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Taming the Holiday Crazies

Posted by Torie Henderson on  November 15, 2022

Taming the Holiday Crazies

Today’s Question: Kid Holding a Grudge

Hello! I LOVE and look forward to listening to your podcast! I have three girls: 13, 11, and 9. My 9-year-old is a very bright, confident, gregarious, and tenacious young child. I do think that these are very strong qualities, but wonder if they get in the way of peer relations. She has a wide variety of friends. I used to be worried that she did not have that one special friend, but realized after listening to one of your podcasts that that is okay. The issue lies in that if a peer says or does anything negative to her, she A: doesn’t forget it, B: continues to remind her peer of it, and C: tells her peer that she is not her friend. Like any 3rd grader, this peer is now hurt and upset. It’s as though my child does not care and sees no remorse. I have conversations with her about this and it’s so hard for her to change. I don’t know what to do!  Thank you so much for your guidance!  – Andria holding a grudge

Parent Educator Answer:

It is so hard to watch your daughter behave in ways that are not aligned with your values, but it’s a great opportunity to talk about empathy.

Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another. Some kids naturally pick up on social cues and don’t need to be taught how to use empathy to connect with others.

Other kids do need to be taught. It doesn’t mean there is anything wrong with these children, they are perfectly normal, but it can make a supermom cringe when she watches her child navigate the nuances of friendships.

Kids who struggle to show empathy usually do so for two reasons.

  1. They aren’t easily hurt by others so can’t relate.
  2. They are VERY deeply hurt by others.

I asked Andria which category she thought her daughter fell into.

Her initial reaction was that her daughter was “unaffected” but after further consideration, she thinks perhaps she is deeply wounded by slights from friends and that is why she is so dismissive.

Andria said she is very caring with young children and animals which signals a profound sense of empathy.

When we feel hurt, it is human nature to want to hurt back. Picture a porcupine, whose quills lay soft and flat until threatened, then stand sharply to deter anyone from getting close.

Instead of crying, and showing her hurt, it sounds like Andria’s daughter shoves it down and gets “prickly” like a porcupine.

There isn’t a lot that mom can do to change her daughter’s personality.  This is how she is wired. But I will give you some tips to support her softer side.

  1. Acknowledge her hurt. Even though she will deny it, you can show compassion to her saying words like, “Boy, if someone said that to me I would feel hurt.” or “I feel so sad when my friends leave me out.”
  2. Find opportunities for her to hang out with children, animals, the elderly, or the disabled. She feels safe letting her vulnerable side show around these sensitive souls, encourage it!  Kids like this turn into advocates for social justice! Find volunteer opportunities for her to let her softer side show and start effecting change in her community.
  3. Make her rigidity work for you. All kids think in black and white, “If I’m not smart, I must be dumb.” “If she said something mean, she’s a mean person.” This good/bad, right/wrong thinking can keep a kid stuck in a negative pattern. You can use this to your advantage by asking black and white questions like:

“Do you want to live in a nice world or a mean world?”

“Do you think people should be kind or rude?”

“Would you prefer to have no friends or some friends?”

If she wants to live in a nice world, then it’s up to her to be nice, no matter what everyone else does.

If she wants to have friends, it’s up to her to act like a friend even when they don’t deserve it (in her opinion).

Letting her think about the kind of world she wants to live in, moves her attention from this small little hurtful comment (where she feels powerless) to the big picture where she can do something about the injustice she feels.

Life Coaching Answer: 

What gets in our way when our daughter is cold, prickly, and mean? All sorts of fearful catastrophic thinking! “She’s never going to have any friends” “She’s a b*tch” “Nobody’s going to want to be around her” “She doesn’t care about people.” And of course, whenever we see bad behavior in our kids, we fall into the conclusion that “I must not be doing a good enough job as a mother.” When we think these dramatic thoughts, we get scared. When we get scared, we get mad (hello porcupine!). We start telling her to be nicer, stop holding a grudge, forgive and forget. There’s nothing wrong with this advice except that it’s rooted in our own fears. She picks up on our judgmental, “you need to change now” energy, feels a feeling, and shuts down. She acts cold and aloof. This makes us get meaner, in order to try and get an emotional reaction out of her. We escalate our words, trying to break her down, which only makes her more cold and aloof towards us. We’ve got to keep an eye on our thoughts, making sure they help us feel like the parent we want to be. In order to allow our sensitive kids to show their softer side, we need a soft place for them to fall. How do you get a porcupine to lay down her quills?  Sit still, be calm, and give her time to feel safe again. This personality trait of your daughter has nothing to do with you as a mom. If you can be soft and gentle with her, she will know you have her back, no matter how many people say mean things to her. Eventually, she may look around and find she doesn’t have any friends. Then she may be receptive to your helpful advice. More likely, she will be the one who befriends the kid on the “buddy bench” at school, advocates for the disabled kid, and is friends with the bad boy no one wants to be with. The world is made up of all kinds. You can teach her appropriate social behavior from a place of acceptance and gentleness. Instead of “futurizing and catastrophizing,” share your vision of her in the future. Say things like: “Someday, you will realize that most people mean well, even if they don’t always say the right things.” “People make mistakes all the time, someday you will learn that forgiveness feels better than being right.” “You care so deeply about others, it’s this compassion of yours that is going to make the world a better place.”   

Supermom Kryptonite: Parenting from Fear

This is a sneaky one. Our words and actions can be exactly the same, but when we are rooted in fear, our kids pick up on our neediness and push us away. For example, your 14 year old daughter comes downstairs looking sexy in a short skirt and tube top, ready to go out. Your mind immediately jumps to “OMG NO! Too sexy. Sexual predators! Kidnapping and human trafficking! Boys! Dirty old men! What will people think? Embarrassed.” The words that pop out are, “No. You are not wearing that. You need to change NOW.” She argues, complains, then pops her outfit into her purse and changes as soon as she leaves the house.” If she comes downstairs wearing the same outfit, you might get a different result if your thoughts are calm and inquisitive… “Is that outfit aligned with our family values?”  “Would I have worn that when I was her age?” “What is the statistical probability that something bad will happen to her because she is wearing that outfit?” You might say, “No, that outfit is not aligned with our family values. Go put on something more modest, please.” This calm, clear, confident energy is much more likely to yield a positive result. She might argue, but she would match your energy, doing so calmly and logically. Whenever there is behavior you want to change in yourself or your child, be sure you are rooted in positive emotion rather than fear.

Supermom Power Boost:

Choose a spirit animal. Do you have a favorite animal? Do you find yourself intrigued by certain animals? Learn more about them and see what they have to teach you. ‘ If you love sloths, it could be your higher self saying it’s time to slow down and chill.  Are you drawn towards elephants? Maybe you are yearning to feel supported by a larger community. Andria’s daughter could learn more about the porcupine as a compassionate way to learn more about herself. We don’t argue with reality thinking, “porcupines shouldn’t be so prickly” we accept them for who they are and learn to live with them peacefully.  

Quote of the day:

“Everybody is a Genius. But If You Judge a Fish by Its Ability to Climb a Tree, It Will Live Its Whole Life Believing that It is Stupid.” -Albert Einstein 

10 Powerful Questions

5 Questions every morning to give you clarity and intention.
5 Questions every evening to give you satisfaction and gratitude.

This is the best way to get you in the driver’s seat of your life.

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How to get your kids to go to bed on time

Posted by Torie Henderson on  October 24, 2022

Are you doing the Back to School Happy Dance! YEAH!!  woo-hoo!

via GIPHY

But oh my what a pain it is to get kids to go to bed at night, so they can be on time for school in the morning.

Last spring, I wrote a blog about how to get kids out of bed in the morning so now seems like the perfect time to write about how the heck to get them to bed. Here’s the problem: Some kids are easy. They just go to bed. This sets us up with the expectation that ALL kids should easily just go to bed. Combine our expectation that it be easy, with our own end-of-day fatigue, and you’ve got a recipe for conflict and drama. If you struggle to get your kids to bed on time, read through these steps and see where you can focus your attention to help you get a peaceful evening routine.

The first step

is to accept that your child just doesn’t like going to bed, without blame or frustration. Being a night owl, and taking a long time to wind down at night, are wired into us. What makes people sleepy is when certain hormones, like cortisol and adrenaline, rise during the day, and drop at night. Lots of things can mess with this hormone production: not getting enough exercise or daylight, getting too much blue light from screens, or artificial light after dark. When puberty hits, and stress of any kind, these hormones can get out of whack. It’s not always our kid’s fault if they are up until midnight and can sleep until noon. If you start trying to change your child’s bedtime routine by trying to change something you have no control over, you will frustrate yourself. Acceptance and compassion must come first. kids to go to bed on time

The second step

is to get your kids on board with the idea. As you may have noticed, you cannot make someone go to sleep who doesn’t want to. Pay attention to what motivates your child. Some kids are motivated to please their parents and like being seen as responsible. (How awesome is that? If this is you, enjoy it!) For the rest of us, we have to get clever. Some kids are motivated by fun, (and watching mom lose her sh*t at bedtime is entertainment for them!). Other kids are motivated with bribes (“I’ll give you a $1. if you are in bed before 9:30, but $5. if you are in bed by 9:00.” You can encourage going to bed without complaining by rewarding with treats in tomorrow’s lunchbox. If you have a kid that is motivated by power, partner with them to design a bed time routine that works for both of you, making sure they think it’s all their idea. Many Supermoms can get caught up with an idealistic picture of what the bedtime routine should look like: reading books, cuddles, pillow talk, but if this isn’t working for you it’s time to let it go. My daughter hated reading (so much for the years I spent as a reading specialist.) Instead, we played games before bed for about 8 years. Now that she’s in high school and I’m older than dirt, I want to go to bed earlier than she, so we had to switch up our bedtime routine using step 3.

The third step

is all about making your home conducive to sleep. I remember one power outage we had. After our makeshift dinner, we hung out by candlelight, talked, played charades, and all 4 of us were SO SLEEPY and ready for bed. When we checked the clock it was only 7:30pm! Melatonin is released when it gets dark outside. If you want your kids to get sleepy, turn off the stimulation. Fast moving images on TV and video games, release chemicals in the brain that tell us to wake up and get moving. Try making it darker in your home an hour before bedtime. Light candles, take baths, play music or just turn the wi-fi off all together. With our constantly wired world, sleep rates are dropping for kids and teens, making it even harder for moms to get kids up and out of bed in the morning. The first step in improving the morning routine is to make sure they are getting enough sleep. By accepting the things you cannot change with compassion, understanding what motivates our children and creating an environment conducive to sleep, you can create a more peaceful morning and evening for your whole family. Are you looking for support establishing routines that work for you and your family? Schedule a free discovery call at www.LifeCoachingforParents.com/work-with-me

10 Powerful Questions

5 Questions every morning to give you clarity and intention.
5 Questions every evening to give you satisfaction and gratitude.

This is the best way to get you in the driver’s seat of your life.

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