Hey, neurofeedback moms. I am Miriam Bellamy. I am the mom who started this group. I am a licensed marriage and family therapist, and I am the director of whole family neurofeedback with me tonight. I have Dr. Tina Payne, Bryson. She is the author of several books the bottom line for baby, which I hadn’t heard of until now.
Let’s see The Yes, Brain, The Power of Showing Up, and then the co-author of a couple of bestselling books that are translated into 50 languages, The Whole Brained Child, and No Drama Discipline. She co-authored with Dr. Dan Siegel, which many of you may know? She’s the founder of the Center for Connection in Southern California. It’s a multidisciplinary practice. She’s got OT, speech and language people, therapists. That’s my kind of practice where you’re really addressing the whole person. Yeah, she’s an LCSW, graduate of Baylor and USC. And the most important part of her bio is that she is a mom of three boys. So thank you, Tina, for being with us tonight.
Really appreciate it. It’s night for us on in the states, but in Australia it’s about lunchtime. So hopefully we have some, some mamas tuning in from, from Australia. So. Great. Thank you so much for having me. Yeah, it’s a pleasure. And you have three boys. How old are you?
So 15, 18 and 21. So I’ve got two way at college, one still at home. And it turns out they still need parenting and their brains are not done developing yet for a while, which is good because sometimes when I look at like the things they do, I’m thinking, thank God, this is not like the end of the road in terms of brain development.
So it’s a really good thing that there’s still some, some brain happening. But yeah, it’s, it’s amazing. For them to be out in the world blossoming, I feel sad about missing them and I’m so proud that they are grownups sort of, but they’re not really grown up together. When does that happen? I mean, Rexel working on it myself, so yeah.
Right. I’m with you. Yeah, no, I was telling Tina before we went live my 20 year old, just moved out and what a change it is. And yeah, I love what you just said about, you know, the brain is still developing, so there’s so much changing, you know, right now in our relationship and that kind of thing. So I like, that’s a good way to think about it.
Yeah, it seems like they have more interesting things that like, when they’re out in the world doing other things, they can bring a lot of richness to the conversation, you know, because there’s stuff that’s happening that we don’t know about. And so there’s, there’s sort of a lot like my, my boys that are in school or taking classes that are interesting.
And so they have interesting things to say. And so it makes them it mixed dinner conversation when they’re home or, you know, phone conversations more interesting sometimes than the grunts you get at dinner time when they see you all the time. You know, what I like is when they’re out in the world, cause my 20 year old has her first job, right.
For the last six to eight months. And when they learn things from work, you know, that you’ve been trying to teach them or whatever it’s like, yes, someone else or they’re learning these life lessons. So I want to say moms at any point if you have questions, please post them in the comments. Dr.
Bryson is about to give a 15 to 20 minute presentation to us for on parenting and pivoting in the pandemic. She’s going to have examples about little kids and teenagers and maybe some college aged kids too. Cause we have all age ranges here, go ahead and post them. I will make a note of them here in the background.
And then when we go to the Q and a part I’ll be sure that your questions get asked. So with that we will switch to your presentation. Fantastic. Okay. I’m so excited to talk to you about this topic because Dan Siegel and I wrote this book called the power of showing up and what’s in the power of showing up is really the most important thing we need to know as parents, I think, but especially around this idea of pivoting and sort of rebooting for the 18th time during this pandemic, because here’s the deal, the research, and this is over 50 years of cross-cultural research tells us that one of the most important things we can do as parents is to provide what’s called secure attachment for our children.
I want to be really clear. That’s not what I’m talking about. It has nothing to do with what we know of as attachment parenting. This is something different under the umbrella of developmental psychology. And what secure attachment is, is an inborn instinct as a mammal to need to get close to our attachment figure, particularly when we’re in.
To make it more likely we survive and that we’re okay. So let me give a really specific example of this. So if you’re a bear Cub in the forest, you get hurt, you see a predator, you hear a scary noise, you would just have an automatic instinct to want to get close to your mama bear or your puppy bear if he’s around.
And when you get close to your parent bear, that parent bear is going to protect you and connect with you. So you’ve seen something scary you’re afraid. And what happens is that parent bear comes and is like, I’ve got you. And two things happen. Then when they’re in distress and get to connect with this secure attachment figure, and that is it regulates or calms the emotional states of fear or anxiety or whatever that state is, but it also calms.
The neurophysiology. So that baby bear Cub with the heart beating faster and muscles tense and adrenaline and cortisol pumping through its body, with that person that grown up showing up and saying, I’ve got you. I will protect you. What happens is it, it really does regulate the emotional and psycho and a neurophysiological state.
So that’s kind of the foundation. And the reason that we have this biological instinct is because when there’s a threat or some sort of distress and you and your attachment finger want to get connected to each other too, it really does make it more likely we can survive. So that’s the purpose of it. So what does that mean?
Okay. And why do we care about that now? Like, we don’t have the same kinds of threats. We’re not bears as well as mammals. This is still an inborn instinct for us. And, you know, Bruce Perry is one of my heroes and he’s. That’s the most important healing thing we can ever do for someone is love. And that’s really what we’re talking about here too, is it’s really just loving our children in ways where we show up for them over time.
And so if this is the most important thing we can do for our children, keep in mind that part of what I just talked to you about was in moments of distress. And so collectively we are all facing these disruptions to predictability. We don’t, we don’t know what’s happening and you know, right now, even more disruption in our world, given the situation internationally, all over the world politically obviously in terms of COVID, there’s a lot happening.
And so in moments of distress, we have this inborn system that is a wealth of resilience. Keep in mind that secure attachment is one of the best predictors for how well kids turn out. And this is in terms of their, in terms of everything we measure them on, including how their brains develop optimally.
So if that’s the most important thing we can do, how do we do that? What does that look like? So the way that we parent and pivot in a pandemic and in everyday moments, when your kid refuses to get out of the bathtub, when they call you when they’re young adults and their life feels like a disaster when you have a a 10 year old, who’s having a meltdown at bedtime if you have a teenager who won’t talk to you, regardless of what it is, what I’m about to tell you is the four S’s that we can practice every day in parenting that help cultivate secure attachment, which again is one of the best predictors for how they turn out.
So how do we do that? The four S’s are safe, seeing. Soothed and secure. So let me walk you through each of those very briefly. And obviously we wrote a whole book about this, and I’ve been on lots of podcasts where I go deeper into this. If you want to explore deeper than what we do today, but safe is of course, keeping your children safe from physical harm, but it’s really probably the most important of them all.
And we, we list these in the order that we list them in on purpose, safe has to come first. So safe is not just about keeping them protected from physical harm, like making sure they wear seatbelts and things like that. It’s also where we become the eye of any storm that’s happening. Or the analogy we use in the book is you can imagine your child as a sailboat, they’re in the seas of the world.
And regardless of what storm is happening internally for them or out in the world, you are always the safe Harbor where they know they cannot lose your love, where they feel like no matter what’s going on, you will say I’ve got. I will help. Right? So there’s that piece. But the other thing that’s really important to know is that one of the ways as parents that we undermine our children’s felt sense of safety, which is a huge part of them feeling secure, attached having secure attachment with us is that we become unpredictable or we’re so reactive, we’ve lost control.
So if you’re growing up as supposed to keep be in charge and keep you safe if you, as the grownup are out of control that doesn’t help a child feel very safe, that you can control the world to keep them safe. Okay. So you might be screaming at a customer service representative or screaming at your spouse or whatever it is, but when we lose control, we become unpredictable.
And the way that the brain and the nervous system work is that predictability equates to knowing what’s coming, which can often make us feel a lot safer. The brain interprets unpredictable. As potential threats and potential danger, which is one of the reasons the life has been so hard on all of us the last couple of years, because things are so unpredictable and our nervous systems respond by this as a potential threat.
So it keeps us in these higher states of anxiety and fear and all of these things. So what we want to do as caregivers is to be as predictable as possible. And I don’t know about you all, but I find myself as a parent being patient and patience, patience until I’m not. And then I might flip my lid and yell at my kids or, you know, have a really aggressive tone of voice or whatever.
I, I, I often tell about a time I was playing Yahtzee with my boys and they started fighting and it escalated, escalated, and I just couldn’t take it anymore. And I ended up yelling at them, throwing the dice across the room. My boys now called this the Yahtzee incident. But as soon as that, so I was predictable, predictable, and then I wasn’t, I lost it.
I was yelling at them. And so in that moment, I have violated their sense of safety, but what’s amazing in the research is that you don’t have to be perfect. You can mess up all the time. And as long as you make the repair with your child, it gives them a sense of safety and it builds their resilience relationally, because they have to sit in this feeling of like, oh, mom’s really scary right now.
And this doesn’t feel very good and relationships are messy and there’s conflict here. But I know because my brain is a prediction machine based on all of these other experiences that led to this moment that she’s going to come make it right. So then I say to my kids, oh guys, I’m S I was so angry and I did not handle that.
Well, I really wish I had handled that differently. I’m so sorry. Will you forgive me? And I might even ask for a do-over. So when we have these ruptures or we become not safe, this is a time for us to make a. Create a felt sense of safety. And I’ll just mention a couple other really quick things before I move on to the other SS.
We can cultivate a felt sense of safety in our homes by creating predictability. And so, and I’ll give you a couple of other things that helps us. So predictability is one, this might be the rhythm that you create in your home. So rhythms and routines and rituals and things like that, create a sense of safety because they create a predictable, they create predictability.
So this might be having your kids create a playlist that you change occasionally. For songs that they listen to on school mornings it might be, my family has a lot of rhythms around food, so we always have breakfast burritos on Saturday mornings, and I always make oatmeal on Thursday mornings. We also always have family movie night, either on Friday night or Sunday night, depending on what’s happening.
And now that my 15 year old has friends and as a teenager, he doesn’t really want to do that with us. So I think we’re going to probably move into Sunday nights because Friday nights are not for us anymore. So creating these rhythms and rituals, bedtime rituals those kinds of things. Another thing we can do to cultivate a sense of safety is to think of your car and your home, really, as that safe Haven, as that place, that no matter what has happened in your child’s day, this will be a place of connection and rest.
And it’s not going to be because it’s a family and it’s messy and we’re not always in that state, but then we repair, right. And we say, gosh, it was really like, sometimes I’ll say to my kid on the way to school in the morning and be like, wow, it was kind of a chaotic, stressful morning. Wasn’t it. We were in a hurry and I was grumpy and we didn’t have very great of a start, but let’s both take a breath together and have a start of our day right now.
Right. So we just try to help them work through that. The other thing we can do. Is play and playfulness and silliness. The more we can do that, the less anxiety, fear, stress, and threat our children will experience. So Lawrence Cohen is one of my favorites. He wrote playful parenting and he also wrote a book called the opposite of worry.
He talks about the science that shows that states of play and silliness and laughter and playfulness really are incompatible neurologically with states of fear and threat. So the more we can, we can bring that into our homes. And I do this, even with my teenager, like, I’ll give an example. I’ll, I’ll ask him to do something and he won’t do it.
Right. So then I’m like, I need you to do this. And then he doesn’t do it again. So I just get frustrated and I could go in and yell at him, but you know, it works better. Like a couple weeks ago I went in and he was laying on his bed instead of, and he hadn’t done what I had asked him to do. It was like something laundry ish.
So I went and he’s six foot and I’m five, four. And he was being a slopped boy in his bed and I went and sat on him and I said, I’m so glad you’re not putting away the laundry. Like I asked, because I’m so tired from all the work I do around here. So I really needed a great place to sit. And then I just started, you know, just being goofy with him.
And he was like, okay, fine. Get off me. And he was like, pushing me. And I was like, no, I have to sit here. Cause I’m so tired. And I all, if there’s all that laundry and he’s like, fine, I’ll do it. You know? So it’s like really just ways we can still, even if it’s just, you’re so tired, you don’t want to play or you don’t feel like, you know, engaging in a big way.
Put on a funny video of goats screaming for two minutes, it’s just a moment of joining of silliness playfulness. So those are a couple of things you can do. I can talk much more about all of this if, if we have time later, but let me move on to scene scene as the second S and seen as really hard, because we are a society that focuses really heavily on children’s behaviors.
And what this is asking us to do is to focus on the mind behind the behavior, to focus on the internal experience of our child and not so much what’s happening on the outside. So you know, this is tough because sometimes when our kids come at us, it’s really hard to tune into what’s happening underneath that.
So I’ll give you an example. So I’ll give you a couple of examples, different ages. The ultimate goal of this is for our children to grow up and say, my parents got me. I felt, felt by my parents, but they really understood and loved me and got me for who I am, not who they wanted me to be. So what that looks like in everyday moments is for example, my four year old, who’s like, I’m not getting out of the bathtub.
Now, keep in mind. None of this is about permissiveness having boundaries and limits and expectations that we hold our children. Helps them feel safe because that’s predictable. And we are following through with what we say. So this is not about permissiveness. So what I would do in this moment is my four year old is like, I’m not getting out of the bathtub.
And I want to say yes to his experience and his feelings and him sharing it with me, even if I’m saying no to the behavior. So I’m not going to say, okay, fine. You can stay in the bathtub, but I say, you can either get out or I will help you out. And as I’m and he says, I’m not getting out. And he splashed us me.
And as I lift him out of the tub, I’m going to practice seen, well, first I’m going to practice safe by trying to stay calm myself. So I’m going to try to remember to be the safe Harbor, not the storm. So I’m going to take a deep breath and remind myself at your child’s worst. That is when he needs you the most.
He’s really having a hard time right now. So now I’m going to show up for him. I’m going to be with him. So in this moment as I lift him out, I practice seen where I’m tuning into his experience. What I want to do is say, if you’re going to act that way, I’m not going to read stories tonight. That’s what I want to say, but that’s not going to help anybody.
It’s just going to make it more reactive. So I can say that moment, you’re so mad that you have to get out of the tub. You feel really angry right now, is that right? So he’s not going to name his own feelings. I’m going to help him in that moment, but I’m really letting him know. I understand what you’re feeling or I’m at least trying to understand what you feel.
So let’s take an older kid. I had offered to take my kid to the movies and then he asked if he could have popcorn. And then he counted when I said no. And so I got really mad at first. I don’t know. I was like, really? You’re going to pout because I’m doing something nice for you. So again, my first instinct was to be like, if you’re going to pat, I’m not taking you and you are so spoiled.
And so what happens is in the moments when our kids have behaviors, maybe they’re being disrespectful. Maybe they’re being aggressive with you verbally, or they’re acting in a way that you don’t want. Our instinct in those moments is often to minimize how they feel and criticize how they’re expressing it.
So when he pallets, I want to say you’re, you’re so spoiled. I can’t believe you’re acting this way, but remember the brain is not only a prediction machine. It’s also an association machine. So he’s then going to make a connection to, I just had a feeling of disappointment and I shared it with my mom and the way she responded felt really bad.
So I’m not sure I want to share how I feel next time. So instead, what I want to do is pause and practice something from no drama discipline, which is behaviors, communication. He’s communicating to me that he needs to build some skills around gratitude and about perspective in the world. And about how, when someone gives you something to be grateful and be a gracious receiver of a gift, right?
So those are all skills I’m going to build, but right now I’m going to be with my child and I’m going to tune into his internal, external. And I’m going to say, gosh, you looked really excited a minute ago when I said I was taking you to the movies, but then you looked really disappointed when I said no popcorn, what happened there?
And he said, oh, but I love movie popcorn. And last time we got it and we really don’t go very often. So I just felt disappointed. And I could say, so here I am. I’m going to tune into his mind and his experience and match. I’m going to have my response match what he feels. And I’m going to say, yeah, when we have an expectation or we get excited about something and it doesn’t happen the way we want it to.
Yeah, of course. I feel disappointed when that happens to me when I want something and it doesn’t go that way, it can feel really disappointed, disappointing, and it’s okay to feel disappointed. We’re still not going to get the popcorn because we’ve had so much junk food lately, but would you like to still go to the movies and I’ll bring you a snack on the way?
And he’s like, yeah. Great. Okay. So in that moment, instead of focusing on the behavior or what he’s saying or what, what words are coming out of his mouth or what he’s pouting. I’m going to tune in to his experience and respond in that way. Okay. That’s really, really hard to do. And if you have teenagers who are shutting you out, you might just go generic and say, seems like you’re having a really tough day.
I, and, and if they’re not wanting to talk, we want to respect that. Please don’t chase them and be like, no, I’m going to connect with you. Cause that would be intrusive. What we want to do instead is make ourselves available. So we might just say, it seems like you’re having a rough day. Or you look like you’re stressed about something.
I will I’ll I will listen or I’m going to be in the kitchen if you want to talk about it. So we just make ourselves available, but at least they feel like we’ve noticed and we see what they’re feeling. Okay. The third S is soothed and soothing is what it sounds like it’s nurturing. It’s comforting.
It’s helping. And one of the ways we can talk about this is the word co-regulating. So particularly when our, so let me say it this way, what our children are physically hurt. It’s really pretty easy for us to get to empathy. And it’s pretty easy for us to comfort them and Sue them and nurture them and try to make it better.
When they’re in emotional distress and it often especially looks like behavioral stuff, like a tantrum or something like that we really want to often rush in and stop the behavior. Or we want to fix it really fast. Or we might not at all want to help them with that emotional state, but actually the part of the brain that lights up with physical pain is the same part of the brain that gets activated when we’re in emotional pain as well.
So what this really is like is this idea of co-regulation that I mentioned a minute ago, which is when your child is dysregulated. Then, what we want to do in those moments is use ourselves and our relationship and this connection that we have in the moment with our presence, bringing our presence to the moment.
And I’ll give you a really specific example, cause I’m just using these kind of vague words to help them go from a dysregulated state back into a regulated state. So what that means is I’m giving them practice going from dysregulated back into regulation, just with my help and support. So let’s go back to the bathtub example.
So he doesn’t want to get out as I lift him out, I practicing, oh, you’re so mad about having to get out of the bathroom. You’re really wanting to stay in, is that right? And then it looks different in every moment, depending on your child and their age and all of these things. I wrapped the towel around him.
I pull him close to me and I take a deep breath and I say, I know it’s really hard. How can I help? What do you mean. So I just sort of offer my availability. I let him know that I know he’s having a hard time and I want to help him. And I give that example for a little bit older. Maybe a ten-year-old really upset because older siblings get to stay up later.
And they have maybe even have a friend over because they’re adolescents and it’s still bedtime. So my ten-year-old one that I was his older brothers were having friends over and staying up and it was time for him to go to sleep. And so I got the books out and I’m ready for the cuddle and the bedtime routine.
And he’s so upset. He’s like a fish out of water flopping around the bed. And he’s like, it’s not fair. You’re so mean. And he’s really coming at me. And I will say that I learned more and more with each kid. And as I continued in this work, myself and I used to spend in that kind of a moment, I would’ve spent a lot of cognitive and emotional energy trying to figure out how to fix it or how to stop the behavior or how to get him to go to sleep, which is my goal.
And being really focused on my. And usually my first instinct in those moments is not the best one. It’s usually to be like, if you’re going to act this way, I’m not going to read to you tonight and you can put yourself to bed again, not helpful. That’s going to be a lose, lose situation. He’s going to stay up longer.
He’s not going to learn anything from me throwing that thread at him so that he could do better the next time, which is really the whole point of discipline is to teach to build skills so they can do better over time to become self-disciplined. So what I do in this moment is I practice the four S’s.
So I stay, I stay safe by being predictable and call myself being the eye of the storm, holding my boundaries. I’m not going to say, okay, fine. You can stay up later scene. I can see. So here’s what I say to him in that moment. It’s really feels terrible when things feel unfair and you really want to stay up and you can’t and oh, that makes you so mad.
I get that. I really get. And then here’s the sous part, instead of all this stuff to figure out what do I do? What do I say? How do I change this? How do I fix this? We don’t have to do any of that. This is so liberating. All we have to do is show up with our presence of what that looks like for me and with this kid.
And this moment is to say, I’m right here with you while you feel like things are unfair and you’re angry and disappointed right here with you while you feel it. And that’s it. And he’s like, ah, and then I say, when you’re ready, I’m happy to read. Let me know when you’re ready. And after a minute or two of grunting and flopping, he’s like fine read.
And then I began to read and I’m not going to focus on no, you have to say it in a nice voice. You know, be respectful. Those are lessons to learn later. We’re just in the moment. And what’s amazing about that. Interaction is my child learns a couple of things from that one. My mom can handle my big feelings.
I am not going to lose her love. I don’t have to protect her from how I feel I could share how I feel. Too. He learns resilience because he learns, he can handle feeling those big, hard, heavy feelings that I trust that he can handle. I’m like, yeah, those feelings are there and I’m with you while you feel them.
So he has an experience of feeling those feelings and knowing he could get through them. He also learns that oh, I was gonna say something else. Oh yeah, that went. So his brain also gets practice going from this dysregulated state back into a regulated state. And just like when I lift weights repeatedly, I do reps.
My muscle builds same thing with the brain. So the brain gets a rep or practice going from a dysregulated state back into a regulated state, so he could learn how to do that for himself. So he gets better as self-regulating. So really the difference between, and we can think about this in terms of the pandemic in general too, is the difference between adversity and distress, leading to resilience or leading to fragility.
It’s whether or not somebody shows up and supports you enough through that. Okay. So this is why we continue to show up. So now safe seen soothed. And let me just give an example for like a young adult teenager, since I’ve given some little kid ones, what this looks like by the way, soothing is not the same thing as solving.
And it’s, so when my kid calls me my 18 or 21 year old calls me and they’re like, I’m so stressed, I’ve been up all night. I’ve got a test in two hours and I was up all night studying. And I don’t think I can even think straight in the test and I don’t know what to do. It is not my job to say I’ll call the professor or you know, maybe you can say you’re sick and you can skip the test or you just need to go in there and do it.
I don’t have to even spend any brain energy because all I have to do is show up and I could say, oh, sweetie, that sounds so stressful. You’re so tired. And you’ve got this weighing down on you. Oh, that just sounds so stressful. I’m so sorry. And that’s it. And we might even in certain circumstances say, how can I support you right now?
Or how can I help or my favorite line for, for all ages, but especially our teenagers and young adults is what’s your plan because that communicates to them. This is your situation. I trust that you can handle it. I’m not going to make the plan for you because I don’t trust you can. Right? So what’s your plan as a great way to get them using their own brains and, and know that we trust that they can do that.
Okay. So safe, seen, and soothed. When kids have repeated experiences of feeling safe, seen, and sooth, they develop the fourth S of security and security is really about their brains wiring to know, and expect and predict that if they have a need, we’re going to show up for them. We’re going to see it. And we’re going to show up for them again.
We can mess up all the time. We can be completely faulted around this, but as long as we are showing up enough of the time, that enough of the time we become we’d be, we’d give them these three other SS their brains wired to know that if they have a need, we’re going to show up for them. And then what’s more amazing is their brain is changed in their developmental path to be able to show up for themselves, to learn, to keep themselves safe, to see and understand themselves, to soothe themselves, and then to show up for other people in their friendships and their future romantic relationships and their future role as parents, this can have an intergenerational effect.
So let me wrap up by saying this history is not destiny. If you feel like, gosh, I don’t Tina, you just said all this stuff and I’m not feeling so great about my parenting right now. First of all, if you feel that okay, Because if we never have pangs of regret as parents, if we never look back on stuff and go, oh gosh, what was I thinking?
Or I wish I had known that, or I really should have done better there if you don’t ever have that feeling, it means you’re not growing and you’re not reflecting. So we should all have those feelings. At times, history is not destiny, the way you were parented and the way your attachment patterns got set up is not predict is not going to determine if you can do these four S’s or not.
In fact, the number one predictor for how well you’re able to provide these four SS and secure attachment is whether or not you’ve reflected on and made sense of your experiences of what you got and didn’t get from your parents. So we talk about that in the power of showing up, if you want to go deeper there.
But I also mean history is not destiny in that. If you look back on how you, if you’re like, oh no, the way I parented today so far, or this week, or this month, or the last two years, or for the last decade, it’s not really the parent. I want to be. What’s amazing about this is this attachment stuff. So powerful, as I said, one of the best predictors for how well your kids are going to turn out.
And it is absolutely changeable because this attachment wiring that gets embedded in the brain is based on repeated experiences. So as you start creating more safe, seen sooth, secure experiences for your child, their brains begin to change right away. So keeping in mind this, and this is the very last thing, I’ll say what your child needs most from you in a pandemic, in a, you know, friend crisis at school in a bathtub crisis.
And you know, in, in any little moment of the day, what your child needs most from you is you flawed, you imperfect you, your presence, showing up tuning into who they are tuning in in the moment and saying, I’ve got you. I understand you. I’m here for you. We’ve got. And that’s really the most important thing you can do, and you’re a much better parent than you think you are.
All right. I’m going to pause there so we can have time for some questions and we actually have one. So the person asks, how do you support a child who is depressed and not wanting to go to school? Well, the first thing I will say about really any behavioral stuff that either is driving you crazy, or really worries you.
The first thing we need to do is to be curious, a lot of times what our children are upset about or struggling with is not what we assume it is. And if we had more time, I could give you lots of examples of that, but be curious, peel the layers back beyond just the behaviors we’re seeing and see what’s really going on.
I will tell you, and none of you will be surprised to hear this cause it’s everywhere. There really is a mental health crisis right now. And a lot of kids are, and parents are experiencing. Depression, anxiety, all kinds of things. And the most important thing is to get help, to get support. If a child is so depressed that their school refusal, you absolutely need help, you absolutely need support.
And I’ll tell you a lot of times in my experience, school refusal connected to depression often. And again, it would depend on so many factors. So I can’t give you directly advise the person who’s asking this. I’ll just say in jail. A lot of times when there’s been school refusal and depression or significant anxiety and panic I often recommend a psychoeducational evaluation because sometimes there are underlying learning challenges and your kid is oftentimes the kid is really bright.
And so everyone thinks, oh, they’re just not trying hard enough. Or they’re bright. There’s not a learning challenge there, but learning is really complicated. You can be really strong in some areas, but have like really slow processing speed or there might be an attentional component or there might be an auditory processing comment.
And when kids are bright, they can compensate for those until it gets too challenging. And then the demands of the situation and their capacity start being a bigger and bigger gap. And that can lead to a lot of depression, anxiety, and challenging behaviors. So we want to find out about that gap. We want to get really curious when children are struggling in significant ways, they are.
Having bad character. They’re not, I hate the oppositional defiant disorder diagnosis. They are really telling you their behaviors, communication. And they’re saying, I am not successfully navigating things and I need help. I’m doing my best. And I don’t know how to do it differently. And so it’s really important.
Find somebody who can peel the layers back. And that’s why I love interdisciplinary centers like mine, because it allows us to really peel the layers back what’s going on. I will also say one of my favorite resources, especially for teens is called the depression workbook for teens by Katie Hurley. It’s a great workbook.
Yep. So we actually, in my family, we actually went through that a bit when the pandemic first hit isolation is just so, so difficult for any human, but I think teams just really were hit so hard. And for us, the neurofeedback was huge. I mean, we we’re lucky enough that we have the equipment here.
Okay. It really shifted it and that wasn’t all we did. We had you’re right. I mean, we had to get help. And so the neurofeedback was huge and then therapy and, you know, whatever resources, but I also love what you said about getting curious any behavior, go ahead. Yeah. Yeah. Great. And, and being patient, I feel like, because especially with a lot of moms in this group, including myself, we have kids who are in the neurodiverse world, right.
They’ve got ADHD or they’re on a spectrum or they’re dyslexic or something, and they’re going to have greater difficulty saying what they think or being able to articulate it. And that was actually a question, I guess I had for you that I wanted to ask And that is when you have a child who, you know, might have a great deal of difficulty saying what they think or feel, what kind of ideas do you have on that?
And it, of course it depends on the age of the child. And also, I, you know, I think we just, we really have got, I’m always, you’ll find very little in my work. That’s super prescriptive because I’m a big fan of honoring individual differences. And I know with neurofeedback, that’s really what that’s all about is really understanding the individual and how, how their, their brains are working.
So that would look different for every child and it changes over time developmentally. But I think it’s, you know, I think we really want to focus on who is this kid what’s important to this kid, right? We have to also check our own values. And. I’m sorry, Miriam. I blanked on what the actual question was.
I started going down one path and then I lost it. What was the question? Can I get talking to kids who are going to have a difficult time expressing what they’re thinking or feeling like I just did? I was definitely yeah, I think, you know, this is, again, back to scene. It’s really about tuning in and remembering that, the words that we say, like, if I do this, if I go, I’m not mad, like my words are really in contrast to what I’m communicating, non-verbally there and you are going to trust my non-verbal because, you know, it’s probably gonna it’s that’s really gives us more information as to non-verbal.
I think we also, and I think a lot of therapists have been trained in insight based narrative-based talk therapy kind of stuff, and that can be helpful, but only to a certain degree, really. I also love more what we would call bottom up kinds of things, really tuning into our bodies and using breath and all kinds of other things.
So I think we are overdependent sometimes on words and particularly kids who have a hard time articulating thoughts in a, you know, in a quick and logical linear fashion. We need to trust ourselves to know our kids. And sometimes it’s really helpful to almost offer like, you know, on the computer, a drop down menu where you’re like, is it more frustrated or angry?
Like, which one of those seems so you might’ve been offered some words to, to do that. And then the other thing that can be really helpful is story. So as we, you know, we’re kind of getting close to what we think our child is experiencing when we tune in, we can say, you know, I’m thinking about a time when I was in seventh grade and I felt really insecure about, and just begin to tell a story and you talk about yourself.
That’s a great way to give your kid a chance to either ask questions that might indicate what’s going on a little bit more what’s relevant to them, or to say, you know, have you ever felt that way? You know, and then, and as we tell stories, that’s a really different kind of processing and using words than just articulating thoughts directly.
So we have another question. I assume it’s a, she, I can’t see who it is from here, but says, what about technology and addiction? How do you limit it? I think there was a time too, right. Being addicted to your phone or whatever. Yeah. Okay. So a couple of things about this, first of all, that’s a huge topic.
I would direct you all to Devorah Hytner H E I T N E R. I’m just looking for her book here, right here, because I can get the title just right. Screen wise is the name of her book. And is so good. Like, I’ll give you one example in here of how, like, when we see our kids social media and we see something on there that kinda mortifies us instead of immediately be like, why would she post a picture like that?
And going into judgment, it’s such a great opportunity. Cause then our kid just stopped showing us things, first of all. And doesn’t want to have conversations with us about them and they don’t really anyway as they get older, but we really shut down any communication when we do that. And it’s such a great opportunity to help them build critical thinking skills.
So divorce suggests in that moment to say, well, what do you think about that? Or to say, what do you think she was going for in that picture? What kind of response do you think she’s wanting to get? And do you think that’s the kind of response she’s actually getting? Like how are people responding to that?
So ask curious questions, encourage your child to be curious. So that’s just one example of the brilliance of Devorah in this book. I would say that. One of the things that is definitely within our own control is modeling children learn best in two ways, one by what we model and the other is by doing things themselves.
Okay. So we want to model for them. And a lot of times we’re super distracted and we’re on our phones all the time. So here are a couple of ways we can be good about that. One is when you pick your kids up from school or you’re with them, especially after. Try not to be on your screens. And if you need to be like, if I’m on the phone with the doctor, cause my doctors just called me.
I’ve been waiting all week. I’ll say, excuse me, just one second. I’ll say to my kid, they’re getting in the car. Hey, the doctor just called me back. Give me one second. I’ll be right with you. That’s respectful. I want them to do that for me. I set limits. There are no phones out in my car when I’m driving.
This is time we can sing, be quiet, look out the window, talk to each other. Unless my kid is playing music and we’re enjoying, enjoying the music together. Now, if I need to get on there and check a map or I need to call my husband, I’m going to say, Hey, let’s call dad and talk to him about the dinner plans tonight or, oh, I need to check them out because I’m not sure where I’m going.
So I’m narrating for them, the purpose of what I’m doing and why it would interfere with, with what’s going on. So, I guess the first thing is, yes, you need to set limits. If you have a teenager. My favorite resource on this is Christine Carter’s book, the new adolescents. She literally lays out the contracts that she uses where she doesn’t allow phones, all of those things.
And then, like I said, for younger kids, Devorah height, nurse book, screen wise, so there’s tons and tons of resources out there. The only other thing I’ll say about this is that the pandemic of course, has required our kids to be on devices a lot more. And honestly, when I think about my 15 year old all the screen time he has is all in service of something.
So I’m like, oh, you’re on the screen a lot. But actually when I think about what he’s actually doing, he’s connecting with friends, he’s learning about something on YouTube about how to play a new chord on his guitar. So it’s really in service of things that I’m really in favor of. And I know that right now with the pandemic and with, you know, everything.
The degeneration, they do a lot of social connection there. And so we just, we need to keep that in mind. And some kids are more likely to be addicted than others. Kids who have attentional challenges like ADHD have a much harder time transitioning away from their devices when it’s time to turn them off.
So a great way to work with your kid is not in the moment is to say, okay, let’s say right now you’re feeling like way too much screen time. You can always do a restart in your family. Say, you know what I’ve been feeling like there’s been too much screen time. We need a new plan. I would love your input.
I will be making the final decision, but I would love your input. You know, I’m noticing it’s mostly afterschool. So let’s come up with a plan. What are your ideas? And let’s try this for a week. Once you come up with something. So you really have these reflective dialogues with your kids and then say, let’s try this for a week.
And then. Well, we’ll check it and see how it goes and really involve them in the process. And ask them a lot as they get older, they should have more and more freedom around screens. You don’t want your kids first time without you being involved to be when they’re away from you, you want your kids to start having freedoms while they’re still under your care so that you have input around that.
So I think, you know, we want to, if I say, Hey, instead of saying, go to bed, it’s late. Get off your device. I might say, Hey, I know, you know, it’s important to get a good night’s sleep. It’s getting really late. What’s your plan for turning your screens off and going to bed. And then if they say I’m going to stay up till one and stay on my screens, I’m going to say, well, that fine works for you, but that doesn’t work for me.
Let’s come up with a different plan. That’s good. Ross green collaborative problem solving approach. There. So we have a few. Thank you. Thank you. Brilliant. Thank you. Excellent. Yeah. So good. Glad we’re helping well, and I love sharing other people’s work that I find really helpful. I mean, I, I read a lot of the stuff for my own parenting myself and I’m sure many of you know about Debbie rubber’s work in the tilt parenting and she, her specialty, she has a whole podcast all about raising neurologists, neuro differently, wired kids, neuro diverse kids.
And so she’s a great resource. She actually wrote a book called differently wired, and she has a gorgeous podcast talking about neurodiversity as well. What was her name? Sorry. Debbie Rieber, R E B E R. And her website is tilt parenting.com. I love that.
I know we have tilt to meet the needs of our kids and be constantly shifting gears. She’s amazing. I love her. She’s a wealth of resource. I learned so much from her. Maybe I can reach out to her. Yeah. Oh yeah. Oh, wonderful. That’d be great. All right. Two more questions. So from Stephanie, these, these came in a couple of days ago from Stephanie says what are some ways to emphasize your child’s strengths and help them build on those rather than obsessing with their faults?
That kind of sounds like a question about her, you know? Yes. And maybe a little bit of perfectionism in there. So the first thing is modeling, right? So are you constantly being critical? Do you say good things about yourself and celebrate your strengths? Right. So we want a model that we also want to examine the messages we’re giving our kids.
We give kids so many messages that we’re not aware that we give. And one of the best ways for us to get a little bit of clarity about what we really, what our children really think is important to us is to ask yourself, what do I most lecture my kids about? What do I most argue with my kids about what does our calendar look like?
And what do we spend money on those things? We’ll tell you what your kids think is important to you because you know, Dr. Michael Thompson, he’s talked about how he’ll ask kids, you know, what are your parents? You know, do your parents think your grades and your achievement really matters? And they say that matters to my parents.
More than anything, they actually care more about my grades than they care about me. And then he’ll interview the parents and the parents were like, our values are well-rounded child. And like, right. So what are we really communicating? So. Critical in ways you don’t mean to be, or you’re communicating messages of achievement, achievement, achievement, your child might be kind of hard on themselves at times as a way to kind of protect them.
So like, oh, I’m so bad at this. So that to kind of protect them from your criticism. So those are some things for us. The other thing I would say is instead of arguing with what your kid is saying, when they’re being hard on themselves, tune into the feelings. So this is back to seeing like, oh, it seems like you’re feeling kind of worried about how that turned out for you or you’re, you know, you’re worried about how that’s going to go.
So just tune into that. The other thing we can do is build our child’s awareness of their strengths and of the areas that they’re being critical of themselves in my, one of my favorite phrases is I’m noticing. So and so there’s a humility about that too. I’m noticing this. Have you noticed this too?
So to say, gosh, I’m noticing you’re really good in the kitchen. You’re really creative. When you put things together, you do things that I would have never thought of. And the other side of that, you could say, I’m noticing when you talk about you know, playing your guitar, you’re, you’re really hard on yourself.
Have you noticed that? What do you think that’s about for you? And so just really inviting them to be curious and explore again, we want to focus on the process and about growth. We can say, like they’re being hard on themselves to say, okay, so, you know, kids have this recency thing where they remembered that day and the day before, and maybe the week, they’re not thinking back.
So sometimes they’re just inaccurate and to say, yeah, you feel like you’re really bad at the guitar right now, but do you think you’re better than you were a month ago? Right. And so we can ask these questions to kind of put things in perspective. We can also help them change perspectives. Like, oh gosh, you know, you’re being so hard on yourself.
What do you think the dog would say. About what you’re like, what would the dog say? Or what would your friends say about what you’re good at? What would your teacher say about what you’re going to? Cause if we’re like, like, I remember my mom being like, oh, you know, I’d be like, my hair is so terrible and she’d be like, oh sweetie, you’re so beautiful.
I’m like, you’re my mom. You don’t know anything. You think I’m awesome. Which is great. Right. But we want to hear it from other people so we can even have kids imagine, what would your friends say about what you’re good at? What would your teachers say? What would the dog say? That is the best thing about you.
And finally give them opportunities to show their strengths. And one of the best ways we can do that is by entrusting them, by giving them mastery over things like instead of solving everything we can say, you know what? I know you’re a good problem solver. I bet you can figure it out. See if you can come up with an idea or to say, Hey, I’m trying to figure something out and you have really good ideas.
Can you help me with this? So little moments like that, where we’re showing them, like, you’re awesome. And you have all these strengths and you can help me. You’re a great problem solver. So that was a lot of tips, but I tried to show her well, I’m thinking, cause that override round the dinner table tonight, my daughter and her friend were there and my husband and I, and she was complaining about how he did exactly.
That you can do it. This is how you learn by doing it. She was because you did that to her earlier today or something it’s like, great, thanks. I know, I know they don’t know other than they still think about it. Yes they do. And that’s, that’s so much of what you’re talking about is, is trusting yourself as a parent and staying with it.
Like, you know, you’ve got your eye on the horizon. Well, you know, your kids are in the mud, but you keep as a parent, you’re your eyes on that horizon. And I, most of the time when I worry about my, like I’m in a moment where I’m worrying about my kid or I feel disappointed in them or I feel like, you know, Whatever’s going on if I can pull back.
And this is what I learned from Dr. Michael Thompson, who wrote raising cane and a bunch of other books is to not only trust ourselves, but to trust development, even without us, our children’s brains are developing and they’re really, they’re going to be so, so what, anytime I worry, I’m like, okay, is he better right now?
Like, I’m like, you know why don’t my college kids. I’m like, you really should have this down by now. I can’t believe you’re still dropping the ball in this way. But then if I’m like, is he doing better than he was six months ago? Is it better than it was a year ago? Yes. Okay. I’m going to trust development is headed in it’s trending in the right direction.
I think that is incredibly powerful. Trust development. Yeah. Yeah. We w our brains are geared towards efficiency towards improvement, and if we can trust ourselves, trust the process. Get out of the way, not be so reactive. Yeah. And I can take that perspective and say, you know, is my kid better at this thing?
That’s driving me crazy than he was six months ago or a year ago, then I, if I go, yeah. And I go, okay, then I can, I don’t have to be so neurotic about this, you know? And I’m going to keep giving them opportunities for skill building, but it’s not time to panic. Yeah. It’s a friend of mine says the time to panic is never.
So the last question is from Dolly, she says, what is the best way to combat negativity bias and victim mentality? And she’s describing a child who is never sort of in responsible for the bad grade they get, or getting in trouble at school kind of thing. How would you, yeah, I mean, I think a lot of what I said in that last answer would absolutely apply here as well.
Again, I can’t, I would never make a diagnosis based on a question. But I will say in my clinical experience, often the kids who are the blaming of it sins are really, really bright kids. Who are so cognitively, they tend to be more advanced than their peers, but tend to be a little bit behind in terms of the social and emotional stuff.
So part of that is a little bit of a maturity thing that again, we can trust development on. That’s also a really common feature of kids with ADHD. And and again, that’s also connected sometimes to that asynchronous development. Really really bright and they’re so fast and making connections, but sometimes the emotional and, and executive function and emotional regulation pieces lag behind that.
You know what is who’s the guy Ned Hallowell race car brain, but the bicycle brakes, right? Think about emotional regulation. Executive function is more the bicycle and, and the ideas and creativity and intellect more like the race car. So, so specific things around that is if you just tell your child, you know, well, it’s not your, it’s not their fault.
You, you know, you need to step up and take responsibility. We can give that lecture a hundred million times and they typically don’t internally. So, what I would recommend just in general is staying in curiosity and asking questions. So instead of telling, ask questions, and I will also say back to the same thing, tune into their experience, if you just argue with their experience, because that is your child’s true, authentic experience, that is how they see what has happened.
So if you just start arguing with them, they are not going to feel like they can share as much with you. And they’re not, it’s not going to change how they feel. It’s not going to change their mind about it by you lecturing. So what I would do instead is to say is first empathize, even if you think it’s ridiculous, like, gosh, that must’ve been so frustrating when all those people were doing that.
And it really got in the way of you being able to finish your test. That must’ve been so frustrating. So first we connect and we empathize and we meet them where they are. There are a couple of things that happened actually in that moment when we connect like that and we practice that scene, it actually downregulates the arousal in their nervous system, we call it, name it detainment and that allows them to be more receptive.
The brain is either in a receptive state where it can learn or it’s in a reactive state. And if we go in with criticism and lecturing and throwing all kinds of whatever at them, it’s keeping, it moves them into a reactive defensive state. So the way we get them to be receptive is to first of all, connect with empathy, to their experience.
It’s not that different from when my four year old was crying because he couldn’t walk up the wall like Spiderman. I thought that was a really dumb thing to be upset about and nothing I could do about, but if I was like, oh yes, you want to go up the wall. And it’s so frustrating. You can’t, I know don’t you wish you could, right.
Then we can get somewhere. So we start with an, the whole grandchild and a no drama discipline. We talk about connect and redirect. So first we’re connecting with the emotions practicing scene. Then we’re going to redirect the SecureUs questions and say, okay, so I hear that your teacher did this, the kid next to you did this.
Then the coach did this. And then, you know, there was this weird smell in your classroom. Like all these things got in the way of you being, you know, being able to show what you know, on your test. So all of that must’ve been so frustrating now, parts of things are not in our control and parts of things are in our control.
So what are the parts that maybe you could. Change going forward. Like what do you think you could do about that? Let’s brainstorm together? What kind of problem solver could we be at that situation comes up again? What pieces could you take charge up? So so I think that’s a good way to think about that.
And then the other thing is give them lots and lots of practice or reps. Like I said, lots of repeated experiences over time, where you are modeling, taking responsibility for things. And you’re also giving them opportunities for what we would call agency or self-determination so that they start to see the connection between what I do has an impact in the world.
And I have some choice and I have some power here to navigate my world. And so there’s an, I, we can give a million examples of that. My favorite resource on this is the self-driven child by Ned Johnson and William sticks read. And I’m happy to introduce you to all these people. I’m in like an author group with all of these other folks.
We write books and talk about them. But it’s a great book and their newest one is called, what do you say? And it’s really coaching us for things that can actually come out of our mouth when our kids are unmotivated or when they’re blaming others, they literally coach you in words that we can say, but they have a whole section in there about agency and helping kids feel self-reliant and, and really are self to have a self-determination around.
I trust that what I do matters in the world, and I can really make a difference by the way I respond and, and function in the world. And I’ll say one other thing about that. And that is that when as when our children are having a hard time when they’re struggling, or we think they’re fragile, it’s so tempting for us to over-function for them.
But the problem with that is. Makes things worse, it’s counterproductive because then we communicate to them. You can’t handle this. I better take things over. And what Ned and bill talk about in that book is that, you know, when we, as parents in a society are so focused on achievement and how our kids do and what they, what grades they get and all of that.
And we want them to go to the best schools or have the best jobs or whatever. We’re like, oh, the stakes are too high to leave it to you. So I’m going to take over a bunch of things and I’m going to make decisions for you, and I’m going to orchestrate your whole world. And when you don’t have a say in how our world is set up, it leaves us feeling helpless and hopeless and potentially even anxious about.
And it makes us feel like we can’t have a say or any agency in the world that we are victim to the world. So we really want to give our kids, particularly coming off of the pandemic were so many opportunities and experiences of being able to be independent and navigate the world without their parents nearby were taken away from them.
So now, especially give your kids opportunities for autonomy, for independence, let them solve their own problems. Say, I trust you can handle this, but let me know if you need some backup, right? So it’s not like leaving them to themselves. So I would say that was just a lot, but I would say give your child, or if they do something and be like, that was so awesome.
You totally made that happen. So we want to be giving them the message. You are a force in the world and you have some control. There are things you don’t have control over, and that’s a bummer and I’ll empathize with you about those things, but what are the things that are within your powers and let’s focus.
And really being able to see where they are strong and empowered. Right. Cause she’s kind of describing this sort of helplessness that the daughter, you know, she’s a victim, you know? Yeah. You could even ask her. And again, this is like just trying to be creative in the moment to be like, if everything had gone the way you wanted it to, what would that look like?
And then you can even like bullet those things and say, okay, which those things are under control and which things are in your control. Right. So you can kind of like break it down that way. That’s a great question to ask, to ask your kid. All right, so we are running out of time. I want to ask you quickly, you had some thoughts about neurofeedback, so share with our neurofeedback moms, what your thoughts are about.
Oh yeah. I’ll say that when neurofeedback first started kind of coming into the world, I was really skeptical about it. I’m a really skeptical person and I will say I’m so excited right now about what’s happening with neurofeedback. There’s a lot more science that’s coming out that shows how incredibly powerful it is.
And I’ve, I’ve actually, I have a couple of colleagues that I trust to do it. I’m actually considering it for a family member myself. I want to gather a little bit more information, but it is so exciting to have a potential tool that’s really individualized that that seems to have significant change possibilities.
Generalizable and longstanding. And so that’s really exciting to me because sometimes programs like you spend time and you spend money and you can see a change, but it doesn’t last. And so this is really an it whole exciting field. I’m really eager to learn more about it, but I’m it’s something I’m super excited about right now.
Nice. Thank you. So you have a free offer for. I do. So when Dan Siegel and I write books, we always put a refrigerator sheet at the end of our books, which is basically like an outline summary of the main points of the book. So those were available to you. If you go to my website, which is Tina bryson.com and you see, my last name is P R Y S O N.
If you go there, there are refrigerator sheets there for each of the books, you can even just print them out. And those were the main points of the book and the four S’s are they’re right for you with even more specifics. There are actually all kinds of action points under each of the four S’s and all of the whole range child and yes, sprain and no drum discipline.
I’ve got all of that for you. That is basically the, the crib notes cheat sheet for those books. And those are available to you there as long as tons of other free classes. And I would really encourage you all. I’m I’m posting. I have social media across all channels, but Instagram is kind of where I’m doing the most right now.
Just tons and tons of content that I hope will be helpful to you. Awesome. And I will put the name of her website in the comments once we sign off here. Thank you so much, Dana. I really appreciate it. I really loved your, what you had to say. It’s consistent across the people that I admire most. I just loved hearing the same message you know, play be thoughtful.
And it’s okay to screw up because you can prepare. It’s just so important. It’s just so important. It’s not about being perfect. So yeah, well, and I think what does one last thing and that if we want to show up for our kids and help them feel safe, seeing soothed and secure knowing we’re going to keep doing that.
We have to have people who show up for us. Like I need people to help me feel safe, seen, seeing, and secure. And if you don’t feel like you have that, and sometimes even our partners don’t provide that for us or our friends. Find someone who will, there are so many people who really are hungry for that kind of a connection.
I told my college boys, if I didn’t say, if you feel lonely, I said, when you feel lonely and disconnected, know that there are all kinds of people around you who also feel that. So reach out and make that different for someone else. And that’ll help you to find somebody there’s another parent in this community connect here in this community, but make sure that you are showing up for yourself by finding your people and doing what you need to care for yourself as well.
That’s super important. Yeah. Well, hopefully mom’s felt cared for tonight with all this amazing content ideas and great answers to their questions. So thanks Tina. And thanks everybody for tuning in. We’ll see you next time.