The dangers of protecting your teen from the natural consequences of their actions

The dangers of protecting your teen from the natural consequences of their actions

It’s completely mama-instinct to protect our young and lick their wounds. They hurt, we hurt and the biology of this doesn’t change as our babies grow. But there comes a time in their lives we should no longer protect our kids from natural consequences and here’s why.

The reality of life is that every action – regardless of whether it’s a heroic deed or crime –  comes with a reaction. It’s up to you whether we’ll call this concept the law of physics or karma but there’s a consequence from every action, good or bad.

In guiding a teen through maturity from child to young adult, your role is to monitor their experiences and attempts at new things. Being proactive and teaching them how to make good choices so they can act well and avoid actions with dire outcomes is part of it. Rescuing them each and every time they fall is not. Reality bites and sometimes when things don’t go swimmingly there can be awkward and unpleasant consequences for your teen. This sucks, but it’s life.

Choosing not to rescue your teen isn’t child abuse. It does not mean you are going to throw them under the bus. (Proverbially of course.) it will not make you the worst parent evvvvvvvvvver (insert door slam and eye roll here.) It’ll actually help them enormously in the long run.

Here are a couple of scenarios that show while rescuing your teen would be tempting, it wouldn’t be helpful for their developing independence.

Scenario 1: FOMO on the school trip

A school excursion has been organised and they’ve left it until the morning of trip to ask your signature on the permission slip plus a magic trick to rustle up the payment.

There are no valid excuses, they’ve just not been bothered.

You don’t have any change, the ATM is not on the way to school and as you understand, school policy usually requires excursions to be finalised the week prior.

Phoning the school, begging the teacher for lenience (this time) and signing the form with promises of sending in some coin tomorrow might be something you’d do for a primary school student but not a teenager because your high schooler knows better and deserves to miss out on that field trip don’t you think?

Harsh? Not really, because honestly it’s only a relatively minor event  and missing the excursion is a natural “punishment” that fits the “crime”… but, hey let’s call it a consequence to sound nicer!

Scenario 2: Letting the mates down

Imagine your teen is on school holidays. They’ve made plans to catch the bus to meet friends for a trip to the movies one morning. Because being on holidays is so much fun, they stay up all night playing computer games and sleep soundly through their alarm.

The very predictable and natural consequence of this is would be they miss the bus and are unable to see that movie session with their friends. If you were to rescue them by driving them to the mall just in time to catch the movie… like they might beg you to… it wouldn’t be a lesson in not staying up too late when you’ve made plans for the next morning!

A good option would be to help them explore alternative solutions – such as seeing if their friends are prepared to see a later movie or reschedule for another day. Maybe, they’ll just miss out as a straightforward and simple result of their disorganisation. Lesson learned!

Scenario 3: Slow down lead foot!

This could be one of your worst nightmares. Your newly P-plated driver was running late for work and photographed by a stationery police radar… driving well over the speed limit. The notice arriving in the mail is a big OUCH, indicating they’ve lost 3 of their 4 points and have a fine setting the bank account back a few hundred dollars.

Receiving this letter is the legal – and natural – consequence of being caught speeding. You’ve possibly dealt with this yourself as a driver too.

I know of some parents who’ve protected their frazzled and upset new driver by submitting a statutory declaration. They’ve claimed to be at the wheel themselves in order to bear to loss of points and cop the fine. I also know of parents, who’ve not needed to do this but think it’s reasonable and would take the same course of action.

Ok then, what’s so wrong with cutting your kid this kind of slack?

Well firstly, it’s against the law to sign and lodge a legally binding statement with false information and furthermore this is not modelling good citizenship… unless you want them to think it’s ok to disregard our laws and legal system.

Besides, facing this consequence (as tough as it may be for them) forces on them to reflect on the action and adjust their future behaviour (slow down for God’s sake). If they aren’t given a hefty boot up the bum about the consequences of driving beyond the speed limit, isn’t it quite likely they’ll repeat the behaviour? Worryingly, next time they, or other road users, may be not so lucky and the outcome of speeding can be fatal.

That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t help them, not at all. If they’re not in a position to pay the fine by its due date and you can assist with this then lending them the money is very fair.  As long as there’s a plan to repay you – and they still losing their driving points –  is a fair option. But I urge you not to let them escape the penalty of losing their driving points.

Reasons to avoid bailing them out again and again…

  • Getting them off the hook can lead to them getting hooked on the hope of being rescued
  • If they never experience the consequences of their actions, they’ll never modify their ways.
  • You’ll be forever spending your time and energy (and sometimes $$) on situations you have no responsibility for or control over
  • They’ll always look to throw blame on others where they can
  • What will they do the day you’re not there to do it?

Inevitably all kids will have lapses of judgment and at the end of the day what will be, shall be.

Accept their mistake(s), what’s done can’t be reversed. Reaffirming your unconditional love, supporting through the steps they’ll need to take to made amends and standing by them while they face the music isn’t always easy, but a necessary thing to do.

PS. I’ve written more about this in my upcoming book, being released in the coming months, so stay tuned for news!

Teenage sleep. How much is needed?

Teenage sleep. How much is needed?

Teenage sleep seems to be a hot topic as just this week on the Teenage Survival Coach Facebook page I’ve shared a couple of articles about schools accommodating their timetables to better sync with teen sleeping patterns. Maybe it’s newsworthy because we’re currently in school holiday mode with kids sleeping all day and parents left wondering how on earth to get them up and ready for school again!

Without getting all science-y here about human growth and physiology, it’s been proven that teens need much more sleep than they usually get.

So, why does my teen need more sleep than they’re getting?

In short, the teenage period is one of the most crucial chapters in a child’s growth. During adolescence, there’s great emotional, physical and mental growth which requires tremendous energy. Energy that’s obtained through good nutrition and solid sleep and quite at odds with Maccas and all-night gaming marathons enjoyed by some (not all) teenagers.

Like the water we drink and the air we breathe, quality sleep is essential for growth and survival. Especially during periods of rapid development like the teen years.

What causes teens to have insufficient sleep?

Teenage sleep patterns become irregular as they grow and this is due to several factors: busy everyday activities, school and part-time job routines, changing interests and of course hormonal development. Also, without any doubt, the teen years are a time for increased gadget use and the impact of devices and screen time on sleep has been well documented in various studies.

As their time is divided between so many interests and commitments, their body can find it hard to settle into a healthy sleeping pattern. Unbalanced sleep arrangements can then become the norm for their growing and developing body. And that’s not good.

How can insufficient sleep impact on a teen?

Sleep is food for the brain and it allows the body to rejuvenate and replenish. Without enough sleep, it’s difficult to perform everyday tasks and activities plus it greatly affects focus and decision making – two things teens struggle with anyway.

More seriously though, prolonged lack of sleep can lead to serious health problems and if this can affect any adult, just imagine the potential impact on a teenager’s developing body.

How much is enough?

Teenagers need at least 8 to 10 hours of sleep in order for their body to sustain daily routines and body development. But, due to busy lives with school, socialising and part time work this need is seldom met. Here is where time management then becomes a vital skill, so tasks are prioritised and completed allowing enough time for sufficient rest and sleep. There should also be a commitment to limit screen time to ensure gadgets don’t interrupt the sleep they get.

Of course, if you’re worried about your teen’s health and well-being because of poor sleep patterns, it’s vital to make an appointment with the GP to get some better sleep happening.

Teens and part time jobs? You betcha!

Teens and part time jobs? You betcha!

Teens and part time jobs, in my mind it’s a no-brainer. There are so many reasons why I think you should applaud your part-time working teen…. or encourage them to get a casual job if they’ve not yet got one.

But first, let me reminisce. As a teen, I could have been well described as shy and unsure. True story. I still remember the fear I experienced, turning up for the first shift at my after school job. Aged 13 at the suburban supermarket. I was a checkout chick in the days when the tills were push button, clunky and loud… price tags were stuck on precariously and the weekly specials were published in the local newspaper and we were tested to ensure we’d learnt them by heart. Yep, the good old days!

Throughout my time at high school and then at college I paid my way with coin earned through a variety of jobs. By the time I’d graduated as a teacher, I’d already experienced employment as a bakery hand, a functions waitress (not a very good one at that!), a jewellery store attendant, a convenience store cashier and a baby sitter.

Both my teenaged boys work and have done since they’ve been legally able. I’d say both are well rounded, they still enjoy other activities and maintain successful grades. I’ve many reasons for believing that teens and part time jobs are a great fit, let’s explore a few…

Teens who have part time jobs learn…

  • to be punctual and on time for shifts
  • the value of a dollar and how money earned the hard way is not as easily frittered away
  • the responsibility that comes with someone relying on them
  • time management skills required to successfully juggle work, study and other commitments
  • to appreciate leisure time and be less likely to waste it
  • to understand the relationship between effort and reward
  • to interact with others in a range of contexts (especially customers and clients)
  • problem-solving in real life situations
  • the importance of time and place and that sometimes you just need to say nothing
  • to take directions…. and follow them
  • to wear a uniform or appropriate clothing neatly and with pride
  • job specific skills they may never have otherwise been exposed to
  • about vocations they may have a life long passion for or a desire not to pursue

There’s more than enough positives there for me to recommend all teens work a part time job… but as with everything in life, balance is essential. School results, health and fitness are a couple of areas that can suffer if too much emphasis is placed upon work but for most adolescents having to prioritise and “fit it all in” is one of the best life lessons they’ll learn.

If your teen is interested in a part time job, and you’re all for it… here are some job hunting ideas for teens looking to earn some pocket money and gain some life experience.

Did you work part time as a teen? Do your kids?

Your teen’s online reputation. Helping them tidy their digital footprint in 5 easy steps!

Your teen’s online reputation. Helping them tidy their digital footprint in 5 easy steps!

Your teen must be taught their online reputation has the ability to make or break them in today’s digital world. There’s no point minimising it because life’s reality means that future employers, girlfriends (or boyfriends) and teammates can and will see more than what’s presented at face value. Thanks google!

AND… let’s not forget that every key stroke contributes to a digital footprint.

What’s a digital footprint anyway and how is related to online reputation?

Simply put, a digital footprint is the sum of someone’s online activity. Every message sent, every Facebook status liked and every photo uploaded can contribute to this, even if someone believes it was privately sent or has since been deleted.

Digital footprints can also come back and kick people in the bum as a teen local to me found out after posting on a Facebook community page. The girl in question, aged 15, introduced herself and asked to be considered for babysitting work. In her post she mentioned her love of kids, willingness to travel and experience with younger siblings and neighbours. Sounds quite the entrepreneurial thing to do… right?

I’m not sure she expected the backlash, but it came, quickly and furiously. Comment after comment, some offering advice respectfully, others nowhere near as polite. A click over to this young lady’s publicly accessible Facebook page showed exactly why… there’s no way in hell I would have left her in charge of my 5 year old. A feed full of selfies in her underwear or swimmers (hard to tell these days and I wasn’t interested in looking very long!) and pouting over bathroom sinks… selfies with middle fingers displayed and tongue out… and then the language. Oh. My. The language. You get the rest of the story, I’m sure.

If your teen is online, their digital footprint is already being created and their online reputation is being formed.

take care to mind your online reputation

We can’t undo what’s already done BUT there are certainly steps we can take to help our kids tidy up their online reputation. Here are 5 actionable things you can help them with today…

STEP 1: Check privacy settings – is the profile set to private? If not, why not? Be sure to check Facebook settings regularly as sometimes updates reset privacy to public as default.

STEP 2: Cull the friends list. I like the idea of sitting beside your teen and asking them how they know each person on their “friends” list. I regularly see kids with literally thousands of Facebook friends and I don’t feel it’s sensible or appropriate.

STEP 3: Get them to go through their photo albums (on Facebook and Instagram) and tell them to delete any picture they would not want plastered on a roadside billboard… or shown to Grandma. That means any pics depicting drinking, smoking, bras & undies, cleavage, fighting etc etc etc should be removed. Pronto. Would they want a future boss seeing such things?

STEP 4: Moderate the language – remove any posts which would paint an unfavourable picture. Again the “Grandma” rule of thumb is a good one to apply here!

STEP 5: Close any unused email accounts and social media profiles. This not only limits the potential for hacking it also means their digital footprint is cleaner and less likely to surface in the future.

All of those steps can be taken in the space of an afternoon and it’s best not to ignore them. As more and more of our lives become digital, maintaining a positive online reputation is increasingly important.

Have you worked with your teen on auditing their digital footprint? How about your own?

Talking to your teen about protection…

Talking to your teen about protection…

Parents more than anyone know that accidents can happen… right? Of course, but we also know in many cases they can be prevented. Having the chat with your teen about the very real need for protection is pretty important if you want them to learn responsibility.

From my experience, boys in particular are more likely to be higher-risk takers and often shirk precautions and protection. In their mind they are invincible and things never go against plan. “It’ll be alright”…. “nothing’s going to happen”…. “It’s stupid with that on!” You’ve heard it all before from the lads too, right?

Well the better news is that teen girls are usually a little more cautious and willing to use protection in order to minimise risk. As a generalisation too, there’s a higher likelihood they’ll consider the potential consequences of an accident and act preventatively. But are they protected well enough?

Well, simply put, at the end of the day it just makes sense for a teen to keep it covered and safe….

And that’s why Belkin’s range of iPhone cases – designed by the Vans skate label – will protect your teen’s precious iPhone without losing any cool factor, in fact they’ll love the feel and look of them AND there’ll be peace of mind.

If my kids are anything to go by, teens are lost souls without their smart phones. All very much “first world issues”, but a flat phone can be very traumatic and a cracked screen… clutch my heart, let’s not even go there! When there’s multiple hundreds of dollars invested in a teen’s smart phone technology (whether it be their pocket money or your hard earned dosh) they’d be crazy not to protect it… so let me help you out with that.

Our friends at Belkin are offering to give away 2 fabulous Vans cases, suitable for the iPhone 5/5s.

These cases retail at $39.95 and $34.95 respectively and as you can see, will not only protect your teen’s phone, but keep them looking on trend at the same time. Let’s call that a win!

Vans Black Jungle Case for iPhone 5/5s

Vans Black Jungle Case for iPhone 5/5s

Vans Waffle Sole Case for iPhone 5/5s

Vans Waffle Sole Case for iPhone 5/5s

Both designs have been inspired by Van’s ever popular skate shoe range and are manufactured to withstand the everyday tough and tumble that teens dish out so well.

Features specific to each include…

Vans Black Jungle Case for iPhone 5/5s
  • smooth high gloss finish
  • snug, comfy fit… just like your favourite Vans skate shoes
  • easy to snap on/off
  • all ports and buttons are easily accessible
  • camera lens cut out
  • offers protection from dings and scratches
Vans Waffle Sole Case for iPhone 5/5s
  • shock-absorbant layer of protection
  • form fitting but flexible enough to easily put on and take off
  • full button protection
  • easy access to ports
  • wrap around edges add protection to screen
  • camera lens cut out
  • easy to grip

If you’re now wondering how you can be one of the two lucky winners, it’s simple. Just leave a comment below on why your teen’s iPhone 5/5s needs some Belkin protection and the panel of judges (aka Mr 18 and Mr 15) will each choose a worthy recipient.

Please read and agree to the following conditions before entering:

  • There are 2 prizes and there will be 2 winners. Selected winners, as decided by the judges, will be notified by email and prizes posted via Australia Post.
  • This is a contest of skill, not chance.
  • Prizes have been provided by Belkin (Australia) but the opinion and content above has not been a commercial arrangement
  • The judging decision will be final and to be eligible entries must be received by Midnight (AEST) Friday June 26, 2015. Winners will be contacted Tuesday June 30, 2015 and announced July 01, 2015.
  • Submitting an entry acknowledges these terms and conditions have been read and agreed to.


The Dangers of Teen Sexting

The Dangers of Teen Sexting

As a social animal, your teen learns behaviour through modelling and imitating their peers and also adults. Young people are connected to each other and social media 24/7 and therefore influences far and wide are prominent in their lives and often there is little we are able to do about this.  Celebrity culture, again accessible around the clock, can also have a great impact on impressionable teens. In their attempt to behave similarly to what they observe via social media a teen may send sexually suggestive messages and revealing images to his or her peers.

As you’d imagine the implications around this are huge. Here are some of the facts…

  • taking, sending and/or receiving sexualised images of a minor (including themselves) places a teen at risk of being placed permanently on the sex offender’s register
  • images do not have to be naked, but any image of a minor with sexual connotations is considered sexting
  • individual offences include: taking the image or footage; sending it, receiving it, showing it to somebody
  • telecommunications offences can impact upon future employment as well as travel opportunities to countries such as the USA and Canada

According to a Queensland Police representative, the challenge lies with adults not having experience with the rapid change of technology. Subsequently, advice to parents is that “kids can’t be scared enough” of the potential risks around sexting and that it’s a conversation that needs to be repeated until teens get the message.


First Contact SBS. Let’s take steps forward.

First Contact SBS. Let’s take steps forward.

I hope you too had the chance to watch the three part documentary – First Contact – screened on SBS last week. I was glued to the screen over the three nights and was willing it to be longer. It certainly created much discussion in the media, in schools and hopefully in homes too. I know it did do here as I had Mr17 viewing episode 1 with me and I’m glad he stayed and watched.

I thought there were many rich takeaways from the program including the beginnings of meaningful conversation around Indigenous issues, information and education around the reality of life for Aborigines – both rural and urban peoples BUT most importantly and best of all, I thought, was witnessing  preconceived attitudes be challenged and changed.

Image Source:

Image Source:

To think that 6 out of 10 white Australians have had no significant or meaningful contact with an Indigenous person was a statistic which floored me. I’m lucky and pleased to be one of the other 40%. I’m proud to work belongside Aboriginal people, to have taught Aboriginal students and to be in regular Facebook contact with many Aboriginal friends. But still, the program highlighted something for me and that was I’m far more ignorant of their people’s experiences than I’d ever realised. Shame on me. And shame on us all.

But there’s much hope and hope is such a wonderful thing.

You may have noticed a World Vision button on the sidebar of this website… that’s because I’m honoured to be a World Vision Blogger Ambassador. Most Australians are  probably very aware of World Vision’s much needed and impressive international work… in fact 2 of the Blogger Ambassadors are currently with World Vision on a project in Uganda and you can follow their journey on Eden’s blog. However, essential and less publicly known work is being done by World Vision with Indigenous communities here, at home, and this makes my heart sing. Aboriginal people are being supported to help Aboriginal to allow change that’s meaningful, respectful and sustainable. Only good things can grow.

Please visit and view this video for a snapshot of how World Vision is working towards change in Australian communities. Wonderful things are happening. A small donation to World Vision’s Australia Program means you can be part of the change too!

Did you also watch First Contact? Were you aware of the support World Vision provides to Australian communities?