Tracey Johnson of Practical Parenting presented to the PDXCityMamas group in December (there were quite a few Dads in the audience too).
Although it is truly hard to capture Tracey's gracious tone and humor, here are copious notes from her talk:
Capture the teachable moments.
Getting frustrated is ineffective and doesn’t work.
Yelling doesn’t teach – it initiates the fight or flight instinct – neither of which will help your child learn.
Take the current moment to get it right this time – don’t wait for the same issue to repeat itself.
Power struggles – stir up emotional stuff
Give the problem back to them – have them sit with the consequences
Teach your kids to be problem solvers.
Parenting with Love and Logic – a fantastic approach
Attachment – Birth to 3 – Building a healthy connection that is safe and predictable
#1 Attunement – Connecting – “we get each other”
#2 Trust with limits – Everything is right in the moment
#3 Trust of self – What are they mastering now? Be patient enough to let them learn
This biggest lessen for personal success is emotional self-regulation – do whatever it takes to not blow up at your kids
- Counting to 10
- Silly song
- Walk around the block
Being a parent is an amazing opportunity to evolve.
Parenting is a huge burden of responsibility – teachable moments are for both the child and parent.
We change the world one kid at a time.
- First intimate relationship
- You’re stuck with them
- Teach them to be a team
- Being a sibling will give many teachable moments
- Manage conflict
- Take responsibility
- Call some out on their stuff and vice versa
- Empathy – biggest tools
Shoot for 80%
Example of a parent whose children came in while she was in the shower both wanting to use the bathroom. The daughter refused to get off the toilet and it ended with the boy peeing on the girl. What should she have done (from the shower)?
- How’s this working for you?
- Sounds like you have a problem
- I really need you to figure this out – I’m busy now
Solving your kids’ problems teaching them to come find you to help them out, and solve it for them.
Lessons may be painful, but not less painful than the current arguing
“I’ve used all my energy on your fighting – so we can’t go to the library or park, etc.”
Being consistent is the key
You need to tolerate some discomfort
Kids need coaching
Each time a kid pushes your button (or each other’s) it becomes a power struggle – cortisol shoots up and you can no longer deal with the problem effectively.
Again, you took all my energy – now you’ll need to loose some privileges – social and electronic are the two most coveted.
What if they are being physical?
· Push pause button
· Being unsafe
· Is anyone hurt? – separate them
There is no logic when emotions are up.
Highly recommends the Whole Brained Child – Dad’s enjoy the read
Don’t get on the roller coaster with them.
Bring emotions down before talking with them.
- Don’t be the judge
- Observe – well, that didn’t work out, now did it?
- I didn’t see it, so I can’t know what really happened
Wrestling is useful – to a point
- Teaches power control
- How to repair relationships
- Build social skills
- Ask – are you still having fun?
- Do you know someone might get hurt?
- Needs coaching
- You can’t force “I’m sorry”
- Check-in is required
- Actions speak louder than words
- Teach empathy
- They are still responsible, even if they didn’t mean it
Empathy disappears late at night – more emotional self-regulation is required
Set a limit once – no warnings afterward – choice of door open or closed
More grey area at night and tendency to buckle – stay firm and fake it until you make it
Short term pain for long term gain
Meet need not wants at night – if they can’t sleep in a room with a sibling, set up a mat on the floor in another room, but don’t make it too comfy
Start with bedtime responsibilities about age 3 ½
At bedtime use a time with a list of things they need to do. Be present, but not too helpful.
Everything should get done in less than 10 minutes – potty, teeth brushing, pajamas
Much rather have dirty kids than tired kids – potty is the only “must” – washing face/brushing teeth are optional – pajamas are optional when it comes down to it
Try to keep a routine, but if the routine is gone, just get them to bed.
Don’t be wildly empathetic or they’ll try again the next night and then expect that it’s the norm
You can’t reason with a 2 year old
Bet it takes 3 days of being firm to get your child to sleep without your “assistance”
If you’ve given two options, never give a third choice
It’s hard, be empathetic but firm
What if you can’t live with the consequences?
6 yo dwalder?
Give time markers – showing your progress and how close you are to leaving
Check in – how are you doing on your list? I’m putting on my shoes
– throw their clothes in a tote bag
Have them get dressed in the car or at school, if need be
Key to wrestling
You have to be emotionally regulated - Lost teachable moment and it’s abusive
Earplugs in your car for a “screamer” – keep yourself emotionally regulated
Kid’s alarm clock
Don’t ignore whining
Check in with the need
Doesn’t meet need
6 yo screaming – calm down first (maybe both of you)
Your brain has two level - your upstairs and downstairs brain – downstairs is logical, upstairs is emotional.
You need to integrate your brain to be flexible and thoughtful
Empathy helps absorb emotion – practice reflective listening (wow, that sounds tough) – don’t try logic while kids are emotional
Calming down in their room is best – for adults “take a walk around the block”
Not a fan of traditional time-outs as punishment – it looses your teachable moment
Make it a break time – give them two choices about where to take the break – “you can either hang out in the comfy chair or go up to your bedroom”
Help meet their needs while they are upset:
Do you need a hug?
Do you want some water?
Acknowledge their emotions once they are starting to settle down, “Wow, you were really upset.”
Emotional breakdowns are an opportunity for attunement or personal connections
Teach how to express what bothers you in socially appropriate ways. “Spitting is for toothpaste or in the trash.”
Sometimes you need a detour to get back on track.
We say things that are true in our family
Give alternative words
Practice being mad – stomping
It’s so hard – empathize
Role of a big sister…I remember when…
He’s learning, just like you did
Teach intrinsic motivation – makes kids less vulnerable to other people’s jabs – inoculates them for their teenage years against anxiety and depression.
Ask – what do you think?
Self-confidence peaks at 9 years old…comes back at 40.
Self-confidence gives you power over yourself and provides emotional balance and stability.
Instill it early and often.