#TBT: Refrain and Reframe

5 Feb


In honor of #tbt (that’s Throw-Back Thursday) we are bringing back some of our (and your!) favorite pieces, many of them updated with new pics! Enjoy!

Throughout my years of working with preteens and teens, I have made a habit of helping kids ‘reframe’ their interactions –primarily with their parents. For instance, while I was coaching, perhaps a parent decided to walk in to pick up their kid from practice, instead of waiting in the car….

The Kid: “Mom!!!! What are you doing here? Didn’t I tell you never to come inside to get me? Oh my God, mom! Get out!!”

Terri: “I’m sorry, Lucinda, I think your mom might have misunderstood you – did you mean to say ‘Wow, mom – that’s pretty cool that you love me so much that you came in to get me and say hi to my team –  thanks so much for that!’. That’s what you probably meant, right, Lucinda? Why don’t you try it again, my friend”.

The Kid: (Sheepishly, smiling, deadpan and totally getting it): “Hey mom, thanks for coming in to get me. (Then looking back at me with a grin) Okay?”

Or when Ben ‘accidently’ forgets the magic words, I might have to pretend to be him and ask for that glass of water the way I think it sounds nicer. And I might just thank myself out loud on his behalf, too. He’s at the point where he repeats it automatically now. It’s what we ask our kids to do all the time, right? If they ask us to get the milk in a grumpy voice, don’t we say something like “Did you mean, Mom, Sweet Mom, will you please pass me the milk, Dear Mom?”

There’s no doubt in my mind that kids respond well to that quirky, slightly fun, slightly sarcastic, slightly self-deprecating way of pointing out appropriate behavior. No need to get angry or fly off the handle, just….reframe.

At least it used to be that easy!

But now that I have an almost-teen and do not know from day to day (or sometimes minute to minute) if I’ll be facing a stable, loving, reasonable kid or a snarky, irritable, impossible porcupine. I see that I’m the one who needs to reframe my own comments to keep the peace. And it’s working (sometimes)….

….Saturday morning, 9:30 a.m. and that kid of mine is still asleep. Tennis is in an hour and I’ve been trying to wake him up for a very long time. I’m just about to blow, I can feel it – I’ve been up cleaning, taking care of the dogs and cats, working in the yard and aside from tennis, there is more yard work and homework to complete. Oh and I can’t find my brand new glasses anywhere. And there the little prince lies sleeping. I feel a little envy, really, that he gets to sleep in. So, I’m going in for the kill.

I breeze through his room and say “Ben, you’re so darn (maybe damn) LAZY Tired!!”  Whew! I did it! I realized his sleeping in was my problem, not his, and I stopped myself short of a disastrous start to the day.

He rouses from his sleep with a pleasant “Hi Mom”. I sit on his bed and we chat for a minute, he acknowledges his sleepiness and all the work he has to finish and he SPRINGS UP FROM BED AND SPRINTS INTO ACTION sits up, pulls his blanket over his head and falls back to sleep. Then, I start hitting him with his pillow. We end up laughing and talking and we are ten minutes late for tennis.

…..School starts in 20 minutes and I notice Ben hasn’t yet made his bed (I require nothing more than an attempt at covering the mattress). So, while he brushes his teeth, I give his blanket a swift lift, so it falls onto his bed semi-covering it and I wink at him and tell him he did a great job on the bed, so his allowance is safe. He smiles, tells me he works very hard on getting it just right and we go along our way. Only three minutes late for school. Not only do we avert a little bitchiness, but I think I got my point across that I’d like the bed made and he got his point across that he got it – and appreciated the help.

So, as we pull into the drop-off line and he’s just about to exit my car, I see a HUGE gob of blue toothpaste on his white tee shirt! I’m about to go into my “DAMN IT, BEN, THAT’S WHAT YOU GET FOR TALKING WITH A MOUTHFUL OF TOOTHPASTE, I MEAN, HOW OLD ARE YOU THAT YOU CAN’T KEEP THAT STUFF IN YOUR MOUTH”, when I remember the whole refrain and reframe thing…I smile and say “After lunch you may want to freshen your breath with that bit of toothpaste on your chest. Or, if you’d rather, you could stop in the bathroom on the way to first block and dab it off with a paper towel. Have a great day, Ben!”

8 Responses to “#TBT: Refrain and Reframe”

  1. Julie Zalla May 16, 2013 at 8:30 am #

    So funny! I can hear you saying each of these words. You have an amazing ability to use your humor with kids and tweens… Still trying to learn from you!

  2. Elmarie May 16, 2013 at 3:25 pm #

    I had such fun reading this. To think that about 8 years ago I also struggled to get Ben out of bed in the mornings and now he is such a teenager. You are such a great mom. Miss and love you.

  3. Lorne Gold May 16, 2013 at 5:06 pm #

    Great approach. Great advice. Great reading. Thank you!
    xo – Lorne

  4. Terri Cassels Cooper May 16, 2013 at 5:09 pm #

    Oh, Elmarie, I miss and love you, too! You know better than anyone what a pistol that kid of mine is – but a fun one! (By the way, he’s just over 5’6″!!) Looks like Ireland was a blast – next trip – US? Soon? How about October for Ben’s Bar Mitzvah?

  5. Rica May 17, 2013 at 12:32 pm #

    Terri I absolutely love the way of reframing the matters even though I am not quite sure if everybody is as talented as you are. I will definitely try it. Thank you so much.

  6. Kathy Runft June 5, 2013 at 7:11 pm #

    Terri, loved reading this! boy it sure hits home, makes me laugh because it all sounds so familiar. The school year is almost done, lets try to get together:)

  7. Kim Herr August 26, 2013 at 9:01 am #

    Hello beloved CMU roomie and stranger!! Been trying to find you. Still same address. Let me know how you are!!!

  8. Barry Waite February 13, 2015 at 10:31 pm #

    Refrain and reframe…LOVE it!

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