Believe it or not, this is one of my ALL TIME favorite questions that I get from parents.
No Matter What I Do, My Teen Won’t Change
One of the things that I hear a lot is, “We’ve tried EVERYTHING, and nothing we do works.”
To which I usually ask, “How do you know nothing is working?”
And the parents typically replay, “My teen won’t change.”
If you’ve ever thought that “nothing is working” when it comes to your teens, it’s probably because you are focused on changing your teen.
My favorite question that I often get from parents is, “My teen won’t change, now what?”
The reason I like that question so much is because it typically means that they’ve tried changing their teen, they’ve realized that they can’t change their teen, and they want to know what they CAN do.
If this is you, and you’re starting to realize that you can’t change your teen, and you’re left wondering, “Now what!?!” this podcast is for you.
Where Is Your Attention?
One of the reasons that I like this question is because it reflects a shift in attention. It shows that the parents are willing to shift their attention from changing their teen to something else, “Now what?”
Most parents get stuck fixating their attention on the behavior of their teen. They catastrophize about all the things that are going “wrong” and the scary worst-case scenarios that are possible.
If you want to change your teen, you’re attention is on something that you can’t control, your teen.
But, when you ask “Now what?” you shift your attention to new possibilities.
“Now What?” has limitless possibilities.
Often, when parents come to me asking, “Now what?” there is a sense of desperation.
They feel like they’ve tried everything, that nothing works, and their desperation positions them to be willing to explore new options.
So, Now What?
First of all, don’t beat yourself up for not being able to change, fix, or control your teen.
It’s not your job. You don’t have the power to change, fix, or control your teen.
You haven’t done anything wrong, so please show yourself some compassion.
And second, take all of that energy that you were spending on your teen and spend it on you.
That’s right, let go of the things outside of your control and embrace the things that you can control yourself.
For some parents, this looks like letting your teen be grumpy, depressed, and unhappy, and shifting your focus from making them happy to being happy yourself.
For some parents it looks like exploring ways that you can be the change that you want for your teen.
For example, one of the things that parents ask all the time is, “How can I help my teen be more confident?”
My answer is usually, “How can you be the change you’re looking for? How can you be more confident? How can you be more confident in your teen?”
Bottom line is, there are countless things that you can do, EVEN if your teen isn’t willing to do anything different.
Simply ask yourself the question, “Now what?” and go with whatever you come up with.
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Gratitude is a powerful emotion that can stop fear, anger, and anxiety in their tracks.
“I Feel Like I’m Losing Control!”
One of the things that I hear the most from parents is, . . .
. . . “I feel like I’m losing control!”
The next thing they tell me is, . . .
. . . “I don’t know what to do!”
If you’re like most parents, you’ve probably experienced this before and felt completely out of control and lost as to what to do about it.
If you’re like most parents, this probably leads to fighting, arguing, and power struggling with your teen, and it’s NO FUN AT ALL!
One of the hardest things about raising a teenager is realizing that you can’t control what you used to control.
And to be honest, this is a hard transition for your teen too.
They’re realizing that YOU CAN’T control everything. They’re starting to learn that THEY are responsible for what they can control.
The problem is, if you’re like most parents, you’re trying to control things that are actually outside of your control.
The Problem Is You’re Trying To Control What You Can’t Control
Trying to control things outside of your control is one of the biggest mistakes parents make.
The biggest problem with this is that your focus is on things outside of your control, positioning you as the victim.
When you focus on things outside of your control, you lose focus of the things that you actually can control.
If you’ve ever said, . . . “I feel like I’m losing control!” . . .
. . . It’s because you are trying to control things that are outside of your control.
When you try to control things outside of your control you feel out of control and lost, which is why you’re probably thinking, “I don’t know what to do!”
One of my clients jokingly accused me of being a broken record. She said, “I know what you’re going to say . . . ‘You’re focused on things outside of your control’.”
She was 100% right. That’s exactly what I was going to say, and she was right about focusing on things outside of her control.
What You Can and Cannot Control
One of the most basic and yet powerful exercises that I have parents do is to create a T-Chart identifying what they Can and Cannot control.
Once you identify the things outside of your control, you can LET THEM GO!
Once you let go of things outside of your control, you can now re-focus that energy on things within your control.
Here are some examples of things you CANNOT control:
- Your teenager,
- Their thoughts, feelings, actions, and results,
- Their choices with friends,
- Their friends,
- Their grades,
- Their values,
- Their beliefs,
- Your spouse and how they parent,
- What your teen thinks or says about you, themselves, and/or others
Here are some examples of things you CAN control:
- Some of your thoughts and feelings,
- Your actions and results
- Your choices,
- Your response to their choice of friends,
- Your response to their grades,
- Your values,
- Your beliefs,
- Your thoughts about your spouse and how they parent,
- How you connect with your teen no matter what your teen thinks or says about you, themselves, and/or others
When you can discern between what you CAN and CANNOT control you will have more power to let go of things outside of your control.
How To Regain Control
The only way to regain control is to let go of things outside of your control and control ONLY what is within your control.
This gives you back a sense of control because you let go of all the things that you cannot control.
This gives you a sense of control because you gain even more control over the things that you actually can control.
All of your energy previously spent on things outside of your control can now be redirected and spent on the things that you actually can control.
This is freaking POWERFUL!
How to Control Only What You Can Control!
- Gain Awareness! What CAN you and what CAN’T you control?
- Awareness ALWAYS comes first!
- Start to understand what you can and cannot control.
- Be aware of things outside of your control that you try to control.
- This takes practice and time, but it’s totally worth it.
2. Practice letting go of what you CANNOT control!
- This one hard, but once you get it’s a total GAME CHANGER!
- Don’t expect yourself to be perfect.
- Just commit to practicing letting go every day.
- It will become more and more natural.
- You’ll start to find that things ALWAYS turn out okay.
- You’ll start to TRUST that things ALWAYS turn out okay.
3. Give what you CAN control your energy and attention!
- As you let go of the things outside of your control, you will find you have more energy and attention for the things you can control.
- As you set your intention and practice this you will gain more power.
- Look for new things to let go of.
- Find new things within your control.
4. Trust that others are DOING THEIR BEST!
- This go hand in hand with #2.
- Trusting that others are doing their best will help you let go.
- Trusting that everything will be okay will help you let go.
5. Trust that YOU are DOING YOUR BEST!
- You don’t have to be perfect.
- I’ve been studying and practicing this for years, and I still find myself holding onto things I can’t control.
- I’m still gaining more and more awareness.
- I’m still finding new things to let go of.
- I’m still finding ways to control only what I can control.
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