Ep 269: Are You a Consistent Parent?

Sheri Glucoft Wong, author of Raising Kids, shares the importance of being a consistent parent, even when raising teens feels like a complicated maze. As a therapist, Sheri has a wealth of insight on how to effectively and consistently communicate with our kids. 

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Full Show Notes

As parents, we all have those moments when communicating with our teen feels easy, and other times when no matter what we say, it leads to conflict. Why is that? What makes the difference between feeling effective vs ineffective?

This week we’re exploring that idea with our guest Sheri Glucoft Wong, a nationally recognized family therapist and author of Raising Kids: Your Essential Guide to Everyday Parenting. Sheri introduces the concept of being “on your spot” as a parent – when you feel aligned in your head, heart, and gut about an issue, communicate it clearly to your teen, and they respond accordingly without a power struggle.

What does it mean to be “on your spot” and why does it create cooperation not conflict? How can we get “off our spot” and start grasping for leverage through threats and consequences? Sheri explains why threats often backfire and how a simple “tweak” using “when/then” language instead of “if/then” can turn things around.

The Power of Being “On Your Spot”

Being on your spot as a parent means you feel clear and aligned internally about an issue, so you can take a firm yet kind stance with your teen. Sheri shares how parents have no trouble insisting kids wear seatbelts in the car – they never threaten or bribe, they just know it’s non-negotiable. But with other issues, like manners or chore completion, they struggle because they’re not fully on their spot.

In our interview, Sheri describes how being on your spot means your head, heart, and gut all align – you intellectually know what your teen needs, you care enough to want that for them, and your instincts tell you it’s the right thing. When all three are lined up, you can stand firm calmly and prevail without resorting to power struggles.

From Threats to Incentives

When we’re off our spot as parents, we often start grasping for leverage over our teens through punishments and consequences. We take away devices or restrict privileges trying to motivate them. But Sheri explains that while limits are fine, threats rarely work and can backfire.

Instead of “if/then” threats, Sheri suggests “when/then” incentives. Rather than saying “if you don’t complete your homework, you lose phone privileges,” say “when you complete your homework, you can have phone time.” This small tweak eliminates the threatening tone and helps motivate cooperation.

Reframing Difficult Experiences

No matter how much we want to shield our teens from pain, they’ll inevitably face disappointments that are out of our control – a pandemic, social conflict, a lost game. But as Sheri explains, what truly shapes the impact isn’t what happens to teens, but rather what they make those events mean.

As parents, we have power to reframe difficult situations and influence how our teens internalize them. We can encourage resilience rather than victimhood by discussing values and modeling emotional management. By focusing on what they can control, not what happens to them, we help teens build lifelong coping skills.

Additional Topics:
  • Why labeling kids “bullies” or “victims” can backfire
  • Understanding teen emotions without over-identifying
  • Indulging tantrums vs. fostering independence
  • Teaching teens to handle disappointment
If you enjoyed this episode, check out Sheri’s book Raising Kids: Your Essential Guide to Everyday Parenting for more great insights!

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Creators and Guests

Andy Earle
Andy Earle
Host of the Talking to Teens Podcast and founder of Write It Great
Sheri Glocoft Wong
Sheri Glocoft Wong
Sheri Glucoft Wong is a family therapist, parenting expert, and consultant who speaks nationally at independent and public schools, medical and mental health centers, businesses, law firms, nonprofits, and religious organizations. She provides consultation and training to a range of professionals including teachers, school administrators, counselors, physicians, psychotherapists, clergy, attorneys, and corporate managers. She served as the resident parenting coach for Apple, Gymboree, and Genentech, and has trained health care professionals at the Stanford Medical Center and UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital. Ms. Wong lectures at universities including Stanford, U.C. Berkeley, and U.C. San Francisco, has consulted with faculty at Yale University’s Center for Emotional Intelligence, and was a featured speaker at the “Pediatrics in the Pandemic Age” national conference for pediatricians. Her parenting advice has been showcased in the media, including The Wall Street Journal, The San Francisco Chronicle, and Greater Good Magazine and on a televised national satellite media tour on best parenting practices that reached over 2 million across the country. She is the co-author of Raising Kids: Your Essential Guide to Everyday Parenting.
Ep 269: Are You a Consistent Parent?
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