers quote!

Walk away from doing these 8 things for your teen this school year

1. Waking them up in the morning

If you are still waking little Johnny up in the mornings, it’s time to let an alarm clock do its job. My foursome has been expected to get themselves up on early school mornings since they started middle school. There are days one will come racing out with only a few minutes to spare before they have to be out the door. The snooze button no longer feels luxurious when it’s caused you to miss breakfast.

I heard a Mom actually voice out loud that her teen sons were just so cute still, that she loved going in and waking them up every morning. Please stop. I find my sons just as adorable as you do, but our goal is to raise well-functioning adults here.

2. Making their breakfast and packing their lunch

My morning alarm is the sound of the kids clanging cereal bowls. My job is to make sure there is food in the house so that they can eat breakfast and pack a lunch.

One friend asked, yeah but how do you know what they’re bringing for school lunch? I don’t. I know what food I have in my pantry and it’s on them to pack up what they feel is a good lunch. It will only be a few short years and I will have no idea what they are eating for any of their meals away at college. Free yourself away from the PB and J station now.

3. Filling out their paperwork

Have kids fill out and sign all school paperwork and put on clipboard before you sign

I have a lot of kids, which equates to a lot of beginning of the school year paperwork. I used to dread this stack until the kids became of age to fill all of it out themselves. Our teens are expected to fill out all of their own paperwork, to the best of their ability. They put the papers to be signed on a clipboard and leave it for me on the kitchen island. I sign them and put them back on their desks. This makes life much easier for everyone.

Hold your teens accountable. They will need to fill out job and college applications soon and they need to know how to do that without your intervention. When they start applying for college, they’ll need to be more organized because of the workload they’ll be receiving.

4. Delivering their forgotten items

Monday morning we pulled out of the driveway and screeched around the corner of the house when daughter dear realized she forgot her phone. “We have to go back, Mom!” Another exclaimed that he forgot his freshly washed PE uniform folded in the laundry room. I braked in hesitation as I contemplated turning around. Nope. Off we go, as the vision surfaced of both of them playing around on their phones before it was time to leave.

Parents don’t miss opportunities to provide natural consequences for your teens. Forget something? Feel the pain of that. Kids also get to see, that you can make it through the day without a mistake consuming you.

We also have a rule that Mom and Dad are not to get pleading texts from school asking for forgotten items. It still happens, but we have the right to just shoot back “that’s a bummer.”

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5. Making their failure to plan your emergency

School projects do not get assigned the night before they are due. Therefore, I do not run out and pick up materials at the last minute to get a project finished. I do always keep poster boards and general materials on hand for the procrastinating child. But, other needed items, you may have to wait for. Do not race to Michaels for your kid who hasn’t taken time to plan.

This is a good topic to talk about in weekly family meetings. Does anyone have projects coming up that they’re going to need supplies for so that I can pick them up at my convenience this week?

6. Doing all of their laundry

laundry time

“What? YOU didn’t get my shorts washed? This response always backfires on the kid who may lose their mind thinking that I’m the only one who can do laundry around here. Every once in awhile a child needs a healthy reminder that I do not work for them. The minute they assume that this is my main role in life is the minute that I gladly hand over the laundry task to them.

Most days I do the washing and the kids fold and put their clothes away, but they are capable of tackling the entire process when need be.

7. Emailing and calling their teachers and coaches

If our child has a problem with a teacher or coach, he is going to have to take it to the one in charge. There is no way that we, as parents, are going to question a coach or email a teacher about something that should be between the authority figure and our child.

Don’t be that over-involved parent. Teach your child that if something is important enough to him, then he needs to learn how to handle the issue himself or at least ask you to help them.

8. Meddling in their academics

National Junior Honor Society middle school induction ceremony Cocopah Middle School

Put the pencil down parents. Most of the time, I honestly couldn’t tell you what my kids are doing for school work. We talk about projects and papers over dinner, but we’ve always had the expectation for our kids to own their work and grades. At times, they’ve earned Principals Lists, Honor Rolls, and National Junior Honor Society honors on their own accord. At other times, they’ve missed the mark.

These apps and websites, where parents can go in and see every detail of children’s school grades and homework, are not helping our overparenting epidemic.

Every blue moon I will ask the kids to pull up their student account and show me their grades because I want them to know I do care. I did notice our daughter slacking off at the end of last year and my acknowledgment helped her catch up, but I’m not taking it on as one of my regular responsibilities and you shouldn’t be either.

What is your parenting goal?

Is it to raise competent and capable adults?

If so, then lets work on backing off in areas where our teens can stand on their own two feet. I know they’re our babies and it feels good to hover over them once in a while, but in all seriousness, it’s up to us to raise them to be capable people.

I want to feel confident when I launch my kids into the real world that they are going to be just fine because I stepped back and let them navigate failure and real-life stuff on their own.

So please don’t judge me if my kids scramble around, shoving pre-packaged items into that brown paper lunch bag, before racing to catch the bus.

It’s all on purpose, my friends.

Did you draw up a contract with your child before handing over that cell phone? A parent-child cell phone agreement is a great way to discuss expectations and individual accountability upfront before that device ever lands in their hands.

We have been withholding the privilege of cellphones for our kids until now. We could’ve gone forever without giving in to the reality of society, but it is important to our kids, so we wanted to honor them. There are many reasons we wanted our kids to wait for this responsibility and I’ve written about that here. Our triplet sons just began 8th grade and their younger sister is in 7th. They are responsible, caring and hard working individuals deserving of this rite of passage in today’s culture.

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