The adolescent years can be full of irrational behavior and chaos that can impact the whole family. Dr. Laura Kastner is author of Wise Minded Parenting: Mastering the Seven Essentials for Raising Successful Tweens and Teens.
Here are her 7 essentials to wise parenting that she says are building blocks for success:
1. Secure attachement (refers to maintaining close relationships)
3. Academic success
4. Social thriving
5. Emotional flourishing
6. Strong character
7. Physical health
There is tremendous amount of research showing that these strengths are predictive all the positive outcomes that we want in our maturing teens-achievement, stable relationships, success at work and a strong moral compass. Supporting the development of these essentials should be the big priorities in parenting. Parents should have practices in place that build these strengths every day. The book has quizzes, workbook exercises and tools for incorporating these practices into daily life. It outlines ways to improve everything from homework habits to sleep routines.
What else is new in your book?
The concept of "wise mind" is a way of approaching problem-solving with kids that integrates our emotional skills and analytic skills so that we can implement plans that work. For instance, let's say your 8th grade daughter says she hates you and that you are the meanest mom around because you won't let her go to a particular party on Saturday night. Emotionally, you want to contain yourself and not yell back-because that makes the conflict worse. Your logical mind might want to tell her why your decision is reasonable, maybe lecture her about why un-chaperoned parties are unsafe, and perhaps scold her for her disrespect. But logic won't be effective either in getting her to like your decision either. A very important question to ask ourselves before replying is: We might be right, but are we effective?
A wise minded approach would be to choose a realistic goal and implement it without making the argument worse. You'd want to state your unpopular decision, validate her feelings of disappointment; accept her negative emotions; and even convey that her negative feelings are understandable given her emotional state. There are times we all hate other people's decisions that disappoint us.
Improving parenting skills can seem like an overwhelming job. What do you tell parents who are already juggling so much?
One of the subjects I emphasize a lot in the book is the power of routines. If we organize our homes with the kind of consistent expectations, boundaries and habits that are good for kids-like chores, homework time, organized activities like sports and volunteering, and regular bedtimes-those good habits are going to be doing a lot of the heavy lifting for us in building health, character and success at school. Good routines and habits are under-rated. If we practice homework habits or soccer or coping skills every day, we develop those skills, muscles, and even neural pathways which establish competencies. Everything we do in the home is like that. Success is all about healthy and competent habits.
What tips do you have for parents who get stressed out when they get into arguments with their teens?
WAIT and do a "wise-minded parent filter" before speaking. (Describe and observe your child's behavior without judgment in your mind. "My child is mad about chores, feeling resentful, and saying he won't do his chore.")
INVESTIGATE your bodily experience and calm your emotions. (My heart rate is accelerated which makes me angry and I need to breathe deeply so I can think clearly and problem-solve).
SAY only validating things to your child. Validation does not mean agreement or approval. It means you are listening and understanding their feelings. "I understand. Chores can be a drag, especially when you're tired at the end of the day".
EVALUATE a realistic goal for this heated moment. The only person you can control is yourself. You want cooperation, not a power struggle. State your expectaton and exit with a kind statement about how you have faith that he can follow through. You can have a policy in place for noncompliance, but you don't want to use this threat in a heated moment because it just serves as a red flag in front of a bull. It encourages defiance and anger. Parting with "I have faith that you can do it" is a nice note to end on. Most kids comply. They really are doing the best they can, and so are their parents!
If you’d like to hear more from Dr. Kastner, she’ll be speaking about her book on Tuesday, Feb. 12 at 7 p.m. at the Kirkland Performance Center. Tickets are $20.
For more parenting tips, visit the ParentMap website.