June 5, 2023

Tim & Natasha Part 3 of 4: When You Lose Your Cool

This is part 3 of the 4 part series with Tim and Natasha. This episode with Tim and Natasha and their 6 year old daughter Rosie focuses on the reality of actually implementing the parenting skills they’ve learned in the previous two sessions.

And the reality is it’s often trickier than it seems and requires lots of patience. It’s easy to get triggered by the frustration of not seeing immediate results with your kid, and so this episode discusses multiple strategies for identifying and dealing with those reactive emotions when parenting.

Time stamps:

04:36 Check the facts -Don’t believe everything you think
09:30 STOP skill
13:15 Prompting event – what event (thought, feeling or action) leads you to feeling an uncomfortable feeling or emotion mind
14:19 Time management – a challenge for the ADHD child
15:28 Discussion of vulnerability
16:28 Cup of Enoughness – measure of your vulnerabilities
19:37 Giving yourself permission…(to feel frustrated)
23:30 How we inadvertently shame our children

LESLIE-ISM Can you give yourself permission….(to make a mistake)

Show Note Links:
Define Prompting Events and Finding Other Interpretations

Overview of Dialectic Behavior Therapy

Visual Overview Three States of Mind

Cup of Enoughness Video

S.T.O.P Skill 

Book References:
Don’t Shoot the Dog: The New Art of Teaching and Training by Karen Pryor
Keep Your Head Up by Aliya King and Charly PalmerChildren’s book
Video of a read-aloud

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.


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

0:04 Natasha: It’s been a bit of a challenge in the heat of the moment. Like, I did it again, I got mad again. It’s almost like I need someone supervising me.

0:22 Leslie Cohen-Rubury:  This is, Is My Child A Monster?, a parenting therapy podcast that allows you to listen in as parents and caregivers share their trials and tribulations in therapy sessions recorded live. I’m Leslie Cohen-Rubury, a parent and a therapist with 37 years of experience helping families navigate this question. In today’s episode, we meet back up with Tim and Natasha, in part three of this four-part series. And as a reminder, all names have been changed. We’ve been working on strategies to help their six-year-old daughter, Rosie, with her ADHD symptoms. And if you haven’t listened to those earlier episodes, I suggest you go back and listen to them for more context. So, putting skills into practice is a common problem. It’s one thing to learn these skills in a therapy session. And another thing to use them in a moment of high emotions. Both Tim and Natasha share with us how their frustration gets in the way when trying to access and use these new skills with Rosie. Today, we talk about how to identify your own emotional triggers, and learn how to be effective parents who stay cool, calm and collected…-ish. As a reminder, though I am a therapist, this show is for informational purposes only, and not a substitute for therapeutic intervention. So let’s get started. 

Leslie: I’m going to let you guys start in terms of if you have any feedback from our past session, or if you have any real concerns that you want to bring up today. Either way.

2:17 Tim:  Well, I do have some feedback from the last session. There’s one phrase that you use that really, I think, resonated with both of us, which was: That’s a feeling not a fact, of being able to understand the difference. And if she feels scared, because for instance, she wakes up in the middle of the night and she is convinced that the sound of the paper flapping against the wall, and it sounded like a spider that was coming to get her that was coming to eat, coming to bite her, walking across the floor. And she woke up in a crying panic, which is not very common for her. Tears coming down the face. And I said, Okay, well, let’s turn on the light. And look, there are no spiders. And after 30 seconds or so:  “There it is again, that’s it. That’s it!”  And it was this [sound of paper flapping]. And I took her up to it: “Look what it is.” 

And a few times I’ve used that: It’s a feeling not a fact. “Yes, you’re scared. It’s quite normal to wake up in the middle of the night scared if you hear a sound and it’s a strange sound, you don’t know what it is.” And I’ve used that a couple of times. That’s a feeling not a fact. And I don’t know, I do feel that kind of resonates. Another tidbit was asking her literally to tell me the number of times I should repeat something in order to get her to do it. And it becomes a bit of a game and she says, I just really, just give me a number– five, ten And she says five. Okay, time to brush your teeth. Time to brush your teeth. Time to brush your teeth. Time to brush your teeth. Time to brush your teeth. 

Leslie: Oh, I love it. 

Tim: Yeah, so that works. It doesn’t really cut down on the amount of time that…it’s more of a game than anything. It’s not a speeding up strategy. 

4:06 Leslie:   No, it’s not a speeding up strategy, but it is a compassionate strategy that you’re connecting with her. You’re bringing lightness and humor into a frustrating situation. I mean, I’d rather go through life laughing than angry, pulling my hair out. Obviously, that’s not the way you’re going to do it all the time. But that sounds so lovely. And it sounds like she laughed and you laughed and eventually she did it. Which is amazing. Oh, I love those examples.

It’s a feeling not a fact comes from a skill known as check the facts. And your approach…I just want to highlight a few of the things that you did. You were really compassionate. You said okay, let’s check the facts. Let’s look for a spider. I don’t see a spider. Do you see a spider? And sort of giving that validation of acknowledging what she’s afraid of. And then you went on to give her another interpretation—“Oh, there’s that sound, it’s coming from the paper.” But no matter what, even if you couldn’t prove what the sound was, to be able to say it’s a feeling not a fact, it’s a long term and short term strategy, because she will hold on to that forever. And she will be able to use that as a 22-year-old, a 27-year-old, when something shows up in her head. Sounds like she has a great imagination, and which is a beautiful thing. And when a thought goes through her head, we don’t want to believe… I tell people do you believe everything you read? And they say no. I say okay, then do you have to believe everything you think? We have thoughts that show up in our head that we don’t have to believe everything we think. And if we can figure out that that thought is more of a feeling than a fact, then it’s a great way for us to acknowledge and validate what’s going on in our head. So this is a long term strategy as well. That’s excellent. Keep using that. All right. 

And Natasha, did you walk away and try anything that may or may not have worked for you?

6:12  Natasha: Kind of. I mean, it’s been a bit of a challenge, because I wrote everything down and I would review it and stuff, but in the heat of the moment…

6:20 Leslie:  …okay. It’s out the window. Okay. You’re smiling. 

6:25  Natasha:   Yes, yes. A lot of the time. It’s like, “Oh, I’m frustrated again.” It’s almost like I need someone supervising me.

 6:32  Leslie: Absolutely. I know, if I go to the gym I get away with a lot. (I don’t go to the gym.) But if I did, yeah, I would. I would gladly or I’m not gonna work as hard… 

6:43  Natasha:   [Laughter] I’m not going to run that mile.. And it’s not just accountability. I don’t want…it’s not that…it’s just like…

Leslie: …coaching. 

Natasha: It’s like, I did it again, I got mad again, like, aaaaaah! So, it’s just been sort of constantly just trying not to get mad. And when those feelings start of being like, “Alright, just walk away, leave it alone.” This weekend, for example, I was all alone with her. And I could not get her to go outside. We went outside for a little while, and it was hot. And since I was alone, I had to work and I couldn’t do a playdate until Sunday or whatever. And then…so she was here. She was very cooperative in the morning. And we talked about it. But she was here and she had the iPad or the movie. And she drew a little bit, but then we went back to the iPad. And I’m… there’s that point also where I can’t fight every battle. I’m trying to teach. I’m trying to take care of my business. I’m trying to keep the kid alive. And she ended up watching a lot of iPad on Saturday. And then afterwards, I was like, “Okay, we’re gonna go to the supermarket. We need to go to the supermarket.” “No, I don’t want to. 

Leslie: Okay, all right. 

Natasha: “It’s a chore for me, too. Rosie. I don’t want to go to the supermarket or the bank or return things from Amazon. But these are things we have to do.” And then I gave up and I was like, fine, fine. And, yeah, and I gotta go outside for a little while. And then there was, “Oh, it’s so hot.” It’s the whining and I’m like, uuuuugh…

8:23 Leslie:  I hear you, I hear that the struggle to do what you need to do and get your daughter to go along with you is exhausting. And so first, let’s have compassion, that this is a very, very, very tough job. I mean, I know people like to go to an office, rather than parent because the office job is easier than the parenting job. And that’s a reality.

8:47 Natasha:  Absolutely, when I was working in an office, I got a break because people do what I tell them to do. I was the boss.

8:56 Leslie:   Alright, let’s back up a drop. Because the first part was talking about when you’re frustrated, and those skills go out the window. I think it would be brilliant if, as a parenting therapist, I can move in with you and say, “Okay, let’s deal with it in the moment.” Right?  I get that, in the moment, it’s very different than sitting here with me talking about it when you’re calm and say, “Oh, that sounds like a great strategy.” But, in the moment, we have your emotions getting in the way, and therefore you’re not thinking clearly. 

So what I’m going to suggest is learning to use what we call the Stop skill, which is: I’m losing it, I’m in a motion mind, I’m frustrated—however you know it. It might be because you start talking louder, or you start pacing or you can feel the tightness in your chest. There’s something that I want you to cue into that says: I’m getting frustrated, I’m falling into my emotion mind, I am being hijacked into my emotion mind… and get to know what that click is. What is that behavior for you? Is it a thought, “She’s driving me nuts”? Is it the thought, “Why can’t she just listen to me?” Or is it a should?—she should do this. What is it that’s getting you into emotion mind that’s letting you know you’re feeling frustrated? It can be a thought, it can be an urge; I want to yell. It could even be a feeling of, “I’m out of here.” Some parents just want to run away when things get tough. Right? I’m just out of here. I can’t stand this. So check in. Do you even know right now what is your tipping point?

10:36 Natasha: I guess it depends a little bit on how I’m feeling. Clearly, if I’ve had a good day teaching or doing something, I’m fine. But it’s just most of the time it’s definitely time based in the sense that if we don’t have anything to do, okay. But if I have to get to school like…this morning, she didn’t sleep well last night or didn’t get enough sleep. So getting out of bed was a problem, which is fine. But then, we’re having breakfast and she says, “Can you carry me upstairs? My legs are tired.” And I’m like, “No, you’re 50 pounds. No, I’m not carrying you upstairs.” And then I said to her, “Okay, Rosie, well, if you don’t want to go upstairs and change into your clothes, you can go to school in your pajamas, that’s fine.”

Tim:  That’s when I came down.

Natasha: So then, “Daddy,” and I’m putting stuff away. I’m like, you can wear your pajamas. That’s fine if you don’t want to go upstairs.

11:45  Tim:  But this, this answer for some reason, which was a perfectly good answer, in my opinion, really…

11:50  Natasha: I’m not gonna fight; she doesn’t have anybody to fight with. We can’t fight, right? I removed myself from the conflict of like, “Fine, don’t go upstairs.

11:55 Tim:  She got very upset with this for the completely rational reason that everybody will laugh at her. [Laughter] So that’s kind of where I stepped in. And I was just like, “Okay, let’s go over this again. Let’s go over the logic here. Yeah, right, it would be a little bit strange for you to go to school in your pajamas, Rosie—most people don’t do that. And yes, people might laugh at you, and you might be uncomfortable. So you really should put your clothes on before we go to school. And we have to go to school right now. Therefore…”

12:26  Leslie: “…how do you want to solve this problem, dear?”

Tim: [Laughter] Exactly.

Leslie: So there’s so much going on in these situations. It’s nice that the two of you get to play off of each other. But going back to the frustrating moment…

12:40  Natasha:  So, that’s when I get frustrated. We’ve got a hard stop at 7:45 that we need to get into the car. And you’re just whining and complaining about it. And that’s when I get…[panicky breaths]…because there’s a time crunch. I don’t like being late. Lately, I’ve been getting up 45 minutes earlier or almost an hour earlier than I used to, because I can’t handle that time crunch. I need space and time to handle it. Because I get very suffocated. I get very upset. I get upset with the time thing. 

13:15 Leslie: So, the time thing. Time pressure is a prompting event for you to get frustrated. So whether you have to get to the store, whether you have to get out to your work, whether you have to get her to school…time…you need to know that you need to put it in big black and white neon lights; a sign that says when I am under a time pressure, I will get more easily frustrated. It is a prompting event using this language that is very helpful. 

That’s your prompting event. Some people call it a trigger. Some people call it a cue. It leads to emotion mind. We say it’s a prompting event to an emotion. So when do I get frustrated? When I’m in a time crunch. And there’s more than one prompting event—you have other prompting events. But I want you to remember that. Because you can prepare yourself—every morning. there’s a time crunch to get her off to school. So there’s many solutions and having flexible thinking about what are we going to do about time crunches. You said it’s nice for you to get up, give yourself a little extra time. Yes, when you’re dealing with an ADHD child, and a child who has difficulty with time management; so that is actually part of the diagnosis. You will, from now probably forever, be dealing with a time crunch with her. So lowering your expectations or changing them so that they’re more realistic. Time is going to be a challenge for her. 

And so these are going to be times of conflict. Conflict does not have to equal a power struggle. Let’s try to get out of a power struggle and move into, “This is a conflict. This is a dialectic dilemma. I want to be on time. And your concept of time is very different than my concept of time.”  All she knows right now is, “I’m not awake, my legs aren’t moving, and I can’t go upstairs to get my clothes.” She’s not thinking about being late to school, she’s not thinking about what her teacher thinks her friends think if she walks in late, she’s only thinking about what is happening in the present moment, where her body is tired and doesn’t want to move, which is a very real thing. 

The other thing that you said, both for yourself and for her is vulnerabilities. Her vulnerability this morning of not moving along is: she didn’t sleep well last night. That’s called a vulnerability, what’s going to make you more likely to feel your negative emotions. And you said a vulnerability for you—it was in a positive way—if I have a great day at work, I can handle more of her not cooperating and needing more time and not shifting her attention, not doing what what I do. But if you have a tough day, you’re much more vulnerable to your negative emotions. And that makes sense. So we need to know that. So we want to check in with ourselves of, “How am I feeling? I gotta go deal with my daughter, and I gotta get her off of her iPad, and get her outside.” If I’m in a very stressful state, my vulnerabilities are too high. I am not necessarily going to challenge her in that way. But if I’m feeling good, okay, I’ve got the bandwidth that I can go in and deal with her. Is this making sense? 

Natasha: Yep. 

16:28 Leslie: So we want to know our vulnerability, our state of enoughness that I have made up. I call it…did I teach you the cup of enoughness? I didn’t teach that to you? Okay. Let me teach it to you. I love it. It’s something I made up; obviously, there’s no word of enoughness. I like it, kids like it. It’s a great check-in. This is where a picture’s worth a thousand words. So you take a clear glass. So, let’s say you come in from your day, she comes home from school, and Tim, you’re done with your day, and everyone lines up three glasses, and you fill up your glass according to how much enoughness you feel. How good are you feeling? In this moment in time, at the end of my day at five o’clock: how full is my glass? If I only put three drops of water in my glass, what does that tell you? 

Natasha: There’s no gas in the tank.

17:14 Leslie: There’s no gas in the tank. Think of it as a gas tank, exactly. And if I fill it up, and if Rosie fills it up, because she had a great day at school, now I might ask her to do a little bit more. I might push her a little bit more because she’s feeling really good. So let’s say you did the cup of enoughness in the morning. First thing in the morning, you said, “You know what, Rosie? Show me where your tank is—you can call it your tank or your cup of enoughness. Fill it up, show me where you are. And let’s say that morning, she put very little water in, I may not push her as hard. That’s a morning where she says I can’t go upstairs. Well, here are three things I might do. “If I had a magic wand, I would magically float you up to your bedroom. If I had a magic wand I’d get your clothes on you without any effort.” That would be one thing, I’d use the magic wand. And then I’d walk away. Another thing I might do is say, “You know what? I have a lot of energy this morning, I’m going to run upstairs, get your clothes and bring them down because you need what’s left in your tank to put your clothes on.” And that morning, I might just do a little more for her. 

And someone might say, “I’m not giving into my daughter that way.” No, you’re doing what works in the moment. You’re not giving in, you’re not going to get her dressed. You’re helping her out. It’s a random act of kindness. We’ve all heard that phrase, it’s really nice to be able to do a little something when someone’s hurting a little bit. On a day where her cup is full, no, then I’m not going to run upstairs, then I’m going to do what you said, where you come in, Tim, and say, “Hmm, sounds like going to school in your pajamas might not be what you want to do. So it sounds like you have a little dilemma. ‘I don’t want to go to school in my pajamas. And I’m really tired and don’t want to go upstairs.’ I get it. You’re really tired and you don’t want to go upstairs.” 

So those are a few options. And I think options help us with frustration. Good—you’re both nodding your head. Now going back one more time to using your skills in the moment. I want to remind you of this Stop skill. I started to say: notice what your prompting events are. So if you’re in a time crunch, and then stop when you feel that frustration showing up. We want to model for her that you can notice and name frustration when it’s showing up. And you can say, “I noticed I’m really getting frustrated. And I notice that I’m going to take three breaths, step away and come back to help us get out of the house on time.” So give yourself permission to practice, practice, practice—that frustration is well earned. And it makes sense. So give yourself permission to be frustrated. And to be responsible for regulating it to be more effective, you have to get out the door.

20:19  Tim: I have the same issue with the time trigger. I’m responsible for putting her to bed. Natasha is responsible for getting her going in the morning. It’s still a struggle, because I’m well aware of the consequences of going to bed later. And for whatever reason, lately, she’s just not been getting to sleep. Even when she does get in bed on time she has a lot of difficulty getting to sleep. Actually, that time trigger…more of that burden falls on her than with me, because you can always go to bed a little bit later.

20:56 Leslie:  Yeah, there’s wiggle room. If she doesn’t go to bed at 7:30, she goes to bed at 7:45 or whatever time her bedtime is. And you said it’s not the same in the morning? Well, it is the same in the morning because she will not melt. And you will not melt, Natasha. No one’s going to melt, the school is not going to disappear if you’re not there at eight o’clock on the dot. We do want to teach her to be on time. And we want to remember that being late has some natural consequences that she probably doesn’t like because she doesn’t like to look different. She doesn’t want to walk in late. The other idea is, it takes a little bit of pressure off of you. Because if you’re a few minutes late, and she gets herself out the door, we want to reinforce: “You did it, you got yourself out the door with your backpack and your lunch. Hey, that’s really cool. Let’s go. Let’s get to school because you’re…yes, you’re one minute late. And the only way you’re going to learn to be on time is we keep doing it over and over again. You did it. Come on, let’s say you did it.” We want to reinforce the small steps of progress and keep moving towards the goal of being on time or being a little early.

[Music: Acoustic Motivation by Coma-Media

22:24 Tim:  There’s one other thing, though, that I kind of would like your advice on because I’ve noticed that one of my triggers is communicative in nature in the sense that if it’s just Rosie and me in a room, and I say something— “I’m not talking to Nina the stuffed pink rabbit. I’m not talking to the wall. You know that Rosie, right? If I’m talking, if my lips are moving and sound is coming out, I’m probably talking to you.” And she’s just in her own head. And, yeah, I get it. I’m a daydreamer, too. But if I’m alone in the room with somebody and that person is talking, I stop and say what, I didn’t listen, I didn’t hear you. 

Leslie: Right. But you’re an…

Tim:  I do that without a whole lot of, you know, and sometimes I have to, sometimes I get, sometimes I get pretty pissed off. I’m good at moving on after I…but sometimes I scare the you-know-what out of her.

23:30  Leslie:   Okay, okay, my heart breaks for the two of you because again, scaring her in order to get her to snap to it and pay attention makes sense, but may be doing damage inadvertently, that you don’t want to do. Because now she had one problem of not paying attention to you and the outside world. And we’re going to add a second problem to her, which is she’s carrying around fear and anxiety and more shame. So we don’t want to add to her problems. 

You started off one session talking about how the school is pointing out that when they’re having difficulty with her. This is what they’re having difficulty with. This is who she is. She is in her own world, because her imagination is big and bold and beautiful. And she’s in her own world because her world is exciting and interesting. And she might be in her own world because there’s some anxiety about the outside world—I’m not sure. All we know is that she spends a lot of time enjoying the world inside her head. We don’t want to make her feel shame for that. We want to teach her that it works some of the time and—I said this to you before—and doesn’t work some of the time. So let’s talk about the practical aspects of your putting her to bed. And notice that she’s in her own world. Well, if that’s a common occurrence, let’s respect her and approach her with “Hey, Rosie, is this a good time for me to talk to you? Hey, Rosie, is this a good time where you can push pause in your head and pay attention to what I’m saying?”

25:19 Tim:  I will frequently raise my hand.

25:22  Leslie: Great, why don’t you raise your hand and raise her hand so that you actually make a physical connection of: we are here together. Because if she raises her hand, she has to come out of her world a little bit to connect to you. And a prompt—a physical touch on the shoulder, a can-you-look-me-in-the-eye and pointing to your eyes, so she’s looking at you. Take a moment, you don’t have to do this with everyone. But this is who Rosie is. So we need to respect her. It would be respectful. 

If someone was hearing impaired, and they need to look at my lips before I start talking to them, I would never start talking to them if they were looking the other way. Well, that’s what Rosie’s doing. She’s looking the other way, because she’s in her head. And you just think she should pay attention to you because she does have the ears that she can hear. No: she’s not paying attention to you, not because she wants to be mean, not because she wants to be bad. But because something is drawing her attention internally. So we need to take a deep breath and tap her on the shoulder, put your hand up, say, “I have something to say—are you with me?” And then after I’ve gotten her eye attention, and I might say, “Hey, Rosie, I’m gonna give you a minute, I’m going to wait for you while you finish that conversation in your head. So you can tell me you’re ready. I’m waiting, tell me when you’re ready. You’re ready? Is this a good time?” And start doing that, because then eventually, if it works with you, teachers can do this. We teach them the same skill. They use many cues. I know teachers do. They have their tricks. But we need to keep doing this for her because she’s not an adult who’s catching herself saying, “Oh, there’s someone talking to me in the room.” You might even hand her her stuffed animal and say, “Hey, I’m going to talk to you and I’m going to talk to that pink stuffed animal in your arms, too—can the two of you listen to me?”  That might actually pull her more into the moment because she’s going to listen with her stuffed animal. But as an adult, you have eventually learned over time that daydreaming has its limits. You have learned that; we have to give her time to learn that. So going back to it, other ideas would be: get her to repeat back what you’ve said, “Hey, Rosie, I…

27:39  Tim:   Oh, there’s a lot of that. [Laughter

Leslie: Good. good.

Tim: There’s a lot of that… 

Leslie: And does it work? 

Tim: Does it work? I don’t know if I’m doing it right. [Laughter] As with all parenting… Does she repeat it? Usually not, because she didn’t hear it the first time and then she will very, very sheepishly say, “Sorry, I didn’t hear you.” I’ll repeat it again. And then she’ll repeat it.

28:09 Leslie: Then it’s working. Then what it’s doing is, it’s cueing her in. “Did you hear it?” She says, “No, I didn’t.” Say, “Great. I’m going to say it again. It sounds like you’re paying attention now.” And then when you repeat it a second time, she actually hears you. That, to me, is effective.

28:24  Tim: I will also do a lot of—again, I’m not, I don’t know if I’m doing it right—but there’s a lot of, what’s the next thing you have to do? There’s a phrase that we’ve learned from a children’s book, which happens to be called Keep Your head Up, which she loves. And it’s a really interesting book, because it just does not have a happy ending. It’s about a kid who has a bad day, and the day ends. And he says to his mom, “Is there anything good about this day”? And the mom’s like, maybe: it can be better if you really want it to be, maybe. It’s an odd, ambiguous story that she really seems to love. And one of the things one of the teachers says to the young boy, “Stay on task, stay on task.” Kind of like, mind your own business and stay on task. So that phrase “Stay on task,” has entered her vocabulary. And we spend a lot of time on that.

Leslie: Beautiful. 

Tim: To the extent that, “I know: stay on task, blah, blah, blah.” I will sometimes quiz her and prompt her and say what’s the next thing you have to do?

29:15  Leslie:  That’s an excellent strategy for someone with ADHD because again, she’s so living in the moment, that being able to train yourself, which is called shaping her behavior, what’s-the-next-task is a beautiful thing. She has to balance between staying in the moment and staying on task and then thinking ahead to what else I need to do: I need to finish the other seven problems, or I need to finish this and then turn my paper in. So, yes, those are all good strategies. Yeah, there’s a lot of patience that is going to be needed while she learns these skills. It is going to be very challenging parenting a child with ADHD and executive functioning issues. 

So your issues are, how do I stay calm, how do I keep using skills so that we don’t end up shaming her in the process of training her? She needs time and respect and time to learn these ways of focusing her attention. 

30:41 Natasha: It’s funny, because that doesn’t bother me that much when she doesn’t hear you. But what I do, and it’s a trick I use with the animals on the farm. I feel like sometimes when Tim talks to Rosie, it’s usually to tell her to do something. And she really doesn’t like being bossed around. So what I do is, I will just yell,” Rosie.” And she’s like, “Yeah, Mom?” “I love you.” And then I walk away. Or I’ll make a funny face. I’ll go, “Rosie. Mm hmm.” And then she laughs and then she, you know, she lifts her…So now, I don’t find that she ignores me very much, because she’s kind of like…

31:34 Tim: …what’s coming?

31:36 Natasha:   “What are you doing, mom?” Or I’ll have a popsicle in my mouth and be like, “Rosie!” And she’s like…[Laughter]. And I do that, especially with the horses, sometimes they don’t want to get…sometimes they’re having a good time in the field and don’t want to be ridden. They don’t want to be disturbed. So I will have treats in my pocket, go randomly out to the field and give them a treat. And then walk away. So they don’t always think, “Oh, here she comes. We’re going to work.”

32:04 Leslie:  Aaah, I’m so glad you brought this up. Your training the horse is so important. We are trained, it is reinforcement. It’s behavioral reinforcement. There’s a wonderful…

32:17 Natasha:  …so it’s not every time, “Rosie, do this; Rosie, go clean your room. Rosie, no.”

32:23 Leslie: Right. So she…  

32:24 Natasha:   “…look at the bird.”  Just anything, anything to just…when I feel like she’s wired into her world. I’ll be in the kitchen cooking, and I’ll just stick my head out. Or I’ll go right over to her and just give her giant kisses on her cheek and just interrupt her, what she’s doing, so then I walk away…

32:43 Leslie: Yes! So, Tim, does this make sense that you have trained your daughter not to listen to you? 

Natasha: [Laughter]

Tim: It’s possible. 

Leslie: Based on that, why is she not listening to you?

32:54 Tim:  Because it’s to interrupt her to make her do something that she doesn’t want to do. otherwise. 

Natasha: …a chore.

Tim: Yeah. Otherwise, I wouldn’t be talking to her.

33:02 Leslie: Right…

33:03 Natasha: I do feel that happens sometimes with you…

33:06 Leslie: So, that’s great insight. That’s great assessing. “Wait a minute, have I trained my daughter to not listen to me?” And the answer seems to be: yes. And so you can take Natasha’s suggestion and say, Maybe I need to connect to Rosie in other ways, when I’m not asking her to do something, so that she starts paying attention to me. And if 100 times out 100 times I’m telling her to do something, she’s never going to look at me. If seven out of 10 times, I asked her to do something but three out of 10 I’m actually just saying I love you or giving her hug or showing her something that’s really beautiful or whatever doing those random acts of kindness, what, three out of 10 times…she doesn’t know when she’s going to get that random act of kindness. She’s gonna keep looking. Tim, does that feel like something you might try? Does that make sense about training your daughter into a behavior that’s actually causing you your own problems?


33:04 Tim: Yeah, I can, I can definitely do that more often. 

34:06  Leslie:  There’s a book that’s really wonderful for helping parents understand the behaviorism of parenting. It’s called Don’t Shoot The Dog. It’s about…I think they were animal trainers, so you might really relate to it as an animal trainer yourself. But we do want to understand behaviorism in our children, but we’re going to wrap up and just allow you to practice some of these things, which points out: yes, please validate yourself that it’s really really hard and frustrating parenting her. And at the same time, we want to look at what we’re doing that makes it possibly harder for ourselves. And we want to model how to regulate and change our behavior because that’s all we’re asking her to do. So can we change our behavior and model that when we’re asking our children to change their behavior? 

Natasha: That’s fair. [Laughter]

Tim: Thank you..

[Music: Acoustic Folk Guitar by Art Music]

35:04 Leslie: I want to thank Tim and Natasha for being present and sharing so honestly today. Changing habits is not easy. I appreciate how Tim and Natasha, who have their habits with Rosie, are also here to learn new strategies. I know it’s easy to judge other parents for their habits. And we all do it. But the truth is that all parents have problematic habits, including me. I’ve gotten to that place of yelling so many times, and I’m not proud of that. So we can judge ourselves and judge each other, or we can have compassion. Remember, it’s a choice. Towards the end of the session, you can hear a shift. There’s a noticeable period of silence for both Tim and Natasha, as they digest some new parenting suggestions. 

If you, as parents, keep talking and talking, there’s likely little room for learning. Slow down, reflect, and take in some of these strategies, just as Tim and Natasha have. 

Here’s my takeaway points from today’s session. Keep it simple. Find a handful of strategies that have a wide ranging impact. Parenting is really overwhelming when you keep asking yourself: What am I supposed to do now? As we’ve heard from both parents, it’s downright hard and frustrating to feel like you are floundering. When you lower your expectations for seeing immediate results, you will feel and see the ripple effects of these skills and strategies. Remember, when your child was an infant, you said, “This is a car,” over a thousand times before they understood what it finally meant. And as you listen to these episodes, I invite you to develop your tried and true strategies that can help you simplify this complex job of parenting. 

And just let me bring you back to Rosie for a minute. Every quality that our children have can be both positive and negative. In other words, sometimes they help the child accomplish what they want. And other times it can be an obstacle for getting what they want. As parents, we want to see these qualities with a different perspective. Otherwise, we label our children as good or bad. And then we expect behaviors that match those labels. In next week’s session with Tim and Natasha, we talk a lot about shame and blame, and how we can better approach these behaviors more effectively and with compassion. So subscribe now to Is My Child A Monster? wherever you get your podcasts so you don’t miss the fourth and final episode with Tim and Natasha.

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

Is My Child A Monster?  is a new podcast and we would love your help getting the word out. Find us on Facebook and Instagram at Leslie Cohen-Rubury. And let’s have a conversation. This episode was produced by Alletta Cooper, Dale Rubury, and me. Our theme music is by L-Ray Music. I’m Leslie Cohen-Rubury. And remember, instead of labeling a child’s behavior as bad, stop and ask yourself, when does this behavior work? And when does it not work?

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

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