Five steps to becoming your kid’s biggest SILENT cheerleader, so you can deepen your relationship and strengthen your communication.
I asked my 13-year-old if she wanted to go for a walk with me around the neighborhood so I could get my steps in for the day. “Sure,” she said “… as long as you don’t act weird, I don’t need any second-hand embarrassment!”
Embarrassing our teens is somewhat a rite-of-passage as a parent, am-i-right? But alas half the time… we don’t even KNOW we are doing it! In my work with teen and tween girls, I have heard, more often then you can imagine, “EVERYTHING my parents do embarrasses me!” And while a bit of embarrassment is just part of growing up, the clients who feel closest to their parents are often the ones who feel their feelings are most respected within their home – even their feelings of embarrassment.
Now, we could tell them to suck it up and deal with it…and sometimes we do! But we can also realize that teens are going through an explosive time of growth and change in their lives, with more pressures on them than any previous generation, and ATTEMPT to dial back the embarrassing behaviors once in a while.
While there are many ways parents can embarrass their offspring as evidenced by this feature in the New York Times last October; one consistent complaint I have heard from clients is as follows. As parents, even when we are just being their biggest cheerleader and celebrating their accomplishments – it can be construed as embarrassing and 100% cringe-worthy. To this end, if we want to keep the lines of communication open with our teens throughout high school, and let them know their feelings (all their feelings) matter, one small change we can make is by being their biggest SILENT cheerleader.
GREAT! …. HOW? …So glad you asked!
The 5 Steps to Being Your Teens Biggest SILENT Cheerleader
Step #1: Pile on the praise…at home and in private … even when our kiddos roll their eyes and tell us to stop – there is a small piece of them that fills with pride when they hear their parents believe in them and are proud of them – so do this when they are the only one around AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE!
Step #2: Leave them love notes … whether it’s email, text messages, post-it notes on their mirrors, or a shared parent/child journal … giving your teen WRITTEN confirmation, that they can return to time-and-again, is a gift that they will treasure (even when they slam their doors and say you are the worst parent ever).
Step #3: Talk them up when they aren’t around… this will do wonders for you both. When you choose to focus on their positive traits and accomplishments when talking to friends and family, you feel better about your relationship with them, and they feel pride when others comment positively to them about thing you have shared. You don’t have to go overboard and be the non-stop bragging parent – but honestly – better that that the always-complaining-about-my-teen parent.
Step #4: (MY FAVE!) Have a secret signal! When you are out in public … and you just want to shout from the ROOFTOPS how amazing your kiddo is… but they have made it clear they DO NOT like you to gush in public … use your secret signal. This is just between the two of you to let them know how you feel. Whether it is a special wink, nod, or hand gesture … or maybe a special high five or pat on the back, let them know that it is taking EVERYTHING in your power to not 100% embarrass them in this moment.
Step #5: Last but not least… once in awhile … forget these steps and embrace your rights as a parent to make a big sloppy mess of yourself as you celebrate the amazing human you are raising! Once in a while won’t kill them!