Like adults, kids need to feel like they belong. They need to feel powerful. They need to feel loved unconditionally, and they need to feel like they’re valued. Compassionate + Effective Parenting (or Positive Parenting) is a style of parenting that highlights our kids’ needs so that they feel powerful, loved, and valued.
This parenting style helps us understand that when kids’ needs aren’t met, it comes out as misbehavior. Misbehavior equals communication. When our kids are misbehaving, they’re not just out to get us. They’re not trying to tick us off. They are not trying to be naughty. Is it a part of their development to push boundaries? Absolutely. However, when we see it as communication and we try to help them communicate that in a healthy way, parenthood becomes more joyful. It becomes more about connection over correction. It becomes more about relationships and strengthening our day-to-day interaction with our kids.
Wendy Snyder is a Positive Parenting Coach who dedicates her life to helping parents navigate parenting through compassion. Because it does beautiful things for families, and it does amazing things for kids too. She brings so much wisdom to the table in this episode! Enjoy!
In This Episode, Allie + Wendy Discuss:
What led Wendy to become interested in Positive Parenting.
How Positive Parenting correlates with communication.
The ways Positive Parenting can be effective from toddlers to teenagers.
The power of Positive Parenting with a strong willed child.
Ways you can prevent and handle those big toddler tantrums.
Mentioned in this Episode:
Wendy’s Website: freshstartfamilyonline.com
Wendy’s Jesus Guided Parenting Course
Wendy’s Positive Parenting Curriculum (The Foundations)
Wendy’s Online Community: Bonfire
COMBO Pack from Allie: 20% off the Foundations Course, plus 2 months free of the Bonfire
Book: Children, The Challenge by Dr. Rudolph Dreikurs
Book: Jesus, The Gentle Parent
Book: Mindful Discipline
Susie Walton, Joy of Parenting Program
The Supermom Vault is a library of inspiration I created for you. It holds replays of my very best online workshops that aren’t available anywhere else, tons of really actionable pdf’s that are downloadable with just one click, more than 20 audio and video trainings from me, and professionally designed printables for your home to keep you focused and inspired. Check it out! It’s a really good simple start.
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Mom life. We are surrounded with the message that it’s the tired life. The no-time-for-myself life. The hard life. And while it is hard and full of lots of servitude, the idea that motherhood means a joyless life is something I am passionate about putting a stop to. I’m on a mission to help you stop counting down the minutes till bedtime, at least most days. I want you to stop cleaning up after your kid’s childhood and start being present for it. Start enjoying it. I believe in John 10:10 “that we are called to abundant life” and i know mothers are not excluded from that promise. Join me in conversations about simplicity, minimalism and lots of other good stuff that leads to a life of less for the sake of enjoying more in your motherhood. I’m Allie Casazza and this is the The Purpose Show.
Hey ladies! Welcome back to another episode of The Purpose Show! I am so looking forward to opening the floor and sharing today’s guest with you guys!
Wendy Snyder is here and she is the founder of freshstartfamilyonline.com. Thank you so much for being here with us. I can’t wait to dive in. I have so many things that I’m excited to hear from you and ask you. Thank you for taking time to be here with us.
WENDY: Yeah, thank you so much for having me, Allie. I really admire what you’re doing and the community you’re building, so I am grateful and humbled to be here.
ALLIE: I actually got a chance to meet Wendy on Saturday (at the time of this recording.) I don’t know when this episode will air at the time right now.
We were together a few days ago and we went to the Macramé Making Class together and it was super fun and nice. Wendy lives near me and we were able to connect. She has the sweetest personality. She’s a really warm, amazing person. You’re one of those people that I want to have multiple coffee dates with and talk with you.
It was nice to hear your philosophy on parenting. We had talked about this at the class. It’s rare to find somebody that’s in that place, especially as a Christian parent, where it’s very much “spare the rod, spoil the child” and get to talk with you about compassionate parenting that works. It was so refreshing. I’m really excited to amplify your message by pulling you onto my platform and opening my listeners’ ears to all the good stuff that you have to share.
If you don’t mind, I’ll just let you dive right in and share your background and your story.
WENDY: Absolutely. Well, first of all, let me tell you a little bit about how I came to work and my backstory. I got super lucky and blessed young. I fell in love with my husband and my best friend, love of my life at 17.
We moved across country from Maryland to California. We set out to have careers in the surf industry. We set our goals. We felt like at that point in our life, if we set out to do something, we could accomplish it. We felt like a great team and life was going great. We were able to build really great careers that we were so grateful for.
And then we had kids and quickly realized that parenthood was definitely the hardest job that we had ever had in our entire lives. We were really surprised by how hard it was to influence little human souls to do what you want of them. And especially because we had been gifted and blessed with a really strong-spirited little girl.
When I decided to leave my career and stay home with my kids, I had been in the surf industry for a decade and really loved what I was doing.
And I thought leaving and coming home and being with my kids full time was going to be dreamy. We were going to be on the beach. It was going to be like, “Ahh!” I quickly realized that I was thrown into the day-to-day life of navigating toddlerhood and the many challenges that come along with that. I also had a colicky baby at the time and I was challenged to my core.
Every day was filled with time-outs and punishments and I just didn’t know what to do to get this little girl to listen and behave. I thought at the time that I was supposed to get control of her. Thank God I found the work of Positive Parenting during that really dark valley of my parenting life where my days were really filled with depression and anxiety. I just could not believe that this is what parenthood had become.
I was exposed to Positive Parenting. I started taking a class called “Redirecting Children’s Behavior,” which is one of the programs I’m now certified to teach. It brought the light back to my day. It enabled me to see my little girl in a whole new light and start to be able to seek to see the integrity in her.
Before long we started practicing the work in our home and she started to respond. You could just tell this little girl’s spirit reacted so much better when we learned new ways of working with her that were respectful, kind and compassionate instead of focusing on how to force her to change or trickery about how to get her to do what we wanted.
It was solid work. I became so intrigued with it. I ended up taking this course seven times before I became a parent educator of it. It took me a while to become fluent in the language. I’m so happy that I hung in there. Seven years later, my daughter is 10 and my son is seven. Gosh, the seeds that this type of curriculum plants in families and it’s planted in our lives are now, they’ve just blossomed.
For example, with my daughter, the relationship I have with her is rock solid. I look at her every day and thank God for her because it’s just changed my whole perspective on humanity, let alone parenthood.
The work is incredible and I can’t say enough nice things about it. I love teaching parents this work because, it does beautiful things for families and it does amazing things for kids to.
ALLIE: Thank you for sharing all of that. OK, I have so many questions!
Can you tell me a little bit more about what you called it, the work of positive parenting?
WENDY: Yeah. A backstory on the work. Positive parenting is really based on positive psychology. The “grandfather” of this work was derived from a child psychiatrist by the name of Dr. Rudolph Dreikurs, who is a renowned child psychologist from the 50’s who wrote a book called Children, The Challenge. He was ahead of his time with the way he saw children. He studied their development and helped parents to understand what’s behind their misbehavior, which is all based on our needs.
Kids, just like adults, need to feel like they belong. They need to feel powerful. Feeling powerful is actually a really healthy need that we need people to be comfortable with and figuring out how to be strong leaders with integrity, right? They need to feel loved unconditionally, and they need to feel like they’re valued.
Dr. Rudolph Dreikurs helps us to understand that when these kids’ needs aren’t met, so to speak, it comes out as misbehavior. Parents are taught to become detectives and start to try to understand that misbehavior equals communication.
When our kids are misbehaving, they’re not just out to get us. They’re not trying to tick us off. They are not trying to be naughty. Is it a part of their development to push boundaries? Absolutely. However, when we see it as communication and we try to help them communicate that in a healthy way, parenthood becomes more joyful. It becomes more about connection over correction. It becomes more about relationships and strengthening our day-to-day interaction with our kids.
From his positive psychology, so many amazing programs have come about from his work. Redirecting Children’s Behavior and The Joy of Parenting are the two programs that I’m a certified parent educator in. However, now there’s Positive Discipline, there’s Mindful Discipline, there is Jesus, The Gentle Parent. There’s so many programs out there now.
Parents really have a choice with how they work with their kids. There’s so many ways to learn more about this work and that wasn’t always the case. I love that parents can now go to the library or the bookstore and find just as many books that will teach them how to work with their kids using positive psychology, seeking the integrity in them, pointing out the good qualities about their kids, guiding them towards the light versus the other stuff.
ALLIE: Right. Yeah, absolutely. One thing that I wanted to ask you about, and we had discussed this on Saturday when we were together, was we’re both Christians. Being “in the church,” I guess for lack of a better term, very much the prominent belief is you’re kind of off on your own if you’re not “a spanker,” if you’re not that harsh. Like I said, “spare the Rod, spoil the child” belief. You approached me and when my assistant sent me over your stuff, I was just kinda like, “oh boy, parenting. Here we go.” Because it’s so hard. It’s hard in real life, let alone on a platform where people are already very judgmental and there’s a shield there with a screen so they can say whatever they want.
I always shy away from talking about parenting because the way that we do things is very much, I loved how you said “connection over correction.” Of course, we correct our kids and we don’t allow disrespect. Disrespect is a big hot button issue for me. Our kids respect us. They need to follow the way that things go in a house. But it’s not this harsh discipline thing where we don’t care about where their hearts are at. And that is where there’s a difference in a lot of our friends, in ourselves, and in the community that we are raising our kids in.
I guess the fear that I see that I used to have and that I see in other friends and stuff as a parent is, “Well, if you’re not doing it that way, the harsh way, then you’re being friends instead of being parents. We’re not supposed to be “friends” with our kids and have these amazing relationships with our kids. They need parents and they need structure. They need discipline and that’s your job.” It’s this idea that if you’re not doing it that way, then you’re being a bad parent because you’re worried about being close with your kids and being friends. And I would just love to hear you shine the truth on that idea.
WENDY: Absolutely. One of my dear friends and incredible positive parenting advocate is Susie Walton. She is the founder of The Joy of Parenting Program. She wrote the book, Myths That Affect Family Lives. That’s actually one of the myths that she writes about is that we’re not supposed to be friends with our kids. Right? The problem is if you look up the definition of friendship, it actually is an advocate. It’s having someone on your side. It’s having someone believe in you. It’s having someone support you and lift you up. Of course, that’s what we want with our kids. It doesn’t mean you have to be “Lindsay Lohan friends.” It’s just not true. We want to be side by side with our kids.
We want our children to talk to us. And that’s what happens when you take away the fear and the force elements from parenting as much as you can. I mean, we’re all human, but when you take that away, you build true connection with your kids. When you build mutual respect in your home, your kids cooperate and listen to you because they want to, not because they have to.
I encourage parents who are maybe doing it a different way and have been taught that that is the only way, that kind of oppositional thing, the “other way.” What we call it in Positive Parenting, is there’s three different styles, three main different styles of parenting. There’s autocratic, permissive, and then right in the middle is what we shoot for, which is firm and kind. We want to be firm with our kids and we always want to be kind and compassionate.
Autocratic is that way of “my way or the highway.” You never question me. What I say goes no matter what. That’s the autocratic method that has to rely on a lot of fear and force, because otherwise it just won’t work. What we find is parents have to keep upping their game. When you lay your head on your pillow at night, it’s a hard way to parent your kids your whole life.
I love teaching parents that they do not have to do it that way. I like bringing my own personal testimony into it because I’ve walked the walk now for seven years. I’ve taken a little girl who a lot of people would have looked at as out of control, defiant, disobedient, that you have to “knock the will out of her” and have used this curriculum to help shape her, help her grow and mature.
She’s a normal kid. She still pushes back and she’s still pushes buttons, but holy smokes, she’s an incredible human being. I’m just so grateful that we got this message that we didn’t have to “knock” it out of her. That we didn’t have to be so heavy-handed. That we could actually grow alongside of her, because she has taught us and, God has taught us through her, so much about life. I can’t imagine if I didn’t get handed this strong-willed kid.
Then one more thing about that Allie and I just, I connected with you so much about it too, because I think those of us who have this approach with our kids it can be scary to think that people are going to judge you, or that they don’t get it, or that anybody thinks one of us is doing it wrong.
I like to encourage families that no matter where you are, no matter where you stand – whether you spank or you don’t spank, or you are really autocratic, or maybe there’s families that aren’t even permissive, that are trying to figure out that middle ground – we’re all in this together. Parenthood takes a village and there should be no division here.
I love getting parents on board with this idea to reduce judgement, to eliminate judgment. Come to the table and have conversations. At the end of the day be OK trying to work towards influencing each other to see each other’s perspective, having empathy for one another.
We all have our own backstory, right? You don’t know what people are bringing to the table from their childhood. That’s what I try to do. Right now, I’m creating a course called Jesus Guided Parenting. I’m trying to have that approach of helping everyone understand that we are on the same page. I am going to advocate that you really dive into the work of Positive Parenting. Get your tool belt filled up with choices, so you’re at choice when you parent and that you feel confident pouring into empathy, respectful methods, compassion and building relationships and then that you stay in the work and you get to see success that way.
ALLIE: Yeah, yeah, absolutely. What you were saying is so true. All of it is so good. We’re all going towards the same goal of trying to raise good people. Very rarely do people set out to raise awful people, raise kids who resent them and are in therapy. We’re not all going towards that.
Accepting that and seeing that it may look a little bit different. A lot of this really stuck out when I was reading your stuff. But that is one thing that really resonated with me. Guys, when we have a guest on the podcast, we kind of grill them first. Ashley really asks some hard things. For example, what would you say to a parent who’s currently doing things the opposite way that you teach? What would you say to a parent who’s currently, and I gave examples like spanking or this or that?
Your answers were all so laced with grace and acceptance. You said, “I would definitely not say to stop doing everything, but here’s what I would do. And you try that freely, and you see what works.” It’s very much not “this is the right way to do it and you’re doing it wrong.”
That is what so many parenting books and parenting experts are about – “this is the wrong way. Why would you do it this way? You’re going to end up like this, or your kid’s going to end up like that.” It’s really fear-based and that’s the opposite of what this type of parenting is all about. And it’s the opposite of how this type of parenting is taught to the parents, which I love.
I appreciate that about you and your mission, the way that you speak in your course and in your website.
When you answered that questionnaire, it was very much “this is real.” This is very gracious. There’s room for error because we’re human. There’s room for growth and acceptance if you want to keep doing that and that works for you. Great. But here’s other things that could help as you do that thing.
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ALLIE: OK. I want to just give space to the different kinds of like phases of parenting. Can you give us a few examples of how this type of compassionate parenting goes into the toddler years? You can just be general, whatever you want to do with that general question.
WENDY: The toddler years. Oh my goodness. Well first off, I always like to encourage parents who are in those toddler years that they are seen and they are admired for their hard work. Holy smokes, those are the years where you feel like you’re never sitting down, your kids are always pushing back, especially if you got handed a strong, strong, spirited one. It so exhausting and it can feel like it’s never ending.
But it does get better, you know? Knowing that you are seen and you are admired for the service that you are pouring into your kids, well you know, it will pay off. I promise you. I always say get everyone past the age of five and you’ll actually be able to sit down and the fruits or the seeds that you plant will start to really create this beautiful fruit trees and flowers.
But you’ve got to hang in there. And you’ve got to have faith in this work. And you’ve got to have faith in your children.
Let me give you an example of some of the things that we teach, some of the tools. One of the biggest things that we really look at is modeling. We want to make sure that we’re modeling what we want our kids to learn by what we’re doing. We always say kids often don’t hear what we say, especially busy toddlers, but they always see what we do.
It really starts with us and it’s a nice way just to look internally and say, “all right, what could I be doing differently tomorrow?”
For example, if you’re trying to get your kids to stop screaming, but you’re screaming at them consistently from the other room to come put their shoes on. You want to start with walking up to them, actually using kind, physical touch, looking in their eyes, and saying, “shoes.”
Toddlers really respond well to one word or no word. A lot of times we call it “less talking or no talking.” A lot of times as moms we become exhausted because we’re talking so much and maybe some of us, like I did, got into a pattern of nagging. I thought the more I nagged my kids, the more they would do what I say. And then at the end of the night I was annoyed because I “had to” nag them all day. They “make me” but really it’s not true. It’s a choice.
One of the tools we give you is, for kids who are nonverbal, you can take little pictures of a kid putting their shoes on, or a picture of Broccoli, or the carseat buckles, and put it on a little key chain, laminate them, walk up to them and show them the picture. Give yourself a break from all the nagging and the talking.
Kids will respond a lot better often to eye contact, physical touch, your hand on their shoulder looking right in their eyes.
Another good example would be asking for what you want instead of telling kids what you don’t want. This is basic positive psychology of pointing kids in the right direction, redirecting them. This works really well and it’s one of the more easier tweaks of positive parenting. There’s a lot of things that took a lot of practice. For example, yelling. That took me years. But challenge your brain, “how can I ask for what I want here?”
For example, instead of “Stop pulling the dog’s tail,” you would say, “Please show me how you pet the dog gently.” Instead of, “Don’t take that kid’s toy.” You could ask for what you want and “Say, may I please have a turn when you’re done.” That’s one of my favorite ones with toddlers to teach kids to ask for what they want also.
Again, you’re modeling what you want there. You ask your kids for what you want instead of telling them what you don’t, and then your kids will follow suit. Then you’ll see them at the park or in the church nursery saying, “May I please have a turn at that when you’re done?”
I’ve found kids even in the two-year-old toddler room, they always say “yes” to that question because it’s not a threatening forceful question. Toddlers are onto a new thing in two minutes and they put that little item down or they hand it to their friend.
Those are some examples: “No words, less words,” asking for what you want.
With power kids especially, which is my favorite group because I have such a heart for them. I think they’re such a blessing to the world, but they’re often seen in a really negative light. They are often their whole life told that they’re wrong and that they need to change.
For “power kids,” some tools that they respond really well to is asking them questions instead of giving them compliance statements. Instead of “put your shoes on, brush your teeth, get in the car, eat your Bagel,” it’s “What do you need to put on your feet so we can go to the park? Can you be in charge of the seat belts? Let us know when we’re thumbs up, ready to go. What do you need to do with your teeth, so you don’t get fuzzy cavity teeth?
Those are questions for power kids. Power kids are kids that have a strong desire to lead. They have that need. If we don’t fill it, they’re going to go seek it inappropriately in the world. When we can fill that in the home, they act out a lot less than the world.
They know the answer. Our kids know what they need to get on their feet to get to go to the park. So, when you ask them, that need gets filled and they think, “shoes!”
ALLIE: Yeah. And I love also how you phrase that. I did an episode by myself where I opened up and shared my struggle with my son, Leland. He’s my oldest son, but my second child. He was a very difficult toddler. I wish that I had found this sooner. I figured it out myself by stopping the yelling and the screaming. It was making him fight back and also breaking his spirit in a way. We came full circle and had some big realizations there. But it really bothered me when people would tell me, “oh, he is so strong-willed,” like it was bad. And I said, like in the other episode, that it really bothers me that people use that as so negative.
I hope that all of my children are strong willed. Why would you want that to be a bad thing? I hope they can be their own person, be confident, know what they want and tell people what they want, especially my daughter, as a woman in this world, but all of them. I want them to be strong willed.
You don’t say “strong” or “leader” in a negative way. And again, in our community I feel it is like, “oh yeah, you got a strong-willed one” or as somebody once told me, “everybody always gets at least one strong-willed one.” Like it’s a curse; that’s how it is. There is so much negativity out there.
The power in the words that we say to our kids and about our kids and the way we describe them. It matters. It’s doing something to you. I notice that you’re very careful and positive in the way that you describe them. It’s OK that it’s a difficult child. It’s OK that it’s a difficult time while you’re raising them. The way you talk about it as so positive. I love that.
WENDY: And that episode that you’re talking about really blessed me. I loved that episode about Leland and it really engaged some critical thinking skills in myself on how I can talk truth over my kids more. That was wonderful.
And one more thing about that, Allie. One of my favorite authors in positive parenting, L.R. Knost, she’s the author of five books. One of them is called Jesus the Gentle Parent Book. She really talks all about that. How some of the world’s most incredible leaders have the same traits as our so called “strong-willed kids,” but when we describe the “strong-willed” kids it’s all negative words – disobedient, defiant, testing, out of control. But then the world leaders, and some of the greatest people have founded companies or incredible nations, they are described as persistent, perseverant, bold and tenacious.
I love challenging our brain to see it differently. It does take time; it does take practice.
ALLIE: Well, it’s funny because it’s like, what do we want?
I started a business and I shared on another episode of the trials that went into that and that was so hard. What do you think the traits are going to have to be for somebody to lead a country, to lead a nation? To start a huge business to lead a bunch of people, to be a missionary, to lead a family? Like what do we expect? Of course, these people, they need to be question-askers, button-pushers and envelope-pushers. They have to stretch everything thin and see how far they can go because that’s what’s going to make them amazing. It makes them hard to raise, sure, depending on how you’re parenting, but it’s worth it. It’s our job to raise them into who they’re meant to be, not try to force them to comply to what is easy for us day-to-day.
WENDY: Absolutely. And empowering yourself with different ways to do that is just the way to go. There are so many things that work well with those kids, but they’re often counter-cultural. The world wants us to never let those kids have an inch because you think they’ll take a mile, when really they need it. They need a little wiggle room because they have incredible self-management skills. We just have to support and guide them.
ALLIE: Totally. Since we talked about toddler years, and I know that neither of us is there yet, but I do have some listeners who are, and I’m curious, how does this look in the teen years? Everyone has such a negative view, “Oh, well, wait till she’s a teenager.” I hear it all the time. Because I have three boys, people tend to give comments about how they’re all going to be super wild. They’re all close in age so they’re going to conspire against me together. Then I have a daughter, so I get the other end of the spectrum, “you better have a gun.” No, I’ll just raise her to respect herself enough to make good choices.
But it’s such a negative connotation with teen years. I would love to hear your take on what this sort of parenting translates into when the kids are almost adults. When they have all these opinions and they want to video chat with their friends, talk to boys and all these different things that come into play.
WENDY: Yeah. Gosh, I have a heart for teens also. My dear friend and good teacher who is the person who certified me in this work, Susie Walton. She found this work when she was a single mom and her four boys were teens. She used to joke that she would yell and yell and try to threaten them and they would all laugh at her because they’re 6’4”.
And she was like, “Oh gosh, this is not working.” And that’s when she found this work.
Those men are now full-grown men and are happily married. One of them is the coach of the Los Angeles Lakers. I mean, they’re incredibly successful, good men and they were raised on this work.
She speaks a lot about the teen years and how what an incredible opportunity we have when we use parenting and focus on developing great relationships in a strong way to be our child’s advocate and be a solid support system for them when they’re teens.
Because once our kids are teens, they’re no longer kids and using fear and force to drive and control them for most families doesn’t work as well. It doesn’t feel good. And teens have a tendency to revolt from that. It just doesn’t make sense for them.
Using relationship-building things where they listen and respect you because they want to and not because they have to, provides this opportunity to be a real mentor for them. And that’s our job when our kids are teens. We’re no longer “parenting” them; we are now “mentoring” them. They’re young adults. They should be, by that point, prepared to make really strong decisions. And when you use Positive Parenting Curriculum, you are always helping to mold your kid’s critical thinking skills.
We teach our kids to check in with their own gut, their own heart, to create intrinsic control methods. Everything from discipline to communication. It’s all about guiding them to develop their own voice that is respectful and kind, but also that they can communicate what they want, they can say what they believe in, and be able to say “no” to their friend when their friend wants to do whatever drug.
It’s beautiful work that builds kids up and builds self-esteem. You want to make sure you are using this work because it’s such a great opportunity to guide them.
There was a great study done here in San Diego, in La Jolla, California about a decade ago. In this study about one thousand teenagers were asked, “Who would you love to go to when you have a problem?” And almost all of them said, “my parents, I would love it if I could talk to my parents.” And then they asked them, “well, but who would you really go to when you have a problem?” And almost all of them said, “anybody but my parents because they’ll either lecture me, punish me, stay up all night worrying or just nag me. I just feel like I can’t talk to them.”
It was eye opening to realize that again, we’re “at choice” and we want our kids to be able to come to us with challenges. We want to be the ones guiding them and mentoring them, not necessarily their buddies or others.
ALLIE: Exactly. In trying to control, we lose control. We lose that connection.
WENDY: You do. I’ve seen it over and over again in families and it breaks my heart. It’s really is a strong motivator for me as I’m teaching this work. I just want to bless families with strong relationships, so when their kids become teens, they can navigate the highs and lows of life.
There is a big misconception about this work. Well, I think two. One of them is that it’s permissive work, which it absolutely is not. And the other one is that you have to be perfect and bubbly and your kids are going to be perfect. It actually does not create perfection. There is no perfection in parenting. It does put you at choice with how you handle your kid’s mistakes, how you handle their learning and how you teach them.
One of the biggest elements of this work is understanding this core concept that mistakes are actually a beautiful opportunity to learn. They’re really a problem when you keep doing the same mistake over and over again. But when you have a strong relationship with your child, you can mentor and support them, and you have strong, effective and compassionate discipline, that really guides them to new behavior tomorrow, it’s incredible the things it does.
We’ll see, right? I’m very open and honest with my own journey and you know, I’m praying that this holds true with my own kids. My daughter’s 10 now and she’s definitely a tween, but I feel confident in it. You want to be able to navigate those highs and lows with integrity. And if you practice this work, it allows you to do that.
There’s going to be bad days. Our kids are going to make mistakes. There’s going to be times when they get bad grades, make a bad decision or date a weird person. How we work with them is really our choice.
ALLIE: Absolutely. I would like to get practical on that. Let’s say you’ve got a teenager and they’re making a mistake that’s freaking you out. Maybe they are getting involved with the wrong crowd or maybe they actually make a pretty large mistake. They start to sleep with someone. Maybe you find out that they were drinking at a party or something. Maybe they’re making a mistake currently. One of the ones that you’re like, “please no.” How does handling that look like within this type of parenting?
WENDY: Well, the first thing is that we want to make sure we have established a relationship built on trust. So, if our kids come to us and tell us the truth, which is what we want, right? Because, let’s face it, there are going to be times when they make mistakes. We want them to be honest with us. And so, the first rule, if you want your kids to not lie to you at any age, especially when they’re teenagers, is you’ve got to stop reaming them when they tell you the truth.
We teach something in Positive Parenting called “heart connector,” or a pause button where if a kid tells you some freaky information, like, “Mom, I did this, or I’m hanging out here. I went to this party, I got wasted.” Whatever it is, you put your hand on your heart. Your heart starts to beat (I call it the volcano effect) and you’re thinking, “what the heck were you thinking? Oh my gosh!” And you just want to blow up on them. But what that does is it shuts a kid down and you have eliminated or extremely diminished your chances of them coming to you again and being able to mentor them out of that situation.
So, the first thing you want to do is do that heart connector. Go take a walk, go take a bath, go pray, whatever you need to do to get yourself into a place of neutral emotion. And often that will look like silence.
Then you come back to the table, maybe later, once everyone’s settled down and you say, “Thank you for telling me the truth. Thank you for telling me that you did that. That means the world to me. And now I want to talk to you about what’s going on.
Why did you make that choice? What were you thinking? How did you feel? How did you feel when you knew you were wasted or you drove with somebody that was drunk?” And most likely you’re going to be able to mentor them to understand that they felt scared, shameful, guilty and yucky.
Then you’re going to say, “Well, how would you like to do it next time? Because I know you and that’s not who you are. You are a strong decision maker and I know you care about your own life. You know I care about your life and we can’t have you driving in the car with people who are drunk, honey. So, here’s your options for next time and this is why you want to make a different decision next time. This is why you want to think about what you’re saying “yes” to when you say “no” to getting in a car with somebody who’s drunk. You’re always saying “yes” to something when you’re saying “no.” You’re saying “yes” to your safety and tomorrow and not getting in trouble or whatever it is.
That’s the type of conversation that we have with them in a calm time. That really lifts them up and out of a behavior instead of forcing them. “Well if you do that again, you’re going to be grounded. Wait till your dad finds out.” My favorite these days is all about “screen time”, “I am going to take away your phone.”
That’s really the compassionate and effective discipline that we do in this work. We guide and coach parents how to make what we call “the four R’s.” It has to teach responsibility, it has to be relative, and it has to be respectful, and I often forget the fourth one…
Using those together helps kids understand that if you are going to give a consequence that having it be relative has them actually learn from it instead of making it like, “Gosh, my mom’s mean.”
ALLIE: “How many more days until I get my phone back?” That’s all they care about.
WENDY: Yeah. And also you want to make sure you’re pouring into that need that they belong, that they are valued, that their voices are heard, that they have a powerful part in the family because those needs that Dr. Rudolph Dreikurs taught, it’s the same for toddlers as it is for teens. Figuring out how you pour into that in those teen years is big. We do have the ability to be strong influencers on them.
ALLIE: I know we’re going long. I had a feeling this would happen with you because it’s such a good topic, but going back to toddlerhood and little years, how do you handle a kid that does big, big tantrums? What if people are listening to this and they have a kid that’s doing that right now and they want to start this? How do you handle public, awful tantrums?
WENDY: Great question. All right, so backing up a little bit, this work will help you get out of it. There’s a few things that tantrums usually come from when kids are toddlers. Some of the biggest ones are tiredness, hunger and thirst, and sickness.
So many times we find that with toddlers, those are behind the tantrum. So, that’s where the responsibility from the parent really comes in. Us seeking to look internally. What can we change in our schedule? What can we change in our expectations? What grace can we give over these children to not set them up for failure? But the fourth element of tantrums is also powerlessness that you see a lot in kids. And again, feeding into how do you empower these little guys? One of the favorite and best ways to do that with toddlers is choices. A lot of parents are, “Yeah, we give choices,” but this really becomes a fluent language with your toddlers.
And I just worked with a dear friend on this a little bit ago with her toddler who was tantruming so much. He was two and she started to incorporate more choices and sure enough it worked. But that’s just one element of preventing power struggles and then dissolving them with integrity once they arise. That’s just one little element; we give parents so many.
But then another thing that I would speak to with the tantrums is, a big learning experience for me that changed a lot with my daughter when she was three, was this idea that I had to fix her. That she was broken and that it was my responsibility to make sure I got control of her. Because God forbid someone saw me in the grocery store with a wild, tantruming child.
I really did a lot of work around it and I’m also a life coach in training. The more I did work around it, the more I realized that it wasn’t so much about her. It was more about me, what judgment I thought was coming down on me, and what I thought other people were thinking of me.
I had to clean that up a little bit and just trust that parents get it. 99% of the world gets it. And I know everywhere I go, I try to give a mom a smile or pat on the back, and say, “You’re doing an amazing job. Hang in there. Go get yourself a latte.”
Trusting that and being able to give compassion, kindness and empathy, you can do that better when you trust that humanity is behind you.
There is the 1% who will make those comments and you’re just like, “Come on, please!” But I love this idea of not feeling like your kids are broken or that you have to get control and fix them.
Sometimes you just gotta scoop your little one up, leave the grocery store, put them in their car seat and go for a drive until they fall asleep. And that is OK. Tantrums are, like I said, most of the time about how to empower these little ones so they don’t feel like they’re powerless.
They are also about the hunger, thirst and the sickness. A lot of times when my kids have had the worst tantrum when they were little, the next day they came down with a cold or they got sick, and I was like, “That’s why!”
ALLIE: Yes. Oh my gosh. I was going to add but I didn’t want to interrupt you. But I was going to say, do you know how many times a huge freak-out happened and I would go home? “What is wrong with my parenting? This was so awful!” And then the next morning they are throwing up. Do you know how many times I had an abandoned cart at the grocery store that I had to say, “I’m so sorry I have to leave,” and I wouldn’t get my groceries because we had to leave from a freak-out.
Everybody does get it. It’s OK. It usually is a heart issue. You think, “They’re just such a difficult kid. Oh my gosh, I need to really deal with this.” But then it’s usually that they feel really stuffed up and they have a cold coming on, or it’s something simpler
WENDY: Or overstimulated or you just thought you could push them 10 minutes on their nap to get some groceries.
Yeah. I was just in the grocery store the other day actually. We talk a lot in this work. We do a lot of paradigm shifting and we give this example of Stephen Covey on the subway. But I actually had the same perspective shift that I was in the grocery store and I had three little girls with me who are friends of ours, they go to our elementary school and they just lost her mom to cancer. I had my little guy with me, so we I had four kids with me in the grocery store. I bow down to you; I don’t know how you go it. But we’re going through and I just wanted to get some frozen food for them so dad could empower them to make their own snacks.
And they’re like, “Can we have ice cream?” And I’m just like, “Sure, sure.” And they’re running around and they’re wild and someone did do that look at me. And I just tried to reach in and have compassion for that person who I thought probably was judging me, and think to myself, “They have no idea what’s actually going on in this situation.”
Everybody has their story, whether it’s kids being wild or kids tantruming. You don’t know what’s going on with that mom or that kiddo.
One more quick story, Allie. Years ago, I was in a little café close to my house. I’ve had many moments where I’m not patient with my kids, but this particular day I was working to be patient with them. They were doing something annoying and I found the energy to be calm and patient with them.
And the young girl came up to me and said, “I just want to tell you that the way you talk to your kids, what you’re doing with them is so inspirational. You don’t hear a lot of people talk to their kids like that.” And literally I started crying because all these years of hard work of trying to find compassion and grace on how to work with these kids, especially in public, to have someone see it, admire it and acknowledge it; I was blown away by that.
So that’s how I try to be nowadays for those moms who have those kids tantruming is just to acknowledge their hard work and say, “You are seen and admired. This stage will pass. They will get a little bit older and won’t do that.”
ALLIE: Yeah, because it feels like it never will. And I know what you’re referencing with the Stephen Covey, with the dad on the subway and it’s so true. You just don’t know. You don’t know where they just came from. You don’t know if this is her “off day” or she’s just “done.” She’s just received terrible news. It’s almost cheesy because that example is out there for everything, but none of us are acting like we know that. We don’t know where this person is coming from.
It’s funny that we care what people think of when we are out with our kids. We’re all doing our best. We’re trying to raise good kids. Your parenting. You’re having a hard day. You do you. The last thing we need to be doing is worrying about what somebody else thinks. If we can all let go of that and those expectations we have of ourselves to meet other people’s expectations when we’re out in public and with tantrums and stuff, it would just be so much easier.
That’s the best thing I think we can do for ourselves right now is just simplify and make things a little bit easier for ourselves.
I feel like we could talk for hours that we may have to have you on for another episode or something because this is just so good and so full of hope, and empowering. That’s what moms need.
Thank you for taking so much time to be here with us. I so appreciate it.
And guys, we’ll link to everything, where you can find Wendy, it’s freshstartfamilyonline.com.
She’s got an amazing course that she gifted to me and I have been looking through. It’s so good. If you think this interview is good, it’s a million times better.
And then you also have the Bonfire, right? Which I think is a monthly membership.
ALLIE: So we’ll link to everything. If you want more of Wendy or the amazing work that she’s doing, we’ll link to everything. I encourage you guys to go and check it out.
Thank you so much, Wendy!
WENDY: Thank you Allie! I’m glowing! What a great conversation. This was awesome. Thanks again.
This was an episode of The Purpose Show. Thank you so much for tuning in. If you are ready to uplevel and really take action on the things I talk about on my show, head to alliecasazza.com for free downloads, courses, classes and to learn more about what the next step might look like for you. I am always rooting for you. See ya next time!
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