This week I'm talking to Debbie Godfrey; The world's "positive parenting" teacher.
Are you fed-up arguing with your kids about doing chores? Done with bed-time dramas every night? Does it seem like you're constantly shouting at your kids and is that affecting the relationship you have with your children?
Well you're in luck because Debbie teaches parents to get results without those things being standard behaviour. And she doesn't want you to be your child's best friend and raise spoiled little things either.
She just has a way of doing things that might avoid the shouting, cursing, tantrums, slamming of doors and fractious relationships and has been teaching parents about this method for years.
I really liked it, it made a lot of sense to me, and I think you'll get a lot out of this episode no matter how old your kids are.
You can find Debbie at https://www.positiveparenting.com/
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And on Instagram
Finally, catch her 5 minute Positive Parenting Peptalks here
In the news this week This fascinating study about the effects of Omega-3 on brain health and, adversely, the impact of highly processed foods on brain health. This is actually quite a good news study and should have everyone running to their fishmonger or, if you don't eat fish, to the supplement store to pick up some Omega-3 tablets
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Playing us out this week; "Strong" by Johanna Cranitch
Hey, welcome to the Healthy Postnatal Body Podcast with your postnatal expert Peter Lap. That, as always, would be me! Today, Buddy and I are sitting here. This is the podcast for the 17 October. And, you know, as always, date before music means I have a guest on. Today I'm talking to Debbie Godfrey, and she's going to help you stop shouting at your kids. You know, are fed up arguing with your kids about doing chores and all that sort of stuff? Do your kids only respond to you when you get angry? That sort of thing. That they only respect the limits you set, they only their vegetables when you start shouting at them to eat their veg. Well, Debbie has a different way. She's a positive parenting teacher. We had a great chat. I recorded this last week. We had a tremendous chat about this. There's a lot of sense here. Yeah. I mean, how to set limits without shouting and all that sort of stuff. This is a good one to listen to. It'll be fun. Here we go.
Just to start at the beginning. What is positive parenting?
Well, positive parenting is a way to parent that builds your child self-esteem while at the same time correcting their misbehaviour. So many of the types of discipline that we learned, probably growing up, like I know I did, getting yelled at, spanked, screamed at, whatever… grounded all of those things. They might correct the behaviour. And then again, with some kids like me, they don't. But that's the parents attempt to correct the best behaviour. But in the process of using what those are called coercive forms of discipline, then it tears down the child's self esteem and it erodes the parent child relationship.
So the kids don't have as much trust in their parent, their authority figure. And the parents lose parental authority by doing those types of discipline. And the research is super clear now that coercive forms of discipline are less effective in the long run than more positive reinforcement. Positive parenting, positive discipline. And so I really see it as a higher level of parenting. That to me, it's mediocre parenting to spank or yell because it doesn't take any effort. Like, we can all do that. Yeah, but to actually stop and think like, Why is my child discouraged? What needs are behind this misbehaviour? What's the state of my relationship with this child? Have I been too busy lately? Have I not been paying enough attention or have I been doing okay? I need to assess my own status and then approach my child with. “Okay, let me see if I can help you figure out a way to get your needs meant to feel powerful or to feel loved without doing this inappropriate behaviour you're doing right now”. And so it's positive. It's looking forward into how can I help create a situation where my child wants to contribute rather than take away from what's happening in the family, and we can do that. So that way of disciplining, it's correcting their behaviour but the process of doing that is building their self esteem because it's making them feel seen and heard and understood, valued, loved in the process of learning.
I mean, I it's so funny; People say the punishment needs to fit the crime. In fact, there was a radio show one time and an eleven year old called the host. They were talking about Spanking, and this eleven year old said the punishment needs to fit the crime. And I called up the radio show and I said, children are not criminals. Why are we setting up this punitive paradigm? They're just little people learning how to operate in their world. And our job is to help them figure out how to operate in the most effective way, to be socially acceptable and to be responsible and respectful to the extent that we need to to operate well in a society. And I think it's a huge mistake to raise our children with punishment paradigm because, I mean, look at our prisons. I don't know what country are you?
Peter; I'm in the UK. The prisons are slightly less crowded here than they are in the States.
Debbie; Yeah, in the States it's horrible. And I believe it's rooted in this idea that you're going to have to pay for what you did wrong. Which is true if you're an adult and you're robbing people, it is not true. If you're a little kid and you're yelling or you're hitting your brother.
Peter; Or you won’t eat your vegetables.
Debbie; Exactly! That's not criminal behaviour at all.
Peter; This brings back so much trauma. Hahaha For anybody listening. I'm slightly older. I'm 46 is all my listeners will know. I'm just a typical middle aged white guy, right? So I'm more part of the problem than I am of the solution these days. It sounds like a lot of hard work, as in shouting at your kids to eat their vegetables gets your results there and then. Sure, there's a tamtrum but the green beans will be eaten in the moment. Or there will be punishment. You take away electronic time. You take away no Facebook for you tonight or Minecraft or whatever the cool kids play these days. Positive parenting, what you’re describing, sounds like it takes a bit longer. So how do you convince people? Because it sounds like a much better approach. Don't get me wrong. I'm all on board with it that is a good idea. But how do you convince people to keep putting the effort in?
Debbie; Yeah, it's a great question and a great question every parent has to assess for themselves. And I know my daughter. I have three kids, and my daughter has three of my grandchildren. And the first two years of being a parent, she wanted nothing to do with positive parenting. She was stressed, tired, exhausted. And I only help people that want to be helped. And so I supported her helping her clean or cook or watch babies, or I help her and support her in those ways. But it wasn't until she got a little out of that baby mode that she was able to really focus and then start asking, like, okay, what do I do with this? And what do I do?
And actually, her and her husband took my class as well, and they're trying more to do some of these things, because what you're saying is absolutely true that it takes a lot more effort. And the thing is, if you set your sights to the long game. You think about, especially if you're a parent listening that has little kids, think about when they're teenagers, what kind of relationship do you want to have? Because that's where this really will benefit you. If you can get away with it with little kids yelling and shouting and because they're little and they're completely dependent on you. As soon as they start thinking for themselves, that's where you're going to run into trouble as soon as they're physically bigger and stronger than you. If you've been physically overcoming them, you're in trouble. And so you really need to think about the long range. And are you willing to put the effort in? I mean, the three year old power struggle phase, like when the three year old starts saying no, and I'm not going to do it. Yeah, that phase is perfect development for the three year old. Like they're figuring out, who am I in the world separate from my parent? I thought my mom was me the whole time up until now, all of a sudden I realized, oh, I'm not her. I can go do my own things. And so that's where the power struggle start. And it's all about, you know, dumb stuff like apple. I don't want to eat my apples or I want to go outside or, you know, these things that aren't life threatening. And so if you get really good at dealing with power struggles with your three year old and positive parenting with your three year old, then they're not in that stage all the school years. They're misbehaving and doing stuff but they're not in power struggles all the time.
But when you get to the teenager years, they're going to do power struggles again. It's their development. So they're individuating socially, emotionally. “What are my values?” And they do that by fighting with us, by power struggling with us. So if you did this well, when they were three, you can remember back, like, I can do this. I know how to redirect these power struggles. I know how to navigate these times, and you have a lot of competence and confidence that you can do this. Whereas if you struggle with the three year old stage.
And I'll tell you, some kids developmentally don't make it through the three year old power struggling phase intact. In fact, many kids, have a parent that's either to firm, meaning overpowering them all the time and not ever allowing the child to find their power, or not setting enough limits. So we call that too kind. Then the child runs all over you. Both of those kids are not going to move effectively through this phase, which is the phase is “here's my power and here's the limits on my power”. So I can be this powerful. But then my parent puts a limit on it, and I can only go this far. And that's what a child needs to learn in that phase. Is that how far they can go. And then where those limits are. And as they're getting older, an effective parent will continue to give them a little more power, relaxing, giving them more power, relaxing those limits in an age appropriate way.
When you do that well, your child moves through this phase if it's either of those other two situations; If you're too controlling or not providing enough limits, your child doesn't move through this phase. They will continue to power struggle with you. They're going to continue to either fight you or given whatever running a much rush at all over you, and you'll never get that rest between toddler and teenager that you need to really do this well.
And so that's to me, the motivation. It's like I want to do the best that I can so that this is fun. And I'm one of the very few parents that loved having teenagers. And it was because I set this up early on. I got them where they were doing so much of the work, the chores, the prepping lunches. I mean, I was just the leader in all this, but they were really doing at all. And so when we got to teenage years, I just didn't have the extent of power struggles. They were feeling powerful. They were feeling valuable. We had a good relationship going. And it's not that we never fought. But for me, it was like a 90% good and a 10% intense, whereas I think most parents would characterize teenagers as 90% hell and 10%. Okay. And so that's to me, the motivation is how do you want this to look over time and the positive discipline in the research will show the results are better.
Peter; Yeah. It's the same as and again, I'll keep it simple, mainly for me. If you teach a kid to eat their vegetables when they're younger, they’ll vegetables without thinking when they're older, right. It's basically that straightforward. I see this a lot with parents, of children, of my clients and all that sort of stuff. Now some of them are very good at setting their guidelines. So the kids will eat everything, again just keeping it simple, kids will eat absolutely anything you put in front of them. They just go, yes. And then when they have a sleep over. And let's say the parent of the kid coming over for a sleepover is a lot more friendly or has fewer limits; It’s all Dominos and bland food. You know, all the food is beige, so the only seasoning is salt. They won't eat any of the food they are served at this particular house that serves a lot of vegetables simply because “I don't like vegetables”. Do you know what I mean? And it's interesting because everybody wants that first kid. Everybody wants the easy child that eats everything. Right? But it does require a fair bit of effort.Sorry. Like you were saying is we try a fair bit of effort to have a slightly better relationship.
So at what age you're talking about three year old and a three year old power. So at what age can you really start to implement this sort of stuff? Is that kind of where it begins at the age of three,
Debbie; Actually, no. I always like to say maybe a year to 18 months. However, I've had parents take the class with children younger than that. And everybody in the class is like, “ oh, I wish I had done this then”, because we're actually learning ways to communicate, ways to talk. And so changing the way we think. And this power struggle actually started when our child was six to eight months old. And what happened was when the child six to eight month, their developmental task is crawling. So they start crawling around. And one of their child's basic needs in the world is to experiment and explore. So that's what they're doing when they're crawling. They're experimenting and exploring. This is a basic need. And what happens is they're crawling around and they get to the plant in your living room, and they take a handful of dirt and they dump the dirt on your white rug. And you come over and you go, “no, no, no” and you take them away. Then a little while later, crawling around and they're experimenting, exploring their developmental stage, experiment and explore. And they see the dirt in the plant. And they're like, oh, cool dirt. And they take a handful, and they throw it on your white rug. And then then you're like, “no, no, no”. And you get a little more upset.” I told you not to do that.” And you take them away. And then the third time they come over, they are no longer doing their developmental task of experimenting and exploring. This time as they're going for the dirt and the plant, they're looking at us and they're seeing how we're going to respond. And that's where they learn that it's fun to power struggle. We call it the joy of opposing. So the joy of opposing is that goodie that children get when they fight with us and we lose it. So if they know if they oppose us or don't do what we say and we get all crazy at them, then they're like, oh, I feel powerful. I'm controlling her emotions, and parents are…. make this even worse. They say, you're driving me crazy. And the kids is like, yeah, look at how much power I have. I mean, we mistakenly give them this power that really isn't theirs. And so that's where it begins. That's the beginnings of it.
When we don't understand how much it reinforces them to escalate our emotional response every time we escalate our emotional response, meaning handling a situation a little bit than a little bit more than a little bit more. That is a reward of that negative behavior.
Peter; That's an interesting way to put, because, again, I was just a raised with the idea that they're just looking for attention. But that is kind of not what you're saying it's. And sure neglected kids may well say “any attention, even getting yelled at, is good attention”. But for most kids, you're saying that that is not really what's happening. That it's much more about. “Look what I can do”.
Debbie; Well, yeah. And this idea of “they just want attention”. It's so nuanced. That's kind of the catch all phrase for a much deeper motivation of a child's behaviour. So their behaviour, all of our behaviour is motivated by the need to feel loved, to feel valuable, to feel powerful, to feel like we have a place in the world, to belong, to experiment and explore. All of our behaviour is designed to get those needs met. So, yes, you can say they just want attention. But what they really want is to meet these needs, and they're doing that with their behaviour. And I think it's a mistake if we say they just want attention and to kind of push it off to that because we're not looking more deeply at what's causing them to misbehave in this way. And so if we go back to this child taking the dirt out of the plant, the way, and I'm sure parents are wondering, well, what do we do instead to not cause the joy of opposing?
And so one of the ways you can do it. And this will work with a toddler, and it'll work with a teenager. And it'll work with everything in between for any given situation, when a child acts up or misbehaves. What you want to do instead of just having this knee jerk reaction, which leads to the escalation of your emotional response. What you want to do is stop and think for a second and say, what is the best response here? What's the best discipline response. And you don't have to come up with rocket science parenting. Just think of something reasonable. And if you're taking my class, it'll be positive parenting. You can't use any punishment. It has to be something that's kind and firm that's helping them learn and grow. And so in this case, with the toddler or the crawling baby, I'll sit and think about it for a minute and I'm like, Well, maybe what I'll do is I'll pick him up and I'll say “Michael will learn if he wants to play in the living room, that he can't take the dirt out of the plant, or he has to go in the kitchen” and I'll carry him into the kitchen. And so I just say it in this nice tone of voice, like a very calm tone of voice. And I do it.
And then ten minutes later, when he's taking it out, I'll go pick him up and I'll say the same thing again, just like a broken record.” Michael will learn that if he wants to play in a living room, that he can't take the dirt out of the plant or he has to go in the kitchen”. Plop. Michael will learn plop.
And with a young child, you're gonna have to do this 1020, 30, 40 times. I've taught parents how to do this with bedtime kids getting out of bed. And one mom counted 42 times the first night of carrying her daughter gently and quietly back to bed. And she's like, “oh, my gosh, can't do this every night”. Well, night, two came and because she did it 42 times, and then the daughter finally just stayed in her bed. The second night, it only took three repetitions. So small children learn through repetition and redirection. Those are the two key ways when you've got young kids to start with positive discipline or positive parenting.
Lovely. I always like to make this comparison because I know it drives mothers, especially, completely nuts. It it is very similar to having I mean, as all my listeners know; I added the third puppy, like three months ago, a little rescue pup. And we are not allowed to shout near her, as in you cannot shout near her. She's a little puppy farm dog. So she was very scared of people. She's fine with dogs, but is scared of people. So that means that if I raise my voice in an angry way towards her, she only has the fear response, and it sets us back 2-3-4-5 day every single time if I were to do it. To be fair, I mean, she's the best behaved of all my dogs so it’s not that tricky. But it is all about so it's everything I have to say has to remain that same, that Cesar Milan sort of thing. Everything is nice and calm. Because babies, especially younger children like what you're talking about, they pick up on our feelings, so to speak. If we feel tense, they pick up on that tension. If we are anxious and depressed and all that sort of stuff, they pick up on that energy. And when you're talking about carrying a young child back to bed for the 40th time, if you do that in a state of anger, as in genuinely just a big ball of anger, that child is not going to go back to sleep any time soon, right? You're not helping the situation. But the reason I'm bringing up the little puppy other than to drive people not cause it really does with everybody immediately goes, you're not comparing my child. Yes, I am. On a primal level. It is not that different. But you’re not talking about treat based response, right? And that is, I think, because that is interesting thing, because when I hear somebody say like yourself, “positive parenting, as in we do not shout”. We do not smacking in the UK is illegal anyway. I mean, I don't know anyone who still smacks their kids to be honest. I think that of days gone by in most classes. I'm sure there's some listeners that are like, no, you're wrong.
Debbie; Yeah. Statistically, you're not correct. There's a super high percentage, especially toddlers. I mean, I think it's something like 84% in the US. I'm not sure what it is in the UK, but I think it's comparable.
Peter; Really? 80. That's insane.
Debbie; It is insane. But it's true. But you're right. Most of the European countries have outlawed banking.
Peter; Yeah, at least you can. You can't bruise whatever the horrible line is, you can't draw blood. Remember, that used to be the thing. The interesting thing is because when people hear; “I am not allowed to”. Because that's usually how people hear. That's not what you're saying necessarily. But that's how people hear it is what I find. “I am not allowed to spank. I'm not allowed to shout. I'm not allowed to lose my temper”. But that doesn't equate to “I can just give them”. So the crawling toddler or unless I have some slightly older, I can't just give them sweetie to just stay quiet. As in, if you don't grab the dirt from the plant anymore, you will get a treat. That is not what you're saying. You're just saying no, there's still a consequence to your action because we need to teach kids consequences. But in this case it you sit in the kitchen for this while or whatever.
Debbie; Right? I do not teach reward. The reward system for the majority of kids will come back to haunt the parents. So when you reward a child for everything, then their only motivation to do things is for that reward. So they won't do things unless they know what's in it for me. Now the exception to this. And let me just say the exception is a growing population. The exception is when your child is diagnosed with things like ADHD. ADHD kids actually do better with more external motivation, which is what goodies are. it's external motivation. Now it's better if it's star charts and different things like that. And like, sweet because sweet could be ..cause eating disorders. But when you have a child who has learning problems in any form of, there's so many different things, often that reward or that external motivation is necessary. And here's how you, the parent, can tell this is super easy. If you reward your child and they act up, so like you give them a reward and then they get nasty the next time, or they always want to know what's in it for me. They're being disrespectful. That's a child who does not need rewards, they're smart enough, they're sharp enough. They can learn how to be motivated for doing the right thing for the right way when you have a child who's diagnosed like, for example, with ADHD, when you support that child by giving external rewards, like support, like coaching, like helping them with a chart and reminding them and all these external things that I wouldn't teach those other kids. That child will actually be grateful and their behaviour will improve, so they'll do better, feel better and be better as a result. And so that's how you the parent will judge this. Is what happens when you give this child a reward. Does their behaviour shape up or does it shape up for a moment and then come back and aggravate the heck out of you? Or is it the child where you do this and their behaviour doesn't get aggravated? They actually, it helps them, supports them and learning the coping skills that they need in order to be successful when they've got gaps in their learning abilities?
Yeah, because that is exactly what I see quite a often again, there's no judgment in any words I say; You raise your kids, how you want to raise your kids. I'm not telling other people. Or if I see you do this then I'm judging you because I'm not unless you're spanking or smacking your kids. Not a big fan of that, but anything else; your house, your rules. I'm a big fan of that. But I do see with parents that… Exactly what you're saying.. is they have a row with their kids for whatever reason, and it can be teenagers or slightly younger. A lot of my clients have slightly older kids now. So they have a row with their kids. Then there's a five minute window of making up, and the child is super nice because the child realizes they're deep in the doodoo, so to speak. And it's a five minute window. But the following day, the behaviour is exactly the same, if not slightly worse than it was the day before.
There you go. And that's the one where the rewards are coming back to. I used to call it bite you in the butt. It's going to haunt you, and you don't want to do it. So figuring out ways to motivate kids to do the things that they're supposed to do because they're supposed to do it. They don't have to like it. But there's things that they need to do because we all have to do certain things.
And so that's our job is to figure out how to; I think a great example of this is room cleaning, keeping their room, like chores and allowance. A lot of people merge those two, and I find that that's a subtle form of reward. When you have, you do your chores and then you get your allowance. And if you don't use your chores, you don't get your allowance. And then when they don't want any more money, they're like, “okay, I don't want the money”. And so they won't do their chores. And again, you're stuck. And so a better way to approach this is okay. Here is your allowance, and I make it a very small allowance. You get a buck a week or $5 a week, whatever your budget is, and you give them the small allowance. You get this allowance. And no matter what. It's because you're a member of the family, you're sharing the wealth in the family. We love you. It's actually a tangible way to convey unconditional love to your child, to give a very small minimal allowance. And then that child is also responsible for a chore. And in my house, they had to do their own room. Well, not their whole room, but that make their bed every day and then do one family chore. So we had a whole list of different things, and everybody would pick what their family chore was, and sometimes we would change it. It just depends on what's going on. But they had to make their bed and one family chore, and they don't get paid for it. That's their contribution to the family. And those two things, the chore and the allowance are not tied together. If they don't do their chore, they still get their allowance because they get that because they're a member of the family. Nothing touches that. If they don't do their chore, I've got to figure out another way to motivate them. It's like, “Dude you're not cleaning up your bed or you're not making your bed and you're not doing your core. What's happening? What do we do here?” And I'll figure out some other way to discipline that or to help them figure out what they could do to be successful. And I'll stay on them. I'm not going to give up until we figure out a solution to that. But it's not going to involve taking away that bare minimal allowance. Now, I'm calling that a bare minimal allowance, because also part of this program is that we had this whole list of chores, and we assigned values to them. So $3 for vacuuming and $5 cleaning the..you know.. whatever we had all of these things with amounts. And so if they did their bare minimum I chores, they could earn extra money doing these other things. And so a little bit that helped with the process, because if they wanted to earn extra money, they had to complete their bare minimal chore first before they could earn extra money. So having that worked in sometimes would help with getting them to do their bare minimal chore. But again, not everybody agrees with this, but to me, it was such a better way to show my children that their love, no matter what, because all of us say that we give it lip service. But giving them a quarter a week, no matter what they do, is actually tangible. Like that's, something that you can visually see and feel.
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is Bernie Sanders’ universal basic income if you needed it explained in a very simple way. That is what it is. Everybody gets a bit of money so that they don't starve. And so they feel part of society. You could earn more on top of that. And we will have to be (inaudible). It sounds like a very sensible, because that way.. because I a big believer in that; Your job as a parent is to raise responsible adults. Fundamentally! And a responsible adult, and it took me a while to realize it so I'm not saying about anything else; a responsible adult is someone who is, let's say, an organic part of society. So we contribute to society and we interact with society in a normal way. We agree to stick to the rules of society and all that sort of stuff.
When I get my driver's license, I not only have a car, but I also have the responsibility to not go speeding 40, 50, 60 miles hour in a 20 miles an hour zone. That is kind of what you're teaching kids at that age. Right. You are part of the family. So you have your thing, you get a share of what we have as a family. And, of course, that includes food and housing and all that stuff. But you have your allowance. But you have a responsibility, in that you have your bare minimum cure that you need to do for the family.
Debbie; Right. Right.
Peter;That must have an effect later on in life when the kids turn 18, 20, 25 with regards to how they function in society. Right.
Debbie; Absolutely. And if we could look and see that the last 50 to 70 years is when this is really cropped up. Before that, children were raised mostly on farms and very communally and big families and even little kids collecting eggs, getting the milk. I mean, everybody had a job. Parents had lots of kids so that they're workers. Like kids were inherently valuable in the family system. And they never felt like I don't belong or I'm not valuable or I don't have any power because they were working at a young age. And so in the last 50 to 70 years, as we've started to come into cities and have our nuclear families and being more isolated, children no longer have jobs. Children no longer have a way to contribute to the family. We have to set that up. We have to give them responsibility in order for them to feel powerful and valuable. And so it's a huge mistake to do everything for your kids, especially doing for your kids, things that they can do for themselves. And so I think part of being a positive parent is to be a parent who understands that children need responsibility even and if you're capable of doing it all. And actually, most parents aren't. I mean, most parents are like, “oh, my gosh, I'm so exhausted. I have to do everything for my kids,” I’m like, well, that's the problem. They should be doing more than you. They're young and they've got all this energy, especially teenagers. I mean, by the time everything rolled around him, I had teenagers. They were doing everything literally. They were doing everything. Were they, like, Happy Lala? No. Were they totally grumpy and resentful at me? No. They were just in the middle. They're willing to do what they're supposed to do because they're part of the family. And this is how we've learned that the family operates. This is how everybody stays sane. And so you know, it's exactly what you're saying. And yes, absolutely. I agree.
Peter; Because that was indeed the bit that I thought as well. It's my generation. And most people listen to this will agree is my generation that sort of screwing things up, right? The 46 year old, so to speak, with regards to those are the effects on maybe maybe the 10-15 years before that as well, with regards to how we treat children as almost like a separate entity from the family. With regards to what you're talking about, with regards to doing stuff around the house, doing stuff for money. So basically a little wage, basically earning money by doing chores. But what you're saying, you do the dishes, you got a pound or whatever it is. And that is not really a form of positive parenting, as you see it. Right. It is not. It is not the ideal way to get the results you want. Because sooner or later, when you then take the financial incentive over the retreat incentive away again, say the family runs on hard times or whatever, and there's less money in the house, and you can't pay a pound for doing the dishes anymore. The dishes still need done.
Peter; And then you kind of lose your motivated child if the pound was ever enough to motivate them in the first place. Right.
Debbie; Right. Well, and I think that's why you have a mix of chores that they have to do no matter what and then have the extra. So I mean, absolutely. I think if you're a family who thinks one minimal chore and making their bed is not enough, you can absolutely incorporate more contribution from your kids. And actually, my daughter does that she makes her kids do a lot more than I made her do.
Peter; That’s how it always works.
Debbie; And I think what you're saying the cycles are really true. I mean, there are cycles of parenting where generally parents are more strict. Generally, parents are more lenient and the generations kind of bounce that back and forth.
And also just within an individual. If your parents were really strict, you may be either that way or you might do the opposite, depending on how you reacted to it. And so, yeah, there are cycles. And I think you're right. This whole idea of …I've been teaching helicopter parenting for 30 years, but I think it in the last 20 years when that became a big thing. What we call the helicopter parents, they're just hovering. And you don't let your children do anything, and they're not learning any resiliency or strength or anything. And so that is a mistake. And it's given us a population of workers that won't work. I mean, that's what we've got. And so they weren't serving their children well, by kind of going to that extreme.
Peter; Yeah. No. Exactly. So let's bring it back to a little bit of a practical thing, because I know loads of my listeners will say, “yeah, it's all well and good. But I've got a toddler who won’t go to bed!”. “It's nice if you have the basic discussion about doing dishes. But I can't get my eight year old to turn the lights off at half past eight at night or 09:00 at night or whatever time kids go to bed.” So how do you convince…Does it become a case as far as you’re concerned; is it the case of when your child is six or seven and therefore can be reasoned with. As in; you can sit down and have a full long conversation with them about this stuff. The importance of going to bed early to then become a case of okay. In that case, you just need to sit down and you talk it out or do you just go now? Actually, these are still, these are the house rules. You still need to do it. How do you make someone go to bed on time?
Debbie; Yeah. I think it's a combination of the things that you're saying, but yes, it helps if you start earlier. And I would say even earlier than six or seven, I would say even babies, two or three. How you interface with their sleep schedule is going to set up success or failure. And so figuring out a routine and a schedule, that's one of the big things that we do. It's coming up with. Like, okay, if you're talking an eight year old, it's easy at that point. Okay.
What is your bedtime routine? What do you have to do before you go to bed and you have that eight year old actually list out like, “well, I go to go to brush my teeth. I got to take a shower.” Whatever the bedtime routine, and you list it out on an actual piece of paper and you give them a chart. And like, for my kids, they had it stuck to their dresser. And so every night they would go and check everything that they needed to do. And then I tried to work something with the eight year old. It's getting a little older. But with the younger kids to make something fun. Like, okay, then I'm going to read you two books and I'm going to give you five kisses and three hugs, and I'm going to leave the room singing some silly song. And that's the end of bedtime.
And you want to have the time written down. A lot of people put their kids to bed too late, and so they're overtired. They're too wound up. They can't settle. So sometimes you have to back the bedtime back some and generally 08:00 or 830 is a decent bedtime some are 730 or earlier, mostly not past 8.30 for any kids under ten. I mean, that really is getting too late.
So if you're having trouble with bedtime back, that time down lower, especially if you need time to prepare and do the bedtime routine and that you'd be super consistent. And that's how you're going to work your way back into a normalized bedtime, is to come up with the routine, be consistent. Once you've got the routine back in place, then you can have aberrations to it. So like; we're going out to eat with friends tonight and we're out late and the whole bedtime routine is messed up. You can do that occasionally, if you've got a good routine in place. If you don't, then every time you do that, it's disaster. I mean, that's a little too simplified, Peter, but because we do talk a lot about bedtime routine and is a lot more coaching, I can see on that one. Especially finding out. I also like to find out the person's situation. Are they in New York City where the houses are small and the walls are close and they're always worried about other people. Are they on the country where whatever like, there's situational circumstances to bed time as well, that need to be considered when you're trying to figure out the best bed time routine for your kids.
Sure. And now maybe the most important question of all. So for listeners listening to this, people who have been listening to this and they're like, “Okay, I tried it a different way for eight or nine or ten years. My kid is now eleven years old. How do I switch now? I've shouted at my child, I’ve paid my child, and I'm not saying they do that constantly. I'm just saying that everybody kind of know that at 11-12 year old, it gets a little bit more difficult and the shouting doesn't work because all you get is kind of shouted back, right? That's right. How do you then switch to your style of parenting?
Debbie; Yeah, it is never too late. So any of you out there, it is never too late. I've even had parents of adult children. I had a school counsellor who had a 22 and a 26 year old still living at home. She took my class. We got success.
Peter; “I want them out of the house”
Debbie; Yes, that was part of it. But, you know, it's never too late. These are great relationship skills. So that's number one. And number two is to make sure that you understand when you do something new your child's job is to test you and see if you're serious.
And I call it the Coke machine effect. And so if you go up to a Coke machine, you put a quarter in, well, maybe as a dollar. Now you put a dollar in and outcomes a Coke. Right? And so you put a dollar in outcomes a Coke. This is your relationship with your child. They've learned how to push those buttons. Okay. They've learned what, what they do and what you do. So when you do something different, it looks like this. They put the quarter in and they expect to get Coke and out pops a milk and they look at this milk. What are they going to do? What are they going to do when they see a milk instead of a Coke?
Peter; They going to push a button again to see.
Debbie; And then they kick the machine. Right? Start banging on you care about. Ok. So that's what you the parent need to be expecting when you do something different. And especially if your child is eleven years old at this point and you radically change some of what you're doing. You're going to get the Coke machine effect, and you need to live through that. It never takes longer than two or three weeks of you staying consistent and staying on the new track that you're on. You'll find that eventually they'll find it safe because what they're doing is; they don't trust you. They don't believe you. It's like, “you're going to go back to crazy, mom, I know it. Let me just push this button a little bit. Let me just kick it here, kick it there. And I know you're going to just set off. And this isn't safe”.
And so it's a matter of the parents staying on course long enough to make the child feel safe. And this is really the new reality. And children are what we call resilient. So they're super capable of this as long as we are consistent.
Peter; That's interesting. You say two to three weeks because that's what I always keep coming back to with people take three weeks to create a new habit, right?
Debbie; Yes. Exactly.
Peter; A positive habit. It's funny how the how you're saying that also works for parenting. Absolutely not just plow ahead for a little while, and it'll be fine.
Debbie; And to think about your Coke machine when they start doing their thing, it's like, oh, I'm a Coker set right now and I'm given a milk and they're upset.
Peter; Well, that's a good way to put it, because I suppose it's that analogy. If people can think about it that way, it teaches them not to think of it as a personal attack, because none of this stuff is really personal with kid. It's not you, the individual person. So it is not me, Peter. It is not you, Debbie. It is mom, on a much more primal sort of level. As in “I am supposed to. I'm 11, 12, 13 years old. I'm supposed to be rebelling a little bit right now. I'm supposed to test the boundaries”. Like what you were saying. So this is young monkey, old monkey sort of behaviour, right?
Supposed to test that. And so it's not. It's not like they have a tremendous amount of choice in the base of their behaviour is what I’m saying on a primal level. This is a face that everybody has to go free. I suppose what you're saying is a lot of people my age will definitely relate to this; is getting out of that phase. So in 18, 1920 years old, ideally, having your kids come out of that face, not hating their parents for the next five or ten years and then going now I have kids myself. I understand
Debbie; Exactly touche. I couldn't have said it better.
Peter; because that really is. I think where a lot of people find themselves, isn't it? It is. It is.
Debbie; And it doesn't have to be that way. Children teenagers do need to go through a phase of rebelling against the parents values to find and discover their own values. If we the parent can gracefully navigate that meaning, understand what our lines and the sand are and not make them too many, they can do a lot of that testing, and it won't destroy our relationship for five or ten years. Like what you're saying. It'll be some bumps in that road, but it won't be a severing. And it feels much better. I mean, that's how I navigated it with my three kids. And it was just I'm so grateful for it, because that's what really made me come into my own with. “Oh, yeah, this works” because all the time raising them and teaching, I was like, I don't know. I'm teaching best what I most need to learn. I think it's going to work, but I'm not sure.
But now that there are adults, I can really see, like, oh, no kidding. This made a huge difference in the quality and character of our relationship and who these humans turned out to be. They turned out to be amazing people that I am so in awe of. And I'm grateful every day that I have that feeling towards them because I feel so judged by my mom. Right? For my whole life, I've never done anything right. And I love her and everything but that’s just how she is. That's how some parents motivate. But that makes me feel hurt and not seen and not heard. But for me to have these feelings of absolute, unconditional adoration, respect and awe of these adults, my children are now adults. I'm so grateful I feel that way. Because I know that benefits them as well, and it's genuine. I'm not, like trying to make that happen, you know? And it just came from having many years of positive parenting in our relationship that is created that.
Peter; That is phenomenal because I think a lot of people will be listening to this thinking. “I wish I wish”. Because everybody I know, everybody my age has a difficult parent, so to speak. And by difficult parents, I mean, has a sort of messed up relationship with their parents.
Peter; Well, we are, but I always thought that are the best we can do as parents is not to screw our kids up as much as our parents screwed us up, which is a remarkably low bar to set.
Debbie; Yeah. And I think that's just naturally true. Like that just occurs regardless of what we do, that's going to occur. So you're right. That's a very low bar. You've got to take it and try a little harder.
Peter; Yes what you’re talking about sounds a lot healthier
Debbie; rather than just get them to survive. Right?
Peter; I think it was Chris Rock; He said, keep your daughter off the pole. That’s your only job as a da. And that’s not a high bar to set Chris. No matter how you do it. Yes.
Debbie; And that's not to say any of you have a child who's on the bar has failed.
Peter; hahaha Not if it’s their choice to do it;
Debbie; It's not what we aspire for them. Laughing
Peter; Laughing. Yes it’s not what we aim for when we have kids…And on that happy note, I will press stop record.
And that is exactly what I did. Thanks very much to Debbie before coming on. I thought it was very informative. I think she's I think she's onto something. And when I say he's on to something. She's been teaching this for 30 years. Right. This woman knows what he's talking about. Positiveparenting.com is the name of our website. Obviously, I will link to that as well. She's on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn. Then basically everything you can find a five minute Positive Parenting Pep talks. I found them online. They're on Anchor. So one of the podcasting thing, so that means that you can basically find them on whatever podcast platform you like to listen to. Right
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In the news this week not transcribed but you can find an article discussing the study here in plaine English as well.