I have the most incredible conversation for you today. Rachel Bailey is a parenting specialist who has been serving families for over a decade. Besides being a mom of two herself, she also has a master’s degree in clinical psychology, a certification in positive discipline, and has provided services as an ADHD coach, in-home mentor, and therapist. She is locked and loaded with all kinds of wisdom to share with us today. So, let’s dive in!
In This Episode Allie and Rachel Discuss:
Rachel’s background and business
The “why” of a child’s behavior
Boundaries with children
The yuck factor
Tools to help the sensitive child cope with their feelings
Tools to help the strong-willed child cope with their feelings
Tools to help the under-stimulated child cope with their feelings
Activities for kids so you can get stuff done
Mentioned in this Episode:
Courses (Use the code PURPOSESHOW for 10% off!)
Mom life. We’re surrounded by the message that it’s the tired life. The no-time-for-myself life. The hard life. We’re supposed to get through it. Survive. Cling on by the last little thread. And at the same time, Carpe Diem—enjoy every moment because it’s going to go by so fast. The typical mom culture that sends us all kinds of mixed, typically negative messages. We shouldn’t take care of ourselves; it’s selfish. The more ragged you run yourself, the bigger your badge of honor. But also, ditch your mom bod and work out. Don’t yell. Make more money. Show up. Be better, but not at the expense of time with your kids. I am putting a hard stop to all of this. While being a mom, running a business, and whatever else you might have going on is hard, it is a lot and there’s lots of giving of yourself, the idea that motherhood means living a joyless, nonstop-hustle-with-zero-balance kind of life, where you give and give and give and never take, needs to stop.
I’m on a mission to help you stop counting down the minutes till bedtime (at least most days). Stop the mom guilt and shame game. Stop cleaning up after your kids’ childhood and start being present for it. I want to help you thrive in work, home and life. I believe in John 10:10 that we are called to living an abundant life and I know moms are not excluded from that promise. Join me in conversations about simplicity, some business and life hacks, spirituality 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 Purpose Show.
Guys! I have the most incredible conversation for you today. The title says it all. This is literally everything you need to know about parenting.
My guest today is Rachel Bailey. Rachel is absolutely incredible. She is somebody that I have taught business to, and now we’ve become friends. She’s been so helpful for me as a parent.
She’s just a light. She makes you feel like you are right where you need to be as a parent and that you can do anything when it comes to your kids. She makes you feel equipped and enabled. It is her superpower.
Rachel is a parenting specialist who has been serving families for over a decade. Besides being a mom of two herself, she also has a master’s degree in clinical psychology, a certification in positive discipline, and provided services as an ADHD coach, in-home mentor and therapist. She is just locked and loaded with all kinds of experience and wisdom to share with us today.
It’s so funny to me because being a mom is the most important job in the world. There’s so much that comes with it. There’s so much involved in it. It’s all so important.
And we have no training. There’s nothing that can really prepare you for it. And so, having people that have studied these things and can really come alongside us is so beneficial. That’s one thing that I really love to bring here to The Purpose Show.
Rachel is teaching parents practical long-term tools for raising responsible, resilient, and confident kids. She’s really passionate about helping empower the parents. She has moved from teaching kids to teaching parents. Her goal is to reduce the stress and guilt in parents’ lives.
Brian and I actually had a coaching session with Rachel and she is just incredible. We brought her our communication difficulties, different things we’re working through with our kids as they get older—like teaching them how to focus on schoolwork—and the little things that pop up along the way as you’re raising kids.
She literally blew our minds in 20 minutes. She really helped us pivot our mindset, refocus on what really matters, and she gave us communication tools. It was so, so good.
I had to have her on the show to spread this light with you guys. So, please welcome our beautiful guest today, Rachel Bailey.
ALLIE: Hi, Rachel! Thank you so much for hanging out with me today!
I have so many things that I want to talk to you about. I feel like this is an episode where you’re going to teach me and, at the same time, coach the women that are listening. I’m happy to give examples with my kids to make this the most impactful discussion it can be.
But first, explain what you do. I know you have multiple programs. You’re really well known in your physical area, correct?
RACHEL: Yeah. I have a really big local business. I have a lot of people locally, but not as much nationally yet, but that’s the direction I’m going.
ALLIE: Rachel was in the Mastermind that I had with Kendra, so she’s learning, bringing her business online and doing so well. You’re so receptive and coachable. You do everything and you’re amazing. What is the crux of what you do in your business?
RACHEL: My background is in clinical psychology. I actually was studying to be a neuropsychologist before I got pregnant on the way to getting my doctorate. I didn’t end up going that way, but I use a lot of what I was studying and learning—brain-based information.
I was originally working with kids and teens in the field of psychology, but realized, as parents, we need to know what to do and we need the practical stuff. We need to know how to handle it when I’ve patiently asked my kids three times to pick up their shoes and they haven’t done it and then I lose my cool. How do we deal with that so that we’re not losing our cool?
I deal with the really practical things like getting kids to listen. I work with a lot of parents whose kids have big emotions, parents whose kids are “strong-willed.” So dealing with the everyday stuff that we deal with as parents, my job is to give the practical tools on how to handle that and how we can find the time and energy to make it happen.
ALLIE: What do you say when somebody tells you that their child is strong-willed?
RACHEL: First of all, chances are the child is strong-willed. I have people dump information to me first because I know if they’re really upset I can’t teach them anything anyway. So, if someone told me that their child is strong-willed, I’d say, “Give me examples. Tell me what it’s like.”
That’s the first thing I’d probably say. Then I tell them exactly why their child is being strong-willed and what to do about it.
ALLIE: That’s what I love about the way that you speak. You give the full explanation. You don’t just say, “Well, try doing this.”
You’re not harsh. You explain. Everything that I’ve seen from you is laced with, “Oh, that’s okay. You’re not bad at this, but if you shifted it like this it would go better.”
I feel like you’re very empowering and moms need that because when you have a kid and then they turn into a toddler and they start doing things that make you like, “Oh my gosh, this is so embarrassing. That sounded so disrespectful. What do I do?”
They have a will of their own. Your expectations aren’t met because they have a personality and something else that they want to do. It feels very powerless sometimes and I feel like you give that power back to moms.
RACHEL: I love to hear that because I do think knowing the “why” of behavior is not intuitive at all. I know we’re going to talk about this, but why kids do what they do is not intuitive. When we assume that they do it just because they’re being bad, it actually puts us in a bad place and it doesn’t work. I love telling parents why their kids are doing it.
The reasons that I explain don’t come to us naturally, but once you hear it you think, “Oh my gosh, that makes so much sense.” It’s empowering to know why they’re doing it because then you know what to do about it.
ALLIE: I want to talk with you about boundaries with your kids. I would love to give you the floor here and let you talk about what that looks like and also why it’s important. People always ask me about parenting and I don’t really know why because I don’t really like to talk about that; I actually avoid it.
I think it might be because I have a close relationship with each of my kids, even as they get older. I feel like I have their hearts and we’re close. I think that people see that and want to know how they can get that.
And I don’t really know anything except that I feel like I have good healthy boundaries with my kids. So could talk about what that looks like and why it matters?
RACHEL: Absolutely. Healthy boundaries aren’t saying that you don’t matter to me. Boundaries are actually saying that I matter too.
I’m a big believer that you have to figure out what you want your life to look like. I always tell parents to figure out what they want their life to look like and then figure out how to create the boundaries that allow them to get that life. Boundaries are really what you put in place in order to take the steps necessary to have the life that you want.
They really protect you. They aren’t saying, “You’re not important, child.” They’re just saying, “Look, I’m important too and I’m going to take care of myself.”
That’s how I see boundaries. And there’s a really important reason that boundaries make a big difference in your parenting. There’s this concept that I teach that I call the “yuck factor.”
The “yuck factor” is a really simple concept that when human beings are in a good place, we act positively. So when we are in a good place as parents, we can be calm, patient and kind.
But when we’re in a place of “yuck” and “yuck” is a blanket term I use to describe anything uncomfortable—we’re hungry, we’re tired, we’re overwhelmed because we’re not setting boundaries, we’re feeling like there’s too much on our to-do list—as human beings we can’t act consistently with our values because our yuck or discomfort triggers our fight or flight response.
What’s interesting is our fight or flight response shuts down the part of the brain where our values live. So when we are in yuck, we literally can’t be the parent or person we want to be. Boundaries are what we set in order to reduce the yuck, so we can be the parent and the person that we want to be. I hope that makes sense.
ALLIE: That makes so much sense. I’m specifically thinking about yelling. That makes sense of why we do that when we don’t want to do that.
I have a blog post that I wrote years ago of how I stopped yelling which explains why I challenged myself to stop yelling and now catch myself and stop when I start, because if it’s a reflex then it’s harder to break. And people always tell me, “I tried this, but it’s not working.”
And I don’t know what to say. I’m just continuously working on this. But what you just explained is literally it.
While we’re on that, is there anything else that you would say specifically about yelling? Because we get asked about that a lot. I think moms feel out of control.
RACHEL: That’s exactly what yelling is. Yelling is a symptom of yuck. Again, yuck is when we are feeling uncomfortable, but there are certain things that cause yuck.
Feeling out of control is one thing that will actually tell your brain that there’s a huge threat and it’ll put you into your fight or flight response. The part of our brain where our values live is called the prefrontal cortex. Fight or flight shuts off the prefrontal cortex.
So what happens is we say to our kids, “Take your plate and put it on the counter.” We say it calmly and we say it nicely, but then our kids don’t listen and then they don’t listen again after we say it four times calmly. And then our brain says, “Okay, you’re helpless. You feel out of control. Your kids are going to turn into people who don’t listen to authority.”
That’s a threat in the brain. Our fight or flight response kicks in (what I call yuck) and our values are shut down and all of a sudden we need to yell. That’s basically what’s happening.
ALLIE: I’m having a mind blowing moment right now. It makes so much sense. I’m actually thinking about how my mom and I have talked a lot about yelling because my mom came from a very abusive home, extremely abusive. She got married and wanted to turn over a new leaf and be a certain way with her kids.
At the same time as she was having us, she hadn’t dealt with any of her trauma. She started to deal with it and started to go to therapy because she was having panic attacks. When I’m telling this story, my mom should have been the worst mom ever from what happened to her. And she was such a good mom, so good. But she always says, “I wish I wouldn’t have yelled.”
But I’m thinking about her because she was starting to uncover all this trauma because she had started to have panic attacks and she started to yell at us and she would snap. And she wondered, “Why am I doing this?” She always thinks she did such a bad job and I’m like, “No. You never laid a hand on us and you were a great mom.”
But it makes sense for her that her fight or flight was triggered, especially because she had experienced trauma. She wasn’t a mentally healthy person until recently.
RACHEL: Someone who experiences trauma, their fight or flight response is going to be on call all the time. They’re actually going to sense things as threats more easily than someone who hasn’t necessarily experienced trauma. And this is also true of sensitive children. Their fight or flight response is more sensitive, so they get triggered more easily and they go into yuck more easily.
ALLIE: Oh my gosh, this makes so much sense. I feel like this is freedom too. I hope my mom will listen to this because I feel like it’s freedom. Like, “Hey, you didn’t do a bad job!” None of us think that in the first place about her.
This makes sense. It’s like science. This is like A + B = C, and this is what happened. Now I’m able to go way further than she took it and be the next better generation. And then Bella will be the next better generation.
I feel like there’s so much good in that and so much science in that that could bring freedom to people who do struggle with yelling or have experienced abuse and tell them, “Hey, you’re doing a great job. It’s okay. But here’s why it’s happening. And here’s tools to stop.”
RACHEL: That’s exactly what I teach. Absolutely. Other people’s “negative behavior” is simply a symptom of their yuck, including children.
There are basically three reasons that all children misbehave and it encompasses 99% of this behavior. One of the reasons is because they’re in yuck. When people are misbehaving, they are almost inevitably in yuck because when we’re in yuck, we often turn our yuck out on other people.
It’s just a symptom that we are struggling and we see it as aggression, defiance, or strong-willed behavior. It’s simply a symptom that someone is struggling or a child is struggling. We can have more compassion and patience for our kids when we realize that.
ALLIE: Okay, can I ask specific questions about my kids? Because I feel like this is going to help so many people and also I want you to help me.
With one of my boys, it’s like walking on eggshells in terms of, “Hey, you have to do something.” It’s not an anger thing. It’s an overly sensitive thing.
I’ll say, “Okay, we’re going to wrap this up and it’s time to get some schoolwork done.” And it’s just like depression. Then I’ll say, “Hey, let’s not choose that attitude. Let’s not do that today. Let’s choose positivity. Let’s just get this done so you can go back to playing.”
But he spirals in two seconds like, “Ugh my life is over!” And honestly I’m trying to just like stop the emotion which is probably not super great but I know the spiral is starting. What is that?
RACHEL: You just put it together without realizing. That is his yuck. Yuck happens within a millisecond.
It can be building up from previous times or it could be caused just by the specific situation. He doesn’t want to stop or he doesn’t want whatever it is you ask him, so his brain goes into yuck.
There’s three things that humans tend to do when we are in yuck. The first, which I already mentioned, is we turn it out. Aggression, defiance, blame—that’s all yuck turned out on other people.
What your son is doing is the second thing, which is yuck turned in. It’s turned in instead of turning it out on other people. It’s like the kids who say “I’m so stupid” or “I don’t want to do this” or they’re really negative or they’re whining. They’re turning it in on themselves.
The third thing is we numb our yuck. And as adults we do this all the time when we have a lot of yuck inside. We numb through it. For example, at the end of the day, we’ll go to alcohol and all of our wine that we’re drinking all the time, the sugar that we eat, social media, even busyness is a type of yuck-number.
All this to say, what your son is doing is a symptom of his yuck. I’m a big believer in mindset, in everything you teach, I’m such a fan of yours. But I do want to emphasize that in the moment it’s not necessarily a choice. His fight or flight response has kicked in.
And we can teach him to recognize that and do something different, but it’s not a choice that he’s making in that moment to be negative. He needs to learn how to almost override that fight or flight response. And he won’t choose anything different until he knows how to do that.
ALLIE: Knowing that I already feel a shift in me of empathy. So what do you do?
RACHEL: I’m a big believer in doing things proactively. I want to tell you what to do proactively and then I’ll suggest what you can do to respond to him in the moment.
Proactively, we can actually teach kids as young as 3 (and this absolutely can go all the way to adulthood), how to recognize that feeling of yuck and actually cope with it in a different way and deal with that energy that they feel in that moment in a different way. We can teach them that ahead of time.
Once someone is in yuck, you can’t get them to get out of it unless they do it themselves. If someone is in yuck, they’re already in fight or flight. They can’t access that part of the brain that can act positively and be respectful.
That’s the prefrontal cortex I mentioned earlier, the positive, mature part of the brain. The fight or flight response shuts it down. We can teach them how to override that, but it takes time and it takes practice. Those are basically coping skills.
Proactively we would teach kids how to recognize that feeling. Teach them to feel it in their body. Maybe his shoulders are tense or he feels something in his stomach. Ask them, “What can you do when you have that feeling instead of saying, “Aw, I don’t want to”?
But it takes a while for them to actually learn how to do that. It’s like learning a new language. When we teach them, it takes a while for the new language to kick in.
What I suggest you do is you can teach him that proactively and I have a step-by-step lesson where I teach that. But in the moment, instead of saying, “Let’s not do that,” what I would do is almost the opposite. People freak out when I say this, but instead of telling him why he shouldn’t feel the way he feels, just say, “You know what? I understand why you’re frustrated—because you were right in the middle of doing something and you don’t want to stop.”
When you actually let him know that you get him, it sends a signal to his brain that he’s safe. Not that someone’s trying to change how he feels, but that he’s safe. Safety is one way to get someone from their fight or flight response back to their prefrontal cortex.
We all do this. We want to almost do the opposite of our instinct. And this becomes the foundation of actually teaching him emotional intelligence—when I get upset, this is what I need to do.
ALLIE: Um, is there any way that you could teach every husband on earth this?
RACHEL: I have a lot of dads who do come to me.
ALLIE: I’m thinking about my kids but I’m also thinking about all the times when I need to get something out and I don’t want him to fix it. I just want him to be like, “That sucks. I get that you’re frustrated by that because you worked so hard.”
RACHEL: It’s hard to remember but it’s so important to remember that the part of the brain that does solve problems, that can hear language and solutions, all that shuts down when someone’s in yuck, when someone’s in fight or flight. It’s all shut down.
ALLIE: It’s so good that you teach it this way because it gives the person permission to take up space, to be messy, and to not be perfect. For me and my motherhood, the biggest thing that I find myself fighting against is not giving my kids permission to feel and always trying to pull them out of their feelings.
Are you familiar with the Enneagram? I’m an 8 and that’s my weakness. I’m very like, “Everyone get on board cause I am going!”
There’s not a lot of space. My feelings are the most important, but no one else’s. If you’re really in the ugliness that we can be as humans, as an 8, that’s what it is. My feelings are the most important. Everyone else’s are not.
When I’m not emotionally healthy and in a really mentally, emotionally well place, that’s the ugliness that comes out of me specifically. So, with four kids and one of them being my daughter who is sensitive and one of my sons, the one that I was saying is very sensitive, it’s a struggle. And I feel like you just gave me a one-liner tool to just say this instead of saying that.
RACHEL: One of my favorite things to do for parents is send them these “Say this, not that” phrases and a “because” statement. Very simply a “because statement” is where you state how they feel because ____, and then you fill in the blank. Like, “You don’t want to do that because ______”, and you fill in the blank from their perspective. It can absolutely help someone feel safer. It really does.
I do want to say in your defense, and in basically every mom’s defense, it is hard for us to see our kids uncomfortable and negative. It puts us into yuck. Even though we know we should let them feel their feelings, it puts us into yuck and we forget that because we can’t access that part of the brain. We, as a generation, I don’t think learned how to handle feelings, so we have a hard time with our kids’ feelings.
ALLIE: That makes sense. Can you give a day-to-day situation example of having boundaries with kids? What does it look like to be a disciplinary figure and a good parent in boundaries with kids?
RACHEL: Absolutely. Boundaries are about identifying what a limit is. If it’s a boundary in discipline like, “No, you can’t be on your device right now,” or, “No, you can’t go to your friend’s house.” It’s about being clear in your own mind as a parent what the boundary is and why and then delivering it with respect.
And what I mean by delivering it with respect is saying, “No, you can’t go to your friend’s house,” or, “No, you have to get off of the device,” while understanding what their perspective is and giving them the tools to be able to meet that boundary.
This is a really common one; it doesn’t matter how old your child is, if you say, “Get off of your device,”—that’s a limit. You may know as a parent why you want to set that limit. Maybe you want them to come to the dinner table. Very fair.
Delivering it with respect is saying, “It’s time to get off the device,” and, “I realize you were right in the middle of doing something,” and giving them the tool. I haven’t talked about this with you yet, but kids are missing certain tools to be able to get off of the device without melting down.
They actually don’t have the tools to do that. There’s a cognitive tool that they’re missing which is the ability to transition when they’re engaged in something already. They don’t have that tool.
ALLIE: Yeah, that’s a problem.
RACHEL: One really simple way to do this is instead of saying, “Get off,” say to them, “Wow, you were right in the middle of watching (whatever), or you’re right in the middle of this video game, tell me about it as we walk to the table.” That’s actually giving them a tool to be successful because instead of yanking them out of that place of engagement, you’re letting their brain slowly disengage. That’s a simple tool that will help them meet the boundary more effectively.
So again, this is setting a boundary, knowing your limit, being respectful in how you deliver it and giving them the tool to be successful. That’s it.
ALLIE: You’re describing guiding our kids. This is what parenting is all about. But so often we don’t have the tools.
We don’t know what to say so we’re just shutting it down, shutting it down, shutting it down. I don’t want my kids to grow up feeling like they have all this pent up emotion and stuff to get out because they were never allowed to feel.
RACHEL: And that’s exactly why I think knowing about yuck is so important because what happens is, and I used to be a therapist for teenagers, what happens is if they hold in those feelings or what I call yuck, it comes out in one of those three ways.
It comes out in a lot of aggression, or it comes out in anxiety and depression, or it comes out in numbing, which is all the things we’re worried about for our kids. Smoking pot is all about numbing. Drinking, taking high risks, doing all the things that we’re worried about—that’s “yuck- numbing.”
I used to work with teens with eating disorders. All it was is they were numbing their yuck. If we don’t teach kids how to have their feelings effectively while setting boundaries (and that doesn’t mean we’re being nice to them) it comes out later in really negative ways.
ALLIE: That’s such a powerful motivator for us as parents to figure this out and not let this episode be something that we heard that was really good and then do nothing about it. The Purpose Show is all about action steps too, so we’ll go over that for you guys too.
We talked about the sensitive child. Now, what does it look like when a child is really strong-willed (looking at another one of my kids right now) and seemingly just wants to protest for the sake of not doing what you want them to do?
RACHEL: Absolutely. Here’s what’s going on in the brain of a strong-willed child. They imagine something’s going to go a certain way and when it doesn’t, it creates such discomfort.
Think about it from a parenting perspective. If you’re trying to get out of the house by 7:00 and that’s sort of what you have in your mind and the kids aren’t cooperating, you start to freak out. You have it in your mind how it’s going to go. It doesn’t go that way. You freak out.
That’s what’s happening for strong-willed kids. They have in their mind the way it’s going to go. It doesn’t go that way and it creates such a discomfort that the only way they know how to “cope” is to become strong-willed or stubborn.
It’s like their brain is saying, “Okay, you’re out of control here. The way you get control is to be defiant or strong-willed or whatever it is and just say, ‘No, I won’t do it.’” That’s actually their coping mechanism because they are so uncomfortable. That’s what’s happening.
ALLIE: This is the same kid that also is like, “We’re going to do this today, right? You said, we’re going to do this today.” And me and my husband are both just like, “This doesn’t feel good to me. I’ll just do this instead.” And the kids obviously come wherever we go. But we change our minds and then he freaks out.
RACHEL: That goes hand-in-hand, almost inevitably, with strong-willed and a little bit of (and I’m not saying this is at a clinical level in any way) anxiety. When kids want things to go a certain way and they can’t be flexible, it creates a little bit of anxiety. That all goes together.
Strong-willed kids tend to be anxious. They tend to have big emotions. All of those things tend to go together. Absolutely.
ALLIE: Okay, so what do we do about that anxiety? My husband and I have talked so much about this and I’m so grateful to you right now because we’ve talked so much about how this is the way that we live. We worked really hard to get to a place where we can be spontaneous.
Then we’ve got our son who’s getting older by the minute, and the older he gets the more he’s communicating openly, which I’m glad he feels safe to do that because I’ve been working really hard on that for years. But to still be really disappointed when we’re like, “Oh, actually Legoland is closed today. We can’t go.”
And then he’s like, “Everything is ruined. The world is over. Nothing’s ever going to be okay. I can’t believe that.” And we’ll say, “But we’re going to go to the beach and walk around. Relax.”
But he will leak that disappointment into the entire day. And that energy is contagious, and it ruins the family day. There’s so many sweet family moments that have been ruined by him putting that out to everyone because he’s so disappointed in what happened.
What can you do about that to teach him to be spontaneous and live life? It’s not even spontaneity; life happens like that. Sometimes Legoland is closed, man. Get over it.
What are the tools for that whole thing? I’m sure that other moms listening have a kid like that.
RACHEL: Not only do so many moms have kids like that, but I think it’s such an important lesson. Basically you’re asking how we help them become more resilient? Because life happens, things change. That is one of the things that I talk about all the time is raising resilient kids.
Again, I want to tell you what to do proactively and then I want to tell you what to do in the moment. And it’s very similar to what I said before. Proactively, the way we teach kids to be resilient is we teach them to recognize the disappointment that they feel or the anxiety that they feel when it doesn’t go their way.
Imagine for him, he was thinking about going to Legoland. He had in his head what he was going to do at Legoland, what he was going to play. He had all of this in his mind, just like we imagined we were going to get out of the house by 7:00. It was all in our mind.
Then all of a sudden it’s, “Nope, we’re not going and there’s nothing you can do about it. Suck it up.” What if someone said to us, when we had it in our mind that we were going to get out of the house at 7:00, “Nope. You’re not getting out of the house at 7:00, suck it up. There’s nothing you can do about it.” Then we’d say, “But they have to get to school.” That’s what’s going on for him. It’s so hard for him.
What he needs is to know how to recognize that feeling and learn how to calm his nervous system down, calm down his fight or flight response. When his automatic reaction is to either complain or meltdown or whatever it is, he needs to learn how to teach himself that he is safe.
These are what I call yuck release strategies, but they’re basically coping mechanisms. How do we realize we’re in this place and work through it? It could be deep breathing. It could be more cognitive strategies like looking at your limiting beliefs and your thoughts. For some kids, it’s physical movement.
I actually work with parents to figure out what is their child’s way of dealing with that negative energy. We need to teach our kids how to teach their own bodies to calm down and realize they actually are okay. That’s what we do proactively.
I’m going to tell you in the moment the thing he needs the most is to feel understood. The thing that big feeling kids need in the moment from us the most is to have someone get it. This is another “because” statement you can use right here: “You know what? I get why you wanted to go to Legoland because you had been thinking about it for two or three days. Legoland is awesome. You have such a good time there.” And then, “You can zip it.”
I will tell you if they’re still in yuck they won’t hear anything else. So if you switch and say, “Let’s think about all the great things about the beach,” if he’s still in yuck, he won’t hear it.
Yuck works like a rainbow shaped curve. When your son realizes he can’t go to Legoland, his yuck gets bigger and bigger. It reaches a peak and then it comes down.
So it’s like this rainbow shaped curve. Once someone is on the curve of yuck, they can’t hear you. So trying to cheer them up when they’re in yuck is not going to work.
But, saying to him, “No wonder you wanted to go to Legoland. Legoland is awesome,” is going to help him travel that curve more quickly. Then when you can tell he’s off of the curve, that’s when you can say, “Alright, name three things…” And you can even start by saying, “Tell me three things you don’t like about the beach.”
That allows them to release that yuck a little bit more. Then say, “Okay, let’s talk about what’s awesome about the beach.” And you can shift him once he’s out of there.
ALLIE: That makes sense. Yeah. That’s so good.
For him, I’ll say, “I know. I know it sucks. I know,” and then he’s crying and he’s whining in a way that, if I’m honest, is just grating my nerves. And I’m just sitting in the front seat waiting for it to be over. Do I just let him experience that until he stops?
RACHEL: Dealing with kids’ yuck is about teaching tools, for sure. Those are the yuck release strategies that I teach. I could even go through step by step how you teach those tools.
But just as much as it is about teaching them the tools, it’s also about us not getting triggered and not getting sucked into their yuck. You want your son to not melt down when things don’t go his way, you want him to be okay when things aren’t going his way. We need to show what it looks like ourselves.
He’s not acting the way you want. We need to model what it looks like to be okay when things aren’t going our way. We need to not get sucked into their yuck.
We, as parents, are horrible about that. We want them to stop because it makes us feel better not because that’s what’s best for them, but because it makes us feel better. So yeah, you have to let him go through it. If you’ve taught him tools ahead of time, he’ll get through it more quickly.
Everyone has to travel the yuck curve. That’s just how yuck works. We will get over it, but it takes a little time for our nervous system to shut down and turn around so we can then be mature again.
ALLIE: This is so good. Okay. I want to go to like the next type of child.
I was having a conversation with some women in my community. We were talking about an episode that I did called Raising Kids Who Know Their Purpose, who are connected to why they’re here, cultivating their skills, and all that stuff. Then we talked about parenting. I mentioned something about one of my other boys and all the moms said, “I feel so safe in seeing that you said that too.”
What do boundaries with kids and these tools and all of this look like when you have a child who, I don’t know if he’s bored or what, but he’s always the one that’s picking a fight, causing problems, and seems to enjoy getting the other siblings upset? It’s kind of maniacal and makes you as a mom think, “Is this okay? Are you evil?”
He’s not doing anything crazy, but why are you enjoying making your brother cry? What’s the deal with all of that? What do boundaries with the kids look like in that situation?
RACHEL: I’m so glad you asked that question because that’s the other really common parent that I work with. Your kids, Allie, represent every single type of parent.
This is the child who bothers their siblings, who makes loud noises, who’s really annoying, who might poke, if they’re sitting in the back seat they’re going to be the one to shove them with their elbow. That’s that kind of child.
ALLIE: Or my least favorite thing is when we’re just driving and he’s making a noise so quiet that we can’t hear it, but the other sibling hears it and it’s the sensitive one. So the sensitive one is in the seat yelling, “Stop!,” and he’s in the seat having the best day ever that he’s making his brother miserable. And I’m like, “What is wrong with you?”
RACHEL: Let me explain this child. One of the reasons that they like that is because it’s a sense of power and control, but that is not the main reason. The main reason is—and most parents are so unaware of this—all kids are wired for stimulation, novelty and engagement.
I’m an expert in ADHD (if I didn’t mention that), but I will say that this is not ADHD. This is a neurotypical child who has a desire for stimulation, engagement and novelty. Some kids need even more stimulation. Again, this is not ADHD.
There are a lot of neurotypical kids who just need a lot of stimulation. When they are not stimulated, their brain senses that as a threat and they will create stimulation. So, if they’re “bored” or they’re not engaged enough, they will create it.
When they’re sitting in the car with nothing to do, the brain says, “Okay, you’re under-stimulated, create it.” That’s when they make the noise. That’s when they do the things that are really annoying.
Then they get the reaction, which not only gives them stimulation but it gives them power. Stimulation and power are huge dopamine hits. All of a sudden the brain thinks, “That felt so good.”
And it’s not because they’re bad. It’s because they’re meeting the need that they had at that moment, which was for stimulation
ALLIE: So how do you stop that when you just want some peace on the drive to the coffee shop?
RACHEL: This goes back to a tool. Remember when I talked about setting boundaries with our kids, setting a limit and giving them the tools? He needs to learn how to engage himself without bothering a brother or sister.
The way I teach parents to teach their kids to engage is to find ways to engage their brain or their body. Engaging their brain or their body will always meet this need. This is also true if you need them to brush their teeth, do their homework, or do any type of activity that’s “boring.”
Before they get into the car, they need to know what they are going to do in the car that engages their brain. Is it going to be that they’re listening to something? Is it going to be that they’re playing Car Bingo? Is it that they’re going to say the alphabet backwards? What is going to engage either their brain or their body?
If your son is not engaged in some way, a hundred percent of the time he will create that engagement. You want to teach him how to recognize that feeling. I call this the “ants in the pants.”
I have a daughter who does this too. My daughter was saying to me, “I have ants in my pants, Mom. I need something to do.” I’ve taught her to recognize it.
That’s all this is about is teaching kids to recognize. Or teaching your other child to recognize, “I feel disappointed right now.” Or “I feel out of control right now.”
We teach our kids how to recognize those feelings. So when he feels that ants-in-his-pants-feeling, instead of bothering a sibling, he does something else that’s going to engage his brain or his body. That’s basically what it comes down to.
ALLIE: This is so practical.
RACHEL: We’re not talking so practically here right now, but all I do all day for a living is give practical tips like this.
ALLIE: Okay. We need to link every program that you’ve ever made. I want all of them and I will share them. This is so helpful.
Everyone talks about how the little years are so hard, so hard, so hard. And I felt like it was hard. It was a lot, and I just wanted it to be easier.
But now I feel like it’s hard because the kids have their own personalities, their own agendas, their own everything. And there’s so many of us; there’s six of us. And honestly, what Brian and I need to get done is more important in a lot of ways because we’re making money.
The kids are home all the time. We have their structure and their schedule and then they have their stuff, but there’s so many people. And they’re getting older.
Bella is 11 now. She’s very sensitive and wants to feel deeply valued in every single moment. And I’m trying to do a webinar. I’ve got stuff going on. The older they get, the more I’m like, “Gosh. This is easier in a lot of ways, but it’s harder in a lot of ways.”
What does it look like when mom needs to get things done and the kids are home to have the boundary and communicate that in a way that doesn’t smash the sensitive ones and piss off the strong-willed ones?
RACHEL: This is going to go back to setting boundaries. From my perspective, it’s about knowing your limits and saying, “I’m about to do a webinar (or whatever it is) and I need time to myself.”
This is why raising kids as they get older is harder. Younger kids, we can sort of meet their needs. Older kids, we need to teach them to meet their own needs. And that’s what setting boundaries becomes about. So your son who needs stimulation, he’s going to need to know what to do so that he can stimulate himself so he doesn’t need to bother anyone else.
Again, setting boundaries is about saying, “I need to do a webinar,” and making sure they have the tools to do what they need to do. Be respectful and say, “Hey, I know that when I’m doing the webinar you need something to do. And I know that you might feel bad that I’m away from you for an hour, so you need to know how to feel connected.”
I’m gonna tell you as a mom of four, this is the best news for you. Once you figure out what your kids’ needs are, and it’s really not that hard based on their behavior, you teach them these tools once or twice and you have just gotten freedom for the next 10 years. The tools they need don’t change.
But you aren’t aware of what tools all your kids need probably. If you teach them, though, you can then say, “I’m going to do a webinar. You all know what to do because I’ve given you the tools, go do it.” And that’s what happens.
ALLIE: Okay. That’s amazing. Could you get really practical? What are some of your best suggestions for the child that just does need to be busy and stimulated all the time?
Emmett is my one that is like that and he’s 5. Brian is here and we’re a team, but a lot of the time it involves both of us getting the tech set up, doing work, recording an episode together or something.
I know they’re safe. They’re in the home where we’re at. But I want to give him things to do that will actually stimulate his little brain and not just be go ahead and play the iPad for two hours, you know?
RACHEL: I’m going to go really practical here.
Number one. Does he need more of a physical stimulation or a cognitive stimulation? Does he need to move his body or does he need to be engaged? Do you know that? I can help you figure that out if you don’t.
ALLIE: I feel like it varies. He loves it when I go on the trampoline with him and he gets to show me his Ninja tricks. I’ll lay on my stomach and he can jump over me, fall on me half the time, and get psycho.
Then I say, “Okay, time to go inside because mommy has to do some work.” And then I feel like he moves into cognitive.
RACHEL: Gotcha. Perfect. The good news about him being both is that you can give him lots of different kinds of things to do. You can create an obstacle course for him, or you can have him create an obstacle course for you. That is both a cognitive and a physical stimulation type of exercise.
Another way is if you can do what I call “building a bridge.” You say, “Make an obstacle course. As soon as I’m done, I’m going to do your obstacle course.” So he’s actually thinking about you while you’re gone.
You’re building a bridge of connection. While you’re engaging his brain, you’re creating a connection with him. You need to find those exercises.
I actually have lists of exercises like this. In fact, I’ll give this to you and your audience for free. I have a document that says How to Engage Your Kids So They Don’t Misbehave. I’ll give this to you guys.
ALLIE: Okay. Thank you. That’s amazing.
RACHEL: Here’s my second tip for you. If you want a 5-year-old to leave you alone for a little longer, start them in the activity first before you go.
There’s an executive functioning skill called Task Initiation. Kids have a hard time starting a task, but once they’re engaged it’s actually hard to get them to stop. If you can start a task with him before you go do the next thing, you’re going to get way more time.
You can’t say, “I’m going to do webinars. You go make the obstacle course.” That won’t work as well.
Instead say, “I’m going to give you these three things. I’m going to start it with you and then you keep going.” That helps a lot too.
ALLIE: Okay. That makes sense.
Any other tips for the other types of kids? I feel like you just solved my whole life because if the stimulation kid is busy, he’s not causing the problems that make the noise where I can’t record the podcast or whatever.
RACHEL: That’s exactly what is happening. If you’re hearing noise coming out of him, that is a sign that he is under-stimulated. That’s it.
Noise equals under-stimulation, so help him find stimulation. You can teach a child 4-years-old and older how to get stimulation on their own.
I’m not an entertaining parent. I would say to my kids, “I’m going to work. What are you going to do?” They figure that out; not me. You can teach them how to do this.
But if you hear noise, he is not stimulated enough. That’s it.
ALLIE: I work with a lot of moms who have businesses, they work at home, and their kids are little like 18 months. Is there hope for them to be able to be productive?
RACHEL: 100%. I have an affiliate link to a website. The reason I have an affiliate link, very honestly, is because I have recommended this thousands and thousands of times, and I’ve lost probably a lot of money in the beginning because I didn’t. This website saved me and my family.
I’m not a great parent of young children. I just didn’t love my children as much then as I do now. I kind of feel bad, but I wasn’t that great with that age.
This website is Hands On As We Grow. They have the most amazing activities for kids. I think it’s about age 6-months to 5-years-old. They have these activities that actually engage kids.
They just had a challenge a little while back called the Play Next To Me Challenge. The whole purpose was to give parents of little ones activities for their kids so their parents could be doing something while keeping an eye on the child, but the child was completely engaged.
I used to do these things that I got from this website. When my kids were three and they wanted me all the time and I was making dinner, I gave them a can and rubber bands and had them put the rubber bands around the can. I’d say, “Hey, yesterday you put on eight rubber bands. Today, can you fit 10?” And just that engagement buys you time.
This website is so simple, so easy to use. I send the parents of younger kids there all the time and I get all these emails of gratitude from parents of younger kids.
ALLIE: Okay, amazing. I get so many questions like that.
And to be honest, I feel like I just kind of survived being productive in those little years. When I started my business Emmett was just a baby. I think he had just turned 1 and he breastfed for almost two years.
So, I went through nursing him and him being all over me. He’s the one that’s just so much. It was so hard. I definitely felt like I sacrificed a lot of my motherhood goals in order to do what I needed to do.
So when I get questions like that, I’m like, “I so feel your heart, but I’m out of that time and I didn’t have any tools.”
RACHEL: I have tons of those tools. Parents I work with have children aged 2 to 20, so I have a lot of the younger ones and absolutely I have tons of tools for that.
You email me any links that you feel are valuable, paid or free, and just tell me like this is paid, this is free and we will just outline everything for them.
Those of you who are listening, just go to alliecasazza.com/podcast, find the show notes and the link for this episode with Rachel. You’ll see a list of everything that she mentioned and anything else that she thinks that you need to know.
Rachel, thank you so, so much for this! This is really good. I feel like I want to keep going, but I don’t want it to be so long for everyone. So maybe we’ll have you back.
RACHEL: Absolutely. Thank you.
ALLIE: We’ll put the link in the show notes, but do you want to send them to Instagram or your website? Where do you want people to go to connect?
RACHEL: I actually have my own podcast and then a group that is associated with my podcast. So, my podcast is Your Parenting Long Game. That’s where I give a lot of these really practical tips. Every single episode has action items.
The podcast community is Your Parenting Long Game Podcast Community. They’re live all the time, giving tips, and I’m answering questions. That’s probably the best way to connect with me.
ALLIE: Thank you so much. I appreciate you. This was an amazing conversation.
RACHEL: Thank you so much for having me here!
Thanks so much for hanging out with me! In case you didn’t know, there’s actually an exclusive community that’s been created solely for the purpose of continuing discussions around The Purpose Show episodes. It’s designed to get you to actually take action and make the positive changes that we talk about here. I want you to go and be a part of it. To do that, go to alliecasazza.com/facebookgroup.
Thank you so much for tuning in! If you’d like to learn more about me, how I can help you, how you can implement all these things and more into your life to make it simpler, better, and more abundant, head to alliecasazza.com. There are free downloads, online courses, programs, and other resources to help you create the life you really want.
I am always rooting for you, friend! See you next time! I’m Allie Casazza and this is The Purpose Show.
Hey mama! Just a quick note, this post may contain affiliate links.