How Can You Help Your Teen Survive the Valentine’s Day Blues?

VD

When I was in elementary school, student council sold heart grams on Valentine’s Day for fifty cents.  If you were liked enough or popular you may have gotten one.  If you were smart you bought one for yourself, then it covered the embarrassment of not getting one.  In middle school and high school, cheerleaders sold flowers on Valentine’s Day for one dollar with notes attached to them from the sender. There were squeals of joy from girls beaming that someone bought them a long-stemmed white or red carnation.

As a teacher in middle school for many years, the same tradition still continues years later.  Similar squeals were heard in my classroom when flowers were delivered.  However, just as noticeable was the silence of the other kids, or the fake show of the “I don’t care” demeanor.  For a lot of teens, Valentine’s Day really sucks.

Dating is hard enough at any age, but teenage hormones and the peer pressure to date has almost become an obsession.  Valentine’s Day just makes it all that much harder for some teens.  As parents, we can, and will tell them that Valentine’s Day is just another day; that they are still young and don’t need to worry about love and romance just yet.  Of course, with some this may sink in and with other’s they will shrug their shoulder as if they don’t care when deep inside, they are depressed that their peers are dating and they are not.

How can you help your teen survive the Valentine’s Day blues?

  1. Be sensitive to them.  Valentine’s Day may not be a big deal for your teen, but if it is, be sensitive.  Eighth through sophomores are emotionally and socially wired and things are magnified for them.
  2. Genuinely affirm them.  Teens think romantic relationships fill a void in their lives.  Teens are fragile, needing affirmation and love.  They don’t always know healthy vs non-healthy relationships at this age.
  3. Take your teen out on a date.  Dads, daughters need this from you and Moms, your sons need this.  Take advantage of days like this to make your kids feel special.  As a mom to four boys, they appreciate this.
  4. Write special messages.  This year we made hearts and each day we have hung a special message on our boy’s bedroom doors.  When they wake up in the morning they see their new message.  Even my teenager is enjoying this.  He made a comment that it is nice to know how we feel about him.  That was adorable.

Not all teens struggle with this day, but all like to feel important and special every now and then.  Don’t always wait for Valentine’s Day to make them feel special.   No one ever said adolescence was a bunch of roses.

Becky Shaffer

Certified Adolescent/Adult Life Coach

www.Beckyshafferliveinconfidence.com

The Difficult (Teen) Years For Parents.

 

 4cc00286dceb050d74f3966f6cfb3c08Most would think that infancy would be the most difficult years.  Dealing with a newborn is beyond stressful, as you try to figure out how to parent, adjust to little sleep, a new role in life and a new expense is added to the household….but to many reading this, it is probably no surprise that adolescence, namely middle school has added the most stress in raising a child. 

For the most part our kids are pretty innocent, then middle school happens.  First, we are dealing with raging hormones, changing bodies and brains, exposure to peer pressure and risky behaviors like experimenting with drugs and alcohol and dating for the first time.  Our kids clash between still feeling dependent on parents and the “leave me alone, I’ve got this figured out.”

We see this person who is almost but not quite grown-up physically.  They have hit the Don’t ask me questions, hibernating in their bedroom and then on the other hand we are needed to wipe up tears when crushed and looking for comfort just like a child.  They are still that child inside, but to comfort at this age is not as easy as when we kissed their hurts away. 

I taught Middle School for 19 years and I would always tell my parents that the space ship came and took their kids, dropped off aliens and when they turn 18 or 19 you might get your kind kid back.  It seems to happen overnight….Yesterday you had a child that loved to snuggle and today he can’t stand to be near you. 

It is hard for parents to not treat their child like they are still 8 or 9 years old, there’s pushback…..and that catches parents off guard and they panic. 

I call this the middle school construction project.  As they start to develop a new body, new brain, new sense of freedom, responsibilities and a new identity at around age 11, they also feel the adjustment and most kids are scared and nervous as they don’t know what to do.

Just know when your kid starts middle school, they have to create an identity apart from you so they can form healthy relationships with people in the future.  This is the years of messing up, owning mistakes and sadly a lot of hurt that only leads to growth.  We as parents are adjusting to getting older as well.  Our kids will act like they don’t want a relationship with us and that can be very hurtful, but they really do. 

With problems arising for middle school kids, many parents catch themselves saying “wait until you have a real problem, like paying your mortgage.”  This is  NOT the right approach what so ever, because their problems at this age is HUGE to them.  To them it’s their whole world.  They want to be understood and listened to and they want to make sure that they are taken seriously.  Allow them to talk and finish their stories.  Don’t interrupt and don’t say, well when I was in middle school we just didn’t have these problems.  Times have changed.  These kids today have social media to deal with and that is a new level that many of us in our 30’s and 40’s could never compare our middle school life to. 

Understand that middle school kids mess up.  While their bodies and brains are going through all these changes, they may or may not be the student they were in elementary.  Encourage them v’s lecturing them. 

It takes a village to raise a child, let alone a teen.   If you are at a point where you are ready to throw your hands up in the air and give up, then we need to work on everything in our power to resist that urge. 

Middle school and high school are times where our kids need our support.  Figuring out how to talk to our tween or teen and how involved one should and can be a challenge.  They want to be understood and listened to and they want to make sure we do take them seriously.

“There is nothing more rewarding and exhausting than being a parent!”

Becky Shaffer  Adolescent/Adult Life Coach

http://www.Beckyshafferliveinconfidence.com

 

Will Your Kids Be Ready for the Real World?

To be fair, my children can do a lot of amazing things. They are genuinely great kids. But they’d been getting a sweet free ride, especially in their home life. With me stepping in and doing for them—rarely, if ever, putting true .Responsibilities on their plate—this makes me ask, will my kids be ready for the real world?

Like many parents, I share the frustration of socks left on the living room floor, folded clean laundry thrown on the floor to never be put away, re-washing clothes that were never worn, dishes left in the sink, no help with dog poop duty, mowing the lawn, but yet they have no problem eating all the food in the house, enjoying a clean house, dinner made for them, a nice cut lawn and of course everything they want to do for the must part.  My kids like many, hurt for nothing.

I’ve discovered in conversations with other parents, my frustration as a parent is not  isolated. Raising independent kids is at a new level these days. Instead of teaching our children to view themselves as capable, we step in to do everything for them. We start when they’re still young, using safety as our lame excuse as we hover too much, then we continue “protecting” them, “If I don’t help him get As, how will he get into college?”. We pave a smooth pathway, compulsively clearing away each pebble of disappointment or difficulty before it can impede their progress. By the time they reach adolescence, they’re so used to being taken care of that they have no idea they’re missing out on discovering what they can do or who they can be.

Whatever happened to teaching, directing, and modeling rather than doing everything for our children?

Yet as a parent, I’m constantly surprised by the desire to take the driver’s seat for my kids. A desire to basically do everything for them. I can barely stop myself from stepping in, even though I know this doesn’t help them in the long run. Maybe it’s my need, to get things done quickly and efficiently, and to maintain order….So I think…. Whether it’s ordering for them at Wendy’s, making their beds, all but brushing their teeth, I’m surprised at the lengths to which I’ve gone to make life easy for my kids.  At the end of the day, this all stresses me out and I am tired!

When I catch myself muttering under my breath, “I told them to pick this up,” and then proceeding not only to pick up their socks, towels, and put their clothes away, I also find myself organizing their closet while I’m at it. I’m solidifying my children’s expectation that someone will always be around to do their work for them. I also make it harder for them to put things away, since I’ve basically stolen the chance for them to organize their closets based on their own logic. When I step in, not only am I doing the work, but I’m inviting the countless whines of “where are my football pants?” It’s the same with cooking or sweeping or mopping or dog poop duty. I’m not sure any of these things have ever crossed their minds as tasks they might need to know how to do, or just to do because they live in our house too.

So here’s to seeing what can happen when we tell our kids, “I believe in you, and I’m going to prove it by putting you to work.”  Sit down, kick back, pour a glass of wine and see how your kids react to a chore list.  After all, one day they will be married and they will have to know how to be ready for the real world.

Becky Shaffer

http://www.BeckyShafferliveinconfidence.comMessy-Kids-Room

 

Learning Yourself

In June, I resigned from a career and the only person I knew myself to be…..a teacher.  Since then, I have worked hard to get to truly know myself on a deeper level.  I have had this mission to get to know who I am beyond my career.

It’s a scary process, because getting to know anyone, let alone yourself makes you question, will I like what I learn?”  You start to see the insecurities of yourself.  However, if you can find the courage  to talk about them and the compassion to listen, you can change the way you live, love, parent, work and build relationships.

People often want to believe that insecurities are for the unfortunate who have survived terrible traumas in life, but this isn’t true.  We all experience insecurities and hide some in our darkest corners.  Mine tend to lurk in familiar places, such as my body image, motherhood, family, being a good partner, my income, my career, and lately how people see me.  I left a career and started a business.  I know this took courage and guts.  I have also rode that roller coaster of up and down emotions along with some insecurities.

And that’s ok.  I don’t like everything about myself, and I won’t pretend.  I do believe that it’s our work in the world to know ourselves.  The real truth of who we are beyond the expectations and the impressions.

The expectations for most is to graduate from high school, go to college, graduate, start your career and have a family.  I did all of that, but I did it because I wanted to.  I majored in education and dreamed of helping kids.  Watching my students faces light up when learning something new, or the appreciation because they knew I cared was my dedication for 19 years.  It was all of knew of myself.  This learning the whole me has been rewarding, yet the scariest thing I have done in my life.  I mean, when do we truly sit and reflect on who we are?

I was a teacher, I am a Mom, but most of all, I am a person with integrity, character and a heart. I struggle with anxiety and I struggle with showing my emotions at times.   I have learned a lot through experiences, listening and learning from others. I had to value myself after a hard couple of years in the teaching profession.  While many struggle with the new state mandated tests and common core, I had to struggle with getting verbally beat up by the leader of our building.  My boss.  The principal.  The one that kids need to be able to look up to and the one that staff should be able to look up to for support.

I started to question who I was beyond this world of being a teacher.  I had to focus on me and not the negative that was being said to me by this leader.  Something I had been great at my entire life and something I loved had been deflated out of me.

I had to focus on what I call my inner world….ME….I had to ask myself questions….Why am I feeling this way?  Why do I feel so alone?  I started to write and journal.  I had to reconnect and discover myself beyond being a teacher.

I learned through this that the ultimate relationship is the one I had  with myself.

I had put so much importance on being perfect and so much energy into making sure that I met everyone’s expectations and cared about what other people thought and one day I said ENOUGH!   It is time for me and it is time to follow my dream in a positive environment.

I am 42 and in June, I left a 19 year career, started my own business as a Life Coach, earned two certifications in adolescent and adult life coaching and continue to dedicate my life in helping others.

I have found that the most effective way to get to know yourself is to share your experiences.  Of course, telling your story takes courage.

When people ask me why I became a life coach, I say…”Because I have been there”, and what better way to learn about yourself, help others and use your experiences.

I have truly learned myself by mistakes, failure, disappointment, set backs, endless conversations with my best friends, loss of loved ones, my kids, my family, hours of myself talking to myself which sounds crazy I know…..but my picture is not complete.  None of us are every complete.

Learning yourself is a scary, emotional process, but if you approach it with honesty, you will find it cleansing and therapeutic.

Becky Shaffer

http://www.BeckyShafferliveinconfidence.com print-quote-on-canvas_2611-4

 

 

What Are Your Goals for 2016?

“My goal for 2016 is to accomplish the goals of 2015 which I should have done in 2014 because I made a promise to myself in 2013 and planned in 2012″….Sound familiar?

Wanting to change yourself and better yourself is a beautiful and inspiring thing.  And it turns out that’s also how most other people think: 50% of all Americans for example set themselves a New Year’s resolution.

My gym is packed in early January.  All the new running shoes, running outfits and eager people fill the cardio room.

They have little insight on how to properly exercise, but their resolution is to lose weight and get into shape.

When your holiday decorations are packed up and stored away, the frustration of an unused gym membership or other reminders of failed resolutions can make the later winter months feel hopeless.

However, it is important to remember that the New Year isn’t meant to serve as a catalyst for sweeping character changes. It is a time for people to reflect on their past year’s behavior and promise to make positive lifestyle changes.  Use the baggage as a learning curve.  Setting small, attainable goals throughout the year, instead of a singular, overwhelming goal on January 1 can help you reach whatever it is you strive for. By making your resolutions realistic, there is a greater chance that you will keep them throughout the year.

Having a buddy or a support system will help you achieve your goal.  I recently started to swim.  I have a friend swimming with me.  With our her, I wouldn’t make it a mile, but because of her I have made a mile swimming.  Something I have never thought I would do.

I am also eating healthier and cleaning up my diet.  I am in a beach body challenge group for this.  We all hold each other accountable.

Start small and every 30 days revisit your goal.  You may have to adjust your goal.  As you take steps, reward yourself and make sure you recognize that each step is a success.

What are your goals?

iluxs7pgpixeoouynty8

How Much Is Too Much?

I love the holidays, I love the family rituals, the lights, singing, driving around and looking at the Christmas lights with hot coco listing to Christmas music….However, I have come to find myself annoyed with every single store and drive thru asking for a donation.  I get it….I am a very giving person.  Even when I couldn’t give, I gave.

Today, I was asked to apply for a credit card to save 10%, then another store who now has their own bank card wanted me to get a bank card….Ummmmm through the check out line?  NO!   I was asked to buy a $6 meal for those in need at another place, at the grocery I was asked to round up to the nearest dollar for the food bank and on and on and on……I get it, as I love to give, but it has gotten so out of hand that I feel like the Grinch…NO…NO…NO….I finally told one place, that I gave to the last 6 places and I have to say no.  The guilt feeling and the other customers in line made my palms sweat.  Is this the tactic?   Get the customers in to a peer customer giving situation and they can’t say no or they look like an ass?

What happened to the spirt of simply donating Toys for Tots?  Adopting a family and making sure they have a great holiday?

I want to be very clear that I believe there is great value in being charitable and I know how fortunate I am to have any money to share. I also value the results that come when people and organizations who need money receive it. I love that my children are growing up in an environment where they are learning how to be a contributing member of their larger community.  My son donated $20 of his personal birthday money to the food shelter the other day.  We were checking out in line at Kroger.  It touched my heart and the cashiers.  That is what I love to see.  No one asked him.  He saw it and GAVE….

I feel overwhelmed. I know it is my prerogative to say ‘no,’ but saying no all day is exhausting and gives me a feeling I can only describe as bad. To prevent myself from feeling this way, I’ve developed two very poor strategies. One is to pretend I don’t hear the requests, but I know I’m not fooling anyone—including myself. The other is to contribute small amounts to a lot of different places.  I have also limited myself.  If I have rounded up at the grocery and donated to the salvation army person standing outside…I am done for the day.   How-the-Grinch-Stole-Christmas-dr-seuss-963113_1024_768

 

 

Being Thankful

“It is not happy people who are thankful, it is thankful people who are happy”

We tend to allow an entire year to go by before we consider what we have to be thankful for in our life.  It takes a holiday like Thanksgiving to get a family to sit around a table, catch up and visit with other relatives that you haven’t seen since last year.

Everyone gets to share there past year good or bad.  Joys of laughter, drinking too much wine and eating too much turkey is the end result as everyone passes out on the couch to watch whatever football game is being played.  OR some wish this was their day.

We lose sight of what we are grateful for  during the year.  When did it come down to realizing what we have to one day a year?  What if there was one solution to cause less stress each day?  It is so simple, that if we just felt thankful for the good things in life we would certainly smile much more and feel more happy and optimistic.

I am so thankful for my family, my career and that I have a drive inside of me that continues to want to learn and grow.  I am thankful for my running partners and gym buddies that help me keep my body healthy.  Most of all, I am thankful that I was able to remove myself from a great career, but negative experience and use that to grow, start my business and follow my dream of helping others.

We have forgotten how to be thankful even for the bad things.  I am thankful for the bad because I have learned lessons that have allowed me to move forward.  Being grateful is a choice.  Today, I chose to be grateful.  I am thankful for my HEALTH, I am thankful for my PARTNER, I am thankful for my WRITING, I am thankful for my CLIENTS, I am thankful for my FRIENDS who have become my FAMILY and most of all I am thankful for my FAMILYBeingThankful…  I am going to challenge you as my readers to make a daily list of what makes you happy.

What is on your gratitude list?

I Need My Nature

If you knew me back in the day, you would have never pictured me running a half marathon.  I guess having kids and feeling like a blob motivates you more than ever.  I am writing this because I just ran my 12th half marathon.  ( did I mention this is my first run back in a year after foot surgery) I am sticking to the half because a full is for complete insane people who want to punish their body.  I never really care to chase 26.2 miles.  After all, who is dumb enough to say, out loud of course, “Oh, heck man, I’m all kinds of crazy into beating the hell out of myself for 18 weeks straight in hopes I don’t kill myself on race day.”  Plus, who doesn’t love losing toenails and giving up sleeping on Saturday mornings?…however, I decided to hop on the half marathon training bus…..When I did this, my life was a disaster.

For me this past year, running isn’t about pounding pavement and racking up the miles.  Running has been my vehicle to heal.  Over all my training weeks and a sh*t load of breakdowns, I found my inner voice.  Or should I say I actually listened to what my voice had been telling me for a long time.  Running also helped me make decisions, find my heart and somewhat my sanity.  I was reconnecting with myself on every run.  I had a major foot surgery last August, so after a good 9 months of NO running, this was a major goal for me.  I was done with the indoor bikes and cycling classes.  I needed my nature.  I had a lot going on in this little head of mine.

Watching the sunrise on early morning runs takes your breath away….well what breath you have left at the moment because you decided to hop in with a group that runs 1 minute faster than you and your dying…but you can’t tell them because we are all runners.  WHEW….That sentence took my breath away.  But really, it allows you to see the beauty of nature and the beauty of life that we too often allow to pass by.  Running has really given me a new perspective at all levels. I have also learned that when you come back from a major injury you are not at the level you were before.  It takes time, something I am horrible at.  I am always ready to dive right back in.  My 42-year-old body, felt 42 for the first time.

However, all the pain and the thoughts of not being in shape go away when you step outside for a run.  It is very solitary and I enjoy every minute of it. While you are sleeping. Cozy. Warm. In bed. Sigh……

I have to say that after running, a day off messes with my head.  It throws my mind in a fit.  My body needs the break, but my mind needs the positive thoughts that nature does to it.   I do not like rest days, but I try my best to.

The bonus of running….  I found my purpose.  A lot of people thought I was crazy at first.  I quit a 19 year, great paying, stable, tenure teaching job.  I am a teacher and always will be a teacher….But I will not get bullied, have my character and integrity ruined by an incompetent bullying principal.  Ever meet that person that thinks they are all that because they are your boss and they can get away with it?  That was my nightmare for two years after seventeen amazing years.  We won’t talk about my retirement, who needs that anyway?  However, we will talk about those runs where I listened to my voice.

While running one day, my inner voice was having a conversation….  “I am going to start my own business.  I want to be a life coach and take my program “Live In Confidence” to middle schools and businesses.  I want to work with people to make life better.”  Guess what?  I am certified, I have started my own business, I am building my speaking program and I am all kinds of terrified…But onward I go…That jackas* that bullied me, simply made me see that life could be much better.  I put my wings on and I am flying.  And of course still running.

All in all, this past year has been amazing.  It was a strong reminder to: Be grateful, stay present, set your life up the way you want to, leap off a cliff.  Love every single second of the time you have on this planet.  Oh, and maybe train better for my next half.

I’m in….

How about you?

<aContinue reading “I Need My Nature”

Who Says Girls Can’t Play Football?

IMG_3238 (2)

By: Becky Shaffer

Julia Taylor-Worthington Wolves

1939, the year my Mom was born, history was also being made. Not that my Mom isn’t history, but we are talking about girls playing football. Luverne “Toad Wise kicked six extra points for the Escambia County (Alabama) High School football team. In 1943, Annes Risner of New Castle High School in Indiana had two point-after-touchdown attempts for the football team. Unfortunately, she missed them both. In November of 1947, Post-World War II era, the first girl known to have played high school football was Frankie Groves of Stinnett High School in Texas played in an entire game versus Groom High School. Soon after the game, Texas high school sports ruling body banned girls from playing high school football—a band that would not be lifted until 1993.
In 1973, history was made and Title IX passed allowing girls to play in all sports that are offered for boys. This led to many girls playing football. Today we have very few brave girls playing boys football, the stigma keeps many away and the attitude of “football is a boys sport” detours girls as well.
I am featuring a young lady by the name of Julia Taylor this week. She is a classmate of my son Hayden, but most importantly, she is one of Hayden’s teammates on his football team. I admire her as a mom from the stands as a 7th grade girl, playing football with the boys and more than anything, I admire these young men for how they have accepted Julia as one of them. It has never mattered to them that Julia is a girl. Now in 8th grade, Julia returns for year two and below is her story, told from her:
“I get asked why I play football a lot. The reason I play football is because to me football is truly the only sport I feel so strongly about. My friends always ask me after practice what we did and I tell them the sprints we ran, the drills and stations which seem to shock them because they think it is so much running and exercise. Don’t get me wrong, it is definitely a lot of running, but it doesn’t feel like it because I want to do it. I want to do all of the running to get better, because it’s for the sport I love.
I used to play soccer and I quit in 7th grade. I didn’t realize I could really love a sport as much as I do with football. In the soccer season I just didn’t feel like I wanted to get better and put in effort to practice at home. But when I went to football it was a different story. I will go home and stretch, do ladders, lift weights, practice catching, you name it and I probably did it. I wish more girls would play football, not because I don’t want to be the only one who plays. I could care less being the only girl. It’s because football gets labeled as a sport for guys only, but it really isn’t. Girls can play the sport as well as guys or even better. It’s just because everyone thinks of it as a guy sport that girls who want to try don’t because they think its “not popular” or “weird” because you are the only girl. But it is the complete opposite. Being the only girl is perfectly fine and if you want to do something no matter if it’s a sport or not, do it because if you are passionate about what it is, it shouldn’t even matter about who else does it. All of my teammates and coaches treat me like family and I feel right at home. I love them like brothers. Most importantly, I have the parents support in the stands and I have the support of my own family. It is 2015 and I am setting a trend in Worthington, Ohio. Bring it on, I am a girl who plays football and I am courageous, brave and loving every minute of it”.

Biggest Move

Since making the BIGGEST move of my life….leaving a 19 year teaching career, I have heard the most amazing, courageous stories of others who have left their job for the same reason. BULLYING!! We often relate this bullying word to grade school or Middle and High School, but maybe I was blind and never really thought it could happen in a work place…. until it happened to me. Being the strong minded woman I am, I didn’t put up with much, but I still went through the depression, the self-esteem and questioning myself as a teacher. This work place bully by my boss, the leader of kids and staff was not supposed to do this. It was beyond my comprehension and I allowed two years of my life to suffer. I have to say, I went through emotions like one does a death.  Like anyone, I had to dig deep for life tools to feel ok.

The day I pushed send to my resignation letter, I felt I just buried someone I loved. NOT THE BULLY silly, but my career. I knew I had to make a change, I knew I was too good of a teacher, and person, and I know my character and integrity were beyond the words of a coward.

I cried, I didn’t sleep and I hit that little bit of depression. Today, I passed that emotional roller coaster (Thank God) ….I am at a “high” because the bad always turns into good. It is how we think and how we overcome these hurdles in life. Today, I want to write a thank you letter to my bully. I want to thank him for allowing me to first experience this, as I can now help others. I want to also thank him for pushing me to follow a life-long dream that I would have never done in the stability and comfort of my career. Today, I know those 19 years gave me the means to move on and to be a Life/Youth Coach and to use my life experiences and my success to help others. I am excited to say, I am in week two of my Life Coaching training and my webpage is almost built. I have been fortunate because I have the most positive people around me who push me, let me know how proud they are and support me in all I do. If you have a story, I would love to share it on my page and even my blog. I can change names as well so you are not known. We are all in this together and these experiences only make us stronger.  Email me your story at Liveinconfidence@gmail.com .  You don’t have to use your real name and if you do, please indicate so I can change it.

%d bloggers like this: