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

EPISODE 4

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.


Doryn Wallach:

You know what, I think that works really well with my daughter, especially because... My husband gets very offended if she does a run out of the room and slams the door or has an attitude or whatever it is. Sometimes it'll be like, don't talk to your mother that way. I think that's where you kind of get lost in between, how do I teach my kids to speak respectfully to people and make sure that they understand that, that tone's not acceptable. But, on other times where I've experimented and said, you know, I'm just going to let her throw this tantrum and go in the other room. And oftentimes, she ends up coming out later and apologizing on her own.


Amy McCready:

Does she ever speak that way to anybody outside of your household?


Doryn Wallach:

No.


Amy McCready:

No. And, she wouldn't, because you are her safe place, right?


Doryn Wallach:

Mm-hmm (affirmative)-


Amy McCready:

The thing with tweens and teens, is there is so much going on in their world. Right, it's not great that she spouts off like that, but, sometimes, it happens. I think we've talked about before, sometimes it just comes out, and you could go and make a big fuss about it in that moment and lay down the law and give her a big lecture and that whole thing, but by just letting it go in that moment, like you said, she comes out a few minutes later, she apologizes, and it's over with. That's a one-off. It was happening every single day, that might be a different thing, but you don't have to do something about everything.


Doryn Wallach:

So Amy, I know that one of the things that we had talked about together and that I try to implement, is something called asked and answered. Oftentimes with my daughter, and my son, they're negotiating a lot, and it's back and forth. One other thing you also taught me about, and this is separate, allowing your child to show what's their case for why they're choosing what they're choosing and convince me. I think that's what it was. And, see if you can be convinced or if you can't.

My daughter, for example, the other day, she wanted to watch a new show, and I really didn't agree with that show. I've actually been very flexible on what she's been able to watch, especially in this quarantine. But, I know her and I've seen the show, and, for me, it made me super anxious and made me have bad dreams at night. I just don't think that she is ready for it, despite her age. I just don't think it's the right show for her. So, she asked me, I explained what I just said, and she came back at me again. I said, "Honey, I just don't think that this is the right show for you. I'm sorry." Then, she came back and explained her case, and I looked at her and I said, asked and answered. But then, she just kept coming after me. To a point where it's so irritating that you lose it.

So, I would love to know what I was doing wrong in that situation? Because, whereas, I think, other parenting experts have said to me in the past, if you give in eventually or if you don't follow through with what you say, then they're going to always know that they can keep asking or negotiating. But, I don't do that. So, that's when I go to bed at night being, you're a failure as a mom, you don't know what you're doing.


Amy McCready:

No, you are absolutely not failing by any means. So okay, so the tool that you're talking about asked and answered, is a brilliant tool for combating what you describe, that negotiating. So, the child has asked for something, you've thoughtfully considered what they want to do, and you've given a thoughtful answer. So, in this situation, the TV show isn't right for her agent and development and you've given that answer. It's intended to avoid that back and forth, asked and answered.

So, in this situation, you delivered the asked and answered, but then she wanted to do the badgering. But please, mom, come on, mom, everybody watches it, I want to watch it, why can't I watch it? Why can't I watch it? And, was probably following you around the house, right? Just wouldn't let up with that tool or wouldn't let up with the requests? Is that kind of, how that was going?


Doryn Wallach:

Yeah, 100%.


Amy McCready:

Okay. So, that doesn't mean that asked and answered was working. The key is, whether or not you do anything after you deliver the asked and answered. So, the key with asked and answered is you say, asked and answered, and then that's it, you stop talking. Because, if you keep talking, if you keep explaining, if you keep giving verbal feedback, then she gets a hit of attention and power with each additional word that comes out of your mouth. She's not getting to watch the show, that she wants, that's what she really wanted, but she's getting that hit of attention and power and she's pushing your button every single time. So, the key for that to be successful is you say, the asked and answered, and then that's it. Even if she's following you all around the house, you just go about your business, you go fold your laundry, you eat your lunch, you check your email, whatever you have to do, but you don't respond.

If you continue to give the payoff for her continued negotiating and badgering, then, in her mind, she's, oh, okay, this behavior works. I'm getting the payoff, I'm pushing her buttons, so I'm going to continue to do it. The next time this comes up, I'm going to do the same thing again. Does that make sense?


Doryn Wallach:

Yes, it does. I think that's the part that I was missing.


Amy McCready:

Now, let me give you another tool that is also very effective for this age group. So, this is another example that you could teach your kids for something like, they want to watch a TV show, or they want to do something that might be outside the parents comfort zone. They want to go with their friends to the outlet mall in the next town, they want to go to a concert. Any one of those things that you're, oh, I'm not really totally comfortable with this. They want to start using a new social media platform that you're not totally thrilled with. So, as the parent, your natural tendency is to be, no, I'm not down with that, that's not going to happen.

Certainly, that is well within your right. And, i you're just not comfortable with it, you say, no, I'm just not ready for that. The perfect example, was this TV show, you are not comfortable based on her age and development, and the answer is no, and sometimes that's the case. But, sometimes the answer doesn't have to be no, sometimes it can be yes. Or, sometimes the answer could be, convince me. That's what this tool is, it's called, convince me. Convince me is a great tool to balance responsibility and freedom for your kids. So, let's say the example is, they want to go with their friends to the next town outlet mall. You can say, all right, I can certainly understand why you would want to do that, but let me share with you my reservations for you going to the outlet mall. Of course, you would go through your reservations.

Well, first, you getting in the car and driving with your friend, and you're going to be spending a lot of money, and whatever all of your reservations are. These are my reservations, but I understand this is important to you. So, why don't you think about my reservations and why don't you come back to me with your plan? Basically, why don't you come back and convince me with your plan for going to the outlet mall? Then, that's her job to come back and convince you that she has thought through her plan, she has a contingency if things go wrong, and then you decide, has she thought through everything you're concerned about? Do you think she's, basically, come up with a list of things that you think are safe, and whatever, that you think she can do this safely and all of that?


Doryn Wallach:

Yes, that makes perfect sense.


Amy McCready:

So, in that way, then your child gets some practice in coming up with a good plan, then you can work with them to make sure that they can implement their plan. If they can execute on the plan, they go to the outlet mall and everything goes well, then they've established some goodwill, if you will. And, the next time they want to do something that is somewhat outside your comfort zone, then you feel more comfortable about that. So again, it's another tool that you can use in your toolbox that gives them a little bit more responsibility that you don't always have to be the bad guy, you don't always have to be the one deciding how things are going to go, and you're working in concert with your tweener teen, to come up with ways to give them freedom and responsibility at the same time. Just very empowering for kids and for parents.


Doryn Wallach:

I can see that my son, the younger one, is really looking for independence right now even more so than she was at that age. I see how, when I give him that, it's super helpful. You know what, honestly, as a mom, it gives you one less thing to do. So, if they're looking for that independence, it's great.


Amy McCready:

Absolutely. I think too, as we think about our role as parents, I said in the very beginning, we often underestimate our job description, and that is to prepare them to be adults. Move them from being completely dependent to being fully independent. So, if your listeners might even want to just jot down this list, it's a list of skills. So, think about personal responsibility, decision-making, financial acumen, health and wellness, household tasks. Things like changing air filters and all the things that we do around the house, it takes to run a household. Social skills. All of those things that kids need to learn before they go to college or to the military or to their first job when they leave your house, those are a lot of things that kids have to learn, particularly for kids who want to be independent. Let's teach them all those things. Financial acumen, teenagers, let's get them set up with investment accounts. I'm sure your husband would be all over that, right?

Let's teach them all those things. That's super empowering. You asked for an example of giving kids opportunities to make decisions, or give them control, let's set them all up with little investment accounts, that they can be investing money. How empowering for kids, and it's teaching them real life skills. There's so many things that we can do to prepare them to launch, where they're learning real life skills at the same time.


Doryn Wallach:

Coming off of that, one of the other things you taught me, when my kids... And, it's much more my older, she always wants things, always, even though she doesn't need them, and I'll say you have to use your own money. If it's something that's not a necessity, you must use your own money for that. She is running out of money. She's, "I can't afford that." I'll say, "Well, I guess you just don't get it." So, even that has been a wonderful lesson. But, also, this quarantine, my kids, not having as much cleaning help as I normally do or just being around all the time and the house being messier and things going on, they've both learned to do the laundry and to vacuum the floor. That's the one of the bigger blessings in all of this, is that they've learned so much independence around the house. They don't like it, and they think it's going to end when this all ends, but it's not. I think they just think we're just doing this right now to make mom happy, so she's not going crazy.


Amy McCready:

Oh, Doryn, one other thing I wanted to mention, we were talking a minute ago about cleaning and laundry and all of that, one of the biggest battles that parents face, is getting their kids to do family jobs around the house. You know, one of my big things, I don't like to call them chores, I call them family contributions, because it reminds kids that when they do help out at home, it is a contribution, it makes a difference. I think it's important to remind kids of that. But, that doesn't eliminate the eye rolls and the complaining and all of that that goes with it. So, there are a couple of things that parents can do to just minimize that a little bit.

One of the things is, to instead of just nagging kids about helping out all the time, they can invite cooperation. So again, instead of saying, Come on, don't forget to unload the dishwasher. Or, remember you have to... they can invite cooperation by saying, I'm really busy with some things I have to do for work, anything that you can do to clean up or to help with the kitchen, would be so appreciated. Or, I've noticed the family room is just a wreck right now, anything that you can do to help out, would be so appreciated. So, anything that you can do to help out, would be so appreciated. You invite cooperation with a smile. It's so empowering. It's not requiring them to do anything, but 9 out of 10, they will actually help out and do something.


Doryn Wallach:

Yes, this works so well.


Amy McCready:

I know. Doesn't it?


Doryn Wallach:

So well. Recently, obviously, it's just overwhelming how much that we're all taking on, I think, especially moms, and my daughter helped me do a few things. It was actually work related. I said, "Will you help me count inventory?" I said, "I really need somebody else here with me." And, she did. She did not like doing it, but when she was done, I said, "I cannot tell you how much that alleviated my stress. You were so incredibly helpful. And, I just feel so much lighter now, because I had your help. So, I know you didn't like it, but thank you so much."


Amy McCready:

Yes, don't require it. Don't badger, don't nag them, just invite them. Anything that you could do to help, would be awesome. So, invite cooperation. Second thing is, when they complain about having to clean the bathroom or unload the dishwasher, just show empathy. I hear you. I know, it's no fun. It's my least favorite job, too. Just let them know that you get it. Show empathy without giving in. It creates that little emotional connection. It goes so much farther than giving them a big lecture and you'll get so much more mileage out of it.

The next one is, when they have a job to do that hasn't been done, whether it's, again, taking out the trash or whatever, instead of reminding and badgering them about it, just say, what is your plan for taking out the trash or what is your plan for cleaning out the garage? Assume they've agreed to clean up the garage this weekend. What is your plan for taking care of the garage this weekend? That is so much more empowering than nagging or reminding them because it assumes that they have a plan in place. Because, even if they totally forgot about it, they can make up something in the spur of the moment and be, oh, yeah, yes, I'm going to do that. As soon as I finish my lunch, I'm going to go outside and start on the garage. You can be, oh, cool, I know you totally had that under control. So, empowering for them. What is your plan for?


Doryn Wallach:

Does that work for husbands?


Amy McCready:

I am not in the husband coaching business, but kind of, it does.


Doryn Wallach:

Okay, I'll try a different approach.


Amy McCready:

Super empowering. Then, the last one is, of course, our longtime favorite, the when then. When your family contributions are finished, then you can enjoy your technology. Of course, our technology curfew is 9 PM or whatever that is. A when then plan. When the yucky stuff is done, then you can enjoy the more fun parts.


Doryn Wallach:

I love when and then and it works really well. I've learned to keep calm when I use it. Another thing they caught on to, when we were listening to your book in the car from skiing every weekend, and we didn't think they were listening and they were, they're, "Don't pull that then and when stuff with us, it's so annoying." They don't know you. If they knew you, they'd love you, but they call you the crazy lady in the audible book. Yeah.


Amy McCready:

I am a little bit crazy, but that's okay. They don't have to like me.


Doryn Wallach:

Exactly. But, when and then works really well. Is there another word that we could use, or another way of phrasing that, that's not when and then?


Amy McCready:

No.


Doryn Wallach:

No, okay.


Amy McCready:

No. Because, here's why, it is a natural order in which privileges are allowed. When the yucky stuff is done, then you can enjoy the more fun parts of your day. It's a natural order of the way things happen. It's very distinct from an if then. It's not, if you get your homework done, then you can enjoy technology. That's very much a bribe. And, this is not a bribe. It's very much in keeping with real life, right? When you pay your electric bill, then you get to keep your lights on. It's just the way real life works. I would encourage you to continue the when then phrasing, because it's in keeping with teaching kids personal responsibility. They don't have to like it. They're never going to like everything that you do, but it works.


Doryn Wallach:

Yeah.


Amy McCready:

And, it's positive, it's empowering. I can't think of a different way to phrase it, that doesn't turn it into a bribe. Because, that's what we want to get away from. It's not a bribe or a reward, it's just the way that we structure things for personal responsibility.


Doryn Wallach:

Can I interrupt on the bribe and reward part? Can we just talk about that for one second?


Amy McCready:

You bet.


Doryn Wallach:

I stepped away from that for a while and we weren't doing it. So, the two things that we tend to threaten, are technology, and dessert for my son. I hate when I have to get to that point, because I don't like to threaten. But, if you've asked your child over and over again to do something, like, simply go to bed, what do you do that gets them to actually do it, I guess, is the question? I really hope you're going to make the right choice. I've tried doing that. Or, I know you're going to make the right choice, and then walk away from it.


Amy McCready:

So, I think it depends on what the behavior is. We've talked about this before. In the parenting success program that I teach, we do not advocate rewards at all. And, there's a tremendous amount of research that proves that the use of rewards actually undermines the behavior that you're trying to teach in the first place. We don't have time to get into that in this session. So, I don't advocate rewards at all. Or, the flip side of rewards, which is punishment. So, if we're dealing with bedtime, we deal with the bedtime issue. And again, that's a whole session we could talk about in that. Or, if it's technology, we would deal with that.

I wouldn't tie dessert to it. I wouldn't tie technology to bedtime. Those are behaviors that we would handle separately. Because, what ends up happening is, I call that, desperation parenting. Because, it's like you're throwing a Hail Mary, because you don't know what else to do.


Doryn Wallach:

Exactly.


Amy McCready:

Right. So, that tells me that we need to dig in, Doryn, right? We need to sit down and say, okay, why are we having trouble with this bedtime thing, let's figure this out. We can always figure it out with other tools in the toolbox. And, if I can't help you, then we go to a sleep specialist who can. But, doing a Hail Mary and taking away dessert and other nonsense, that's not going to solve the root problem for you.


Doryn Wallach:

Not to get too much into my kids, but the sleep things have gotten much better. With my son now, we just let him read until he falls asleep. We'd say, you have to be in bed at 9, I don't care what time you go to sleep, just turn... he uses a Kindle... turn your book off, and go to sleep. That was life changing for us, rather than fighting with him every night. I think, great, if he goes to bed at 12:30 in the morning, but, whatever, he goes to sleep.


Amy McCready:

So, you may even back it in even earlier. So, in bed at 8 o'clock, maybe then he gets to sleep at 11. Gosh, that's so late, but anyway.


Doryn Wallach:

Yeah, I know.


Amy McCready:

So, we always go to the problem that we're having and find a specific solution for that, rather than doing these desperation parenting moves.


Doryn Wallach:

Okay. Then, as we talked about before, relating it back to more of the natural consequence of the situation, which I love.


Amy McCready:

Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yep.


Doryn Wallach:

Okay.


Amy McCready:

But, here's the thing, for your listeners, I think we always just have to come back to that, misbehavior is always a two way street. So, we have to remember that we're not in this to fix our kids, we always have to look at our contribution to the behavior as well. So, how are we showing up? Are we doing that every day, that emotional connection with our kids? Are we looking at our energy? Are we trying to control everything? Are we also going to give our kids some control and decision-making opportunity? Are we going to give them the opportunity for the redo? Are we going to walk away from the power struggle? Or, are we going to get in the middle of it?

So, there's lots of things that we can do, lots of tools that we can use, but, again, our long-term job, we're parenting for the long game, not the, in the moment short game, because our job is to prepare them to be happy, successful, fully-functioning adults, so they can go out into the world and do amazing things. So, we can look back and know that, yes, we did an awesome job, we created and launched successful human beings.


Doryn Wallach:

You just had a graduate, right? Is that your oldest?


Amy McCready:

That was my youngest. He just graduated, virtually, unfortunately. So yeah, I have one who's married and one who just graduated from college and is starting his real job in August. So, we will officially be empty-nesters.


Doryn Wallach:

I've always thought about, I want to sit down with her kids.


Amy McCready:

They're such nice people.


Doryn Wallach:

I bet.


Amy McCready:

In spite of me.


Doryn Wallach:

I know. Not in spite of you, because of you.


Amy McCready:

No, they're lovely people. I always say that, they're nice people that I think, if they weren't my kids, I'd love to be friends with them just because they're lovely people. But, I always think it. When I look back, when they were younger, and I was the crazy yelling mom, and I'm still a crazy mom, but I'm glad that when they were younger, I learned some parenting tools because I was a wreck. A train wreck.


Doryn Wallach:

Yeah. By the way, that is one of the reasons I started this podcast, because I think the overall message here is that we want to better ourselves at this stage of our lives so that we can live the later part of our lives in peace and harmony, right? We want to be able to take these tools now, so whether it's taking care of ourselves, whether it's taking care of our children, being a better mom, a wife, a partner, or in everything that we do, let's learn those now, so that we're not at a certain age going, oh, God, I wish I had known that. And granted, I know that every 10 years, we look back saying, I wish I knew this 10 years ago, but if we can do the work now, I think that's important. I think it comes back to parenting, too. I'm looking at it now, I don't have that many more years with my daughter at home, and I just want these years to be as good as possible, doing the best I can.


Amy McCready:

Absolutely. I think it's awesome to let your kids know that you are still working to be the best mom, best dad, you can be. Even if it's every other day, say to your kids, you know what, I messed this up, this interaction that we just had 15 minutes ago and the way I said something to you, I messed that up and I'm going to try to do better. Let them know that you're always doing better or you're trying to do better. It's such good modeling for them to see that. So, empowering for them.


Doryn Wallach:

So Amy, before you go, at the end of my show, I always ask everybody this one question. So, has nothing to do with parenting, but what would you tell your early 30-something self today, if you could give yourself a piece of advice?


Amy McCready:

Just to relax about everything more, just to enjoy it more, don't be so uptight about everything.


Doryn Wallach:

Yeah.


Amy McCready:

Right? Yep.


Doryn Wallach:

Yeah.


Amy McCready:

That's what I would tell every parent now, just enjoy it more.


Doryn Wallach:

It's obviously easier to say that, but even if you are losing it, if you're not enjoying it, if you are in that moment, it's a good thing even just to say to yourself, just as a reminder, even if you're not able to do it, just then. But, still, it's a great reminder. Well, thank you so much for coming on the show. I know that we're going to get a million questions from this. Can you please let everybody know how they can find your books as well as your course online?


Amy McCready:

Yes, thank you so much. So, your listeners can find our 7-Step Parenting Success System by going to our website, which is positiveparentingsolutions.com. They can find my books, The Me, Me, Me Epidemic, and If I Have to Tell You One More Time, both on Amazon and I'm sure you'll have the links and everything. I thank you so much for having me, Doryn, this has been so much fun. We need three more hours.


Doryn Wallach:

I know. I just want to mention one other thing, if you sign up for the 7-Step Parenting Success System, it is something you are going to use for life. I'm not good at sales, unless I believe in something, and I truly believe there have been moments where I haven't looked at it in months, and then I refer back to something and it's a reminder, and it's always available to you. So, it's helpful. I will also link to it on my Facebook page, Instagram page, and eventually that website that I haven't gotten up yet, because I haven't had time.


Amy McCready:

All in good time.


Doryn Wallach:

Yes. Thank you again and I hope to talk to you soon. I'd love to have you back, if you're interested.


Amy McCready:

That would be so much fun.


Doryn Wallach:

Wonderful. Thank you.


Amy McCready:

Thank you. Talk to you soon. Bye.


Doryn Wallach:

Bye. Thank you again to Amy McCready for being on my show. Amy's information will be both on social media and Facebook at It's Not a Crisis podcast. Always, as usual, please email me if you need any follow-up information at itsnotacrisis@gmail.com. And, also feel free to send any direct messages or emails if you have questions for Amy. She's happy to answer those. Thank you very much for listening. I am your host, Doryn Wallach. I have a lot of great episodes lined up and ready to be recorded soon. So, I will let you know about those on social media. I hope you all hang in there, and I'll see you next time.


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