Parenting our kids challenging behaviours
with Alana Robinson
This is an unedited Transcript.
lts. That’s where we’ve been just one thing after the other, right? No. Absolutely never ending. Like every time there’s some announcement, I’m like to now tuning out, I’m done. Exactly.
You get positive
currents, right. So every time there’s announcement, it’s like, my whole week gets blown to crap. Because everybody’s panicking, and I’m spending my whole time coming everybody else down.
I know you’re in damage control mode. And then you’ve got your whole life. On top of all that, alright, well, we can take a few minutes and enjoy chatting, at least, for a little bit. Cool. So I’m just gonna do a quick little intro for you. If at any point, you know, the deal is if you need to re say something or edit something, feel free to just say, edit, or pause or whatever. And we’ll just keep going. Um, but when I’ll just give you a brief introduction, you feel free to explain more. And I’ll kind of ask you that. And then I will. Questions. Yeah, sounds good. Okay, cool. All right, let’s
Welcome to this week’s episode of Mondays, I’m super excited to be talking with our guests this week. Now I have to before I started, I have to say, I am right on the cusp of the age group that we’re going to talk a little bit I’ve got a 13 year old, a nine year old and a six year old, but I can My heart is with what you do, because I like you. I spent majority of my life as an early childhood educator and an infant specialist and a child development specialist. So I’m right there with you in that world, whether my kids are in there anymore or not. So welcome Stephanie leaf, she is a mom, a wife, an amazing entrepreneur, a writer. And I know the main thing of what you’re doing right now is helping busy moms and dads and families navigate. You know, really, I think the ages of two to six is kind of the main I’m sure you have a lot of expertise beyond that. But those are the main years that we’re looking at, and behaviors, right, just understanding behaviors in that age group and how the heck, as parents, we can learn to understand our kids better and relate to them better. So welcome. And I would love to share with me a little bit about more about yourself. But feel free to tell me a little bit about how you got started in this or what made you think, Hey, this is something we need to do.
Awesome. So um, yeah, this was not the plan. I was an early interventionist for almost a decade, we just fell slightly short of that because of the birth of my son. And so I worked with kids who have special needs, and I worked in their homes with their families, helping them participate in daily life and doing play therapy absolutely adored it, it was my favorite thing in the whole wide world. And then I found out that I was pregnant after getting a concussion from one of the kids that I was working with. That unfortunately, kind of shelved my frontline career because now I was pregnant, and they were worried that I would get further hurt in this baby. So I started parent coaching through an agency. And then I went on maternity leave with my oldest son. And there was just like, I guess in the, in my case, it was a happy accident. For parents. It wasn’t but there was a happy accident in terms of there was some funding changes that happened. And so parents were losing their parent coaching through their services. And so I picked it up. And then things just kind of snowballed. And when I was working with kids with special needs, one of the things that I realized because I was in preschools and kindergarten or swim lessons and all these things with different kids with special needs, was that there was a large population of kids who weren’t, quote unquote bad enough to qualify for a diagnosis, but whose behavior was bad enough that it was really derailing their entire family, it was highly disruptive, was making it so the parents didn’t feel that they could participate in things like swimming lessons or play groups, or they were very stressed about how their children were doing in school settings. And what that how that played out in real life was that if there was a child who had a support system in the classroom, because they had a diagnosis, and there was a child who didn’t qualify for a diagnosis, but definitely had two behavioral issues. The child who had the diagnosis, their team were the ones with the experience with behavioral intervention. And so they would end up working with both of these kids, which really did a disservice to the child who had the disability because they needed the full focus of their team, but their team couldn’t give it to them because there was this other kid over here who was in crisis. And so I realized very quickly that these these kids didn’t need The full intervention team, their parents really just needed some support and some resources and some guidance. And unfortunately, where they were seeking that out was their doctors and their doctors would often, you know, they’d go through all the screening and be like, there’s nothing wrong with just parent better, which is like the epitome of unhelpful. What parent better mean, all parents are doing the best that they can, right? They’re, they’re working and doing everything that they know how to do, if they knew how to parent better, they would already be doing it. So my goal when I rolled over into parent coaching privately was really to support those parents who have kids that fall into that gap. And in that way, in a very roundabout way, I’m also supporting children who have special needs and their ability to participate and be included in society. Because we’re using we’re teaching these parents early intervention strategies that we would use with that population already. So it’s not weird when they go into school and there’s visuals being used or anything like that. So that’s kind of how I ended up doing what
amazing, okay, and I’m totally going to read your introduction, because definitely noticed I just read the completely the wrong notes. I’m never running me, I know who your neighbors will talk to Stephanie today. And Good gracious. See, we all have their moments. I never read notes. And I usually just have them on because I usually do them ahead of time, I usually leave them laying on my desk. And today, I was like, You know what, I want to make sure I cover all the questions because you had some good things. I stick it on my computer. And it’s exactly the same folded paper I had when I did. I apologize. here and so I’ll do the end. Roll. Okay, so I want to make sure that was okay. Now that I have the right notes in front of me funny, okay, this is this is something actually as an EC former EC and you know, Mom, now, something that I, a lot of times would be asking, even in preschool settings, asking parents, like you’ve talked about who are having some challenges with their kids, especially when they’re in that two to four, I’d find age range, because you know, all that independence is starting to rise up and these kids are getting to the I do at stage and, you know, our patients aren’t there. And all of those things just kind of collide. But they’re I remember many times me just saying to parents, when they come in and talk about, you know, my gosh, I don’t know what to do. I mean, I’m not a parenting expert at that age. At that point, I had children, so I knew everything, right. I knew I was gonna work. Ah, so then it was like I you know, I’d say things like, Okay, well, what is what is the worst part of this? Or what is, you know, what is the part that you find the hardest? And thankfully, I mean, I didn’t know to ask certain questions, but those seem to be the right questions. You know, in hindsight, what would you say are, let’s look at maybe that that, I mean, two to four is a pretty big job. So if you think you want to do hero three roles, whatever, you break it down, however you think, but what are some of those most common concerns that are coming up at those ages?
Not listening is the biggest one parents are like, 90% of parents come to me saying my kids just won’t listen to me. And parents have this misconception that listening and hearing are the same thing. They’re just not. And so you know, not listening is a big umbrella term for a lot of various issues. But not listening is definitely the biggest one. The limbic leap at four years old, seems to be the like one of the major ones when kids get super emotional, and super reactive and super defensive over totally typical things that they’ve, you know, often been doing for years at that point. And I think my grandmother said it best when she was like, you know, a two, they’re cute. At three, they’re still you know, adorable. At four, you’re like, Okay, now you’re a kid now, and you should know what’s going on. And I find that rings incredibly true for my clients, because they’re like, you know, I was expecting it for that they would be better at this than they are. And then once they, you know, we lead them through the neurology and what’s actually going on under the hood, it makes sense to them, why their child is freaking out over completely typical things that they’ve been doing for a very long time again. So yeah, that four year old limbic leave the not listening. With two year olds, it’s a lot of that difficulty with communicating because two year olds, that thing where they, their receptive language is so far ahead of their expressive language that they can think these big thoughts, but they can’t make them come out of their mouths. And so a lot of communication friction with two year olds to
absolutely, yeah, that’s true. And I remember my guys were all and I say this proudly as a mom, but my guys were all very advanced with their speech. Getting the most on baby sign at, you know, four or five, six months old. But they’re all talking, you know, two three word sentences by 1415 months old. And I thought that was just normal, even after years of being in childcare and seeing that that wasn’t normal, because it suddenly seems normal. And I remember having a friend say with her two year old, she’s like, I never like really couldn’t understand what he was saying, I never could understand what he was saying. And, and just coming up with you know, I never I never thought that was odd until a doctor asked me you know, at a checkup, he say this many words? Or can they maybe follow two step directions or one set direction? So sometimes having that you know, the openness to say to someone you trust? Do you think this is not cool, you know, is this average? Then you kind of know where to go and say, hey, maybe I do need to talk to someone like Atlanta, maybe I do need to talk to my doctor. But this, you know, maybe this is beyond just a behavior. That’s normal for the stage, maybe now we’re looking at something else. Right,
exactly. And because I worked with so many kids who just couldn’t speak at all, like I had both sides of the coin with my own kids, I had my first who because I started, I had him working right out of early intervention, I was used to signing to anybody who was shorter than my navel. So he his first language is sign language. Turns out, he is partially deaf in one ear. So he will, he was signing full sentences by 15 months. But that also meant that he was hyper verbal by time he started talking. And then my youngest, who’s only two and a half years younger. And so he had his personal interpreter here who could communicate much more clearly and precisely than he could. He didn’t talk until he was almost three. So Oh, my God, I had both ends of the spectrum for my own kids. But then I also worked with kids who were just completely nonverbal. So it’s really neat to be able to pass along those strategies that work for kids really well to parents, so that, you know, it doesn’t matter. I don’t care if your kid can talk. I care if your kid is communicating, and much broader. Yeah, for parents. So yeah, it’s it’s really neat how when you know what’s going on in their brain, it’s a lot easier to change what you’re doing, and it doesn’t feel so personal anymore. Yes,
I’m so glad you said that. Because that’s it again, as a mom, I was like, What the heck, you know why you feel like it’s you we are like, they’re personally taking it out on you, or, you know, the tantrums or the I gave them the wrong color sippy cup. This is why we’re crying today. You know, whatever those scenarios aren’t, whatever age that’s happening. It can it can definitely hit home. And I know our partners feel that way too. Like, there were times that I had to be like, well, you need to take a breath. Like, this is not an offense against you. This is just being for like,
Yeah, I think that’s what parents come to me all the time. And they’re like, it feels like they’re trying to hurt me, it feels like they hate me. It feels like they’re doing this to piss me personally off. And I understand why it’s completely 100%. I even have those moments where I’m saying to my husband, like, Oh, my God, it feels like they’re pointing to get me. And he’s like, you know, that’s not correct. But, again, working with kids who have special needs for so long, it was really great. Because for me, because I was able to realize, this isn’t about me, it’s not about what I’m doing. Oh, I mean, what we do does affect what they do, but they’re not trying to hurt me. They’re doing the best they can, at every single moment. And so if my child isn’t doing well, it’s, there’s a reason for it. And there’s a problem to solve. And that’s kind of my whole philosophy is kids do well, if they can, if they’re not, there’s a reason for it. And there’s a problem to solve. So let’s find the problem and solve it. And then poof, by behavior.
That’s I love that was so well said. And that’s, it’s really, really key that we almost have like those little hand that comes up in our brain when things are happening that’s not about you. It’s not about you. I’m like, I
feel great that I attack behavior from a neurological perspective. And I’m like, because if you understand what is going on in their brain, it suddenly becomes much less about, oh, they’re doing this because they hate me. And it’s like, oh, they’re doing this because, you know, they’re in the limbic loop and predictability and consistency are what they’re craving. And I just completely changed the plant plot on them without warning them so yeah, help me in that I did this thing to make them feel unsafe. But it’s not about me and that they’re being an asshole just to make me not a jerk for no reason not to manipulate me they’re not trying to hurt me. This just what something I did made them feel unsafe. So how can I make them feel safe and still accomplish my goal? And so that’s it. That’s why I love going into the brain and talking about how the brain works and all that stuff. Because once parents understand, oh, you know they’re doing this because their magdala is tripling in size and everything super sensitive, everyone Anything that is new or different or unexpected is literally a life threatening danger as far as they’re concerned. Okay, now it’s not that I’m, you know, they don’t want to do what I’m telling them to do now it’s, oh, they’re fighting for their life.
Yeah, anxiety that we as adults, we don’t even recognize it in ourselves sometimes. So how are we going to see that this is what’s coming out? In our kids, that’s so check the brain is fascinating that way with kids. But if we don’t take the time to understand what’s going on in there, it is going to feel very personal and very frustrating.
Exactly. And it’s funny because like, when parents start working with me, they’ll often say, after a couple of months, they’re like, I am figuring out that I was never taught how to self regulate, I was never very aware of my emotions, I wasn’t allowed to express my emotions. So to me, my child’s expressing their emotions, or their frustration, feels like a personal attack. Because I wasn’t allowed to do that. As a child. I wasn’t given the grace or the instruction to understand what was going on. And so when my child does it, it feels really unfair. Because Do you not know how good you have it? Right? And then we get into this comparison game with our kids. And none of this is conscious. None of this is like parents sitting down and going like, Oh, well, you know, you’ve got it so good. And therefore I’m going to make it harder for you. It’s just it’s our brain trying to equalize things. And once we’re aware of it, it’s a lot easier to take that step back and be like, okay, now, this isn’t about me, and I have influence over it, I can change it. I can heal both of us at the same time.
I 100%, believe we’re given the kids were given for a reason, right? I always joke that they push buttons that need healing, they don’t push buttons pistols off. Right? Like we said that so many times, that hurts and our defensiveness as an adult is to go, Well, you know what, you know, like, me, I listen to what I went through. And at the end of the day, that’s where it is stepping back and going, well, it’s not about me, this moment isn’t about me, but it’s gonna be about me changing. Because I recently got some a, there’s a little girl in me or a little boy in him that was up against what’s happening. And it’s gonna speak to that it’s not always gonna be a good thing. So, yeah. You know, what being being willing. And I think that’s the beauty of what you like, being willing to hear from someone outside of the situation, as much as you’re working with parents and kids. And in that whole aspect, if we’re as parents if we’re willing to be open enough and be humble enough to say, You’re right, you know what, I didn’t understand this, or this, it went down totally different in my upbringing. Doesn’t mean what’s right doesn’t mean it’s wrong, necessarily, but it’s not working for now.
Right? And why I love working with parents directly. Because it’s amazing. Like, it was also it’s fun working with kids one on one and getting to be like in the front line and playing games all day. Like, I loved my life as an early interventionist, I got to hang out all the time and swimming lesson three times a day, it was awesome. But when I left, those things left with me, right. And so I often got in trouble because I was like spending a lot of time educating the parents about what I was doing, why I was doing it that way. Because I could see how frustrated parents were one by not being included. Not knowing what was going on, but two by how drastically the child’s behavior would change when I left, and they’re like, Oh, they just like you. And I’m like, they don’t like me. I show up every day, and I make them do things that are exceptionally difficult for them. Like I fought Oh, that’s what is that all they doing is forcing kids to do stuff that is hard for them. And they’re all like, when I show up at the door, so they don’t it’s not that they like me. It’s just that how I interact with them works with them instead of against them. Yeah, well, let’s teach you how to work with them. And then seeing parents take over that role and seeing their relationship improve with their kids because of that. And so now I just get to do like, go straight to the parents and be like, I’m, you’re going to do everything with your kid. I am not injecting myself in that aspect at all. And when parents change, kids change, like that’s invalidated. That’s been, Oh, I can’t remember the protocol name. It’s got some kind of funny name like stars or something like that. But there’s a protocol that was developed in the states for treating anxiety. That is that parent first, like a clinical protocol for treating parents or teaching parents to treat their own kids, for kids who have anxiety where typical anxiety interventions aren’t working. And for those kids with typical anxiety and interventions weren’t working. The parent led version worked 10 times better. And so that I mean, I was doing it before that research came out, but I knew it Currently, just from granting it, we have so much power in our little kids lives, we’re never gonna have that kind of power again. And so when I have parents who come to me willingly, and they’re like, teach me this, let’s do this, let’s figure it out. It’s like, hey, you’re on the launchpad for greatness. Because if you can sort your stuff out now, then the rest of their lives just gets that much easier.
Oh, 100%. And oh my gosh, like, I wish I wish I had met you 10 years ago, because we went through this with my firstborn. And I swear to you, like I, in all my years of doing infant, you know, specialists. And in working with newborns, I was a doula and you know, working from pregnancy, right through delivery right through to their first year, I think I would have learned some of this before I have my own kids. But again, when it’s yours, it’s like being handed my baby for the first time. And I had helped, you know, 120 babies latch on their mamas, but I had to suddenly breastfeed this baby. And I’m like,
I don’t know. When I say that, because I had the same experience with my first one, I was cocky as fuck. I have been working with kids for 10 years, I know this, I got this, like, I was up on my little pedestal, nobody could tell me anything. And then I had my son. And I got a diagnosis shortly after he was born, that I was hyperplastic. And so I didn’t know that beforehand. And I’d been trying to breastfeed him. And so that he had food insecurity. And he wasn’t sleeping. And like for more than a month, at a time, because he was food insecure. And so I was drowning. And like, he was eventually like, eventually, we pulled out of it, we got asleep trained, we figured all that out. But I like that kid took me down a couple pegs. Oh, I got this, I’m gonna be friggin world, because I know it all already. And I do. But when somebody hands you, your baby, you’re too close to it. That’s right decisions. And I got brainwashed by all the leg attachment parenting like, crap, shaming, crap, and all of my training all of what I knew went out the window because I was so tired. And so it completely took me down. I don’t think I could be as empathetic as I am to parents, if I hadn’t had that experience of having a baby and being too close to it. And even now, I have to go to my best friend who often works with me and be like, Okay, in this scenario, you’d be me. And tell me what I already know. Because this is my baby. And you get emotionally involved in it. Then like, right, our emotional brain shuts down our rational brain and volved in your emotions. And you’re like, it’s, there’s nobody else who’s responsible for this kid. It’s me. Yeah,
well, I mean, like, I do that with my older sister, her and I are we both have three kids and you know, sort of similar ages a little bit, a little older. But that’s what I’ll do is there’s times where I’m like, okay, literally, I’m going to lose my mind with my middle child. Like, what the serious, you know, what’s going on with middle two kids, you know, and she’s like, let me tell you a few things about middle children, because she’s really good at that kind of stuff. And he just needs to hear it because I can Google it. I can watch a webinar or listen to advice, whatever. But when I was dealing with a firstborn with like, from the day he was born, had anxiety, and then Nope, not had a clue that I had PTSD for the first year, severe birth trauma and like all these things, you’re completely unaware of right? And you think you’re managing you’re just like I’m getting bombed but you’re sleep deprived, you’re depressed, you’re struggling, you’re all the things and you’re all the shaming and all the feelings of I need to be the best mom I can be. But meanwhile, I don’t have a clue what’s going on with this baby. Like this toddler. This kid, why can’t I ever leave his sight for three seconds without a complete meltdown? Well, guess what? Because I never have
to change it when you’re in it. Right? Like I have my clients who have been with me for years and years and years. Who know this stuff. Like at this point. They’re You know, they’re in my program giving peer support to other new hires. By but when it hits the fan in their own family, they’re like, okay, remind me what I’m supposed to do here. They need somebody else to be like, okay, so remember, we’re going to do this this this and this and I just kind of lay it out in a plan I don’t have to give them the house anymore because they already out but when it right we have that and that’s our brains defense response is to shut down right we don’t need our logical language knowing learning brain in order to survive. We need our limbic system to survive. And so when we run out of when when something unexpected happens, or we’re scared of something, our brain goes, Okay, this is all cool and good, but we don’t need all of this language and knowledge, likes and everything else drops. We need that energy. That, you know, thinking and all that shit uses up way or to defend ourselves. So so then you’re stuck in your emotions because our limbic system also controls our emotions, and you’re feeling all of these feelings and you can’t put together a plan. You just, you can’t. And so it’s so so valuable to be able to say to somebody, okay, here’s all this shit that happened. All together in a way that makes sense. And have some yes be like, yes. Okay, so here’s the corner pieces. Let’s fill this in, here’s your plan, just go do it. And most parents, once they actually do it, they’re like, oh, wow, okay, that works really fast. And it works. It’s really simple to do. It’s not hard, but none of this is rocket science. It’s just getting out of your own head.
Yeah, I love that. It’s true. And it’s sometimes it is that other voice and it is that game plan. So that maybe we screwed it up, like maybe we really, we failed bad that when you know that moment, it sucked. And we did a terrible job. What do we do next time because you know, with a four to six year olds, two to six year old, it’s gonna happen again.
But the six year olds is there. So forgiving the goldfish. And so you know, you screw it up, you will shed bed and then the next time it happens, you’re prepared, you got your plane already. And so it’s why I love this age group, because we literally have a fresh start every day. Yeah, it’s so easy to solve problems for this age group relative to older kids who have longer memories who have their own. Yeah, exactly right, like, and I’m starting to my oldest is seven now. And so I’m starting to like, Okay, we’ve got to, like, start actually collaborating with him to work on things, because he’s not gonna be dictated to anymore. And so it’s easier for me to do that with him, because I’ve been setting the groundwork for collaboration from day one. But it’s still different. And he’s still got his own ideas. And I don’t always like his idea. So it’s, in relative terms, solving problems with two to six years old, or just, it’s so much easier. So if you can lay that foundation now, do it, because it’s not going to get easier. They’re not going to grow out of it.
Right? Absolutely. Now, I know this is not in your age range at all. But I’m curious, because I’ve heard this time and time again, is is it too late? So if you’ve got parents listening to this, who got eight, nine year olds, who are they think like, I’m done, like, I don’t know what to do anymore with this child. I’m not talking, you know, extreme behavior issues where we need professional beyond your professional hobby, no matter. But those those mild to moderate situations. Like, for example, I have, like I said, My middle child, she’s nine. And I always I swear that nine year old girls go through like, pseudo personality disorder, honest to goodness, like you look at actually studies on this and the rain of these girls, in they legit with the hormones going on. And what’s happening there are crazy. So, I mean, I’ve had the benefit of having the training, I’ve had not nearly what you’ve been doing, but enough that I can say I am out of my league here. Like I know what to do, because she went from a, you know, a feisty little two to six year old who I was in for a good run with her. But hit that eight, nine stage and went, I don’t even know who you are anymore. Beyond that, are you you still able to do something about it?
Oh, absolutely. Like kids don’t hit seven years old and turn into aliens, right? They’re just the, the concepts don’t change. It’s just what they look like changes as we get, right. And that’s why that’s why I focus so much on stress management and stress identification, and then on executive functioning skills. Your functioning skills don’t fully develop until we’re 28 years old. Right? What we, when we typically start focusing on them is when kids go into elementary school, and they weren’t causing all of these problems. And so I’m always trying to preempt those things because I don’t want it like right, it’s easier to Frederick Douglass quote, it’s easier to build strong children than repair broken men. But no, it’s never too late, like the brain starts solidifying. But it’s eight, nine years old. They’re still babies in the grand scheme of things, right, especially with today’s life expectancy like there’s infants
that’s a good way to look at it because we do have this idea like he kind of set it for even like, come on. You’re a mini me now. Like Get on with it around for four years, around eight years. Come on, get on with life, and it is easy to forget like, I think I find it easier with my youngest because he’s my baby, right? So I can always imagine that he’s the baby. So yeah, As soon as it gets past those ages, though you’re like, well, so when you move it out
is that we have to always be working towards that knowledge that our kids aren’t ours. We’re just keeping them while they grow up. Right. And we’re preparing them for adulthood. We’re not raising children, we’re raising adults. It’s two o’clock. So what’s awesome. So the Yeah, so we’re always having to work towards that thing that we’re not in charge, like, much as parents want to be in charge or not in charge. And we have to move them towards that. Because otherwise, we’re going from I’m in total control to you have total control. And that’s where you get a lot of rebellion. Yeah, a lot of, you know, young adults doing very scary things. And so when you’re working with like, 8789 years old, you’re always kind of dripping out that control to them. And being like, I’m just going to give you a little bit more control so that you have a little bit more to work with. And I’m going to collaborate with you more, so that you have more say in what is happening to you. And that’s where like, usually, for older children, I refer people to Dr. Ross Green’s framework is Plan B framework for collaboration, because it’s very structured, it’s, but it’s a great way I have kids who come to me call me up on the phone that I did Plan B with when they were 678, like 10 years ago, and look me up on Facebook, and they’ll call me and be like, hey, so this solution we came up with when I was eight years old, isn’t working anymore, can we redo this. And like, because they know that that’s how I solve problems. And everything with my own son like he, at first, when we started doing that framework, he was very, very hesitant the first couple of times suck because it takes forever to get through because they don’t trust us. But as they start to trust us, like my seven year old will come in now. And he’ll be like this, this this and this is a problem. Let’s solve these brainstorm. And so he knows exactly how I problem solve. So it’s very predictive on predictability and consistency. detectable to him, he it’s very consistent framework, which he knows we’re going to go through. And because of that, he’s a lot more open to collaborating with me, because he knows that my first reaction is not going to be to yell at him and get him in trouble. Right. And so we’re setting those, again, we’re setting that foundation when they’re two to six years old. And we’re using tools like the logical consequence process where, you know, we’re still with them, it’s just more of a structured collaboration, because they’re little, and they don’t have the context for thing. And they can’t, they don’t know their options. They don’t know how to what they can and cannot do to solve the problem. So we have to be more structured with younger kids. But then, as we move, you know, towards that five, six, we start transitioning from the logical consequences into the more collaborative problem solving frameworks. It’s never too late, like you can always start again, it’s just it, you just have to have the tenacity to stick with it. And to accept that this isn’t going to be like, I’ve had some parents were like this plan B thing doesn’t work. And I’m like, Well, how many times did you try? And they’re like, once? Yeah. Okay, cool. So you’re quitting yet. It’s
a quick fix with no quick fix, you might have quick solutions for in the moment that will work like strategies and techniques. But when it comes to actually shifting or, you know, neural mindset and rewiring a behavior, we know is idle. It’s like it takes us forever to rewire a habit or a bad behavior or something that we do. Why would our expectations being less than our kids, they just have a better neuroplasticity, I think to go exactly a couple of times we’re going to catch on, we’re going to get it but the older they get,
the older they get, the harder that change gets. And like what we wait for two to six year olds, it takes a minimum of three months to really see the needle start to move on to behavior, because we’re literally rewiring the brain. And it doesn’t matter if the synapse is this far apart or this far apart. If it’s not connected, there’s no information flying down. We have to keep keep at it and keep building those connections and be really, really consistent. I think that’s where parents have the most difficulty where they’re like, Oh, well I screwed up once. So the consistency golf has gone out the window and it’s it’s only inconsistent if you keep being inconsistent. Right? The more consistent and predictable and those are like my base values like consistency and predictability. If you have those two things. There’s not a whole lot you can do to screw it up.
Absolutely. I that’s and that’s something as a parent, I learned the hard way. Like I said, like with my kid with anxiety and with you You know, my middle kid who likes to push all those boundaries, learning the boundaries are actually super important, but only if you can logically maintain them. Right? We can’t just throw things out there randomly in the situation and be like, oh, shoot, they didn’t understand that a wall, right? Or that I can’t even rip out. Like, you know, we only know the old mom adage of, I’m pulling this car over now and you’re walking home? And
you’re like, No, you’re not. Because
my parents think that in order to teach children what not to do, they have to make what not to do like this big overblown thing. And it’s kid, they’re fake. They know that this isn’t authentic. And often kids already know that they fucked up before you’ve even brought yourself into this situation, right? They do the head down, and they’re kind of talking, you’re like, do I really need to reinforce that you screwed up? You already know it. But parents feel like they have to. And that’s why I hate focusing on what not to do. Because parents are like, Okay, well, you know, you crashed your bike. So now there’s no bike, there’s no TV, there’s no like, and they just start throwing on all these disconnected things that have nothing to do with it to try to reinforce the what happened was bad. already know that what happened was bad. You don’t need to throw on all this other crap, because now you’re just pulling the power trip to shame and blame routine right? Now. You’re just pulling them up and shaming them. And so No, they’re not going to trust you when they screw up. And they actually need your help. So whereas when we focus on Okay, so you crashed your bike? Like, what should you do next time instead? Let’s practice that so that you have the muscle memory, you have the things to do. And same thing with little kids, right? Like they hit their friend at the playground. And we’re like, not allowed to hit now we have to go home, no dessert, blah, blah, blah. And this two year old is like,
Hey, you know what I just did. Like, my favorite was always my favorite. My favorite was always the parents. And I’ll 100% say I’ve been guilty of this was, you know, smacking your kid’s hand for smacking someone else has died. And you’re like, Where on earth was the logic in that? But don’t know
where the hole neurology comes in, right? Because when we react in irrational ways like that, it’s because there’s resonance between our kids and us. And like our brains actually, brainwaves are a thing. They exist, just like light waves and sound waves. And brains give them off and they pick them up. And that’s why you can walk into like a boardroom. And you immediately know who is in charge, who the shit disturber is, who have a pension, because their brains are all giving off different frequencies that our brains pick up. And same thing with our kids. Our kids know, if we were full of shit, they know if we’re just regulated as much as they are. And then if we’re just regulated, there’s no hope in hell of them regulating because we’re their primary caregiver were their primary attachment there bringing references our brain to see if they’re safe. And if we’re giving off these dysregulated vibes, their brain is going off mom is not okay. Which means I am not okay. Which means I need to stay in this dysregulated state because I need to be ready to go away. Yeah. and protect myself. And so like parents are always saying like, it’s so hard to stay calm. But it’s a lot easier to stay calm when you realize that you’re calm. They’re calm is contingent on your calm. No.
You can escalate or you can break down and and that’s my my new phrase. It’s funny you said that bring it down. That’s been my new phrase in the house. I’d say for the past few months. It’s been Okay, listen, everyone mommies, y’all bring it down. Just bring it down.
my six year old to be like, Hey, guys, Mom said Bring me down.
Like you got it. But like modeling and modeling something I don’t know if it’s productive or not. But
my my four year old his calming thing is to go for like a really intense like, almost run, like very walk for a brisk walk. And so for like the last year, every time he’s been melted down, I mean, he’s I knew that kid was going to hit the Olympic like a Mack truck and he did not disappoint. And remember being like, of course, you would hit this horrible, horrible dysregulated leap in the middle of a pandemic. So focused on him whenever he starts getting irrational and dysregulated. I’m like, we got to go for a walk. Okay, let’s put on your shoes. Let’s go for a walk. And my neighbor’s now know like, because sometimes he’s refused to go for a walk. And I’m like, nope, this isn’t an option. We need to calm your body down. We’re going for a walk over your shoulder and you start walking and five minutes and he’s like, okay, you can walk. But now finally, after 10 months of every time he starts acting like that saying, Hey, we got to go for a walk. He’s finally coming to me and be like, I need to walk and he’s starting to identify that Yes, yeah, I need to calm my body down. And the best way for me to calm my body down is to go for a walk. And so now he’s asking proactively to go for walks, not having those meltdowns anymore. We’re teaching him to recognize his own body signals. And when he starts school next year, I’m going to be able to say to his teacher, as soon as he starts acting emotional and irrational, he needs to go for an intense walk, or he needs to go and like run around the gym or something, like, tell me what permission is designed to facilitate. But this is the only way to calm him down. Yeah, and, but that’s so empowering. Like, if every parent could say that to a caregiver, or a camp counselor, or a teacher be like, this is what to do when my child is acting dysregulated when we have these huge, you know, issues in classrooms and kids attacking other kids, because the, the, it’s not the kids are trying to hurt each other, it’s that they’re dysregulated. And they have no idea how to calm their nervous system now,
well how to advocate for themselves, we just expect teachers to figure that out, that’s not their mother even trained for that. Like, it’s like when I go when my kids were in the public schools having them take, they would choose their own calming oils. That’s what we do, right? So my kids know how the limbic system works from a very young age, and the science of it and the science of aroma, and they would be able to pick and they would make their own oil blend, and they would get permission to have that in their bag. And if they needed a moment to just chill, or whatever was happening, they would have permission to even if they just had to take it out and sniff it didn’t matter. You know, the rest of class didn’t have to be involved in smelling it, it was fine. And like, the power that gave my anxious kids or my, you know, separation anxiety kid or any of those things where they felt like they have created something they could take that they felt empowered to use and have permission to use it that was so empowering for me as a mom, but caring for them. And I love that because when you start to find a solution, and man physical activity is top of the list like yeah, for little guys, when exactly are just a saying, humming, you know, showing them just how to you know,
are you really,
are you kind of up here and you need to bring it down here. Well, what’s one of your favorite songs? That’s what I started doing because I’ve had to learn how to tone my biggest nerve. And I’m like, oh, guess what, we can just sing. It’s not
like, I remember when the oldest was in junior high. He was in junior kindergarten. And his teacher called me and she was like, he just will not do math work. And I was like, Well, that doesn’t make sense. Because math is actually something he’s freakishly good at. Me. That’s how I recognize that he’s freakishly good at it because he can do math I can’t do. I was like, well, that’s odd, because he’s good at math. So math should be easy for him. And she was like, nope, he sits there. He refuses to do it. And he keeps saying, I need to go for a run, I need to go for a run. And I was like, send him for a run her run. Well, I can’t just let him go for a run. And I was like, sure what permission slip Do I need to sign so that you can let him go for a run? And she was like, okay, so she sent me home a permission slip, I signed it the next time. And I was like, I swear, if you let him, give him a time limit, tell him like you have, you can run around the school three times. And then you have to come back. And he will do it. And he will come back. And I guarantee you he will do that math work. And she was like, Okay. And then. So the next day she called me she was like, Oh my god, it worked. And it was like, I know, because he knows what it feels like to be regulated. He knew he didn’t have the gas in the tank to do that math work right then and he needed to regulate before you could do that math for your kids
are like this, like sitting think about our little guys kindergarten and grade one sitting for hours. I get these I get it. Like, you know, my guy didn’t show up until grade three, when and it was not same scenario, great at math, all of a sudden sitting there. We also discovered he was dyslexic, but huge for him. But suddenly he had to sit for long hours as opposed to what grade one class was like. It was great. He was a great one to split where you have activities. You’re getting up an interactive music class, you’re not having to sit still the whole time. Suddenly green three is like, bam, get ready, everybody. You’re in your desk for half the day. And I actually did it just follow through. I would go crazy.
All right. I can’t like I can’t sit one of the reasons I wanted to work for myself was because I don’t well, having to sit at a desk all day. I knew that when I was picking my career. That’s why I became an EC II. That’s why I love early intervention so much because I was like, on the floor with kids in my things all day and I loved it. But then, um, so yeah, so for him like and it’s we don’t trust children to advocate for themselves because we aren’t teaching children what to advocate for. Yep. And when you have so it’s very disconcerting to some adults when this little five year old is going, Hey, I need to go for a run like now because my body needs That? And they’re like, Well, no, you don’t have to do with that. Right? They don’t know what to do with that. Um, and even like for him, there was some times where he was like, I need to go for a run, but I can’t go for a run like five times a day at school. So for him, like we had to figure out, Okay, well, there’s some times where he just needs deep pressure. And he needed because I used to, like, push on his head for him, which would give him that nice sensory input. And he was like, I need you to push on my head during circle time, I can’t sit still during circle time. And I was like, well, I can’t push on your head trick, circle time. And the teacher can’t push on your head during circle time. So here’s the Thera band. And we’re gonna put this in your backpack, and you can take this out, and you can pull down on your head with theraband. While you’re listening, the teacher was like, Oh my gosh, he can sit for like 20 minutes when he’s got that band. I know.
It’s like weighted blankets. Like weighted blankets. We had someone make a mini one for us. And it was just like a little tiny one. And he could put on his lap. He was happy. But you know, they would use it for whatever. I use it even now when we homeschool. So yeah, I love the more tools I love this time we were going over and I love it, it’s totally fine. Because
that’s what I hope parents do. Right? It’s figuring every kid is different, right? A lot of people hear what works for my son, and they’re like, I tried taking my son for a run and he like freaked out. That’s my kid. That’s my kid. That’s what every single person what I find calming is not the same thing I run, if someone is chasing me if I’m running, you should run too because I am not a runner where he got that from no frickin clue. But that’s him. And what I find calming is very different from what my children find calming what from what my husband finds calming. What my kids find calming is going to be different from what your kids find. I think the best example of that is introverts versus extroverts, right like introvert, find being alone, very calming. Whereas extroverts find that extremely draining. And then the opposite is also true. extroverts find being around other people very invigorating and fill their tank with lots of energy. for introverts. It’s extremely draining. But that’s goes for everything. It’s not just social interaction. And so for every single kid, we have to observe them. And we have to use some different tools to figure out what is draining for them. What is reinvigorating for them, and how can we put those reinvigorating things into their day? So that it’s not like, okay, you get to be regulated when you leave the house in the morning, and when you get home at night, because for little ones, that’s not enough.
Well, and that’s often where we see those after school meltdowns. Yeah, right. Suddenly, I’m in a safe place. I’m back at home now I can let it all out. Yeah. And that’s, I mean, I used to, you know, years ago, even before I had my own kids, I was a nanny for many years, I used to always, like, What the heck’s going on at school, and it was normal school, nothing was going on, they just had to fight so hard all day stay regulated that by the end of the day, they were empty, like concurrency.
And then they come like my oldest used to come home from kindergarten, we have a ball pit in our basement, he would just drop his backpack, go downstairs, fish’s way to the bottom of the bulkhead and just lie there in the dark. For like, an hour. My husband was like, is he he’s just having a regulation break. And but if he didn’t know how to regulate, like, that is something that he was very actively taught to do. Right? He knew how to regulate that would have been screaming, yelling, throwing things, demanding food, like, yep, oh, we solve a lot of problems by teaching children about their body, how to recognize their arousal level, figuring out which skills, they’re using cars, where this crosses over with executive skills, is that executive skills are in that top layer, knowledge layer of our brain. And they take a lot of energy to us. And if we’re not regulated, they said that top layer isn’t necessary for life. If we’re not regulated, then our brain can’t use their energy, its energy to work on those skills. And often for little kids, the only chance to get to use those skills is when it’s like do or die, people are watching you and you got to perform or fail. And so then that puts them back into their red brain back into their limbic system. And so they might do it. But did they learn from it? Are they able to repeat it? No, because that part of their brain is now offline, it’s not getting oxygen and blood. So they wouldn’t be there. And we’ll do it again, which means they don’t build the skills as efficiently as they otherwise could. And so when you’ve got and this is where people often with four year olds get so frustrated, because you have a three year old who is very slowly getting more and more competent at their different executive functioning skills. And then the limbic leap hits and that’s a huge stressor. So it starts sucking all of the energy they were using skills, right. And so the parents are like they’ve regressed and it’s like they haven’t regressed. It’s just their skills are being clouded by stress. Yeah, again, we have to go back to teaching them how to to regulate so that they have access to those skills and then practicing those skills in very neutral, calm environments where it’s totally safe for them to fail. No one’s gonna get upset if you fail, great. And try again tomorrow, right? Practice makes perfect. And the stronger those skills get, the less energy they take, which means they can use them with less and less energy. And they’re I love it.
That’s such a good clear explanation of what’s going on in their brain when it really is so crazy what’s happening in there. There’s so much
love it. Okay, where
can we’re gonna talk more I know we could we could cover a lot of topics. No, I’m so seriously this, this like fills my tank up. I love talking all this stuff. So but where can people find you? Where if they want to work with you, or they want to find out more about what you do? Where can we find you.
So my website is Atlanta Robinson calm. And I also have a Facebook group called the parenting posse, which is my free peer support Facebook group everybody’s invited to join. It’s run by a lot of my former members. So my you got lots of really good support in there. And then if you want to check out my free class, I have a free class called how to how to raise well behaved kids without yelling, shaming or timeouts. And that’s available on my website as well.
Amazing. And we’ll put all those links up. Well, I look forward to talking and talking some more because this, there’s so much into this. And I know we will probably get questions and specifics and you probably will get questions in specific. So let’s talk some more about this topic. And you know, maybe we can talk next time about parents and self care and how that right? We are so responsible for so many things. We can do it but we can do. Awesome. Okay, I’m gonna redo the intro. I completely messed that one up. So just bear with me a second. You don’t have to say anything because they’ll just look I have an interest you guys can cut this into, or whoever’s editing, cut this intro back in. Alright.
I’m gonna put the right one up there now.
So welcome to our next episode of The Mondays Podcast. I am so excited to be talking about parenting our little ones. My youngest is now on the edge of this age group at six years of age. So I can still relate but as a former early childhood educator, and infant specialists, my heart still is in this and today’s guest is Elana Robinson, and mom, a wife, I know all these great things that she’s got going on in her own life. But beyond all of that she is a coach parenting coach who is helping kids and parents in that age group that are about two to six years of age, who needs more support with behaviors, whether it’s you know, your average everyday challenges of having a 23456 year old, or maybe it’s gone beyond that to some more challenging behaviors that you do need some strategies for. So thank you so much for joining us, Atlanta. And I can’t wait to hear what we’re going to chat more about today. And I know you have some really good wisdom for us. Thank you for having me. Yay. I love it. Um, so your links will go up with the episode it probably won’t be until June we’re kind of pushing things through so I’ll let you know what it is and then I would adore to be able to have you I know it says it in my letter but I would still love to do a live with you at some point too.
So one that we did on Instagram usually. Are you on tik tok? I’m not on tik tok. I’m not allowed to have Tick Tock because my husband’s a Special Forces soldier because tiktoks Chinese were not allowed to happen 100% I’m with you with you on that to see if it’s or not so we’ll see what like officer like is freaked out on me was like you cannot have Tick Tock I can’t hit
I didn’t ask for it. You just oh funny. It’s so funny to see all I actually have another friend who works for a Canadian versus and it’s so funny to see all the American police officers soldiers, Navy SEALs all of them all on Tick Tock and I’m like,
Yeah, well, and like I do a restriction for normal DND but my husband’s can soft calm. He’s special. So he’s got different rules. But I don’t I’ve never seen Canadian military on either, like in any order much, much stricter with I officer who actually like goes through all of my social media and if there’s something that he thinks would mission, he’s like, you got to take this down. Which is why people always like, are you married because we never see your husband and so like I try and like
lie to the parent and a wife and then I was like, are you I think your wife right?
To clarify, to make sure that nobody can see his face because he’s he’s a different level of of soldiers. Gotcha. Have fun good times online entrepreneur and your
well I you know it totally different side of things but I’m completely in the same boat because I get watched by the FDA. So we get post taken down and we get compliance, you know calling us going. You’ve been flagged. I know. You said the words you’re not allowed to say healthy word. Allergies you’re about to get fired. But what what else are they called? Geez, I don’t know.
So Oh my gosh. Anyway, alright, I want to work today. I’m going to go get this file up for you. Alrighty. Bye