I’m so excited to kick off our new season with this rich conversation I had with psychologist and author Dr. John Townsend about how we can set healthy boundaries with our teens and tweens. We cover a wide range of topics including three skills every parent should utilize to raise mentally healthy kids, how to build a stronger relationship with kids moving toward autonomy, connecting with kids struggling with gender identity, and so much more.
Key points from our conversation:
💬 Some parents tend to fragilize their kids rather than setting healthy boundaries. Enter their world and find compassion. If you’re not sure, take your child to a counselor to help determine where they are.
⛔ A “trigger” isn’t when something upsets you, it’s a clinical word used when something brings up traumatic experiences that affect your ability to function.
✨ There are three skills every parent should utilize to raise mentally healthy kids –
1. Warmth – connect and enter the child’s world
2. Appropriate strictness – there must be boundaries and structure
3. Realistic expectations – neither child nor parents will be perfect
🤝 As your children become autonomous, moving toward them in the negative moments will help build a stronger connection. Sit with them, but still enforce appropriate disciplines.
💕 Support doesn’t mean you share an opinion, but that you love them completely.
🧑 Kids struggling with gender is a normal experience today. The most important thing is that you stay connected, address if there’s any danger, and give the information you have. Help them with their character because healthy character will make the right decisions.
🗣️ Healthy character comes from learning to bond and connect, helping children speak up and set boundaries, getting rid of the inner critic, and accepting themselves and reality. Our job as parents is to work on the character. Remind them that they are more than one thing – their gender shouldn’t be their full identity.
🧠 You can determine if your child’s detachment has become unhealthy by asking if they’re emotionally engaged with the family, helpful, vulnerable, and doing okay with school and their hobbies.
👣 If your child is hesitant to spend more time with the family, try an activity. An activity with less eye contact like walking can make them more comfortable. They want to be understood and are waiting to open up, but it’s our job to come up with the framework.
👂 Practice listening without judgment. Lead with curiosity instead of aiming to correct. You earn the right to give truth with grace and listening. The order matters. You have to put in the time.