Karen Casey Coaching

10 Things We Need to Stop Teaching our Tweens/Teens

Our job of teaching our children is one of the most impacting aspects of our parenting role. We teach by our example and by our words. (Gulp!) I wish I knew what I know now when my children were growing up. Sound familiar? I think we all could use a daily reminder that the words we speak to our children hold a great deal of weight. Some things we are tempted to pass down are not beneficial or with their best in mind. Sometimes we teach something out of habit or how we were taught. If your children are still under your roof, consider some of these often passed-down lessons taught to children and throw them out!

  1. Adults (or anyone who is older than them) are always right no matter the situation.
    The “because I told you so” is easy to say but it doesn’t help a young person to process the why or the instruction we have spoken. A quick read of the daily news will remind us that there are adults who are making decisions that do not benefit a child. Continue to invest time to help your tween/teen to talk through what an adult has said or implied. It will increase their awareness and prepare them for the adult years to come.
  2. If he is mean to you, he must like you. (Nope!)
    This is for girls and boys. If he/she isn’t kind and thoughtful, they are not a friend or someone to spend time with. This is especially near my heart as I saw so many teen girls/former students who put up with poor and even abusive behavior because of their own neediness. Please pay attention to those possibilities in the lives of your tween/teens.
  3. Failure is something to be ashamed of and must be avoided at all costs.
    I live in a county that is affluent and driven by outward success. I have seen up close how that pressure impacts young people, and it isn’t pretty. Anxiety, rebellion, and all types of responses are common when the pressure to never fail at something is intense. I confess that I think I communicated this to my own children when they were young though it wasn’t my intention. We can talk about excellence and be a cheerleader for our tween to the point where it actually deflates their desire to do well. Not doing well at something or failing at a task, class, or relationship is filled with potential to grow and we all know that failing at something is part of life.
  4. Forcing apologies from a child. It has no benefits and comes up empty in teaching a child to process what they have done or what has been done to them. When kids have a clear understanding of what they did or how they hurt someone, a sincere apology often follows.
  5. You should ignore bullies. That may have worked when I was a child, but the culture has changed. With social media options taking bullying to a new level, there isn’t room to ignore repeated attacks by a bully. While schools have policies surrounding bullying, we know that some schools are stronger than others in responding to the concerns. If your child is having repeated experiences with someone bringing them harm, don’t wait. Let a teacher or safe adult in whatever setting it is occurring and insist on a plan of action. Certainly, working with your child on how to respond is important as well.
  6. Teaching your child, they are entitled at school. If you are the type of parent who calls the teacher to yell at them when your child receives a bad grade or their GPA slips, you’re doing it wrong. While yes, bad teachers do exist and there could be other factors making it difficult for your child to learn, the first step is to have a talk with your child, NOT to call the teacher to blame them.
  7. Your reason for going to school and earning good grades is to get you into a good college. Today’s public education system involves so much teaching just to get good results. Schools today tend to teach for the test. The students win by getting good marks, and the teachers win by looking good when their students do well on paper. While this is a seemingly win-win situation, our children aren’t truly learning as much because they are temporarily memorizing information for the sole purpose of test-taking. Keep reading at home, stay curious with them, and communicate the joy of learning with your child. Easier said than done but worth our effort!
  8. Telling your tween “Good job”. It is an easy statement to be in the habit of saying when our child shows us a test with a strong grade or a piece of art they created. While we may think it builds self-confidence through statements like “Good job” or “You are so smart”, it actually does something different. It leads to thinking any amount of effort is sufficient as long as mom or dad speaks these words. Encourage your tween on their effort instead of the result. Try saying “You tried really hard on that” or “I can tell you put a lot of thought into your project.” Building resilience in your child has more benefits in the long run and that can be encouraged by being specific in your response to their effort.
  9. If you _, then I will __. Bribing kids is destructive as it discourages them from cooperating simply for the sake of contributing to the family. This kind of exchange can become a slippery slope and if used frequently, you’re bound to have it come back and bite you. “No! I won’t clean my room unless you buy me the outfit I want for Homecoming!” It is very easy to fall into bribing when they are very young and you are growing your parenting skills. You don’t want to find yourself bribing a 14-year-old. Instead try a simple, “Thank you so much for taking good care of your room!” When we offer our genuine gratitude, children are intrinsically motivated to continue to help. And if your child hasn’t been very helpful lately, remind him of a time when he was. “Remember when you helped me clean the kitchen after the holiday, that was so appreciated.” Give your tween/teen the chance to come to the conclusion that helping out is fun and intrinsically rewarding.
    And #10 …Girls are too emotional. This can be communicated by saying statements like “crying like a girl” or saying to a son, “Don’t be a girl about it.” I have heard parents say these things 0n ball fields and still cringe thinking of a father who said this to his son in a parent-teacher conference when my student teared up discussing his grades.
    It is so easy to slip into patterns and habitual sayings that are not helpful, kind, or loving. These are just a few to be on the lookout for in our parenting. I believe most parents want to be their very best for their child. It is a wise parent who reflects often on what their words and actions might be saying to their child. We are all in this together!

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