One of the great paradoxes of life is that many children and adolescents who are difficult to raise and teach often grow up to become, as mentioned, the movers and shakers of the world. They have fantastic energy and leadership potential. During more than 25 years of working with parents and their kids, I have come to realize that, broadly speaking, there are two categories of kids:
|Parenting Kids With High Energy Level|
- the lovable, likable, amiable, friendly, compliant kids. You know the ones? You ask them to clean up their room and in a matter of weeks it is done!
- the fiery ones, the feisty ones, the ones who have a mind of their own. These kids are tricky to parent well. These are the kids that can drive parents mad. These are also the kids with enormous leadership capability. We can try to understand these kids in order to steer their energies and optimize their great potential.
A distressed mother telephoned me. She told me her daughter was pig-headed and stubborn, and had taken to insulting her in public. "What does she say?" I asked. The mother replied that her daughter screams out at the top of her voice, "You suck!" The mother sounded desperate and asked for some strategy that might help her daughter.
We chatted and thought, and finally we came up with a plan. (The mother phoned me later to let me know the outcome.) On a subsequent occasion in public the daughter once again turned to her mother and screamed out, "You suck!"
At this point the mother turned calmly to her daughter, as we'd worked out over the phone, and said, "No darling, it was you who sucked - you sucked so hard that my nipples ached for hours."
On their way home the daughter muttered to the mother, "If you ever do that to me again ... that was so embarrassing."
Lots of the ideas in this blog come from the shifty, cunning strategies parents have used to help their children. Some of the examples are for parenting teenagers, but many are for younger children. I'm sure that as you read these ideas you will come up with even more creative ways to handle situations. We'll discuss these ideas in greater depth, but these ten golden ideas have been developed by parents who have bright children.
1. They will always outdo you for energy
Bright children have turbo-charged batteries! Any child or teenager has a lot more energy to put into any argument than any adult ever has, and they'll use all of their energy to win a battle. Therefore, wise parents limit the number of areas they want to have a positive effect on. Don't try to do too much.
It's generally a good idea to decide on one behavior you'd like to promote so you can see more of it, and one behavior that you want to try to lessen. Then stick to those two behaviors for a minimum of six weeks. Any more than this and not only will you be an over-achiever, you'll be a nervous, exhausted wreck.
2. Two crocodile brains equals a lot of snapping
When we use brain scans or positron emission tomography (PET) to look in on children's and young people's brains as they engage in conflict, we find very distinct patterns. The two parts of the brain that are really active in conflict situations are the brain stem, which is really about activation, and the amygdala, which is the "do I fight you or run away from you?" part. That's pretty much it!
This means that in the middle of an argument, these kids are about as reasonable as your average crocodile. Rationalizing, discussing, explaining, and reasoning with them in the middle of an argument is often a waste of time. As much as your cherished advice or lecture may feel important, you are wasting your breath. They can't hear your wise words or learn from them when the parts of their brain that control listening and learning aren't active.
When you get steamed up, you also become about as reasonable as your average crocodile. Two crocodiles talking to one another often equals a lot of snapping. If possible, walk away, cool off, calm down, then intervene. To find out more, you can check out Parenting Kids With High Energy Level.