Douglas Haddad is an award-winning teacher, author, speaker, and filmmaker known for his book, "The Ultimate Guide to Raising Teens and Tweens." He was named Teacher of the Year in Connecticut and a 2020-2021 Fund for Teachers Fellow.

397: Understanding Tweens & Teens 

Douglas Haddad

Tweens and teens can be super-challenging for us parents. They’re going through massive changes, they can be impulsive, and they need us as they navigate their transition to adulthood. How can we raise happy, self-confident tweens and teens? What should we know about technology? Hunter talks to Douglas Haddad about all these things and more.

Understanding Tweens & Teens - Douglas Haddad [397]

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*This is an auto-generated transcript*

[00:00:00] Douglas Haddad: For them to be able to handle all the things going on and juggling at home, at school, nowadays, on social media, it's just a lot to deal with. So for us as parents, it's scary to go into this world cuz we don't really know how to navigate it and properly monitor it.

[00:00:21] Hunter: You are listening to the Mindful Mama podcast, episode number 390. Today we're talking about understanding teens and tweens with Douglas had.

Welcome to the Mindful Mama podcast. Here it's about becoming a less irritable, more joyful parent. At Mindful Mama, we know that you cannot give what you do not have. And when you have calm and peace within, then you can give it to your children. I'm your host, Hunter Clarke-Fields I help smart, thoughtful parents stay calm so they can have strong, connected relationships with their children.

I've been practicing mindfulness for over 20. I'm the creator of Mindful Parenting, and I'm the author of the bestselling book, raising Good Humans, A Mindful Guide to Breaking the Cycle of Reactive Parenting and Raising Kind Confident Kids.

Welcome back to the Mindful Mama podcast. So glad you're here. Listen, if you haven't done so yet, hit that subscribe button so you don't miss any episodes. And if you get some value from this podcast, please do us a favor and just go over to Apple Podcast, leave us a rating and review. It helps the podcast grow, and it just takes 30 seconds and I greatly, greatly appreciate it.

Just a moment. I'm going to be sitting down with Douglas Haddad, an award-winning middle school teacher, bestselling author, Parenting and education advisor, international speaker and award-winning filmmaker. He's the author of The Ultimate Guide to Raising Teens. And tweens, and he has numerous teaching awards as a middle school teacher.

So we're gonna talk all about that. Super challenging age. Teens and tweens can be so challenging. They're going through massive changes. They can be impulsive and they need us. They really need us to navigate their transition into adulthood. So we wanna be there for them. But how do we do that? How do we raise happy, self-confident teens and tweens?

We're gonna talk all about. But before we dive in, I just want to let you know that I'm super thrilled. My second book, raising Good Humans, every Day is coming out this summer. I hope you'll order it. I hope that you will order it ahead of timely pre-order, and here's why. It may seem kind of unnecessary, but actually your decision really affects the book's chances of success.

Because there's a number of reasons. It encourages the publisher. They should increase their print run. It gets the book into larger retailers, so it'll be available and post-release, these sales count as part of the first week sales. And that allows the book to get into some of those bestseller lists, which guarantee continued sales.

Because being on a bestseller list is one of the best things that can happen to a book commercially because people who have never heard of it and. Never considered buying it. We'll go out and buy it because it's on that list. So I would love for you to support raising good humans every day. And when you do, if you buy two copies of raising good humans every day, one for you, one for a friend, you're actually gonna get all access passed to this awesome raising good humans.

Summit that I'm putting together with my publisher, new Harbinger with 16 amazing interviews that I'm super psyched for that I will let you know about who isn't it? Later, teaser yourself. Please go to the bookseller of your choice and pre-order raising good humans every day, and I thank you so much for your support with that, and now onto this episode.

So Douglas, thank you for coming on the Mindful Mama podcast.

[00:03:50] Douglas Haddad: Absolutely. Thanks for having

[00:03:51] Hunter: me, Hunter. Okay, so you, not only do you have a book on tweens and teens, which we're gonna talk about, but you teach middle schoolers, right? Like aren't you teaching middle school?

[00:04:02] Douglas Haddad: That's me. Yep. Going

[00:04:03] Hunter: 23 years. 23 years.

Yeah. I'm to tell you, so before I did my like yoga teacher training, like way back when I was actually a middle school teacher for a year. I was like a half, did a job share. I was a high school teacher for two years and that was so intense. The, the art teacher, I was the high school art teacher and then I was a middle school art teacher for seventh graders and I job shared and even halftime that totally burned me out.

And I was like, I'm never gonna teach again. It's killing my soul. That's hilarious. Just because middle schoolers are a very special, um, Of kids, and I say that as a mom of a middle schooler right now, she's just about to turn 13. She's in seventh grade. They're a little bananas then, aren't there? I mean, like what?

What attracts you to middle schoolers? Well,

[00:04:53] Douglas Haddad: let me tell you, Hunter, I've never graduated from seventh grade apparently, and it was my like worst year ever. So,

[00:04:59] Hunter: uh, me too, me too. Seventh grade was my worst hands down the worst year of my life.

[00:05:03] Douglas Haddad: It sure is. I mean, it's just like the movie, the middle school, the best or the worst Years of your Life.

Um, but I'll tell you what, uh, I really love impacting kids. And you know, I've been doing this for 23 years, and I will tell you that these kids are, they're old enough to really understand stuff at a good level, and they're also young enough to say, oh wow, how cool this is. Like this light bulb goes off.

And I really love seeing that the kids I have in my middle school come from elementary, where it goes K through six. So I really get them where they're just elementary ish and then I see them. And ultimately when I see them go through middle school, they're ready for high school. So I see so many changes physical.

Emotional, uh, educational, and it's really a blessing to teach these children. I really love it. Okay.

[00:05:49] Hunter: But 23 years ago, were you like, I specifically wanna teach middle schoolers, or were you like, oh, I guess I'm gonna take this job that happens to be in middle school? Honest

[00:05:59] Douglas Haddad: truth. All right, here we go. Yes.

All right, so, so Pinky, pinky. Swear this one. Uh, so when I was 23 years old, I came right outta school. I got my master's degree in biology. Uh, the year prior to that, I was offered a job in a biotech company out in Boston. And everybody was like, oh, you should jump at it. You'll make 65,000 bucks. You're coming 22 years old.

And I was like, Hmm. But, uh, my professor said, you know, you work so well with kids. You have green enthusiasm. You need to be great in the classroom. So I said, okay. So I went for my masters. When I got out, my first job interview was to be a college professor. So I went there to a, a community college and as soon as I walked in, they're like, how old are you?

I go 23 and just came out with a master's degree. I, I love working with, uh, you know, children. I love college, so I'd love to be, you know, on your staff. And then they said, no, you don't wanna teach college. You so much energy, enthusiasm. You would be great with younger kids. I'm like, no,

[00:06:56] Hunter: no. Okay. All

[00:06:57] Douglas Haddad: right. So that's the, that's the truth.

And then here's the, here's the real truth. My, my department supervisor at my university knew the department supervisor at the school I teach with, and there was a bit of a connection there where the person at my school, He leads, do you have anybody that's good over there at Central? And he is like, yeah, actually I know somebody.

So he told me about this place and I never heard of it. Simsbury, which is northern part of Connecticut. And at the time I lived in Wolke, which is more the central part, but I just never went near that area. And I said, wow, that's kind of a distance away. I go, I think I'm gonna pass on that opportunity, but thank you.

He's like, you don't realize this is a great c. And I said, well, that's okay. I'll middle look around about a few days went by and my supervisor says, they still want you get up there. You won't regret

[00:07:46] Hunter: it. Yeah. Because no one else wanted to teach middle school. They

[00:07:51] Douglas Haddad: couldn't find you. Nah, that's that's so true.

I mean, and I was like, I don't know if I could do middle school, maybe high school. I was looking at places and. They threw me into middle school, they threw me to the wolves. And I remember being like, I see these kids jumping around. And then I heard one kid jump in. He goes, Hey, Mr. Hadad. And I looked around, I'm like, where's my dad?

I don't see him here. I'm like, oh no, that's me. Yeah. So I knew it was game odd, but in the beginning it's like anything else. It's just like, I don't know if I could do this. And then Todd goes by and then you get better and better. And then I'm just kinda like a big kid at heart. So I, I really

[00:08:24] Hunter: do. Yeah, you definitely have a lot of energy.

And, and so for the listener, Doug and I have hung out in person. He was at the Parenting, the conference in Abu Dhabi in November, 2022, together with me. And we had a bunch of other speakers. We had a great bake adventure. Um, but Douglas definitely has a lot of energy, which is what you need to spend your days with teens and tweens and, and you are, you have children.

[00:08:52] Douglas Haddad: Right. I actually, I have a toddler. I have a toddler daughter. She's almost four. Oh my gosh.

[00:08:58] Hunter: Yes.

[00:08:59] Douglas Haddad: Wow. So, so when I go from kids in the classroom to coming home, it's like, you know, it's one energy level and then it ramps up to the next. It's, it's entropy on steroids, but it's great.

[00:09:09] Hunter: Yeah. Wow. Four is a very energetic age too.

It is. Okay. Why is it about tweens and teens that make us so scared of and make it such a challenging.

[00:09:22] Douglas Haddad: Yeah, there's, I mean, there, there's a lot behind it. There is so much that goes on during this timeframe where they're striving for independence, they're pulling away, and they're just challenging authority.

And, and the thing is, the brain is not fully developed. You know, that's the whole issue. And, you know, and, and I know too, you're a big fan of Dr. Dan Siegel, um, his work too, with the, the mind and talking about the whole brain. Is really something else. And it's extraordinary because kids are very impulsive at this age, so you really hold your breath with the choices they make.

So I really think with this particular age group, you have to be Mindful of, you know, what you say to them, how you say it to them, and teaching them about emotional intelligence because they could be very impulsive, they could be reactive, they could spread gossips and rumor. And for them to be able to handle all the things going on and juggling at home, at school, nowadays, on social media, it's just a lot to deal with.

So for us as parents, it's scary to go into this world cuz we don't really know how to navigate it and properly monitor it. There's just way too many factors and variables that are impacting our child's life, and that's really probably the scariest thing for us

[00:10:31] Hunter: as. Yeah, I mean, it's like they're in this now, their bodies are transitioning to these adult bodies, but they basically have no prefrontal cortex.

Morals, you know, is kind of how we have to think of it in some ways. Like prefrontal cortex, which is, you know, in charge of that, uh, impulse control, logical thinking, problem solving, verbal ability is that, you know, non-reactive muscle that we wanna build so much in our. I mean, I felt like, you know, we have to almost think of them as like slightly impaired in that way.

Like it's something that's, that's developing. It's not fully there yet.

[00:11:06] Douglas Haddad: Yeah, absolutely. The prefrontal cortex, you know, is not fully developed until you're in your mid twenties and that's why they don't usually let people go renting out cars. I think it's until 26. 25. 25, yeah. Yeah. And that whole upper brain, lower brain thing, you know, a lot of times we catch kids in their lower brain, uh, where they're very reactive and hot, so we.

To meet them where they're at. And that's the thing is parents, we can easily yell and scream, but that's gonna exacerbate the issue even more because they can't merely make the switch to go to more logical and more reasoning, more rational thinking. So that gets us as parents a little bit concerned and say, how am I gonna handle every crisis that comes our way?

And the good news is parents, you don't have to handle every crisis. There's strateg. To actually teach kids how to do that. And that's what we're doing in school more with identifying emotions and being able to, uh, put labels on emotions and know how they impact, uh, themselves and others. A lot of that stuff is really working out well with social emotional learning.

We have a wellness, um, course. At our school, and it's really great. It's a, it's a year round. We've been working for years to get this work for one week. They're in the classroom learning all different topics with coping skills and resilience and grit and study skills. And then they're a week, um, doing physical education in, in the gymnasium and it bounces back and forth.

So kids are getting a lot more these days with the, the social emotional piece. Okay.

[00:12:25] Hunter: Is that like a, I know things are really different all over the place, but as far as you know, is that happening uh, more wide? That, not that widespreadly is

[00:12:35] Douglas Haddad: a word, but Yeah. No, no. It's happening more. So it definitely, it may not be happening again, a wellness class, but it's happening where it's getting embedded throughout curriculum.

We're looking for places to put it, it's being put into like connections or homeroom time. And a lot of times they're having different activities throughout the year that are, um, talking about this. And what's great is at our school, we've actually hired a. More school counselors and, um, more so psychologists and social workers kids are in a good spot.

I think part of that's due to covid.

[00:13:08] Hunter: Stay tuned for more Mindful Mama podcasts right after this break.

Okay, so, but let's just for a minute, like hone in on some of the challenges first. So when parents, parents see their teens and tweens when they're at home, what are some of the challenges that they're facing at school that parents may not even know about?

[00:13:29] Douglas Haddad: Well, one thing is just really being socially, emotionally in a solid place like we talked about.

And I think bullying. Kids are very sensitive. And I see that as a major issue. There's kids sitting in my classroom that if they're a little indifferent or they speak a little differently, just a little differently or don't have the same sort of norms or style to fit in with everybody, they could be left out.

And I see that kids are going through and they wanna be able to fit in, but it doesn't always work that way. Uh, I think another issue too is, Kids nowadays have technology very easily at hand. I know at our school, kids are walking around with Chromebooks and they're, they have their phones on them, so there's these issues going on where maybe at home it's a little bit more monitored and, or maybe it's not.

But regardless of that, kids are just a lot more tired. I see them more so exhausted and at the end of the day when they were like, oh, it's end of the day, yeah, Mr. Hannah buses are coming soon. Now it's just like they walk in and they. Hey, Mr. Added, how you doing? I go, good. How are you? Like, tired? Are you gonna take it easy on us today?

And I go, not really, but I'm glad you. But the point is like, they just come in, I think they're exhausted from the screen. There's just so much focus on that. And at the middle school level, they're also always looking around, who's looking at me? I don't wanna, you know, stand out differently in the crowd.

So these are things that by the time they get home, They're exhausted emotionally, physically, from all that, plus the workload when we get to second. It's

[00:15:03] Hunter: interesting, the bullying thing because in some ways, like it's from my own experience with my daughters, it seems like there didn't seem like it was a huge problem in their school, but they were in a multi-age Montessori school through eighth grade, but especially compared to Meek growing up in the eighties and like the level of bully, the meanness that the level of mean that kids had and like beating other kids up and stuff That happened in my c.

Like, I don't hear any stories of any of that. Is is now I'm, is bullying something that has people have gotten, just like is, are there less, like physical? Is, is it not as bad as it used to be? Is that, is my perception wrong or what?

[00:15:46] Douglas Haddad: Uh, well, it's evolved. I'll put it to that way, Hunter. It's different there.

I don't think there's as much face-to-face balance when things used to be handled and one and done. Oh yeah. And because it says we had no other way to handle it, now we can hide behind social media. We can hide behind chat groups. We can exclude people from chat groups, make them feel bad. That way we can talk behind people's back through this way and gossip and spread rumors and pictures.

That's what I'm seeing a lot more of. Mm. Okay. So they don't have, honestly, I don't think a lot of 'em have the guts to be able to confront somebody face-to-face. Wow. Um, on an issue where they can do it easily behind their phones. And that's what we're seeing more of with

[00:16:25] Hunter: bullying. Okay. All right, cool. So there's a lot of challenges.

All this stuff is happening. Let's shift to what, what, how do we help them become happy? Self-confidence? I mean, what are some of the things that we wanna do as our kids shift into tween and teenage years to help them become happier and more self-confident and maybe avoid some of these other things?

[00:16:48] Douglas Haddad: Absolutely. Well, the kids that I've taught, I've taught over 3000 students in my career thus far, and the ones who appear to be happy and self-confident, they have a growth mindset and they have good relationships with others, both peers and adults. You know, they welcome opportunities. They aren't afraid to fail.

They talk positively about others and themselves. And they really have a positive self-talk that I can do it kinda like the little engine that could. I think I can, I think I can. I think you can. And what's interesting is even if they can't, they don't say, oh, you know, I just can't do this and give up.

They say, I don't understand this yet. So it's the power of yet. And I think eventually through their continuous learning improvement, having an open-mindedness and readiness to accept constructive feedback, that's what I see as the children who are truly happy and. And you know, they also know that effort is the key.

And it's not just about their ability. They don't just rely and sit back and thinking, oh, cuz I'm smart, I'm gonna get this. I think there's a confidence to that. But they also know that intelligence is linked to effort. So as parents we wanna focus, you know, attention on a child's effort over the performance.

That is so super, super important. If a child does really well on a test, let's say they get like a 95 out of a hundred and they didn't study, and your reaction as a parent is like, Hey, great job. Nice job at 95. Well, the kids seeing themself deep down, well, I didn't even study, and mom and dad don't care about that.

They just care kind of 95 and the story. So they're gonna translate that. The grade's more important and they, they're just smart enough to not study versus if you said, well, what I say to kids when they say, Hey, Mr. Headed, are you proud of me? I got a 95. Well, how much did you study for this? And they say, oh, I didn't.

And they said, well, if you had studied a little more, you would've done better. And they look at me like, what? And then the kid who gets an 80 or an 85, you know, they say, oh, Mr. Hated, you know, I did a lot better than the other test that I failed. And they said, what? What was the secret ingredient to that?

What caused that? And they said, well, I actually studied an hour or two. I said, well, how did you study? Oh, I talked to my parents. I did flashcards. I talked to myself in. I said, that's fantastic. You keep that up and you're gonna just continue to improve. And they're like, yay. They feel better about themselves.

So things of that nature is what makes a happy, self-confident, tweener, teen, high self-confidence, high self-efficacy.

[00:19:03] Hunter: Okay, so we, these are things, you know, if you, dear listener, if you, you got a four year old like Douglas, you can start to weave in into your values, uh, you know, and into your discussions and things in your.

These things like gross mindset and good relationships focusing on effort over performance. You know, um, you know, it's interesting like cuz for my kids, like they didn't have grades. Until seventh grade, like there were no letter grades that they had at all on any of their things until recently with seventh grade.

And so the idea of focusing on effort over performance was that was all there was, you know? So it wasn't like I had to counteract the system. That was in place. But for most of us, most of the listeners, right, you're gonna have to counteract maybe a system that's maybe on paper putting performance over effort.

You know, depending on, you know, even, you know, depending on what your, you know, what your teachers are emphasizing and things like that. So how can we talk to our twins about this as, as parents, you know, we wanna have those conversations to say, did you study for this? How do you fe? And that's what was the question I always ask my girls.

So they've started to bring, you know, Maggie's been bringing home grades for a while cuz she's in high school. But my daughter who's in seventh grade just started bringing home grades and I was like, how do you feel about these grades? You know? And I just wanna turn it back to her like, cuz this is her thing.

It's not my thing. It's not about me to put a stamp of approval or disapproval on it, it's her. So I, I ask her, how do you feel about this? And she'll say, you know, and we, she talks about it more. So, are there ways parents. Discuss these things to kind of cultivate this growth mindset and, and this, this focus on effort.

[00:20:44] Douglas Haddad: Absolutely. I think as a parent it's super important to bgc be involved early on in a child's life, and setting a routine is so important and that goes for even homework completion. So there should be a routine, whatever it is when they come home. If it's a 15 minutes to half an hour, they have a snack.

They un. Then after that, again, age depend on how much homework they have, but sitting down and having a quiet area, free of distractions, doing your homework, studying for whatever you need to study for. And then early on, the parents there to help guide them in terms of ways to study and checking over the work for completion and seeing they did it neatly.

And the more that a parent is interested in the child's work, the more the child knows that and will want to normally strive. I'm a big believer in high expect. Because if you shoot for the stars, you might hit the moon. And if a child knows you have high expectations for them, that gives them a sense of confidence that mom and dad believe I can do this.

So already outta the get-go, it's a mindset. Now in regards to just making sure that. The child is actually taking value in the homework is you can ask, what did you learn today? What was the best part of what you learned? Can you tell me a little bit about it? And having them share that also gives them the opportunity to teach and, you know, share that back.

That helps them better learn. So I think all of that is super important and that will build confidence and natural ability for kids to do their own homework. And as a result of that, you're gonna see what kind of effort they're putting forth because there's a routine of them doing their homework in an area free of distraction.

So you know, they're doing their homework and. If their greens aren't doing well, you can talk to them. Is this a good strategy for you to have a little snack and then work on things here? Or what's getting in the way of you, um, you know, giving your best or performing your best and then throw the questions back onto the child?

Let them self-discover. Reflection for children is super important versus the top down approach of saying this is how you should do it. Because when there's a buy-in and when there's like a shared ownership of power, um, there's less power struggle. And then there's more routine and that gives kids, again, a sense of self, um, you know, safety and security and ultimately, um, productivity.

From a

[00:22:57] Hunter: child, it's, I, and so is like, as you talk about this, like I'm cringe because I know you're talking about like younger than seventh grade and sixth grade, and I'm really frustrated with the amount of homework that elementary school kids are given. Like I feel like it really hurts learning in general.

Like I know that the studies don't support it at all. But I also wanna point out that that may be the situation you're in and what you, what I hear you saying here is, Make your kids' homework your problem and have ownership over it. But because I think kind of what you said almost could be interpreted that way, but you, you are actually talking about creating a structure and an environment where you can be a, a supporter and a coach, but not the one who is like, owns the problem.

Is that what I'm, I hear

[00:23:42] Douglas Haddad: you saying that's a hundred percent true. I mean, the system is the solution, and if a child has that structure in place, there isn't really much more you can do as a parent. You can't really motivate your child to want to learn something, but you can show your interest in what they're learning and have them express back, and I think that goes for their life.

A lot of times kid comes home and you know, we ask how is their day? And they say, fine. And then that's it. Versus saying, you know, what was the best part of your day? What's something interesting you learned today? That's. I'm interested because I'm not in school anymore. Can you tell me what's going on? Uh, pick one thing.

What's something you did nice for a friend or somebody did nice to you? Or, uh, did somebody say something to make you laugh today? Or was, was there some part of your day that didn't go all too well? To acknowledge those feelings and not suppress a child from expressing that. The more questions you ask, the more you're involved in that by design.

Um, it'll set a child up for success and it'll also expose any deficiencies or problems that they need to fix and you can help again, um, facilitate that.

[00:24:41] Hunter: Yeah. Yeah. And sometimes, and sometimes we gotta pick those spot for those questions. So those questions are often ill receiv. When they are, right. When you get home like, ooh, you know, but like, or maybe around the dinner table by that time, like then, then that's a place like, uh, you know, where all the, like the, the bad, the ugly comes out.

At least in, in my family anyway. Yeah,

[00:25:03] Douglas Haddad: no, it's certainly, I understand when you're at that level middle school and they come home, you know, they are pretty spent usually these. And so that's why I always, I would suggest that that downtime early on, but I recently, you know, I have team meetings all the time with parents and I bring the kids in on the meeting and I said to, uh, parents recently, I said, so what routine do you have when the child comes home?

And they kind of looked at each other and looked at me like, we don't have a routine. And so they, they said, well, that child comes home. They have some downtime. I said, can you be specific with for how. And they said, well, usually until like five o'clock. And I said, wait a second. School's out at two 10 and kids are getting home usually around 2 30, 2 45.

That's a long time unstructured. And some kids go to, sorry to go to video games and um, you know, go to more technology and they just get, they waste their brain power on more useless, uh, stuff, quite honestly. And then they're spent by the time it gets dinner time and then you try to make them do homework and it's so late in the day and like you.

A lot of kids are, are, have a decent amount of homework, so they're just not putting in good quality work as a result of that. So that's where the structure comes in. It's just how it is. You know, we're, we wanna be friendly to our children, we wanna encourage them, uh, to do their best, but we have to put some limits and boundaries.

And kids, to be honest, they, they won't say they like it, but they appreciate those structures in place. It really does benefit them. Yeah.

[00:26:27] Hunter: I mean, especially if, you know, you're trying to, you know, those good intentions and. That feeling of I'm on your team, is there not, I'm just like holding power over you.

It really depends on our, our approach in a lot of ways. But I think this is really important to kind of say like, okay, how can we create patterns? How can we create structures and just, you know, create an environment that's conducive to whatever you need to get done. Yeah.

[00:26:51] Douglas Haddad: I'm a big fan of the wall calendar.

I don't know if you have one on at home and how busy like your children are. I always advise to parents, I say, do it for your sake and your kid's sake, and let them create the wall calendar of putting like when they have projects due or when they have certain major homework assignments, or when they have gymnastics or music.

And then when you have things, so they see we're a busy family here. We all need to pull our weight. We have things that need to be done. I like that

[00:27:17] Hunter: idea of the wall calendar. So there's a lot of things happening with peers in tween in teen years and actually like for, you know, someone who's had tweens and teens through the pandemic.

I mean, that was like the most devastating thing for when they needed their peers. They were just so cut off. But should parents be concerned if their teen or tween doesn't seem to have very many friends right now?

[00:27:40] Douglas Haddad: Well, some children actually gravitate toward making new friends naturally, and other kids are more introverted and don.

So there's many personalities out there, but I would say either way, really the key is not quantity of friendships, but quality of friendships. I see kids that are walking around in school and they have one good friend or two good friends, and it makes all the difference. And then I see a bunch of other kids who look like they're in the popular group and they have a lot of friends and their social butterflies.

But that also makes it hard because then if there's any drama within the group, then it's like factions, oh, you chose their side, then you're going over here, or we're gonna outcast. And it becomes more of a conglomeration of more gossip and more problems. So I don't see it as a problem if they just have say, one good friend.

But if they're not making any friends, or some of the warning signs that I look out for as a a teacher is if like a student is intentionally isolating themselves. Yeah. And not having like any desire to interact with peers, you know? And as I mentioned before, you know, if a child is a target for bullying, Now that's a red flag too.

That immediate, that warrants immediate attention, um, in intervention as well. What

[00:28:51] Hunter: can we. I mean, what do we do in that situation?

[00:28:54] Douglas Haddad: Well, I think a child, if they lack the important social skills necessary, they need to see a counselor or a social, like a, like a psychologist. A school psychologist would definitely benefit them.

You know, get them in a group to learn the right social skills and, and ways to properly react. For many reasons, because there are, there's a lot more anxiety these days. There's a lot more depression. I don't think kids are expressive as much as they, they should be in a healthy way. So giving kids enough outlets to be able to do things.

I would, we have so many clubs at our school, and I'm a big advocate to tell. I tell every one of the kids, I said, you should be actively involved in at least one club, and if you don't like any of the clubs, talk to the principal about starting your own club, and then you're gonna meet kids who have similar interests and you can make a friend for life that way.

That's so important.

[00:29:43] Hunter: No, I agree completely. I mean, it's interesting cuz you know, dear listener, who you may have heard, been listened to the podcast and heard me say, you know, I think kids should have a lot of, um, free unstructured time and I think little kids. Elementary kids and younger, like they really need a lot of free unstructured time to develop their, to explore the word world, develop their imaginations to be bored.

And that leads to creativity. And that is, I absolutely stand by that. That's so true. But when they get to be tweens and teens, their brains are a little cuckoo crazy. And their hormones are cuckoo crazy. I can really see like, you know, cuz that imaginative play kind of falls away and they, the structure of a.

And a structure of a schedule with a group is really, really helpful. I, I can see it in the everyday life in our family that a group structure really, really helps. My daughters are both involved in Boy Scouts. They're both in a All Girl Boy Scout group, which exists, parents of daughters. It's amazing, so I highly recommend it.

And as well as, You know, swim team and you know, other groups that happen and when they're doing these things and out doing these activities and with the groups, it's when I can see them thriving, energized, engaged, just like living life, like completely immersed in the flow of life and you know, and then they get in their crazy, you know, teen Moody times.

But that happens, but it happens a lot less when they are engaged in doing things with.

[00:31:16] Douglas Haddad: Absolutely. You know, and if I could just say a couple things, cuz I wanna speak to that piece about technology and kinda when to infuse it. When should you give your child a phone? Which is, which I wanna get to in a moment.

But just to backtrack, I think parents out there and all of us need to realize that all this doesn't happen overnight. These changes, even though the brains do go hormonally imbalanced and, and all that middle school, we see it. But through consistency, and I'm starting with my, my toddler, like when we play games, we play doctor, we play school ice cream, parlor, a memory game.

I always try to infuse lessons in there that talk about like how to share, how to wait for your turn, how to speak in a soft, warm tone using an inside voice. Ask how someone is doing, say thank you, say you're welcome. Um, demonstrating empathy, patience, like all these things, they don't happen overnight.

And I think it's so important to teach these along the way because ultimately that's gonna develop the quality of the relationships that you have. With people and the decisions you make. And you could teach unbalanced or, you know, immaturely developed brains. And that's respectfully saying because it's true.

Um, how to make better decisions through, um, these skills taught early on.

[00:32:33] Hunter: Stay tuned for more Mindful Mama podcast right after this break.

I was just gonna interject a short story about the social skills all along is so important. Like when my kids went to this Montessori school industry, for me, they were like two year olds. And the two teachers, they would kneel down at the door and they would shake each child's hand as they came in. And you know, they, they, us wasn't formal.

They called the teachers by their first names, but they said, you know, they said, hello, how are you? And they would make eye contact. Every single day from, you know, from a very young age. And my kids are not afraid to talk to adults, which I think is such an incredibly valuable skill. Like Maggie had to do this, um, Eagle Scout project, and she had to go in from a town meeting and she had to speak in front of adults and she had to do this whole thing, and she was fine talking to adults.

And I, I think that I, I credit that ability to, Continually talk to adults from a very young age. Social skills. I just had to like get on my bandwagon on that

[00:33:38] Douglas Haddad: for a second. I'm so glad you did because that's one thing as a teacher I'm trying to promote is communication skills and kids are becoming more and more comfortable.

And actually I do a survey of class conversations. I say, how comfortable are you participating in front of the whole class presenting, say a project? How comfortable are you answering a question in a whole class? Discuss. How confident are you working groups of two to four? One and the numbers have gone up over the year and that's because of.

That repetition, knowing that we're gonna go in front of the classroom, and I think that is super important.

[00:34:07] Hunter: But yeah, you were gonna talk about tech

[00:34:09] Douglas Haddad: too. Tech too. Yeah. Yeah, yeah. I just wanna mention too, like speaking of relationships, I think another thing kids are afraid of as they get older is that they might lose friends they are friends with and feel bad about it.

I see that a lot and say, you know, I was friends with them a long time, but they're really gossiping and they're getting involved and doing things they shouldn't do. I wanna break away, and I just wanna say to parents, you could tell your kids that's completely normal to. I did it with a friend I had through elementary school.

One of my very good friends we used to, you know, be involved in like W W F at the time, w e now, uh, wrestling stuff. We used to make different movies. We would play basketball together. We would just do so much. And then he went off and he started liking like heavy metal and went kind of in a different way where I was getting more into sports and it was fine.

So just know out their parents friend groups can change and it's.

[00:34:57] Hunter: Good. Ashley, I, there is a friend. I worry about the, the separation happening, but I'm not getting a lot of info yet about it. So yeah. Al we'll we'll see To be continue. Yes. Technology. Talk to us about technology. I'm a big fan of the Way until the eighth Pledge.

Have you heard of that?

[00:35:13] Douglas Haddad: Yes. Oh, that was gonna mention that. Yeah. Oh, nice. I love that. Um, you know, and I think. See there's, there's a couple sites to that. I don't know if you know this, but the US Surgeon General actually says that 13 is still too young to use social media. However, however, from my experience at the middle school, I think eighth grade for most, you know, districts, it's like the year prior to high school.

Some exceptions. Some people have, some dishes have eighth grade in high school. But I think that's a good testing ground before it really starts to ramp up to have a smart. Because it's starting to become part of the curriculum on social etiquette and digital permanence. So it's a good opportunity for kids

[00:35:54] Hunter: to, well, it's so hard to figure this whole thing out because no one uses a HO home phone anymore.

Like you and I were probably in our closets with a super long phone cord. Yes. You know? Yep, absolutely. And like calling people and then hanging up on them. Yes. And all kinds of things. Like there was a big phone culture back in the day. Yep. Before that, like we, people just saw each other in person in town, I guess.

I don't know. But now people are so separately, this is how they communicate and I, what I worry about my, my 12 year old bout to turn 15 year old, doesn't have a phone yet, and I'm, I worry. I'm not excited about the idea of getting her phone, but I also worry about her being left out. I don't want

[00:36:38] Douglas Haddad: that. No, absolutely not.

And I feel it's important to first have a discussion about the expectations of phone use. That's important. And then teaching children to let us as parents know that they're safe with a text or a phone call. Um, that's safe. That, I mean. Sorry, let me back that up. That we would be happy just to receive a text or a phone call to know that they are safe.

Hmm. And so them to know that that's an important way to communicate. Um, and also not posting personal information online or responding to messages from people that they don't know. Hmm. Again, important for kids to know these. Uh, now there are apps out there that monitor a child's usage. I, I would just say, however, just kinda refrain from the location.

Because you, you wanna empower your child, and I think it's better just to have open and honest communication. And this leads to digital trust. So if a child says, why don't you trust me? Why don't you trust me with that? You know, you can respond by saying something like, it's not that I don't trust you, but I don't trust the internet.

And there are a lot of harmful things that are you're accessible to and can be unsafe for your wellbeing. And I'm here to protect you from. So that's why.

[00:37:49] Hunter: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Well, the, the tracker thing, I know, I, I know a lot of people who use that, and I find it really creepy. Personally. I know I find it really big brothery because I feel like.

I am not worried about my kid. Every single person and like 99.9% of people have phone, so she could always, you know, she knows my phone number, like she's had it memorized for a long, long time, since she was about four years old, Doug. And you know, she can call me whenever you just ask someone else for their phone cuz her phone's everywhere.

Like, I'm not worried about her being able to contact me and I feel like it's a little. I don't know. It's just like, it feels so, sort of, it feels like too intrusive on a bottle on bodily autonomy. And dear listener, you might be totally, you might feel completely different from me about this, and that's valid too, but I just per, I personally, feel a little creeped out

[00:38:38] Douglas Haddad: by it.

Yeah. I think whatever parents you decide is appropriate, um, it's vital to have these talks while in advance and educate them on the potential dangers the. The potential distractions that could lead to wasting away their time and flat out honestly, their childhood. So it needs to be mo, that's where the monitoring comes in.

Because if they're spending too much time, and I know nowadays it says, oh, you know you're up 30% on your screen time. I see that quite a bit. I'm like, oops. So that, that kind of reflection say, so what's your screen time showing? All right. Well, how's that making you feel? Are you feeling like, uh, you know, you're getting everything done?

Are you feeling more stressed out, having to respond to people or be up on things? All right, let's take a step back and have them

[00:39:22] Hunter: reflect. Yeah. And also have some boundaries on this. I mean, I really feel like we have to be the prefrontal cortex for our tweens. Yeah, and dear listener, there is a great episode of the Mindful Mama podcast on this, where we talked to Catherine Perlman talking about her book, first Phone.

Doug, you would love this book. You might wanna recommend it actually to the. Parents of your, yeah. Your middle schoolers. Yeah. And it's a really great book aimed for kids and it talks, it's like a resource for them to keep in their rooms and just like has all this incredible information for them to have about having technology.

Oh, that sounds great. Yeah. Okay, so what age does bullying on social media become a concern? Is this the age we're talking about right now, like seventh grade?

[00:40:05] Douglas Haddad: It is. Yeah, seventh grade is really the big time where most kids I hear are getting their phones. Some actually get 'em in eighth grade, and I don't know.

I just think it's important to be aware that during adolescence, the children are developing their self identity and their sense of who they are. So during this time, you know, children are impressionable on many levels. You know, social media often portrays the, we know this, these misconceptions, these skewed or distorted realities, and that could actually be very confusing and damaging for developing minds.

And that's the thing. So, and, and I think the US. Surgeon General. He mentioned something else about saying like, you're pitting your child against the world's greatest designers and that's just not a fair fight. And, and I think that's the problem. I think they're redefining childhood, these phones and they're flat out robbing children of enriching experiences and they're spending a lot of time on these.

And like you said, Hunter, it would be great for kids to return back to nature, play outdoors, face-to-face others, and engage in different, you know, activities that are bodily kinesthetic. Working out disagreements or just flat out spending time with their family and doing things of that nature. So, to answer your question though, it's during that time when we should be most alert.

Some kids are getting it a little bit earlier. Some parents are even stretching it to high school. But the middle school years are the ones we should be most aware of. Bullying happening with social media. Okay.

[00:41:33] Hunter: And that. So it's really, really keeping those avenues of dialogue. There's so much we could talk about with teens and tweens.

One thing I just wanna talk about before we have to let you go though, is, um, you know, speaking of like getting outside and the phones, you know, we talked about in the very beginning, like, we want our kids to be confident, you know, we want them to have that growth mindset. So one of the things, I know that confidence comes from experience, right?

What are some ways that they can be really appropriately independent because, you know, and when they're 18, then they're gonna be, they have a chance to be completely independent, right? So we need to go to scaffold them up to that place. So what are some ways tweens and teens can be a little bit more independent that we can encourage parents with?

[00:42:19] Douglas Haddad: I think certainly starting off by giving children chores or contributions around the. So that's one thing. Again, that builds their self-confidence and self-efficacy. Uh, that could be as simple as setting the table, cleaning, um, the table, unloading the dishwasher, helping do laundry as they get older, now you're getting into cutting the grass, or even snow blowing if you teach them appropriately.

Um, walking the dog, feeding the animals. So these things right out of the get-go are sort of testing grounds for the child to see if they can consistently. And I think what's important is that yet children have to prove that they're able to hit certain benchmarks, that they can get their homework complete, that they are getting good quality grades.

If they're putting forth a good effort and they're meeting your demands and expectations regularly, then all of a sudden now we can open up more opportunity for a child to say, um, stay out a little bit later because they're proven that they can say, return the car back. Now we're getting into like mid to late teen.

And once. And if they don't succeed at doing that and they don't return the car on time, then what happens? Well, the national consequences, they can't use it then for X number of days or for the week, and then we start again. So I think independence is a slow, gradual thing that starts when they're young with doing chores.

And then, um, builds throughout the years.

[00:43:43] Hunter: Yeah. Yeah, I agree. I mean, it, it's interesting, you know, I think that, I think kids need chores, right? Like, and we need the health, but also they need to be able to do that so they can, they need to know. These, these are life skills that they need to know how to do all the things.

You know, like I gotta teach my 16 year old, like how to change the oil, you know? And, and uh, I had her, you know, um, change the, you know, put gas in the car and, you know, do things like that. And, you know, my kids, when they were littler, you know, I taught them how to. A little saw to cut things, right? So they would know how to do things like, so we can learn all these things kind of as they go along.

So what about like kind of where there's like a lot of helicoptering, right? There's, we, we know that there's is a very kind of overprotective time in a lot of ways. What are some baby steps parents can do towards. Giving them kids some more, um, autonomy in their like kind of physical body and time and how they use their space, maybe like going somewhere on their own, that kind of

[00:44:52] Douglas Haddad: thing.

Yeah. Yeah. I think, uh, I mean, well it starts with the whole system. When you talk about they know what, like, say the whole expectations and consequence system. If they know that here's the system that mom and dad have set forth, that you've agreed on that, and I would say have it as like a family contract.

Have the kids buy into that and you can say, so provided everything looks good with your grades and you've done your chores and all this, you can go spend time, X number of hours over your friend's house. Or they can decide what they want and then you can say, is that agreeable? Or You wanna go to the movies?

And nowadays things are streamed. Everybody's on Netflix and Amazon Prime, but wherever they wanna spend their time, if they wanna go out to a sporting event, they could do that. And I think all of this. Is prelude to that is that kids are actively involved in leadership activities. I think that really right there, that gives them a good sense of self-control, empowerment, that their voice is heard, and I see more and more kids who are leaders in the classroom and leaders in the school that they naturally.

Kinda self guide their own path and their parents don't really have to worry so much about them returning home or making the right choices and doing the right thing on time. So having kids help in the community as leaders, helping them, helping the neighborhood, um, with different things, all of that leads ultimately to a child's independence and fosters their, um, social emotional wellbeing and their

[00:46:22] Hunter: confide.

Yeah. Yeah, I agree. And I think part of it comes from like just us sometimes having boundaries around our time. You know, like, I don't wanna drive to the drugstore to get you blah, blah, blah, but you can bike there. Go for it. Have fun. You know, if you want this hair product badly enough, you can go to the drugstore and get it yourself.

And, uh, those are, you know, very important, you know, situ. Like you

[00:46:48] Douglas Haddad: said, it's not your need. Yeah. It's not your need. It's their need. So it's not your problem. It's their problem. And if they have the skills necessary, I'm just saying to ride a bike properly there and they've proven that they could be, make good decisions, then there it is right there.

They, they, they should go for it. Definitely.

[00:47:04] Hunter: This has been so awesome. I love hanging out with you and talking to you, Douglas. It's not as much fun on Zoom as it was in person in Abu Dhabi. No, if I know, but, uh

[00:47:16] Douglas Haddad: oh. Those are great times. Those excursions and the people we met. Uh, what a venue. I'll never forget it.

[00:47:22] Hunter: Such a great experience, but I would love to just finish up with, you know, is there anything we missed that you wanna leave the parents with? And also just where can people find you? Obviously there's your book, but where can

[00:47:33] Douglas Haddad: they find you? Yeah, they can find me on my website, uh, Um, I'm on Instagram and, uh, I'm, I'm on Instagram as whole lot of living.

That's actually my, uh, business that I have so whole lot. And I'm on Facebook as well, on Twitter and all those sites. But, uh, I would say too, you know, I do have a book, it's called The Ultimate Guide to Raising Teens and Tweens. So it does have really all the strategies to help unlock your child's full potential.

Has all the child limiting challenges. It has, um, the child sort of unlimited strategies that you use them. Your child could be really unlimited in their potential, but I have ways to kind of put limits on them so they could become. That's a lot of limits. On limits. But anyway, I like it. I have that. Then I have a program, if anybody, you know, is interested, it's called, uh, raising a Success Child, and that's a play on word success.

In order to be successful, you need to be full of successes, um, and those successes where there's, there's quite a few, but like self-regulated, self-reliant, self-motivated, um, self-confident, I should know all the self, but there's a lot of 'em and there's six of 'em in there, uh, to help. Raise children in their full capacity.

[00:48:48] Hunter: Okay. Well, thank you so much for coming on the Mindful Mama podcast. Thanks for taking the time after school today with those, those middle schoolers. And, uh, and thank you for doing all that, the work with them that you do and, and sharing everything with us really valuable. I appreciate it.

[00:49:06] Douglas Haddad: Thank you, Hunter, for all you do for your community.

It's extremely valuable and this is like I always say, this is how we change one child at a time, one parent at a time, this generation and future generations to come. So thank you.

[00:49:25] Hunter: Thank you so much for listening. I hope you appreciated this episode. I hope it helped you. And if you enjoyed this episode, please you enjoy the Mindful Mama podcast in general. Please do us favor and go over to Apple Podcast, leave a rating interview. It really just helps the podcast grow and my whole team, thanks you so much for all of these reviews.

So I wanna give a shout out to Kimberly for your five star. They wrote best podcasts. I just realized that despite this being my favorite podcast, I haven't written a review and in parentheses, I totally thought I had. This podcast is so incredible with so many great interviews, always teach me so much and keep me captivated in the entire episode, even episodes that sound like they weren't for me really valuable once I finally gave them a listen.

I don't listen to every episode of other podcasts I subscribe to, but I never miss an episode of this one, and I'm constantly sharing episodes with others when they have a question or so. There's an episode for that. That is so awesome. I love that. Thank you so, so much. If you, dear listener, haven't left a rating and review, please do so.

Um, this, it really matters for the algorithms to show the podcast to people, right? For, to just like even see that it exists. So when you do that, you are helping me and my team let people know that it exists and support the work that we're doing here that you're part of cuz you're listening. So I really, really appreciate.

I hope you have a great week. I hope we have, if you have teens and tweens, I hope you have some. Connecting peaceful, wonderful moments with them. I hope you have those moments, whatever your ages, your kids are of course. And, um, I'm, I'm really seeing how the way we parent when they're little really affects the way they are when they're teens and tweens and, oh, it's all very interconnected.

So I hope that us getting together and sharing our time here really helps you wherever you are. And I wish you a great week. You peace and ease and. Maybe, I don't know, like I'm outside listening to birds or something like that. That would be lovely. Right. I'll try to do that too. And I can't wait to, of course talk to you again next week.

Thank you. Thank you so much for listening.

I'd say definitely do it. It's really helpful. It will change your relationship with your kids for the better. It will help you communicate better and just, I'd say communicate better as a person, as a wife, as a spouse, it's been really a positive influence in our lives. So definitely do it. I'd say definitely do it.

It's so worth it. The money really is inconsequential when you get so much benefit from being a better parent to your children and feeling like. Acting more with them and not feeling like you yelling all the time, or you're like, why isn't things working? I would say definitely into it. It's so, so worth it.

It'll change you

[00:52:25] Douglas Haddad: no matter what age someone's

[00:52:27] Hunter: child is. It's a great opportunity for personal growth and it's great investment in someone's family. I'm very thankful I have this.

[00:52:35] Douglas Haddad: You can continue in your

[00:52:37] Hunter: old habits that aren't working

[00:52:39] Douglas Haddad: or you

[00:52:40] Hunter: can learn some new tools

[00:52:42] Douglas Haddad: and gain some perspective to.

[00:52:45] Hunter: Everything in your Parenting,

are you frustrated by parent? Do you listen to the experts and try all the tips and strategies, but you're just not seeing the results that you want? Or are you lost as to where to start? Does it all seem so overwhelming with too much to learn? Are you yearning for community people who get it, who also don't want to threaten and punish to create cooperation?

Hi, I'm Hunter Clarke- Fields, and if you answered yes to any of these questions, I want you to seriously consider the Mindful Parenting membership. You'll be joining hundreds of members who have discovered the path of Mindful Parenting and now have confidence in clarity in their Parenting. This isn't just another Parenting class.

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