You can find lists of affirmations for teens on the internet, but isn’t the best affirmation not a sentence they repeat to themselves but something sincere that is said by someone else?
And shouldn’t parents be the biggest affirmers of their own child on the planet?
In this episode I discuss the importance of affirming your teen and how to do it. It’s not rocket science, but sometimes we need a nudge in the right direction. Listen and be inspired!
SCROLL DOWN TO LISTEN OR READ THE TRANSCRIPT
This episode is sponsored by CTC Math.
Have you tried CTC Math yet with your child? Here is a testimonial from another happy homeschool mom:
Amber said, “I’m absolutely thrilled with CTC Math. It’s a rare find that I’ve used with my children for more than six years now. I have six children using CTC Math and each child has found it easy to navigate and very applicable. I love seeing them enjoy this math program and grow in their mathematical journey. Thank you so much for all that you are doing and for providing quality math lessons for my children.”
If you’re looking for a great online math program, visit ctcmath.com!
Episode 86: Affirmations for Teens – from YOU!
Ann Karako: Hi, I’m Ann Karako, and you are listening to Episode 86 of the It’s Not that Hard to Homeschool High School podcast.
Welcome to another episode of It’s Not that Hard to Homeschool High School, the podcast for real people, so that you can confidently, competently, and yes, even contentedly provide the high school education that is best for your teen and your family. I’m your host, Ann Karako, from notthathardtohomeschool.com.
Hello, everyone, and welcome. Today, we are going to continue our series on the care and feeding of homeschooled teens. I do have three more topics after today’s topic to get to, and that’ll take us through December. Then if you’ve got ideas for what I can start talking about in January, please let me know.
If you are on my email list, then you received this series as exclusive email content way back in the spring. Today’s topic was actually at the end of March, so today, it will be not just what I wrote in the email though, if you can remember back that far. [chuckles] I’m going to review and extend my comments today about this topic.
If you are not on my email list though, then get signed up and you can get access to exclusive content that goes only to my email peeps, because they have shown their love by giving me their email address. I respond to them by emailing them only once per week. I absolutely refuse to be annoying with daily emails, so don’t worry about that. Once a week on Monday, I send out a newsletter with a bunch of information and links and encouragement just for you.
If you’re not on that list, then go to notthathardtohomeschool.com and scroll down a little bit on that homepage and you’ll find a box where you can put your email address in. As a free gift, I will give you my transcript cheat sheet, which has a list of everything that goes on the transcript and what doesn’t go on the transcript, and also includes a sample transcript from one of my kids so you can see what one actually looks like.
Today’s topic, however, is drum roll, please [chuckles] affirmations for teens. This is something that our teens need from us, affirmation, and lots of it. The thing is as homeschool moms, we can tend to not give it. We are caught up in correction mode. Am I right? Training mode, instruction mode, and we can be a little stingy with, “Hey, you did a good job today on whatever it might be.” Yes, we notice good grades probably. “Hey, you got an A, good job.” But you know what? We should be noticing more than that. [chuckles] That is not enough.
Frankly, if we’re only noticing good grades, that leaves out a decent chunk of the teen population that don’t always get A’s and B’s, right? And we don’t want to do that.
Why It’s Important to Affirm
The thing is, I don’t know if you can remember back to your teen years, but teens need lots of affirmation. They are so busy contemplating their navels all day, aren’t they? [laughs] They are so self-focused, and usually what that means is they’re thinking negatively of themselves.
They’re feeling socially awkward, they’re looking at themselves in the mirror and thinking they look weird. Maybe they’re having problems with acne. I had a couple that, actually a few, that did, and that’s always a bummer in their world.
They do need lots of affirmation and they’re probably not going accept it that well, either [chuckles] and yet they still need it. It’s the people who feel the worst about themselves that often don’t receive affirmation well, and yet they’re the ones that need it the most.
Here’s the thing. If we are not the ones giving them the affirmation, then they might go looking for it elsewhere. Other teens can give them affirmation, but it’s usually going to be pretty shallow. We’re the ones who know our teens best. We’re the ones who can give them the best affirmation that’s going to be the most meaningful.
Yes, we have to tell ’em we love them, don’t we? [chuckles] That’s our job as parents, but are we also telling them why they are amazing people?
I read a book and I would like to recommend it. It’s called Practicing Affirmation. The author’s name is Sam Crabtree. Now the book is written from a Christian perspective, but what I want to share from it today applies to anyone.
In the book, he gives an analogy. He says that affirmation and correction or negativity in a relationship, any relationship, is like a bank account. Positive affirmations, things that we say positively to somebody affirming them, those are deposits in that relationship bank account. Any kind of correction, though, or criticism, even when it’s legitimate, or any kind of negative response, such as even no response or withdrawal, that’s all interpreted negatively, those are withdrawals from that account.
I mentioned withdrawal earlier, I mean withdrawing from somebody, emotionally putting distance between you, and yet that is a type of withdrawal from your relationship bank account if you will.
Here’s what we don’t want to do, we don’t want to overdraw the account by doing more correction, criticism, negative responses than we do affirming positive interactions. We want to keep that account flush with positive affirmations and keep the correction and criticism at a minimum. When we are in the habit of correcting or criticizing and not affirming, then we overdraw that account and over time, significant overdrawing without building that account back up can lead to consequences.
Just like in the real world when you overdraw your checking account, you’ve got fees to pay, maybe interest, or maybe your account gets closed altogether. Well, when we have relationships and we’ve overdrawn those accounts by being constantly criticizing, correcting, even in instructional mode, training mode, rather than affirmation mode, then there are consequences there too. It can take a long time and lots of effort to bring a relationship that’s gotten into that situation back up to a positive one.
We want to be a safe place for our kids. We want to be a place where they know they can come and say anything, where they can come to us when they are in difficulty and we will be on their side, we will be there for them. Yet, if we’re not characterized by positivity and affirmation during times when they don’t need us, why would they think that we will be helpful or positive when they really, really do. This is incredibly important, more so than I realized for a lot of years.
I just want to take a quick second to let you know that this episode has been sponsored by CTC Math. I have used CTC Math in my own homeschool, and as a former math teacher, I can highly recommend it as a solid math program. Have you tried CTC Math yet with your child? Here is a testimonial from another happy homeschool mom. Amber said, “I’m absolutely thrilled with CTC Math. It’s a rare find that I’ve used with my children for more than six years now. I have six children using CTC Math, and each child has found it easy to navigate and very applicable, I love seeing them enjoy this math program and grow in their mathematical journey. Thank you so much for all that you are doing and for providing quality math lessons for my children.” So if you’re looking for a great online math program, visit ctcmath.com. That’s ctcmath.com.
How to Affirm
How do you affirm your teen? Basically, find anything you can praise them for and then say it. Don’t just notice it and let it go on by. Say it. In fact, be watching for something to praise and then jump on top of that thing and tell them that you noticed. All day every day, be looking for things to praise, to affirm, to tell them they’re doing a good job and it can be as big as, “Hey, you were super patient with your sister earlier today, when she was being a bit of a pain, you did a great job.” Or it can be something really simple like, “Hey, I walked by here yesterday and there was a bunch of laundry all over the floor, but today I noticed you’ve put it in the hamper. Good stuff, I like to see that.”
Maybe there’s less laundry on the floor [chuckles] and you could say that, “Hey, I noticed you put a few things in the hamper, yes, good job.” It seems silly, doesn’t it? Like, “Man, they need to pick up the entire floor. What are they doing with all this laundry over their floor? Why should I praise them for picking up one shirt?” Well, here’s the thing. When we are constantly pointing out how far they are from perfection, that can get really discouraging.
Let’s notice the baby steps in the right direction, shall we? That can then make those baby steps turn into more baby steps until they have met the goal, but sometimes it takes a little while. Sometimes the goal isn’t achievable right away, and with teens, it always seems like it’s the things that we think are obvious [laughs] that ought to be like, “Hey, this shouldn’t be that difficult,” but somehow or other, they turn it into something difficult, right? We need to praise the baby steps. Even when we feel like the goal is what really needs to happen. Praise the baby steps towards the goal.
There comes a point in your relationship with your kids, when they are now adults out of the house, where affirming them is really the only input you have in their lives. They don’t want your input anymore on how to live life. Did you when you were in your 20s want to take advice from your parents? If you were wise, you did, but most of us, including myself, did not. We, we’re adults now, we knew how to handle this thing called life. We did not want advice from our parents, and frankly, the few times — okay, I shouldn’t say the few times — the times that I have tried to give advice to my adult kids, sometimes they take it, sometimes they don’t, but in general, the feeling is, “Mom, I wish you would just let me handle it.”
What have I tried to start doing instead? “Hey, I know you’ve got this.” “You know what, you are always so good about things like this. I know you’ll take care of it.” That way they can come to me with what’s going on in their lives and they know that I’m not going to give them a lecture or I’m not going to spend 10 minutes telling them what they should do about it. Since there’s going to come a time where that’s all you can do for your kid is affirm them, start getting into practice now with your teens, with your younger kids. Start becoming an affirming person rather than so much a correcting or a hey let’s fix this person.
The goal is for the relationships you have with your kids to be characterized mostly by affirmation. I know we’ve got this idea. We got to be disciplining them. We’re their parents, we need to be training them. I get that. Let’s start using affirmation more as part of the training process.
It’s too late for me on this guys, and I said in the email when I sent it out, this is not a do as I did, but a do as I say. Now looking back with the experience that I have, if I can keep you from making some of the mistakes I did, I will feel like I’ve redeemed myself somewhat. Let’s put sprinkles of correction in that relationship, but have it be characterized mostly by affirmation, and let the correction even be affirming in and of the correction and be loving and gentle.
Now, I also want to tell you about magic words that I discovered actually within just the last couple of years, and these work with the adult kids, they work with the teens. Not necessarily so much with the younger ones, I don’t think they’re going to work as well, but maybe they would. I do know they have worked great with teens and adult kids, and those magic words are, I am proud of you. Wow, I wish I had started using those words more when my kids were more of them in the house. Those are valuable words. They mean a lot to the recipient.
Some people want to get down on words like pride and proud. I think when we’re talking about biblically sinful pride, that’s a problem, but I think a parent can be proud of their child. I think that’s quite all right, and I am going to tell my kids I’m proud of them because that’s one way that I can affirm them. For some reason saying those words, in particular, are just more valuable even than I love you in some ways because again, the parent has to say I love you and the kid knows it. That seems to make it less valuable, but when you start saying I’m proud of you, that’s something that means more. Try those out today and try to make it a habit of using those as well.
I hope I have encouraged you to start becoming more affirming in your relationships with your kids. Frankly, don’t we all need to be spreading a lot more praise around this world? Tell the cash register person that they rock for getting you through so quickly or for noticing that rip in the bag of flour. [laughs] I hate it when that happens, I get it home and it’s all ripped, but the register people sometimes they’ll catch that, and then you can run back and get a better bag. Become an affirming person in general, and you will make the world a better place. You will just feel happier as well that you’re not focusing so much on what’s negative about your life, but you’re learning to see what’s positive.
In regards to your relationship with your teen, in particular, my book Save Your Sanity has an entire chapter about how to communicate with them, especially when the relationship is strained, gives lots of practical advice about how to do that. I will link to that in the show notes, you can check that out. To get to the show notes, you should know the drill by now, unless you’re a first-time listener, and if you are, welcome, so happy to have you here.
To get to the show notes, go to notthathardtohomeschool.com, click on podcast in the top menu, and then look for episode 86 and click on that. Then if you scroll down, you will find related resources that will be linked from there. I’ll find articles that are related to this and I will link to that Save Your Sanity book other podcast episodes that will help flush out this idea of developing your relationship with your teen. They will be linked there.
Next time, on the third Friday of the month, we will have another guest podcaster. How have you been enjoying the guest podcast episodes? I’ve been enjoying them a lot. I love the fact that we can hear from some other people besides me because there’s so much that I don’t know, and these people can help us. We’ll have another guest podcaster on the third Friday of the month, looking forward to that, so much valuable info. Then I’ll be back the first Friday of October. The year is flying by. Anyway, thanks so much for being here, and I will see you next time.
[00:17:02] [END OF AUDIO]