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What I Wish Everyone Knew About Gratitude

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We’ll hear a lot of hype about gratitude with the holidays coming. We’ll go over how gratitude is proven to help you and how you may have been thinking about it all wrong. What are gratitude’s powers? And what are its limits? And one listener asks what to do for her usually studious freshman, who’s suddenly indifferent to high school and grades this year.

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Show Notes

Recommended talks on gratitude

Brian Doyle, 365 Days of Thank you

Louie Schwartzberg, Nature. Beauty. Gratitude.

Laura Tice, Remember to Say Thank You

Michael Norton, How to Buy Happiness

Manage Your Kids’ Screen Time

The Circle lets you set daily limits for different apps and social media. It also controls your kid’s Wi Fi schedules, and you can adjust age appropriate filters for searches from little kids to teens. Our affiliate link will get you $20 off a Circle. 

what is gratitude?

Episode Transcript

Robin Hutson  0:00 

We’ll hear a lot of hype about gratitude with the holidays coming. We’ll go over how gratitude is proven to help you and how you may have been thinking about it all wrong. What are gratitudes powers, and what are its limits?

And one listener asks what to do for her usually studious freshman, who’s suddenly indifferent to high school and grades this year. We will answer that question in this week’s episode of Flusterclux with Lynn Lyons, the show for real talk about worrying other big feelings in parenting.

Lynn Lyons  0:26 

Hi, I’m Lynn Lyons. I’m an anxiety expert, speaker, Mom and author. I’ve been a therapist for 30 years.

Robin Hutson  0:32 

You’re here because your family has some anxiety issues, or you want to prevent them. I’m your co-host, and Lynn’s sister-in-law Robin, and I’m here to ask your questions.

Lynn Lyons  0:41 

Parenting can be a Flusterclux, and I’ll help you find your way.

Robin Hutson  0:45 

So, it is November, which means that we are about to be flooded with articles and television segments on gratitude.

Lynn Lyons  0:53 

It’s the holiday season.

Robin Hutson  0:56 

I think it would be really interesting to think about what really is the power of gratitude. And can it really be this cure all?

Lynn Lyons  1:04 

Well, and that’s one of the things that I pay a lot of attention to actually, because many words or practices or things that are touted as being good for us and many of them are good for us. But then they cross over into this place where they’re going to be cure alls, they’re going to fix everything. So, I think it’s interesting to actually look at what we know about what gratitude can do, and maybe what it can’t do, and how you can implement gratitude in really effective ways in your family.

Robin Hutson  1:37 

Is gratitude, the kale of mental wellness?

Lynn Lyons  1:44 

Well, it depends on it depends on whether you massage it before you put it in your gratitude salad.

When people are researching gratitude, because people research everything, gratitude is defined as an emotion, which is kind of an interesting thing. When you think about it, right? We don’t often think of it that way. I think of it as an emotion. But I also think of it as an act the same way.

For example, I just read this quote somewhere. And I want to say that it was from Mr. Rogers, because it probably was, but he said love is an act like love is active. And I think when we think about gratitude, it’s an emotion for sure, like we feel gratitude. But I think it’s really important to think about it as something that we do, because one of the things that the research shows about gratitude is that one of the biggest places where it has an impact is on your relationships. And you know, that’s what I’m all about.

So, it’s an emotion, but it’s a social emotion. Because it really helps you connect with people and interact with people in a positive way. If we think about gratitude, we can think about it as an internal state, right? Oh, I feel so grateful for this, or I feel so grateful for that. But I think if we really want to have it be effective in our own sense of happiness or well-being, gratitude is something to be given and something to be shared, and something to be absorbed. And I think those are really good skills that we can model for our family.

One of one of the things that we know about gratitude is that it doesn’t really cure anxiety and depression based on the research, but it can help to prevent it. I’m all about what are the skills that we need to teach our kids.

It’s like when we were talking about depression, what are your risk factors? And how do we get ahead of it in our families? How do we think about where are the little gaps or where are the little cracks in our potential to develop anxiety and depression, having a gracious attitude exhibiting gratitude is one of those things that can actually help to prevent mental health issues?

Once you’re pretty anxious. And once you’re pretty depressed, gratitude isn’t a treatment, gratitude isn’t a psychotherapy, gratitude isn’t going to take that stuff away. But we can use it as a way to buttress our mental health and with our kids, that’s such an important thing for us to be thinking about.

Robin Hutson  4:04 

When you were saying that what I was thinking of, there was like a trend on Facebook, where people had gratitude challenges, and they would post every day, something they were grateful for. And it makes me think that there are certain aspects of gratitude that we’ve gotten wrong, because when people are sharing among their friends on Facebook, that they’re grateful for the roof over their heads.

But if gratitude was always defined as some sort of past action between two people, so that I wouldn’t say that I was grateful for the memory of this or this, I would say I’m grateful for you that you went with me to the park that day. And we got to do this together and use gratitude as a way to deepen our connections.

Lynn Lyons  4:46 

Because if you are feeling grateful, and you’re carrying that around inside of you, well, that’s good. But what if you’re really grateful to the effort that your second graders teach has made to deal with remote learning or you’re grateful to your friend who knew you were having a rough day and left a little box of chocolates on your front step or whatever. So, you’re feeling grateful for that, but you don’t tell them that.

So, part of it is, is gratitude is about saying thank you. Gratitude is saying, I appreciate that you did this for me, I appreciate that you paid attention to what I was going through, and you did something to help me and that’s where I think when we teach kids to express gratitude, that we are also teaching them empathy. Because remember, empathy is putting yourself into somebody else’s shoes, and understanding and appreciating what they’re going through what they’re feeling at the time. It’s just not a one way street, being able to say to somebody, I really appreciate that you did that. I really appreciated that you were paying attention to how I was feeling when we say that to a child, we’re modeling empathy,

Robin Hutson  6:00 

I guess I’m getting stuck on this little idea. So, for example, in our family, one of the things that we will often hear is, I’ll hear my husband say to his mom, your mom, thank you for the nice meals, like after we’ve had a lovely visit, because your mom’s this great cook. We’re always talking about her great cooking. Which of course is showing gratitude. However, if instead he said, not, thank you for the nice meals. But I just want you to know, I appreciate the time that you took to make these meals for us. And I appreciate the skill that you have of cooking something so delicious, really making it about what she did, as opposed to the outcome. Ultimately, it’s kind of the same, but one is going to feel a lot more significant than the other.

Lynn Lyons  6:44 

Well, I think, because when you say it that second way, you’re not just saying thank you, for the tuna fish sandwich, you’re saying thank you for the time and effort. And the caring that you put into the tuna fish sandwich, right?

You’re actually appreciating what that person did for you based on not just on the thing they’re handing you, right? You know, say you’re at the grocery store, and you give the person $20 for a $14 thing, and they hand you $6 back, and you say thank you. Okay, so you appreciate that you gave them 20, they gave you $6. Back, you wouldn’t say I so appreciate the time you took to count my money and to really write you and say that. So, thank you. You’re right. So, thank you, there’s different levels of Thank you. And I think what you’re saying is that we can do the perfunctory, thank you, thank you.

When we’re expressing gratitude, we’re saying, I really appreciate that you did this thing for me, or I notice what you’re doing as a way to help me or as a way to connect to me, or I appreciate the time and care and the emotional energy that you put into it.

Robin Hutson  7:48 

And if you are someone who trained yourself into always thinking about your interactions with other friends and family, and you routinely verbalized that, because you saw them for all of these positive things, and you share that I doubt that you’d have a disconnected feeling and a distance with them. I bet that it would be an ability to feel very connected with the close people in your circle.

Lynn Lyons  8:15 

Oh, for sure. It strengthens emotional connection. Yeah, when you routinely say I see you, right. And that’s why when we think about gratitude, as a social emotion, that it’s about interaction, it’s about connection between two people, it does take it up to that next notch. I’m not trying to develop an emotional connection with the person handing me $6 at the grocery store, I appreciate that they gave me my money back, but I’m not trying to emotionally connect.

So, when you’re expressing gratitude, it is much more emotional, it’s a much more deeper sense than just than just a thank you. The thing that’s interesting to me about it too, is how uncomfortable people can be both expressing that gratitude and receiving it.

Everybody listening, just think of this for a moment. Think of somebody that has been really important in your life. And think about what it would be like for you to reach out to that person. Maybe it was this high school teacher you had that really helped you when you were going through a rough time. Or maybe it was, you know, who knows, right? The first boss you have that said, I think you really going to be able to do this job and I have confidence in you.

What would it be like for you to express gratitude to that person? How many times have you thought of somebody that you’re really grateful for? And have you acted upon that? And I think that expression of gratitude is really important too. But I think a lot of times we just don’t do it.

Robin Hutson  9:41 

You know what’s great about that, what, it’s never too late. I know I have two specific teachers that were really life changing for me, and I was relieved that as you said that I did express that to each of them at different points. It was actually several years later because understanding the profound impact that teacher and the lessons had, you know, obviously with age, I only became more grateful. So, it was super fun to as an adult articulate what this teacher did. It’s never too late to write that note.

Lynn Lyons  10:13 

It’s never too late. I actually got an email last week, one of my high school teachers, he was my chemistry teacher. But more importantly than that, he was my advisor. So, in the school I went to you had like a homeroom advisor person. And he actually went to the college I went to, and he was instrumental in helping me learn about it and talk to me about it. He saw an article that I had written, so he just reached out and emailed and I emailed back to him.

And it’s both the giving of gratitude and the receiving of gratitude, I wrote this really appreciative email back to him. I felt so good writing it, and I got to expect and when he got the email, he just retired from teaching, he’s probably, you know, in his mid 70s, I’m guessing that he appreciated receiving it too, because he was so kind to me, he was such a, he should have been a teacher. Right? He was a coach and a teacher. And that was where he should have been, and I so appreciate that. It’s really both the giving and the receiving that we want to pay attention to. Didn’t you feel good when you reached out to those people, and you were able to express your gratitude to them?

Robin Hutson  11:21 

Definitely. It’s such an easy exercise to do. Is there anyone that you haven’t ever expressed that gratitude at any point to draft that note, in 2020? We’d all love to hear something like that. Right.

Lynn Lyons  11:35 

And I think it’s interesting you say that it’s an easy exercise to do, because I will dispute you on that a little bit. I think it’s easy logistically to do. But I think it is really hard sometimes for people to do that. Like, I think emotionally, people, they feel embarrassed about it, or they feel vulnerable when they do it. Like they feel like oh, this is going to be how is this going to be received? I think the idea of doing it, and I think the logistical like you say 2020, you can track people down and send them things. But I think people hesitate to do it, I think they hesitate to do it with the people that they love the most.

I was just reading something, and I can’t remember what it was. But this guy was saying that he that he sat down with his dad, it was one of the TED talks that we’re going to make sure we link to, but how it felt weird to sort of sit down with his dad and say, I just want to tell you how grateful I am. For what you’ve done. For me as a dad, I think a lot of people feel uncomfortable with that. We’ve got to say like you just kind of dive in, and maybe we’ll feel a little uncomfortable. And maybe you will get a little emotional. But that’s the point. And that’s okay.

Robin Hutson  12:42 

There are layers of difficulty in that.

Lynn Lyons  12:44 

And so, here’s, here’s another little thing for everybody to remember. If somebody comes to you and expresses their gratitude, then you should be open and receive it. Because one of the things that shuts people down, like say you were to go to a parent or say you were to go to somebody and say, I really appreciate all that you did to help me with this. And they go, Ah, forget about it. Or they go oh, now you’re gonna get all weepy on me, right? Oh, here we go with this mushy stuff. That shuts it down.

Robin Hutson  13:16 

or Oh, it’s nothing.

Lynn Lyons  13:18 

Yeah. Oh, it’s nothing. Yeah, yeah, yeah, whatever. When we’re talking about how we model this for our children, we want to model it in a way that we show them both how to give it and how to receive it. So that we can have those interactions that we have that connection.

There are things that you can do. I mean, you can talk very directly to your family, to your children, about doing these exercises of expressing gratitude to other people. So, one of the exercises you see, you know, you hear like, Oh, I’m just going to keep a gratitude journal. So, every night, I’m going to write down about three things that made me feel grateful today.

Okay, that’s fine. Actually, the research shows that that doesn’t actually have too much of an impact on when people are feeling anxious and depressed. But if we take it up a notch, you’re going to express gratitude to somebody every day, that when you notice somebody doing something that you appreciate, then you’re going to teach your kids how to say that out loud, and how to accept it, and how to be open to it. I think that’s much more powerful than you just making a list in your journal honestly.

Robin Hutson  14:23 

If you’re making it in one person experience reflecting on gratitude and putting it in a journal that’s not even showing the strength of why gratitude is.

Lynn Lyons  14:31 

Right. It’s a social action. And I think sometimes that gets lost. You know, we can certainly be grateful for the beauty around us. We don’t have to stand outside and say like, Thank you chipmunks for me, you know, but, but you I mean, I don’t think that’s a bad thing.

Unknown Speaker  14:48 

Was it Chip and Dale who were like “After you,” “After you,” “After you?”

Lynn Lyons  14:51 

Yeah. I just made an amazing connection Chippendale. Right isn’t there under the Chippendale dancers?

Robin Hutson  14:58 

Yes.

Lynn Lyons  14:59 

Is that a play on the Chipmunks?

Robin Hutson  15:02 

Um,

Lynn Lyons  15:09 

But is that is that where it came from?

Robin Hutson  15:11 

It actually didn’t. Chippendale is a reference to interior design like Chippendale furniture. Chippendale has a historic meaning before the Disney chipmunks.

Lynn Lyons  15:23 

Yeah, but the Chippendale dancers, did they come after the Chipmunks?

Robin Hutson  15:29 

The Chippendale dancers are referred to Chippendale the word that has the historic design association.

Lynn Lyons  15:38 

So male strippers the connection is back to the design of colonial era furniture?

Robin Hutson  15:47 

I don’t think Chippendale was colonial, but Chippendale the Chipmunks were named after the word Chippendale. Yes, if you join our Facebook group, we will share the answer after I research it.

Lynn Lyons  16:03 

Is there a connection? This is what I’m asking. Anyway, I don’t even know what we were talking about chipmunks. Okay, so, yes, gratitude. Gratitude is a social emotion. Let’s get back on track here.

Okay, let’s talk about what we can do. So, if you’re saying to yourself, you’re listening to this parents, and you’re saying, Okay, so this is something that I really want to make sure that I show for my children. Think about it very concretely, think about the fact that when you teach your kids how to give and receive gratitude, you are teaching them empathy.

We know that that’s hugely important in social relationships, people who express a lot of gratitude, some of the research shows is that they are also less critical of themselves. And we know that self-criticism is a risk factor for anxiety and depression. And that it is a way to really support social bonding and to create relationships. It also helps with emotional regulation. If we’re talking about, you know, the act of being grateful and expressing that there are a lot of benefits that we give our kids, when we put this practice into place with our families, and we model it, and we teach it and we do it on a regular basis,

Robin Hutson  17:20 

You have the game that you like to show families of when you’re talking about anxiety and response. What was something you didn’t expect today? And how did you respond and handle it?

Lynn Lyons  17:31 

 Unexpected things. Right, problem solving.

Robin Hutson  17:34 

Yeah. So, I think that when a lot of families sit down at the table, they say, Well, what are you thankful for? And I think we’re guilty of this, too. I think that we have always had such a simplistic view of that exercise. Even though we use the phrase, I’m grateful for you. But if we were to sit around a table and say, What are you thankful for, we’re likely not going to be using those moments and using that language for the power of what gratitude can be.

So, what we have to simply say is, what are you thankful for? That is an action that someone you know, did Mm hmm. Right? And thankful for that someone did here at this table? Yep. Because families get the habit of learning how to say to their sibling, I’m grateful that you did this, this and this, right, siblings learn to say it with each other parents say it to their children, to their to their partners, if there’s two adults in the house to make sure that they’re modeling that that is showing children early on how to articulate gratitude in a way that is it’s at its most potent to write as a way to deepen your emotional and social connection with other people. And remember,

Lynn Lyons  18:41 

I’ve said this a gazillion times, and I’ll say it again, when we’re looking at risk factors for anxiety and depression, loneliness, and isolation come up, over and over and over again. So, anything that we do anything that we teach our kids that fosters that kind of social and emotional connection, is worth its weight in gold.

Robin Hutson  19:00 

So, as we hear gratitude, throughout the month, as we approach the Thanksgiving holiday, I think it just is really important to think about how did you use to think about gratitude? How might you think of it now so that you are leveraging it for what it really can be? And how are you bringing the culture of gratitude in with your family? Because you know, you always talk about flexibility, autonomy and problem solving. This sounds like another good fourth, to add to the list of this is this is a personality trait, or a custom or a habit that parents really want to put some emphasis on.

Lynn Lyons  19:40 

Yeah, well, it’s under the other thing I talk about all the time is connection. And this is just under the heading of connection. Sure. And I think maybe what we can do is give the adults that are listening a little assignment, which is there somebody in your life, either currently or in the past that you would really like to express Your appreciation in your gratitude for and so just do it. Just do it. Don’t delay, just do it. Get that wonderful feeling of connection that comes from that.

Robin Hutson  20:11 

I’m thinking of that great scene in the Fred Rogers movie. Mm hmm. when they’re in the diner. And Tom Hanks asks the writer to stop and think about someone to sort of shift his mindset. Think about someone who you’re so grateful for. If people don’t know what’s so beautiful about that scene is that the people that they did close ups on in that diner were real life, friends and family of Fred Rogers. So, his wife was sitting in the restaurant, I think, one of his children, the female producer that he worked with for so many years.

Lynn Lyons  20:51 

If you listen to the last commencement speech that he gave…

Robin Hutson  20:55 

Was its Dartmouth?

Lynn Lyons  20:56 

Yeah. And that’s what he had people do that he even did it. I think the Kennedy Center Honors that was one of these something that he did very frequently at his speaking engagements when he was talking is that he would be quiet for a minute, he would say, I’m going to give you a moment of silence, a minute of silence and I just want you to think about somebody in your life that you’re grateful for. Right? And then the next thing is let them know it. If they’re still around, let them know it. Don’t hold back. Don’t wait. Let them know.

Robin Hutson  21:29 

Chip and Dale were the Chipmunks who would say after you after, you know after you write, they were like the ones who were excessively polite?

Lynn Lyons  21:38 

I don’t know. I thought they were the ones that had like little kids like this.

Robin Hutson  21:42 

So, there are two chipmunks two animated chipmunks that are excessively polite to each other. Oh, but I questioned whether or not those chipmunks are Chip and Dale.

Lynn Lyons  21:51 

So, here’s the here’s the issue that needs to be resolved. We know that Chippendale is used in a variety of contexts. Yes, rodents, furniture, and male strippers. I don’t know that there is another phrase in our language that actually covers such a wide array of things.

Robin Hutson  22:10 

Well, what I want to do is I want to look at the furniture history, and the phrase Chippendale look at the styles again and see why someone said, that’s the adjective for our male strippers. I think that’s really to me the interesting question.

Lynn Lyons  22:26 

Do you think you’re gonna find some historical question? I think you’re really, I mean, good for you. But I think you’re really giving a lot of credit to people who were coming up with a name for male strippers. Now, perhaps I’ll be surprised. But we’ll see.

Robin Hutson  22:41 

I’m thinking Chippendale furniture. Maybe they had a lot of those tassels hanging.

Lynn Lyons  22:46 

You’re going furniture inspiration, and I’m going rodent fetish. So, we’ll see where this plays out.

Robin Hutson  22:51 

Although your side seems extremely intriguing, I think I’m gonna win.

Lynn Lyons  22:57 

All right, well, I’m fine with you winning, right? We’re just gonna go with the facts.

Robin Hutson  23:02 

I just want you to know that I am grateful that you said that you’re fine that I’m winning,

Lynn Lyons  23:08 

What I really appreciate about you is your steadfast allegiance to some sort of rational explanation for why male strippers are called, like, I appreciate the just like that, like, you are going to go back in history, and you’re going to make sense of this. I appreciate that. Yeah.

Robin Hutson  23:28 

I appreciate you see me for who I am.

Lynn Lyons  23:37 

All right. Well, we’re gonna put up there’s a whole bunch of TED talks on gratitude, we’re gonna make sure that we put those in the show notes for everybody.

Daughter  23:44 

Mom, can I have time?

Robin Hutson  23:46 

This is what you’ll hear when you use a circle to manage your kids screen time. What do you think of the circle?

Daughter  23:50 

I hate it.

Robin Hutson  23:51 

Why do you hate it?

Daughter  23:52 

Well, I don’t actually hate it. But I feel like it’s good that I’m not spending as much time on the internet.

Robin Hutson  23:56 

It lets you set daily limits for different apps and social media. It also controls your kid’s Wi Fi schedules, and you can adjust age appropriate filters for searches from Little kids to teens. Our affiliate link will get you $20 off a circle. I love it.

It’s still annoying in the moment. I’m sure it is.

Okay, Lynn, we have a listener question. Now I’d like to ask you,

Lynn Lyons  24:17 

Okay.

Robin Hutson  24:18 

We’re struggling with language for our usually straight A’s anxious freshmen, losing school motivation, trying to avoid “as long as you’re trying your best” line of advice. We know we all need to learn the skill of when it’s okay to cut corners. As parents in these times we’re okay with our kids just trying to stay organized and completing all assignments on time to meet class requirements. However, our freshman is newly disorganized, missing assignments, and just not even caring, saying it doesn’t matter and also commiserating with school friends all saying the same thing. We don’t think that this giving up is the same as knowing when to coast but not sure how to effectively talk about the best given The circumstances?

Lynn Lyons  25:01 

That’s a great question. And there’s a lot of things in here that I think are pretty common right now to parents trying to deal with academics. I actually just saw this morning, interestingly, that common applications are for colleges are way, way down. So, people kids have taken their foot off the gas because of all that’s going on around us.

And so, parents are feeling a little bit of anxiety a little agita about Okay, so Aren’t we supposed to be moving forward here. So, for this freshman, I think one of the things we want to pay attention to and maybe talk to, I’m just going to say it’s a her just for pronoun ease. So, what I would talk to her about is that there is a difference right now, between learning how to cut corners, learning how to differentiate between and when you have to put the pedal to the metal, and when you can coast.

But that is very different from the all or nothing thinking mom that you’re hearing. So, you’re hearing so she was getting straight A’s, she was doing it perfectly. And now she’s flipped to this very different attitude of it doesn’t matter anyway, there’s a big difference between sometimes I have to push it, and sometimes I can coast and I’m either going to get all straight A’s or it doesn’t matter anyway.

And I would start asking those hard questions. Remember “how” questions are more effective than “why” questions because why questions oftentimes say, I don’t know. Or they get defensive? Like, why aren’t you handing your assignments in on time?

So, you want to move into a more problem solving way of talking? I would ask your freshman, I would say I hear you saying it doesn’t matter. How did you come to that conclusion? And maybe that will open up a conversation about how weird This feels and how overwhelming and that they’re hearing from each other? Oh, it doesn’t matter. Remember, particularly if you’re a freshman in high school, there’s a lot of social contagion and a lot of social pressure to sort of adopt a certain philosophy so to speak, I would ask how questions?

Robin Hutson  27:06 

It sounds like there’s a peer group with a contagious outlook.

Lynn Lyons  27:11 

Yeah. So, they may be feeling remember, this has been going on for a long time. And so, it’s getting old. And it’s getting sort of normalized over time. They’re hearing things and they’re, they’re just worn out. So, I would ask, how did you come to that conclusion? I would also ask; how do you know the difference between when you have to really push it in when you can coast.

And I would also see if based on everything that’s been going on, and I don’t know whether your child is remote or hybrid or in person, but chances are, it’s whatever’s happening, it’s different than usual, of course, is that See if you can help this newly disorganized freshman in high school, see if you can talk to her about setting up more of a routine, because it may be right now that the days are not as structured as she needs them.

When I talk to high school students. In general, they are thrilled with the fact that they have more time during the day to do their work, if they’re on a hybrid model. They like the fact that they’re not booked every second of the day. And I actually think that’s a pretty good thing. But with younger kids. So, if this is her first year in high school, this lack of structure that a lot of kids are experiencing right now, maybe too much for her.

And so it may be that if she’s not in school full time, you want to talk to her about how you’re going to put a little bit more routine into her day, so that she can get her homework done, so that she can figure out a process in which she hands her assignments in on time. So, it could be a combination of she’s disorganized, it also could be a combination of there’s this social contagion of like, it doesn’t matter.

This has been a very draining time. You know, we all know how emotionally spent we’ve felt over the last few months. So, talk to her about that. You want to get her away from this all or nothing thinking that because this sounds a little perfectionistic right? Either I’m straight A’s or doesn’t matter. There’s a whole lot of wiggle room between them.

So, here’s an opportunity for this 14 year old to start learning the skills of differentiation is that it also gives you an opportunity to talk to her about the difference between what she needs to get done and how she feels about it. The way we get things done is not based on how we feel when we start. It’s often based on how we feel when we’re finished and I would help her begin to think about that. It’s okay to do your homework even if you don’t feel like it. Putting your feelings in charge of the bus generally doesn’t get your math homework done.

Robin Hutson  29:41 

One of the questions that I would have if this were my child, if this child was really motivated before and clearly wanted to put the effort into receiving good grades and getting those accolades. Is there something in the new school setup where those motivators are no longer there? And so therefore that child is just not feeling the push from a teacher or the validation from a teacher and the way that the schoolwork is, is happening, and to have a conversation with a child of like what is different now. And that was different in eighth grade versus ninth grade.

Lynn Lyons  30:19 

The other thing too, to remember about this strange learning environment that we’re in, is that your freshman may depend on a certain amount of validation may depend on a certain amount of interaction with teachers even face to face interaction, that she’s not really getting right.

Now, the other thing to remember too, is that it is not unusual when kids start High School developmentally, where she is right now, for her to sort of have a little adjustment to this and figure out who she’s going to be as a high school student. So, it could be specifically pandemic related, but it also could be developmentally related. And it could also be a combination of the two things. But, see ask her sort of what, what sort of made doing good work in handing in your assignments and being organized? What made that feel good to you before? And where is that missing?

Now, be careful, because we know that extrinsic motivation is not merely as long lasting or as powerful as intrinsic motivation. In other words, when we pay kids for grades, or we bribe them to do things like that, we want her to find something inside herself that she says, oh, it feels really good for me to know that I’ve done a good job,

Robin Hutson  31:41 

Say there’s a group of like three or four friends. And there could be a very dominant voice in that group, who is really spearheading this attitude. So maybe it was a group of kids who did sort of care before. But one of them is like, this is all Bs, there’s no point, blah, blah, blah, right? So, it’s a social, it’s a social thing. So how would you handle that as a parent?

Lynn Lyons  32:07 

Well, that’s, that’s just content, right? So we always want to teach the skill, particularly to 13 and 14 year olds, how do you determine who you’re going to listen to and who you’re not going to listen to?

How are you going to turn down the kid that says, You know what, smoking pot is fine. And everybody says it’s bad for your brain. But you know, I heard that it really enriches enriches your creativity, or, you know, it’s all that all that talk about, staying up too late is BS.

So this is an opportunity to say, when you are in a social setting, when you are in a social group, many of these norms are contagious. And this is how it works. This is how they figure out who they are. This is why it’s challenging that they can’t all be together in person all the time, because this is the work that has to be done socially. So you begin to have that conversation.

It’s back to that old cliche number, right? Well, if they’ve jumped off a bridge, would you too, right? I mean, that’s a that’s a 1952 way of saying, How do you differentiate between who you’re going to follow and who you’re going to reject? This is a good opportunity, if mom has a sense that this is sort of a social thing that’s coming in this group, and maybe there is one leader of the pack?

How do you say, and how do you give her words? And how do you give her practice to say, this is not the path that I want to go on? It’s very tempting. Gosh, it’s very tempting at this point to say, oh, what what does it matter? But how do you know? What are you going to listen to? And what are you going to nor I think that’s a very good thing in any context to have that conversation with a 13 or 14 year old. It’s a good conversation to have with a 10 year old to but right now, developmentally, when social pressures are so important social norms are so important. That’s a great conversation to have.

Robin Hutson  33:46 

Good advice.

Lynn Lyons  33:47 

And I’m having these conversations with my own kids. I mean, I think that’s one of the things that I just want to make sure that as I’m talking about this, and you know, for those of you that are thinking that I’m like, yeah, this is what you do, this is what you do. But I’m also right in the mix of this. I’ve got kids going through big developmental things. I don’t ever want people to think that I’m sitting here as an expert, and my kids are perfect, and I’m the perfect parent.

Robin Hutson  34:10 

So join our Facebook group and you will have the opportunity to ask Lynn another question.

Lynn Lyons  34:16 

And stay tuned because the Chippendale mystery is going to be solved. All right. On that note, Robin.

Robin Hutson  34:24 

Bye Lynn!

Lynn Lyons  34:25 

Bye, Robin!

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