The Gift of Appreciation

Friday, December 2nd, 2016

By Erica Rood, M.A. Ed.

Appreciation means a lot to a teen.   In her mind it resonates as support, and when she is assured that her parents’ support is unwavering, she is likely to be more receptive and communicative. She will also begin to understand how to convey her own appreciation.

But what exactly is appreciation?


Appreciation is defined by the Oxford Dictionary as “the recognition and enjoyment of the good qualities of someone or something.”

Gratitude is the foundation for appreciation.

Gratitude is defined as “the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.”

Appreciation requires going beyond gratitude and recognizing the quality something or someone brings into your life. It requires bringing to mind what it is about someone or something that promotes feelings of lightness, love, happiness, or energy, no matter what.   One of the hardest things about being a parent is the nagging feeling that no one, especially your teen, appreciates you. It’s easy for teens to get so caught up in their own lives that their parents’ efforts, sacrifices, and support go unnoticed.

So how can you instill a sense of appreciation in your teen?

  • Ask her. How do you like to be appreciated? Ask yourself the same question. Engage in a conversation that will provide you both with insight. How do you each show your heartfelt appreciation for one another?
  • Show her. Instead of focusing on what’s not being done, acknowledge the things that are going well. Say “thank you” when your teen helps around the house.   Explicitly state your appreciation when your teen remembers to put her dishes away or fold her clothes. Catch her doing the right thing and remind her how much you appreciate her effort. “I appreciate you. I’m so grateful that I get to be your mom or dad.”
  • Say it…. Often. Make a point of extending your appreciation to all family members, friends, and colleagues. When you slow down to notice and appreciate the quality someone or something brings to your life, you set a positive tone for your own life and provide a powerful example for your daughter to follow.

What gratitude means to your daughter

Monday, November 21st, 2016

By Erica Rood, M.A. Ed.

If you have a teenage daughter, chances are there’ve been times when you’ve had to help her work through negative self-talk and self-doubt. It’s very common for teen girls to get caught in a cycle of “not-good-enoughness.”   When this happens, the “I’m not…” messages begin to wreak havoc on an otherwise optimistic teen. I’m not pretty enough, I’m not thin enough, I’m not smart enough, I’m not athletic enough. It’s important that parents be on the look out for the “Negative Nag” that is influencing their daughter’s behavior, and offer her positive alternatives.

Fostering a mindset of gratitude is a powerful antidote to the Negative Nag.

In my coaching practice, I spend a lot of time helping girls understand their Negative Nag, minimize its power, and replace its unkind, unhelpful messages with those that are empowering, energizing, and compassionate. These are often messages of gratitude. When girls bolster their capacity to notice and appreciate the positive in their world, their outlook begins to change. They naturally turn down the volume of their Negative Nag, their anxiety lowers, and their focus and energy increase. Study after study proves that increasing gratitude paves a way to positive emotions. And, when your daughter feels good about herself, she is able to see the good in others.

Robert Emmons one of the world leading gratitude researchers says:

“We’ve studied more than one thousand people, from ages eight to 80, and found that people who practice gratitude consistently report a host of benefits:

Physical

  • Stronger immune systems. Less bothered by aches and pains
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Exercise more and take better care of their health
  • Sleep longer and feel more refreshed upon waking

Psychological

  • Higher levels of positive emotions
  • More alert, alive, and awake
  • More joy and pleasure
  • More optimism and happiness

Social

  • More helpful, generous, and compassionate
  • More forgiving
  • Feel less lonely and isolated
  • More outgoing”

Gratitude literally changes thinking patterns. It helps girls get control of their Negative Nag and naturally lends itself to healthy relationships with themselves, with friends, family, and their world.

So, how can you bolster a sense of gratitude in your daughter?

  • Make every day one of Thanksgiving. Express your gratitude to your daughter and other members of the family. Share your sincere gratitude for who they are, not what they do. This means highlighting their qualities over their accomplishments or actions.
  • Make gratitude a family practice. Get crafty with your daughter and make a family gratitude jar. Transform an ordinary mason jar into a container for your gratitude and appreciation.   Decorate the jar with stickers, positive words, symbols and pictures that represent gratitude. Place the jar in a common area in the home, along with a stack of mini post-its. Each day, write a gratitude on a post-it and place in in the jar. The jar is also an effective visual reminder to be grateful.
  • Gratitude texts. It’s no secret that teens love technology. Make the most of their phones by sharing gratitude texts. Each day make a commitment to sending your daughter at least one gratitude text. You’ll inspire her to start seeing the positive in her world and spark her to respond with her own gratitude.
  • Nix the Negative Nag. When your daughter starts to express the comments of her Negative Nag, ask her how she can replace those thoughts with something more helpful and positive. Inquire with open-ended questions like, “How can you turn that around?” or “If you chose not to listen to the messages of the Negative Nag, what other message would you hear?” This encourages her to think out of the box and creatively discovery more positive ways of thinking, and responding.

 

Does your teen feel unpopular?

Wednesday, October 12th, 2016

By Erica Rood, M.A. Ed.

When you are a teen, popularity matters… a lot.

Teens derive a great deal of self-worth from their friends. Because the teen years are a time of huge transition and change, teens rely on their friends for validation, acceptance, and camaraderie.  Thus, being “popular” takes on a high degree of importance.   In fact, many teens believe being popular equals being happy.

As a parent, you might feel anxious, or even angry, if your daughter is not part of a group, if she is left out, or stays home on Saturday night. Your parental instinct may drive you to do something. But what can you? Gone are the days when you schedule play-dates. You are beyond your role as parent-as-administrator, and now need to take on the role as parent-coach, guiding and supporting your teen to understand and manage the delicate boundary between having friends and being popular.

Start here:

Affirm your teen’s strengths and values.

Despite their natural tendency to test the boundaries and resist parental influence, teens have a deep desire and need to receive affirmations from the adults in their lives. This means looking beyond their accomplishments and praising them for who they are, rather than what they do. When your teen receives respectful acknowledgements, her sense of self strengthens and she will be less inclined to rely on her friends for validation.

Talk to your teen about the difference between popularity and friendship.

Shed light on the misconception that being popular means being happy. Start a conversation about what it means to be authentic. Then, ask your teen: What does it mean to be a friend? What do you value in a friendship?   What are the qualities of a true friend? Challenge your teen to consider the problems with popularity.   Very often being popular requires teens to behave in a certain way, rather than exploring and sharing their authentic self. Maintaining a popular status can lead to stress, anxiety, and pressure. Conversations such as these will help broaden your teen’s perspective and understanding of popularity and genuine friendship.

Allow them to feel.

Acknowledge what your teen is going through. Whether she is striving to fit in with the popular crowd, feeling left out, or somewhere in between, her feelings are real. Validate her feelings of disappointment, sadness, anger, or loneliness.  Let her know that you are there for her and ready to listen when she is ready to talk. When she’s ready to talk, ask her open-ended questions that help her uncover solutions and best next-steps. In doing so, you will demonstrate your understanding, encourage her social problem-solving skills, and ultimately help her feel less alone.

4 ideas to discuss with your daughter about leadership

Tuesday, September 27th, 2016

Recently, there’s been a lot of attention on what makes a strong leader. It is an important question and extremely relevant in the lives of teen girls. More often than not, girls shy away from leadership roles. They fear they will be seen as bossy or controlling. Lack of confidence can steer girls into being followers rather than leaders. Even though they have leadership abilities, they may be afraid of being judged, ridiculed, or even worse, outcast.

Perhaps that’s why so many organizations have been requesting my workshop on leadership. When I teach girls about leadership, I start by sharing a simple premise: being a leader means being able to make decisions with confidence and assurance. It’s about setting a personal standard for behavior, which inspires and has a positive influence on others.

In my workshops I emphasize the importance of understanding personal values, habits and paradigms. Girls learn that choices, based on their values, influence the outcome of a situation, whether as ASB president, starting a club or simply finding their way through the maze of adolescence. As leaders, they develop a sense of integrity that gains respect without being labeled as bossy.

Use the following four ideas and questions to start a thoughtful and introspective discussion on what it means to be a leader:

  1. You are the choices that you make.  Ask: How is this true for you?
  2. Paradigms are perceptions, how you see things, people, and experiences. Ask: How do your perceptions shape your choices?
  3. Habits are powerful and important. Ask:  How do your habits impact your life at school? With friends? In sports?
  4. Values inform your choices. Ask: What are your values? What choices have you made based on your values?

 

Remember: Lead by example and share honestly.   You are your daughter’s model leader.

 

3-Ways to Help Your Teen Deal with Rejection

Wednesday, September 7th, 2016

By Erica Rood, M.A. Ed.
Hardships often prepare ordinary people for an extraordinary destiny. C.S. Lewis.

 

Sometimes it’s hard to see the extraordinary destiny that can lie within rejection. It is often accompanied by powerful forces, including blame, disappointment, and self-doubt. Coping positively with rejection requires a strong sense of self, a broad perspective, and resiliency. Many of these traits that are still forming in preteens and teens, but with a few simple tips, parents can teach their children how to turn a setback into an opportunity.

 

Honor their experiences.
Show your teen that you value her unique experience by listening to understand, rather than problem solve, and validating her unique point-of-view. When your teen feels understood and affirmed, she will feel more confident and prepared to handle challenges that come her way.

 

Try: Listen with an open mind and open heart. Do not interrupt or jump to conclusions. Instead give her space to talk and try to relate to her point of view. Validate the feelings you see her expressing, by saying “That must have been really hard for you. I’m sorry you had to go through that.”

 

Celebrate failure.
It sounds strange but when you view failures as opportunities for growth, your teen will do the same. Very often “failing” is an indication that we need to refocus or redirect. Failure is a valuable learning experience.

 

Try: Broaden her perspective around failure by asking open-ended questions like, “What could you do differently next time?” or “What do you think you’ll do next?”

 

Let go! Support vs. rescue.
This may be the hardest step. It’s natural to want to rescue your teen when she’s in a sticky situation, but she will never develop her resiliency muscle if she thinks you’ll solve all her problems. It’s important to become aware of the difference between support and rescue.

 

Try: Find opportunities to let her take the lead, then honor her experience, including if she fails. Bonus: Examine your experience with support vs. rescue. Notice when you tend to step in to “save” her in situations that perhaps, she could handle herself.

3 Ways to Coach your Teen in the Game of Life

Monday, August 22nd, 2016

By Erica Rood, M.A. Ed.

Adolescence is not a stage to simply get over, it is a stage of life to cultivate well….. If we see the adolescent period as just a time to wade through, a time to endure, we’ll miss out on taking very important steps to optimize the essence of adolescence –Dr. Daniel Seigel, author of Brainstorm.

How can you cultivate your son or daughter’s “essence” during the teen years? How can you truly optimize a stage that is so often filled with challenge?

Become your teen’s Parent-Coach!

As a Parent-Coach, you celebrate your teen’s budding independence and view your teen as an “adult in training.” As a Parent-Coach you provide the understanding and support your teen needs, leading to mutual respect, better communication and more compromise. You and your teen find the ability to embrace rather than fear the changes and challenges of the teen years.

Three Practices of a Parent Coach

“It’s who you are, not what you do that is important to me.”
Parent-Coaches understand the difference between pride and respect.

Showing pride in your teen can come across as patting yourself on the back. Showing respect for your teen is empowering. It solidifies her sense of self and boosts her self-esteem.

Action: Write down ten qualities that describe your teen’s strengths and values. Rather than expressing your pride in her accomplishments, try using the words “respect” and “honor” in acknowledgements of her unique qualities. For example, “I really respect your dedication to your friends. They are lucky to have someone so loyal.”

“Give me a moment to think about that.”
Parent-Coaches refrain from judging and resist the urge to immediately share their opinions and solutions.

Listen to your teen’s experiences with an open mind and open heart, and then take time to respond with consideration.

Action: When your teen shares, practice taking two deep breaths before responding. This allows you time to consider how to respond thoughtfully and non-judgmentally, and a moment of pause models calmness and non-reactivity, two skills she can practice in her own life.

“You’ve always been responsible so I believe I can trust you to stay out until 11:00.”
Parent-Coaches meet their teen’s needs by being fluid and flexible.

Your teen is wired to seek novelty and adventure. Learning from experience is key to becoming responsible and independent, but your teen also needs structure to help her cope with the new adventures in her life.

Action:  Calibrate with your teen to provide appropriate limits and set guidelines, and be ready to recalibrate as she becomes more responsible and capable. By honing your listening skills, you will recognize when she is ready for more freedom and independence.

Studies have shown that teens expect their parents to play a pivotal role in their lives. They need (and secretly desire) additional support and guidance. When you become your teen’s Parent-Coach, you become the trusted adult with whom they can openly ask questions and talk about problems, hopes, and dreams. Moreover, you create a relationship that supports their willingness to be open to your wisdom and influence.

Need more parenting action steps?

Email Erica to set up a free Discovery Session.

 

Four reasons why your daughter needs yoga

Tuesday, July 19th, 2016

By Erica Rood, M.A. Ed.

Brace Yourself

According to an NYU Child Study Center survey of 5th-12th grade girls, 59% were dissatisfied with their body shape and 47% said they wanted to lose weight because of photos they saw in magazines. Dove’s Global Study, The Real Truth About Beauty, found 72% of girls feel pressure to be beautiful. Teens Before Their Time found that satisfaction with body image decreases as girls move into adolescence.

Young girls face overwhelming pressure to be perfect. For many, the media shapes their definition of perfection. Girls are constantly exposed to images that suggest being perfect is entirely about outer appearance. They are persuaded to think that in order to be perfect, they must be thin and sexy, wear trendy clothes, use certain beauty products, and make it all appear effortless and natural. It’s an uphill battle and one that is compounded by a natural inclination for teen girls to compare themselves. Girls frequently size themselves up to their peers, digitally altered images they see on social media, movie and TV stars.   The mix of perfection and comparison can have detrimental effects on a teen girl’s self-esteem. In my coaching practice, I have seen it time and time again. Teen girls are dissatisfied with their looks, hyper critical of their body shape, style of dress, and even their abilities.

Alarmed?

This preoccupation with perfection and competition undermines a girl’s confidence and devalues her inner-beauty. When girls start placing greater importance on how they look rather than what they are capable of, their sense of self-worth weakens. When they start comparing themselves and striving toward an unrealistic, and therefore unattainable, ‘ideal image’ their self-esteem suffers. They feel bad about themselves when they can’t meet an idealized expectation. When a girl’s self-esteem drops, it negatively affects her behavior at school, at home, and with her friends. She is less likely to speak up in class. She is more likely to be reactive or defiant at home. She is also more likely to engage in harmful activities with friends, such as experimentation with drugs and alcohol.

According to Dove Research: Rebuilding the Foundation of Beauty Beliefs,  When girls feel bad about their looks, 70% disconnect from life—avoiding normal daily activities including attending school or giving their opinion—which can put their dreams on hold, and jeopardize their potential as future leaders, decision makers, and role models.

Four ways yoga helps

1.  Yoga encourages a strong, confident attitude. Yoga promotes self-acceptance, non-judgment, and community. It teaches teens to respect themselves and make self-empowering choices.

Poses to try: Warrior 1, Warrior 2, and Mountain Pose.

2.Yoga embraces the uniqueness of every body. Yoga attracts people of all shapes and sizes and reminds us that strength comes in many forms. On the mat, girls are reminded that each day is different and their bodies are always changing. They are encouraged to find gratitude for what their bodies can do. 

Poses to try: Eagle, Tree, and Warrior 

3. Yoga is free from competition. Yoga is not about winning, nor being the best. Rather, it is about honoring yourself and being open to others’ points of view. Yoga encourages compassion, kindness, and non-violence.

Poses to try: Bridge, Wheel, and Camel

4.  Yoga reduces stress. Yoga offers time and space to find balance and peace. On the mat, girls learn to use their breath to calm their bodies and relax their minds. Almost all yoga classes end in a motionless pose called Savasana, which improves the skill of non-action and enhances the ability to relax.

Poses to try: Child’s Pose, Seated Twist, and Savasana.

All of my yoga workshops combine the physical practice of yoga with creative coaching exercises. Girls learn the benefits of yoga, while developing self-awareness, practicing life-skills, and finding their inner and outer strength.   Click here to learn more. 

Helping your Daughter Handle Transitions

Tuesday, May 24th, 2016

Changes2-300x225

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By Erica Rood, M.A. Ed.

Change is inevitable. It comes in many forms, some welcomed and some not. Summer is a welcomed change, but the jump from elementary school to middle school and middle school to high school can create a slew of mixed emotions.   For many girls, the response to change is increased anxiety, fear, and stress. Even for more confident and optimistic girls, the transition from one level to the next raises questions and triggers doubts. If your daughter is about to make a transition next year, she is likely asking herself:

What can I expect? Will people like me? Will I fit in? Will I be accepted? Will I succeed?

How she answers these questions determines how she will approach the transition and consequently, how she will start the new school year.   Moreover, it sets the a precedent for how she will handle other life changes, which makes it extremely important to foster a healthy outlook around change.

Offer reassurance. Ease her fears and doubts by reassuring her that she is prepared, likable, equipped, and capable. Remind her of other changes she’s handled with confidence and ease. Bring to light past obstacles she has overcome and goals she has achieved. Boost her sense of self by linking past accomplishments and actions to present strengths and qualities. Affirm that she has what it takes to be her best in any situation.

Give her specific tools and strategies. In middle school and high school, your daughter will encounter new people, new pressures, and new challenges.   To help her feel equipped to make new friends, fit in, and handle new pressures and challenges, she may need specific support around what to say and how to respond. Coaching provides an ideal venue for learning responsible, healthy ways to think, act, and respond to new situations.

Broaden her perspective. Help her see that within change lies opportunity. As she expresses her thoughts, feelings, and beliefs around starting a new school, ask her open-ended questions that foster a broad perspective. Acknowledge the challenge associated with change and help her see all sides of a new situation. Share your excitement for all the positive experiences that await her.

Celebrate her accomplishments. Graduating from elementary school and middle school are milestones. Reflect on all she has learned and how she has grown, personally, socially, and academically. Celebrate her wins. Celebrate the transition.

While you can offer meaningful support at home, preteen and teen girls tend to pull away from their parents. They want to assert their independence and separateness, and often do so by rejecting, ignoring, or arguing with your well-meaning advice. You can ensure your daughter gets the support she needs through coaching. As her coach, I provide a voice of a parent without being the parent. Girls are often more open and willing to listen to insights when they come from someone outside their family. Coaching sessions provide an essential “time out” of the busy-ness of life where she can reflect, learn, and contemplate empowering ways to handle life’s various challenges and changes. Contact me to discover more about Summer Coaching and ensure your daughter is prepared to have a successful, happy, and confident school year.

Girls Under Pressure and How You Can Help

Friday, April 29th, 2016

By Erica Rood, M.A. Ed.

Be sexy. Be thin. Be smart. Be sporty. Be popular. BE PERFECT. 

body image:scale

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Girls experience an overwhelming amount of pressure to look, think, and act in certain way. Differing viewpoints and opinions bombard them at school, at home, on the field or court, and most pervasive, on their screens. The pressure to conform in order to fit in or be liked can often lead to physical and psychological health problems.

To combat this pressure, girls need to understand themselves — who they are and what they value.   They need to be able to differentiate between positive peer-pressure and negative peer-pressure, and understand when to set boundaries, say no, and follow their inner-guide. They need to develop a sense of personal-pride and self-acceptance.

As a parent, you play an important role in teaching and coaching your daughter to meet these positive outcomes. With guidance, and through your own modeling, she will develop the inner-strength and perspective to see past the pressure and stay connected to her true path.

Here’s how:

Teach her that life is a series of choices. Begin to use the word choice so she develops an awareness of the power and responsibility she has to make healthy, thoughtful choices. When you share your own experiences, highlight the choices you have faced, which choice you made, and why.

Give her opportunities to make decisions. Start with simple decisions, like choosing the restaurant for a family outing. Gradually allow her to make more challenging decisions, like what time she thinks is a safe and reasonable curfew. As you do so, she will learn how to listen to herself and follow her inner-guide.

Show her examples of real people who transcend societal standards of beauty and perfection. (I personally love this commentary by Kathryn Budig: http://www.mindbodygreen.com/revitalize/video/i-am-a-real-woman-so-is-every-other-woman)   Help broaden her understanding of beauty and realize that there is no such thing as perfect. Take it a step further by examining your beliefs of beauty and perfection. How do you show your daughter your own self-acceptance and personal pride?

Understand what she is facing. YouTube and Vine “stars” take advantage of their captive young audience and freely share beauty, diet, and fashion tips. While some of this is harmless, much is downright outrageous. Consider these popular vlog (video-blog) titles: 10 Things Guys Hate that Girls Do and What Guys Look for in Girls.   These vlogs feed self-doubt and can be detrimental to the formation of a healthy self-image.

Inspire her sense of self. Celebrate her unique qualities that go beyond physical appearance or accomplishments. Take a genuine interest in her passions and interests, and provide opportunities for her to explore and deepen those personal passions.

Remember the good news! Girls of all ages report that their number one source of inspiration is not in a celebrity, YouTube star, or supermodel, it is their mother. Nourish that special relationship and start taking simple actions to build her self-awareness, confidence, and resilience.

 

 

 

Five Steps to Happy, Positive Parenting

Tuesday, April 12th, 2016

By Erica Rood, M.A. Ed.

Parenting is one of the most important and difficult jobs. Not only are parents providing meals, coordinating carpools, helping with homework, and organizing activities, they also have the all-important role of nourishing their child’s positive sense of self, ability to problem-solve, and be an upstanding citizen at home, school, and in their community. Adding to that are societal expectations, comparisons with other parents who seem to have it “all together,” and personal insecurities. Considering this, it comes as no surprise that many parents ask themselves if they are doing enough or doing it right.

While there is no magic formula for parenting, there are a few practices that can make the experience happy and positive for both parent and child.

 
Five Ways to be a Happy, Positive Parent

1. Personalize your parenting. Set realistic and flexible expectations for yourself and the members of your family. Remember parenting is not standardized or one-size-fits-all. Expectations should be guided by your personal values, not those of your friends or the (seemingly) Supermom of the neighborhood.

2. Replace criticism and comparisons with kind, nurturing thoughts. Remind yourself of all that you do as a parent. The sacrifices you make, the challenges you’ve overcome, and the fact that you are doing the best you can. Treat yourself just as you would your son or daughter.

3. Notice the messages you send to your children. When they see you replacing criticism and comparison with acceptance, kindness, and understanding, they will learn to do the same.

4. Remember the three Rs: Rest, Recharge, and Reconnect. When you notice overwhelm creeping in, take a time out. A short five-minute meditation can do wonders to reset your mind and body.

5. Ask for support. When you are feeling stressed or overextended, lean on friends, family, and outside support. Parenting is more than a two-person job. Creating a supportive community who can lend an extra hand, offer insight, and be a resource for smiles, laughter, and fun makes your job so much easier.

In order to provide the best for your kids, you need to start with yourself. Let go of the need to be a perfect parent and allow space for the inevitable exhaustion, frustration, and imperfection that come along with the job. Model to your children: BEING the best isn’t as important as DOING your best.

 

Want more positive parenting tools? Sign up for a transformational four-week parent coaching program.  Learn powerful practices that will transform the way you approach, communicate, and connect with your teen.  Email me for more information.