Kids and Autonomy

“What did I care [about the future], if in the here and now you were alive, and well, and happy? I never dreamed that I would have such a person on my hands.” – Albus Dumbledore

My oldest child, Max, always hated timers.

From when he was really small, whenever I would set a timer and say “you’ve got two more minutes,” it sent him all to pieces.

He’d spend those two minutes staring at the timer, and crying as often as not. He just could not forget about it and go back to whatever he was doing.

I think it was just the idea of this clock ticking down: Tick. Tick. Tick.

So, we stopped using them very early on. It was not worth the struggle, especially as he did so much better when I would say “you need to be all done with that in two minutes” without the timer.

And then, in his tweens in early teens (he is 18 now, and has given me permission to share this story), Max confronted the scourge of the alarm clock.

He hates coming and going to the dictates of an alarm, an alert. It’s just too much like a timer for him.

But even though it’s like nails on a chalkboard, he has figured out how to use it.

He’s also figured out how to schedule his life, so he gets to class, and work, on time.
He gets himself and his brother to school on time.
He even schedules and gets himself to his own haircut appointments.

In short, Max is a very responsible 18-year-old.

A fact that I failed to see, and which has caused much conflict in our home as we try to figure out how to live together, 3 adults in one house.

“I need more autonomy.”

Early in the year Max asked for a meeting with his Dad and I.
He scheduled it to tell us that he wants “more autonomy.” He wanted us to help him figure out how to get that autonomy.

Together, the three of us figured out a system that would work.

And it was working, until I went and screwed it up this week by getting too worried.

I started obsessively tracking: what time did he get in last night?
How long did his alarm have to go off this morning before he shut it off and got up?
Did he eat anything before he left the house?
Would he get to his destination on time?

In talking to people whose opinion I really respect, such as my therapist, I decided it would be best to take a hard line:
“Max, don’t make your Dad and I ratchet back the hours you’re allowed to use OUR car.”

To us – maybe to you – this sounds eminently reasonable.
What I was really saying was “keep towing this line… Keep showing me you are safe. That’s how you can have your autonomy.”

But what Max heard and felt was very different. He felt that he could never just be private, keep his own hours and do what he wanted to do.

It turns out he felt that his Dad and I didn’t trust him.

So, what did he do about his feeling that we were keeping too many tabs on him?
Did he “show us” by staying out too late, deliberately?
Did he rail at us, and shout and yell?
Did he swear and scream and throw things?

No.
He did none of the above.
Instead, he did something that showed me how truly grown-up he really is:
He kept bringing it up with us. Even through tears and his obvious frustrations, even through his anger with us and his feeling that we don’t trust him.
He kept his part of this conversation open, and (maybe most importantly) he kept upholding his other responsibilities.

One thing that really resonated: he said “roommates don’t tell each other where they’re going and when they’ll be home.”

I suddenly realized, he’s incredibly trustworthy.
He doesn’t drive while intoxicated.
He keeps himself and his laundry clean.
He cheerfully chauffeurs his brother around.
He contributes to the chores around here.

Max engages with us in conversation even! He spends quality time with us. (To me, this is the most important one.)
He enjoys the banter around the dinner table, and loves to go really deep on a whole bunch of topics.
Max and his girlfriend came out to celebrate with us over the weekend, because younger brother Jay scored his first-ever soccer goal.

All this really came to a head in our most recent discussion just this morning. While we spoke I remembered how much he hated timers as a boy.

Max hates anything that he feels is a restriction on him.
And he always has.

This is so completely different from the way that I think. I like the security of a finite amount of time!

I like knowing when something will end, and when it will be time to move on to the next thing.

It never occurred to me that somebody would not like that.
But the next thought that followed logically was: just because you don’t want somebody looking over your shoulder, you don’t want to be timed, does that make you a bad person?
Does it make you untrustworthy?

Of course not.

As soon as I realized all this, like just a few hours ago, I knew what I needed to do. I needed to ease up on the restrictions that Max felt were most egregious, mostly about continually being in touch via text message.

I realized that I needed to change my current relationship with him. He’s no longer a child.

He’s a trustworthy man, who can be responsible for his own schedule, sleep, and life. I must support him in that – but not by monitoring.

“I never dreamed I would have such a person on my hands.” Albus Dumbledore said those words about this child that he loved.

But when he said those words, the child was no longer a child. And in that scene Dumbledore’s mistake (as he shares with Harry) is the mistake of an older person, trying to control a younger person by messing with his autonomy.

I wanted to share the story with you today, because you may have a child who hates timers.
Or not – maybe it is you who hates the timers, and your child loves them. And maybe you cannot understand that.

Even if you don’t understand your child’s preferences, do your best to keep those lines of communication open.

Because someday your child will be no longer a child.

What’s up on the podcast this week:

If you’ve ever struggled with less-than-quality childcare, whether in daycare or in a school setting, today’s episode is for you!

Because you are not alone. I’ve been working closely with people whose childcare providers do inscrutable things – one mom tells of an “aggression journal” her 3-year-old son’s childcare teachers are keeping about him! – and another who found her most recent parent-teacher conference frightening and overwhelming.

Which is why today I’m bringing you, in audio format, the class I taught just last week, all about “How to get quality childcare.”

Click the link below to listen:
https://weturnedoutokay.com/272

What’s up on my YouTube channel this week:

Extending on this theme, the live YouTube (I do one every Thursday) is called
“3 crucial factors for quality childcare”
Check out my YouTube channel by clicking here.

What’s up in the We Turned Out Okay Facebook group this week:

Each Monday at 10:30 a.m. EST, I do a superquick Facebook live that I call “Magic Words for Parents”… And this week I share one single question you can ask a child care provider, in order to ensure that your child is getting good quality childcare.
This, and all the back episodes of Magic Words for Parents are available 24/7 in the We Turned Out Okay Facebook group, so  click here to view or (if you haven’t yet) join!

Wishing you a wonderful parenting week,
Cheers!
Karen of https://weturnedoutokay.com

Continue reading “Kids and Autonomy”

Why does my child ask the same questions over and over? | Podcast Episode 269

Last summer, the two-year-old son of a Ninja Parenting Community member was in a car accident. Thankfully no one was injured. But the car was totaled.

And this little boy kept asking the same question, over and over:
“Why did Daddy crash Daddy’s car?” The accident was not Daddy’s fault. But you couldn’t convince the boy of that!

Everyone just wanted to move on.

But this little boy struggled to do that.

Maybe your child hasn’t recently been in a car accident, and so this isn’t the question that keeps getting asked.

But I bet, if you’ve got a toddler or preschooler, or even an elementary school kid, you know this phenomenon very well.

Today: what to do about it, when your child asks the same question again and again!

Go to weturnedoutokay.com/269 for:

  • A cheat sheet on how to handle it when your child keeps asking the same question over and over, and it’s driving you nuts
  • Key links from today’s episode
  • The video of the week: Off this week, returning March 28

And thank you so much for listening!

How to Get Quality Childcare: Free Online Class!

Learn:
– The keys to finding the best child care for your young child
– To avoid one crucial factor that can derail your efforts to find good childcare
– Which questions to ask – and which not too – to assure your child thrives in others’ care

We cover this and more in the FREE online class I’m teaching on Thursday, March 28!
Sign up today – even if you can’t be there live, the replay will be available for several days after.

Get the best child care for your kiddos by taking this class, for free! Sign up here and I will see you on March 28: )

Continue reading “Why does my child ask the same questions over and over? | Podcast Episode 269”

Your questions – about dealing with intolerance, surviving crummy daycare, shoe-throwing, and more – answered with veteran preschool teacher Tricia Tomaso | Episode 267

Wondering what to do when:
– Your child fills the pull up or leaks through, every single night, despite being potty trained during the day?
– You are stuck – at least for a little while – with subpar childcare?
– Your child is being picked on due to intolerance?

We answer these questions and more, in today’s episode!
I’m so excited to bring you another round of Ask the Experts with Tricia Tomaso!

[FYI: in the break I mention having One Question for you… Click here to hear the bonus episode about the question, and click here to answer the question!]

Go to weturnedoutokay.com/267 for:

  • A cheat sheet on the questions and answers we share in this episode
  • Key links from today’s episode
  • The video of the week: “How to help your child if they’re being picked on or bullied”

And thank you so much for listening!

Temper Tantrums and Potty Training:

During today’s break I share about two helpful free guides I offer.
While the podcast is long-form – your opportunity to look into the mind of a child development expert – the free guides are super quick.

You can watch the video, read the checklist, and immediately handle the temper tantrums or get started with potty training (depending on which guide you choose : )

  • Click here for the FREE video and checklist to handle every temper tantrum
  • Click here for the FREE video and checklist to successfully potty train your child
  • Want to receive valuable ideas and tips on parenting, without either free guide above? Click here for my weekly parenting newsletter!

Continue reading “Your questions – about dealing with intolerance, surviving crummy daycare, shoe-throwing, and more – answered with veteran preschool teacher Tricia Tomaso | Episode 267”

A glimpse into your child’s future with guest Blake Boles of Unschool Adventures | Podcast Episode 264

I know it’s difficult to imagine your child as a teen or young adult. 

But it will happen, and sooner than you think. If you just can’t imagine it – if it even makes you a little frightened to think of – today’s guest will inspire hope and excitement in you (he did for me : )

Today I’m excited to share a conversation with a guy who works with teenagers to help them achieve their goals, Blake Boles of the Off Trail Learning Podcast, UnschoolAdventures.com, and author of three excellent books for helping teens figure out what they really want out of life.

Hope you enjoy this glimpse into the future! Go to weturnedoutokay.com/264 for:

  • Links to Blake’s book, podcast, and website (where you can sign up for his newsletter, Update from the Blake-O-Sphere, and which makes me do a little happy dance each time I see it in my inbox)
  • The video of the week: “From Toddler to Teen: What to Expect”

And thank you so much for listening!

Temper Tantrums and Potty Training:

During today’s break I share about two helpful free guides I offer.
While the podcast is long-form – your opportunity to look into the mind of a child development expert – the free guides are super quick.

You can watch the video, read the checklist, and immediately handle the temper tantrums or get started with potty training (depending on which guide you choose : )

  • Click here for the FREE video and checklist to handle every temper tantrum
  • Click here for the FREE video and checklist to successfully potty train your child
  • Want to receive valuable ideas and tips on parenting, without either free guide above? Click here for my weekly parenting newsletter!

Continue reading “A glimpse into your child’s future with guest Blake Boles of Unschool Adventures | Podcast Episode 264”

Emotional health for us and our kids: Author Maureen Healy joins us today! Podcast Episode 261

How can I stop my child from being so impulsive?
How can I stop her from hurting others with her bad behavior?
How can I stop him from alienating people because he’s hitting, or spitting, or worse?

Sometimes it is scary how much anger and frustration our little kids have inside. And when it erupts, we can feel so powerless.

This week’s We Turned Out Okay podcast episode guest, Maureen Healy, has written a book called The Emotionally Healthy Child, to help us deal with these aspects of our young children.

When I invited Maureen on the show, I knew she had written a wonderful book for us. A useful tool, helping us parents figure out how to get our kids’ behavior to be more what we want to see.

But I was not prepared for the kind of depth that Maureen Healy brings to the conversation. This gentle, thoughtful woman can teach us all about what it means to be human, and how to truly connect with our loved ones, especially our children.

Hope you enjoy this conversation!

Go to weturnedoutokay.com/261 for:

  • A cheat sheet of favorite ideas from our conversation
  • Key links from our conversation, including to Maureen’s wonderful book, The Emotionally Healthy Child
  • The scoop on my latest book! One reviewer says of 10 Secrets Happy Parents Know: I love how much “Karen” is in these pages… I can foresee myself using these chapter titles as self-talk mantras to remind myself to get out of discipline mode ASAP; that conflicts are opportunities; and so on.”
  • The video of the week: “Stop my young child being impulsive

And thank you so much for listening!

Temper Tantrums and Potty Training:

During today’s break I share about two helpful free guides I offer.
While the podcast is long-form – your opportunity to look into the mind of a child development expert – the free guides are super quick.

You can watch the video, read the checklist, and immediately handle the temper tantrums or get started with potty training (depending on which guide you choose : )

  • Click here for the FREE video and checklist to handle every temper tantrum
  • Click here for the FREE video and checklist to successfully potty train your child
  • Want to receive valuable ideas and tips on parenting, without either free guide above? Click here for my weekly parenting newsletter!

Continue reading “Emotional health for us and our kids: Author Maureen Healy joins us today! Podcast Episode 261”

Ringing in the new year with success stories! Podcast episode 258

Happy new year!!
As you climb out from underneath tinsel, and excess, and cranky kiddos, I wanted to share some success stories.
I hope to inspire you, right at the beginning of the year, by giving you some stories where things, well, turned out okay, to use the pun that I always swore I would never use (and have indeed not used until this very moment : )
So, today’s is a re-broadcasted conversation, originally recorded way back in 2016, in which I spoke to dad and educator Erik Wagter. Erik’s story is special: he and his wife are raising an autistic son, and early on they were told he would never lead anything like a normal life.
And they are helping him, every day, to lead a wonderful, if not completely normal, life. Besides, whose life is “normal”?
“Normal is just a setting on the washing machine” – one of my favorite quotes ever.

Also, I’m sharing two stories of success from our exclusive private coaching community, the Ninja Parenting Community.
Stories of parents just like you, and how they handled it when the going got tough.
I hope you find today’s success stories episode inspiring and helpful!

Go to weturnedoutokay.com/258 for:

  • Links to many resources I offer, including my parenting books and the Ninja Parenting Community, the online place where I help parents through their toughest challenges, so they can really enjoy family time
  • The video of the week: Off this week! Returning 1/10/19.

And thank you so much for listening!

Temper Tantrums and Potty Training:

During today’s break I share about two helpful free guides I offer.
While the podcast is long-form – your opportunity to look into the mind of a child development expert – the free guides are super quick.

You can watch the video, read the checklist, and immediately handle the temper tantrums or get started with potty training (depending on which guide you choose : )

  • Click here for the FREE video and checklist to handle every temper tantrum
  • Click here for the FREE video and checklist to successfully potty train your child

Continue reading “Ringing in the new year with success stories! Podcast episode 258”

In praise of positive discipline | What the American Academy of Pediatrics thinks about spanking | Podcast episode 252

I love this picture. Mom and son, strong together : )

I did a happy dance a few weeks ago when I read that American Academy of Pediatrics has revised its guidelines on spanking and corporal punishment. This 67,000-doctor organization is coming out strongly against spanking, humiliating, and frightening children as discipline.

Today I’m rebroadcasting my conversation with former AAP president, Dr. Benard Dreyer. Dr. Dreyer gave such wonderful advice for parents as we raise our kids, and to my surprise it’s been more than 2 years since this interview first aired! Time flies.

In the preshow, before our conversation, I read from the newspaper article that had me doing my happy dance, “Spanking is harmful, ineffective, group says.”

Hope you enjoy this episode, and that it helps you remember to keep your discipline positive!

Go to weturnedoutokay.com/252 for:

  • The link to the article about the AAP’s stance on spanking
  • What’s up in the We Turned Out Okay universe, including tons of free resources : )
  • The video of the week: Off this week, returning after Thanksgiving

And thank you so much for listening! Continue reading “In praise of positive discipline | What the American Academy of Pediatrics thinks about spanking | Podcast episode 252”

How to keep your child from running off at the playground | Podcast Episode 251

“What’s a reasonable consequence for when I ask my young child to stop running away, and he doesn’t stop, at the park?”
This is the gist of a recent question from one mom in our We Turned Out Okay Facebook group.

I shared what I think is a pretty good answer… and then other parents in the group shared their ideas. These ideas were so great – and so different from mine – that I knew I needed to talk about this issue on the podcast.

So, hope you enjoy this episode, dedicated to helping you set limits, and enjoy more of your time, when you are at a park or playground or out in the world with your young child!

Go to weturnedoutokay.com/251 for:

  • A breakdown of how you can reign in your young child, without overdoing it or losing your mind
  • What’s up in the We Turned Out Okay universe, including tons of free resources : )
  • The video of the week: “Good behavior at meals, good behavior at the park”
  • The sign-up for our upcoming ‘When to potty train, How to potty train’ free online class

And thank you so much for listening! Continue reading “How to keep your child from running off at the playground | Podcast Episode 251”

Ask the child development experts! Your questions answered on today’s Your Child Explained Episode | Podcast Episode 248

This time of year, kids have lots of opportunity to misbehave. This episode gives you tools to get good behavior from your littles, enjoy regular family time – and extended-family time too.

I am SO excited to bring you today’s show!
I have good friend and colleague, Tricia Tomaso, a veteran preschool teacher and holder of a master’s degree in special education.
And she has graciously agreed to come on the show and answer YOUR questions.

So! Today we take questions on:
– What to do if your child hits you, especially repeatedly
– How to handle it if you are a relatively low energy parent, and your child is a high-energy kid
– If you’re worried that you are overinvolved with your kids
– And more!

Buckle in, this is a really fun and useful ride today!

Go to weturnedoutokay.com/248 for:

    • A summary of each “ask the expert” question and answer
    • What’s up in the We Turned Out Okay universe, including tons of free resources : )
Today’s show is all about getting to moments like this, where everybody is smiling.
  • The video of the week: “I’m exhausted from doing too much for my kid”

And thank you so much for listening! Continue reading “Ask the child development experts! Your questions answered on today’s Your Child Explained Episode | Podcast Episode 248”

Raise successful, fulfilled kids by avoiding this big mistake | Podcast Episode 247

Today’s show dives into something difficult to imagine, when your kids are so young and your focus is on stuff like temper tantrums, sibling fights, and picky eaters.

We can wonder, what miracle will occur, just in the next decade or so, to change my kid from being so young and helpless, to someone who can lead a successful, fulfilled, and happy life?

Today, I’m beginning a deep dive into the idea of raising successful and fulfilled kids.

The idea was born years ago, when friends would lament the idea of the lack of business and entrepreneurship education in K-12 school.

Then several months ago it crystallized, when a friend, thinking he was motivating his child, changed his boy’s internally-motivated entrepreneurial activity to one with strings attached (the boy wouldn’t get his weekly allowance unless he worked on this previously for-fun, now parent mandated business activity.)

Today I share how you can avoid making this mistake.
Because it IS a huge mistake – and the repercussions can ripple out over your child’s entire adult life.

This is one we really need to get right, so listen in and find out how.

Go to weturnedoutokay.com/247 for:

  • A cheat sheet on the 4 steps outlined in this episode that you can take to avoid this mistake
  • What’s up in the We Turned Out Okay universe, including tons of free resources : )
  • The video of the week: “Introverted parent, extroverted child”

And thank you so much for listening! Continue reading “Raise successful, fulfilled kids by avoiding this big mistake | Podcast Episode 247”