ParentTip: The Power of Apologies

We’ve all been there: frustrated, loud-voiced, faced with a sudden realization that we are not handling a tough situation the way we intended.  Even moments when we’re coming up short are opportunities to guide and teach our children.

In fact, acknowledging mistakes and making repairs with our own kids provides some very valuable relational lessons.  They too will (and often do) lose their temper; they will occasionally hurt and disappoint people they care about.  Personally demonstrating how to take responsibility for a mistake and care for another person, even when that person is three feet tall and may or may not be personally responsible for the total destruction of a brand new rug, is a powerful way to emphasize the importance of holding yourself accountable and treating others with respect and dignity.  When we apologize to our own children, we allow them to experience the comfort of being on the receiving end of an apology and let them in on the secret that even parents aren’t perfect – everyone makes mistakes and everyone can take steps to recover from them.

Follow the link below for some tips on apologizing to our own children:

ParentTip: Teaching Girls Bravery Not Perfection

According to Reshma Saujani, founder of the organization Girls Who Code, “we're raising our girls to be perfect, and we're raising our boys to be brave." In her TedTalk, she addresses the gender-specific socialization that is leading our young men to take risks and see obstacles as challenges to be surpassed, while our young women view obstacles as opportunities to fail or tarnish their image of perfection. Imagine how limiting it would be to only attempt tasks that you were certain you’d succeed in. This not only hinders progress in the classroom, but in the workplace and our society at large.

Through the limitless task of learning to code, Saujani’s program is socializing girls to be brave rather than be perfect, and more importantly, teaching them that they are not alone in their imperfection. When the risk of failing is seen as an opportunity to learn and try again, our young women become empowered and an entirely new world of opportunity is available to them.

Check out this awesome article on raising brave girls!

TeenTip: The Shared Grief Project

Grief and loss is just as much a natural process of life as joy and happiness. Yet, in hard times, it’s easy to feel isolated or misunderstood. Sound familiar?

Grief can take many shapes too. Whether as common as not making the basketball team or as devastating as losing a loved one. No matter what has you feeling down, know that you’re not alone. In fact, there are countless others who have felt what you’re feeling and grief can actually be a way to connect with others.

The mission of the Shared Grief Project envisions a world where no child grieves alone. Through the brave sharing of stories, children can feel connected to others’ experiences with heartbreak, disappointment, and loss. Sometimes even telling your story can help not only you, but someone else through their tough time.

For more resources on discussing your grief or caring for someone who is grieving visit:

TeenTip: Like a Girl

If anyone is paying attention to media these days (movies, commercials, magazines) it’s easy to see that doing anything ‘like a girl’ isn’t something to be proud of. This campaign from Dove is beginning to redefine how we think of our young ladies, and the best part is, it’s little girls that are leading the charge! Such a great reminder that youth can inspire adults every single day with their fresh outlook on life. So, what does it mean to you to act ‘like a girl?’

Back to nature

It may be scorching hot outside, but keeping in touch with nature is still important. More and more tweens and teens are so plugged-in to technology and social networking that they aren’t spending nearly enough time outside. Exploring nature is beneficial to kids because it decreases stress, increases a sense of community and belonging, and provides meaning and purpose that can increase tween’s self esteem, confidence and sense of place in the world. 

Since it is 100+ degrees on Texas summer days, you may have to get a little creative! We’ve collected some ideas to get you and your child started so you can get some fresh air this summer and stay cool at the same time.

  • Bring her and her friend to Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center 

    on Thursday nights for Nature Nights 6-9pm

  • Visit local watering holes

  • Visit Breed and Company or your favorite local nursery to pick up inexpensive clay pots, some dirt, and plants. She and her friends can decorate the pots and plant some flowers to put in their rooms or on the front porch!

  • Go to East Austin Succulents (These plants can actually survive the Texas heat, and you will find some really cool looking cacti! Be on the lookout for a Living Social Coupon or a Groupon from them!)

  • Rent a kayak off of Town Lake (aim for early in the morning or in the evening to avoid the heat)

What are some ways you stay cool while keeping connected to nature?

summer reading list

The long, hot summer is here and we can think of nothing better we'd like to do than curl up with a good book under a fan, by the pool or at the beach. With so many great books out there for tweens and teens, sometimes you need a little guidance on what to get for your reader. Local gems like the Austin Public Library and Westbank Library have staff members who specialize in adolescent literature, and are always happy to help point you in a good direction. Check out APL's NBTween Book Club this summer, too! Up next is Time Cat and Nerd Camp!

Readergirlz is an online book club for adolescents that promotes literacy and social service, and can be a great way to get your social media-savvy tween excited about books again.

Local bookstore BookPeople has summer reading lists for grades 5-6, 7-8 and a whole website dedicated to teen literature with events, reviews and recommendations!

Here are a few titles we enjoy to help get you started. Happy reading!

Ages 9-12:
ONE CRAZY SUMMER by Rita Williams-Garcia
WHEN YOU REACH ME by Rebecca Stead
    Ages 13 and up:
UNDER THE NEVER SKY by Veronica Rossi
GIRLS DON’T FLY by Kristen Chandler

invasion of privacy

We came across an article today that got us thinking about when, if ever, it's appropriate for a parent to invade their child's privacy and snoop around. Parents ask us about this often, and really struggle with balancing limit-setting, independence-seeking, trust and respect for their child's privacy.

Kids this age are striving to create their own identity, to become the masters and mistresses of their own lives, and they deserve to be spared parental intrusion into areas they wish to keep private.- via

While you may or may not agree with what the author states above, the truth is that there are real risks for the parent/child relationship when parents decide to snoop. Parents often talk with kids about their need to be trustworthy. It's just as important for parents to demonstrate trustworthiness to their children, and one way to model that behavior is to respect their right to increasing privacy as they get older.

With a young tween, it may make sense to have supervisory authority over their email and facebook accounts, and to share that with them. Whenever parents are going to access potentially private information, it's critical to be upfront with your tween about what she can reasonably expect to be shared with you. Limit setting and boundaries are still an important aspect to raising responsible kids. As they get older, you can begin to allow them more and more access to privacy, and then respect those limits to model your own trustworthiness.

We want adolescents to develop autonomy over their bodies, thoughts, beliefs, values and hopes. Trusting them to their age-appropriate privacy is one way to help them get there.

Daddy's Not-so-little Girl

Are you a dad struggling to keep your connection with your daughter as she is growing up? It is possible to maintain a strong relationship during the tween years, but you can also expect that relationship to change and evolve as she does.

Fathers play a crucial role in helping their daughters develop trusting, healthy relationships and a positive self-image. As your tween enters puberty, it's natural to experience some distancing. Dads and daughters have to navigate creating a new relationship as she becomes his not-so-little-girl, and it can be challenging for dads to watch their daughters exert their newfound independence. One of the greatest gifts a dad can give his tween daughter is the space to discover her new self while letting her know that her dad is still there for her whenever she needs him. Trust us, she will!

With Father's Day approaching, here are some ideas for dads and daughters that will help you keep that connection and score some points with your tween!

  • Take your daughter AND her friends (2 or 3) out for brunch on the weekend.
  • Make something together - visit a garage sale and repurpose a piece of furniture for her bedroom!
  • Have a movie night at home during the school week - let her stay up just a little bit longer than usual! And of course, let her choose the movie (with no grumbling from Dad) and a special snack.
  • Take her and a friend to Blues on the Green, Unplugged at the Grove or a Central Market music night for some free fun and great music!
  •  Go sweat it out with paintball! This is a high-energy game that girls and their dads are sure to love. After the game, grab a sno-cone together to cool off and relive the highlights!

Visit for some other great ideas and advice!

Tween Style: From chapstick to lipstick

Dealing with the issue of makeup can be a tough subject in some households. Each parent may hold different opinions on when, where and how much is appropriate. Sometimes it's difficult because your tween’s BFF is allowed to wear makeup and you might be undecided (or totally against it), but your daughter won't let you hear the end of it!  Here are some ideas to help you ease your tween into her new style without driving you crazy in the process:

  • Compromise - saying a flat-out no right away may backfire, resulting in your child pushing back even more or going behind your back. Listen to her first and come up with a reasonable compromise. While you may think she's trying to look like a fashion model, she may be thinking it would be cool just to wear mascara
  • Start simple - explore with her some light and natural looking makeup; go to a makeup counter with her and get some samples and a mother/daughter light makeover 
  • Set limits - let her know what her boundaries are; help her learn where and when can she wear makeup and when it's not appropriate
  • Teach technique - along with good makeup application goes good skincare hygiene; she will need to be responsible about taking off her makeup if she is going to wear makeup; teaching her proper technique will also help prevent her from going overboard! (if your tween doesn’t want to learn from you, consider a makeup class or a birthday party with a style & makeup theme)

Now...have some fun and make some homemade lip balm together using this recipe:

16 teaspoons sweet almond or peach kernel oil
4 teaspoons beeswax
4 teaspoons cocoa butter
4 teaspoons honey
24 drops vanilla flavor oil
1 teaspoon vitamin E 250 IU
Put oil, cocoa butter and beeswax into a glass jar. Place jar in pan of boiling water over medium heat. Stir occasionally and heat until all are melted. Remove from heat and add honey, flavor oil and vitamin E oil. Mix well and pour into containers. Makes approx 12-13 1/4 oz containers.

tweens and caffeine

Just because few tweens get their morning kickstarted with a cup of Mom and Dad's coffee, doesn't mean they aren't loading up on the caffeine in other ways throughout the day. The popularity of highly caffeinated energy drinks, sugar-laden coffee-based treats like Starbucks' frappucino line and the old standby sodas means that many tweens are consuming caffeine regularly.

The general consensus among doctors is that tweens and teens should consume fewer than 100mg of caffeine per day, with many more urging no more than 80mg per day. For perspective, a can of soda has about 50mg of caffeine. A frappucino ranges from 10-195mg depending on the size and style. Energy drinks vary widely, but common brands have between 80-180mg per can. If you know your tween consumes these beverages even sparingly, check out this database with her and find the caffeine content of her preferred drinks. Then work with her to limit her caffeine intake and talk about the potential for sleep disruption, dehydration and even mood disturbances like anxiety. Check out these helpful websites here and here for more information on the effects of caffeine on your tween.