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Become A Calm Mama

Kids & Family Podcasts

Become a Calm Mama is a parenting podcast where you learn practical parenting tools and strategies so you can stop yelling, feel more calm, and show up as the mom you want to be. Darlynn is the top parenting coach for moms who want to know exactly how to handle misbehavior and create a peaceful home. Darlynn is known for her practical strategies and a down to earth understanding of what it’s really like to be a mom raising kids in the 21st century. Over the past 14 years, Darlynn has dedicated her life to becoming the mom she wanted to be for my kids. In that process, she created a parenting model called “The Calm Mama Process” that helped her navigate every tricky parenting moment that’s been thrown her way. From hitting to bullying, from toddler meltdowns to teenage shenanigans, from missing assignments to college admissions, from getting kids to bed to getting kids out of bed, from kids not wanting to get out of the bath to middle schoolers that don’t want to take a shower, from kids fighting in the car to kids who drive their own car, she’s seen it all. Darlynn has taught her model to hundreds of moms since 2015 and when they apply the Calm Mama Process to their tricky parenting moments they have calm and peace in their homes. Their kids' behavior improves, their relationship with their children gets so much better, and they enjoy motherhood (most of the time!). Darlynn teaches her process inside her coaching program, The Emotionally Healthy Kids course, where you learn how to master your reactivity, teach kids how to manage their big feelings, and set limits that work. Each week she brings practical and simple strategies to the podcast so you can stop yelling and create a peaceful home.


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Become a Calm Mama is a parenting podcast where you learn practical parenting tools and strategies so you can stop yelling, feel more calm, and show up as the mom you want to be. Darlynn is the top parenting coach for moms who want to know exactly how to handle misbehavior and create a peaceful home. Darlynn is known for her practical strategies and a down to earth understanding of what it’s really like to be a mom raising kids in the 21st century. Over the past 14 years, Darlynn has dedicated her life to becoming the mom she wanted to be for my kids. In that process, she created a parenting model called “The Calm Mama Process” that helped her navigate every tricky parenting moment that’s been thrown her way. From hitting to bullying, from toddler meltdowns to teenage shenanigans, from missing assignments to college admissions, from getting kids to bed to getting kids out of bed, from kids not wanting to get out of the bath to middle schoolers that don’t want to take a shower, from kids fighting in the car to kids who drive their own car, she’s seen it all. Darlynn has taught her model to hundreds of moms since 2015 and when they apply the Calm Mama Process to their tricky parenting moments they have calm and peace in their homes. Their kids' behavior improves, their relationship with their children gets so much better, and they enjoy motherhood (most of the time!). Darlynn teaches her process inside her coaching program, The Emotionally Healthy Kids course, where you learn how to master your reactivity, teach kids how to manage their big feelings, and set limits that work. Each week she brings practical and simple strategies to the podcast so you can stop yelling and create a peaceful home.




How To Handle A Meltdown

Whether it’s during the holidays or just on the drive to or from school, meltdowns and tantrums are part of parenting life. In this short and sweet episode, you’ll learn why tantrums happen and get tools and tips for how to handle a meltdown, help your kid deal with the impact of their behavior and cut down the frequency, duration and intensity of big feeling cycles. Why Is Your Kid Having A Meltdown? You might call it a meltdown, a temper tantrum or a fit. I like to call it a big feeling cycle. I like to use this term for a couple of reasons. First, it reminds you that this situation is temporary. Cycles typically have a beginning and an end, and your child’s big feeling cycle is no different. This can be really helpful when you’re in it and it feels like it’s going to go on forever. Second, I want you to recognize that feelings are the root of this behavior. Sometimes, your kid has really big, overwhelming feelings that they don’t know what to do with. And the strategies they use to cope with those feelings (like hitting, kicking, yelling, blaming, etc.) might not be ideal. Their brain has thoughts about some circumstance that they don’t like or that is uncomfortable. This triggers the big feelings. Meltdowns are often triggered when you tell your child no or correct their behavior. They don’t know what to do with the big fear, anger, sadness or other feelings they’re experiencing, so their body takes over and they do anything they can in order to soothe themselves. Of course, we don’t want our kids to hit, kick, and throw things when they get upset, so what’s a mama to do? How To Handle A Meltdown The first priority during a meltdown is to keep everyone safe. If your kid is doing some kind of behavior that hurts others, step in and use the Hard No. Say something like, “It’s okay to feel sad. It’s not okay to hit.” Be firm here. Separate kids if you need to. The Hard No is just about facts (no moralizing, lecturing or logic). Your feelings are okay. Your strategy isn’t working. That’s all. In most cases, everyone is safe. You just have a kid who is melting down. Maybe they are complaining, whining or crying. The two things that calm and soothe a big feeling cycle most are connection and moving the body. Step 1: Recognize that your kid is in a big feeling cycle Your brain might see your kid’s behavior as a threat, so you’ll need to remind yourself that this is a big feeling cycle. It’s happened before, and it will end. Step 2: Validate the emotion Come alongside your child to validate and help name their emotion, either out loud or inside your own heart. This is the Connection Tool. You can say something like, “Honey, you’re kicking and screaming. Are you feeling sad? Okay, that makes sense.” Just your connection and validation will be soothing to them. It’s important to recognize that you can’t use the Connection Tool to end a big feeling cycle. You have to ride the wave and let the cycle complete itself. Our goal in validating and naming the emotion and offering solutions is not to interrupt the big feeling cycle but to decrease the length and intensity of it. Step 3: Offer solutions Next, you can ask them to tell you more about how they’re feeling and what’s happening. Or, they might need to show you. The idea is to replace the strategy that they’re using with one that is more “acceptable”. We’re giving them a way to move through the emotion and push it...


Your Nervous System Explained

As we head into the holiday season, I want to give you some ways to prepare your nervous system for ALL the things coming your way. With all of the holiday buildup, family visits and kids being home for winter break, your nervous system is going to get activated and you're going to need to work harder to reset it. You’ve probably heard me talk about your stress response. As a parent, your stress response gets activated pretty often. Your brain interprets misbehavior or another everyday situation as an emergency, your brain sounds the alarm and your body gets flooded with “stress juice”. Today, I’m zooming out to talk about the bigger picture of your entire central nervous system. And I’ll show you how you can use your own nervous system to calm yourself more quickly. Your Nervous System Explained There are two main parts of your nervous system. The first is your sympathetic nervous system. You might also have heard this talked about as your fight/flight/freeze/faint/fawn response). The second part is your parasympathetic nervous system, which includes the vagus nerve. The two parts work together to help you respond to stressful situations and then decrease that stress response, kinda like a teeter totter. One is activated at a time, while the other is decreased. Think of your nervous system as an information highway running through your body at all times. It takes in information through your senses and tells the brain how to respond to what you are experiencing. Neurons (brain cells) carry this message all throughout your body. If your brain interprets any of this information as dangerous, it triggers your stress response and activates the sympathetic nervous system. To your brain, a threat can be something like a kid spitting in your face or getting a bad grade or spilling juice all over the table. Stress juice floods your body, giving you the oomph to respond to the danger. When your stress response is activated, there is a period of time where you aren’t able to regulate your nervous system. When that threat has passed, you start to come back online and your parasympathetic nervous system comes into play. The parasympathetic nervous system is your best friend when it comes to managing your stress response. It has its own network of nerves and helps relax your body after periods of stress or danger. It typically activates on its own after a stressor, but when we have triggers coming at us all the time (like in parenting life), it gets weakened and doesn’t respond as well. That’s why you need tools to reset the system on your own. When we talk about calm and taking pause breaks to reset, the parasympathetic nervous system is the piece that we’re resetting. Chronic Stress Your stress response is healthy and necessary. But often, our brains misinterpret things (like spilled juice being a life-or-death emergency). Parenting is a lot. What ends up happening is that you have a lot of demands and stressors coming at you one after the next, and you don't always have enough time to recover from them. This causes us to be chronically stressed. We constantly have stress juice pouring through our bodies, and it makes it really difficult to stay calm. This is what’s going on when you find yourself getting angry and annoyed about every single thing your kid does. You’ve probably been in an activated stress response for a while, so you are dysregulated. As a mom, you’re dealing with stressors all day long, especially if you have more than one kid. But there are little breaks in between. Our goal is to practice getting ourselves into the...


Navigating Grief as a Parent with Leslie Gelfand

This episode is coming out on Thanksgiving Day, and the holiday season is officially here. But sometimes, as humans, we’re in pain even when we are doing celebratory things. Today, my friend and grief coach, Leslie Gelfand, is here to talk about navigating grief as a parent, especially around the holidays. As a grief recovery specialist, Leslie helps her clients navigate through many different kinds of grief and become complete with the pain associated with the loss. I’m so grateful to Leslie for all that she’s taught me and helped me to work through in my own life, and I am so glad she is here to share her expertise with you, as well. What Is Grief? Leslie explains grief as “the normal and natural reaction to a loss” that is caused by an end or change in a familiar pattern or behavior. It is the end of how things were. We can feel grief over a loved one dying, losing a relationship, pet or job. In fact, Leslie shares that there are over 40 different kinds of loss that people can experience that cause grief. Of course, grief shows up differently for different people and situations, including the type of relationship you had with someone you’ve lost. And we often have conflicting feelings. For example, a combination of sadness, relief and guilt. Anticipatory Grief Anticipatory grief comes up when you know that a big loss is coming. I know that a lot of you are in a stage of life where you have children in your home, and you’re also caregiving for aging, ill or dying parents. I call this the “Panini Place” because it isn’t just a sandwich. It’s hot, you’re feeling pressed and there’s a lot of pressure. This is also a time when you’re likely experiencing anticipatory grief. It’s almost as if we’re pre-grieving. We’re anticipating that the loss and pain is coming. In some ways, this anticipation brings the pain to us early. But it can also aid us in helping to prepare for the loss. It can make the pain a little easier to digest by spreading it out over time. It can also help us to be more present, because we’re aware that each time we see that person it may be the last time. And anticipatory grief gives you a little bit of a preview of how you're going to manage this loss and how you're going to come through it. Navigating Grief as a Parent As parents, there are two main concerns that come up with grief: How can I take care of myself and mourn while still caring for my kids? And how do I talk to my kids about what is going on? Many kids’ first experience of death is with a pet, but with any loss at a young age, it feels really, really intense. When my kids were young and experienced the death of a pet, they really followed my emotional lead. They took a cue from me, how I was responding and the emotions I was showing. Our kids don’t have the capacity to take care of us, and they’re looking to us to see if they’re going to be okay. This means that we want to process some of that emotion before bringing it to our kids so that they understand the feelings without it being overwhelming. Kids start to understand the concept of death around age 5. When talking to kids about loss and grief, Leslie says that the details of diagnosis, treatment, etc. don’t really matter. She recommends that for kids up to age 12, explaining death as “the person’s body stopped working,” is a simple explanation they can process. Older kids will ask more questions. They might want to know how or why their body stopped working. She also explains that it’s important to use the terms “death” or “died” rather than more abstract phrasing like “passed away” or “moved on”. We want to use language that is clear and that kids can understand, not nuanced terms that might be confusing. Many of us were taught by our parents to not show emotion. Stay busy,...


A Calm Thanksgiving With Kids

Thanksgiving is about a week away here in the U.S. This is a day that can be challenging for kids and adults alike, so today’s episode will help you to prepare yourself and your family to have a calm Thanksgiving with kids. Think back to the past few Thanksgivings. How did they go? Were there some things you’d like to change (or was it just a complete shit-show)? Whether you’re hoping for small or large changes this Thanksgiving, I’ve got four strategies to help you prepare yourself, feel connected to your kids and enjoy the holiday more. Why Thanksgiving is Challenging for Kids There are a few things I see come up often (and that I experienced myself with my two boys and ten nieces and nephews). First, kids seem to get into a lot of mischief during Thanksgiving. There’s a lot going on and, especially if you’re at someone else’s house, they might feel confused about their boundaries. They get into stuff they shouldn’t and go into spaces where you don’t want them to go. Plus, they’re bored. Thanksgiving is a long day, and all the adults are focused on other things. Kids are often left to their own devices, but they also probably don’t have access to all their favorite toys and activities. When it comes to mealtime, parents often feel embarrassed by their kids’ table manners. This is something that takes kids a long time to learn. Even just fork food versus finger food is a confusing concept to kids. Sometimes, they act out at the table, don’t want to eat the food or can’t seem to sit still. They may not want to participate in all the traditions, which can feel chaotic, disappointing or embarrassing as a parent. Ultimately, for kids, Thanksgiving is just a bit overwhelming. They might look to you to see if everything is okay. But if they sense that you are feeling stressed or overwhelmed, it might make them feel more anxious, too. Strategies for a Calm Thanksgiving with Kids As moms, holidays can come with a lot of pressure. We want ourselves and our kids to be seen in a certain way and are afraid of being judged. But if this overwhelm builds up you might be the one who has a meltdown and has to leave the table (that’s not what we want!). Have A Plan Through your Thanksgiving celebrations, you're exposing your kid to some traditions, values and cultural experiences that you care about. You don’t need them to buy in and participate in every aspect (this idea alone can relieve a ton of pressure). What your child really needs from you throughout the day is connection and co-regulation. Having a plan in mind to do this makes things feel less chaotic. Spend some time thinking through the day itself (almost like how a teacher would map out a school day). What will the day be like? What time are you leaving? If you’re hosting, what will your kid’s morning look like? Which parent or adult will help move the kids in and out of activities? Who will co-regulate with them when they need it? If you’re the host, you’ll probably need to ask for some help here. Think about which parts of the day might be difficult for your child and decide on 2-3 times you will intentionally connect with them. While you might not want to do this because you’d rather be talking with the other adults, connecting with your kid throughout the day often means that you actually get more uninterrupted time in between. A little bit of focused time with you early in the day will go a long way, and a little connection can buy you a lot of compliance. Connect again in the middle of the day for some kind of structured activity. Then, do some big body movement to get the wiggles out before the meal. Jump on a trampoline, go for a walk or do a dance party. Know what you’ll do if your kid has a meltdown. Instead of pressuring your child to participate...


Social Engineering in Parenting with Jennifer Delliquadri

Today’s episode is a collaboration with my friend, Jennifer Delliquadri, and her podcast Raising Happy Teens. We’re diving into the concept of social engineering in parenting and the urge we often feel to shield our kids from discomfort and keep them on the “right” path. My guest, Jennifer Delliquadri, is a life coach for teenagers and their parents. With over 14 years of experience working as a classroom teacher, Jennifer is an expert at connecting with teens. She’s also a certified yoga instructor with years of experience teaching meditation and mindfulness to all ages. When she’s not coaching, you’ll find her volunteering at a local dog shelter, spending time outdoors, and hanging out with her husband and two teenage daughters. Join us as we talk about what social engineering is, what it looks like in parenting, why it’s a problem and how to put more trust in yourself and your child. We’ll challenge the idea that discomfort is bad and look at how it actually provides our kids with valuable experiences and opportunities for growth. What Is Social Engineering in Parenting? You may not have heard the term social engineering before, but I bet you’ve seen it (in other families or in your own). Social engineering is purposely orchestrating your child's environment for maximum popularity and success and minimum disappointment. Social engineering seeks to create a situation where a kid is never put in the position to be hurt or disappointed. The parent tries to inoculate them from social harm. It’s kinda like putting bowling alley bumpers on your kid’s life so that they stay in the lane that you want for them and don’t fall into the gutter. It creeps into academics, athletics, other extracurriculars and even kids’ social lives. And it can cause a lot of problems for kids, even though that’s exactly what parents are trying to avoid. Where Does Social Engineering Come From? There are few common sources of this desire to control and engineer a child’s life, and most are based in fear. Guilt, insecurity and societal pressure often come into play, as well. The parents that Jennifer and I see in our coaching practices are often so afraid. They fear that their kids will be uncomfortable, they won’t be in the right social groups or have all the advantages other kids may have. They fear their kids will fall behind and not have access to opportunities. And they fear that others will judge their parenting. It’s likely that you’ve experienced some (or all) of these fears, too. Between school, sports and other enrichment activities, kids these days are so busy. Parents see what other families are doing and think it’s normal, or even expected. Moms, especially, think they’re not doing enough for their kids. They think they could (and should) be doing more. We also want our kids to be successful and happy. So when we see them disappointed, it feels bad to us. If you felt left out or like you didn’t belong when you were younger, you might want to protect your kid from feeling that same hurt and insecurity. Or maybe you want to give your kids things you didn’t have -experiences or opportunities that you felt you missed out on in your own childhood or adolescence. Basically, we feel like it’s our responsibility to make sure our kids are okay. And this pressure leads to overparenting. Why Social Engineering Is Harmful There’s an energy in mom culture right now, an undercurrent of anxiety and scarcity. From an early age, we’re already worried about our kids going to the right school, getting good grades and getting into college. From working with teens, we’ve seen that even when the path is paved, it doesn’t guarantee that a kid gets into their dream school. The path a parent paves for them might not be their path at all. Often, social...


When Kids Are Sick at Home

Cold and flu season is here, and it’s just a reality that kids get sick a lot (which can be really stressful for parents). Today, I’ll help you manage when kids are sick at home. While taking care of sick kids is a part of parenting, it is also a big disruption to your life. And if they’re not sleeping well, it can be pretty exhausting, too. In this episode, I’m sharing ways to manage your mind and energy when kids are sick, how to create a sick day plan and what to do with them while they’re home. Before we really get into it, there are a few thoughts that I think really help when your kids are sick at home. Thought #1: This is normal. As I researched this episode, I came across a statistic that small children routinely get 8 to 10 colds or viruses per year. That's nearly 1 per month! I don’t share this to worry you, but to let you know that it is totally normal for your kids to get sick (and it does get better as they get older). Thought #2: It is not your fault that your kid is sick. It's not because you're not a good mom. It's not because you aren't feeding them right or they're not good about handwashing. Even in a “perfect” scenario, kids are going to get sick sometimes. Thought #3: You are not powerless. You may not have control over the timing of your kid’s sickness, but you are not powerless in how you handle it. Manage Your Mindset When Kids Are Sick There are two parts that are frustrating when it comes to having a sick kid at home: The disruption to your routine and the exhaustion and energy drain. You are entitled to feel that frustration, but I don’t want you to stay stuck there. There are strategies you can use to manage your mind and feel better about the situation when your kid is sick at home. Adjust your schedule Maybe you have a big meeting at work, plans with a friend or a doctor’s appointment on the calendar. Look at the calendar and see what you can be rescheduled or put off to make the next few days as simple as possible. Shift your priorities Imagine a Ferris Wheel. Each bucket or seat holds some part of your life - physical health, mental health, social life, hobbies, work, your kids, etc. When things are flowing and the Ferris Wheel is turning, everything has a place and moves along beautifully. But there are also times (like when the Ferris Wheel is loading or unloading) when things stop, and only the bucket at the top is getting the good view. When your kid is sick, for instance, you aren’t going to be able to take care of ALL the other things on the Ferris Wheel. I like to remind myself that the things at the bottom of the Ferris Wheel are still there and that I trust myself to get back to them once the wheel is turning again. Remember, this is a temporary adjustment. When your kid is feeling better, you can readjust your priorities again and do a little catch-up. Lower your standards You probably have some rhythms and routines around the things that are important to you. As a mom, you take care of a lot of things. And there are times when you can't take care of them all. Maybe you only allow your kid to sleep in their own bed, and they want to sleep with you. Maybe you have rules around screentime, but you decide it’s okay for them to lay and watch Daniel Tiger all day when they’re sick. Or they don’t have much of an appetite and don’t eat their vegetables. Changing the routine for a few days is okay! You can still set boundaries around what they’re watching etc., but know that it’s an unusual circumstance that won’t last forever. Rest when they rest When your kid is first sick, they...


Parenting With The Enneagram

I admit, I’m a little obsessed with the Enneagram. And, of course, I’m also obsessed with tools that can help you in parenting. Today, we’re combining the two (along with some expert advice) on parenting with the Enneagram. The Enneagram is a personality test that explains how we react to and relate with the world. In this episode, my guest TJ will share a little bit about the Enneagram and how you can apply this tool to parenting. TJ Teems is a counselor, teacher, Certified Enneagram Educator and mom to three teenagers. She is passionate about pursuing personal growth throughout life, and has found the Enneagram to be especially helpful in this goal. What Is The Enneagram? TJ explains the Enneagram as a personality theory that describes how we see the world. It’s like we each have our own set of binoculars, and depending on our Enneagram number, there are certain things that we see and understand very well, while we miss other things that are sort of like blindspots. The goal in learning your number is to celebrate what you see well and open your mind to what you might be missing, what is still there for you to learn. She says it’s a tool that is used for personal growth, self-awareness and relationships. It has a ton of different applications, and it’s been around for over 2,000 years! Parenting With The Enneagram TJ reminds us that no Enneagram number is better than another. No number is good or bad. It’s just information that encourages you to notice your strengths, blindspots, what you tend to focus on and why you do things the way you do. Each Enneagram has a “superpower” and a “downfall”. It’s often when we over-use the superpower that things can get distorted and become a downfall. As we work through each of the 9 Enneagram types, TJ shares how they show up in parenting, how you can use your strengths to better support your kid and what to look out for. She also helps us to simplify it further by grouping the 9 types into three “stances”. Note: If you want to find out your number before going any further, you can take a test here and, as usual, there are even more details and tips in the full podcast episode. The Dependent (or Earning) Stance includes Enneagrams 1, 2 & 6. These types make sense of the world through relationships. They tend to be emotionally intuitive, compassionate and concerned with the greater good. While they are all caretakers, 1s care more for their environment, 2s for individual relationships and 6s for the group. Enneagram 1 is "The Perfectionist/Reformer" They seek a perfect world and work diligently to improve both themselves and the world and people around them. They are often very organized and driven to make the world a better place. The downside is that they can be overly critical and focused on details that don’t really matter to others. This parent might be concerned with needing to do it all and do it almost perfectly. This might show up in homework, grades, chores or extracurricular activities. Enneagram 2 is known as "The Helper/Befriender". They want to be liked, try to meet the needs of others, and attempt to orchestrate the people and events in their lives. Enneagram 2 parents can be really warm and encouraging. They tend to be very intuitive and relational and connected with feelings. On the flip side, because they also want their kids to be liked, they can tend to micromanage their kids and overdo things in an effort to “help” them. A good question for Enneagram 2 parents...



Today on Become A Calm Mama, we’re diving deep into the topic of bullying. Bullying can be a difficult and painful experience for kids and parents alike. None of us want our kids to be the bully, and we also don’t want them to be bullied. Today, I’ll describe what bullying actually is (and what it is not) and help you learn to spot the risk factors and signs that your kid is being bullied or that your kid is doing the bullying. And, of course, I’ll help you figure out what to do about it if you find your kid in either situation. What Is Bullying? explains bullying as unwanted and aggressive behavior among school age children, middle schoolers and teenagers that also involves a real or perceived power imbalance. There are really three parts to bullying: the behavior being unwanted, the imbalance of power and repetition of the behavior. We know how to recognize when a behavior is unwanted. The kid being bullied doesn’t like it. They ask the other person to stop or try to get away from the behavior. The imbalance of power is a little trickier. It can be physical strength, access to embarrassing information or social status. Some of these are easy to see, while others are not obvious. Whatever the advantage, it is then used to control or harm someone else. The power dynamic is also not permanent. Kids go through growth spurts, social circles change and it can be different from one setting to another. Repetition tells us that bullying is not a one-off thing. It has the potential to happen more than once, because the other person is vulnerable in some way. In order to stop the bullying, we need to change something about the circumstance. 4 Types of Bullying Within this definition, there are four main types of bullying . Verbal Bullying involves saying or writing mean things. Teasing can become bullying if it’s paired with an imbalance of power and repetition. Name-calling, inappropriate sexual comments, taunting and threats are all examples of verbal bullying. Social Bullying or relational bullying involves hurting someone's reputation or relationships. This can look like intentionally leaving one kid out, telling other kids not to be friends with someone, spreading rumors, calling attention to differences or embarrassing someone. Physical Bullying involves hurting someone’s body or their things - hitting, kicking, punching, spitting, taking or breaking someone’s things, making mean hand gestures, etc. Cyberbullying is any type of bullying that happens digitally on phones, computers, texts, social media or other devices or online forums. Cyberbullying is really hard to get away from and can be even more persistent than other types. It’s a 24-hour a day risk. It’s also more permanent because there is a digital footprint. These, combined with the fact that we often aren’t seeing it happen makes cyberbullying especially scary for parents because it feels harder to protect our kids. Early Childhood and Bullying At some point both of my kids were accused of bullying other kids. I also see this come up with my clients, especially when their kids are younger. Around preschool, ages 3 through 5 or 6, we often start to hear about bullying. But that’s not actually what is happening in most cases. At this age, kids are learning how to cooperate and share. They're learning how to understand their feelings. And in that process, they might be aggressive or act out and get angry when they don't get what they want. But that is not bullying. It is normal developmental stuff. Our...


Understanding ADHD

Understanding ADHD in kids and how to best support them can be pretty overwhelming (I know from experience), so today I’m so excited to have an expert here with me to help you through it! Lainie Donnell is an educational therapist, a college counselor, and the cofounder of Lila Learning. For the past 16 years, Lainie has been in private practice as an educational therapist and college counselor, bringing to her clients an empathic, enthusiastic and pragmatic approach to their educational journeys. Her philosophy has been to meet her students where they are currently functioning and help to develop their skills, providing them with a “toolbox” to meet their challenges head-on. She’s here today to share her expertise on ADHD - from how it might show up in kids to ways you can address challenges related to ADHD and find support for your child. Lainie’s own experiences with dyslexia, auditory and visual processing issues and ADHD led her to this work. During college, she fell in love with teaching and the classroom and got her Masters degree in special education. She says that as a child, even though she had a lot of support, she continued to struggle. Finally being diagnosed with ADHD in the 10th grade gave her a new understanding of herself and how she functions (in her case, meds helped a lot, too). Lainie’s children also have ADHD, so it is both a professional and deeply personal topic for her that is infused into all areas of her life. Parents of kids with any kind of neurodivergence often feel fear around their future and ability to be successful. Lainie says, “There are so many success stories, and I just think it's a matter of approach and attitude and a willingness to embrace.” What is ADHD? ADHD refers to issues with self-regulation, working memory, sensory integration and the self-management part of the brain. Beyond the general diagnosis of ADHD, there are also three subtypes: inattentive, hyperactive and combined. The inattentive subtype is actually over-attention. The child is paying attention to too many things at a given time. There is too much stimulation, and they can’t prioritize where their attention should go. These kids may not have a lot of behavior issues because they sit quietly, drifting off. Think of a classroom setting with many other students around, stuff hanging on the walls, sounds out in the hallway, etc. all competing with the teacher’s voice. The hyperactive-impulsive subtype is what it sounds like. The child doesn’t think before they act. They understand consequences but just don’t think about them ahead of time. These are the kids who are often labeled “bad” early on because their hyperactive and impulsive behavior is much more obvious. The combined subtype combines elements of both. Inattention, hyperactivity and impulsivity might show up at different times and in different situations. ADHD affects many areas of executive function. Think of executive function like the conductor of an orchestra in your brain. It tells you when to get started with a task, when to manage your time, when to shift to another task, etc. Working memory is one piece of executive function. It allows us to hold on to information while we’re manipulating it and doing something else. It shows up in so many areas of life, including math, writing and social interactions. In kids, this might look like interrupting or not responding to social cues. It doesn’t mean that they don’t understand those cues. It’s simply a challenge for them to notice the cue, pay attention to the other person and also hold on to what they want to say. In the ADHD brain, development of executive function is delayed 3 years, on average. This is one reason why kids with ADHD


Mamas Tell Their Stories

Today (for the first time ever!) I’ve invited a couple of mamas onto the podcast to tell their stories of taking the Emotionally Healthy Kids parenting class. I am so excited for you to hear straight from other moms who have been exactly where you might be right now. They’ll tell you all about why they signed up, their experience in the class and the impact it had on their parenting and beyond. Be sure to listen to the full podcast episode to hear Nicole’s and Kristin’s stories in their own words. Nicole’s Story “If you could give your class to every parent ever, I think we actually could change the world for generations.” When Nicole first found me, she felt like she was totally failing as a mom. Everything was a little out of hand and overwhelming, and she wasn’t showing up as the mom she wanted to be. She was trying to run a business, be a spouse, maintain friendships and care for herself…all while her daughter was starting to show some behaviors that Nicole wasn’t prepared for, like bedtime defiance and outbursts. What she was doing wasn’t working. She was wasting her energy and upsetting her daughter even more. She wanted a better way, but she just didn’t have the tools. Like many parents I work with, she just wanted me to tell her how to get her kid to behave. Nicole’s first “aha” moment came when she learned to reframe her daughter’s behavior. Her daughter isn’t a bad or defiant kid. She’s having really big emotions. Nicole realized that she was having a lot of big feelings, too, and she wasn’t dealing with it. She was the one who had to do the work. The class shined a light on ways that she and her husband were showing up on default - generational things they hadn’t been aware of before. Now, they’ve shifted them into more intentional ways of responding, and it’s brought so much more peace to their household. The second big realization was that she was not taking good enough care of herself physically or emotionally, and it was impacting her ability to get regulated, stay regulated and help her child through her big feelings. She says, “As I have shifted a lot of that for myself, I'm showing up the way that I want to, and [it’s] magical, exactly how I want to actually be as a mom.” Learning how to connect with empathy for her child has given her so much more confidence. An unexpected result of the class is that Nicole has also seen her marriage improve because of the way she can regulate herself and tune in to how her husband is feeling. Nicole says the simple structure of the 4-step Calm Mama Process, along with clear tools and scripts are what helped her make a change and share what she was learning with her husband. Her goal is for her daughter not to need a class like this when she grows up, because Nicole can learn it, practice it and do it now and teach her daughter these emotional regulation skills when she’s young. “That's what I think is so beautiful about your model,” Nicole shares, “is we have room for our emotions as humans, which we all are (news flash!). And then there are still also strong boundaries, consequences when there need to be, lessons learned, but with much greater impact than any of the yelling or lecturing or frustration or blow ups were ever doing. And it's just so beautiful how it's impacted our family.” Kristin’s Story "Working with you…each time, I get more clarity. I feel more confident, empowered." Kristin is a mom of five kids, ranging in age from 7-11, including twins and kids with sensory issues. She also owns and runs multiple small businesses, some of which are childcare centers and preschools. Despite her professional experience with early childhood...


Co-Regulation During a Meltdown

Whether you call it a tantrum, meltdown or big feeling cycle, I think we can agree that these moments are overwhelming and stressful (for you and your kid). On today’s episode, we’re talking about what to do during a meltdown and the steps to co-regulation, which allows you to calm yourself and your kid at the same time. If you're like most parents, you've had moments when your kid hits their sibling, they won't do their homework, they constantly ask for more screentime and won’t get off their device. Or you say “no” and it triggers a meltdown. These moments can feel totally overwhelming. You might feel angry, resentful or like you are out of control and powerless in the situation. Your thoughts and feelings about your kid’s reaction can set off your stress response. You have no idea what to do, so you yell and threaten. Then, you feel guilty and second-guess yourself as a parent. There’s nothing wrong with you. You’re a great parent. Let's get you out of that spiral and back on the road to parenting with peace using the power of co-regulation. Regulating Your Stress Response When your stress response is triggered by a meltdown, you might feel like you have to do something about it right now. Fix it, change it, stop it, solve it. Your brain interprets your child’s behavior as an emergency and floods your system with a mix of hormones I like to call “stress juice”. Your reaction might show up as yelling, threatening, talking too much, emotionally checking out or disconnecting. These reactions are all totally normal. They’re signals that you are becoming emotionally dysregulated. Dysregulation, simply put, is a temporary emotional and physical state in which you’re struggling to understand and express your emotion in an appropriate way. We’ve all been there! And it happens the same way for our kids. The big challenge comes in when your kid’s dysregulation or big feeling cycle puts you into a dysregulated state, too. When you’re in your stress response, you can’t think straight. Your brain only wants you to react as quickly as possible to get out of danger. As humans, we are going to get dysregulated. There are going to be temporary moments when we feel overwhelmed. The goals are to not get as dysregulated and to learn to calm yourself when you do. This is self-regulation, and it’s all about calming yourself and your own stress response. Steps to Co-Regulation During a Meltdown My programs teach you how to regulate yourself and how to give your kid the tools they need to self-regulate. We want our kids to grow up to know what they’re feeling, how to talk about it and what to do with that feeling. So, how do kids learn these emotional literacy skills? Through a process called co-regulation. Most moms are experts at co-regulation when their kids are babies. We swaddle and shush and soothe because we understand that they’re newborns. They’re going to cry, and they need soothing from us. They need to learn that they are safe and okay. This starts to become more difficult as we reach the toddler years. When we start to see tantrums and meltdowns in 2, 3, and 4-year-olds (and beyond), we think “they should know better.” But they don't. They don’t know how to deal with their feelings yet. In the Calm Mama Process of calm, connect, limit set and correct. Co-regulation falls into those first two steps. First, you calm yourself. Then, you connect with your kid. When your kid has a big feeling cycle, it is not your job to fix anything or change the circumstance. Nothing has gone wrong. Take a pause break to calm your stress response, and then co-regulate. So, what do you actually DO in co-regulation? Step 1: Get calm. Co-regulation...


The 3 Rs of Emotional Regulation

This is the podcast where you learn how to become a calm parent and raise emotionally healthy kids, but what do emotional health and emotional regulation actually mean? Today I’m sharing a framework from the book, “What Happened To You?” and outlining the 3 Rs of emotional regulation. You can start using these simple concepts right away to help calm yourself and coach your kid when they’re having big feelings. What Is Emotional Health? When I talk about emotional health (which is the goal of all my programs), I'm really talking about emotional literacy. Emotional literacy is made up of three parts: I know what I'm feeling I know how to talk about what I'm feeling I know what to do with my feelings We all have an emotional life, with lots of messy stuff inside. We're constantly responding to experiences and stimulation from the outside world. As things happen around us, we have thoughts and feelings about it. And those feelings show up as behavior. When we are overwhelmed by a circumstance or it feels like we're in danger or something bad is about to happen, we get flooded with a lot of big feelings. When our kids act out these feelings, it often looks like temper tantrums or meltdowns. I call it a Big Feeling Cycle. When an adult gets overwhelmed, it looks like them freaking out, losing their shit and being a hot mess. In these times, we are dysregulated. Our brain is flooded with hormones and chemicals that are meant to help us deal with a stressful situation and keep us safe. The brain wants us to respond FAST. But it ends up looking like someone who is out of control, wild or raging. I want to help you see that that behavior is really just somebody who's struggling to manage their emotions. They're doing their best to move through their big feelings. They're in a dysregulated state, and they're doing things to regulate themselves. Knowing what to do with feelings is the biggest thing I help parents learn - for themselves and for their kids. Three Rs of Emotional Regulation When you find yourself yelling at your kids, lecturing or grabbing their bodies, you are dysregulated. Your stress response is activated and you are seeking regulation. In kids, dysregulation often looks like crying, kicking, punching, threatening or yelling. It is helpful to remember in those moments that your child is using those behaviors as tools to cope with the overwhelm. They are trying to regulate themselves, but they don't really know how to do it in an acceptable way yet. These 3 Rs come from the book "What Happened To You" by Dr. Bruce Perry and Oprah Winfrey. Rhythm Rhythm involves moving your body in some kind of rhythmic way. It is what we do during a Pause Break. You take a break to move your body and your mind. Stomping your feet, jumping up and down, going for a walk or doing a shimmy shake are all ways that we use rhythm and movement to calm ourselves. Relationship This can mean your relationship with yourself or with others. In your relationship with yourself, this looks like self-compassion. Being...


The Adolescent Brain

What’s going on in the adolescent brain? SO much! Between ages 12 and 24 (give or take a year or two), the brain goes through a major remodel. Last week, I talked about how puberty is triggered by changes in hormone levels. Today, we’re diving into another process happening within the adolescent brain called pruning. I’ll help you understand the brain science behind what’s happening, why pruning happens and how it affects development. Changes in the Adolescent Brain The essence of adolescence can be attributed to the changes in the brain, and one of the biggest changes happening during this time is pruning. Pruning is when the brain keeps the connections that are used frequently and discards those that don't seem to be needed anymore. It's the process that takes us from being open to anything as an elementary aged kid, to becoming an expert at a few things as an adult. Just as you would prune extra, unneeded branches from a fruit tree to increase production, the brain is pruning extra brain cells (neurons) and connections (synapses) that are no longer needed. As a young child, there is SO much to learn, and the brain is constantly creating new neurons to adapt to all of these new experiences and stimuli. At a certain point, it becomes too much, so the brain begins to prune unneeded neurons and synapses. Benefits of Pruning in Adolescents Pruning helps to make the brain more efficient and adaptable. It allows us to think and process faster, make decisions and understand things like cause and effect, time and big-picture planning. It actually makes it easier to learn because the brain is no longer so full of things that it doesn’t need anymore. And with more space, the brain lays down new connections and circuitry toward the prefrontal cortex, where cognitive function happens. You’ll start to see your tween or teen thinking about things differently and making better decisions as this process occurs. They are more able to think for themselves and become more responsible. The prefrontal cortex is also where empathy lives. Our kids will have the ability to be more empathetic when they can take on the perspectives of other people. Stress response will begin to improve. As we talked about last week, puberty creates a lot of work for the stress system in adolescent bodies, but the new circuitry in the brain will then help your kid access better coping mechanisms. Finally, pruning can affect language and communication abilities, making it easier for your teen to express themselves. This helps maintain open lines of communication, which is crucial for healthy parent-child relationships. Challenges of Pruning If you think of your kid’s brain like a house, their primal fight or flight response is the basement, the emotional limbic center is the main level and the upstairs is the part of the brain that does all the thinking. During the pruning process, the staircase is being built. But it isn’t always built in order. Some sections might be built separately or there might be stairs that lead to nowhere and need to be remodeled. It’s not always a clear, straight pathway. As you can imagine, climbing a staircase that’s missing some parts can be challenging. And sometimes the brain overprunes (like an over-eager gardener). It might cut back too many neurons and need to rebuild them. Some challenging behaviors you might see during this time are:


Parenting Through Puberty

Today we’re talking about puberty. If you have a tween or teen (or even a slightly younger kid), this episode is going to be so helpful. Our kids go through a lot of changes during puberty, so I’m helping you to understand what is actually going on in their bodies and with their hormones and how you can support your child through it all. What Is Puberty? Puberty is the name that we give to the combination of hormone-driven changes that happen inside the body right before and during adolescence. It’s the process of a child’s body growing, changing and maturing (pretty rapidly!) into an adult body. Puberty is triggered by the release of sex hormones. For girls, this can happen anywhere between ages 8 and 13, but is most common around age 10 or 11. For boys the range is closer to ages 9 to 14, with the most common onset between 11 and 13 years old. Note that as we are discussing biological processes, I am referring to gender assigned at birth. Just as the age of onset varies from person to person, the length of puberty varies, too. It can last a really long time, or it can go by quickly. Just as with other developmental milestones, everyone is on their own timeline. What To Expect During Puberty Common signs of puberty for both boys and girls include oily skin and hair, increased perspiration and body odor and growth spurts. In girls, you’ll also notice breast development, growth of pubic and underarm hair, changes in their figure (e.g. widening hips) and the start of a menstrual cycle. Additional signs of puberty in boys include growth in the penis and testicles, growth of pubic, underarm and facial hair, ejaculations and changes in their voice. These physical changes are the ones we tend to be more familiar with. But there are also a lot of changes that happen with the brain and the stress response. In all of my programs, including the Emotionally Healthy Middle Schooler and the Emotionally Healthy Teen, we talk a lot about stress management and how to help kids regulate their emotions in a healthy way. During puberty and adolescence, there are two main things that are happening in the brain: Hormonal changes (which we’re going deep into today) and a process called pruning, which I’ll cover in next week’s episode. Hormones and the Stress Response During Puberty As a quick refresh, a stressor is anything (physical or psychological) that your brain views as a threat, and hormonal systems within our body get activated to help us cope. The initial reaction comes from epinephrine (aka adrenaline) through our sympathetic nervous system. This is the fight or flight reaction. The second response is a bit slower and more regulated. Multiple glands and parts of the brain work together, using hormones like cortisol and dopamine, to respond to the stress response and calm our body back down. Basically, you get an energy boost so you have the ability to protect yourself against the threat. Once the threat is gone and we’ve moved through our stress response, our body sends the brain a message that we’re ok and the hormone production stops. During puberty, things get a little thrown off, because the system that is responsible for responding to stress is also responsible for creating all of the sex hormones (testosterone in boys and estrogen and progesterone in girls). Up to age 10, your kid is already working pretty hard to manage their stress response because they’re young. Then, we throw a whole influx of new hormones in the mix. The brain and body need to learn how to regulate these new hormones, and it takes a while. Completing a stress cycle can take 45 to 60...


Better Conversations With Teens And Tweens

Today, we’re talking about having better conversations with your teens and tweens. How can you continue to feel connected to your kid during this time when it’s so easy to drift apart? I know that you don’t want your relationship to be adversarial and to feel really disconnected, but this often happens in the middle school and high school years. You end up talking about school, chores, grades, their attitude…and the ways they’re not measuring up. You’re not sure how to set limits and follow through with appropriate consequences, so you’re constantly reminding them of things they need to do. And this nagging and criticism creates a lot of disconnection. So when you have only a limited amount of time to talk with your teen or tween, how do you want to spend it? In this episode, I’ll walk you through four different types of conversations to check in, get to know your kid, connect with them in a deeper way and hold them accountable when they mess up. And even though I’m focusing on teens and tweens, these four conversation types are important for all ages and relationships. You can adapt them for your younger kids, too. 4 Types of Conversations to Have With Your Teen or Tween The Casual Conversation I like to call this the “shoot the shit” conversation, talking about regular, everyday things. There are no expectations or agendas. You’re just getting to know your kid - what’s on their mind, what they’re interested in, etc. Engage with them and get a peek into their world. Just keep it light, like how it feels to hang out and chat with a friend. If they brush you off, don’t give up. Don’t make it mean anything. Just keep trying and be a regular human being with your kids. The Curiosity Conversation Remember how you could watch your kids for hours when they were first learning to walk and talk? Big developmental milestones are still happening in your teen, but they’re internal. Our kids have things in their heads that we don’t know are in there. Curiosity can coax some of it out. The approach is less, “I’m going to teach you something,” and more about figuring out what they know. What are they learning and thinking and doing and planning? Your teen or tween actually does want to talk about what they are thinking and feeling. They just don't want to be told what to think or feel, so you have to leave your agenda at the door. Often, they’ll even start the conversation. You just have to recognize the cues. A couple of warnings… #1: The topics your kid is interested in might be boring to you. #2: They might say things that surprise (or alarm) you. Remember, they’re trying on different ideas as they continue to grow, mature and create their identity. Set boundaries or politely end the conversation if you need to. You can say "I love talking about things with you, but I'm not open to this conversation right now." If you want to build more connection and warmth between you and your kid, these conversations are how you get it. Get curious, ask questions, let your kids tell you what they know and what they think. The Connection Conversation These are a little bit deeper. Here, you get to learn more about the emotional life of your child. Your teen or your tween desperately wants to feel safe with you. They want to feel seen and soothed by you and secure in your relationship. They also don’t really want you to know all of that. They don't like the vulnerability of still being a kid. They want to act older, show up differently, be mature and not really need their parents. So, while your kid really wants to have these conversations with you, it’s also really difficult and uncomfortable to talk about hard things and be that vulnerable. As the parent, you


2 Keys To My Parenting "Success": Lessons Learned from Taking My Child to College

What does “success” really look like in parenting? What is the end goal? What are we doing all this for? In this episode, I’m debriefing a huge step in my parenting journey and sharing two keys that have shaped my experience as a parent and my relationship with my kids. Yesterday I dropped off my oldest son for his first year of college – and transitioned him one step further on his journey towards independence. Then it hit me: THIS IS WHAT I’VE BEEN PREPARING FOR ALL ALONG. That point of graduating from high school and launching into adulthood is, in many ways, the finish line of parenting. I’ve been slowly moving Lincoln towards independence, responsibility and emotional health since he was 4 years old. That meant working on myself and calming my own emotional reactivity, so I didn’t dump all my crap on him. It meant learning how to teach him emotional regulation through the practice of compassion, so he would learn what to do with all of his feelings too. I had to have firm limits with him. Let him make mistakes. Not rescue him. I’m still processing a lot of the thoughts and feelings around this big step, but I realized two key factors that made this transition easier for me and I wanted to share them with you right away. 2 Keys to Parenting Success Years and years of work have led us to this moment. It’s why he’s going to be ok. And it’s why I know how to process all of this in real time – no stuffing, dumping, avoiding, projecting, or over-dramatizing any of it. Parenting Key #1: Embracing and processing your emotion is so important Learning to process emotion, especially negative ones, is probably the single most valuable gift I’ve given myself over the past 19 years of motherhood. Being able to feel all my feelings has allowed me to truly be present for the experience of parenting and raising my boys. I was here for it. All of it. The good, the bad and the ugly. I’m so grateful for my willingness to get help when I needed it. To learn. To grow. To become. This is really where self-coaching begins. It’s about noticing, allowing and soothing your emotion, and then finding new thoughts to help you move forward. Parenting Key #2: Celebrating your parenting achievements is a good thing The hard work of “gentle parenting” is worth it. When you do the personal development work along with compassionate parenting, the result is a kid who feels very connected to you and has a lot of emotional health for themselves - Especially if you combine that connection with firm limits and restorative consequences. Years ago, I chose 3 parenting goals: As Lincoln steps out on his own, I can honestly say I’ve achieved what I set out to do as a mom. And I’m letting myself be proud of it. I’m not skipping over it to the next thing or pushing myself for more or better. I’m just here in this moment, savoring and enjoying it. When you reach the “finish line”, it’s okay to celebrate, to be proud of what you’ve accomplished. What Will Parenting Success Look Like For You? Ultimately, we want our kids not to need us. We will still be in a relationship, but as two adults who are able to manage their own emotions, move through obstacles and take care of themselves and their responsibilities. I invite you to explore these 2 takeaways yourself, by reflecting on the following questions.


Simplifying Your Life

As we gear up for a new school year, I’m sharing some of my own tried-and-true routines and rhythms for simplifying your daily life. We’re talking mornings, afternoons, dinnertime and more, with tips geared toward families with elementary and middle school age kids. You’ll hear tips that worked for our family, why I made those decisions and how they helped me to establish a peaceful and easy rhythm for our home. These are nuts and bolts, actual HOW of creating your own daily routines so you can get places on time (without forgetting a bunch of stuff) and feel less stressed. Your days will look different than mine did, and you definitely don’t need to use every tip I share here. I do hope you’ll get some ideas for how to structure your days and simplify your life. Start with one or two favorites, and take it from there! Simplify Your Mornings My goal in the morning was to create the most peace and ease possible, so that my kids would go to school feeling calm and grounded. I noticed that on days we were rushed, stressed and I was yelling or barking at them, they often ended up having a hard day at school. I started by spending a few minutes to connect with each kid while they were waking up. Then, we transitioned into getting dressed and brushing teeth. We did not use any devices in the mornings or have playtime once I was up. Breakfasts were super simple: instant oatmeal, yogurt or frozen waffles (with a little protein if possible). I really just tried to get something in their bellies. I rarely (if ever) made breakfasts I had to cook, like eggs or pancakes, during the week. I didn’t eat breakfast with them but made lunches during this time and was there to connect and be present with them. I made a choice to not really discipline or teach my kids anything in the morning. There just wasn’t time for a big conflict or conversation. I would move through the situation as best I could using limit setting, take note of any off-track behavior and come back to later. The goal was what I call a “gentle handoff” - delivering a well-regulated human to school - so I was always looking for ways to move things along in the morning without anyone getting upset. Creating a timeline helped us arrive on time or early to school. Start with what time they need to be at school, what time you need to leave the house and count backwards from there to figure out the rest. Remember to leave yourself some wiggle room for spills and last-minute bathroom breaks. There are also a few little hacks I discovered to help us get out the door more easily: Simplify School Lunches I made very simple lunches. Sawyer was a picky eater, so I sent him pretty much the same lunch every day. For Lincoln, I had a rotating schedule. My mind was blown when a friend of mine with four kids pointed out to me that I can just give my kids a sandwich everyday. That I didn’t have to make personalized, fancy lunches for my kids. Many parents like to make lunches the night before, and this works for a lot of families. It wasn’t really for us. Lincoln liked more warm foods for his lunch, so I chose to prep lunches in the morning (I’m also a morning person, so it wasn’t a big deal). And I didn’t send water bottles with my kids. At some point, I stopped doing this and they didn’t really seem to miss them. If you want your kids to take a water bottle to school, it...


The Inner Child

Today, I want to introduce you to (or bring you deeper into) the transformative world of inner child work. By soothing and addressing the pain and unmet needs from our own childhoods, we can discover profound healing and self-compassion. I’ll walk you through some simple exercises you can try to be kinder to yourself and explore how the concept of your child's inner child can help you bring a more nurturing and loving approach to parenting. What Is The Inner Child? Maybe you’ve heard of the concept of your inner child. It’s a really great way to see yourself through a lens of kindness, love and compassion. I’m extending this idea further today and talking about your child’s inner child. A lot of our work in adulthood is about going back and healing our inner child from experiences that hurt us or things that we needed but didn’t receive in childhood. My life mission is to heal the next generation in advance. What if our kids didn’t need to heal from childhood? What if we could raise them with compassion and give them the tools they need to be emotionally healthy adults? I believe that, while we can’t prevent pain, we can prevent trauma in our kids. In order to do this, we need to heal ourselves now, too. How To “Heal” Your Inner Child I’m not a therapist, but I am a life coach, and I’m sharing some tools I’ve learned along the way to help you on your path to healing. The first comes from my life coach, Martha Beck. It is called KIST - an acronym for Kind Internal Self Talk. To heal from our pain, we have to love ourselves through it. But our self-talk is often very critical, and we tell ourselves a lot of negative stories. Instead of letting our inner critic tell us we’re not safe, we’re not good enough, nobody likes us, we can shift to positive statements that support and encourage us. In my programs, I often call these “thoughts to borrow”. Here are a few you can try out: The second strategy I want to share with you is writing a love letter to yourself. It starts simply with, “Dear [your name], I am writing to tell you I love you." Next, fill in each of the prompts below: Sign it, "I love you. Love, [your name]" You can extend this activity by also writing a letter to your inner child, speaking kindly and tenderly to your younger self. Your Child’s Inner Child This concept is a little funny, because your child is living their inner child self right now. Our goal is to imagine their adult self and think about how we can support this inner child now so that they don’t need to heal later. As you think about your own inner child, you’ll think about what you wish your parents had said to you back then, what you wish they’d done or how you wish you’d been cared for. Through this lens, you can also imagine your kid 20 years from now. Your child’s internal self-talk will be inherited from you. We can use Kind External Parent Talk (KEPT) to speak more kindly to our kids. As parents, we often feel rushed or stressed, and we speak impulsively or


Back To School Checklist

The new school year is starting soon, and I want you to be ready! In this episode, I’m sharing my back to school checklist - not for school supplies and new clothes, but to set you up for more peace this school year. I hope this will help you to feel like the leader in your life and give you more room in your life for fun, ease and joy. Your Back To School Checklist This is my 3-step process to help you figure out what truly matters to you and how to make the decisions to get it this school year. Step 1: Intentional Focus You’ve probably heard people talk in January about their word for the year. I like to also choose a word for the school year. It might be a feeling that you want to chase or a theme or mantra. It gives us an opportunity to ask, “What do I want to focus on this year? What is important to me?” If you’re struggling to answer these questions, start by looking back on the previous year. What worked for you? What didn’t? This intention will give your brain a place to focus, and your brain will actually start looking for evidence that it is happening (yay!). It will also point out to you when it’s not happening, when you’re off track from where you want to be, which gives you a chance to reset and refocus. Step 2: Intentional Priorities In order to get that feeling you’re chasing, your priorities and goals need to be in line with your intention. I often think of priorities in categories, like home life, academics and social emotional health. Each category can be pretty complex, and you can’t work on it all at one time. Priorities help you narrow down what you want to focus on right now. In the home life category, for example, you might want to prioritize chores, family time or better balance with screens. Again, looking back at the past year is a great place to start if you aren’t sure what to prioritize. Is there an area where your kid is clearly struggling? What skills do you want to help them learn this year? What goals will help you get closer to that feeling you’re chasing? These priorities will help relieve some of the sheer overwhelm of parenting. There is so much pressure to make sure our kids know how to do everything. But it is all a process, and kids have a lot of years to develop and learn. Step 3: Intentional Routines Routines help you actually create the thing that you want. They are the “how”. At the beginning of a school year, I really like to think about how I want our days to flow. I look at our schedule and my priorities and figure out where these things are all going to fit. There will always be basics that need to happen - meals, sleep, school work, bathing, chores, etc. Once these things are done, what is left in terms of time, energy and money? This is where you can add in some enrichment activities or free screen time. Remember to also account for your own activities. Will you volunteer this school year? Are there hobbies or groups you’re involved in? Looking back to your intention and priorities will help you determine which activities are a good fit, and the rhythms and routines will be a lot easier to figure out. It also means you’re going to have to say “no” to some stuff. Your brain will start to do the “uh-oh” story. It will tell you that your kid is missing out or falling behind in some way. But saying “no” is not bad. It's not going to hurt your kids. So much of what we want our kids to learn can be taught in regular, everyday life. They don’t need ALL the enrichment activities to learn how to build relationships, take risks, overcome obstacles, achieve goals or practice personal responsibility. Anything you do with your kids is valuable. My goal for you is that you feel calm this school year,...


Therapeutic Parenting

We hear a lot of names for parenting philosophies (e.g. gentle parenting, positive parenting, compassionate parenting), that all share the same foundation of compassion and connection. Today, I’m sharing the concept of therapeutic parenting - what it is and how it relates to the parenting style I now teach to moms like you. I first heard the term “therapeutic parenting” when I was really struggling with my then-4-year-old son. His temper tantrums, hitting and kicking were triggering and overwhelming to me. I felt so reactive toward him, and the way I responded made me feel terrible. So, I started to get some support. I found a therapist to help my child and me, and I began learning how to help him get out some of those big feelings and process that negative emotion. After these sessions, I would tell my best friend (who’s also a therapist) about everything I was learning, and she said, “That sounds like therapeutic parenting all the time…You know that's impossible. Right?” But I felt like I had no choice. All I knew was that I needed to help my son with his big feelings, and Lincoln needed so much support. Along the way, I realized that I needed a lot of help with my big feelings, too. I needed to heal my trauma response and decrease my stress. So what do we do when the thing our kids need is so hard? In this episode, I share a little background on therapeutic parenting, common challenges parents face and my own therapeutic parenting hack. What is Therapeutic Parenting? Therapy is defined as a way to get help with a mental health problem or get extra support if you're going through a tough time. In therapy, you learn skills to cope, to feel better and get help with the problem that you're having. So when we apply this concept to parenting, we are helping and supporting our children when they’re having a tough time. When you’re a preschooler, a tough time might be having trouble getting your shoes on or your brother looking at you funny, but when we look at it through a compassionate lens, we see that our kids are acting out their feelings (of frustration, anger, sadness, etc.) through their behavior. Someone who hits their brother is having a tough time. Someone who screams at their mom is having a tough time. While you are not your child’s therapist, you can recognize that when your child is struggling or misbehaving, they need support (not judgment, criticism or lecturing). You can learn to see your kid’s behavior as a form of communication. When you think to yourself, “This is a person who's having a tough time. This is pain. This is someone struggling,” you can take on the role of a compassionate witness. When you validate and identify your kid’s struggle and support them, they are more able to move through that negative emotion, feel stronger and solve problems. Challenges in Therapeutic Parenting As my bestie told me all those years ago, this style of parenting is hard. There are some common challenges that I see come up often (and that I experienced myself). Challenge #1: This only works when you are calm. You can’t show up with compassion and patience if you are dysregulated yourself. When I realized this, I knew that I needed to improve the way that I took care of myself so that I could support my kids in this way. I spent more time by myself and started to do some healing work to deal with my own trauma. I simplified our home life, and brought in rhythms and routines that worked for our family. If you can set your life up in a way that gives you greater capacity for this emotional coaching and connected parenting, then your whole family will benefit. Challenge #2: Not knowing what to do after the big feelings pass. You’ll be amazed at the change you’ll see in your kids simply by