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

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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. 

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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.

The Impacts of Social Media on Body Image

Monday, March 14th, 2016

How Social Media impacts your daughter’s body image, and what to do about it.

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It’s no secret that social media plays an addictive role in a teen’s life. They can spend hours posting, commenting, and instant messaging with friends. Instagram and Snapchat, amongst others, provide 24/7 platforms to connect, share photos, videos, thoughts, and comments. And, with every shared post, comes a stream of responses — feedback that is alluring, and fulfills a teen’s developmental need to feel socially accepted. However, this feedback also encourages dangerous comparisons which can lead to intense self-criticism, body-dysmorphia, and unrealistic concepts of beauty.

So as a parent, how can you help your daughter maintain a healthy body image while she navigates an online world that is so focused on looks, peer comments, and an unrealistic view of beauty?

Talk about it!
Have an open, honest conversation with your daughter about how and why people post certain photos on social media. Be curious and ask open-ended questions about the photos that she sees and those that she posts. Invite her to consider her motivation, or the motivation of others, for posting images or videos. Ask how she decides which pictures to share. Consider opening up about how you chhose what to share on social media. Start a discussion about the messages certain photos and videos convey.

Get critical.
When bombarded by a slew of “perfect” images, teens may lose sight of the fact that much of what they see has been altered or carefully selected. Shed light on the reality that pictures do not, in fact, tell a whole story about someone. Take a look at the before and after shots of celebrities and the videos created by Dove’s Real Beauty campaign. These are excellent resources that can spark an authentic discussion about true beauty.
(Links: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iYhCn0jf46U and http://stars.topix.com/slideshow/15001)

Expand her identity.
We live in a world that is obsessed with youth and beauty and social media promotes this obsession at an early age. It’s so important for parents to support a healthy, balanced self-image, one that goes beyond outer appearances. You can start by focusing on your daughter’s values and strengths, the inner qualities that make her beautiful and unique. Positively reinforce her talents, skills, and hobbies. Share this quote: “Beauty is not in the face, but a light within the heart.” Ask her how she manifests the light within her heart.

 

Three steps for growing Gritty, Resilient Girls

Monday, February 22nd, 2016

By Erica Rood, M.A. Ed.

What challenges does your daughter face? If she is like most teens, she is probably worried about school and grades. Maybe she stresses about boys, fitting in with friends, making the team, or winning the game.   It’s not uncommon for these challenges to trigger a downward spiral of negative self-talk, fear, doubt, or giving up. Take a moment to consider how your daughter handles the setbacks in her life. Does she retreat, sulk, or fall into a depression? Does she talk things through, look for solutions, and take positive action? In either case, supporting your daughter’s development of grit and resilience will enable her to handle life’s challenges with confidence and ease.

So, what exactly is grit and why is resilience important? Grit is the ability to use courage and strength to get through challenging situations. Resilience is the ability to bounce back from the challenge. Both help make it easier to handle challenges, and can prevent negative emotions from getting in the way. Imagine if your daughter could handle life’s challenges without being overwhelmed, worried, or stressed. It is possible and here is how you can help foster a Gritty, Resilient Girl.

  1. Provide her support and resources. At birth, your daughter develops a sense of security and trust. As she grows, and especially as she encounters challenging situations, she continues to rely on feelings of safety and security that her family has provided.  A family friend, peer mentor or life coach can sustain her belief that she still has trustworthy people to whom she can turn — people other than mom and dad, who can provide her resources, encouragement and support.
  2. Build upon her personal strengths and values. Make a list of the qualities (not achievements) that make your daughter unique. Start to commend her on those unique traits using the words respect and admire. This will help her develop a strong sense of self and positive self-esteem. She will know she is a person who is capable, responsible, likeable, and confident. These positive beliefs in herself will make it easier to overcome challenges and bounce back from adversity.
  3. Provide experiences that encourage autonomy and responsibility. As is age appropriate, allow your daughter to do things on her own and accept the natural consequences of her behavior. Help her understand the limits over what she can control and when others are responsible. As she feels more responsible and independent, she will become self-reliant and more capable of solving problems on her own.

Grit and resilience help your daughter know and trust that she can handle the ups and downs of life. With this understanding, she is more likely to be happy, motivated, and proactive. For a more creative approach to growing grit and resilience, check out the upcoming Gritty Girls Series at Graced by Grit. These special classes use yoga, fitness, and fun to teach girls gritty habits that support positive self-esteem and resilience.  Email me for details. 

The Benefits of Goal Setting and Four Tips to Goal Setting with your Daughter

Tuesday, January 5th, 2016

There is one thing which gives radiance to everything. It is the idea of something around the corner. –G.K. Chesterson, author

Did you know that genuinely happy people have clear dreams and goals? They are constantly working on something, whether it’s learning a new skill, developing a personal strength, or making relationships more meaningful. Research shows that goal setting is essential for positive self-esteem, as it fosters confidence and motivation. Maintaining goals also supports the development of responsibility because it requires creating action steps, deadlines, timetables, and sometimes, the acquisition of new skills. Supporting your daughter with goal setting is one way to optimize the teen years. After all, what parents don’t want to nourish their daughter’s self-esteem and encourage a strong sense of responsibility, confidence, motivation, and independence?

But, in order to reap the benefits of setting and achieving goals, one has to get started. For many teens (and adults too) this can be the hardest part.   Goal setting can feel laborious or meaningless. In my coaching practice with teens, I use these strategies to make goal setting exciting and goals achievable. You can too!

Start with celebrating wins. Take time to look back at past achievements and successes. Talk about how your daughter accomplished each win, what strength moved her toward the win, or what support she required. Help her get focused on what’s possible by reflecting on what she has already achieved.

Create approachable goals. Generate optimism and enthusiasm by framing specific actions in a positive tone. Write goals that outline a desired, realistic outcome. For example, instead of “Don’t procrastinate with homework”, write “Spend one hour on homework right after school.”

Be flexible. Life is full of changes, especially in the world of a teen. Be willing to adjust a specific action or outcome when new opportunities or unpredictable changes occur. Remember, revising a goal is far better than giving up on one.

Get support. Ask your daughter how you can support her in achieving her goals. Listen with an open mind and open heart. Creating a consistent and loving support system will ensure she sticks to her goals. She will feel less overwhelmed and less likely to give up.

If you are looking for more effective ways to support your daughter in achieving her goals and reaching her potential, set up a Discovery Session. During your complementary call, you will learn specific tips that you can put into action right away and get 2016 started off right! Contact me today.

How to Improve Communication with your Daughter- Part two

Tuesday, December 8th, 2015

 

By Erica Rood, M.A. Ed.

Effective communication can only occur with effective listening. Consider how you listen to your daughter.  Do you turn your body to face her? Are you looking at her in the eye? Are you fully attending to what she is saying, or are you driving, texting, or involved in another daily chore?  How does your daughter know that you are really listening? When you think about how you listen, you may be surprised to learn that you’re actually listening a lot less than you thought.

A key to effective, open communication is learning how to listen from her point of view. This means open your ears and close your mouth. Step into her shoes. Validate that what you hear her say matters, has value, and is important.

Parents often respond to their daughter with well-meaning advice. This can give her the message that her feelings are not valued and she is not understood. The result is that she closes up. However, if you start practicing listening from her point of view, you give her space to express herself; this in turn encourages her to think and reflect. You get an opportunity to gain insight into her world and learn what motivates her. This results in a deeper connection and more trust.

Try this- Listen with your lips shut, give her your full attention, and try to step into her shoes.  Once she is done sharing, say, “What I think I understand from what you’ve said is that this happened, then this happened, which led to you feeling …. and what you now need is for …….  Does that sound right?”

This small, yet powerful shift will transform the way your and your daughter communicate.

Three Steps to Gratitude

Tuesday, November 24th, 2015

Cultivating Gratitude in your Teen

by Erica Rood, M.A. Ed.

Grateful teenagers are not the norm. In fact, many teens are described of as entitled or selfish. With the holidays coming up, you may be facing a daughter who feels like she should have everything her heart desires. There may be little recognition or appreciation of what she already has. You can talk to her all day long about the importance of being grateful or even force practices with the aim of instilling an everlasting attitude of gratitude. However, forcing anything on a teen is usually met with defiance or blatant disregard. So, when it comes to fostering an attitude of gratitude, what is a parent to do? How do you avoid gratitude rebellion or gratitude fatigue and foster an authentically grateful daughter?

  1. Share it. As often as you can, express what you are grateful for and why. Include lessons you’ve learned from challenging experiences or the good that has come out of something difficult. As you share aloud, you create a model and framework for your daughter to follow.
  2. Act it. Provide opportunities for you and your daughter to help others. These thoughtful acts promote altruism, which fosters gratitude indirectly. As she reaches out to help others, her compassion, confidence, and ability to be grateful will increase.
  3. Write it. Tap into her budding independence and desire to lead by asking her to design a gratitude practice for your family. Empower her to create a new tradition that inspires everyone in your house and appreciate her efforts.

Most importantly, honor the unique ways in which she expresses her gratitude and trust that the values you instill are within her, even if they aren’t always obvious on the outside.