the PARENT UP-Date

Vol1.2 April 2014

Praise, Panic, and Prom- The Parenting Pendulum

Moment by moment, on the fly, or through deep deliberation, parents must decide how to best care for and raise their kids for the better part of 20 years.

If you're like many, you question whether or not you're doing the right thing for your kids' current health and future success. Weighing what you know and hope for, you might wonder: Do we give kids strict boundaries or relaxed freedoms? Should we constantly encourage and praise our kids or be a little tougher on them? Does one mistake mean a privilege should be lost forever?

The brain benders go on-and-on, with differing weights of consequential severity.

For younger kids or high school seniors, we hope this newsletter helps with some of your daily decisions. Read on to find:

1. Some perspective on an appropriate amount of praise that allows kids to grow up making good decisions on their own.

2. Reminders on responding without panicking, to kids who have made a behavioral mistake.

3. And, tips for parenting during prom season.

Thanks for working your brain and working out your decisions on behalf of your kids and the youth of our community.

I might praise my kids too much?!

Kids who grow up without the constant pressure of pleasing people, will resist peer pressure more easily.

Love and Logic psychologist, Charles Fey writes:
Do we want our kids dependent upon the praise of others, or do we want them guided by a voice of personal responsibility residing in their hearts and their heads?
Far too many parenting and school discipline approaches rely on changing behavior by consistently providing praise and tangible goodies.

Life guided by an internal set of ethical principles…and a strong understanding of cause and effect…is far more likely to produce confidence and joy than a life dependent upon the fickle opinions of others.

Fey suggests these steps for raising a responsible, independent kid:

1. When kids succeed on a task, recognize their effort and their good feelings…rather than telling them how happy it makes you.

2. Demonstrate you love them, even when you don’t necessarily love their behavior.

3. Allow your kids to see you resisting peer pressure instead of always protecting a perfect image.

4. Allow your kids to make affordable mistakes and learn from them instead of always telling them what to do. Their happiness will come from knowing and doing the right thing instead of making someone else happy.

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My kid did what?! Responding without panic to a disappointing decision

If your young child says they showed someone their bare bottom during a playdate, or your teen says they tried smoking pot at the last party, you will have a knee-jerk gut reaction, a sense of panic, or an uncontrolled explosive reaction. When our kids shock us with their choices, our immediate response is important. So much as parents can keep their own shock and panic at bay, the better the parent-child relationship will be. We want our kids to come to us with these issues in the future and a judgmental response now can jeopardize that trust. Parents should respond to the child or teen with patience to hear more about their experience, being grateful the child has chosen to share openly. Giving your child an unconditionally accepting space to talk about their decisions or actions will create a deep parent/child relationship, and ultimately lead to better decision making for the child. When you hear something surprising from your kids, try not to panic. Let your initial reaction be to love them and allow them to share more. Talk about consequences later.
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PROM: Dancing around Parental Expectations and Peer Pressures

Many teens will use alcohol and/or drugs to cope with the stresses and invitations they face during prom night. The use of these substances can cause relaxation, loss of inhibitions, and altered perceptions that can cause them to make questionable choices. Ultimately, drugs and alcohol can dangerously hijack this special night, putting a student's health and safety at risk.

As a caring parent, get involved early and stay interested in your student's prom plans. Find resources on talking to your teen, prom night transportation tips, and post prom party safety here

  • Reinforce that you love your teen, and that your primary concern is their safety
  • Reassure your teenager that you understand prom night pressures and fears and talk about them
  • Remind your teen you expect them to stay alcohol free even if everyone is drinking.
  • Ask for the itinerary for the entire evening and check with the host of any after party to make sure alcohol will not be served.
  • Have an open conversation about sex and the pressures that exist. Make sure your teen knows your family values
  • Pinpoint medical emergencies, such as alcohol poisoning
  • Reinforce that they should get help if a friend is in trouble by notifying an adult if someone loses consciousness, or by calling POISON control for anonymous advice: 1-800-222-1222.
  • Meet your teen when they return home. If your teen has obviously been drinking or using other drugs, don’t let them to go back out.
  • Talk to your teen about the prom night experiences.
  • Compliment your teen on good choices they made.
  • Problem solve around difficult situations with compassion and care for your teen.
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