May 14, 2024

Leigh & Pierre Part 3 of 3: When Your Kid is Having a Meltdown

This episode is the third and final session with Leigh and Pierre whose nearly 5-year-old daughter Jean has big emotional reactions. 

Leslie explores how her big emotions and reactions part of a bigger picture of anxiety, perfectionism, and discomfort with vulnerability – things so many children struggle with.  And it’s no surprise that Leigh and Pierre have their own history and journeys with anxiety and vulnerability.  Leslie talks about ways to manage anxiety in the day to day as well as in heightened emotional states for both parents and children. Leslie also recommends teaching mindfulness at an early age because you can’t “control” those big emotional reactions in your child but with mindfulness, you can control how you and your child respond to them. 

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.

Time Stamps

  • 3:30 Step one when facing challenging situations – make a list, visualize it, and carry it with you.   “Take anxiety with you when you travel” metaphorically. 
  • When you get new information from an evaluation
  • 9:53 Strategies to use when your child is having really big reactions
    • Using a change in temperature to help calm your child 
  • 11:25 Teach your child the TIPP Skills from DIalectic Behavior Therapy – TIPP Skill
  • 12:25 When do you teach the skills to your child
  • 13:28 How do we  know if somethings not working – what does success  look like when you’re teaching skills to your child  
  • 15:20 Mindful awareness of anxiety/discomfort
    • Observe and describe
    • Choose what you want to be mindful to
    • Radical Acceptance: “it is what it is”
    • Self-talk and Encouragement
  • 19:27 Teaching mindfulness to our even if there’s nothing wrong – expose them to the concept of mindfulness at an early age so they can grow into – use it the word itself
  • 21:55 Mindfulness exercises as a family connection and togetherness
  • 24:30 Dealing with your child’s big reactions in public – be compassionate with yourself
  • 26:37 The Power of Vulnerability – Learning to deal with the discomfort of the moment
  • 28:32 What a child needs from their parent 

Resources: 

Leslie-ism: Take a breath, take a pause and pay attention to what happens.

TRANSCRIPT OF SHOW:

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

0:05  Leigh:  I have a hard time when Jean has big emotional outbursts when we’re not at home, when it’s in front of other people, and I feel really vulnerable.

0:22  Leslie Cohen-Rubury:  I’m Leslie Cohen-Rubury. And this is, Is My Child A Monster?, a parenting therapy podcast, where you get to listen in as real parents and caregivers share their trials and tribulations in therapy sessions recorded live. I’m a parent and a therapist with 38 years of experience helping families navigate this question. And no, your child is not a monster. 

This is my final session with Leigh and Pierre, whose nearly five-year-old-daughter, Jean, has big emotions and selective mutism. Today, we hear from Leigh and Pierre about their recent vacation. The truth is, we want vacations to be fun and wonderful, but sometimes they’re challenging. And for Leigh and Pierre, this vacation was just that. We don’t get to play God. We can’t choose the challenges life throws at us, be it on vacation or at the dinner table. Our power lies in our ability to respond to those challenges. 

That’s the point of so much of the work I do with families. You can’t control your child’s big emotions. But with mindfulness, you can control how you respond to them, and how you teach your child to respond to their own emotions. Mindfulness is really the backbone to all of our other skills. It’s the golden key that turns reactivity into responsiveness. And that’s a big part of Leigh’s and Pierre’s goal for Jean—helping her to be less reactive when she has big emotions. 

Okay, now as a reminder, all the names and identifying information have been changed. And this show is for informational purposes only, and is not a substitute for therapeutic intervention. So let’s begin. 

2:21  Leslie:  Hi, Pierre. Hi, Leigh. 

Pierre:  Hello.

Leigh:  Hi, Leslie.

Leslie:  We’re back after holidays. And before our last session, we were talking about what it was going to be like to travel with the two kids, and for three weeks. How did that go for you?

2:38  Leigh:  It was a roller coaster. I was kind of coming out of feeling sick for the last 10 days or so. And reflecting on the trip and feeling like I think it was as hard as I anticipated it to be. I was impressed with how well all of us handled and managed ourselves in all the moving around. And it was a roller coaster.

3:05  Leslie:  It was a roller coaster. And like you just said, you did expect it to be hard. Was the fact that we talked about it and you verbalized that it was going to be hard, actually a little bit of a support?

3:20  Leigh:  So, you had us make a list of the things we were excited to do on the trip, the things that would be hard on the trip, and the unknowns, like, what are the things that we couldn’t really plan for. And it was really fun making the list. I found myself visualizing it, seeing it—I actually took it with us. But I never really took it out. But it was in my mind when things were challenging. For me, it really helped me manage my anxiety on the trip. 

3:53  Leslie:  Oh, I’m so glad to hear that, because you made that list, you carried it, it was a concrete object, which really does make a difference. It makes it real. And then it was a part of you and it was in your head and you could refer back to it. So I am so glad you did that. I actually tell people often to write down “Anxiety” on a piece of paper, pack it in your suitcase, because anxiety is going to come with you. And the way you did it sounds terrific. And it’s still a roller coaster. We’re not changing life, we’re just trying to feel a little bit more equipped to handle it. 

4:29  Leigh:  Yeah. And Jean really took to it. There were moments in the trip where she would make me a little drawing. And she’d bring it over to me and she’d say, “Mom, when it gets hard you can hold on to this.” That was really moving for me. I could just see her putting the puzzle together. And it helped us feel like a team, too—we were all in this together. And we all had our anxieties and our worries and the things we were excited for all down on this piece of paper. And…yeah, I really carried it with us through the trip.

5:07  Leslie:  Excellent. How did you do, Pierre? 

5:11  Pierre:  Oh, fine. I mean, the trip, I had some difficulties, but it was not because of the trip, it was more like being with my family. At some point, it was just as expected, yet still hard.

5:25  Leigh:  It was actually one of the “unknowns,” though. [Laughter]

5:28  Pierre:  Very quickly moved from “unknown” to “bad.” That’s how it was. 

5:33  Leslie:  But I’m glad you left room for the unknown, because the surprise of, “Oh, right, my family’s difficult, I have a hard time being with my family for extended periods,” or whatever; then all of a sudden, the surprise is not quite a shock. It is more of, “Oh, yeah. I wasn’t expecting it. It’s in the unknowns. And now I totally get that it’s there.” 

So beautiful. You modeled for Jean the idea that you can have things that help you and she was drawing pictures to help you. So, I love that you’re all using some very concrete skills to get through that. 

So, I know before this session, you actually emailed me some paperwork, because you’ve been doing some evaluations with Jean—is that someplace you’d like to start?

6:25  Leigh:  Yeah, so we’re getting some support from her school with Child Development Services. She’s had a speech pathologist in the classroom with her, just observing. And we did an evaluation with a psychologist this morning. And we’re all going to kind of regroup at the end of the month with her teachers, with everyone at school, with these evaluations and just say, “Are there areas where we can help support Jean more in the classroom?”

6:57  Leslie:  That’s super. So, did you initiate the evaluations? Or did the school initiate the evaluations?

7:04  Leigh:  The teacher mentioned that this is a route we could take.  And she offered it to us, and we said yes.

7:12  Leslie:  Great. So you know, when you get an evaluation, it is testing that can be very helpful, can have good information. And it’s also very, very important when you get that information to also trust yourselves—you know your daughter better than anyone does. And so if the information you get from the testing is insightful, is informative, can help you support her and yourselves, that’s fantastic.

7:45  Leigh:  Yeah, I think I was a bit hesitant going into it, because it felt like a lot. And it felt a bit clinical. And what I’m hearing, what I’m seeing is, like, we’re all good. We can help the teachers that might have never seen something quite like this—they’ve never had a student that’s not not verbal. We can help them feel more at ease and find some ways to sort of aid, so that they can check off their boxes, which feels like a lot of the desire, I guess, behind everything; to be able to like check the box that says, “Okay, your kid can count to 10,” or whatever.

8:29  Leslie:  And I love the idea that it’s information that can help them as well. I think from the evaluation that you shared with me, we get to see they were confirming or validating the fact that she is nonverbal in certain areas, but very verbal in other areas. So this idea that there’s selective mutism, they helped acknowledge that this may be going on, that she may be having some difficulty in some areas of communication. 

What I did pick up is that they did identify anxiety as an underlying issue. And I think that’s something that we can talk about. We’ve already been talking about it with her. And so I want to steer the conversation a little bit into what other information is there in terms of: What can we do in terms of helping her with her anxiety on an everyday level on an everyday basis?

9:26  Leigh:  Last time, you had talked a bit about how we can help her when she’s having really strong emotions, when we’re unable to calm her down, when things kind of blow up, when it’s a bit too much. And that can be something that, up until maybe a few months ago, was pretty frequent, and it’s starting to dampen a bit. But when it does happen, it’s still just as difficult to calm her down. You’re giving us some new strategies because when she’s having a really strong reaction—or a big emotion or something—we can’t really talk to her, touch her. And we’ve found it really challenging—it can go on for a really long time. So you were saying maybe, change of temperature, going outside, cold washcloth.

We tried the cold washcloth a few times, and she was calm, and she was pretty resistant to it. And I think right now—you can correct me if I’m wrong, Pierre, but—going outside feels like kind of the best strategy at the moment…

Pierre:  Yeah, going in the cold…

Leigh:  …just going in the cold because it’s so cold. Taking her outside, going in the cold: she doesn’t like it at all, but it seems to really shorten the duration of things.

10:43  Pierre:  And ice water, but it’s…

10:47  Leigh:  …yeah, we do the ice water stuff when she’s kind of, because I use it for my own anxiety, putting my head in a bucket of cold water. And I really love this. And she really loves to hold her breath. So when she’s kind of in between, when she’s not fully in emotion brain—is that how you call it? 

Leslie:  Yes, emotion mind, yep.

Leigh:  When she’s not fully there, because she couldn’t do that if she was there. But when she’s kind of on the edge—and we can tell that she might be kind of getting there—I’ll bring that out, and I’ll do it myself. And usually she’ll come over and join me. 

11:20  Leslie:  That’s fantastic. So, two things I want to say about that is you’re fine tuning it, and tweaking it in ways that works for her. These are part of what we call our TIPP skills, when someone’s really intensely emotional in order to calm them down so that you can talk to them, or you can problem-solve. But changing the temperature is one of those TIPP skills. Intense exercise…so maybe even running around the outside of the house. But you’ve got it, you’re taking her outside, it calms her down. 

What I want to reinforce with that is: name it, this is a skill. So it’s not just, “We’re taking you outside, because you’re so upset.” It’s, “This is a skill that helps regulate your nervous system.” I know she’s little, but why not give her the actual information so that she grows up learning that it is regulating her nervous system and calming her down, to change the temperature, to go in the cold. So name it either before, during, or after, just so that she has the awareness that it’s a skill. 

It’s fantastic that you’re doing it; both modeling it and doing it before she gets too upset. Because maybe as a thirteen-year-old or fifteen-year-old, at that point, she will have done it so much, she will do it when she’s at full blown emotion mind. 

I’m sorry to break the news to you. But she may still have those big reactions as a teenager. That was a little bit of a shock to your system, thinking of a fifteen-year-old, right? 

[Laughter]

13:02  Pierre:  She’s going to be five in a month. And that already feels like, wow, what happened? 

13:08  Leslie:  Yeah, absolutely. Okay, so those are excellent strategies. I have a few more ideas. But is there any more feedback in terms of what you’ve tried? And what doesn’t work in terms of calming her down?

13:21  Pierre:  I mean, what doesn’t work? A lot doesn’t work.

13:26  Leslie:  That’s an interesting thing. How do we know something doesn’t work? I think a parent needs to understand what does success mean, when you’re teaching skills to your child? First is just introducing the skill. That’s the first level of success. I mean, getting her to use it and calm her down—that’s like the tenth level of getting her to actually use skills. The first level that I would say is, I want to introduce the skill. I name it, name it, name it. When you were teaching her language, you would say the word, dog. Well, it took about a thousand repetitions of the word, dog, before she got the word, dog, right? So why do we think skills are any different? It’s learning. And so we need to repeat the skill over and over and over again. We’re going to model it, we’re going to make it concrete. So when you see a dog, you say, “There’s the dog, pet the dog, say hello to the dog,” right? The third way is, did she try it? So I want to teach adults, parents as well as children, that just because we try a skill doesn’t mean it’s going to help us. What I want to do is say: Did I use this skill? And then the second question later is: Did this skill work for me?

14:47  Pierre:  So consistency and repetition—I think that’s something we’re pretty good at. Cheering her up when she did something that seems to be in the right direction. 

15:00  Leigh:  Yeah.

15:01  Leslie:  So, you get excited with her.  Good. Great. That’s lovely.

[Music: Beautiful Plays Acoustic Motivation by Pixabay]

15:17  Leslie:  So, someone who’s highly sensitive, as we’ve, you know, talked about with her, do you do some awareness, mindful awareness, of her being uncomfortable, and dealing with that?

15:32  Leigh:  We talked about it a little bit. 

15:37  Pierre:  Yeah, we haven’t practiced it yet. 

15:38  Leslie:  Okay. So, you both have situations where you’re uncomfortable, right? How do you deal with being uncomfortable in those situations?

15:49  Pierre:  Just force myself.

15:53  Leslie:  You force yourself.

15:54  Pierre:  I’m not going to like it. But once I’m in it…

15:58  Leigh:  But what do you do when you’re in it and you feel really uncomfortable?

16:02  Pierre:  I just power through it. I’m like…

Leigh:  But how do you power through?

Pierre:  I try to refocus my attention on something beneficial, versus all of the feeling of being uncomfortable. Like, I’m gonna start sweating, feeling that I’m blushing, all kinds of uncomfortable physical reactions to emotional stress. And I’m starting to learn and tell myself, “I know I’m blushing right now. It’s okay, people are going to notice, but it would pass. Or it would not, but it is what it is. And there’s nothing I can do about it, so I just have to keep going.”

16:41  Leslie:  Okay. I can name three or four skills that you are using. Number one, you have learned to observe and describe, “I am blushing, I can feel my face getting red.” You are also choosing what you want to be mindful to. Maybe you have to read something out loud—I’m just making it up. So instead of being mindful to your blushing or mindful to your stomach, you are mindful to the words on the paper—you’re taking your attention and really paying attention to what’s right there. So you’re using mindfulness skills. And then you’re doing radical acceptance. You’re saying it is what it is.

Pierre:  I’m trying. [Laughter]

Leslie:  You’re trying! Of course! Radical acceptance is not easy. It’s not easy to accept the moment when we are uncomfortable. But you’re saying, “It is what it is.” And then you’re doing some self-talk: “This will pass.” I’m going to give you a few extra words, because I think self-talk and encouragement is excellent. You say, “I’ve got this. Keep going. I can handle it.” And here’s another little trick. You might even use your name. “Hey, Pierre, you’ve got this.” Talk to yourself. Try that right now. 

Pierre:  Do you want me to say it out loud?

Leslie:  Yeah. Because I want you to see how that feels.

18:03  Pierre:  “Hey, Pierre, you got this. Keep going. You’re doing great.”

18:07  Leslie:  How’s that feel?

18:08  Pierre:  That’s pretty empowering.

18:11  Leslie:  Yeah, you’re talking to yourself. So you can give her some of these ideas. Again, observing, describing, being mindful, choosing what you are paying attention to. I don’t always want to avoid the discomfort in my body. But at some point, I would maybe want to be mindful to walking into school, like, “We’re going to be mindful to your steps: heel, toe, heel, toe, heel”…something like that. Or, “One, two, let’s count your steps.” So you can choose to be mindful to something else; so, you can teach her that.

18:48  Pierre:  Because when I take her to school, I can tell that she’s…I don’t know where she is, but she’s not mindful. She’s already on another planet, by that point. 

19:02  Leslie:  So you might say, “Hey, on one hand, I notice, you might be a little uncomfortable. And I noticed that we’re going to be walking into school. Can you count your steps?” You can get her attention to the present moment. “Where is your attention? It’s over there. Let’s bring it back over here, to your feet, to your hand, to the colors of the building,” or whatever. 

Pierre:  Yeah, it sounds good. 

Leslie:  We want to teach mindfulness to our children, even when there’s nothing wrong.

19:33   Pierre:  For some reason, I have this blocking thing about using words like this. I mean, that may be considered complicated. 

19:44  Leslie:  Aaah. Tell me why. 

19:46   Pierre:  I don’t know. I don’t know why. It’s just because maybe I think that they will not get it. Just the fact that you mentioned it, I realize I am avoiding complicated words and maybe because I because I think it’s too complicated for them or…

20:03  Leigh:  …too big of a concept? 

Pierre:  Yeah.

20:05  Leslie:  Absolutely. It’s yes and yes, I agree with you that it’s a complicated concept. Mindfulness is very complicated. And there are many concepts, whether they are things like adoption, surrogate parent—we can introduce things. If you have a child that’s adopted, you’re going use that word, and language that you’re going to introduce very early. But it may be years before your child truly understands what it means. So why do you think we actually would introduce a complicated concept early on?

20:43  Pierre:  I guess they grow up with it, and it’s not so complicated, after all, When they can make sense of it. 

20:48  Leslie:  Yeah, they grow up with it, and it’s not as complicated. Do you have the same feeling about that, Leigh? Does it bother you to use those terms? Do you feel like you’re speaking above your child? 

21:01  Leigh:  No, I don’t feel that way. 

Pierre:  It’s just me.

Leigh:  I make an effort to introduce concepts that are maybe vast or large and try to make it small. But with mindfulness, I hadn’t really…we have a couple of books about it. But just in terms of our daily lives, it’s not something I talk about with them regularly. But something as simple as counting or taking a breath…

21:29  Pierre:  I mean, we make her feel her breath or breathe and hold her breath and have her hand on her belly, that kind of stuff. But we never introduced it as being mindful of her breathing. 

21:41   Leslie:  Okay. Give it a try. And yes, for you, Pierre, it might be a little uncomfortable to use the language. And I would have faith that she will grow into it. And when you’re introducing something, like the breathing, don’t use it all the time. But use it every once in a while, “Oh, let’s try a different mindfulness exercise,” or, “Do you want to make up a mindfulness exercise?” Or, you’re sitting down to dinner, and maybe you read a little poem or light a candle before dinner? Every once in a while, you can have a little activity and say, “Oh, let’s start dinner off with a mindfulness activity.” 

Pierre:  Sounds good. 

Leslie:  It brings the family together, it brings it to the present moment. It’s quite a gift to share that idea with the children. 

22:31  Pierre:  I mean, we haven’t renamed it, but…can be fun. 

Leigh:  Yeah.

22:35  Leslie:  Okay.

22:36  Leigh:  I think especially after doing this big trip, and after our last conversation, we both…at least, I feel a lot more equipped to manage big emotions that Jean has that can feel very overwhelming for me. And I feel a lot more at ease with approaching it together.

23:01  Pierre:  Yeah. And not dramatizing it. And actually, during the trip, we were maybe wondering how she was going to react with friends that she hadn’t seen in a while or other little kids speaking her first language. And every time either she jumped right in, or it just took one day, and then she was like, right back at it. So that was nice to see.

23:27  Leslie:  That’s really great. So it sounds like you feel different. Maybe you’re not expecting the worst, you’re not having this worst case scenario, like “Oh, my God, what’s going to happen? She’s going to have a reaction and we can’t handle it.” 

You’re nodding your head. It sounds like you’re feeling more comfortable with, one, “Let’s see what happens. Let’s see how she handles it.” And, two, if she has an emotional reaction, you handle it. And if she has a, “I need to go slow with this and take my time getting back into it,” you’re accepting her more where she is, with a little less trepidation and fear. Is that true?

24:04  Leigh:  Yeah, definitely.

24:06  Pierre:  I guess one of the things that you brought up during the trip was that if she’s having those intense emotional reactions in front of other people, then it makes you very uncomfortable. And almost like, it makes you feel like you’re failing as a parent or something. I mean, that’s kind of like what we talked about, right?

24:29  Leigh:  I have a hard time when Jean has big emotional outbursts in front of…when we’re not at home, when it’s in front of other people. And it feels real…I feel really vulnerable. 

24:45  Leslie:  I really thank you for bringing that up, because I hear that a lot. Parents feel so vulnerable out in public. And you do feel eyes on you. And you can feel judgment, either coming from your own head like, “Oh my god, am I a failure?” Or people might say nasty things. So, first of all, I want to acknowledge that that’s very, very uncomfortable. And are you a failure?

25:15  Leigh:  No, definitely not. 

25:19  Leslie:  No.  And is it okay for your child to have a big reaction in public, even though it makes you uncomfortable? 

25:26  Leigh:  It’s just like…part of it.

25:30  Leslie:  Exactly, exactly. So I do want you to be compassionate with yourself. And Pierre, you described when you have to do something, or speak up or something, you can feel getting blushed or whatever: just acknowledge the vulnerability inside of you. Just acknowledge, “I don’t like this feeling.” And the same way Pierre says it, “I can handle it.” Can you talk to yourself?

25:58  Leigh:  I can handle my child losing their mind, in front of the whole family on Christmas—I can handle it.

26:07  Leslie:  Wow, good for you. And what did you do to get yourself through that?

26:12  Leigh:  Usually, walk around in a panic state for a bit until I find some grounding somewhere and realize I need to take care of myself. And that usually means quiet time for myself on my own, or getting a bucket of ice out. [Laughter]

26:30  Leslie:  That’s where the diver’s reflex comes in, you put your face in cold water—excellent to calm your nervous system down. Yeah, you can try the self-talk, you can say, “Hey, Leigh, you’ve got this, you are uncomfortable, you feel vulnerable. And vulnerability is a power.” 

It’s a great concept that you two are already learning to deal with, as you are both sensitive people and feel your anxieties in different ways. And that if you can embrace it, rather than avoid it and run away from it and feel like a failure. But instead, just take that deep breath, just literally embrace yourself and say, “Come on, you’ve got this.”

27:09  Pierre:  Good. Yeah. That’s something to…just being present with that feeling. And that’s the hard part, right? Staying with it.

27:18  Leslie:  Right. Because when you’re embarrassed in front of the public or in front of your family, and your daughter’s having a tantrum, can you just see how it makes everything worse? Because first she had a problem, now you’re uncomfortable, and you’re angry because you don’t want to be uncomfortable in front of other people. So now we’re just sort of exponentially making the problem worse, in a way. 

27:43  Pierre:  Yeah. It’s like fueling the fire. 

27:45  Leslie:  Yes. So, those are great ideas. I love hearing that you’re both working on that. Because we’ve got a sensitive child who comes from two beautiful, sensitive people.

28:00  Pierre:  Yeah, like you say in French, the acorn didn’t fall far from the tree.

28:05  Leslie:  Yeah, we say that in English, too. But you say it differently in French. Would you say it in French? I’d love to hear that. How do you say that in French?

28:14  Pierre:  Le gland ne tombe jamais loin du chêne.

28:17  Leslie:  Oh, that’s beautiful. Okay, well, that’s a great thing to think about—the mindfulness of being in the moment, staying present. And then just acknowledging vulnerability, as it shows up. Those are two really very, very powerful things. I love the fact that you have taken some of these ideas, even though you’re here focusing on your daughter, you are feeling different about how you are parenting her.

28:44  Pierre:  Definitely.   

Leigh:  Yeah.

28:45  Leslie:  That’s what she needs. She needs parents who are willing to meet her where she is, not be afraid of her, not be scared of her, not be angry with her; but to say, “Okay, we’re going to work with you.” It’s not throwing up your hands, either, and saying, “Oh, we don’t have to do anything.” You want to support her with her sensitivity, to be comfortable in an uncomfortable situation, to acknowledge that she’s going to have those feelings of vulnerability, and that there are skills that she can handle so that she can go out and expose herself to all kinds of wonderful things in life. 

Pierre:  Yes.

Leigh:  Yeah, definitely.

Leslie:   Put your seatbelts on, because you are going to stick with it. Because like I said, at fifteen, there will be something else. And if I’m still doing the podcast, if I’m still doing it, you can call me again. [Laughter] We can get some ideas. But really, the same ideas are good for any age. We gave you the same ideas as we gave her. They’re good skills, no matter what age.

29:50  Pierre:  And hopefully by the time she’s fifteen, mindfulness is just something she’s fully familiar with. 

29:59  Leslie:  Yes. 

30:01  Leigh:  Thank you, Leslie. We really appreciate all of your very helpful insights. Especially on this big trip, I felt like it was really great timing to take all this stuff with us. Because iit felt like a big scaffolding underneath everything.

30:21  Leslie:  Wonderful. I love that I can be of support. These skills are there to support you. And when you don’t feel like you have the scaffolding, you just stop and ask yourself, “What am I missing? And what information can help scaffold us?” I love that idea. Just keep feeling like your scaffolding is strong and in place to support you as parents. 

Pierre:  Yes. I’m trying. 

Leigh:  [Laughter] …trying.

Pierre:  I’m trying every day. 

Leslie:  Okay, thank you again. 

Pierre:  Thank you.

Leigh:  Thank you.

[Music: Acoustic Guitar Folk Music by Pixabay]

Leslie Cohen-Rubury:  The reason you initially come to therapy may not actually be the thing you need to work on, it might just be a symptom of something bigger. Like with Jean, whose selective mutism is a part of a bigger picture of anxiety, perfectionism, and discomfort with vulnerability, things so many children struggle with. By developing a new perspective and removing the pressure to get Jean to speak, Leigh and Pierre found more freedom in their parenting. Since our last session, Leigh and Pierre have shared with me that they feel more confident and less anxious as parents and they are worrying less about Jean. And Jean seems to be responding to this shift.

31:48  Leigh:  In general, she is having a lot less emotional outbursts. And I think that one of the things that is definitely going on, is she senses in us a level of comfort that maybe wasn’t there before. 

Jean is still not speaking to her teachers, but she’s talking to a lot more kids at school. And we’ve had some new babysitters, and she has spoken with them right away, which has been the first time we’ve seen that happen since we’ve moved back to the States. And it’s really exciting to watch and we’re excited to see what the next chapter is, the next challenge will be.

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

32:46  Leslie Cohen-Rubury:  Join us next week where I’m thrilled to welcome psychotherapist and anxiety expert Lynn Lyons, host of the Flusterclux podcast, to talk about managing anxiety in kids. 

In the meantime, if you’re interested in learning more about how to practice mindfulness, check out my show notes for resources. You can also subscribe to Is My Child A Monster? wherever you get your podcasts. And if you feel so inclined, rate and review on Apple podcasts to help spread the word. You can also find a full transcript of this episode or sign up for my newsletter at ismychildamonster.com. The Is My Child A Monster? team is Alletta Cooper, AJ Moultrié, Camila Salazar, and me. Special thanks to Eric Rubury and Mia Warren. Our theme music is by L-Ray Music. I’m Leslie Cohen-Rubury. Thanks for joining me. And this week, take a breath, take a pause, and pay attention to what happens.

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

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