How To Help Your Teen Change Their Mindset and Have More Confidence

Today I have the pleasure of talking to Sarah Johnston who is the proud mom of 5 teenagers (3 boys and twin girls)!

Sarah has been a mom and coach for over 20 years. She coaches teens and athletes to find their confidence through mental strength coaching. Sarah has a 5-point mindset coaching approach that she uses with her tween and teens and athletes to shift their perspective, understanding, success, beliefs, and power. 

Today, she walks us through how to empower our tweens and teens to shift their mindsets and strengthen their confidence and resiliency.

Sarah shares so many awesome tools that we can use in this episode. I can’t wait for you to listen!

Let’s dive in!

Scroll down to read the full episode transcribed.

What You Will Learn: 

  • The power in teaching our teens how their brain works.
  • How to help your teen when his/her thoughts are spiraling. 
  • Helping our teens take away the power of their negative thoughts. 
  • Give yourself permission not to be perfect so you can focus on your skills.
  • Creating a Failure Jar for our teens (and us!) to bounce back from mistakes or failures.
  • Increasing your teen’s confidence before a sports event or a test.
  • How to slow your mind down so that you can see your next best move clearly.
  • How to stop controlling our kids and help your teen manage their thoughts and feeling. 
  • Some of the things moms say to their teens that perpetuate their anxiety or lack of confidence.
  • Questions to ask your teen about how they are thinking instead of telling.
  • Coaching your teen on what they do and don’t have control over.

Where you can find Sarah:

Find more encouragement, wisdom, and resources:

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And here is the episode typed out!

Welcome to the Moms of Tweens and Teens Podcast. If some days you doubt yourself and you don’t know what you’re doing. If you’ve ugly cried alone in your bedroom because you felt like you were failing. Well, I just want to let you know you are not alone and you have come to the right place.

Raising tweens and teens in today’s world is not easy. And I’m on a mission to equip you to love well and to raise emotionally healthy, happy tweens and teens that thrive.

I believe that moms are heroes, and we have the power to transform our families and impact future generations. If you are looking for answers, encouragement, and to become more of the mom and the woman that you want to be, welcome. I am Sheryl Gould. And I am so glad that you’re here.

SHERYL:  Welcome, Sarah, to The Moms of Tweens and Teens Podcast. I’m so looking forward to talking to you.

SARAH: Hi, thank you so much for having me. Nice to meet you.

SHERYL:  I saw what you were doing, and we found each other. You’re a mindset coach. I knew I wanted to talk all about that. You work with athletes. You worked with teams. You’ve been working with women. But you’re also a mom of five teenagers. And I was like, “Oh, my gosh, I have you on for that alone.” 

Can you share first, and then I want to get into all about what you’re doing and how you’re supporting teenagers? But what is that like: having five teenagers? What do you like the most about it? What do you find the most challenging?

SARAH: Well, I love being part of their transformation. I used to feel like I didn’t have all the answers that I wanted for them. I thought when I was a coach and a teacher. I was a wellness teacher. I thought, “I got this parenting thing down. I’m I got this as a mom.” And then my oldest son started hitting his teen years. And I was like, “Oh, I do not have all the answers. I do not have all the answers that I need for these kiddos.” 

I really wanted to dive deeper. There were things that came up. My oldest son was very much a perfectionist. He was a quarterback. He played quarterback from about the age of seven until his sophomore year in high school. There were a few years within those years that he played with tears through his helmet. I didn’t have all the answers for him. And we got him help. We got him someone to talk to, which was very helpful. But, sometimes you think about what to say, and you think you can tell them to just be confident. And that will be enough. I learned quickly that that was not enough. And that doesn’t always work.

SHERYL:  Thank you for saying that. I do think there are some who believe in false beliefs. We have a limiting belief that we’re supposed to have the answers. And coming from a mindset coach like yourself that works with athletes. Moms, Isn’t that refreshing? What to say when your kid is struggling?

SARAH: I’m a Certified Tennis Pro also. I was my twin daughter’s tennis coach from about the age of seven to they’re currently 12, turning 13 in a few weeks. They would come to my practices. And the first time I got them to go play a competitive match, they said, “Mom, there’s no way we can go compete with those girls.” I was like, “What do you mean? Just be confident. It’ll be fine. You’re good.” 

We take on this feeling and this burden that we are responsible for them feeling like they can do all these things. And really, we need to empower them by believing in themselves. We don’t necessarily have the ability to impose our confident thinking. They have to learn that confidence comes from confident thinking within themselves.

SHERYL:  I love that, and we’re gonna pick that apart because we’re oftentimes trying as moms to – I don’t know why I use this analogy, but it seems to fit like stuffing a scarecrow. We’re trying to stuff our kids with confidence. And we wonder, “Why isn’t this working? This kid is beautiful and talented.” And we can see all these wonderful things about them, but they don’t believe it.

SARAH: We think we’re living in our own reality, and obviously, they’re living in their own reality. Once we start to look at – if I said to one of the twins (and they’re perfectly okay with me talking about all this with you guys), They would say I would say what you kind of thinking about as far as your confidence is? “Well, I’m not good enough to go play against people like that. What are people going to think of me if I fail when I go out there.” 

 When you really start to look at that, I call it a thought download. The model I use is Thought, Feeling, and Experience. When we really start to learn that – we live in the feeling of our thinking. If one of my twins, Nya, is thinking, “what if I fail when I go try to compete against this other player?” She’s going to be feeling a reflection of what she’s thinking. She’s going to feel nervous. If she’s having nervous thoughts, we can’t override that by saying, “just be confident.”

SARAH: If she’s thinking, “what if I fail? What if I let people down when I go out there and try this?” That has zero to do with us. And our pep talk? 

SHERYL: Yeah, you can’t tell somebody not to be anxious. It just doesn’t work.

SARAH: It doesn’t work. What I like to do is deep breathing. I like meditation, I practice those things myself, but I like to teach the kiddos how their mind works first. Let’s say you go to a competition and you try deep breathing, and it doesn’t work, and you don’t really understand why it doesn’t work that day. 

SHERYL:  Then you start hyperventilating. 

SARAH: “I’m doing my breathing, but it’s not working today. What’s wrong with me, it’s not working, I’m not gonna be able to play today, or I’m not gonna be able to perform today.” Whatever it is, whether it’s school, friendships, sports, whatever.  

The way I teach is, let’s say you’re in the middle of a pressure situation, and something stressful comes up. I teach that when we spend a lot of time on that initial thought – if you can picture this stick figure with a cloud where your brain goes, and when we are performing at our best, we have really clear ideas about where we want to go next. Anytime we have something that comes up as far as thought about confidence, like, “I don’t know if I can do this,” it interferes with that clear headspace.

It can get in our way. It might be, “I’m not sure if I’m going to be successful at this,” and it jumps in and interferes with that clear headspace. Or the pressure “if I fail I’m going to let my coach down or my parents down.” Then we spend the time and energy on that thought.

A lot of times, I hear people say, “we just need to learn how to control our emotions.” Well, sometimes, when we try to control that thought or control our emotions, that can make it spiral. So, the way I teach is to try to settle the thought. I teach kiddos to notice when that thought comes up, not spend as much time on it or attention, and try to allow it to settle on its own. What we spend time and attention on tends to make it feel and seem more real.

SHERYL:  I’m thinking even about myself. When I start spiraling, it becomes bigger and bigger. But what do I do instead? 

SARAH: The first week, I say, “this is the only activity that you’re going to do for the first week. You’re going to notice when I thought off-set that is not helpful, and you’re not going to spend time on it. And then maybe we can notice other thoughts that are helpful.” Let’s say you’re up to that, and you notice that your dad is the coach, and you don’t want to let him down.

85% of the time – if we talk about it, do you really feel like that’s true? “Well no, I know my dad loves me and he’s going to be fine with me if I win or lose, but I still have that thought.”

“And so for this week, can you notice it? And can you just notice if it pops up then to not spend time on it? Not to give it a lot of attention. Because it’s not helpful for you when you’re on deck. Not giving it too much power.” And then, “what is helpful for you when you’re feeling great on deck?”

“I know that when I think about all the work I’ve done leading up to this game, I feel I feel really good.”

“So trust your training – it’s the number one thing that we go to when you’re up there and you notice thoughts that are not helpful. What is helpful?”

“Well, trusting my training makes me feel really good about batting.” 

“Okay, that’s a great avenue to spend time on. That’s a great thought to spend time on because we live in the feeling of our thinking.”

Most all humans have negative thoughts that pop up. That’s totally normal. Even professional athletes have them. I know that because they tell me about them. We feel like, a lot of times, we feel like they’re happening to us. “Traffic is making me mad, or the crowd is making me feel nervous.” But if that was the case, then crowds would make everyone feel nervous. But some people see a crowd, and they’re like, “Oh, this is what it’s all about.”

We definitely can kind of look at what we’re thinking about and why we’re feeling a certain way. And we can notice what’s helpful. And notice what’s not helpful, and make a plan to move forward with some clarity, hopefully.

SHERYL:  So, in the first session, you have them notice their thoughts. I like that because it’s almost like it normalizes negative thoughts. It’s not like I have to control them or fix them. I have that reaction because the more that we try to control things, what doesn’t usually work. I try to talk to myself: you’re now feeling a little nervous.” It’s a different voice than what we talk to ourselves with, correct?

SARAH: It is. As an adult, for example, last year, I probably never would have been able to give the speech I gave a couple of months ago or be on a podcast with you talking. I realized that I was giving so much power to the thoughts about what if I didn’t say the right thing. 

Now, if I do something wrong, then I have this fun little failure jar. And those are all the times that I screwed it up. On the way to being able to do it. I just said, “Okay, well, if I’m not okay with thinking about how am I going to pull that speech off, I’m not going to spend time on the how I’m just going to take action, so I feel good about what I’ve been practicing.” 

SHERYL:  What you’re talking about is the growth mindset. I love Carol Dweck’s book, “The mindset.” Have you ever read that book? 

SARAH: Yes. I love it. 

SHERYL: Yeah, it’s so good. Because that’s helped me in my business too, and my life, and it’s helped me with my parenting differently with my kids so that they want to step out and take risks, right? I love that you have that mistake jar. What if we all had a mistake jar? I think I’m gonna start. 

Yeah, it’s like, the more mistakes you make, the more you’re gonna learn.

SARAH: Yes, because you’re thinking about it as a big umbrella. You’re not putting so much pressure on me each time I go up to bat. It has to be perfect. I always say give yourself permission to not be perfect so you can focus on your skills. And then when you think about it as a big umbrella, that this is a process of leveling up. 

Crummy things are going to happen 49% of the time. When we talk to athletes or non-athletes, and I say crummy things are going to happen 49% of the time. It’s about how we can bounce back from those and look at them and move forward. We’re kind of trying to fail forward here. The more risks you take, the more chances you take to fail. At some point, you’re still leveling up. But you’re not focusing on the tiny, small mistakes.

SHERYL:  I love that. If we’re not willing to make mistakes, we’re just going to stay in self-protect mode all the time, and we’re not going to live up to our full potential and take risks. Or have that abundant life we’re buying new things, and we’re experiencing life. Instead of playing small, stay safe.

SARAH: Sometimes we feel stuck. And sometimes, the kiddos feel stuck. And they have a lot of stuff going on in their minds, especially with what’s been going on with the world lately. Imagine we’re asking them to make these big decisions about finding your passion and excelling and all these areas. And they’re like, “whoa, we have a lot going on right now.”   

I do an up the odds for success plan. I feel like that takes a little bit of pressure off, “I have get to this goal by this time.” What if we get organized with your thinking and what you feel the next best move is for you this week

Taking action this week, trying to kind of get to some of those results, but not putting a really strict parameter on them, I feel it allows for a little more creativity. And the first focus goal that we make is within a belief system. Let’s say you’re an athlete, and you want to work on nutrition and strength and all the things. I have them do a belief system goal first, which is confidence, motivation, focus, or pressure because I feel that these other things work really well if you work on confidence and self-belief first.

SHERYL:  Okay, so like values, you have them identify what their values are.   

SARAH: Yes. And that sets the tone for the action steps. Swinging your bat under pressure is not going to be effective unless your confidence is within you.

You can be in the cages for 20 hours, and you can study for a test for 20 hours. But if you go to take the test, and you don’t believe that you can succeed, it’s not really gonna matter.   

SHERYL:  I relate to that, being a kid that grew up with learning differences. I would go into a test, I might know it, but I would psych myself out before I even started the test. 

SARAH: Exactly. Yes, my twins struggled with speech for a lot of years. And that made it difficult to connect with friend groups and make good friends. And it made it difficult to go into school and take tests and be in that classroom environment that was overwhelming. A lot of soft work and a lot of understanding of where their feelings are coming from helped level their confidence with that. The way I teach confidence is that you don’t have to go do X, Y, and Z to get your confidence back. The way I teach and I’m a student of Michael Neill; he’s the author of Inside Out Revolution and Super Coach. 

SHERYL:  I have to add those to my list.

SARAH: It’s awesome. I actually just did a 90-day challenge with him. Last spring and it was called Creating the Impossible. In 90 days, what can you create that did not exist in the world before? He’s really good. He taught me, and I try to teach the kids how to slow their minds down so that they can see your next best move clearly.

SHERYL:  Can you think of an example? I know slowing my mind down is really important.

SARAH: Let’s go back to the twins. And let’s say that they are going in to take a test. This correlates with the stress relief idea. They’re going in to take a test, and they are saying, “I’m not sure if I can do this, I’m overwhelmed by the scene at school. I’m not going to spend time on those thoughts. I’m going to spend time on my training, I studied for this test. I have support at school from my teachers. And I’m going to be okay, I’m going to give myself permission to not be perfect. I can focus on the skills that I practice for this test.”

SHERYL:  Okay, so slow your thoughts down, not let them take over. And then remind yourself of what’s true.

SARAH: Exactly. What is helpful? What’s not helpful? Because the more we spend time on the thoughts that aren’t helpful, the more they feel real, the more they seem real, and the longer they stick around.

SHERYL:  This is really helping me. Thank you. I’ve been in a funk lately. Because I sometimes noticed when I get in a funk, I feel justified in being in a fog,

SARAH: Oh, that’s my motivation umbrella. Let’s talk about motivation a little bit. I say confidence comes from confident thinking – it’s one thought away, it’s always available to you, you were worthy, you were born confident. It’s always there.

And with motivation, motivation comes from motivated thinking. Sometimes we take ourselves out of the game when it comes to motivating thinking. And that makes us feel like, I call it the Discouraged Bus, and I use this stuff from Michael Neill that he’s okay with. Think about a little bus driving along, and it comes by, and it has all these discouraging thoughts on it, and it stops in front of you. You have the option to choose those discouraging thoughts or not. It opens the door. 

I always say to the kiddos, “I’m not going to the discourage bus today.” Our brains like to offer us thoughts that we have thought before because it likes to be efficient. But that doesn’t mean it’s true. And that doesn’t mean that’s who we are. And that doesn’t mean we have to choose those thoughts. You always have the option to say, “I’m not getting on the discouraged bus today. I’m going to remind myself what helps me feel motivated. With motivated thinking, I’m going to get out of my own way. I’m going to get back in the arena of not caring if I fail. And that’s how I’m going to remind myself why I started this project or the sport in the first place and kind of remind myself what motivates me.” Motivation comes from motivated thinking,

SHERYL:  Wow, don’t get on the discouragement bus. Is that what it is? 

SARAH: Yes, don’t get on the discouraged bus. And for some reason, it helps me to think about this silly little bus coming by.

SHERYL:  Well, it helps you get out of that victim mindset of what’s happening to me, and I think that’s important with our tweens and teens. And for us, I actually have a choice that I’m going to get on.

SARAH: 100%. You’re like a painter with a paintbrush, creating your own experience. And I want the kids to feel that. I want them to feel like they are managing things instead of it controlling them.

SHERYL:  Yes. We’re doing this interview a little backward. We didn’t get to talk about how you started doing this, but we will, we’ll do that. But everybody knows now who you are and what you’re doing. 

So what does this look like? For the mom, that’s listening. What are some of the mistakes we make? What are some of the things that we say to our kids or do that actually perpetuate the anxiety or the lack of confidence?

SARAH: I would say one of the things that I do – I have five athletes in the house, and I coach between 50 and 100 kiddos on my tennis court every week. I would say that I really let the kids come and talk to me about their sport when they want to. Number one, we don’t talk about baseball leading up to the game. We don’t talk about baseball and tennis. After the game, I really try to let them have some processing time. And then, miraculously, after a little bit, they’ll come and talk to you after things feel less pressure-filled.   

I feel like we can add extra thinking. Sometimes more thinking isn’t always better thinking. If you’re genuinely concerned, and you’re trying to extract information as we all do it after school and at dinner. That’s one thing, but when you can tell they’re under stress, one thing I do a lot is “What can I say or do that helps you?” 

I think that’s a question that we don’t ask very often. I’ve said to my girls, “what do I say that helps you when you’re on the tennis court?” And they’ll say, “I like it when you cheer for me, but I don’t like it when you give me technical advice.” Ask them what they’re feeling. Ask them what they’re thinking about, and ask what’s helpful for them. Ask what is helpful for them. And that seems to be really helpful. And my middle son prefers not to talk about it at all. But once we get home, he’ll come downstairs two hours later and talk for an hour.

SHERYL:  Wow. But you’re giving him that space. Because we tend to say too much. I remember saying to my son, “great game.” He’s like, “No, it was not a great game.” I was trying to pump him and write them up. Because I thought he’s probably feeling discouraged. But it’s like, “No, Mom, it wasn’t a great game.”

It was more about me wanting to feel better because I was feeling down, so I’d try and make him feel better. And just the whole thing did not work well. I think we tried to do that. Or give little tips. And that’s not helpful either.

SARAH: Right. I tell the kiddos they have this built-in inner GPS, so when they start to notice these thoughts pop up that are making things a little cloudy, once we can slow those down, they have an innate real-time sense of what to do next. 

Things are going really fast in the middle of a game, and if they start to notice what’s not helpful, they can. They can really maneuver through that well. Let’s say it’s after a game. If they can let things settle, they can learn and see clearly in the midst of, even after a difficult game, what to do next. 

It’s not always that we need to say something. Sometimes they’ll come up with some great insights. Some of the best insights I’ve heard this year are from eight, nine, and ten-year-old boys and girls. We talk about choices. We say, “What’s the difference between small choices and big choices? And what kind of choices did you make during the day last week that helped you reach some of your goals?” I hear some of the coolest stuff.

SHERYL:  You said something really important. I just want to pause and slow down. Going back to what you initially said, to believe that our kids are all born with this innate sense of what we need and with that confidence. I see this a lot, and I have to remind myself and with my own kids, who are now older now, but I still have to remind myself of this. 

Moms that I work with hold our kids with positive regard. Believe that they have it within themselves to figure things out because I think that’s where we jump in. We feel like we have to tell them how they should feel or think about things versus trusting that when they have that space to reflect, they’re going to come up with those answers. Then they get to own it themselves rather than us thinking they don’t have it. Then we’re sending that message that we really don’t believe they have it. Do you agree?

SARAH: 100%. The twins will say, “you don’t need to do your coaching with me. I’m not one of your clients.”

But then you notice when they practice it, and they talk about it. It’s cool because they do take it in and process it. What I love about it ups the odds for success. 

The kiddos get to pick their plan for the week. I’ll say what you think your next best move is this week, to move in the direction that you want to go. To think about it like a river and not a roller coaster. Because when it’s a roller coaster, it’s hard to see clearly what’s next. But we’re going to be like a strongly determined river that flows fluidly. 

Your first goal is going to be about a belief system. The second two can be anything you want. And they come up with the coolest plan for the week. Then it’s it feels organized. It feels like they know what to do. It might be I’m going to call my coach and see what he thinks I should do for my strength plan. Then the next week, when we meet, he’ll have to make a more detailed strength plan. Like I’m going to work out Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from four to five.   

It’s about getting unstuck and starting that massive action. Moving them in that direction that feels like it’s where they want to go. Sometimes that’s all it takes for them to feel like they got things out of their brain onto a plan, and they’re moving, and it’s making sense.

SHERYL:  Yeah, there’s something different and proactive about writing things down, where you continue to move forward.

SARAH: Do grownups ever really think about what we’re thinking about and how it affects the way we feel? A lot of times, we don’t. Just the fact that kiddos can notice what they’re thinking about and realize that’s why I’m feeling this way. I’m feeling sad because of this. And that’s okay. 

We talk about feeling your feelings. What feelings are not a problem to solve? They’re an experience to have. If you’re feeling super overwhelmed like if you’re getting upset during competition, we talk about allowing space for that. And allowing it to pass so you feel like you can manage it instead of it controlling you.  

A lot of the kiddos don’t know where their spaces are – if they’re even allowed to be sad and angry. Of course, that’s part of being human. Let’s try to understand where the feeling and thoughts are coming from. And they’re like, “Oh, I’m feeling sad or angry because I’m thinking, I don’t want to let them down.”

SHERYL:  Giving a voice and then not correcting them. Or how they’re feeling. They shouldn’t be feeling that way. Do you find working with kids that just the act of them expressing it and saying it helps to lessen it?

SARAH: I hear that it feels like a really good bridge. Let’s say there’s a baseball player with a coach. That’s a dad. It’s a safe space to come and chat with me, who they know is a coach and a teacher and a mom, instead of having to say, “Dad, I’m worried I’m not living up to what you want me to be.” 

I don’t teach that your coach is never going to be hard on you or your parents are never going to be hard on you because that’s part of it. We’re growing up. That’s going to happen with our future bosses. 

But I’m teaching the kiddos that if something’s not helpful at the time, you don’t have to take that on personally. You can have a safe space to think and feel everything that you’re feeling and allow it to pass without having to carry it on into the next things that you’re doing into that day or the week or the month.   

You’re feeling that way because it’s coming from your thinking. And 90% of the time, I understand that. “My dad’s not, or my mom’s not really upset with me. I was probably just thinking. I know they love me. They tell me that all the time.” They step outside of kind of the story.

SHERYL:  Yeah. The story we’re telling ourselves,

SARAH: We’re really good at making up stories about what might go wrong in the future. We’re really good about thinking about all the things that have gone wrong in the past. But when we can be in the present and have that clear cloud, we can get so much accomplished.

SHERYL:  That and the fortune-telling. Then the catastrophizing can snowball.

SARAH: Exactly. And they probably don’t even realize that they’re doing it.

SHERYL:  We do that as moms. “Gosh, my kids not doing their homework, they’re never gonna be able to get a job and they’re probably not going to graduate high school.” Do you find that a lot of your clients worry about what their parents think?

SARAH: Yes, I have. Probably 80% of my athletes are the coach’s children. We talk about pressure. I even bring parents, and we talk together sometimes, but it’s really nice for the kiddos to have a space where they can talk freely and talk about their thoughts and feelings. Then I always send notes to parents and kiddos so they can keep those for each week. It’s called the “up the odds for success plan.” And it’s a nice bridge. The goal is to get the kids and the coaches, and the parents on the same team. 

SHERYL:  I think parents need that help, too. I was telling you, my son played Division One baseball, and we needed that coaching, too. On how to navigate that world.

SARAH: Yeah, my son has his own mindset coach. So he can talk freely without talking to his mom.

SHERYL:  Yeah, that third-party influence. I found that a lot of my coaches that my son worked with, I don’t think they really have that mindset of coaching. And this is division one baseball.

SARAH: I am working with more divisions one and two, and the stigma is lifting. Organizations are getting budgets to start implementing some of these programs. I’m working a lot with minor league baseball teams. And it’s so important. It’s so helpful. I work with divisions 1,2,3 college teams, but even all the way down, starting at eight years old, on lots of trouble sports teams and beyond.  

SHERYL:  You also want to work with just tweens and teens after all that they’ve gone through these last couple of years. Are these skills that we can use with all our kids, no matter if on a sport? 

SARAH: Of course. Yes, absolutely. Because like I said, most of the time, even the athletes I work with end up talking about pressure with relationships at school and homework pressures about what to do in the future. There might be a focused goal about the belief system, school friends, getting homework, or communicating with the teacher better. It’s a small start, but it’s a huge thing to push you forward, and it feels like okay. All I have to do this week is talk to my teacher more about what I need to do. And that’s a huge step.

SHERYL:  What I noticed that you do a lot of is ask questions rather than tell. What’s one thing that would help you this week? What can I say that feels supportive? What can I do that feels supportive? What do I say that is not supportive? And get their feedback.

SARAH: I’m telling you the coolest insights from some of the youngest people that I’ve worked with, and they get it. And they’re smart, and they want you to ask them questions. They’re just cool little humans.

SHERYL:  Then we have to be careful that we don’t get defensive.? They give us feedback.

SARAH: A question like, “What insights did you have this week?” Insights, for me, just mean a new thought. You will get some cool answers.

SHERYL:  Yeah. What insights did you have this week? Yeah, we can learn so much from them if we become a student of our kids. I’m sure that you feel like you’re learning from your kids all the time.

SARAH: 100%. I did feel for a long time I did not have the answers that I wanted for them or for my clients on the tennis court. Now, if someone comes to me and says, I feel like I’m lacking confidence, I have answers. I feel like I’m lacking focus. I don’t think we touched on focus. 

Focus is a lot of noticing what you can control and what you can’t control. And that’s a huge thing. Let’s say it’s about a friend group. We can’t control what people think of us or what people say about us. But we can control our attitude, our effort, and the choices that we make. If we notice that that particular friend group might not feel good for us, then we can make a choice to adjust. Maybe pick a different friend group to spend time with. 

That’s a huge thing for middle school kids that I’ve been battling is making friends. And we all know that middle school can be brutal. Friend groups can be brutal. The twins going into eighth grade and my 13-year-old son going into ninth grade, that’s something we talk about weekly, is friend groups. And does this feel like it’s a really good fit? Is everybody feeling like they’re contributing to a really good friendship going both ways? And just asking about that, in a non pressure scene.

SHERYL:  Yeah. I can’t tell you how many moms reach out about the friend middle school girls, the bullying, and there’s a lot of bullying going on now. I think that it’s because of the pandemic and everything going on. Like you said that there’s so much they can’t control. Then they’re turning on each other because at least they can feel some sense of power. It’s at the expense of somebody else.

SARAH: Exactly. And it stinks. When we understand where our feelings are coming from, if you’re thinking, “This friendship is making me feel yucky, maybe I should move direction. “Just having those conversations. It might be that we’re overthinking that this person isn’t being nice, but there’s a big chance that this friendship is making me feel yucky, and I could make a different choice next week to try to find something. Just small little things like that.

SHERYL:  Yeah, coaching our kids on what do you have control over and what don’t you? It is happening to you, but what are you going to do about it?

SARAH: Yeah. And how do you respond to it? We have control over our attitude or effort or choice and our reactions mainly. When you can say, “Oh, I understand that this group of girls is living in their own reality. And that doesn’t have anything to do with me. I don’t have to take that energy inside of me.” That affects who I am and my worthiness as a person and a confident human being. But I can make a choice to spend time more time with them or not. I can make a choice to spend more time on the thoughts that make me feel good or yucky about this choice to be friends with this group. There, they’re going through a lot. 

SHERYL:  Yeah, you’re there in the midst of that with your daughters. What works with them and what doesn’t?

SARAH: Let’s say we’re on the tennis court, and I’m coaching, and I cheer them on. They don’t want nitty-gritty technical advice from me. And I wouldn’t have known that unless I asked, I did make the adjustments. They don’t love talking about it a lot. But once in a while, if I feel an opening, we try to sit down at dinner, and I noticed that it’s a lot better to talk about it when there’s a less pressured situation. When coming home, if someone’s upset, that doesn’t always seem like the best chance to talk about it. But after I let them process and they get home-

SHERYL:   After they are processed. 

SARAH:  We’re all on that quest for that happy medium between being the friend and the advice giver. For me, if I try not to overthink it but all of us are going to have an easier time moving forward with a little clear mind. And really letting things settle.  

Here’s my letting it settle story. If we see a car on a dirt road drive by and the dust is everywhere, that’s kind of like when our brain has this rub-up of thinking. As a mom, I do that. I think we all have those moments where like you said, “Oh, no, this happened. What are we going to do?” The clouds are up in the air, and if we walk through it, when it’s all in the air, we’re going to cough and choke on it. But if we stand on the side of the road and watch it and allow it to settle, then when we walk across the road, it’s going to feel clearer.

SHERYL:   Oh, gosh, I love that. That is so good. I’m gonna have to use that. I’ll give you credit.

SARAH:  My story guy, he’s fine with using all these little stories. But it’s so helpful when you can kind of visualize something.

SHERYL:   Yeah, because we do try to walk right into that dust storm, and then we do not work.

SARAH:  It’s once we start to control it. It’s when it starts to go wrong.

SHERYL:   ant to try and control things. It just does not work.

SARAH:  Yes. And when we understand that the world is spinning without us having to spin it. We can really rely on that and the kiddos when I tell them that their confidence is within them. They don’t have to go find it. They take a deep breath in their shoulders, relax, and you don’t have to be perfect. 

The shoulders relax, and we don’t have to spin the world. It’s already going. We can trust our inner GPS to see the next best move. And we can see the next best move when we slow our thinking down and just trust where we’re going.

SHERYL:  It’s been so good talking to you and having you on and so many good insights and nuggets for us to chew on. We didn’t really talk about what you’re doing and how you got to do this, but tell us, where can they find you? What are you up to?

SARAH:  Okay, so you can find me at https://sarahjanemindsetcoaching.com. You can book a free discovery call where I meet with parents and kiddos and coach them even on the first day of the free intake call. And most people sign up for my three-month program, but I have a four-week program also called Boost. Those are a couple of options and @sarahjanemindset on Instagram. You can find some stuff. I teach on there a little bit.

SHERYL:  Yeah, you have great videos and things too. I love it and all the athletes you work with. You’re also involved in something else exciting that’s starting up,

SARAH: I am. When I was creating something impossible in 90 days, there was a tragedy on November 30: the Oxford high school shooting in Michigan, and we’re 30 minutes or so away from Oxford. Tate Myre, one of the victims of the high school shooting, and his family. I’ve gotten to know them really well over the past few months.

His family started a foundation for him in his honor. He was the coolest athlete. He was humble. He was mentoring all these students, and his family didn’t even know about it. His parents heard all these stories after he passed that he was at school during the anti-bullying programs. He was mentoring all these kids on the football field. He was a big football player, which is the importance of the number 42 Strong.  

You can find this nonprofit at 42strongtate.org. And so, in conjunction with the state of Michigan, we created a mentorship program. We produced about four hours of online content via webinars so that the mentors could train. And then, once we launched a couple of weeks ago, we had a big event where 225 mentors were matched with Mentees just within the Oxford community. 

It was huge. It was so cool. We had so many volunteers. We had the legacy center that provided the venue for the whole entire year for all their events. 

So, when you feel like you want to do something, but you don’t know what to do, just know that there are things out there, I reached out to 42Strong and said, How can I help? And there were all kinds of things to do to help. 

And it’s just really cool. I know how important mentors are for the kiddos. And peer to peer mentorship is unmatched. I mean, imagine middle school kids being paired with high school kids and giving these kids all a purpose. Both ways. There are so many benefits to both the mentors and the mentees.

SHERYL:  Wow, what a powerful program are other states, or do you have to be in Michigan to be able to participate?

SARAH: Yes. We say we’re building the plane as we’re flying it. And so, we’d love to scale out next year and maybe go virtual and see if we can do mentoring online. Just stay tuned. And if you have any ideas or want to reach out to 42Strong, you’re welcome to do so. And just know that you can also be creative and get with your local supportive people and maybe start your own program. There are tons of resources out there. Just know that you can 100% make a difference if you decide that you want to tackle something like that. It’s been a great experience.

SHERYL:  Wow. I love it too because to mentor somebody and come alongside your kid. Therapy’s great. All those things are so helpful. But mentoring, there’s something about mentorship. They might not be open to something like that, but it’s just another avenue to have that third-party voice speak into their life.

SARAH: Exactly. Support where they don’t have to be embarrassed about something they ask or something that they want to talk about. It’s so powerful.

SHERYL:  You’re branching out, and you’re working with not just athletes now but with teenagers as well. And helping them mostly with work.  

SARAH: Stress relief, focus, motivation, confidence, and pressure

SHERYL:  Gosh, our kids could really use support with that. They need that help that supports, especially right now. So, how can they get a hold of you?

SARAH: Yes. [email protected] is a great way to email me. And on the website, there’s a Calendly link where you can book a free discovery call. There are some time slots open. Feel free to book a discovery call and bring the kiddos with you. I can meet the parents and the kids on the same day, and we’ve been having tons of luck and seeing lots of transformation. It’s exciting. 

SHERYL: Oh, that’s awesome. And you do zoom as well. 

SARAH: I do zoom, and a lot of the kiddos FaceTime me somewhere on the way to practice, but we’re mobile.

SHERYL:  That’s awesome. Well, thank you, Sarah, so much, and thank you for the important work you’re doing. I know that whoever’s listening has benefited from all the information you’ve shared.   

SARAH: Thank you for having me.

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