This was first published on KSL.COM
SALT LAKE CITY — This article is for parents. It's when they discover their teenager is sneaking out, is sexually active, is taking drugs or participating in any other scary, bad behavior.
How you react to this news or discovery matters. If you react badly, with an emotional, scared, selfish, angry, overblown in panicked reaction, you could push them further away from you and end up with less influence in their lives. If you respond right, you can strengthen your connection, build trust and gain more influence.
1. Don’t freak out
This discovery may feel like the end of the world; it isn’t. You must choose to trust the universe knows what it’s doing. This is the perfect classroom journey experience, showing up for you and your child, and to provide the lessons you both apparently need. Trust that your teen has signed themselves up for this lesson, because it’s the one they need, and you are going to become stronger, wiser and more loving through this too.
2. Don’t shame or berate them
We all make mistakes, have bad judgment, and try things we know are bad for us. We are human and making mistakes is a vital part of our classroom journey. So, you must not ever shame, humiliate, judge or berate your child for being a human being in process. This is the biggest mistake parents make. They approach their child from a position of above — better, more righteous and perfect — and talk down to their teen, who they view as stupid, bad and wrong. Our egos love this behavior, but it ruins relationships.
Get off your high horse and remember you aren’t perfect either, you have character flaws and you have made mistakes. Get down on their level and see both of you as the same, struggling scared students in the classroom of life, who both have a lot more to learn. Tell them you are a student in the classroom with them and apparently you both get to learn something here. Admit you have made tons of mistakes and there is no shame or judgment coming from you. Your only desire is to be here, help them sort it all out and figure out what they want. You are here to listen and no matter what, be on their side. This approach makes it you and your teen together against a problem, not against each other.
3. Don’t lecture, just listen
When you start lecturing, they tune you out. They do this because it’s all about you and not about them at all. When you lecture, you are saying things that make you feel better and safer. You are not saying things that actually help your teen.
So zip it and get ready for a long conversation where you say very little. It is time to ask questions and get to know your child at a deeper level. You will not believe how much you will learn about your child, if you ask questions and listen more than you talk. If your teen won’t talk to you (because you have not listened very well in the past, you may have to apologize for that and promise this time will be different). If they still won’t trust or talk to you, you might have to find another adult they can be honest with.
Tell your teen you just want to understand where they are, how they feel, what they want in life, and figure out how you can support them. Ask them to be honest with you and you can handle the truth without freaking out (and mean it). If you can’t handle the truth and stay out of judgment, fear and anger, then you won’t earn this place in their life. You may need to find another adult, a counselor, coach or leader, who they will talk to, while you work on building trust again.
If they will talk, ask questions, which help you understand what drives their behavior. The main drivers of behavior are what they fear most and what they value most. So, ask questions that explore these. Ask them to tell you what matters most to them from these four things:
Then, ask them if they can see how their behavior might be about meeting that need. Ask if they would be open to finding some healthier solutions or sources to meet that need. Ask them to tell you what might be healthier ways. Ask them about their goals, wants, and dreams in life, and explain your role, as their parent, is to support and help them to create the life they want and feel good about themselves. (Notice this is all done by asking not telling).
4. Ask permission to share
If you feel you must tell a story, give advice or make rules, ask them if they would be open to letting you go here. “Would you be willing to let me share my beliefs and values and how I feel about this with you?” If you have spent enough time listening first, you will have earned the right to go here now.
Asking permission is a powerful way to show your teen you respect and honor them, and the more you do this, the more they will respect you back. If they say no, say I respect that and move onto the part about creating rules together.
5. Don’t make unrealistic rules
Your teen is going to find a way to do whatever they want to do, no matter what your rules are. So, your cracking down and trying to control their life doesn’t really work and forbidding them from ever seeing their boyfriend or their friends again isn’t realistic.
It makes more sense to help them set some new boundaries and rules to help them create the life they want, but you must include the teen in figuring out what these new rules should be. These should be rules that help them protect themselves, from their own tendency to get into trouble. Decide on curfews, routine drug tests, access to tech, the car, etc.
Help them figure out why making better choices is the right thing for them, so they will want to make these good choices on their own when you aren’t there to control them. You want a smarter teen who makes good choices for themselves. This is much safer than control is. Also, remember you can have control or connection, and the later gives you more influence.
Your teen may keep making bad choices though, and if this happens, you may need to seek out some professional help (sooner than later). This is hard for parents though. You don’t want to see them make painful, costly decisions, but it is their journey and you will suffer less when you respect that. Focus on unconditional love, good boundaries and limits, and staying out of judgment and shaming. Keep choosing love over fear and listen to your intuition, as you are entitled to know what's right for your child.
You can do this.
Kimberly Giles is the human behavior expert who solves people problems at home and work. Check out her new app at 12shapes.com and www.claritypointcoaching.com
This was first published on KSL.COM
SALT LAKE CITY — In this edition of LIFEadvice, Coach Kim shares a fresh perspective on why we disagree and how to resolve it.
I live in a small planned unit development with four families. This is the second year we have lived in the community, as it is a new development. The control box for the sprinkler system is in my backyard. The park-strip grass we all share is watered by a valve in that control box. Every summer, I consult the water conservation website for irrigation frequency, and follow that guideline. This means that the grass is not lush and green, but rather, closer to yellow in color.
My retired neighbor is extremely unhappy about this and badgers me relentlessly to increase the watering for that area. He has become hostile and abusive. When I called a meeting with the other families to discuss what to do, he went into victim mode, saying that he is the only one trying to save the grass and maintain the appearance of the grounds. He does do a lot of work around the planned unit development, such as repairing sprinklers, fertilizing, etc. He is home and able to do it, and is compensated by the HOA.
How can we find a happy medium? Is it even possible?
Most disagreements like this happen because of differences in values. It has been my observation, as a life coach and human behavior expert for 15 years, that there are four value systems that drive most human behavior. When you understand what someone values most, you will then understand their thinking, behavior, and why they make the choices they do.
We all value all four of these, but we usually have one that is more dominant than the others. Understanding this is the trick to resolving conflicts and disagreements.
Here are the four value systems that create most disagreements:
1. Some of us value people most. These people don’t like to be alone and highly value relationships, connection and feeling wanted and included. They would sacrifice getting things done for time to visit with friends, and they care more about people than things, tasks or opinions.
2. Some of us value tasks most. These people are driven by their “to-do” lists and are constant workers and doers. They care most about getting things done and would rather work alone and be productive than visit with others.
3. Some of us value things most. These people care about how things look, taking care of things and creating things. They can be artists, inventors or good stewards, who carefully manage what they have or are in charge of.
4. Some of us value ideas most. These people care about causes, opinions, rules, politics and the environment most. They are rule keepers and system followers. They are often advocates, teachers and well-educated. They also believe in fairness, loyalty and are community minded.
It sounds like you are someone who values ideas and principles most. This is why you follow recommended guidelines and believe in doing what is right for the community, city and state, not just for yourself. You highly value doing the right thing, even if it means sacrificing some of your quality of life.
Your neighbor appears to value things. He spends a great deal of time making his yard look good. Having a nice yard feels important to him because it creates his quality of life and he hopes others will benefit from it too. I am sure he cares about the community and environment, but it sounds like he cares about things looking nice a little more. He also values hard work and wants to see the fruits of his labor.
The most important thing you need to know in this situation is there is no right or wrong— there is just different. Your value system isn’t better than his, and you both have the right to be who you are and see the world the way you see it. You both have the right to have your value system honored and respected, and you have the same intrinsic value as every other human being. Neither of you can resolve this problem if you continue to see yourself as right or better and the other as wrong.
Whenever you find yourself in a disagreement, the solution lies in having a mutually validating conversation with the other person, a conversation where both people feel respected and honored. There are five steps to doing these conversations right, and if you follow them, you can usually create a compromise.
Steps for a mutually validating conversation:
1. Make sure you see the other person as having the same intrinsic worth as you. Make sure you aren't talking down from a position of better, smarter or more right.
2. Set all your opinions aside up front. Don’t start the conversation expressing your view. Start the conversation ready to listen to them.
3. Ask questions about what they think, how they feel, what their concerns and opinions are. Actively listen and validate, honor and respect their right to see the world the way they see it. This comes from how they are wired, and they cannot see anything else at this time. Make sure at this step you are not agreeing or disagreeing (those are about you). This is the time to make them feel heard and understood. The longer you spend here the better. This kind of listening helps to lessen defensiveness and create a safe space for you to share your views too.
4. Ask permission to share your views. Ask your neighbor if he would be willing to let you explain why you think it’s important to follow recommended guidelines and do what you feel is right for the whole community. Ask if he would be willing to be open-minded and at least consider your view. If he is, then go to step five. If he isn’t willing to hear you, say you respect that and thank him for his time. (You must do this if you want to build trust where further conversations could go better.)
5. Speak your mind using “I” statements, not “you” statements. Tell him about your values and why you see the situation the way you do. Ask him if he would be open to a compromise and suggest something that honors both your values. Maybe you could water more, but do it at night or water a little longer, while still conserving, to some degree.
The trick lies in being willing to let go of the “I’m right and you are wrong” mindset, and being truly open to seeing the right in the other person's perspective.
Remember, they aren’t wrong, they are just different. The world would be a boring place if were all the same, and we need social connectors, get-it-done workers, artists, stewards, advocates and rule keepers to make the world work. There is a place for everyone.
Make sure you validate your neighbor's strengths and talents, and appreciate the work he does on the property. He will really appreciate some praise and validation. If you start the conversation with that, you can resolve most problems.
You can do this.
Kimberly Giles is a human behavior expert and master coach. Visit www.12shapes.com and www.claritypointcoaching.com to learn more.
This was first published on KSL.COM
SALT LAKE CITY — In this edition of LIFEadvice, Coach Kim shares what your reoccurring nightmares might mean in your real life.
I have a repeating nightmare that haunts me all the time, where all my teeth crumble and fall out. I wondered if you knew what this meant, as I assume it’s fear related because I am scared of that. My husband has another repeating dream of missing a class in school for a whole year and being in trouble. I’d love to know what that one could mean too. Any idea?
Some studies that show 70 percent of adults have a nightmare at least once a month, and nightmares or dreams might be a subconscious way to process emotions, stress and fears in our lives. The stuff in our nightmares can be symbolic of what we are battling all day.
They are not literal though. You are not actually worried about your teeth falling out, you are having anxiety around something though.
"Nightmares are a mix of memories, recent information you were exposed to and visual representations of your emotions," Dr. Michael Breus, a clinical psychologist and fellow at the American Academy of Sleep Science told Buzzfeed Life.
These nightmares create real fear reactions in your body though because researchers have found they happen in the visual cortex of your brain, which affects your amygdala, the emotion center. So, your body responds as if the situation is really happening, and you can get out of breath and sweat just like it's real.
It’s interesting that some experts believe women have more nightmares than men. Dr. AJ Marsden, assistant professor of human services and psychology at Beacon College in Leesburg, Florida, told Prevention it "might be correlated to the finding that women also have more issues with anxiety, and nightmares are often a reflection of our worries and anxieties."
Studies have found anxiety, depression and other mental illnesses can increase nightmares, too, along with many antidepressant medications, antihistamines and other drugs. You might ask your doctor if any of your medications could be making nightmares worse.
Below are some of the most common and recurring nightmares and what experts think they might mean. Just remember symbolic ideas mean different things to different people, so you should ask yourself the questions below each nightmare to explore other possibilities.
Your teeth cracking or falling out
This one is so common there is a website dedicated to it www.TeethFallingOutDream.org. They suggest all kinds of meanings to this nightmare fear of poor appearance, looking bad, powerlessness, losing things like your money, your youth, security, or that you are just going through a big scary change in your life and afraid of it falling apart.
Ask yourself: Am I afraid of what others think about me and how I look? Am I feeling helpless or powerless in any way? Do I feel I have no control over my situation? Am I having trouble speaking my truth or feelings about anything? What do my teeth represent to me?
Being late to something important
This could mean you are afraid you aren’t enough, adequate or prepared. It could mean you need to take care of something you keep forgetting or that you are afraid you will miss a big opportunity in your life.
Ask yourself: Do I have too much on my plate? Am I overwhelmed? Am I procrastinating doing something that needs to get done? Am I being responsible for myself or dropping the ball anywhere? What could the appointment I’m late for represent in my real life?
Being stuck or paralyzed
You might feel stuck in a situation in your life. You could feel helpless and out of control, or you might be ignoring a situation that you need to deal with.
Ask Yourself: Am I being honest with myself about my current situation? Do I really want to be there? What am I afraid will happen if I try to make a change? What will happen if you let fear keep you there? Am I speaking my truth and why not? What am I afraid of?
Being lost or losing something important to you
If you can’t make a hard decision you might have this nightmare, or your subconscious mind could be showing you that you aren’t focused or paying attention. It could mean you don’t know how to function or what to do in some situation. It might mean you are losing yourself and not being true to yourself, or that you are going to lose something if you don’t make a change in your life.
Ask yourself: Am I feeling lost in any real aspect of my life? Do I feel powerless to change anything? Am I losing anything important if I keep going the way I’m going? Do I need to make any healthy changes, that I’ve been afraid to make? Why am I letting fear stop me? Do I know where I’m going in life and what I want next?
You can’t find the bathroom
It might mean you are not taking care of yourself and your needs. It could mean you are frustrated because you can’t create the life you really want to be happy. It could also mean are afraid of not having the life you really wanted.
Ask yourself: Am I struggling to take care of myself and my needs, do they come last? Are there things you really want in life, but you aren’t making them happen? What changes do you wish you could make if you were braver? What could the toilet I’m seeking actually represent in my life?
Being chased by something or someone dangerous
This is a very common nightmare and it usually means you are avoiding something, often processing your emotions, speaking your truth or something like that you are scared to do. It might be time to deal with your real feelings and make a change. It could also signify anxiety in your life and frustration that you can’t have the life you want. You might also be overwhelmed by all the tasks on your plate right now.
Ask yourself: Am I overwhelmed and afraid of failing? Is there a problem, emotion or truth it is time to face and deal with? What am I avoiding dealing with? What am I currently afraid of that I might be running from? What could the thing I’m running from represent?
Being naked in public
This is another very common nightmare that signifies feeling exposed or afraid of judgment. It could also mean you have anxiety around self-worth or vulnerability. It could also mean that you are hiding something you don’t want others to know or see.
Ask yourself: Is there anything I am hiding and don’t want anyone to know? Am I keeping a secret that would be healthy to reveal? Am I afraid to be myself with others? Am I uncomfortable in my own skin and unhappy with who I am? Am I afraid of what others think of me? Is it time to get some help and work on that? Is the fear around being seen naked and what could that represent in my real life?
Failing a test or missing a test or class
This nightmare can mean you are overwhelmed and just can’t do it all. It could mean you are scared of dropping the ball and handling everything on your plate. It could mean you are scared of being irresponsible or making mistakes.
Ask yourself: Am I overwhelmed with too much on my plate? Are there things out of my control, I need to let go of? Am I overly task focused and afraid anything I miss means I’m not good enough? Is there anything the test or class might represent, that I’m afraid I’m going to forget?
This usually represents anxiety about a situation you can’t control. It can mean your life is out of balance and you need to look at your priorities. Some experts say if you are falling straight down, it’s a fear of failure issue; if you are tripping, it’s a fear of mistakes; and if someone pushes you, you feel threatened by someone or something.
Ask yourself: Do I feel insecure or threatened by any situation in my life right now? Do I feel out of control or helpless? Where and why? Am I trying to control things I cannot control?
Sleep experts suggest not dealing with stressful issues like paying bills, resolving conflict or discussing emotional issues right before bed. You will sleep better if you do calming activities right before turning in. Listen to meditations or soft music and lay down in trust that everything in your life will work out for the best in the long run.
You can do this.
Kimberly Giles owns the Claritypoint Coaching academy and certifies people who want to be life coaches www.claritypointcoaching.com and owns www.12shapes.com to help people have healthy relationships.
FOR MORE FREE
Coaching is less expensive than you think - If you need help we can find you a coach you can afford.
Kimberly Giles is the president and founder of Claritypoint Life Coaching and 12 SHAPES INC. She is an author and professional speaker. She was named one of the top 20 advice gurus in the country by Good Morning America in 2010. She appears regularly on local and national TV and Radio.