So I’ve admitted it, I have been a Helicopter Mum and I’m sure that I will be again! But it could be a whole lot worse if I didn’t kick Worry-Brain into touch!
Here’s my top ten tips for calming the mind when embracing your teenagers new-found independence:
- Get some perspective – use Rational-Brain to counter argue with Worry-Brain. Look at the statistics – and remind yourself how important it is for children to get outdoors on their own to learn resilience and problem solving skills.
- Create a dialogue – talk to your children about your feelings and explain that you want to work with them to enable them to enjoy their new independence.
- Set reasonable limits – work together in consultation to agree an achievable goal that you can both stick to. For example, I set a time that Berry has to contact me to touch base and this reassures me he’s ok and give him the flexibility to change plans.
- Welcome friends – encourage your children’s friends into your home, stock the freeze with goodies to encourage them to stay for lunch, facilitate entertainment like using the pool, x-box or games room. This has a triple benefit – you to get to know the friends they’re hanging around with, gain a reputation as a ‘Fun-Mum’ and you get to supervise them at your place so Worry-Brain really can take a break!
- Network – link into the parenting community in which your child is circulating. Get one another’s mobile numbers, this helps everyone to feel supported. Send a communal text as the children leave or arrive at your house, then everyone is a linked into their activities whilst refraining from obviously keeping tabs on them!
- Plan for risks – help your child to think through some risk scenarios and discuss how they would handle these situations. Remember to allow them to do most of the thinking – you’re there to prompt, encourage and question!
- Build confidence – theirs and yours! Stay positive, focus on the good things that happened during their time away from you. If you are a nervous wreck every time they leave the house an unhealthy cycle of guilt and dependence is created. The message you are unconsciously sending says ‘I don’t believe you are capable of this’ and plants the seed for future self-doubt.
- Lead by example – be a positive role model, believe in yourself and them. Talk about times when you take risks in your life, how you assess the potential dangers and take action. The bestselling classic ‘Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway’ by Susan Jeffers is a good start to reflecting on what makes you feel fear and how to break through the paralysis this can create.
- Celebrate – in the new-found freedom that your children are achieving, congratulate yourself on having taken a step towards parenting an independent teen and enjoy the new ‘me-time’ that you will have while they’re out having fun! Do something positive for yourself and enjoy your own new-found independence!
- Re-connect – Spending time engaged in independent activities adds a new dimension to your relationship with your children. Enjoy hearing about their adventures and re-connect with them as developing people in their own right.