Ep 60: Deliberate Parenting for Happy Campers

Audrey Monke, author of Happy Campers, shares the wealth of knowledge she’s gained from mentoring kids and camp counselors for the past 30 years. It’s incredible just how many tricks from counseling campers can be applied in the home!

If you've enjoyed Talking to Teens, we'd love if you could leave us a five-star rating, and if you have time, a review! 

Full show notes

Unhappy Camper

Everyone loves compliments, right? So you thought until you said to your teen, “You look so cute in the new sweater I gave you!” and you’re met with an eye roll. Oh yeah, you forgot that teens don’t like being called cute, that’s for children. This is one of many new hurdles that come with your kid getting older. You have to put up with things like waiting for your teen three blocks away when picking them up from practice or being absolutely silent when their friends ride with them in the car. While they’re treating you like a 2nd class citizen, they also expect you to fork over cash at any time and let them stay out until the wee hours with their friends on the weekends. If they really want to be treated like an adult, shouldn’t they be doing these things themselves?

When you’re getting fed up with their snippiness and demand to be treated like an adult without actually having any adult responsibilities, you snap at them. You say “Why are you always so grumpy? What happened to the nice little girl you used to be?” Then, your teen goes into defense mode and insists that they’re not grumpy, you’re just a controlling nag who never leaves them alone. They refuse to see your side and storm off in a huff. This attempt at deliberate parenting by trying to be upfront about issues you’re having with your teen really backfired, huh?

Practicing deliberate parenting and being intentional with your teen may sound simple, but taking action isn’t always easy. Sometimes you feel like you’re walking on eggshells to say the right thing. You never pictured parenting to be this bumpy and confusing. You swore that you wouldn’t turn into those parents but then your kid becomes a teen and it seems like nagging is the only way to stop their defiant behavior. How can you be direct with your teen when you have a problem with their behavior without getting them all worked up? To find the answer, this week I spoke with Audrey Monke, author of Happy Campers: 9 Summer Camp Secrets for Raising Kids Who Become Thriving Adults. Audrey is also the owner and director of Gold Arrow Camp in Lakeshore, California and is a writer and speaker on positive parenting techniques that she’s learned from her vast experiences with kids. These experiences, along with being a mother of five, has left Audrey with plenty of deliberate parenting techniques that we discuss in this episode.

Accentuate the Positive, Eliminate the Negative

Audrey’s road to the unconventional career path of summer camp ownership started when she was a camp counselor in college. The experience completely changed her life when she realized the relationships she formed with the campers were special and unique. Because the counselors were young enough to be seen as older sibling-like figures instead of authority figures, the campers really opened up about their lives and struggles. They truly trusted the counselors’ advice and Audrey felt much more like a life coach than a babysitter to the campers. Eventually Audrey went on to buy the camp (at just 22-years old!) and has been operating it for over 30 years. From her vast experiences at the camp, she realized how helpful the lessons she learned from her time spent with campers could be to parents. The intentional and personable approach that the camp takes towards counseling the campers influenced her to write her book on deliberate parenting.

The most crucial approach that Audrey teaches counselors at her camp is to give each of their campers one-on-one attention at least once a day. This could be something as small as taking time at the campfire to tell a camper “I really appreciate that you gave Kelsey the last juice box instead of taking it yourself. You’re so generous!” Audrey says that this technique translates to deliberate parenting when a parent takes note of all the kind, mature, responsible, or just fun things their teen does throughout a day. Of course, complimenting them on the spot is great but what can be even better is if you make time later in the day to commend them on their good behavior. Maybe when you’re saying goodnight to them, you can compliment them on how they told a funny story at dinner to lighten the mood when their sister had just lost her big championship basketball game. Your deliberate parenting technique of noticing their good behavior makes them feel like you notice their individual strengths.

Another camp counselor technique that Audrey notes as extremely applicable to deliberate parenting is taking a positive approach when it comes to behavior management. This means when your teen is being grouchy, unkind, or distant, think about productive ways of confronting this behavior. Saying “Why are you being snarky with your siblings?” is accusatory and honestly, debatable. You might see it as snarky behavior while your teen insists that they are just standing up for themselves when their sibling is pestering them. You won’t get anywhere by using negative labels such as snarky because it will put your teen in a state of denial. Instead, use phrases like “Your sibling says that you haven’t been playing along with them much today. Is there a way we can change the situation so that you’ll have more fun with them?” This way it’s an open-ended, synergetic conversation where you’re genuinely interested in how your teen feels and how they would like to be treated in order for them to be less problematic. Tune into the episode to hear more no-drama approaches to deliberate parenting that will encourage positive communication with your teen.

Daily Inspirationals

It’s pretty evident that Audrey is big on positivity when it comes to deliberate parenting. But that doesn’t mean that you have to constantly tell your kid how amazing they are. Instead, Audrey says that implementing small but meaningful messages of positivity can go a long way in creating a loving, affirming family culture. She suggests leaving simple yet uplifting messages in places your teen can’t miss, like the back of the bathroom door. Writing positive phrases like “Improve yourself today” or “Your greatest challenges lead to your greatest successes” on a note card can really help implement encouragement into your teens daily life when they expect it the least. And sometimes these messages can really improve a crappy day or at the very least remind your kids how much you care about their happiness. Even if they tell you it's cheesy, they’ll secretly cherish these sweet messages and appreciate your efforts to practice deliberate parenting.

In this episode, Audrey and I go in depth about deliberate parenting practices you can implement with your teen. In addition to Audrey’s go-tos for creating a positive, mindful family environment, you will discover:
  • How to turn “labels” into solutions
  • The subtle language shift that makes all the difference
  • The link between homesickness and a parent’s confidence in their kid
  • How to identify “hot spots” and “prime times” to optimize the good times and puzzle out the stress
I’m so excited to be sharing Audrey’s wealth of knowledge on creating a deliberate parenting practice and helping teens become their best, most capable selves. Enjoy the episode!

Follow us on Social Media! We're @talkingtoteens on Instagram and TikTok

Creators and Guests

Andy Earle
Andy Earle
Host of the Talking to Teens Podcast and founder of Write It Great
Audrey Monke
Audrey Monke
Let’s raise kids who become thriving adults! Mom of 5💪🏼summer camp pro🏕podcaster🎤speaker, author📖 Jesus follower 🙏. Spreading as much 😍 & ☀️ as I can.
Ep 60: Deliberate Parenting for Happy Campers
Broadcast by