Considering Giving Your Child a Cell Phone This Christmas? Make Sure Your Child Has Met These Milestones First

Considering Giving Your Child a Cell Phone This Christmas? Make Sure Your Child Has Met These Milestones First

Click here to subscribe

There are so many benefits to allowing your child to have their own cell phone, and Christmas provides a great opportunity to introduce your child to this important responsibility.

But how do you know your child is ready?

When I work with families in my private practice, one of the top concerns for parents always revolves around cell phones: their child either uses the phone to contact (or send pictures) to people the parents don’t approve of, or the child loses/breaks the expensive phone.

Since this is such a hot-button issue and I know that many parents are considering buying a cell phone for their child for Christmas, I thought I would share with my readers here the advice that I give to my private practice clients. Before giving your child their own cell phone, I believe that the child should have met certain life milestones BEFORE taking on this important responsibility.


The Milestones

When evaluating the milestones below, I don’t mean that your child should ALWAYS be perfect in these areas, but, instead, that they are generally – or mostly – compliant in these areas.

For example, if you can think of 2-3 times that your child was not successful over the past month in one of the milestones discussed, then more than likely your child has not hit that milestone yet.

When considering whether or not to get your child their own cell phone (or, for that matter, any other device that can connect to the internet), evaluate your child’s maturity in the following 5 milestones.


Milestone #1: Your child isn’t purposefully deceptive (they don’t have a habit of hiding things from you).

If your child doesn’t have a habit of hiding things from you in order not to get into trouble, then you know that your child has met this milestone.

This is important because your child will need to understand that while the cell phone is considered “theirs,” it still belongs to the parent. This means that you should know their password to log on to the phone and be able to access their phone at a moment’s notice.

You should also be able to access any apps that hey download onto their phones as well. Some kids might try to complain that this is a violation of their privacy, but it should be understood that parents have the ability to access the phone at any time to provide proper supervision. As your child gains your trust in this area, then you don’t have to check their phones as often.


Milestone #2: Your child mainly tells the truth.

If you can ask your child tough questions and they generally give you an honest answer, then you know your child has met this milestone.

Your child has the ability to communicate with people you don’t approve of – or even strangers they meet on the internet – and being able to trust you child when you ask how they are using their phone is key. You will always have the ability to check what phone numbers they call, what websites they visit, and what they are doing on their apps, but being able to have tough, but truthful, conversations with your child about their phone use is important.

Your child might “bend the rules” from time to time, but if they fess up to what they’ve done, then they are still on the path of responsible behavior (they’ll just need a reminder to remain on that path!).


Milestone #3: Your child takes care of their possessions well.

If your child doesn’t have a reputation for breaking their things or losing them, then they have met this milestone.

Cell phones and wireless plans are very expensive, so you’ll need to know that your child will take care of their property well. Teach them how to keep their phones properly charged and safely stored in their backpack or purse to ensure that they are successful in keeping their phones safe.


Milestone #4: Your child is pretty good at obeying rules/guidelines/limits.

If your child doesn’t argue a lot when you remind them of the family rules, or if they comply pretty easily to family routines, then they have probably hit this milestone.

The acquisition of a new cell phone also means the acquisition of a whole new set of rules, so you’ll need to know that your child is capable of following rules. Parents should never allow their child to have a cell phone without also reviewing guidelines for its use.

Some families make sure their child turns in their phone to the parent at night. Other families don’t allow their kids to download any apps. Whatever your rules will be concerning your child’s cell phone, it’s important that they are able to follow those rules.


Milestone #5: Your child is able to participate in offline activities.

If your child has activities that they do offline, such as read books, play an instrument, play sports, or participate in any other hobby or activity, then they have met this milestone.

It’s natural that kids are fascinated by all that the online world has to offer – video games, chatting with friends, watching endless hours of Youtube, etc. – but they also need to be able to understand that there is a balance between things done online and things done offline.

When your child has access to a cell phone, they will need to have healthy boundaries for it’s use. Don’t assume that your child will know how to do this all by themselves – you will need to set that tone for them, especially at first. Later in this article, I’ll discuss a tool that you can use to help your child learn – and maintain – these boundaries.


What If Your Child Hasn’t Mastered These Milestones Yet?

If you feel like your child hasn’t hit one or all of the milestones mentioned above, then you can use the milestones as concrete goals for your child to work on over the next few months.

First, explain that you really want your child to get to the point where they are mature enough for a cell phone. (Your child might argue that their friends who are the same age already have a phone, but gently teach them that the rules in your home are different and that readiness isn’t about age, it’s about behavior).

Second, communicate clearly to your child the 5 milestones that must be met in order to earn the privilege of a cell phone, and where they are on each milestone.

Third, create concrete and clear behavioral expectations for the milestones that your child still needs work on. For example, if your child still has a problem with lying, then let your child know that over the next 2 months, they cannot be caught in a lie at all. Emphasize that it’s your child’s choice to behave in a way that earns them the phone (for review on autonomy, see this blog post, and for a review on positive reinforcement, see this article).

No matter how long it takes, continue to use the milestones as goals for your child and review their progress with them. Eventually, they’ll earn the privilege of the cell phone and you’ll have more confidence in them that they can handle it responsibly!


Think Your Child Is Ready? Ensure They Are Successful With This Tool

If your child is ready for the responsibility of a cell phone, set them up for success by using my cell phone contract to create and communicate your family’s rules regarding the cell phone.

The contract clearly states the days/times for use, and other guidelines about safety, internet use, etc. It is in a Word document so you can customize it however you need to in order to fit your family’s individual needs. It also include lines for you and your child to sign to show agreement.

This tool is a great way to have a good conversation with your child about your expectations regarding their cell phone use. Print out a copy for your records and for them so that they can review their rules as needed.


Take Home Message

Allowing your child to have their own cell phone can have both positives and negatives. It’s definitely safer for your child to have a cell phone when they are out and about outside of the home, and you’ll always have a way to contact them when you need them. The downside to the cell phone is that it provides an opportunity for your child to contact strangers, gain access to internet websites that are inappropriate, and other dangerous activities.

The only way to ensure that your child uses the cell phone responsibility is to make sure they have met the 5 milestones discussed in this article. Also, be sure to download the cell phone contract included in this article to set your child up for success with this important life skill.

Click here to subscribe



Are You Using The 3 Important Elements That All Successful Modern Parent Use Religiously?

To Find Out, Download The Free Guide ==>

The Modern Parenting Blueprint: The 3 Elements That All Successful Modern Parents Use Religiously

How Smart Modern Parents Make The Holidays Special For Their Families

How Smart Modern Parents Make The Holidays Special For Their Families

It doesn’t matter what your Modern Family looks like – traditional, divorced, same sex parents, single parent, or something totally different – the holidays are a great opportunity to put a pause on any challenges or unpleasantness of everyday life and, instead, focus on appreciating your wonderful family.

By their very nature, holidays create a consistent and predictable yearly tradition to bring families together. Daffnee Cohen writes in The Huffington Post that, “While both good and bad distractions present themselves every day, tradition [such as the holidays] does an excellent job of keeping us focused on the things that are truly important.”

So what matters to Modern Parents the most? Their families, of course! And this article is going to explain how Modern Parents use the magic of the holidays to practice the 3 important elements of Modern Parenting – autonomy, mastery, and relatedness – in order to build a close and special bond with their kids.


Autonomy: Inviting Your Child Into The Magic of Tradition

Every family needs holiday traditions. When I work with families in my private practice during the holidays, I stress the importance of creating special traditions that are unique to the individual family.

Even families that celebrate the holidays in multiple homes (such as in divorced families) can create – and consistently maintain – holiday rituals. For example, I worked with a divorced Dad several years ago who adamantly told me that it was impossible to have holiday traditions in his home because the children’s mother kept all of the old holiday decorations. I explained to him that holiday traditions aren’t just about decorations but also about repeatable rituals, good feelings, predictable recipes, and consistent family stories and memories.

Because I’ve worked with kids over a number of years, I know that they can handle (and enjoy) holiday traditions at different locations. Most of us have experience with participating in holiday traditions at different locations, whether at different parent’s homes, different grandparent’s homes, or even at our in-law’s homes We were able to adapt and enjoy these traditions, and so will our kids. I encouraged this newly divorced Dad to create new rituals, menus, stories – and yes, decorations – with his kids at his new house.

One great way of encouraging your child’s autonomy during the holidays is to include them in the creation of new traditions, or even in allowing them a voice in expanding on current traditions,

I’ve written many articles about the importance of autonomy – or the art of teaching your child to make good decisions – and why smart Modern Parents find everyday opportunities to allow their kids to practice making decisions. Holiday traditions provide a great way to include your child in the decision-making that happens during this time.

For example, let younger kids pick out the cookie recipes for the annual cookie exchange or the wrapping paper style for grandparent gifts. Some tweens can be asked to brainstorm the seating arrangements around one (or multiple) tables during the holiday meal. For older kids, challenge them to come up with gift ideas for extended family members that is based on a specific budget.

Remember, your child’s ideas don’t have to be perfect. This is a opportunity to teach life skills. Just focus on the process – not a perfect outcome.


Mastery: Highlighting Your Child’s Natural Talents

What better way to build your child’s confidence and self-esteem than by allowing their natural talents and strengths to shine through during the holidays.

Every child has individual natural strengths and talents, and the idea of a Mastery Mindset is that practicing these strengths and talents is a lifelong process. It’s not about being the best, or doing something until you reach a certain level and then you move one, it’s about participating in an activity that is enjoyable and challenging and slowly getting better at the activity over time.

The rewards for participating in the activity come from within – the reward is feeling proud of the achievement. Allowing your child to incorporate their natural talent into the holiday tradition encourages their Mastery skills.

For example, I had a client whose daughter loved to sing. When she was only 9, her parents allowed her to join the Church choir. That year, this shy little girl, sang in the very last row (her mother said she shrank back behind the taller kids out of nervousness – you could barely see her) during the Christmas choir concert. When I checked in with the family years later (when the child was about 16), her mother reported that her daughter slowly become better and better at singing, and her confidence in herself and grown over the years to the point that she had a solo in the current year’s Christmas choir concert.

What natural talent or ability does your child have that could be highlighted during this holiday? It could be something as big as my client’s singing ability, but it could also be something as small as being good at wrapping gifts. Whatever strength (or strengths – you don’t have to focus on only one!) you choose to highlight, remember that the goal is to allow your child to participate and gain that inner pride of doing something that they are good at and that they like.


Relatedness: Learning That Everyone Has An Important Role To Play In This World

I think it’s pretty obvious that the holidays provide a great excuse to spend time as a family and emphasizing relatedness skills during this time will go a long way increasing your child’s sense of empathy and decreasing their sense of entitlement.

Remember that the concept of relatedness involves helping your child understand that they have an important and valuable role to play within the family, their peer group, and within the larger world around them. When kids feel that they are uniquely important within these 3 groups, they tend to make smart decisions for themselves and act in ways that are less entitled and more empathetic.

In order to emphasize relatedness skills within the family, show your child that they are a valuable and loved family member this holiday season not through gift-giving, but by making sure they have an important role in family rituals and traditions. Do watch Christmas movies on the weekends? Make sure your child’s choice is included in the lineup.Does your child like to put the star on top of the Christmas tree? Make sure they know that Christmas doesn’t start until they’ve fastened the star to the tree.

Memories like these serve to build – and maintain – a strong parent-child bond.

In order to help your child understand their important role with their peer and the larger society, encourage them to use their natural gifts and talents to make other people happy during the holidays, For example, if your child likes to bake, encourage them to have their friends over for a cookie-baking day. If they are taking piano lessons, encourage them to play for the grandparents when they ce over for a visit.

The point here is to allow your child the experience of making other people happy and experiencing the feeling of internal pride that this brings. Our Modern Kids are all too often experiencing high levels of entitlement, and emphasizing relatedness skills is the antidote to this modern issue.


Take Home Message

The thing to remember here is to ensure that you’re not letting the holidays mindlessly slip by. The holiday season provides a great opportunity to make wonderful memories, and – if you’re smart – you can also emphasize some pretty important life skills.

We want our kids to be experts at some important life skills such as making good decisions, learning how to make friends with good people, learning to be empathetic to others so that they are experts with these skills by the time the are young adults and out of our protective nest.

Teaching these important life skills is a long process, and using the yearly rituals and traditions that come along with the holidays provides a great opportunity to not only bond with your child, but to continue to prepare them for their great future.



Are You Using The 3 Important Elements That All Successful Modern Parent Use Religiously?

To Find Out, Download The Free Guide ==>

The Modern Parenting Blueprint: The 3 Elements That All Successful Modern Parents Use Religiously

How To Predict Your Child’s Future

How To Predict Your Child’s Future

Click here to subscribe

One of the most frustrating things for any Modern Parent is that there is no way of knowing definitively if their child will turn out to be happy, healthy, and successful. Further, it’s even more tricky to pinpoint whether or not any of the little moments they spend parenting their child will make a significant impact on their child’s future.

Well, what if I told you that there IS a way of predicting your child’s future?

What if I told you that there is a way to get a quick peek of what your child will be like when they become a young adult?

Believe it or not, psychological science has given us a tool to get this quick glimpse of our child’s future – and I’ll share that tool with you in a minute – but what I want you to consider is this: If you use this tool and see that your child’s future is not exactly as you had pictured it, will you use this new information to do things differently NOW in order to change their future for the better?

That’s the point of my blog post today. I want to share this tool with you so that you can use it to either:

  • Identify and fix certain parenting mistakes that might be contributing to the not-so-stellar future that the tool helped you see, or
  • Keep consistently performing the parenting techniques that seem to work for your child.

One of the pillars of Modern Parenting is to parent with intention, which means that parents need to be able to “course correct” when necessary. If the use of this tool enables you to see if there are any ways to tweak your parenting to positively impact your child’s future happiness and well-being, then you are definitely parenting with intention.

Now that you know the Modern Parenting goal for this article, are you ready to get that glimpse of your child’s future? Read on to find out about the tool.

The Tool

When I was in graduate school learning all the ways of being a psychologist, I was taught that the best predictor of future behavior is present behavior – and I have largely observed this to be a true fact over the years of working with kids and their families.

You know this to be true, too. Think about some of the families and kids that you know. Can’t you just sometimes look at a child and envision their lives as adults doing the same thing that they’re doing now? We’ve too often seen our friend’s unmotivated pre-teen grow up to be an unmotivated young adult with a dead-end job who continues to play video games all day. On the other hand, there are also those kids that participate in chess club, play the violin in the school orchestra, and get straight As in their college prep classes. These kids usually go on to achieve academic and career success later down the road.

So, the tool I want to share with you in predicting your child’s future is based upon an honest examination of your child’s present behaviors, routines, and motivation. Answer the 9 questions below to get that glimpse of your child’s future.

  1. How does your child like to spend their free time? Is it spent on a balance of interesting, worthwhile activities as well as relaxing activities?
  2. Does your child need to be told what to do or can they initiate worthwhile activities (like homework and hobbies) all on their own?
  3. Does your child seem to have an attitude of curiosity and adventure? Or do you need to nag your child to make an effort to look around them and notice the interesting world around them?
  4. Is your child able to follow daily routines? Does your child follow any kind of routine that ensures they complete their homework on time and/or spend time on activities that could turn into interesting lifelong hobbies or interests?
  5. Can your child establish a goal, and all the necessary steps to complete that goal in an age-appropriate way?
  6. Does your child do the same, boring thing every day?
  7. Does your child have an idea of what they want to do with their future? Is your child able to understand that what they spend their time on now has a big impact on their future?
  8. Does your child show interest in participating in activities that will, over a long period of time, bring them closer to their future goal? Does your child have enough patience and confidence to practice an activity or interest enough to slowly increase their ability in that activity?
  9. Is your child all talk and no follow-through?

So, did you get that glimpse of your child’s future by answering the questions about their present behavior?

Did you like what you saw in your head? Were you surprised by your answers? Did you answers scare you a little?

What You Need To Do Now

Don’t like the vision of your child’s future? The good news is that you can make changes now that will have a huge impact on your child’s future.

Newton’s First Law of Motion states that an object at rest, stays at rest, and an object in motion stays in motion unless otherwise acted upon. This is also called inertia.

Families can have a certain inertia, too. Some families have a certain movement to them – they are constantly on the move, consistently working toward pursuing their interests, passions, and values. The children in these families typically grow up to be interesting and happy young people.

In contrast, other families have zero inertia. These families are passive and simply watch life pass them by. The children in these families may want to pursue passions and interests, but the pull of their motionless inertia keeps them at rest.

Why am I reviewing basic science concepts with you? Because it illustrates that your child will continue to go down whatever path they are on unless something forces them to go down another, more successful path.

You have the power to nudge your child onto another path. And it’s not that hard to do, either. All you have to do is intentionally introduce a few simple techniques into the family environment that activates your child’s inner drive for curiosity and motivation.

I’ve recently created an online course for Modern Parents who are interested in making simple changes now that end up having a huge, positive impact on their child’s future.

This course is called The Self-Motivation Success Academy and I created this self–paced, online course for busy Modern Parents who are interested in learning how to jumpstart their child’s inner motivational drive.

Every child is capable of self-motivated behavior. What does a self-motivated child look like? These kids independently choose to complete chores and academic assignments on their own without having their parent oversee their work. They have a vision for their future which includes pursuing a career that taps into their innate talents and gifts and they participate in hobbies that satisfy their interests and passions.

Every child is capable of learning to be self-motivated. I know because I have spent many years as a child psychologist teaching this method to my individual clients, and I want to share what i’ve learned over the years with you.

As I don’t believe in willy-nilly, pop-psych ideas, everything that I teach in The Self-Motivation Success Academy is based on sound scientific principles. The methods that I teach in the course work because they are based on psychological research, specifically Ryan and Deci’s self-determination theory and Eric Erickson’s developmental theory.

To help you further understand your child’s motivation struggles, I’ve created a quick quiz to help you identify your child’s natural Motivation Personality Type. Did you know that most kids fall into 1 of 7 Motivation Personality Types? What’s more is that if you really want to help your child learn to be more self-motivated (and get them ready for a great future) then you need to know how to work WITH their unique Motivation Personality Type.

Click here to subscribe

After taking the quiz, not only will you know your child’s Motivation Personality Type, but I’ll also give you suggestion on how to begin working with that particular personality style.

If you are on a journey with your child on helping them overcome self-motivation issue, then I highly suggest starting by taking the quiz.

If you used the questions in the above section to catch a glimpse of your child’s future – and what you saw didn’t quite match with what you always envisioned for your child – then I really hope you take the quiz and look into the online course.

Stop your child’s current inertia today by intentionally making changes in your family that will lead to huge, positive changes to your child’s future.

You CAN work with your child to encourage their self-motivation skills to develop, and i want to show you how easy it is.

Take Home Message

The point of this blog post is to illustrate to you how your child might be slowly going down a path that doesn’t lead to the happy and successful future that you originally envisioned for them.

But you don’t have to let inertia win! Bodies at rest stay at rest unless otherwise acted upon. Be that force that nudges your child onto a more successful path.

Some kids are born naturally self-motivated, but most kids need to be taught these skills.

Your child’s school doesn’t teach self-motivation skills – and kids who don’t yet have these skills tend to struggle in school. You CAN teach these skills to your child and it’s super easy too.

Don’t know where to begin, but want to be that change that interrupts your child’s current inertia? Take the Motivation Personality quiz. Not only will you gain a better understanding of WHY your child struggles, but you’ll get specific pointers on working WITH their unique personalities – not against them!

If you want further help tackling your child’s self-motivation challenges, ten check out my new online course specifically for parents. This self-paced course contains video lessons taught by me that will teach you everything you will need to learn to create a family environment that encourages motivated, independent, and interesting kids.

Click Here to check it out.



Are You Using The 3 Important Elements That All Successful Modern Parent Use Religiously?

To Find Out, Download The Free Guide ==>

The Modern Parenting Blueprint: The 3 Elements That All Successful Modern Parents Use Religiously

Four Signs Your Teen Is Avoiding Adulthood

Four Signs Your Teen Is Avoiding Adulthood

A recent scientific analysis of seven large surveys identified what Modern Parents have suspected for a long time now – that Modern Kids are putting off adulthood for as long as they can.

There are pros and cons to what the author of this large-scale analysis, Dr. Jean Twenge, calls a “slow life strategy.”

The pros are that Modern Parents can worry less about their kids engaging in risky behaviors such as having sex, drinking, and smoking.

According to the Modern Kids surveyed, they actually preferred spending time hanging out at home with their parents instead of socializing outside of the home with their peers. As such, they aren’t putting themselves in situations where previous generations of teens might have engaged in risky behaviors.

As you might have guessed, though, the downside to a “slow life strategy” is the postponement of positive teenage milestones that serve to prepare kids in becoming successful adults.

Twenge’s study also found that the average teen is putting off getting their driver’s license and getting their first job by several years.This means that when our kids come of age and are expected to be independent young adults, they are often sorely unprepared; thus, they retreat to their “comfort zone” of the family home.It seems, then, that there are pros and cons to this new phenomenon of extending the Modern Kid’s childhood.

While it’s great that Modern Parents are plugging in and creating a positive and nurturing environment that inspires Modern Kids to enjoy their fleeting childhoods, it’s also encouraging a generation of kids to become complacent with staying in the nest.Many well-meaning parents (myself included!) enjoy parenting and all the little daily interactions with our kids that show how much we love them.

I like spoiling my kids by making them dinner and cleaning up the kitchen afterward – instead of requiring them to “do their part” by cleaning up the dishes afterward. It’s always fun to chat with them in the kitchen while I cook or clean up.

I like driving them to and from school or activities. We have the best conversations in the car. (Keep in mind that my son wasn’t interested in getting his driver’s license until he was 19.)I didn’t mind looking the other way when my kids were younger and the house was messy – if it meant that they both agreed to snuggle on the couch with me and watch Harry Potter for the umpteenth time.

Recently, I wrote an article for the Huffington Post on how to balance creating a close bond with today’s teenagers while still encouraging their independence. If you’re looking for some guidance on how to ensure that your child continues to hit those important young adult milestones, then I highly suggest reading that article.In today’s article, though, I want to explore some warning signs that might indicate that your teenager might be actively avoiding growing up.

Identifying these early warning signs before your child hits young adulthood is key in helping them be prepared when the time comes to grow up and become independent. 


Sign #1: They don’t seem comfortable making their own decisions

Does your child often defer to you on where to go for dinner, what to watch during family TV time, or even how to spend their free time?On the surface, it might seem like that your child trusts you to make good decisions for them (and this could feel really good for you as the parent), but the reality could also mean that your child just doesn’t trust themselves to make their own decisions.

Part of being an adult is having to make choices that have consequences – either good ones or bad ones – and many teens who are nervous about growing up are also nervous about making “bad” decisions.

One solution to this problem is to intentionally let your child make decisions. Start off slow – maybe insist they choose what movie to see on Friday night – and work up to more important decisions.It’s also important that you help them get over their fear of making a wrong choice. Let them make some not great choices so you can also teach them that how to make up for bad choices.

For a great article on how to encourage your child to take smart risks, click HERE for an article that I wrote about this in the past (it comes with a free downloadable PDF parenting resource too!). 


Sign #2: They avoid talking about what they want to do after graduating high school

Many kids are stuck because they can’t imagine themselves as adults.

When asked about what they want to do when they grow up or where they want to go to college, these kids never have an answer. The thought of being independent, working at a job, or even living in their own house or apartment is extremely foreign to some kids.

These kids avoid any kind of discussion about growing up like the plague.

If this sounds like your child, help them overcome this fear of independence by talking about their future. As always, you’ll want to start off slow and non threatening, and do it in a natural (not forced) way.

Expose your child to adult experiences such as college campuses and places of employment. Get together with successful young adults that you might know. Let your child hear about the rewarding experiences this young adult is having with their independence.

The goal here is to help your child start imagining themselves as a successful adult in the future. Get them excited about growing up!

Sign #3: They don’t have interests or hobbies of their own

When your child’s only interest is accompanying you on whatever your hobby happens to be, then they are cheated from exploring their own unique talents and passions.

Now, I’m not saying that spending time with your child while participating in an activity that is fun for you is a bad thing – far from it!

What’s important is that your child is always encouraged to discover their own unique passions, values, and beliefs that might be different from yours.

Independence is about your child discovering who he or she is as a person and how they fit into this world. They need to start this journey of discovery while they are teenagers so that are somewhat comfortable with themselves when they become young adults (this is important because, as we all know, figuring out who we are is a lifelong process).

Encourage your child to explore interests and passions. They might not always stick with a hobby once they’ve started one, but it’s so important that you encourage their search! Once they’ve found a hobby that interests them, then growing up to further explore it seems fun and exciting. 

The goal here is to allow your child to find an interest that they are excited about participating in independently. This makes growing up and participating in this hobby less scary.

Sign #4: They don’t have many face-to-face friends

Let’s face it, in order for our kids to successfully navigate the adult world, they must be able to have good relationships with the people around them.

They’ll need to have a good relationship with their boss to stay employed.

They’ll need to understand how to have positive romantic relationships if they are to remain in a relationship with a romantic partner.

Being a happy adult means engaging in social relationships of all kinds – with friends, Church members, work peers, etc. If our kids don’t know how to navigate these face-to-face social contacts, then no wonder becoming an adult seems like too much work!

Encourage your child to have face-to-face relationships with peers by allowing your child to have friends over to your house for movie nights or sleepovers. Sign your child up for social extracurricular activities such as Boy Scouts or Girl Scouts. Put them into contact with their peers as much as possible.

Now, many kids do have ample opportunity to socialize face-to-face with peers and they still have difficulty maintaining long-term friendships. If this is the case with your child, then taking them to a mental health professional for an evaluation might be a good idea. Lots of times, mental health professionals can help kids learn special skills to help them if they have any social difficulties.

Take Home Message

I think Twenge’s analysis of surveyed teens is a huge eye-opener. We don’t have to look at her work and conclude that this generation of kids is doomed.

Rather, Modern Parents can use this new information to better inform their parenting.It’s ok if we allow our kids to have a “slow paced life,” but we still need to ensure that they are ready for adult responsibilities when the time comes.

The trick is finding that sweet spot of allowing our kids to take certain aspects of life slowly, while acknowledging that they are still consistently going down that path of adulthood.Is your child stuck in childhood? You’re not a bad parent if this article opened your eyes to that fact; however, now you need to do something with that information.

It’s never too late to work with your child to encourage their budding independence.



Are You Using The 3 Important Elements That All Successful Modern Parent Use Religiously?

To Find Out, Download The Free Guide ==>

The Modern Parenting Blueprint: The 3 Elements That All Successful Modern Parents Use Religiously

Make Your After School Routine Work Using This Research-Backed Technique

Make Your After School Routine Work Using This Research-Backed Technique

It’s the start of a brand new school year, so help your child succeed this year by creating an after school homework and chore routine that gives them no excuse but to succeed.

Have you started routines before, but they didn’t work out?

Were you too busy to keep a consistent routine?

Do you give up because the kids refused stick to it?

Did the routine take up too much of your time and patience to manage?

I totally get it- but science says that having a consistent routine is the #1 reason why people in general are successful. It’s not due to IQ, fancy private schools, or extra curricular tutoring. Ordinary people can become extra-ordinary simply from using a routine to consistently make progress in their tasks and goals. This slow, but steady approach, is all it takes to succeed.

And the good news for your child is that no matter how much (or how little) they’ve struggled with school in the past, using a daily after school routine is all it takes most of the time to help your child get good (if not great) grades. This is because after school routines ensure that assignments are always completed on time (which is most of the grade anyway), your child is less stressed out (they don’t have to worry about last-minute deadlines), and they gain a sense of pride in themselves (getting good grades is a great self-esteem boost!).

Still not convinced?

Successful people in business, industry, and sports swear by routines. Sir Richard Branson believes in the power of routine so much that he wrote a blog post about it in order to share his experience with other people.

Instead of an afternoon routine, Branson wakes up early every day in order to bring consistent success to his career. While it might at first seem easy for a billionaire to wake up early and go about a routine, he points out that his routine, “is a habit, which [I] must work on to maintain.”

If billionaires make an effort to stick to a consistent routine in order to become successful, then this seems like a skill Modern Parents should be teaching to their kids too.

If we teach them this skill while they are young, just think about what they can accomplish when they are adults!So now that you might be convinced that creating an after school routine is something beneficial for your family, lets’ discuss how to make this routine successful right from the very start so that you are less likely to give up. 


A Fail Proof Way To Begin (And Maintain) an After School Routine


The best research I’ve found that teaches how to begin – and keep – a routine is Charles Duhigg’s “Habit Loop” theory.

In his AWESOME book called the The Power of Habit (my FAVORITE book on routine – see my review here), Duhigg describes a 3-step process that involves the brain’s influence on habit-formation. It is our brain that tricks and entices us to give up on habits, so if our kids are going to be successful at all in keeping up with this new after school routine, then we will need to get their brains on board. Believe it or not, our brains are our worst enemy when it comes to creating (and repeating) bad habits!

For example, many Modern Parents have a bad habit of watching too much tv instead of doing something more productive (unfortunately, I battle with this urge from this every day!). A lot of us have good intentions of coming home after work (or from something else equally taxing) and doing something productive. However, as we step into our house and see the tv on the wall and the remote sitting conspicuously on the couch, we almost automatically forget our good intentions, pick up the remote, and turn on some mindless show. It becomes hard to turn off the tv because we are instantly rewarded by our bodies feeling good from “vegging out” and our worries seem to be so far away.

Thus, I have just described Duhigg’s Habit Loop – cue, routine, reward – to paint the picture about how bad habits get repeated. (Note: I prefer James Clear’s slight change of Duhigg’s terminology of cue, routine, and reward to reminder, routine, and reward – which is what I will use in the remainder of this article).

The reminder of our bad habit was the tv and the remote. The routine was picking up the remote, turning on the tv, and “vegging out.” The reward was how relaxed and carefree we felt in the moment.Next, I will show you how to use this habit loop to create – and keep – good habits. 


The 3 R’s – Reminder, Routine, Reward


If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you’ll know that I believe that a big part of Modern Parenting is teaching our kids the tools they’ll need to independently be happy and successful. That is why I like the Habit Loop so much – once the parent sets up the loop, the child or teen independently maintains it.



Now let me walk you through the steps of the Habit Loop. My steps are similar to James Clear’s steps (you can read about those here), but my contribution to this theory is by making the Habit Loop make sense for families.

While Charles Duhigg originally created the Habit Loop for adults to follow all by themselves, I believe the Habit Loop can also be “tweaked” for parents to use to create an environment in the home to teach their kids how to be successful.

Step 1: Determine The Routine. This is the step where you’ll develop the after school routine. Know the basics of what you want accomplished (i.e. homework completed, instruments practiced, chores done, etc.). Here are a couple of tips to make this step even more successful: 

  • Make sure the routine is age-appropriate. You can’t expect a first grader to have a long, detailed routine similar to a high schooler’s routine. Start simple. You can always make it more complicated as your child gets used to the routine.
  • Make sure the routine is appropriate for your particular child. For example, if your child struggles with attention difficulties or structure in general, then you’ll want to make sure the routine includes several small breaks. However, if your child can withstand long periods of homework or instrument practice, then feel free to schedule accordingly. Again, you can always start small and then make the routine more involved after some time has gone by and your child has gotten used to the routine.
  • It’s always good policy to allow your child to have some say in the new routine. I’ve written before about how allowing kids some autonomy not only increases their buy-in for the new rule, but increases their creativity, follow-through, and overall responsibility. You can always let your child choose little tweaks to the routine, such as whether or not to do homework first before piano practice or vice versa.

 This step will not be complete until you have determined a detailed routine. For example, here is a sample routine below:



Step 2: Determine The Reminder. Now you might have assumed that the reminder about the after school routine would come from you, but, remember, we want our kids to implement the routine INDEPENDENTLY, so you CANNOT be the reminder.

Charles Duhigg teaches that the reminder should be the the thing that automatically alerts the child to begin the routine. The reminder triggers the beginning of the routine. It’s important to note that whatever you choose to represent as the reminder, it has to be something that is very specific and unique to the routine.And, according to James Clear, the reminder can be 1 of 5 things:

  • Time: The after school routine can begin at a certain time of the day.
  • Location: The routine can be triggered by getting home from school, going to the library, or arriving at the after school day care.
  • Preceding Event: Some families have very variable schedules, so events that happen just before the routine can also trigger it’s beginning, such as Mom or dad getting home from work, getting home after sports practice, or a certain favorite tv show ending.
  • Other People: Other people can also be the reminder for certain routines. For example, a tutor can serve as a reminder to study, or a music instructor can trigger the child to get into “practice mode.”
  • Emotional State: Many bad habits are triggered by emotional state such as overeating or smoking due to anxiety. It’s extremely hard to cue good habits based upon emotional state, but I left this reminder category here so that you can also see how some of your child’s (or your) emotional states can be cueing bad habits. This can help you change bad habits into more productive ones

I’ve always used time or preceding events as triggers for my family’s routines.

I’m VERY big on routines at my house – I’ve always been this way – so beginning routines at a certain time or after a certain event has always worked out well for my family. 


Step 3: Define The Reward Again. if you’ve read any of my previous blog posts, you’ll know that I don’t believe in bribing kids – it just sets them up for a future of selfishness and failure. However, I do believe that there’s value in teaching our kids to define their own rewards. For a more in-depth view on rewarding Modern Kids, see this article.I know that natural rewards are best for kids, so make the rewards for completing the routine make sense.

For example, completing the routine can earn household privileges such as screen time, spending time with friends, or just “goofing off.”I also think that the best families have rewards that encourage closeness between parent and child, so in addition to earning the natural reward of participating in family privileges, Mom and Dad should also make themselves available to bond with the child. This can be done while the parent prepares dinner, while the parent and child watch a tv show together, or just spending time on a mutual hobby.

Modern Kids are ACHING to bond with their favorite people – their parents – so building in special bonding time with your child after completing the routine is it’s own reward. 


Why The Habit Loop Works


Want to know the science behind why the Habit Loop works?

Remember how I said earlier that we need to get the brain on board with the new routine if we are going to be successful? It’s our brain that thwarts our best intentions 100% of the time!In the early 1990’s researchers at MIT decided to look into the brain’s role (specifically, the Basal Ganglia) in routines.

To do this, they hooked up tiny electrodes to the brains of tiny mice and then placed them in a maze to find a food reward. The mice were put in the bottom of a T-shaped maze (with a partition separating them from the rest of the maze), and the food was placed in the upper left portion of the T.

To start the experiment, the scientists blew a whistle and opened the partition. The mice leisurely found the chocolate – sometimes searching the right side of the T before finding the food in the left side of the T.

The scientists repeated the experiment with the same mice over and over – and they found some very important trends.It probably doesn’t surprise you that the mice learned quickly that when the whistle blew, that meant that the partition would immediately open and that food could be found in the left side of the T. They headed straight for the food without much exploring of the other parts of the maze.

What might surprise you, though, is what happened to the brains of the mice during this routine process.

They used more brain capacity at the start of the experiment than they did once the routine was learned. Their brains seemed to “turn off” once they learned the new routine – they performed the – now old – routine of finding the food without very much thought at all.Charles Duhigg interpreted the experiment in his book.

He stated that, As each rat learned how to navigate the maze, it’s mental capacity decreased. As the route became more and more automatic, each rat started thinking less and less… This process – in which the brain converts a sequence of actions into an automatic routine – is known as “chunking” and its at the root of how habits form.

Our brains fight against the learning of new routines.

Why? Because it wants to repeat old routines.

For example, perhaps your kids tended to complain and push back when you’ve tried to implement after school study routines in the past. Their brains were on overdrive causing them to crave the old routine – goofing off – instead of this new routine (even though this routine was better for them).

In order to make a new routine stick, it helps when the brain has learned the desired routine so well that it “turns off” and performs the routine almost without thinking.

Once your child doesn’t need as much cognitive power to engage in the routine, your child will have more brain capacity during the routine for things such as learning the academic material, concentrating on the material in order to work efficiently and quickly, maintaining enough behavioral control to sit through enough time to complete the homework or instrument practice, etc. 


Take Home Message


Successful adults swear by the power of routines. It can turn a Modern Kid with an average IQ at an average school into a high achiever.

Routines also help kids who have anxiety or attention/concentration problems become better students.

By using the Habit Loop – Reminder, Routine, and Reward – our kids learn how to independently and consistently carry out after school tasks that lead to less anxiety, better grades, and better parent-child relationships. This should be the year that your child dominates their academic classes and/or extra curricular activities.

Through setting up a home environment that includes a routine that gives them no other excuse but to do well in school, you are teaching them the life-long skill of positive habit formation.



Are You Using The 3 Important Elements That All Successful Modern Parent Use Religiously?

To Find Out, Download The Free Guide ==>

The Modern Parenting Blueprint: The 3 Elements That All Successful Modern Parents Use Religiously

The #1 Reason Why Today’s Tweens and Teens Make Such Horrible Decisions

The #1 Reason Why Today’s Tweens and Teens Make Such Horrible Decisions

Many of today’s kids are too often making horrendous decisions (and suffering the consequences of these bad decisions), but some Modern Kids seem to be immune to poor decision making.

What’s their secret? Why are some kids bad at making decisions while others don’t struggle in this area?

It all comes down to autonomy – which is the cornerstone to accountability.

When it comes to autonomy, accountability can be a slightly misunderstood concept with Modern Parents. Merriam-Webster defines accountability as, “an obligation or willingness to accept responsibility or to account for one’s actions,” and part of taking responsibility for one’s actions is realizing that there is a choice involved.

Brian Moran and Michael Lennington discuss accountability as follows:

“Accountability is the realization that you always have choice; that, in fact, there are no have-to’s in life. Have-to’s are those things we hate to do but do anyway because we have to. The fact is there are no have-to’s. Everything we do in life is a choice. Even in an environment where there are requirements of you, you still have a choice, but there is a big difference when you approach something as a choose-to versus a have-to. When something is a have-to it’s a burden, it’s cumbersome, and, at best, you meet the minimum requirements; however, the realization that you ultimately have choice creates a very different scenario. When you choose to do something, you are able to tap your resources and give your best. It is a much more empowering stance. Ultimately, you choose your actions, your results, your consequences.”

So the previous section begs the question: Are Modern Parents giving their kids the opportunity to take ownership of their own choices (be they good or bad) in order to develop accountability for their own actions?

We WANT our kids to behave in a positive, moral, and successful way when we are not watching, and giving them the ability to practice taking ownership of their own decisions is the best way for them to practice being accountable as they are practicing this important life skill.

Do We Expect Our Kids To Be Perfect At Accountability?

For most kids, being accountable takes practice. It is the instinct of very small children to protect themselves from harm by NOT taking responsibility for their actions if it could possibly lead to negative consequences; as such, most Modern Parents need to teach their kids that accountability is the morally right thing to do.

So how does one teach accountability?

By letting our Modern Kids have the autonomy to choose to make either a bad decision or a good one. It’s so important that they know from an early age that that it is ultimately up to them to choose the answer.

But what if they choose the bad choice? Then let them reap the consequences of their choice. Believe me, it is WAY better if kids make bad choices when they are in Mom and Dad’s protective nest than if they were grown up and the consequences were more severe. Now, this doesn’t mean that Mom or Dad takes away the suffering of the bad choice. Rather, they oversee the child and instruct him or her while they are undergoing the consequences.

The important point is this: the parent creates an environment where the child is allowed the autonomy to make their own choices, but within predictable boundaries.

The child should already know what will happen if they pick choice A or choice B.

What Is The Parent’s Role?

Oftentimes, parents actually contribute to their child’s poor decision because they become too emotionally invested in the child’s choice.

When a child feels forced to make a certain decision (i.e. they do not have autonomy), research has shown that they typically react in 1 of 2 ways: either with compliance or defiance. Compliant kids do what they’re told, but their hearts aren’t in it, which means they put in as little effort as possible and stop when the parent’s influence is no longer available. They don’t learn the life-long lesson of the importance of making good decisions even when it’s hard.

Defiant kids become so emotionally invested in rebelling against the parent, that their only goal is to hurt the parent. They cannot even cognitively understand the consequences of their actions until after the fact – when they are no longer as emotional – and then they typically regret what they’ve done.

The long-term benefits of giving the child autonomy when they are young works best when the parent has thought through how they will react if their child makes the good choice – or the bad one. This way, the parent isn’t as emotional when the child is presented with the choice and the parent is prepared to act no matter what choice the child makes.

Take Home Message

We want to teach our Modern Kids the life-long skill of making good decisions even when no one is looking – they make these decisions because they know it’s the right thing to do.

In order to help our young kids or teens learn to develop into young adults who practice accountability on a regular basis is to allow our kids to practice the pros and cons of having autonomy. Allowing kids to understand that ultimately they are in charge of their choices allows them to practice making good decisions for all the right reasons.

If our kids mess up once in awhile and make a poor decisions, it’s ok. Allow them to feel what it feels like to suffer the consequences so that next time they will be more inclined to make a better choice.

Modern Parenting is tough – sometimes you will need to follow through on consequences that are not fun for your child, but it’s better your child learn the hard way now than when the stakes are much higher when they are older and out of your protective nest.



Are You Using The 3 Important Elements That All Successful Modern Parent Use Religiously?

To Find Out, Download The Free Guide ==>

The Modern Parenting Blueprint: The 3 Elements That All Successful Modern Parents Use Religiously