MAY 29, 2023

Tim & Natasha Part 2 of 4: How Your Parents Affect Your Parenting

This is part 2 of the 4 part series with Tim and Natasha who share their concerns and challenges with their 6-year-old daughter Rosie. This episode discusses how Tim and Natasha’s own childhood experiences and their personalities affect how they in turn parent their own child.

Tim and Natasha both feel strongly about not repeating what their own parents modeled. It’s harder than you think, to not impose your own issues into parenting. And it doesn’t help that children often and easily make the interpretation that they are BAD. Children can feel invalidated when that is not the intention of their parents. And its not only the child that can feel badly about themselves. Parents can also feel judged or struggle to feel good enough as a parent.

Takeaways from this session:

6:09 Use the expression – when does this work for you and when does this not work for you

7:03 Practice being dialectic – use two hands when helping the child become aware of what’s happening inside themselves and what’s happening outside of them.  

7:37 Slow down when dealing with your child. It helps you and it helps them

7:56 Playing the Other-Interpretation-Game. 

8:49 S.T.O.P. Skill

14:25  Telling a child what to do, rather than telling your child what not to do. 

17:32 Clarifying the intention of communication 

21:05 Being responsible as the adult for your own anger (children don’t make us angry, that’s how you respond to whatever they are doing)

21:50 The three states of mind – Emotion Mind, Wise Mind, Reasonable Mind

24:30  Shoulding our children is shaming them – Example of shaming statement

31:50 It is very common for children to feel like they are bad – that’s shame.Beware of the shame-blame game.  

32:50 Using the line:  That’s a feeling not a fact

LESLIE-ISM  Every quality or behavior we have works for us some of the time and doesn’t work some of the time. Whether it is being loud or doing nothing, there are two sides of the coin for each behavior or quality that we have.  Ask yourself and ask your child:  When does this work for you and when does it not work for you

To learn more about these skills:

Show Note Links:
An overview of What Dialectic Behavior Therapy
Three States of Mind
STOP Skill

Credits: Is My Child a Monster is produced by Alletta Cooper, Dale Rubury, and Leslie Cohen-Rubury. Theme music is by L-Ray Music. Public relations is handled by Tink Media. Graphics and Website Design by Brien O’Reilly. by Eric Rubury. A special thanks to everyone who contributes their wisdom and support to make this possible.

TRANSCRIPT OF SHOW:

[Music: The Wilds Beyond by L-Ray Music]

0:06 Tim: She was so caught in this, what if? what if? And I said, “Rosie, you can’t go through your life like this.”

 0:21 Leslie Cohen-Rubury:  Welcome to Is My Child A Monster?, a fly-on-the-wall parenting podcast where you get to listen in as real parents share their trials and tribulations in therapy sessions recorded live. I’m your host, Leslie Cohen-Rubury. I’m a therapist with 37 years of experience helping parents and caregivers navigate this question. I’m also a mother of three who has sat on my kitchen floor asking myself the same question: is my child a monster? Though I am a therapist, this show is for informational purposes only, and not a substitute for therapeutic intervention. 

This is part two of our four part series with Tim and Natasha, who share their concerns and challenges of parenting their six-year-old daughter, Rosie. In the first session, we talked about Rosie’s possible ADHD diagnosis, and her parents’ response to some of those behaviors, both positive and negative. We talked about managing expectations and helping Rosie make transitions in her daily life; things like moving from one activity to another, which are so challenging. In today’s session, we’re going to start to go below the surface and look at the behaviors that are so frustrating to parents, such as when your child doesn’t listen when you feel they’re being disrespectful, when they don’t do what you want them to do. And we’re going to look to see if we can find another interpretation. We can continue to assess what’s going on in these behaviors to determine some of the underlying causes, and therefore find a different perception. 

So we might ask ourselves some questions such as: is Rosie’s behavior just because she’s a six-year-old, and it’s developmentally appropriate? Is Rosie struggling with her ADHD brain and the behaviors that go along with it? Or is it possible that Rosie is compensating for anxiety that is not very visible to her parents and to the outside world? As always, the names of my guests and the name of their child have been changed along with any other identifying information. So let’s get started. 

Leslie: Tim, I wrote down what you were going to ask, but do you remember what you’re going to ask at the end of our last session? 

2:58 Tim:  Yes. So we talked a lot about last time about Rosie’s fearlessness and the fact that she just doesn’t seem to be afraid of anything. She’ll walk off into the park, into the woods and never look back. I have noticed lately this, I don’t know if fear is the right word, but anxiety creeping into some of her internal monologues. So this happened yesterday. We were hiking and her friend that we had brought along with her had walked some way ahead on the trail, and seemed to be in a bit of a funk or in a bad mood. And she was crying because she wanted to walk in front and he wasn’t letting her walk in front and she was crying and crying. She was caught in this loop. And I said, “Rosie, why don’t you go ask him how he’s feeling?” In other words, try to pay attention to what’s going on in other people’s minds instead of just like, “Oh, I wanted to walk in front.” Ask him if he’s upset about something because he did seem like he was upset about something. And she went down this rabbit hole of what if he doesn’t want to be my friend anymore? What if he stays mad at me forever? What if he, what if, what if, what if what if… And she was so caught in this. The only thing I could really do is raise my voice and I did raise my voice a bit and I said, “Rosie”… I don’t remember exactly what words I used because it was a difficult thing to communicate to a six-year-old but I basically said, you can’t go through your life like this asking a what if what if it hasn’t even happened? It’s debilitating.

4:36  Leslie: Okay, can I stop you? She can’t go through life like this: Is that true?

Tim: Yes!

4:47 Leslie: No! 

Tim: Sorry: no, it’s not true. She can go through life like this. 

Leslie: Okay, so let’s…

Tim:  My concern is that…

Natasha: …you don’t want this.

4:56  Leslie: Okay, that I get as a parent: you want to prevent any pain in her life that you can. When I did my parenting classes for years at the elementary school, parents would say, “Oh, your kids are so lucky, they’re not going to need therapy.” And I said, “Whoa, whoa, whoa, you guys have college funds for your kids? I have a therapy fund for my kids.” Because kids are going to need therapy. I really want to acknowledge that it’s okay if she has anxiety, and she’s born a sensitive person who has anxiety, genetically, because we just heard last session, right? Mom, you have anxiety, and you still probably do some what-ifs. You can be very effective, and have anxiety. 

So what I want to teach her now is…well, first, I want to say I validate your fear, I validate how hard it is to raise children when there’s a quality in their behavior that’s going to cause them pain. That’s really hard to have that crystal ball, where we basically can see our children are going to struggle with the quality that they have. Because every quality we have works for us some of the time and doesn’t work for us other times. So we actually can make a T graph on a piece of paper, where we say whatever the quality is…fearlessness, or, being inside your own head, and you can say: when does that work and when does that not work? When you’re making up a story and drawing a story that works really well. When you’re hiking with your friend, and you’re in your head and you’re not paying attention, that doesn’t work so well. So we want to teach her not what’s good and what’s bad, and you can’t be this way because we don’t want you to be this way. We want to just say: when does it work? When does it not work? And you guys are starting young, that is fantastic. 

She’s got a lot of time to learn this about herself. I think she’s going to be eager to learn, and I am not surprised that she’s a little caught in her head right now. That’s developmentally just fine. We’ve got two hands right here, right? I want to start using a visual with her, which is, let’s go back to when she was hiking with her friend: “You’re thinking about being able to be in front of him, you want to be in front of him, and you want to know if he likes you. And he’s here hiking, and may have his own ideas for this trip. What are your ideas, go tell him your ideas. Let’s sit down and take a moment. And you share what’s in your head. And let’s have him share what’s in his ideas for what he wants to do.”

So sometimes as parents, if you can slow down the experience, and give her an opportunity to say, “Okay, what’s in your head, what’s in his head?” Then later, when she’s doing that on her own, we might say, “Oh, what’s in your head? What could you guess might be in his head?” Let’s see if she’d be able to play that out. And when she says, “I’m worried he won’t want to be my friend,” we’re going to say, “That’s one interpretation. Let’s play the interpretation game. What are some other interpretations?” Now we’re not only teaching her skills, but we’re working towards her strength. Last time, we talked about her intelligence and her verbal/linguistic intelligence that she likes to be challenged. So I’m going to say…

Tim: …and storytelling, yeah. 

Leslie: …and storytelling. So what’s another interpretation? Because if the interpretation is hurting you, maybe we can let that one go. Let’s let that go. Let’s take the stick and throw it and take that interpretation with it. Let’s hold on to one that’s more neutral. That might be…that makes sense that maybe he’s just playing his own game right now. Not anything about the future.

8:46 Tim: Good. Thank you.

8:48 Leslie: Great. I also thought of an idea about slowing her down with a stop skill. Where it’s actually a dialectical behavior therapy skill, where we say stop as an acronym. S is Stop. T is Take a step back, or Take a breath. O is observe what’s going on inside and outside. And P is proceed mindfully. So obviously, if it takes her 10 years to learn that skill really well, that’s great, because if you start now, she will use it and know it really well as an adult. Because if I teach that to you—and I teach that skill all the time to adults, they need to practice it. 

So she’s going to start practicing if you slow her down. Slow her down, get her stop and just play games, not when she’s upset. What’s going on inside of you at this moment? What’s going on around you? So you could be driving in the car. And she can say, “Oh, I’m telling a story about…” and whatever she’s telling a story about in her head and then say, “Okay, name one thing that’s going on around outside of you.” “Oh, I see that you’re at a red light.” “Super, go back to your story” Just practice that skill over and over again when it’s easy, not when she’s emotionally dysregulated or upset or when you need her to shift. Do it when you can practice having her shift; inside, outside. 

You can do it with noises when you’re…maybe at bedtime. “What noises do you hear in the room? What noises do you hear outside of the room?” So that she learns to play shifting the attention. I’m doing a really good job right now of not looking outside the window and looking at birds. Because I have that ability to shift my attention almost too easily. Sometimes it’s too easy. And sometimes it’s too hard to shift my attention. So I’m trying to keep my attention very focused here. My children don’t believe that I can pay attention to my clients. [Laughter] Because at home they see me shifting attention every three seconds. They said “Mom you have the attention span of a goldfish,” which is about three seconds. But with with practice, and when I want, I have that ability to focus on where I put that. 

So what are you thinking about? I see you’re ready to talk.

11:16  Natasha: She does this thing that’s very interesting that it’s always, “Mom, pretend that…” Oh, my gosh, it’s every day, all day. “Mom, pretend that the dog is sad, and we have to make her happy. Mom, pretend that the floor is lava. Mom…” It’s always pretend something. And that’s her way of engaging, I think, with…

11:42 Tim: Sometimes it’s very, very abstract and complicated. And we don’t have the storytelling ability to, like, “Okay…” [Laughter]

11:49 Natasha: “Mom, pretend that there’s a zombie coming, and we have this…” and she’ll tell you exactly what you have to say. “And then you have to say stop, zombie.” And I’m like, is it pretend, or are we actually going to play this? And so I was just thinking that maybe that that could be an in for us. “Let’s pretend that the toothpaste is like…” She’s a dark person. She says she’s a dark person. I don’t know. “Let’s pretend that we have to rush because there’s a big rock coming to get us, there’s a monster [Laughter]…I don’t know.

12:26 Leslie:  So you could use the pretend we actually use it as a skill called act as if. So if she was… ”Act as if you’re your friend in school, focusing on what the teacher’s saying, that’s really going to be hard for you. But can you pretend and act as if you are paying attention to what your teacher is saying?” I know you teach riding. Does she take riding lessons with you?

12:55 Natasha: Not, I mean, by herself. Yeah, by herself. There’s other kids around but all the beginners, just my attention.

13:02 Leslie: Okay, so do you…does she see you shifting your attention from one child to another child, to one situation to another situation?

13:10 Natasha:  No, she does not pay attention to that because she needs…that’s why it’s hard for me to have her down there, because she needs my attention all the time. She went down there in the middle of a lesson yesterday. And I had to kick her out. And I had to say, “Rosie, I need to focus. Right now. I’d love a lesson. I have to focus here. I can’t play with you. You got to come tell me the secret that she told us yesterday. And that was, and it was a silly… she says that she has a crush on one of the counselors at school.

13:45 Tim: That’s why the other boy was upset. I’m pretty sure. [Laughter]

13:50 Natasha: She comes up to me in the middle of my lesson in the ring and says, “Mommy, I have a secret. Promise you can’t tell it.” And I’m explaining, we’re gonna go jump this and I’m like, “Uh huhhh.” “I have a…don’t tell anybody but I have a crush on this counselor at school.” That’s not important right now. Like I’m in the middle of stuff with giant animals.

14:14 Leslie:  Are you kidding me? There’s nothing more important than that, at that moment. [Laughter]

14:18 Natasha:  I was like, “Okay, can we talk about this later? Because right now I have to focus here.”

14:24 Leslie: Right, right. So one of the things, it’s just the way, I tell a child what I can do, not what I can’t do, sometimes that just works a little better. For example, when you say don’t jump in the puddle. What did they hear? Jump in the puddle, right? You can say you can walk around the puddle. You can jump over the puddle and you’re telling your child what to do. So when she comes to you when you’re teaching in the ring and she says I got something to tell you mommy, I got a secret. I tell her I really want to hear. I really want to hear your secret. I want to hear it and I’m going to give you—and you might need to have this in your back pocket—I’m going to give you an IOU: five minutes, when I’m done with my lesson. And you hand her something physical, so it’s tangible. And then you turn her shoulders and say, go play outside, and I can’t wait to hear what you’re going to tell me later. Now, do I think that’s going to work perfectly? Probably not—at this age, you might actually need to hear it. She might need to say, “Oh, I have a crush on the counselor at school.” You might then say, “Okay, I want to hear more about that. When I come up from my lesson, I want to hear more about that, when we sit down to dinner, and I’m going to make sure I ask you about it, here’s my IOU note.” And just have a bunch of IOUs in the back pocket that you can use over and over again. Laminate them. We need to practice with her because that’s what’s happening in school. She wants the attention of the teacher probably full time. And it’s not that she’s selfish, self centered. It’s just right now she has so much that she wants to share and say that it’s really just hard to share a classroom with 15 other kids.

16:16 Natasha: [Laughter] She does have a lot to say. She talks a lot. 

16:19 Leslie: She talks a lot. Okay, let’s talk about what happens when she talks a lot. Again, there’s a time and place for it. That’s a skill. That’s a wonderful skill. I talk a lot. I actually sometimes talk too much. And so that was on that T graph that I mentioned last time, was: when does talking a lot work for me, and when does it not? 

16:45 Natasha: Wow. I don’t know. I mean, she talks a lot because she…there’s talking where she’s pretending, she’s playing. And then there’s talking because she’s singing. And then there’s talking because she thinks a lot. There’s talking because she just needs my attention. And then there’s talking because she really has something to say. And I think there comes a point where just like kids do it to adults, I do it to her where I just want to do now. And I’m like, yeah, that’s a little background noise there. [Laughter] And she’s like, “Mom!” Oh, yeah. So I don’t know; the filter sometimes gets very exhausting to see what she’s asked. Is this…

17:32 Leslie:  I love what you just said: if you can give her that awareness. I would maybe make a wheel and say, talking to tell a story talking to—I forgot what you just said but you had five categories—talking to be heard, talking for help. And so what we wanted to turn her into is, is she talking for herself or was she talking to be heard? Is she talking for advice? Because if she wants you to listen, then we want to teach her the skill of “Mom, I want you to listen—is this a good time for you?”

18:07 Natasha: I think that’s exactly it. Yesterday, I got frustrated because I was cooking. And I was trying to figure out the recipe and I’m trying to read the recipe and I’m not doing something right and something’s not working well. And she’s like, “Mom, so let’s pretend…” She wanted to play. And I’m like, steam’s coming out from here. [Laughter] I am trying to make meatloaf!

18:29 Leslie:  In your back pocket, what do you have?

18:31 Natasha: IOUs. [Laughter]

18:32 Leslie: There you go.

18:34 Natasha: Like, “Rosie, can you just, honey, 10 minutes, just give me 10 minutes, and I’ll play with you.” But of course she doesn’t know what 10 minutes is.

18:41 Leslie: Right. And so you can use your skill of asking Alexa. Tell her: say, “Go to Alexa, ask Alexa to give you 10 minutes, come back to me.” This is where we want to give her that STOP. It’s not going to go easy. It’s not going to be easy, because she truly doesn’t have the ability at this time to stop herself. But I don’t want you to wait. I want you to start working with her. “Make that chart when you want to be heard. You asked me, “Mom, is this a good time for you? And then it’s either going to be an IOU 10 minutes, you can ask Alexa, or I’ll stop.” And I can say, “Yeah, this is a good time for me. I’ve got one minute I can give you. I’ve got four minutes I can give you.” Right? “You’ve got my attention for four minutes. Can you handle that, sweetie? Or do you need more, if you need more, then let’s do an IOU.” I know she doesn’t get it. But you’re starting to shape her thinking into—and not all of the time, some of the time—that there’s a time and place to talk to yourself, there’s a time and place to tell someone information. And when someone’s giving information, we want to be fair to them. Right?

19:51 Natasha: Yeah, because sometimes she just needs to talk or give me a lesson on Minecraft but she needs me to interact. It’s like, “Oh, I can’t do that right now. 

20:02 Tim: Talking, because she wants to tell a story to herself. And that’s fine.

20:06 Leslie: Right. So help her understand when she’s talking to herself, when she’s telling a story. The differences. And is she asking for help, is another whole time. Or does she want my attention, is also a different time. So we’re going to help her see that. 

[music: Quiet Sumer Evening by Roman Kostiuk]

Can we take a few minutes to ask about the frustration? When you said, you don’t want to be your mother, you don’t want to be yelling at her. We do want to be aware that a child…you know, I grew up thinking I was bad because I was having tantrums. I was much more difficult for my mother than my other two sisters. So shame is a very easy emotion to fall into. When you don’t do it the way everybody else does it. When you’re a little bit different. You might get the sense from the world around you that there might be something wrong with me. You said that yourself When your mother was coming home you thought, “Okay, what I do wrong?” So what’s the anger look like for you guys?

21:08 Tim: When we get angry or when she gets angry? 

21:11 Leslie: No, when you get angry, because that’s reality. I can totally validate that it would be frustrating for you. So just to help…

21:18 Tim: …I turn into my dad, I get turned into grumpy grandpa.

21:21 Leslie: Uh huh. Okay, do you know it?

21:26  Tim: I know it very well. Yes. I grew up with him. [Laughter]

21:29 Leslie:  Do you know it in yourself?

21:32 Tim: I think I do. Yeah. I would like to believe that I do. But who really knows themselves?

21:38 Leslie:  We do–you do. You know yourself. Now the question is, can we model that for her? So when I’m angry, you can say I’m in emotion mind. I’m in emotion mind. I’m yelling, I’m upset. I’m frustrated. That’s my emotion. I’m going to go take care of it. And I’m going to come back in wise mind. And we’re going to use emotion mind/wise mind/reasonable mind—tech terminology. That’s all from the dialectic behavior therapy world. Emotion mind is without any reasonable mind. Reasonable mind is without any emotion mind. And wise mind is the overlap of two. Which is what we need when we are trying to get things done in life. But there’s nothing wrong with our emotion mind—you get to be angry. But you need to be responsible for your anger. And make sure we don’t act out of emotion mind; we can talk about our emotion. So that would be a great thing to model for her. Because she gets upset, you yell, you’re allowed to be in emotion at times. 

Natasha: Yeah. Yeah… 

Tim: Your turn! [Laughter]

22:47 Natasha: My anger manifests…well, yeah, my frustration is, I think…there’s a couple of things going on with the frustration; that’s the way I see it. I try to keep the house, for example, try to keep the house organized. Because I feel if I can keep the house a bit more organized, then her mind isn’t so cluttered or overwhelmed. 

Leslie: Okay, yeah.

Natasha:  That’s my thought process with that, if I put everything in a bin. Doesn’t have to be perfect, but if we put all the crayons in one bin, the crayons are here, the markers are here. That’s just how my mind works. When she doesn’t put things back where they’re supposed to be. [Laughter]  “Really, really?…I worked like an hour and a half to get that playroom clean!” And oh my god, she just… oh, like even today, she did this beautiful painting this morning. Did she put the cap back on the paints? No, of course not. So again, that used to really, really bother me, and what I ended up doing is just…I said, well, it dried up. I had to shift to manage my frustration; is that the consequences aren’t going to be for me. The consequences are going to be for her. Leave your paint un…. and I know that I’ve saved her most of the time, but if she leaves a cap off a marker again, oh, well, kiddo. ”I can’t find this.” “Do you have a box for the dolls?” “Why didn’t you put the doll back in the box?”

24:31 Leslie: So the why didn’t you put the doll back in the box is the shaming part. 

Natasha: Right. 

Leslie:  You’re describing something that is definitely, understandably frustrating. She takes the crayons out but she doesn’t put them away. She takes the markers off. She doesn’t put them away. Cueing her and working with her to shape her behavior. Because there are some kids that, just out of anxiety or maybe out of control, or maybe just because they think it’s the right thing to do—people pleasing—they’ll put away the crayons. They don’t want to get mommy upset. She leaves them out because they’re there for her the next time. Like, why would you even put them away? If you’re going to use them again? An hour later, two hours later? That’s my guess. Is that her thinking? I would even say that: “I think you like your markers out so you know exactly where they are when you want them again, or you want them…No?

25:27 Natasha: Last week she took her…

25:30 Tim: [Laughter]…It may be the thinking, but I’m not sure if that’s the… 

25:31 Natasha:  …marker box to the barn and it’s still there. I’m still waiting for her to be like, “Mom, where’s my marker box?” “In the barn at the top of the hay where you left it.”

25:42 Tim: I found Peppa the Pig in the meadow the other day. We like our meadow…

25:46 Natasha: For  her I think it’s a bit of the lazy…I do think and I hate to use that word, but my word, I mean, it’s…we can make a giant mess. Or I’ll give you an example of what happened yesterday. She was here with her friend and they were going to play a prank on me… 

Leslie: Uh huh.

Natasha: …..so they took the entire not even the box of magnet tiles. They each just grabbed a bunch of magnet tiles and put magnet tiles all over the bathroom, all over my bed, all over the floor. They make designs. They put stickers everywhere. And I’m like, “Oh, that’s wonderful. Yay. Great. What a great prank.” And then it’s time to clean up. Not between the two of them. They couldn’t get it done. All the magnet tiles made it upstairs. But now they cannot make it downstairs.

26:39  Leslie: So do you think you grew up with realistic expectations; what was expected of you?

26:46 Natasha: Oh, no, my mother was insane. My mother…in that sense of neatness, like I’ve tried to really, really tamper down. My mother is…I’ll give you an example of what my mother was. And I’m not…she was a wonderful mother, I don’t want to criticize my mom. But she had a lot of control issues; growing up she was the youngest of five. She blah blah blah I’m not going to get into my mom; but the way that she controlled her life was controlling what was going on in the house. It was very, very much like, “Don’t go into that room. Don’t go into that room.” And one example I give you is, we all had our own color hangers. And if she found the hanger that was the wrong color in the closet she would lose her mind. They had to be facing the same way. One day I came home and I hadn’t moved my winter stuff to the front, and the spring stuff to the back of the…. My mother, if she came to pick me up in sweatpants, I was like: I’m done. I knew what she had done was gone into my room. And this is what she would do. She would open up my drawers in it, take out the drawer, and dump it. Because it was in her world, it was messy.

28:03 Leslie: So if you didn’t live up to those expectations, you were scared and you were ashamed. Terrified, okay,

28:10 Natasha: Terrified of making my mother mad because my mother is explosive mad. She’s not mad at one. She’s mad at everybody. Like, with my sisters: Don’t make her mad, don’t make her mad, don’t make her mad.

28:21 Leslie: Okay, so I can’t even imagine that when you’re mad, how you might feel. You might feel like you’re acting like your mother, which could make you feel guilty, you might feel “But I have no other choice with my daughter.” Basically, your mother did it. She was doing the best she could. And she needed skills. She needed help with that emotional regulation of parenting by fear only. So we’re trying to do something different. And we’re trying to raise emotionally intelligent kids where…I want them to have, and I want to be able to model how I can have, emotional intelligence. So we go back to the example of trying to get her to clean up. You’re not doing what your mother did, which is parenting by fear. Because you could and we know the results would be an anxious child, a shameful child, we….

Natasha: ….

Right. And she won’t respond to it. Well, unfortunately, it has long term effects. So now let’s look at when you are frustrated, and you did that…one-third of the time, at least I want you to give her a heads up of, “Oh, you guys are going to play tents and you’re going to make…you’re going to put up blankets and things and all of that. That sounds like so much fun. And here’s the two hands you want to make a mess. And we’re going to spend time cleaning it up together. That part is not as much fun as making the tents and everything else. And we’ll put on music and we’ll find a way to make that doable.” My expectation is that she’s going to need a lot more help—including her friends—a lot more help guiding her in the cleanup parts. And one-third of the time is: I’m going to give her awareness as I see her taking her crayons down to the barn, for example. “Oh, you’re bringing your crayons down to the barn? Why, do you think they’re going to live there? Do you think you’re going to make…you’re going to help them come back?” 

So you can actually just start to tune her in to oh, right, you got to bring them back. And then if I could—probably you can’t, because you’re teaching and she’s just playing—if you could, right when she starts walking back, one-third of the time, I’m gonna prompt her in the moment, like, I would hand her I would just say, “Here’s your crayon box.” Or, “Here’s four crayons,” so that we move her into cleaning it up. So one-third, I’m going to try and give her an advance, like a think ahead. “What are you going to do when you’re ready to go back to the house, can you remember to bring the three things?” Or in the moment, I’m going to prompt her with touching her on the shoulder, handing her the crayon, whatever. And then later, I’m going to have a lot of empathy—the third approach, which is going to happen, at least a third of the time—is I’m going to say, “Your crayons are down in the barn, you want your crayons, and it seems like it’s so far away to go get them. That really is a bummer.” 

And that’s where I’d leave it, I’d have some compassion for…”Yeah, you forgot them.” Instead of shaming her: “Well, if you brought them back with you, you wouldn’t have to go back,” or, “What, I told you five times,”…leave all that out, have compassion, because that’s where you have the opportunity to get her to think, “Oh, right, I left them down there.” But if you shame her, then she’s going to blame you. “Well, I didn’t, I was coming back because I was doing this or I was doing something else.” And we want to get her to start to learn to take responsibility.

31:46 Tim: Or she’ll go down the rabbit hole of, “Oh,I’m useless. I can’t do anything right.”

Natasha: “Oh, my god.” 

Tim: She does that from time to time, less and less. But she still does it, “Oh, I’ll never learn anything.” And what does she say? Stuff like that. Right? 

Natasha: Yeah, “I’m a bad kid.

32:03 Leslie: And I would sit down with her when she says that…

Natasha: I would never, ever say that to her.

Leslie: No, no, no…

32:05  Natasha: She’s a bad kid…like, never, never said that. I was like, “Where are you getting this from?”

32:12 Leslie: Children think that way when they see that their parents are frustrated; when they see that other kids get it easier than them; when they see that the expectation is something that they can’t do. It’s not that they’re lazy. It’s not that they’re bad. But their way of being in the world is not so easy. And so they perceive themselves as bad. And that’s where I would sit down and I would want to put my arm around her and say, I wouldn’t say, “No, you’re not bad.” Sometimes I might say that. But I would say, “Wow, where did that feeling come from? That’s shame. You’re feeling like you’re a bad person. You’re feeling like you’ve done something wrong. Where did that feeling come from? How long is that feeling going to last now? Because it’s a feeling it’s not a fact.”

That’s a line I use with kids: “That’s a feeling not a fact.” I’m not going to invalidate her feeling. But I’m not going to tell her it’s true. Because it’s not true. I’m not going to validate the invalid. So try to play with that a little bit. When you hear her saying, “I’m bad. I can’t do anything right.” Let’s try to validate it and say, “Wow, you don’t think you’re good enough? You think you’re a bad person? Is that what you’re feeling right now? Did you feel that when you were singing your song a minute ago?” And show her perspective that feelings change. And that that’s a feeling, not a fact. And sometimes we don’t feel good. But it doesn’t mean…

33:39 Tim: …when you read this book or when you did something?

33:41 Leslie: Yes. Yes, give her some perspective. So I want to leave you on that note, that’s a good takeaway. I really want you to work on that shame piece, if it’s showing up. It’s very, it’s a very tough emotion. And as you said, you’ve never said she’s bad. That’s the way she interprets it.

33:59 Natasha: And the thing is, I mean, I know this is right or wrong at this point. But there’s also that little component of like, “Don’t blame me because you can’t find something.” So, she’ll be like, “Mom, have you seen them?” “No, I’m so sorry. I don’t know. I don’t know where it is.” And sometimes I do, sometimes I don’t most of the time. I don’t know. She’s like, “Where’s doll blah, blah, blah.” I’m like, “I don’t know.” I’ve got to shift it back to her…

34:28 Leslie: …with compassion.

34:30  Natasha: Yeah. “I’m so sorry. I don’t know, honey…must be in your playroom somewhere.”

34:34 Leslie: “And it’s really hard to not have something you want right now. You want your toy. And it’s not here.”

34:42 Natasha:  “I didn’t take it. I promise. I don’t know where it is.”

34:47 Leslie: So, short and sweet. Say it once, and let her be upset over it.

34:51 Natasha: Yeah, well, that’s what I need her to figure out. This is what that feels like when you don’t…when you’re not careful with something then you’re going to feel that. You need to feel it and feel upset and then…

35:02 Leslie:  Believe it or not, we’re going to work on that. She’s going to learn less from… there aren’t…Yes, the natural consequences will teach. But at the same time, she’s not doing anything on purpose. She’s not leaving things because she’s lazy. She’s not leaving things because she… so hang in there, try some of this stuff. As I said, I get why you would be frustrated or angry, because you can see the logic of it all. Of: put away your crayons, put away your toys. And remember, that’s coming a little bit of what you grew up with. And at the same time, it’s very, very much a part of who she is, which is to be unmindful to anything but what’s in her mind at that moment. She is mindful to a song, she is mindful to walking back to the house, she is mindful to whatever she’s doing in the moment, and nothing else. We’re going to expand that—we’re going to help her learn and expand that. Okay?

36:05 Tim: Thank you very much.

Natasha: All right. We’ll keep you posted. [Laughter]

36:09 Leslie: Good. Bye bye.

[Music: Acoustic Folk Guitar by Art Music]

Leslie Cohen-Rubury: I want to thank Tim and Natasha for their openness and honesty as they share their parenting challenges. Both Tim and Natasha acknowledge that they grew up feeling hurt and harmed by their parents’ parenting style. Natasha felt that pit in her stomach and was always afraid when her mother came home and ended up believing that she must have done something wrong. So, I have heard over and over again in my office, “I am not going to do what my parents did.” But the truth is, most parents are actually doing what their parents did in some form or another. You may be doing exactly what they did, or you may be doing the very opposite of what they did. And if the pendulum swings too far to the other side, you may not be acting like your parents. But you may end up getting the same results, your child may feel the same thing you ended up feeling—probably disconnected. 

These parents really are trying to see the sparkle in their daughter Rosie, and accept their daughter for who she is. And they are seeking help and starting at a very young age to help be more intentional in their parenting. I give them credit for that. So as parents, you have the opportunity to stop that cycle of generational shame. Check out our show notes and some key takeaways from today’s session that will help you develop the skills and awareness to parent your child from a place of intention. 

[Music: The Wilds Beyond by L-Ray Music]

And join us next week for the third episode with Tim and Natasha, where we’ll continue the conversation about shame and generational trauma. Subscribe to Is My Child A Monster? wherever you get your podcasts, so you don’t miss the next episode. We are a brand new podcast and we are working to build a community of compassionate parents. So please join the conversation in the Is My Child A Monster? Facebook group. 

This episode was produced by Alletta Cooper, Dale Rubury, and me. Our theme music is by L-Ray Music. I’m Leslie Cohen-Rubury. Thanks so much for listening. Remember, I’m here to help you with your child. And one of the most effective ways of helping you with your child is helping you become your best version of yourself.

[Music: The Wilds Beyond by L-Ray Music]

Is My Child, A Monster? is a new parenting podcast and we would love your help getting the word out. So find us on Facebook and Instagram at Leslie Cohen-Rubury. And let’s start a conversation. I’d love to hear your insights about the episode or if you have any other parenting questions. This episode was produced by Alletta Cooper, Dale Rubury, and me. Our theme music is by L-Ray Music. I’m Leslie Cohen-Rubury. Thanks for listening. And remember, begin where your child is, not where you think they should be.

 Transcribed by https://otter.ai edited by Eric Rubury

Apple PodcastsCastBoxSpotifyAmazon Music

Sign Up

Enter your email to receive updates, events and other resources. You can also follow along on Facebook.

Subscribe so you don’t miss any future episodes.

Interested in being a Podcast guest?