Are We There Yet?

The Baras familyMany parents, when they think of traveling with their kids, immediately hear this whine in their mind, coming from the back seat of the car, “Are we there yet?” I have seen similar scenes in way too many movies too. Being in the car with bored kids is possibly one of the most common fears parents have, which causes many of them to avoid traveling with their children.

How horrible.

Another thing that is now very common is the use of electronic gadgets to pacify kids and keep them occupied on the way to interesting places, because of the fear of what they might do if they get bored. Watching a DVD or listening to music, often each person separately listening with headphones, seem like good ways to “have some peace and quiet”.

Again, how horrible.

Ronit and I have just returned from a week away with our kids. It is now winter in Brisbane, with temperatures below our enjoyment threshold, so we decided to go to Port Douglas, which is in the tropical region of Australia. We were hoping for nice, warm weather. Instead, the sky was overcast, it rained lightly on most days and the temperatures we pretty mild. But we had a ball anyway.

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Troubled Teens: Terrible Times

Typical teenage boyIn the last three weeks, I gave you a sneak peek into teenagers’ minds. Many parents say to me, “If I only knew what’s happening in their mind…” and I think they have only forgotten what was on their mind when they were teens, or maybe they have forgotten the struggles their friends had during the toughest periods of their life – adolescence.

Here are the last 5 typical teenager thoughts and tips to prevent or eliminate them.

I prefer to be alone

“Thank God they are going away this weekend. I can have the house to myself. I can watch TV as much as I like, play the computer as much as I like and eat whatever I want. Freedom at last!”

What parents can do

When kids reach the teen years, they loves to be on their own sometimes and it is normal and healthy for them to be on their own. Even bringing a babysitter to stay with them (to take care of the other kids, of course) can give them that sense of freedom and it is not a sign of your good or bad parenting.

Having an evening when they can do something different is very attractive to teenagers and as a parent, you need to provide them with opportunities for such time. I remember myself at the age of 15 having the time of my life when my parents were away for the weekend. I did all the same things I did when they were there, but it felt better. On evenings when they went out, we played hide and seek in the dark and I still have wonderful memories of those special days.

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Troubled Teens: Scary Times

clip_image004_thumb[1]This series is meant to help parents of teens and parents of kids who are turning into teens understand what teenagers think and what they go through as part of this tough period of their life. Each “twisted” thought is followed by something parents can do to help their teenagers and everyone else involved.

As in previous chapters, here are 5 things teens think and feel that scare them and make them act weird, and what you can do about them. I hope it will help you find alternative ways to address the issues and prevent them from keeping those thoughts any longer.

My parents are cruel and weak

“I think my parents are cruel. They hate me. They scream, shout and always tell me I’m wrong. They brought me into the world to torture me. They are weak. How can I trust them when I need help if they are so weak?”

What parents can do

When children are upset, they may think that you are behaving the way you do with the ultimate purpose of hurting them. Many parents mistake discipline for power when in fact, abusing your power and yelling, shouting or telling kids they are wrong are signs of weakness and may cause your children, especially teenagers, not to trust you to support them when they need help. This is because using pressure and force is all about you, not them.

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Troubled Teens: Confusing Years

Teen girl posingIn the past, people thought that teens’ behavior during the teenage years was directly connected to physical changes they start to experience at the age of 12, which makes them feel strange with their body changes and confuses them. Today, the approach is that adolescence is a more gradual process that starts with the first time children want to try doing things on their own, sometime as early as the age of 3.

If teenagers seem confused to you, it is mainly because they have reached a point in their life when they need to define who they are, what they think, what they like or hate, what their beliefs are and what they wants to be later on in life. These thoughts are tough. I know many adults who have not reached that self-definition yet, so this is not easy for a 12-year-old to do, although they are expected to have some clue about it.

Around the age of 10, beliefs that were part of children’s identity are shattered and they need to put the pieces together to survive emotionally. Kids with high emotional intelligence can do that, but most cannot, so they have to ask for help from those who unintentionally create the problem – their parents or their teachers.

This series will give you a sneak peek into teens’ confused brain and help you understand why it is so hard do be a teenager. I still remember my adolescence, I am raising my second teen, the third one is reaching puberty soon and I have worked with lots of teenagers in the last 25 years, so this list is quite reliable.

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Easy Divorce

Happy seniors hugging

Everybody also knows that divorce is painful to all involved. Regardless of your circumstances, both partners and all their children get hurt. Yet, the rate of divorce is soaring and being single again after having children is now part of many parents’ lives. Divorce seems hard to go through, but awfully easy to choose.

In the past, divorce was unacceptable in many societies. Once people got married, which was often by parental arrangement, they were stuck with their partners for life. Marriage was literally “until death do us part”. Being married for life was what everybody did. The average divorce rate was 0%.

Believing that ending their marriage while both partners were alive was not an option, the only available course of action was to make the marriage work. Sometimes, that was just as much fun as digging holes, but everyone dug 7 a day and kept their mouths shut.

Now, when you try to make a marriage work and you are committed to it for the long haul, you make decisions accordingly. You join bank accounts, split the responsibilities for best household performance and comfort, do your best to get to know your partner and try to be accommodating. In return, you could also rely on your partner to be there for you in times of difficulty, simply because he or she was as committed to the marriage as you were.

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Attitude, Awareness, Authenticity

Personal development means never stopping to look for things that will help us grow, understand ourselves and the world better and enjoy life more. Life is tough nowadays, so anything that makes it more enjoyable is welcome, especially when it costs nothing.

TED is a really special forum, where truly remarkable people from many areas – thought leaders – give short presentations that educate and inspire. I visit that site from time to time and often find golden nuggets, like I did this week.

Here is a presentation by Neil Pasricha, an award-winning blogger and best-selling author who writes about the good things in life. Not big things, but good things. Not things that blow us away, but things we should still notice and draw strength and happiness from.

I was especially moved by his authentic display of emotions, which stands out in a world where everybody tries to look cool all the time.

It is called “The 3 A’s of Awesome“.

Bullying (31): How to stop parent bullying

clip_image006_thumbParents are the most important agents of socialization in our society. Unlike teachers, who are the second biggest influencers on children, the same parents are around their kids while their teachers change. It is only sensible to think that if we want to support kids’ health and wellbeing, we need to support the most important people in their life – their parents.

I came up with the idea of supporting kids by supporting their parents about 20 years ago when I had an early childhood center. I could increase my young kids’ success and confidence whenever I got to the parents and made the partners in the process of education. There was 100% correlation between the success of the child (1½ years old to 4 years old) and the level of their parents’ involvement. My young students could read, do math and solve 60-pieces puzzles. They had the fine and gross motor skills expected of kids 3 years older than they were. At first, their parents did not believe their own eyes, but I just sent all their games and work sheets home so they could see their kids were able to do everything I said they could.

After 25 years in education, I can dare to say that investing in the parents is the most effective investment in children. And as with any investment, the sooner you start, the greater the returns.

I believe that government organizations should be investing in parents, but until that time, I will use this blog to help parents help themselves.

Here are the next 5 tips to help parents stop the cycle of bullying, help themselves and help their children be confident and avoid being bullied, being a bully or being a silent bystander.

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Bullying (30): How to stop parent bullying

Bullying stick figuresPersonal development is a good way to eliminate many problems in our society, because it goes through all the levels of change – developing awareness, making a decision to change, creating new habits and living the change. Changing a whole society of bullying is no different. We can move from a bullying society toward a caring, sharing and respectful society using the same personal development techniques.

In the last chapters of the bullying series, I gave tips for parents to stop the bullying in their life, whether to help themselves out of feeling like victims, to stop them bullying their families or to help them help their children. Since bullying is a never-ending cycle, any break in the cycle makes a huge difference to many people you are in contact with. Much like in the movie “Crash”, everything that happens to us touches the lives of the people around us directly or indirectly and we have the power to make a difference in the world by giving strength to our families, partners and children.

Good luck! Well, you do not really need luck. You need a conscious decision to work on yourself and be strong so you will never be picked on by a bully and never feel like a victim and try to gain that power back through your children.

Here are the next 5 tips for parents to work on their personal development and stop the bullying cycle

Bullying (29): How to stop parent bullying

Teen violenceWhen their physical life is in a mess, parents find it harder to cope with the challenges that are part of every day. This situation puts many parents into a reactive mode and makes them easy targets for bullies. You can help your kids by helping yourself be more in control of your life. Adopt a lifestyle that lets you control your circumstances more than they control you.

You can also teach your kids every tip here to make sure they will not be bullying victims and, of course, you need to be a good role model for them by “walking the talk” and showing them how to be in charge of your life.

Control over your life is a good way to build confidence. It does not mean you have 100% control of everything that happens to you in life (we wish!), but it definitely means that you will save your energy for situations that are truly out of your control. Unfortunately, there will always be situation like that, but if we are not too busy with an out-of-control lifestyle, we can handle the accident, the misunderstanding, the trauma, the health problem and the relationship issue better.

Here are the 5 more tips for parents to build their emotional strength and stop the bullying cycle.

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Bullying (28): How to stop parent bullying

clip_image006_thumb[1]In the last few posts of the bullying series, I started introducing 50 personal development techniques for parents to help stop the cycle of bullying. A bully is a person who feels weak and powerless, who is bullied himself by another person, who feels weak and powerless, who bullies others gain power, who bully others to gain power… and this cycle will never end, unless we stop it somewhere.

Families are the best candidates to focus on, because parents, although some are bullied themselves and bully their kids, still have an interest in raising wonderful, successful, happy kids. If we give parents strength and empower them to be aware and develop themselves, they will raise happy and confident kids, who will raise happy and confident kids, that will raise more happy and confident kids and slowly, we will reverse the bullying trend.

In this post, you will find 5 more techniques to stop parental bullying using personal development techniques. Each tip is very powerful. Parents can learn to develop it and become roles models for their kids to develop it too. Your kids are mirrors – they will copy your behavior. When you change, so will they.

Read more about how to eliminate bullying