Ep 15: Wake Up and Get More Savvy

Episode Summary

Michelle Mitchell, author of Parenting Teenage Girls in the Age of a New Normal, has a wake-up call for parents on this episode. She thinks it is a big problem that parents tend to be out of touch with the latest technology and culture. Parents today need to get a little more street smart.

Show NotesParenting ScriptsWorkbook ExercisesInterview TranscriptGuest Bio

Full Show Notes

Do you ever feel like your teenager is smarter than you? That their savviness with technology is putting their world and their problems beyond your reach? It would be completely understandable if you did.

Technology is rapidly evolving, and so is the environment in which kids are growing up. It’s a challenge to tell a kid who’s never known a world without technology that they’ll be okay without it, but it’s an important challenge to solve. Teenagers are more at risk of mental health problems than ever before, largely due to the addictiveness of this new digital landscape. Smart teen parenting is possible, even in this age of captivating technology!

So how do you fight to stay more connected to your teen and compete with their tech? This probably sounds like an uphill battle considering how addictive software like Tik Tok and Candy Crush is designed to be. Further, teens are often unaware of the effects of heavy cellphone usage. Anxiety, depression, and sleep deprivation have all risen in teenagers along with the accessibility of this technology. This sounds like a job for smart teen parenting!

However, even if you program smartphones for a living, it can hard to parent a teen who’s attention would rather be elsewhere. And when you get snubbed, it’s easy to lose confidence. That’s why I spoke with Michelle Mitchell. Michelle is the author of Parenting Teenage Girls in the Age of the New Normal, and the founder of Youth Excel, a charity organization that specializes in life-skills training for teens. Michelle has been bringing her smart teen parenting wisdom to schools for over 12 years, and she’s seen all kinds of parent-teen issues first hand.

Michelle thinks it is a big problem that parents tend to be out of touch with the latest technology and culture. For Michelle, smart teen parenting means giving parents tools to become a little more tech smart. She wants to help parents create a space where they can communicate calmly and effectively with their teen. This can be a lot of work and require a lot of patience, but the risks of staying out of touch with technology can be costly.

The Cost of Being Out of Touch

Not being aware of the digital environment teens spend so much time in means not being aware of the risks that are associated with it. And not knowing the risks is to gamble your ability to connect with or help your teen when they make mistakes or poor decisions. As a result, teen who don’t think their parents are smart and capable might tune out their parents’ voice during this important phase of development. That’s a huge confidence crusher!

This is exactly what Michelle is concerned about when comes to smart teen parenting. She sees parents struggling to connect, and therefore losing confidence during their child’s teenage years, because they don’t fully understand teen tech issues like smartphone addiction. 

The first thing Michelle wants to say to any parent who feels like giving up is:

“You are not alone.”

She understands the tendency to feel isolated as a parent when at first you don’t grasp what’s going on in your teen’s universe. The struggles you and your teen are facing are more common than you may realize. It’s okay to talk to other parents about them, and work to find solutions together. Sometimes relating with other parents can unveil new ways to try reconnecting with your teen. Michelle says sharing with your peers it can be a great way to discover smart teen parenting techniques, though, it comes with a warning…

You Can’t Give Up Hope!

Attempting to reconnect with your teen is only possible without a defeated mindset.

A defeated mindset comes from fixating on the lost relationship you used to have before your kid was a teen, and the realization that you won’t get that back. Michelle says that adopting a defeated mindset doesn’t allow you to explore new ways of connecting. In her clinical experience, Michelle has tended to many moms crying in her office saying, “I don’t know what I’m doing wrong,” and “It’s all my fault.” She sees parents losing confidence and feeling defeated because they are trying to hold onto childhood relationships.

Your child isn’t the same person they were when they were seven. So your relationship shouldn’t be the same either. As a teen, your child is exploring independence for the first time and you won’t be able to parent them with the same approach. By letting go of what was, you can look forward to what’s to come. She explains that once you understand what is “now,” you can find new ways to connect, and we discuss so many strategies for doing this!

Michelle is so inspiring and knows how to renew confidence in parents of teens so they can embrace smart teen parenting. First she reminds us that you don’t actually have to be smarter than a teen to use smart teen parenting. She also reminds us that there’s a lot smart teen parenting can teach that technology cannot. (Listen in to find out what!)

Learn About Smart Teen Parenting Today

Understanding the power of smart teen parenting is important more than ever before, so don’t miss out on this crucial episode! The reality is, the online world is not separate from the real world, so parents should conversations about the ways teens behave online. For a lot of teens today, their online world can be extremely public, so the stakes are high!. Smart teen parenting won’t eliminate all the risks, but it can dramatically reduce them. 

Michelle wants teens to learn that they’ll be okay away from tech. This might be obvious to you as a parent, but a lot of teens really don’t understand this. Kids today don’t have a context for life without an internet. They don’t understand the kind of anxiety it can breed in them. Dependency on technology does put their mental health at risk. Michelle knows from experience how hard it can be to monitor your teen, but she seems to have an answer for almost everything.

She is packed full of ideas. In our interview, we discuss all sorts of strategies for smart teen parenting in a world of technology, and so much more! We talk about:

  • Michelle’s top five issues: disrespect, social media, sexuality, moods, and partying responsibly
  • The 10 second rule – averting your tendency to ramble
  • Punishment vs. Discipline – your mental state when enforcing boundaries
  • Accountability buddies
  • The danger of sexual predators online
  • Girls and body image – “Sexy vs. Beautiful”
  • Access to pornography
  • Keeping a poker face
  • “Soft and Close” – communicating effectively with an emotional teen
  • Feeding purpose

I’m so thankful to have gotten to talk with Michelle about smart teen parenting. She really knows how to make scary topics approachable, which is good because it looks like technology is here to stay. Her voice is a confidence builder. She speaks from a genuine place of love. Please tune in and hear all she has to share!

Parenting Scripts

Word-for-word examples of what to say to your teen

1. Make sure your teenager has someone they can talk to–even if it isn’t always you

“If there was something in your life you couldn’t talk to me about, who would you talk to? I know there might be things that you’re hesitant to talk to me about, but here are some other options of people in their 20’s you could talk to. And I trust them to be discreet but also take charge if there’s a real problem.”

-Michelle Mitchell

2.  After an argument with your teen:

(Members Only)

3.  Developing deep trust with your teenager:

(Members Only)

Workbook Exercises

Step-by-step guides for applying the ideas from this interview

1.  Develop a Response to Emotional Flare-Ups:

Michelle told me that arguments happen when teens are having trouble managing an intense emotion. They lash out at you because they are feeling crazy inside and don’t know what to do about it. So one great approach is what she calls “Soft and Close”. The idea is to get physically close to your teenager and talk in a low and soothing voice. You want to say something that will help your teen calm down. Michelle recommends some empathetic statements like “I know how hard this is for you,” and “we’re going to get through this,” and “I want you to know how much I love you.” Try to get close enough to rest a hand on your teen’s shoulder. Write your own Empathic statements below. Practice saying them in a low, calm, smooth voice. Visualize yourself saying them to your angry teenager. Michelle told me that arguments happen when teens are having trouble managing an intense emotion. They lash out at you because they are feeling crazy inside and don’t know what to do about it. So one great approach is what she calls “Soft and Close”. The idea is to get physically close to your teenager and talk in a low and soothing voice. You want to say something that will help your teen calm down. Michelle recommends some empathetic statements like “I know how hard this is for you,” and “we’re going to get through this,” and “I want you to know how much I love you.” Try to get close enough to rest a hand on your teen’s shoulder. Write your own Empathic statements on a piece of paper. Practice saying them in a low, calm, smooth voice. Visualize yourself saying them to your angry teenager.

Complete Interview Transcript

[Coming Soon]

About Michelle Mitchell

Michelle is an author, award-winning speaker, and teenage expert who has presented to over 200 000 people in her career to date. After starting her career as a teacher, Michelle left teaching in 2000 to found Youth Excel, a charity that has supported thousands of young people and their families with mentoring and psychological services.

Michelle’s hands-on experience and passion for ‘all things young people’ has made her a sought-after and entertaining speaker. She has a unique ability to transfer years of knowledge to a wide range of audiences. Michelle presents to parents, primary and high schools, business and mental health professionals on topics of well-being, family and connection.

Michelle’s innovative work has been featured on the TODAY Show, Channel Ten Morning News, Today Tonight, 96fivefm, ABC radio and in countless print media including The Age, Dolly Magazine, Australian Women’s Weekly and the Courier Mail.

Michelle’s books and resources have been called an ‘encouraging and guiding light’ for parents and professionals. She has a marvelous way of speaking truth in a way that all appreciate.

She lives in Brisbane with her husband and two teenagers.

Find Michelle on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube.