Navigating Parenting Challenges: Insights from Certified Coach Robbin McManne

Navigating Parenting Challenges: Insights from Certified Coach Robbin McManne

by Chris Tompkins | May 1, 2024

Robbin McManne is a parenting coach, author, podcaster, and speaker who addresses parenting from a conscious or peaceful framework. The self-proclaimed former “angry mom” released her first book in 2018, The Yelling Cure: How to Stress Less and Get Your Kids to Cooperate Without Threats and Punishments, and continues the important work of teaching parents how to build strong families so their kids thrive.

We can change the world through parenting

Robbin’s podcast is called Parenting Our Future because as she sees it, investing in this generation is going to change our future. She explains that one of the things that makes her hopeful about young people today is that there is such an openness around discussing mental health and in asking for help. Alongside our kids, she thinks parents are also recognizing that they need community and admitting more openly to needing help and to not having all the answers. She compares parenting to hanging a shelf.

“You wouldn’t hang a shelf without instructions,” Robbin says. “It’s okay to say, ‘I need some help.’ It’s okay to look for guidance in our parenting. You don’t have to do it all, and you’re not supposed to know how to do it all.”

The tenets of conscious parenting

Robbin explains that the number one thing about peaceful parenting is learning to not take your child’s behaviour personally. You naturally see your child’s behaviour through your lens but you have to learn to take yourself out of it.

Secondly, conscious parents are curious parents who ask questions like: I wonder why? How come you’re so upset right now? What is that about?

Conscious parents are also empathetic. It’s not about feeling sorry for them, but about validating their feelings. It’s about saying things like, ‘Wow, I bet losing your balloon broke your heart. I can imagine how upset you must be,’ to a four year old when losing a balloon, for instance, is a big deal. Robbin explains that you don’t have to agree, but you can put yourself in their shoes.

And finally, conscious parenting is about listening.

“When you really listen so that they feel heard, that is one of the best gifts that we can give our kids because we all have a deep need to be heard,” Robbin asserts.

Becoming a conscious parent

Robbin reflects on what ultimately led her to become a conscious parent, explaining that her expectations of herself as a mother were so high and she loved her children so much that she felt so much shame when she would lose her temper with them.

“No mom goes into the job of motherhood thinking she will be angry,” she says. “Our kids are able to trigger us in a way that we are not ready for.”

Robbin attributes it to the fact that they hold a mirror up to us that reflects our childhood and a time of helplessness back to us. As such, she describes a cycle of asking her child to do something, then not doing it, asking again to no avail, feeling triggered, and finally yelling to get it done, at which point she would feel terrible and her child would be upset. She recognized that as an endless spiral of shame that she wanted to break. Breaking through that shame spiral for her, meant having the tools so that when she felt triggered, she didn’t have to yell and scream to get her child’s attention. She was also able to better understand her child’s behaviour and to move forward from there without yelling.

“When you can do that, you’re so proud of yourself. It feels really good, and you’re able to build this really deep connection with your child as well,” she says.

Listen to the full episode at the top of this post for more on what Robbin has to say about parenting kids the peaceful way.

Visit our website to discover a variety of other guests that we’ve had on the show. Shaping Our World episodes are also available wherever you get podcasts.


Speaker 2 (00:01)
Well, hey, I’m Chris Tompkins, and welcome to the Shaping Our World podcast. My goal is to invite you into a conversation that will leave you more confident in understanding and inspiring the young people in your life. Each episode, we talk with leading experts and offer relevant resources to dive deeper into the world of our youth today. Today, we have Robbin McManne on the show. Robinn is a certified parent coach, author, podcaster, and speaker. She works with parents from all over the world to help them build more connection and find more joy and co-operation operation to their parenting. Robinn is a former, quote, “angry mom,” and for over 12 years, Robinn juggled a full-time corporate career while being a mom and wife prior to becoming a parenting coach. In her corporate career, Robinn has a background in marketing and public relations, training, and event planning. She understands firsthand how many moms struggle to balance work and family. It’s because of her struggles as a parent that she found the world of peaceful parenting and has dedicated her life to teaching parents how to build a strong family so their kids thrive. In October of 2018, Robinn released her first book, The Yelling Cure: How to Stress Less and Get Your Kids to Cooperate Without Threats and punishments.

Speaker 2 (01:33)
Her book is being read by parents all over the world, with over 300,000 copies sold to date. Robinn also has an award-winning podcast, Parenting Our Future, and it’s ranked in the top 1% of all podcasts globally. Robinn divides her time working with her clients, running her other businesses, speaking at events, and spending time with her two teen boys and husband of over 20 plus years in beautiful British Columbia, Canada. She’s taking a break from all of that activity and busyness and has joined us today to talk about parenting. What does it mean to not be a yelling parent? She’s going to talk to us a bit about conscious parenting, other strategies to work with difficult kids. I’m really thrilled for you to hear this conversation. So let’s dive into it. Well, welcome. It’s so great to have you, Robinn.

Speaker 1 (02:31)
Oh, thanks so much for having me, Chris. I’m so thrilled to be here.

Speaker 2 (02:34)
Yeah, we’re looking forward to this conversation. And most of our listeners know as we get into the beginning, we want to ask a few questions about how your world was and is being shaped. When you were growing up, what shaped your world? What were the big influences in your life?

Speaker 1 (02:51)
I feel like I was a pretty typical kid. I’m a child of the ’80s, so everything in anything ’80s was impactful from music to movies. My mom worked in a department store in a makeup counter, and so that really was influential in terms of fashion and beauty and makeup and all that stuff. That’s my childhood.

Speaker 2 (03:15)
Can you say fashion in ’80s together? Is it really- I don’t know. It’s not high fashion, is it? It’s just like fashion. It’s a lot of shoulder pads. Yeah, neon and puffy hair. That’s right. Yeah. No, That’s great. So what about your world today? What’s shaping your world? Tell us a little about you beyond your bio. Who are you? What do you like to do for fun?

Speaker 1 (03:39)
Yeah. Okay. Well, so I have a husband who I’ve been married to for 20 years, and he’s actually my high school sweetheart, too. There’s a big story there. We have two teenage boys, and we spend our time really being together as a family, just really staying close to home, to be honest. We do like to do some traveling, even locally. Where I live in British Columbia, we’re so lucky to have so much in terms of resources and places to go. It’s really just spending time with my family, my friends. I definitely have lots of outside interests that really involve playing in the West Coast from being in the water to hiking and all that stuff. I love nature. It’s where I feel the most alive. I love being with my family, and my husband’s my best friend. It’s pretty close. We’re pretty simple in that regard, but We’re a really close family.

Speaker 2 (04:46)
It’s lovely to hear, actually. So that’s great. Tell us a little bit about what you do now that’s shaping the world of young people.

Speaker 1 (04:54)
I feel pretty strongly about this and could go on and on. I will spare you the long The long version, but what I do is I help parents really understand their kids and their behavior better, but I also help parents understand themselves better and why they react the way they do to their kids and their behavior, why they feel angry, why they feel reactive, why they get so frustrated. I feel very strongly that the way we raise our kids is instrumental in how we change the world. I believe that it starts with families. One of the things that I always say, and somebody said this to me, and I’ve adopted it, that we don’t put up a shelf without instructions. It’s okay to say, I need some help. It’s okay to look for guidance in our parenting. You don’t have to do it all, and you’re not supposed to know how to do it all. And so to ask for help is really, I think it shows strength, not weakness. I think that we have been in a place where we didn’t want to I need help or I don’t know what I’m doing.

Speaker 2 (06:03)
That’s really good. I think my wife, if she was in this conversation, would appreciate the shelf analogy, because when I’ve ever put up a shelf, instructions are good, but it probably wouldn’t be uncommon to have a few undesirable holes in the wall, or no matter what the instructions do, it’s not quite straight enough for me. Exactly. I think that’s a helpful analogy. We need instructions, but Even with the instructions, it’s really hard to get it right. It takes a little bit of grit and determination and trying it multiple times and swinging. I’m not admitting this like it actually happened. It may have. Swinging the hammer a little bit out of frustration and actually putting a hole in the wall behind something I was trying to put up. Totally. But that’s for a different day. But I love that. That’s a really great picture of that. I love that you’re giving your life and energy and skill and resources to doing that. So because you spend a lot of time interacting with families, you get a great snapshot of young people, the world they live in. We always like to take both sides of this. What gives you concern for today’s kids?

Speaker 2 (07:13)
And what gives you a lot of hope? Because as you said, if we invest in this generation, this is going to shape the future.

Speaker 1 (07:19)
Yeah. Well, and my podcast is called Parenting Our Future for exactly that reason. And so there are some things that are definitely on my radar that I see more and more. There are things that I think you would probably guess. The things that scare me are social media, but more to the point the access that social media provides to predators. And those predators can be an algorithm as well, not just someone, but also those algorithms showing kids things that they don’t need to see. It’s a really difficult thing to have outside forces being an influential factor in your child’s life that you, as a parent, may not even know or realize. And that is scary to me. And what I would say is really, really hopeful is that we’re more open to the conversation about mental health. There’s more awareness about how important that is. And And with that awareness and that acceptance means that more people are willing to put their hand up and say, You know what? I could use some help. When I grew up, it was very clear to me that we don’t ask for help. We don’t go to psychologists or get help from a counselor.

Speaker 1 (08:47)
We don’t do that. And I really feel the opposite way about that now.

Speaker 2 (08:53)
I think growing up, I thought of counseling is like you to a shrink and you lie on a coach, right? That was the only knowledge because we just didn’t talk about it or do it.

Speaker 1 (09:05)
There’s something wrong with you.

Speaker 2 (09:07)
Yeah, and not even really knowing anything about it. That’s great. With your front row seating working with parents and helping them parent and work with children, what are you seeing as some of the most common challenges in parenting today? And what are some of the things that maybe we’re getting right now that maybe we weren’t before? And obviously, it’s hard to generalize on very specific things, but I think as culture moves forward, there are some of these higher-level things. So what are some of the real challenges that parents are coming to you to wrestle down? And as you observe, what are you like, actually, we’re getting this right?

Speaker 1 (09:51)
I think we’ve come out of a really difficult time of COVID just in the last couple of years, just to speak of the last couple of years only. I think that a lot of parents are facing a lot of burnout, moms especially. They have, moms, myself included, we’re working. A lot of us, we’re trying to be perfect and trying to be perfect at work, perfect at home, perfect in a marriage, perfect with our friends, perfect looking, all of the things. I think that it’s really taking a toll on us. The people who suffer the most are the ones who we love the most, which are our kids, our family, our relationships. I do see that. Clearly, there is a flip side to that where we’ve seen people say, You know what? No, I’m not going How do you give everything to my job anymore? Workplaces are also recognizing we need to see a person as the whole person, not just the person who comes to work, and bring in programs that support people inside and outside of work, too. There’s the flip side, what is going wrong, but what we’re moving towards, which is going right.

Speaker 1 (11:05)
I think that we’re all a bit worried about the state of the world right now, and that does create this overarching anxiety. I think that we are also seeing that we’re normalizing more conversation around it. I think there’s a better movement to have discussion discussion and listen and learn instead of just try to convince you of what I believe and not listen to you. I think it’s the same thing. There’s a lot of competing. There’s a lot of competing forces for our children’s attention and on ours as well. I think that can make life pretty complicated. I think every generation has had something that they’ve had to compete with that’s new and different, and we’ve had to figure that out. I don’t think this is much different. But I think that us recognizing that we need a community and we can’t do this alone, I think that’s coming out more. I see that more. You don’t have to hide yourself away. You can ask for help, you can put your hand up. All that does is say that, Hey, I’m inviting you in to see my messiness, which means it’s okay to show me yours.

Speaker 1 (12:27)
The isolation, I think we really need to let that go and just be real with each other because that will help everybody, too. Help all the moms out there that are worried about being perfect.

Speaker 2 (12:39)
Yeah, I think that’s bang on. I can remember I grew up going to Sunday school at church, right? And it was always the joke that you would have all the family blowups, right? Right. On Sunday morning. But as soon as you got to church, every article of clothing was tucked in and smiles on your faces. And How you present to the world as like, we’ve got it all together, but really behind the scenes, it’s a mess. I think you’re right. I think now we’re a bit more reluctant to be like, well, my kid’s still in the car. We’re at Sunday school, and they’re not coming out because they’re having them out down and a bit more open to talk about it. But I do think, too, like you mentioned, and I just want to add back to your shelf analogy, I think our technology stuff, like you mentioned earlier, is advancing so quickly, right? It’s like, how do we get that assembly manual? It’s being written as we’re navigating it. I think that’s one of a newer challenge for us that’s maybe a bit different is, yeah, every generation, like you said, had their things.

Speaker 2 (13:46)
But ours, I feel like, are coming at us a little bit quicker than they were before.

Speaker 1 (13:49)
Yeah. Now we’ve got AI, and that’s creating a bunch of confusion and all of the worries that come along with that, too. Absolutely. It’s funny. I just wanted to say, too, with your comment about Sunday school, I used to not talk to my neighbors next door to us because everything went down in our garage. That’s where we were yelling the most. That’s where we were the most frustrated. I was so humiliated and so embarrassed. I just ignored them because I figured they just hated me. I figured they thought that I was the worst mom in the world. I know exactly what you mean.

Speaker 2 (14:25)
When things calm down in our house, our neighbor’s name’s Glenn, and we’re always like, You think Glenn He’s thinking he might need to call the cops now or what? He’s just heard it through the walls. That’s great. As your role as a parenting coach, that came about because, as you say, and I love this, I love your I’m going to say this. You say, I used to be the angry mom who would yell at my kids out of frustration. That went on. Until you really discovered or found conscious parenting, can you tell us about that? What are the tenets of conscious parenting?

Speaker 1 (15:00)
Yeah. Nothing surprised me more than how angry I was at my kids. I have two boys, like I said, and one of them is the one.

Speaker 2 (15:12)
We won’t ask you to name him today. He knows.

Speaker 1 (15:15)
He knows. It’s okay. I do speak about him, and he has given me permission to talk about him, too. I will say that, and that’s important to me. He really brought me to my knees. His behavior was something I’d never experienced before. I was a really good kid. I was pretty typical, and he just wasn’t. Big behaviors, explosive emotions, and I didn’t know what to do. I went to see doctors. I went to I did all the things, and all I felt like was it was just my fault until I discovered what you said, conscious parenting, peaceful parenting. It was Dr. Shefali Sabari that I read her book, The Conscious Parent, and it changed my life. I remember having this assessment with a psychologist for my son, and I just said, I’m really scared to put my kid in a box. I’m scared that you’re going to tell me all these things about him, but I really believe that conscious parenting is the way to go. The funny thing is, the psychologist and I both happened to be going to the same conference with Dr. Shefali at the same time. It was crazy, and it was in the States.

Speaker 1 (16:28)
That was a crazy It’s a big coincidence. It was from that experience that I learned what a parent coach was, and I decided that I needed to dedicate my life to it. It wasn’t immediate because I had this big change in myself, which lasted only a couple of weeks because then I started yelling again. What I needed to learn was to not take anything that my child said or did personally. That is one of the biggest things. Look, my kid is going through something, and I am just seeing his behavior, listening to his words, whatever it is, through my lens, and I need to take myself out of it for a minute. So when you talk about what are the tenants, what is the philosophy about? It’s about not taking things personally, like I said. It’s about being curious. I wonder why. How come you’re so upset right now? How come? What is that about? I wonder what’s going on with you right now. It’s also about empathy. Not like, Oh, poor you, but like, Wow, I bet losing your balloon broke your heart. I can imagine how upset you must be. I may not agree.

Speaker 1 (17:48)
I may think that what you’re upset about is stupid, but I can put myself in your shoes and I can say, Wow, as a four-year-old, that must really not feel fair. Then it’s also really listening to your kids. They have a lot to say. When you can listen to them and really listen so that they feel heard, that is one of the best gifts that we can give our kids because we all have a deep need to be heard. We all do, adults, especially. Imagine what life would be like if You, your child self, your parents really, truly listen to you. If you had something on your mind that you wanted to talk to your parents about, and they were like, Okay, hold on a second. Let me turn off the TV. Yeah, let’s talk. Whoa, that never happened to me in my life, and that is huge. Then to be able to hear back what you’ve just told your parents and for them to say, Wow, how can we work this out together? How can I support you? What can I do for you without shaming without blaming, without criticizing, without laughing at you?

Speaker 1 (19:04)
None of that. Like, whoa, okay, we all make mistakes, or we’ve all fallen flat on our face. We’re here for you. We can help get through this together. That is part of this whole thing. It’s about communication, listening. But listening is really the key, right? It’s so easy to go into lecture mode. It’s so easy for me to tell you all the things that I’ve learned in my my life. But how about you tell me what you’re thinking instead? Then also taking care of ourselves. That is a massive part of this, because if I’m not okay, it can’t be okay for you. If I’m burnt out and I’m burning the candle at both ends because I feel like I need to do all the things and be all the things to everybody. I can’t show up as the best mom I want to be. That means we have to say, notice some things, too. I would say that’s it in a nutshell. I mean, I could go Well, we’re going to go on in another way.

Speaker 2 (20:05)
Because I’m curious a little bit of like, okay, we’re coming at this down the road. I just wonder if you can take us a little bit back to that transition for you from discovering conscious parenting? Because something must have… We can be struggling in our parenting and then read something and it just goes by. Something must have been happening with you that was that visceral thing that’s like, I need to change. In the Yelling Cure, you teach parents how to stop yelling, which benefits both parents and the child, obviously. We often think about the impact of yelling on our kids. But I’ve heard you say in one of your videos that yelling would send you into a spiral of shame. Can you talk us a little bit about how the angry mom impacted you personally as a parent?

Speaker 1 (20:52)
Yeah. Thank you for the question. I think that as girls, as women, we are told Hold all of our life we’re going to be moms. We have this fictitious image of somebody who we need to measure up to. For me, I had my first son, and it started Right away for me because I—and this is a lot of information—but he was 11 days overdue. I had a C-section. I didn’t expect to have. I couldn’t nurse him. The shame was there immediately. Even the things that I’m I’m supposed to be able to do, I couldn’t do. My son was very colicky. He wouldn’t calm down, so I couldn’t even calm him down. He didn’t look for me. He didn’t reach out for me. None of those things that I thought. I had a hard time bonding with him. Those are all the things that I didn’t know would happen to me. I thought I would be like Mother Earth. I’ve said this before. I will take all the children. I will love them all, and I couldn’t wait to get back to work. More shame, right? Then I’ll tell you that every mom, or maybe I should say it this way, no mom goes into the job of motherhood thinking she will be angry.

Speaker 1 (22:12)
We are all excited. We all fall in love with these beautiful babies. We all do in all the different circumstances. Our kids, which we don’t realize, are able to trigger us in a way that we are not ready for. We talk about being a mirror holding up to in that. Essentially, what they’re doing is just through the way that they are and the way that they’re being in their own little world, their own selves, makes us feel ways that we felt when we were powerless to change anything, which was in our childhoods. Whether we weren’t allowed to do certain things or people didn’t listen to us. Then when our child doesn’t listen to us, it triggers us. That was a huge deal for me. But I also love my kids so much, and I’m a love bug. I love love. I love kids. I love my kids and all the things. The shame for me was, why can’t I get a handle on myself? Why is this little guy creating so much anger in me? I love him. Why am I so angry? So there is this spiral. It’s almost a cycle where I’m like, No, I’m going to be good.

Speaker 1 (23:23)
I’m going to be good. I’m not going to yell. I’m not going to yell. You’re triggering me. I’m twitching. I’m angry. I’m feeling frustrated. I’ve asked you to do something. You aren’t doing it. I’ve asked you to do it again, you’re still not doing it. Okay, now I’m yelling for you to do it. And then you’re not doing it. Then I’m screaming, then they finally do it. Then you go to your little child and you look at their big eyes and maybe there’s some tears in their eyes, and then you immediately feel, Oh, my poor baby. I didn’t mean to yell at you. I’m so sorry. I won’t do that again. I promise. I won’t do it again. Then you’re right back at the start of that spiral where something else happens, and you’re like, Okay, no. I said it was going to be I’m going to be good. I’m going to be good. I’m going to be good. And then you lose it. For me, it was about breaking through that shame spiral and having the tools so that when I felt triggered, I didn’t have to yell and scream to get my child’s attention, to get my child’s behavior, to understand it, and to move forward from there without yelling.

Speaker 1 (24:24)
When you can do that, you’re so proud of yourself. It feels really good, and you’re to be able to build this really deep connection with your child as well.

Speaker 2 (24:33)
That’s really good. Okay, so now I’ve got to… Because some of the things that you were talking about in that, you were speaking specifically from a mother’s perspective, and it might be a bit different for dads in this relationship, but it’s bringing up… So let’s get into a coaching thing, right? Because one of the things you talk about shame and this idea of what it means, whether it’s my wife or friends, I’ve heard this term of mom Mom guilt, too, right? This idea of this is the most important thing I’m doing raising this child. So the pressure is so high, and then it contrasts with this, I’m not doing it the way I should, and back and forward. And then I know, and maybe I’m being too honest in this conversation. In our household, it’s more like me going, Don’t worry, it’s going to be okay. And maybe downplaying it a little bit as we approach these issues. And we’re going to get into this issue as well, but You were talking about that because I think that leads to we both get angry. She’s angry because of her stuff and what we’re seeing. She’s also angry at me because I’m not engaging at the same level.

Speaker 2 (25:44)
And now I’m angry because I’m getting in trouble for something I didn’t even know was an issue. Anyway, so we’re going into some deep therapy and counseling here today. I totally get it.

Speaker 1 (25:54)
The same thing happened here. Yeah.

Speaker 2 (25:55)
So how do we meet? How do we work through that? How would you I know we’re getting right into practical, but- Well, it’s funny because I do talk about just me and my anger because my husband was more like you, right?

Speaker 1 (26:10)
And look, I will say, I recognize that I do talk about moms, and I really do just because I am one, right? I don’t talk about dads as much, but I have a lot to say about dads, and I love dads, and I really love working with dads, too. There’s so much there.

Speaker 2 (26:25)
And before you finish, I should also say, that’s not always the same. Sometimes dads can be more angry and yelling with kids for different reasons, right? Oh, yeah. I think it’s more like when you’re not on the same, one’s reacting one way and one’s the other way, but then it all causes anger and frustration, the whole thing becomes a mess, right?

Speaker 1 (26:43)
Well, and it’s a strain in relationship. That’s the foundation of your relationship. And that’s the foundation of your family. And you don’t want that to have fractures, right? You want to have a strong relationship with your spouse. I know I do. And so what I found with my husband and I is, and this is isolated. I don’t think it’s isolated to us, but it is. I’ll say this to say something else, which is that when I was struggling the most, my husband was the most peaceful. He was like you. He’s like, It’s not a big deal. He was a boy. I grew up with a sister. He had a brother, so he understood the dynamics of boys and all the things. It was a bit different for me, too. But now I see, he’s triggered in a different way because my boys are older and they’re teenagers. What I see and what I know to experience is we just have to have open communication. You don’t have to agree with everything that I’m feeling or that I’m seeing, but I just need to know that you’re hearing it. I just need to know that you understand why I’m worried about that.

Speaker 1 (28:00)
Sometimes just having you say like, Oh, okay, that is hard. I hear what you’re saying. You’re worried because of this. Okay. Because downplaying it doesn’t help it. Lecturing doesn’t help a bit, but just sitting in it together and like, how can we come to this together? It’s really the same thing as you’re doing with your kids. You’re listening to understand, not listening to respond. You’re giving your spouse empathy, and you’re saying, okay, how do we move forward together?

Speaker 2 (28:35)
And before maybe we get into the nuts and bolts of some of this stuff, I’m also curious. So let’s say one parent, it doesn’t matter who, one part of the partnership is saying, Okay, I’ve discovered this conscious parenting. I’m practicing empathy. I’m really feeling it. But the other one isn’t. How can you encourage that, pull them along, help get on the same page when you’re doing your best to be empathetic and listening, and then someone just gets frustrated and starts yelling, and you’re like, No, you’re not. And you can’t work that out in front of your child in the moment. How would you encourage parents to get on the same page, maybe when one is a little more in tune with what you’re talking about?

Speaker 1 (29:17)
First and foremost, I’ll say that’s really tough. It is really tough when you and your spouse are not on the same page, obviously. There’s many, many cases where that will happen. I’ve experienced that a lot along the way working with the clients that I’ve worked with where the husband isn’t interested at all. What I will say is it only takes one. It only takes one parent to be the one who is willing to sit in that empathy and that listening and that compassion with their child. That is enough to make a difference. What I would say is if there is a husband or a wife, either or, who is really resistant, it’s about getting to why? How come you’re so resistant? Some people are afraid that it creates snowflake children, that it’s the like, Oh, everybody wins. Nobody ever gets a hard lesson. Or like the shelf analogy, Well, I might be crooked and sometimes books fall Off me, but I turned out okay. I still hold stuff up. Well, maybe, but you could be better.

Speaker 2 (30:20)
Or my parents yelled at me all the time, and I’m fine today.

Speaker 1 (30:25)
Exactly. I hear that. I’m like, well, okay, well, maybe you are. And What would it have been like if your parents treated you like that? What would it have been like if your parents didn’t label you the label that you have? How would that change for you? I think it’s about having empathy for your partner, too, and saying, Okay, they’re really coming from a place of fear. That’s what it is. It’s fear. So what are you afraid of? If we don’t do it this way, what are you afraid of? If you Are you really super angry about something or super triggered about something, that means there’s something there. There’s something there. You need to… Can we talk about it? Can we talk about it? I would also say, Look, would you be Modeling. Just would you be willing to… Instead of lecturing our child, would you be willing to say, Hey, can you just tell me more about that? Would you just be willing? I will tell you that more than anything, the The most influential way that I can change the behavior of my own husband is by just doing things a different way.

Speaker 1 (31:38)
And slowly but surely, he will do it, too. It’s modeling, right? I’m just really setting the example. We’re all built with this thing called counterwill, that I will do the opposite of what you tell me to do if I feel coerced or I feel pressured to or manipulated into doing it. We’re all built with it, which is sometimes why kids won’t listen. What happens is if you make your spouse do something or you try to convince them and you take them to parenting seminars and you give them a book to read, and I’ve done all those things, by the way, to my husband, the counter wheel kicks in and it’s like, Well, I’m going to do the opposite of what you say because I don’t want to be told how to do this. Instead, you can just model it. I know that’s… Then also, if you need more help, there’s people like me who want to help you, who will say the things to your spouse that maybe he doesn’t hear from you or she doesn’t hear from you. Getting help is probably a good idea.

Speaker 2 (32:39)
Your specialty is helping parents deal with difficult to parent kids. Help us underpack what makes a child difficult to parent. What are some of the things that you see that parents are like, This child is really difficult?

Speaker 1 (32:52)
Yeah, there’s so many different things. Look, I think that a typical child is hard enough to parent, let alone a child that has big emotions, has explosive emotions, refusal to listen, behaviors that are confusing and maybe shocking and disappointing, and kids who don’t listen, kids who lack self-regulation, those are the kids that I love because they are so misunderstood. The shift can be so fast for parents in understanding them in a new way. And so what I teach parents is about brain science. I teach them about developmental stages. There are so many things that we know now that is backed in research. We can see that when I validate your emotions, that there’s actually a mechanism in the brain that releases soothing neurotransmitters to the part of the brain that’s activated in that emotion to calm it down. We know that now. We can see that through functional MRI machines. So This is not woo- woo. This is not like a feel-good, a new-age thing. This is something that’s backed in science and research. By the way, if punishing, yelling at your kids, taking things away from them really worked, then you wouldn’t have to keep doing it.

Speaker 1 (34:17)
There is a different way and a better way that builds connection. It doesn’t mean kids run the house. Absolutely not. You still have boundaries. You still have limits. But those are rooted in connection and all of the other things that I said, curiosity, empathy, listening. If you don’t do what I ask you to do, then instead of saying, Well, no iPad for a week, or, You can’t go to that birthday party, it’s like, Okay, hold on. How come? And oftentimes the answer is, Mom, I just don’t want to because of this. It’s like, Oh, my gosh. Okay, if it’s just that, I can work with that. But we don’t take the time to do that. That is really the key. These Kids with these big emotions, a lot of times it’s age-appropriate. A lot of times we’re missing the mark ourselves and we’re not listening to them. So they ramp up that behavior because that’s the only way they get our attention.

Speaker 2 (35:13)
I think sometimes in parenting, and I am a parent, but I think you can affirm this, don’t you think sometimes the end result for us is just to get this freaking out or the behavior, what’s going on to stop or calm down? And that becomes the outcome rather than actually seeing maybe we have to get to a different success point or a different outcome here that isn’t just they’re not freaking out anymore.

Speaker 1 (35:44)
Yeah. Well, and look, I think what most, and again, speaking from a mom’s perspective, most moms will blame themselves. And then that leads to other things that might not be so healthy, right? It leads to us withdrawing maybe or numbing ourselves or different things like that. I like to look at those behaviors and look, nobody likes a screaming kid. Nobody does. And it always happens in front of your mother-in-law or a friend or a coworker or somebody that it’s so embarrassing, right? Let’s just put it out there. It’s hard when your child is losing it. But there’s a couple of things that we also need to know. One is that when we resist it, it doesn’t work. Actually, and I know it sounds crazy, but actually accepting it is massive. For you to say, You know what? You are so upset right now and you need to cry, you can sit here. You let all those tears out. You cry. It’s okay. The other thing that is so massively powerful, which is why self-care and caring for yourself as a human being, let alone a mom or a dad, is that your child regulates off of you.

Speaker 1 (37:07)
They co-regulate off of you. So if you show up calm without like, Okay, I need to get this over with now. You need to shut up. You need to stop this. If you can say, Okay, this is hard for me, too. Wow, you are really upset right now. I’m here for you. I’m going to stay with you. So the acceptance and you co-regulating, and even if you just model deep breathing. Again, there is a mechanism that tells your brain, When I breathe slowly and deeply, I’m safe. Your child will do the same thing. Here’s the best part. It’s not about being perfect all the time. You’re going to be triggered. You’re going to be upset. You’re not always going to be able to show up as this level-headed adult. We’re complicated. We all have I mean, I yelled at my kids because my boss was mad at me or I was mad at my boss. Life is complicated, but this is just about practicing it, trying to do this every day, setting intentions for yourself every day. I’m not going to sweat the small stuff. Or being curious about, how come I’m so upset? And forgiving yourself, too.

Speaker 1 (38:23)
Like, Yep, you know what? Okay, that was a swing and a miss today. I did not show up the way I wanted to, and I’m going to let myself off the hook.

Speaker 2 (38:29)
Before we get to some more strategies to help, I just have this other question, too. In your experience, is sometimes our perception of difficult to parent kids is a lot to do with kids just act differently than we might have in situations? They respond to stimulus or experience in a way that’s just uncontinent. We would never do that. And it’s just hard to… We’re trying to be empathetic, but because the behaviors are misaligned. We just have a hard… So it’s less about really problematic kids and just an incongruency between our experience growing up and what we think is normal behavior and what our kids are doing. And how do we then adapt that way, too, right?

Speaker 1 (39:19)
Well, and I think it’s expectations. I think that a lot of the times we expect our kids to be perfect, that you need to behave all the time. I don’t feel like we really embrace the fact that kids are going to act up. They really are. They don’t have the brain power because it’s not grown yet in their brains. The brain is the last thing to fully grow, and they don’t have the ability, so we can’t look at them like little adults. We treat our kids in ways that I would never treat you. Oh, you’re late to this recording? Well, you can’t have a donut now. I would never say that. Oh, but I’d say that to my kid because I think that somehow that’s going to make them a better person. I think our expectations are out of alignment with what and who kids really are. I think that we were raised, I’ll speak for myself, with harsher punishments. I mean, I was yelled at, I was hit, I was talked down to. And that didn’t make me a better person. It made me really engage in disempowering beliefs about myself and then actions about I became a people pleaser.

Speaker 1 (40:31)
Still am and try not to be, but damn it, I still am. I don’t want to be. And it didn’t make me closer to my parents. It made me resent my parents, and even more so when I became a parent, to. So I think in some cases, there are kids that do have bigger behaviors, but I’m not sure if it’s bigger than what we experienced. I think we were maybe good, but we were also scared.

Speaker 2 (40:59)
No, I think that’s true. And I can remember reconciling some stuff growing parenting to be like, I would never speak to my parents the way my daughter is reacting. And there’s a borderline between disrespect and inappropriateness, and sometimes letting some emotional working it out. And I just remember sitting back and be like, Oh, man, that would not have flown. And again, you get that guilt of being like, Am I doing something wrong right now? Because that’s not my experience was. But then you’re like, Okay, I have a better understanding of my daughter who’s very different than I was. Giving her space to work some of that out, then enter in in the right way in the right time rather than just silencing something with authoritative blow, right? Just like, that’s enough. Stop.

Speaker 1 (41:51)

Speaker 2 (41:52)
Yeah, I think that’s really helpful. You’ve mentioned a bunch of strategies as we’ve gone through this conversation of how parents can work through their relationships and dealing with difficult children or difficult situations. About empathy and creating space. Can you think of some other strategies or maybe even list them out again as we think about, okay, We’re coming face to face to this stuff. What do we do as a parent? How do we work through it?

Speaker 1 (42:19)
Yeah. Oh, thank you. I love it, and I could go on. I’m going to give you a couple. I could go on and on and on. The first thing is a lot of parents complain about their kids not listening. Again, there’s so many different things vying for our kids’ attention. Often what we do is we’re busy doing our own thing. We’re in the kitchen making dinner. We’re in our bedroom or bathroom getting ready or whatever. We yell to our kids, not yelling at them. It’s different. We’re just using a louder voice to get our kids to do stuff, and that often doesn’t work. Then we’re repeating ourselves, repeating ourselves, repeating ourselves. Then we start to yell. Then we maybe say things like, Why do I always have to say this? Why do I always have to repeat myself? Why can’t you guys just listen the first time? This was my garage. What we’re doing isn’t working, but we double down. What you want to do is you want to go to your child first. Don’t even say a word. You want to meet your kids where they are. It’s about expectations. Our kids, they can’t even hear us or hear us passively.

Speaker 1 (43:34)
They’re in playing their Legos. They’re doing whatever they’re doing. They are completely consumed in their little world. It’s really not effective, nor is it really respectful for us to just think that when we speak, they listen. They just don’t. Let’s just recognize that that doesn’t work and change the strategy. I’m always all about putting the energy on the front end of a situation Because you’re going to spend energy in any situation with your kids. Usually, the energy is spent at the end after you’ve yelled at your kids or there’s a meltdown or there’s something, and then you’re behind the situation. You haven’t been proactive. What I like to do is I like to say, Okay, so you’re going to get yourself ready first, for example, then you’re going to go to your child. You’re going to go to them wherever they are, and you’re just going to make a connection with them. And by that, I mean give them a little lovey, like tossle their hair or rub their back a little bit, like a physical connection, something that brings them into the here and now. And then when you know that you’ve got them, that’s when you say, Hey, you know what?

Speaker 1 (44:46)
It’s time to put your shoes on. Let’s go. We got to go. We got to get going. And maybe your child will resist. Let’s say they just go with you in this case. Okay, great. So we’re going to go. It’s time to We’ll get our shoes on. Come on, let’s go together. We’ll go to the back door together. We’ll get our shoes on. It’s you go to them, you connect with them, you make a request, then you stay with them and you take them. That is the The key is staying with them. Because we often just send them off and they get distracted. They’re distractable because they’re kids. It’s hard for them. You staying with them allows them to be able to Stay focused and do it. You will never regret being with your child. You’ll never say, Oh, I wish I didn’t spend so much time with my kid. Ever. Nobody has ever said that. You stay with them and then you give them any help they need. This isn’t the time to say, Well, you should know how to tie your shoes. You should know how to do it for your jacket. No.

Speaker 1 (45:50)
Here we are, and I’m going to help you. If your child resists you in that moment where you say, Okay, it’s time to get your shoes on. Okay, well, how come? Then we’re going to work it out together. That could be lots of different scenarios. I won’t go through all the different kinds, but you’re just going to listen to understand and then work it out. Ask your child, How do you think we should work this out? They come up with great ideas, and they just want to be listened to. It is such a huge win-win, and it builds a strong relationship. The other one is when you have a child that has behavior you don’t like, call this the parent pass, and it stands for pause You just need to stop for a second. Okay, hang on. What’s going on with me? You’re pausing and then you’re asking, What’s going on with me? Sorry, just to go back to the pausing, you’re just putting space between yourself and what’s happening in front of you. Sometimes it’s physical space, sometimes it’s time and space. Because when you react, you’re going to react on autopilot. Usually, that’s your default, which is what your parents did to you, subconscious brain stuff.

Speaker 1 (46:59)
You’re You’re just going to pause so that you can be intentional about the next thing you’re going to do. Then you ask, Why am I feeling this way? Why am I so upset? I wonder why my child is feeling upset. You’re going to ask yourself about you. Then you’re going to say to your child, Okay, hang on a second. How come? Why? What’s going on? Why don’t you want to take the garbage out? Why don’t you want to do this thing? What’s going on? So pause, ask. Then it’s show empathy. It’s like, Okay, so I get it. Yeah, you don’t want to stop your show to take the garbage out? Yeah, that’s not fun. Oftentimes, we’re asking our kids to go from a preferred activity to a non-preferred activity, and we wonder why there’s resistance. Well, no wonder. Then the next is solution. Solutions. Finding solutions together that includes your child getting input. So pause, ask, show empathy, and find solutions together.

Speaker 2 (47:55)
Easy to remember, too. Really helpful. I loved when you were talking about double downing It made me think of a quote, I think they assume it’s Einstein, but that whole insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. So you yell once, you yell again. You’re like, They’re not listening. Let’s just keep yelling. That’s clearly What’s going to work is the fifth time, right?

Speaker 1 (48:18)
It’s so true. And here’s what I’ll say. It’s difficult to change. It’s uncomfortable to change the way you do things, the way you’ve always done things, but you’re already uncomfortable. You don’t like the yelling. You don’t like feeling like you’re not the best parent you could be. We all want to be great parents. We all do, right? Especially people listening to this. I know they’re great parents, even if they yell, even if they get frustrated. It is uncomfortable to make changes, but you’re already there. This discomfort leads to a future where your kids want to be with you, where they will come to you, where they won’t seek others’ input and advice. They’ll seek yours. That’s what it’s all We don’t want just a relationship with our kids for the first 18 years, and then that’s it. We want a relationship with our kids for life, right?

Speaker 2 (49:07)
That’s really good. So helpful.

Speaker 1 (49:09)
And that’s what this is all about.

Speaker 2 (49:11)
You and I could probably go on forever. You’re a podcast host, got so many great things. We could just keep talking, but we probably got to wrap the conversation up. There’s so many good things. Even that last pass is just going to resonate with me as I go through the rest of my week. So thank you for that. So helpful. But as we tie things up here, what would be some resources, opportunities you could suggest to parents who want to work on having more peaceful households that align with what they really hope to happen in the lives of their kids? Feel free to talk. Send people to your website. How can they get access to what you’re doing in your podcast? And then anything else you think that would be helpful tools or resources for parents.

Speaker 1 (49:55)
Okay. Well, thank you very much. Look, I have a YouTube channel. It’s Parenting 4 Connection. My website is also Parenting 4 Connection, not the number 4, it’s f-O-R-Connection. Com, and you can reach me there. I’m really everywhere, but you’ll be able to see YouTube videos and also the video version of my podcast on YouTube. And then my podcast is everywhere where you find podcasts. I really just want parents to know that this is really hard, and we are in a place at a time where there’s so many unknowns. To say, Hey, I need some help, you can be helped, and it doesn’t have to take a long time. People are often not willing to look at themselves, but really the change in your family does lie in the way that you respond and react to your kid’s behavior. If that is a struggle for you, and if that’s hard for you, you’re so not alone. You don’t need to feel ashamed. You don’t need to feel hopeless. There is hope, and there’s people like me that would love to help you and will care about you and will help you create a new way of being in your family that only makes you so much happier, too, and your kids happier.

Speaker 1 (51:18)
Sometimes I shake my head when people don’t… Like, my services aren’t covered by medical or extended medical. Look, how many vacations have we had that are miserable? There is a small investment in the rest of your life and in the relationships that are the most important to us. You just don’t have to do this alone. That’s really what I want everyone to hear.

Speaker 2 (51:44)
A great way to come to a close. Robinn, really appreciate hearing your story and your journey and your passion and the experience you brought to this conversation today. It’s been so insightful and helpful, and I’m sure all the listeners are scrambling to your website to get more information. I really hope they do because it’s been, I know, enriching for me. And thank you for doing what you do and for helping families and parents because we’re big cheers and supporters of that wherever it happens. So thanks for doing what you do in your corner of the world. And it’s been great to talk to you today.

Speaker 1 (52:16)
Thank you. Right back at you. Thank you for all you’re doing.

About the Author

Chris Tompkins is the CEO of Muskoka Woods. He holds a degree in Kinesiology from the University of Guelph, a teacher’s college degree from the University of Toronto and a Master’s degree in Youth Development from Clemson University. His experience leading in local community, school, church and camp settings has spanned over 20 years. His current role and expertise generates a demand for him to speak with teens and consult with youth leaders. Chris hosts the Muskoka Woods podcast, Shaping Our World where he speaks with youth development experts. He is an avid sports fan who enjoys an afternoon with a big cup of coffee and a good book. Chris resides in Stouffville, Ontario with his wife and daughter.
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