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Tired Hearing Your Own Voice? Change Your Parenting Strategy

Sound like a broken record? Being ignored? It may be that you are using outdated techniques to raise your children.

Kids change. So should your parenting approach.

By seven or eight, switch from what I call an Outside-In Approach to an Inside-Out Approach. In other words, move from purely environmental management where parents/teachers impose external directions and behavior techniques (such as time-outs and sticker charts), to a more internal approach. This capitalizes on the amazing developmental changes emerging in the brains of kids around puberty. Built into your developing teen is the software to think for themselves. We need to seize that opportunity. And stop reminding, worrying, hovering.

Put it on them. Ask them to help you solve the problems you are seeing.

Step 1: Start with the setup.

“I need some help. You’re getting older and smarter. Don’t think of me as your mom or dad right now (or as your teacher or coach) but lets talk more as equals. It’s been a long time since I’ve been your age. I forget what it’s like. Tell me what it’s like for you – I promise I won’t lecture or disapprove or criticize. I need to hear what you think.”

Step 2: Ask them to think through hypotheticals.

“What would say if a friend needed and asked for your help to stay focused on their work, how could they get along better with their parents, learn to wait on screens until after things got done? How can you encourage other kids to try and think more for themselves and not follow the crowd?”

It may not work the first time, maybe not the second, but keep trying this Inside-Out Approach. Another trick is to move these discussions outdoors, take a walk, shoot hoops while talking, or get someplace that feels more neutral and where you’re less likely to fall into older parenting habits.

The goal is to promote more accurate self-awareness, independence, motivation to move oneself into better situations, and to start using one’s own decision-making skills effectively. These are the hallmarks off what we strive for as mature, independent adults. They are the higher cortical strengths that are available to all, but can’t fully develop unless nurtured through the teens and early twenties.



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