Ever since I was lucky enough to become a mum, I set myself a goal to encourage my children to acknowledge that they had a choice in just how powerful they could become. When my kids were little, I would always give them choices – a typical example being ‘would you like Frosties or Shreddies? Orange or apple juice? This T shirt or that one?’
Their dad would always say, “you give them too many choices. They will run rings around you. Just tell them and be done with it!”
However, I chose to I stick to my guns of course. I was taking a longer-term view. What their dad did not understand was I actually still held control, whilst empowering them with their perception of control.
Empower Your Kids by Putting Boundaries in Place
As young children become adolescents, it is instinctive to rebel against any obvious semblance of control, because naturally, they are striving to create their own identity and independence. This is healthy. A win-win in these circumstances is to continue to afford them the perception of control by allowing them to still make choices within a subtle framework of control. Ultimately at any age, children need to know that the boundaries are there (even if they complain). Take away all boundaries and overly soft-parent, and your children will play you up. Their behaviour will become worse and worse until they reach a boundary. They will complain, but deep down what they really feel is relief.
How to Keep Control of Your Children
How can we help keep control of our children, yet maintain a healthy and happy relationship with them most of the time?
The answer is to empower them within a healthy and subtle framework of control.
As children grow, the choices become more complex, but the framework that you can offer as a parent is fundamentally the same. It teaches them that within a given framework of control it is safe for them to make choices and to realize that every choice we make in life has a consequence.
I was inspired to write this blog after a client session recently.
The parent in question is an accomplished and professional lady, yet incredibly frustrated that she did not know how to motivate her daughter to stop playing games with her and instead to seize the opportunities in front of her.
Your teenager will need to step up and find their confidence to cope with their first interview, get their first job, go on their first date and face up to many other challenges and responsibilities as they enter adulthood.
Dealing with Apathy
When your teen starts to display apathy and make excuses of not feeling well, whingeing about being over tired and just needing to chill, it could be they are perhaps floundering and wanting to escape fears they would rather not face.
Using the breakfast cereal example, you can guide them to empower themselves within that same safe framework. Get them active and off the sofa or off their computer by offering them some fun options to choose from. You hold the ultimate frame of control, you steer them towards options and they get to decide, which gives them the perception of control and takes away any overwhelm by leaving options vague.
Empowering Teens in the Workplace
Similarly to help them get a part time job, suggest three different areas and let them make the decision as to which location. Again three different types of job they might consider (such as shop work, a restaurant, or animal centre). Work with them to get a list of numbers and emails. Get their commitment to making three calls or emails per day.
If on the day of the interview they are overwhelmed with what to wear, again give them choices within a framework, let them make the decision and then offer praise such as “great choice!” to support their decision.
Low Self-Confidence and Anxiety
Low self-confidence can create anxiety and a tendency to avoid stepping up. Challenges must at times be chunked into tiny steps. You can be encouraging and show your support, with phrases such as…
“Together we can sort this.”
“I’ve got you. I believe in you.”
“We just need to do this…”
“All we need to do is this…”
“You’re not alone with this…”
Ultimately, they have to follow through and make the calls, send the emails and turn up for the interview. So be sure to hold a few consequences up your sleeve if they don’t take the responsibility, some tough love may be required.
Healthy discipline is an affirmation of boundaries.“
Consequences should be fair and directly linked to the matter in question. For example, if your teen is apathetic in finding themselves a job, it might time to think about cutting back on their allowance?
Home and family should ideally always be a safe testing ground for theories and strategies that will equip them to become fully functioning and empowered adults in the real world of responsibilities.
I hope this helps you today.
Anxiety Expert – Anxiety Help Bournemouth & Christchurch, UK
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