5 Easy Tips for Parenting Tweens and Teens Successfully with Amy McCready, Parenting Expert

EPISODE 4

Amy McCready
Amy McCready

Amy Mccready is THE QUEEN. I cannot tell you how much she has helped me with my kids and I have read everything. I found Amy after hearing her on a podcast. My kids are 10 and almost 13 and after many years of reading and consulting, I got to a point of feeling that my kids know how much they're loved, if I read everything there is an opinion on everything and I just have to be the best Mom I can be and raise happy and confident kids...my way. I screw up daily, but I think my kids know how much I love them. I am human!


Amy taught me about giving my kids independence which is necessary as they get older and necessary for me to be able to be a better Mom and not have every aspect of life fall on me. While I can still lose it, the simple advice and permission of calmly walking away has been huge. Permission to give them independence. Permission to give them choices. She's amazing...and if you don't agree with what she is saying, just try it, more than once. You will see, it works.


Get access to her amazing course that you can refer back to at any time until the day you drop them off to college!

EPISODE TRANSCRIPT

Doryn Wallach:

Hi, and welcome to Episode Three of It's Not a Crisis, a podcast for women in their 40s, seeking to navigate mid-life's challenges while making the most of it. I am your host, Doryn Wallach, and I'm very excited about today's guest and today's episode. I hope that all of you are doing well and hanging in there and not going out of your mind. I do think I've gotten, weirdly, used to this life that we're living right now. And, as things are opening up a little bit, it definitely feels so good. I feel a weight off my shoulder, and I'm sure all of you do, too. But, it's been very tough for the kids. So, now, figuring out what we can do with them for the summer, what feels safe to us, on top of dealing with what they're going through, and just typical tween and teen drama, in my case, which is why I'm bringing on today's guest, Amy McCready, who is amazing. And, I can't wait to tell you more about her.

But first, I just want to mention to you that I do this podcast because I feel like it's my way of giving back to women in their 40s. I do this podcast also selfishly so that I can learn about what's coming up and really how to make the next chapter of my life more positive. So, with that being said, if you can please subscribe to the podcast anywhere you listen, please rate it, comment, please join our Facebook page, It's Not a Crisis podcast, and Instagram, It's Not a Crisis podcast, and interact and tell your friends. Because, if we can reach a certain amount of women, I can help more women. And, that is the goal of this podcast. And, I would appreciate it very much from all of you.

So, not all of them, but most of my guests I've found because I have personally worked with them at one time or another. And, I'm super picky and I do a lot of research before I work with somebody. I heard Amy on another podcast and I immediately emailed her for help with my kids. I found myself constantly yelling and threatening and bribing and punishing or taking things away and they still weren't listening to me. I'm not going to sit here and tell you that I still don't have these issues with my kids because I do. But, Amy has taught me instrumental tools in my life that have helped me in so many ways over, even, the past few years with my kids, even as they grow into different stages, the tools continue to work. I've worked with a lot of different parent educators, what she will teach you is incredibly valuable and practical. And, that's what's important. You can read a million books on a lot of stuff and it's overwhelming, but I think what Amy's going to teach you, is very practical.

Amy McCready is the founder of positive parenting solutions and the creator of the 7-Step Parenting Success System. She is the author of two best-selling parenting books. If I Have to Tell you One More Time and The Me, Me, Me Epidemic. Amy is a Today Show contributor and has been featured on CBS This Morning, CNN, Fox and Friends, MSNBC, Rachael Ray, Steve Harvey, The Doctors and others. Her greatest joy is helping moms and dads become the parents they've always wanted to be. Amy, thank you so much for being here. I'm actually really honored that you chose to come on my podcast, and you know how much I adore you. So, this is really exciting for me.


Amy McCready:

Well, I'm thrilled to be here, Doryn, thanks for asking me. It's always fun to do a podcast with somebody that I've known for a while. So, I appreciate being asked.


Doryn Wallach:

Good. So, I want to start with a story, I actually texted Amy about the story. We never actually talked in person. And, it was advice that Amy had given me... Or, it was a while ago, but I read both of your books, I don't retain information as well as I'd like to. One of the things that I took from it, and there are many others, and we'll talk about it, but one of the things was natural consequences or a consequence relating to an action. So, my daughter started middle school this fall. She's 12, and turning 13, started sixth grade. She, in the mornings, would just hang out and not get ready, despite numerous times telling her to get ready.

And, this year, she was taking a bus from the West Village in Manhattan up to the Bronx. So, you miss the bus, there's no bus. It's no easy way of getting there. We both work. We both have to be somewhere in the morning and we can't bring her to school. This was only the fourth day of middle school, she was kind of, getting ready to go out the door and I said, "Oh, Tatum, by the way, when you get home, can you please clean your room." She's, "I cleaned my room," and I said, "I need you to clean it better. But, just do it when you get home." In that moment... Even probably a couple minutes before, we're, "You're going to be late, hurry up, the bus is coming." We had an app that we could watch the bus coming. So, we knew it was coming. In that moment, she decided that was a good time to go clean her room. And, we were, "Tatum, do not go up those stairs, you're going to be late, and you're going to miss the bus."

Now, my husband, I'm very lucky because he usually... Not all the time, but a lot of times, we're very much on the same page. So, he had known that I had spoken with you. I think I called you and I said, "Every day, I'm yelling at the kids every morning. Nobody's getting ready. No one's getting out the door. And, I'm sick of it." I think I can speak for many parents who go through this. I believe, the advice I got was, if she misses the bus, then, on your own time, you let her know that when you can do it, you will take her to school, but that might be 10 o'clock in the morning. And, if she misses the bus, that's going to be the consequence of the action. If I'm wrong with what you told me, we can go back to that. But, I believe that's something you said.


Amy McCready:

That's right, as long as you revealed it to her in advance, and she knew what the deal was, right?


Doryn Wallach:

Yes. Yep. So, lo and behold, she finally gets out the door, after us calmly saying, "You're going to miss the bus, Tatum, going upstairs right now is not a good idea. You should really come down, you're going to miss the bus." She goes outside, the bus driving away. She was hysterically crying on the sidewalk, pounding her fists, "Please take me to school, please take me to school." I said, "Sorry, I have a nine o'clock meeting. I'm not going to be able to take you to school. We gave you numerous warnings. We told you what had to be done." I've never seen her so hysterical. So, of course, in that moment, I'm, oh my god, I can't believe I just did this. I'm the worst parent ever. I didn't follow through 100% with the waiting until later because it was her first week of middle school and it was already hard for her. But, I ended up taking her an Uber which cost $140 round trip.

And, all the way there I said, "I had a nine o'clock meeting that I'm missing, this is not okay." I said, "And, you are going to pay for this Uber out of your allowance until you pay it off." I dropped her off at school then I called a bunch of friends. I probably texted you, Amy, and I was, "Oh my god, I feel awful." My husband happens to be a little bit more of a helicopter parent than I am. The look on his face, when we were both looking each other like, what do we do? What do we do? What do we do? All right, let's just do this. It was so hard. But, she was never late again, not one day, the entire year. She never missed the bus again.


Amy McCready:

But, you allowed her to experience the consequence. So, she wasn't late for school, but she did have to pay that off with her allowance. So, she knew ahead of time what the deal was, and you followed through. So, that was a great parenting moment there. It was so hard though, wasn't it?


Doryn Wallach:

So hard. I think she's going to be traumatized by it though, or she's going to bring it up for the rest of my life.


Amy McCready:

No, she is not. What you taught her in that moment is personal responsibility. Like you said, she hasn't been late again, right?


Doryn Wallach:

Right. I remember we had a parent's back to school night a couple days later, and everyone's, "How's the first week going? I was, "Well, Tatum missed the bus, so that wasn't good. "They're, "Oh, my God, what did you do? Did you drive her?" We're talking about it, and everybody was blown away that I actually followed through with it. I always get, "Oh, I wish I could do that." You can do it. You just have to do it. I think our generation, in general, and I'm guilty of it myself, we tend to try to do so much for our kids and it backfires.


Amy McCready:

I think that is one of the hardest things about parenting, in general. But, particularly in parenting tweens and teens, is we forget our job description. And, that is preparing them to be adults, right? Our job at this stage where you are right now, particularly, is taking them from being completely dependent on us to being fully independent. That is a really big shift, right? There are a whole lot of skills that they have to acquire. And, that one little thing that you did is huge in helping them make that shift. So, it is hard, and it's gut wrenching for both parties, but those are the little things that we have to do for us to fulfill our job description, right. So, feel proud of yourself there. That's like a big fist pump moment for you.


Doryn Wallach:

So, the more that I've put into play what you've taught me, the more I truly see, I didn't grow up that way. So, my mom did so much for me, but she did teach me to competence and she did have me do a lot of things on my own. But, at the same time, I don't know, it was somewhere in the middle. Sometimes I felt like she had me do too much. So, then there's that part of me that's saying, oh, I feel like I'm making her do too much and I should really be doing these things for her. But, we're not going to get into that right now.


I think some of the things that parents are facing in this tween, early teen stage right now, I'm obviously in the thick of it with a 10 year old, almost... He's turning 10 next couple of weeks, I think it's the threatening, bribing, yelling, which let me tell you, I have not been parent of the year and this quarantine. I've lost it more times than I can tell you and I have bribed and threatened more times than I can tell you, because you just done. It has not been easy to put any advice into play. I actually keep saying to my kids, you're going to forgive me for this time one day, right, when you're a parent. "You'll go, oh, yeah, okay, that must have been really hard, mom.

One of the biggest things that I'm coping with right now with both kids, is negotiations. One of the other things you taught me was, allowing a kid, in the right circumstance, to plead their case, to be able to talk calmly about why they think whatever it is, is the right thing to do. However, my children's negotiation is like, please go set the table, please go take a shower, time to go to bed. Whatever transition is going on, is a, "Well, but what if [inaudible 00:11:04]." Everything, there's just a negotiation for everything. I don't know if that's them trying to just show their independence, or is it me trying to hold back on giving them their independence out of a sense of control. But, it's just once in a while, I'll be, "Guys, I'd just like you just say, okay, mom, and just go do it."


Amy McCready:

Yeah.


Doryn Wallach:

I think friends of mine struggle with the same thing. So, I'd like to touch on that. Then, the second thing that I think would be great to talk about, and we have other things, is, I've seen a lot of my listeners posting about, with the older kids, the eye rolls and the attitude and wanting to stay in their rooms, and only coming out when they want something. We chatted briefly, and you had a suggestion for another podcast. I love the idea. You tell me what you said to me.


Amy McCready:

It's funny, I was looking at some of the comments from your listeners. I know we've talked about this in negotiation, and all of that, and some of it is just the natural individualization that happens when kids are this age. They are supposed to do some of these things. They are supposed to separate from us, they are supposed to exert more independence, control, all of those types of things, that is supposed to happen. But then, there are also things that we, as parents, do that make it worse. So, I'm going to touch on some of those things. There are some simple things that we can do to make the situation better.

As I was sort of preparing to chat with you, you know how I am, I'm such a trainer by heart, I came up with 5 points system, if you will, just to address some of these things. So, I thought we could just chat through that, if that makes sense to you.


Doryn Wallach:

Yep. Wonderful.


Amy McCready:

Some of these have to do with our kids and some of them have to do with us. So, the first one you hear me talk about all the time, Doryn, and it's just that emotional connection with our kids. So, as we're home and everything is so stressful, whether it's during quarantine time or not, as your listeners are listening to this podcast three years from now, hopefully, it's not going to be in the situation, but there will be other stressors that are going on. So, as life is stressful, whatever it is, we just have to do a gut check and make sure that we are taking those moments on a daily basis to have that emotional connection with our kids.

What that means is, spending one-on-,one time with our kids every single day. So that means you and Tatum, just you and her, 10 minutes a day where you're doing something that she likes to do. So, just as an example for your listeners, what would you guys do? We call it, in our course, mind, body and soul time. So, what would you do with Tatum for mind, body and soul time?


Doryn Wallach:

Right. I've had to not call it that anymore because they were catching on when they were younger. Honestly, since we've been outside of Manhattan, we're in Long Island, she comes with me to just do errands sometimes and we'll go get an ice cream. I am honestly contemplating moving to the suburbs, because I love our car time together, where we really connect and talk and then we watch a TV show together. But, other than that, she's in a room.


Amy McCready:

Okay, so it could be watching a Netflix show that you both watch. It could be reading. If your kids like a particular chapter book, it sounds silly, but reading to your teenager is a really cool thing. It's a book that you guys both like. But, something that you are doing with your teenager. It's just one parent, one child. Because, even though they're teenagers, they still have that biological need for connection, and when you meet that need, everything else becomes a little bit easier. They're more cooperative, when you need them to do things, they're more open to doing them. Everything isn't such a battle. So, that is always where we start.

I mentioned to Doryn, this branded term that we use called mind, body and soul time. I use that with parents, because it reminds parents that during that 10 minutes or so a day, you're fully present in mind, body and soul. If that feels too corny, to say those words to your child, you don't have to use those terms. But, that's just for you to keep that mindset, top of mind. But, really be conscious of that. What I find over and over in my work with parents, is that as the one-on-one time, and that emotional connection time starts to fall off the radar, the backtalk, the negotiation, the sassiness, the attitude, starts to increase. It is absolutely an inverse relationship. So, that's always the first place that I want you to start. Just again, ask yourself, how is my one-on-one connection time with each of my kids? So, Doryn, I want to just stop there with you. Any thoughts or challenges you've had there?


Doryn Wallach:

I think when we first started reading about mind, body, and soul time, we were, "Okay, guys, it's our 10 minutes together before bed, let's get in." It became almost too routine and too forced and we were like, [inaudible 00:16:27], God, we were busy, long day. When I started to not put so much pressure on myself for that time, and just kept in the back of my mind, okay, you might not be able to do this seven days a week, especially right now, but when you do have a few minutes... I really tried. I'll say to my son... We actually just started. He's really artistic and I have an artistic background. He had a little bit of a meltdown a few weeks ago, and he's a that's very happy and keeps everything in. He had his first meltdown in this quarantine, and we had a long talk. I said, "Hey, bud, have you been drawing at all?" He said, "No." I said, "You know, what, I haven't been painting or doing anything or creating or designing." I said, "I just don't have the bandwidth, I just haven't been able to."

We decided that we were going to make a once a week time together, where we would both do our own individual art projects, but we would do a check in with each other, and sit with each other alone and do art. Now, unfortunately, that only happened once since we decided. I don't even know why. It's just, the days get away from us, and before we know it, we haven't done that. But, I see more of a difference in my... I think my son is in that negotiating stage way more than she is. I see a difference in my connection with my daughter, when I have that alone time with her. Everything changes towards me, she's a lot more loving and open and happy to be around me. So, you're right. It definitely makes a difference.

Him, I think the same, too. When he was younger, I was starting a business when he was little, and he had a rough year at school and I was really busy. Looking back, I think we were on vacation, and we were spending time together and he was a lot more calm. I was, "Oh, God, this is my fault, because I've been busy and I haven't been spending enough one-on-one time with him." But, it's meaningful. It's important.


Amy McCready:

Yeah. What I also heard you say was, that he seems to be generally a happy, easygoing kid. What also tends to happen, is that when they're happy and easygoing, we think, oh, they don't really need it, everything's fine. Then, things go haywire and we're, whoa, where did this come from?


Doryn Wallach:

Yes.


Amy McCready:

So, if we're not doing that, it's, okay, yeah, they're happy and easygoing, until they're not. Then, we're like, whoa. So, my encouragement for all of your listeners, is to, whether you're having struggles with your kids or not, this need, I'm telling you, is biologically wired within your kids, they really desperately need it. So again, I recommend what Doryn said, don't make it this big, ooh, we're doing mind, body and soul time before bed. Do it where you can in your day, but make it a thing that you do. Make it intentional, and find the time to do it, whether it's with the art or reading to them or whatever it is. But then, the other thing that I also recommend is, bookend it.

What I mean by that is, when you're done, say, man, I loved hanging out with you. I loved having one-on-one time with you. This is one of the best parts of my week. Punctuated with reminding them of how special this time is. And, I am telling you that you will see a difference in their cooperation, their attitude, their energy. Things just get lighter and easier within a couple days of implementing this practice. So, if you do nothing else from what we talked about in this hour, just do this one thing, because it truly makes such a difference. So, that's the first of the 5 steps in the [inaudible 00:20:11].


Doryn Wallach:

And, it does, honestly. My only advice, I think, goes, what you just said is, just make it natural.


Amy McCready:

Absolutely.


Doryn Wallach:

I'd love to spend some time with you, what if we take 10 minutes and go get an ice cream or go sit and watch a show or whatever it is. I do always say how much I love it, not just because you told me but because I actually really do, and want to make sure they know how much I love spending alone time with him. So many things that you have taught me, I practice all the time, and I'm very grateful for it. So, guys, this is who you should be listening to, Amy. I tell everybody about you. I do.


Amy McCready:

I love the endorsement.


Doryn Wallach:

Yeah, it's true. I've read so many books, and I've listened to so many people, most of them are poopoo.


Amy McCready:

I appreciate that. Okay, so here's the second thing, and this has to do with us, too. Let me just also say, guys, that we all know this intellectually, that you cannot change another person, right? You cannot change your kid, you cannot change your partner. You can try, but it's futile, right, you're going to end up in a giant power struggle. What you can do is change your responses to that person. That is how you will be successful in changing their behavior or their attitude. So, that's why so many of these things I'm talking about is really changing our responses to their behavior.

This next step that I'm going to talk about is in that vein. So, the next thing is, I want us to think about how we are showing up for the other people in our family. So, I want us to think about our energy. So, when we pop into the kitchen, or in the family room, or wherever we are with our kids, how are we showing up? What is our energy like? If I asked your kids to finish the statement, my mom is always blank. My dad is always blank. How would they finish that sentence?


Doryn Wallach:

Oh, God.


Amy McCready:

My mom is always stressed, busy, concerned about work, concerned about what's on her phone. Or, would they say, my mom is always light. My mom is always present.


Doryn Wallach:

My kids would say I was always stressed and frazzled.


Amy McCready:

Yes. Yeah, I get that, because that's probably what mine would, too. Right? But, how do we want them to finish that sentence? My mom is always on my team. Right? My mom gets me even when I'm having a really bad day, which is what tweens and teens have all the time. My mom is with me. She gets me. So again, I want us to think about how we show up for our people, even when we're having a bad day. So, think about our energy. Are we light? Are we easy to be with? Are we difficult and heavy and stressed all the time? So, think about what you need to do to lighten your energy. Maybe, it's playing classical music or yoga spa music or lighting candles. What can you do in your physical environment to lighten your energy? Maybe it's meditating for 15 minutes before you come downstairs in the morning. What can you do? I'm terrible about that, by the way.


Doryn Wallach:

Yes.


Amy McCready:

I'm not a good meditator, because I'm so type A, I'm just terrible.


Doryn Wallach:

Me too. I've tried it so many times. I start it and that doesn't get pass the third session.


Amy McCready:

I know, we need to do a podcast. You need to bring in a good expert on that topic. I'm not the one.


Doryn Wallach:

Seriously.


Amy McCready:

But anyway, really, if we want to improve that energy between us and our kids, we need to show up as that lighter, easier person. Does that make sense?


Doryn Wallach:

This is why mom's drink wine.


Amy McCready:

Exactly.


Doryn Wallach:

That lighter energy comes after a few glasses of wine or whatever your poison is.


Amy McCready:

Unfortunately, that doesn't help us in the morning, right at 8 o'clock.


Doryn Wallach:

No, it doesn't help us. But, I think there are some moms that are doing that in the morning, but that's another issue.


Amy McCready:

That's another podcast, right?


Doryn Wallach:

Yeah, I'm actually, I think, in the morning, probably the most calm, except, well, when we're trying to get out the door in the morning. But actually, when I started implementing what you taught me and giving up that control of let's go, let's go, let's go, or caring if my kids said I'm not wearing a coat today, I'll be like all right, don't wear a coat. I think that it made mornings a little easier, giving up that control of trying to make sure that everything was right. Okay, that's amazing advice, and I think that whatever that is, I wish I knew what that was. Maybe, if you're listening to this and you have advice for how you stay calm before wine time, let us know. I would love to have this discussion.


Amy McCready:

Okay, the next thing is, give up control. So, we talked a little bit about this the other day, Doryn. You don't have to do something about everything. Decide what are the most important things that you need to do something about. There are so many things that come up, so many comments, so many whatever, you don't have to do something about everything, decide what you can let go and focus on the most important things. Now again, as we go on in this discussion, we're going to talk about a lot of different tools, I would also think about where can you bring your kids into more of the decision-making process. Let them have more say so in your family. It can be little things like getting them involved in planning the menu for the week, deciding where you're going for dinner, Friday night, when we're finally going back out to dinner at restaurants. Giving up some of the control so they can feel like they have more control in the family.


Doryn Wallach:

What are some other examples of that?


Amy McCready:

I know you're familiar with this, family meetings.


Doryn Wallach:

Oh, we do that. By the way, we do that. Well, we haven't in this time. We were doing that once a week. I forgot that, that was something you told me about.


Amy McCready:

Yeah, so super empowering. So, there is a problem in the family, right? There's an issue where we're arguing over something, whether it's technology rules, or whatever, well, parents can come in and decide what the rules are. Or, you can allow the kids to have some input in how this is going to go. Or, as I said, deciding what the menu is going to be or what, again, when we're all vacationing, what the family vacation plans are. We have this much to spend on activities during vacation. And again, if we're talking about tweens and teens, what an empowering thing. This is how much money we have for activities, you guys do the research and decide what activities we're going to do, while we're on vacation.

Anytime that you can bring them into the decision-making process, that's super empowering for kids. The bottom line is, for most tweens and teens, their biological need is to have more independence and control, but, we, parents tend to be holding it all. Doryn, you're familiar with us, one of the things that we have parents do in our program, is go through a parent personality assessment, so you understand the natural bend of your personality. For many of us, our natural personality style is to be very controlling. That may be very effective for us in a work environment, but it is just very difficult in a parenting situation. Because, the more we try to control our kids, their natural reaction is to fight back. So, if you have a lot of power struggles with your kids, it's very likely that your personality style is naturally very controlling. So, just something to think about there.

Step 4 is, for in the moment, to do a safe face and a redo. So, when you get that sassy remark in the moment, you do a safe face, like, I'm sure you didn't mean for it to sound that way. I'm sure you didn't mean to hurt my feelings. I'm sure you didn't mean for the comment to sound that way. But then, you do the nonverbal redo signal. So, if you can see me, I'm circling my finger in the air. So, ahead of time, you take time for training and you say, in the future, if a comment comes out that sounds a little bit rude or whatever, I'm sure you don't mean for things to sound that way, but I'm just going to do this circle with my finger in the air. And, that just means, let's try that again, right.


Doryn Wallach:

Does that work?


Amy McCready:

Will it work? Yeah, it totally works. Allow your child to save face. You know what, I know you didn't mean it to sound like that. You know what I mean? I know you wouldn't mean to hurt my feelings, it just came out of your mouth that way. Then, you give her the redo opportunity. But, here's the key thing, it has to be a two way street and she can do it to you.


Doryn Wallach:

Okay.


Amy McCready:

So, the next time you lose your stuff a little bit, she can do the exact same thing. She does the redo back to you, and you immediately say, you know what, that did not come out the way I meant it to, what I meant to say is, and then you restate it in your calm voice. That is super empowering for kids.


Doryn Wallach:

Then, when you're the controlling parent that you are, it doesn't matter, I'm your mother. It can't be a double standard.


Amy McCready:

Then, the last little thing for in the moment, is you refuse to participate. So, if they are tossing up that really sassy comment or they refuse to do the redo, you're not going to get into, excuse my language, a pissing match with them, right? You're not going to get into that. You're going to say, you know what, sweetie, I love you too much to fight with you about this, let's talk about this later, and you walk away. That, I love you too much to fight with you, I'll chat with you about this later, when we're both feeling a little bit more calm, and you walk away.

But, it's like that tennis match analogy, right? If you and I were playing tennis, I serve the ball to you, you hit it back to me, then we have a game going. But, if I serve the ball to you, and you let it drop and walk away, now, I don't have anybody to play with.