Michelle Icard is one of my professional role models. She is the creator of Athena’s Path and Hero’s Pursuit, powerful social leadership curriculum to help young people navigate how to be strong, clear, and true to themselves in social situations and she is also the genius behind Michelle in the Middle where she gives powerful advice to parents of tweens/teens. I’ve asked her to share my very favorite tool in her tool box for parents. Whether or not you are a parent, this is a great tool– I find that there are some adult relationships where practicing Botox Brow on my way overly expressive face can be really helpful.
If you’ve suffered a communication breakdown with your daughter, it can be hard to pinpoint exactly what derailed your conversation. Was it bad attitude, frustration, hormones, or a basic a lack of understanding?
The cause may be more simple, and easily corrected, than you think.
A landmark study by Dr. Deborah Yurgelun-Todd at McClean Hospital, a medical research facility for Harvard University, found that adolescents read facial expressions incorrectly about 50% of the time. More often than not, they read your emotion as anger, even when you may be feeling empathy, surprise, shock, disappointment…or even physical pain.
The adolescent brain isn’t fully formed until the early 20s. In fact, the part of the brain that forms last (the prefrontal cortex) is the one adults use to successfully read facial expressions and correctly correlate those expressions to what someone is feeling. Kids have to rely on the emotional center of the brain to read facial expressions and that leads to a lot of guesswork.
Have you ever asked your child a simple question only to have them snap, “You don’t have to get mad at me!” when you thought you were just expressing concern?
The key to keeping the doors of communication open during the middle school years is to practice what I call “Botox Brow.” Don’t ever furrow your brow when talking with a middle schooler. Keep your face neutral and use your words to convey how you feel instead of relying on your facial expressions to do the trick. This will ensure that kids stick around long enough to hear what you have to say!
Watch me demo “Botox Brow” in action:
Want even more of Michelle’s great advice? Join the two of us for Right in the Middle.
Right in the Middle is a conference for moms and their daughters, rising 6th and 7th grades, to help them (both!) start middle school on the right foot. Many moms don’t fondly recall the drama of middle school and/or have great concerns about the social challenges their daughters may face when they start middle school. Many girls are also curious and perhaps intimidated by what awaits them in this new social scene. The Right in the Middle workshop is a fun, informative 3-hour workshop that helps Moms and their daughters and start middle school “right.” We talk about middle-school brains, bodies, boys and behaviors to help them open the lines of communication.
After successfully piloting the conference last year, we’re hosting the conference four times this year- three times in Charlotte (May 4, August 18 and August 21) and once in Columbia, South Carolina (August 4).
The conferences are filling up so book your spot soon!