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In Part A, Natalie underscored the importance of identifying and addressing children’s emotions, particularly anxiety and anger. In this particular installment, she sheds light on similar topics in great detail.
So, without further ado, let’s get straight to the meat of the matter.
Firstly, Nolan discusses the impact of parents’ personal stories and emotions on how they interact with their children with Natalie.
Natalie suggests that parents often bring their personal experiences into their parenting style. For instance, a parent might be offended when their child talks back, recalling that they never dared to do so with their parents. But instead of just seeing the surface behavior, Natalie highlights the need to understand the deeper emotions driving such actions.
She also discusses the expectations parents sometimes have for their kids based on their age or perceived maturity. Natalie explains that many skills, like organization or tolerance, are linked to the maturation of the prefrontal cortex, which doesn’t fully develop until the mid-twenties. This understanding can help parents be more patient and supportive.
Furthermore, when children lash out or express strong negative emotions, parents must look beyond the immediate outburst and try to identify its root cause. For example, when a child says something like “I hate you,” it expresses frustration rather than genuine disdain.
Lastly, Natalie underscores the universal desire to be seen, heard, and understood. This need is not limited to children but extends to all interpersonal relationships, including those with partners and in leadership roles.
Natalie’s central message emphasizes the importance of empathy, understanding, and shifting perspectives to address the deeper emotional needs of children.
Next, Aram inquires if Natalie, through her work, has seen trends related to a child’s gender, birth order, siblings, type of upbringing, and the family’s socioeconomic status.
Natalie admits that despite contextual differences, certain patterns are consistent across all contexts, such as:
Apart from that, Natalie notes that anxiety has been on the rise, especially since the onset of COVID. The modern world presents various challenges, from global events like wars and destruction to concerns about global warming. The easy access to information nowadays can influence children’s perceptions and anxieties about these issues.
Moving on, Nolan inquires about the programs Natalie offers to schools and teachers, particularly how they differentiate from her sessions with parents.
Natalie responds by highlighting that her work with schools typically involves delivering sessions to entire classes, encompassing both students and teachers. Given the large group setting, these programs are naturally less personalized than her one-on-one or small group sessions with parents and their children.
When working privately, the content can be tailored more intricately to address each family’s unique needs and challenges.
Interestingly, Natalie highlights a shift in her focus over the past year. Whereas she previously centered her efforts on educating children, both in schools and privately, she has recently found herself increasingly supporting parents. This evolution in her approach stems from her realization that it’s often the adults who need assistance first.
As role models for their children, when parents are equipped with the right tools and understanding, it directly influences the well-being and behavior of their kids. Once the parents are empowered, the positive impact cascades down to the children, making her interventions more effective and long-lasting.
Moving on, Aram delves into specific situations involving children and their emotional responses. He shares observations about his own kids’ reactions to stress—some bottle up their feelings, appearing calm on the surface, while others exhibit more visible signs of unrest. The challenge, he notes, is when these suppressed emotions suddenly erupt, combining both recent and long-held grievances.
Aram’s main query to Natalie revolves around two key points: How can parents coax out their child’s feelings when they start to retreat emotionally, and how can parents manage the accumulated emotions when they are unaware of their presence?
Natalie responds by highlighting the importance of leading by example, demonstrating how to navigate strong emotions, and sharing those strategies with the children. For instance, parents can model out loud their thought processes when feeling anxious or angry and explain how they employ various self-regulation tools like deep breathing.
The idea is to foster an environment where emotional well-being is prioritized and conversations about feelings are normalized. Furthermore, to cater to children who might be more reserved, Natalie suggests alternative ways for them to express their feelings through writing.
Another valuable resource mentioned by Natalie is the “angry iceberg” or “anxiety iceberg” – a visual representation found online that aids in understanding the underlying feelings beneath observable emotions like anger. Using such tools can help both parents and children delve deeper into the emotions they feel, opening the door for more constructive conversations.
Aram finds Natalie’s approach beneficial, noting that it fosters a culture within the family where emotional well-being becomes an integral part of their daily lives. He appreciates that these strategies are meant to be woven into the fabric of family life rather than being reactive solutions employed only when problems arise.
Subsequently, Nolan shares an observation of a child throwing a tantrum over a cereal box in a grocery store. The mother appeared embarrassed, spoke loudly to the child, and eventually gave in to the child’s demands.
The following points include Natalie’s advice on dealing with tantrums:
#1 Preparation is Key
Parents should set expectations and boundaries with their children before heading to places like stores where tantrums might occur.
#2 Mirroring the Child’s Experience
Parents should acknowledge and validate the child’s feelings. They should enter the child’s world and understand why certain things might be exciting or enticing.
#3 Maintain Boundaries
Even if a child displays strong emotions, parents must stick to their set boundaries. This provides consistency and safety for the child.
#4 Allow the Feeling
It’s okay for children to have strong feelings. Parents can give children constructive ways to express their feelings in public spaces, like stomping their feet.
#5 Post-Tantrum Discussion
After the event, parents should discuss the incident with the child, framing the big emotion as just a moment in time, not the entire experience.
#6 Utilize Groundwork and Tools
Techniques like deep breathing can be taught to children to help them self-regulate.
On a similar note, the speakers discuss how children could advance from self-regulation to building empathy and aiding others with their emotions. Natalie explains that empathy tends to develop later in children but can be cultivated by modeling empathetic behavior.
She emphasizes the benefits of teaching children about kindness and its scientific advantages, noting that understanding the science behind behaviors can make children more receptive. During challenging times, like the COVID pandemic, focusing on kindness and its positive ripple effect can be particularly beneficial.
Additionally, Natalie points out that children need foundational skills in emotional regulation, awareness of their thoughts, and reframing their internal narratives before teaching empathy. She mentions areas like building confidence, transforming fear into excitement, and managing friendships.
Overall, the conversation underscores the importance of emotional regulation as the foundation for other vital skills.
Thank you for your time!
Nolan Martin : Hey everyone, thanks for joining us on the NEGOTIATEx Podcast. We are continuing our conversation with Natalie Costa, a coach, speaker, and founder of Power Thoughts. If you haven't already checked out part A of this show. Be sure to do that first. Let's jump into the conversation with Natalie.
Aram Donigian : I was on a ski trip with my kids, a couple years ago. And my number two daughter, I don't remember the exact context, but we're talking about what makes us happy and all of a sudden she just, and we got it recorded, so it's priceless. But she goes dancing. That's what makes me happy, and it's the cutest little video, but this idea, it really, you know, these things can boost our mood.
Natalie Costa : Mmhmm. And I mean, along with that as well, we know movement boosts, you know, dopamine, serotonin, it lowers cortisol. You know, I think music as well is a great way to bring this in, that element of play. And it's just, you know, it's just all good is, you know, it doesn't have to be vigorous. It could be yoga, you know, yoga's another way of movement as well. That's perhaps a little bit more calming and it doesn't have to be these strenuous activities
NM : You obviously haven't seen me trying to do yoga, and it's very strenuous. It is the most difficult thing. I'm the least flexible person, and it is worse than a workout. So….
AD : Nolan, Nolan, this is a child friendly program.[Laugh], we don't need that image of you doing yoga.
NM : Oh, no, you sure do not.[Laugh].
AD : Natalie, I wanted to ask you, and I'm not, I don't mean this to be a trick question. So, you know, of these five steps, is one more important than another? Or does it just depend on the child and the situation?
NC : I would say that in any, no, it's a great question. I think in any moment, the person that needs to stay calm is you. So whether it is that you use a breath for yourself, that to me might be my first go to, okay, let me use this to take a moment. Let me use my breath to pause before I react. Because if our brain is offline, the thinking brain is offline, nothing's going to work. So what can I do to bring my thinking brain online? So I'd probably say the breath work is probably the first one, because from there it will empower us to have those conversations, the feeling characters, and, you know, move us forward in that way.
NM : Well, thank you for that. I will definitely work on my breathing because I know that it's, I mean, it is, even for adults, I think that that's a way that you can kind of slow things down and just yeah. Realize, get grounded. Kind of figure out where you're at.
NC : Mm-Hmm. No, definitely.
NM : You shared a bit about this already and I was hoping you could say more about how parents' own story or interaction with powerful feelings, disappointment, frustration, so on affect their ability to engage with their kids using the steps that we've just outlined.
NC : I think your own story, well, we all have our own perception and our own way of obviously looking at the situation, looking at the world. And I mean, this is a big question, so I'm going to break it down a little bit, but one of the typical ways that our own story can get in our way is if you know our child back chat and we might think, well, I was never allowed to talk to my parents like this, and I was never allowed to do that.
That can be a way that that story gets in our way because now we are putting the filter on. You're being disrespectful, you know, you're being defiant. When actually our child giving us that back chat is, that again is the behavior. The behavior is the tip of the iceberg, but what is it that they're really feeling underneath? And if we always strip it down, it's a child that feels afraid and alone, misunderstood, not heard, not seen in those big feelings.
And so there is a bit of you know, work to unpack there in terms of shifting this perspective. I mean, another way that our story can get in our way is, my child should. My child should be able to get themselves up and ready for school. You know, we've done this, how many times, gotta brush our teeth every time. Do they not know this? But we've gotta understand that transition, organization, flexibility, you know, paying attention, frustration tolerance. Those are all executive functioning skills of the prefrontal cortex. And the prefrontal cortex is only fully developed by our mid-twenties.
So instead of thinking they should shift that perspective to, hold on, my child still needs to develop the skill of organizing their morning routine and they need my help. So how can I now problem solve? And you know, a big one, they're still developing the skill when a child says they hate me. And those big things that they say that trigger us, that's also a shift in terms of they're still needing to build that skill of frustration tolerance, because they're struggling because we've ended the game and they can't get their own way. Now this doesn't give them the green light to keep saying they hate you, right? But, and you know, those are things that we look at later on, but it's shifting my perspective because under, like I said, I go back again, underneath that is a child that feels alone.
And think of all times that you've lashed out, that you've been angry. We feel not seen, heard or understood. And I think this can definitely go across, you know, it's not just parenting, it's in leadership, it's in negotiations, it's in communication with our other, you know, our spouse, our partner. Because we don't feel seen in, you know, we all want to feel seen, heard and understood.
AD : I tell you, I appreciate that so much. I feel like so much of the issues or the little things that I see on a daily basis, it is okay, you know, you brushed your teeth every day. Why didn't you, you know, how to, you know, clean up your room and those frustrations. I appreciate the, again, that shift in perspective of this is a skill that is still being developed.
NC : Mm-Hmm. Yeah. And it will take time. And it doesn't mean it's, look, it doesn't take the skill building away. Like it's still a challenge. And it might be, and it's going to be inconvenient, but it's going to shift then how you respond to the situation. Because now I'm able to come in hopefully with more empathy and compassion versus the control and the fear and, you know, the logic.
AD : Natalie, as you've done this work, do you see any trends or themes that run along any lines such as a child's gender, birth order? Whether they have many siblings at home or just, or even none, if they're raised by a single parent, both parents, grandparents or even family kind of socioeconomic status?
NC : I think, you know, it really does vary based on context. I mean, typically to give you a few kind of themes, I think whenever siblings are involved, there is always that fight for attention. And, because they all want the attention, they want the attention from my parent. Obviously there are going to be challenges that a single parent might, you know, I mean, I'm generalizing here again, everybody's different. But it, you know, there might be a lot more to juggle then in terms of how present can I be, I really want to be present for my child, but maybe I don't have the ability to be that. And also of course, socioeconomic in terms of what I have access to resources I have that can help me.
So, but you know, going back, I think to what we spoke about earlier, if I have to think, like I said, anxiety's been a big one on the increase since, since COVID. And I think just generally as well with what's been going on in the world, if we're looking at, you know, war, destruction you know, there's been a few things. It just feels like things can feel quite dark and gloomy and a lot of, and I think also the, you know, the uncertainty that older children perhaps face in terms of my future, from global warming and questions that they have about that, but also the access that they now have to information, which wasn't around when we were the kids. That I think it also, you know, make an impact in this as well.
NM : Natalie, you also offer programs for schools and teachers. How do these programs look any different than what you do with parents? And how do you describe the impact that these skills have within the classroom?
NC : Mm-hmm. No, so I think with schools, I mean, they tend to be with schools, it tends to be, obviously I go in and I deliver sessions for children and for teachers, it's obviously more whole class-based. Whereas with parents, it's, and children, we'd still go through similar concepts or the same concepts, but it would be tailored a lot more to their individual needs, which, you know, is just, it's quite difficult to do as one person in a school. And obviously schools have a lot that they're juggling with as well.
But with the private work, it's a lot more around educating parents first and then doing the work with their children. And this has only recently changed. I mean, up until probably about 6 to 12 months ago, my focus was a lot on educating kids both privately and in schools. But really over the last 12 months I found myself more and more having to support parents. And it's like, actually I'm looking at this in the room. I'm coming in still with my teacher hat, but we need to look at like, it's the adults that need the help first. Because we're modeling and that gets fed down to our children. So that can be a lot more nuanced based on, you know, what the challenges are that they face.
AD : Natalie, if you're willing, we're going to spend our last little bit of time getting to some example situations. Does that work for you? Okay. And I just want to note for the audience that not all of these come from my own kids and my own family. If that was the case, everybody's going to think that the Donigian household is a complete circus. We're only a partial circus. Okay. We're still missing an elephant and a couple lions.
Alright. So some of my kids handle stressful moments by shutting down, pulling everything inside. So on the outside everything seems fine, mostly. I mean, one of my kids is a complete poker player. You can't tell anything is wrong until it's really wrong. Now another one is a little bit of a kind of what we call a Grumpy Gus. Still holds it in, but you can read it a little better. Either way, everything seems fine typically until at some point things suddenly explode. Now you're not dealing with just what happened in this moment, but also things from the past 10 days, 10 weeks, maybe even 10 months. Alright, so how do I as a parent; A, pull out some of this information when they start to go into shutdown? And B, how do I handle this buildup of emotions, especially when I didn't know those things, I didn't know they were there?
NC : No, it's a good question. It's a big question. I think, first of all, it's, A, what can you start to do differently to either educate your children, and you modeling yourself, ‘How I work with big feelings’. So it could even be a case of do you know what kids, I've had this course or this talk with, you know, Natalie, if you need to mention whatever, it doesn't have to be me. Maybe, you know I can point you direction of some material, and actually I've realized, do you know how sometimes dad gets really mad and I shout or I did that thing last week and it just made me think that actually we do so much for our body to like, keep our body healthy, but what are we doing to keep our brain healthy?
And so one of the things that I'm learning is how to calm my anger when I feel anger or calm the anxiety or deal with my work, whatever the emotion is. And modeling some of those self-regulatory tools, whether it is the deep breathing or whatever that might be.
When it comes to anxiety as well, and with all aspects, but in terms of, it feels a bit silly, but like modeling out loud what you're thinking of, like, do you know what yesterday, and I always say, have these conversations, not in the moment. It's more what are we doing initially outside of those moments. So even saying, do you know what, yesterday I had a tough conversation. I could feel myself getting really mad and I could feel that anger built.
But you know what I did? I practiced this breathing tool I learned and teach them the breathing tool and do it with me. And actually this was so helpful. And then also, once they know the tool, get them to teach you on different moments and different opportunities and different times. So this is, you know, it's a lot, you know, it's progress that we're building here.
And you know, for some children that don't want to, you know, don't want to talk. It is, you know, it depends. Because with some children I find they're better at writing things down. They're better at creating visuals about it. So with one family I worked with, her daughter really didn't want to talk about things, but they had this special brain dump jar that was in the, you know, in the living room. And the brain dump jar was just where I could put stuff down that was in my brain and it was then for my mom to pick up. And it was that way that they could then share about it.
And you know, or even just simply getting it out on paper, getting it outta my head and onto paper. But then as well, I think it's also appreciating, we might be a talker. Your child might not be a talker, but it's those little conversations that you have of, do you know what, like, do you know that time you got really upset about and talk wasn't in the past? Like, you know, that time you got really upset about something, I got upset about something. Whatever it is. Sorry, I just, my brain's going quite quick. Because, another thing you could do, sorry, is actually the hidden feelings, and you can find this on Google, if you put in ‘angry iceberg’ or ‘anxiety iceberg’, you'll get loads of images that will take you to where you can download a poster. And that is actually when I say a really useful way to talk to your kids about what we are maybe feeling underneath.
So even if your child doesn't share what they feel, you can share what you feel. Do you know when this thing happened yesterday I got really upset. But actually if I look at this, I was feeling disappointed. I was feeling sad. And so even though they might not be doing it initially, you're modeling to them what you want them to do. So yeah, those are a few starting, starting points.
AD : What's helpful there, at least for me is it feels like a lot of that is kind of built, it starts to, you're building this into family culture, emotional wellbeing is it's important to us as a family. So we build this in, because you're saying we don't do all this stuff in the moment when something's happened, this is day in, day out sort of stuff.
NC : Yeah. So actually if your partner, your wife comes home and you even have a conversation, obviously child appropriate in front of the kids, like, what today was a really tough day. And I could talk about like, the scenario and actually with them bring up with the intention obviously of like, actually what did I do to cope in that moment? So the breathing or whatever, I mean, you might not use ‘move or to lose it’ in the moment, right? To use your breath. But also I noticed I was feeling ‘X, Y, and Z’ and you know, so in that way you're building this into the family culture.
And from there you can also talk about, okay, well actually I've realized, you know what, I've really been doing a lot today or this week and I need a bit of downtime, or I actually realize I need to ask for help. So that way you're talking about what that feeling needs, you know? But it does take a bit of a shift in terms of the conversations we're having and it is about being intentional. And I also, you know, I know families have a lot on their plate, but we can aim to just have one kind of conversation like this per week. It'd be interesting to see kids tend to get involved in this way.
NM : That's great. Now I've got the second scenario here, but before I read it, is it mum or is it mom?
NC : Oh, so it's interesting. So this side of the world, it's mum, but in South Africa, we say mom, so.
NM : Okay, so either or. Alright.
So last week I'm grabbing groceries and passed by the parent dealing with the kid having a complete breakdown over some cereal that he wanted. The boy threw himself on the floor in a fit. I only watched him passing, but in a matter of seconds I noticed that the mom turned very red with apparent embarrassment, then speaking firmly to the kid loud enough so that everyone could hear.
And then eventually grabbed the box of cereal in question, I think it was Lucky Charms or something like that, and threw it into the cart. The kids appeared, or sorry, the kids appeared to calm down as I left the area. I don't have kids so I can't assess the parent's actions here. How do you coach parents experiencing this type of tantrum behavior?
NC : Yeah, it's tough. I'm not going to lie, it's tough. There is no magic. There is no silver bullet, right? There is no magic bullet. What I would say is if you, and I mean, that's a common thing. I can't think of any parent that, you know, has not experienced that. And of course we are going to feel the judgment and the shame. But I think, you know, a lot of the gain, this work comes in, what am I doing before?
So, if you know, you are going to go to the store and there are going to be things there that your child wants to see and you're not going to get them anything. It is that case of preparing them before saying, “you know what, we're going to the store, we've gotta pick up some things, now I know, there are going to be some really cool things that you want to see, some really good things you want, there are lucky charms. I know, no, no, they’re so cool.” And you kind of have a little bit of this conversation and the whole, what you're doing is you're mirroring their experience. You're like, you're just stepping into their world a bit. Because It is going to be so cool. It's going to be cool things, I'm going to see cool stuff. But then you also set those boundaries in, “Now I know they're going to be really cool things to see, but here's the thing. I don't have time. We don't have, we're not going to get that today. And so when I go there, just remember, we're not going to get that today. We had something yesterday”, whatever that is.
So you're preparing before, you're also preparing yourself of, okay, we're going to go to the store, right? I know he might have some big feelings and I am majorly repairing myself that I'm going to just stay calm. I'm not going to lose it. I'm not going to give it to him either. Because the thing is, if we've set that boundary in place, boundaries keep children safe. So if we give it, and look, no, like compassion for yourself, if you've given in right, there's an opportunity for a do again.
But if we are giving in, then we're always moving those boundaries. And kids don't actually know where I stand. So I've made this boundary and I know you might want it, but mommy's going to say no. And I know that sometimes those big feelings come and that's okay. It's okay to feel angry, but we're still, I'm still not going to get it. And so when you do get to the store, you've prepared yourself as well. And then in those big feeling moments, and I appreciate this is really tough because we might be worried about judgment, but at the end of the day, other people don't matter. It's you and your child that matters.
And so, you know, I always talk about, you know, stepping into the experience again. So mirroring their, of, “oh, I know, I know you really want it, and I know, look at this, it looks so cool and you've got all these cool things.” So you give a few of those mirroring statements and then we put that. “But here's the thing, sweetie. Remember what we said? You said we're not going to get it. And I know, I know, I know. Oh, here comes that big feeling. I know. Now you're allowed to stomp it out. And if you want it, maybe sometimes, sometimes, but in a public space, actually, do you know what? Stomp it out. Let, let's move things, let's move things, right? “ And that might take some bravery. But actually, when you're giving children the option to have the meltdown, they might not want to.
I'm talking like in public, right? And this has worked with, you know, like none of the things I share is like foolproof, but it then allowed the feeling, right? Like, I know, I know. And listen, I get it. I get it's hard. I know you want it. I know you really want it. But here's the thing. I love you enough for you to be mad at me. And I love you enough that I know this is hard, but my job is to keep you safe and whatever, you know, or my job is not a lot of sugar.
Now, this will feel really difficult and really counterintuitive. But you're allowing the feeling. Because then that feeling's going to come, and that feeling's going to go. And what, you know, and this is what parents have said to me time and time again, is like, actually when I allowed the feeling, it came down a little bit quicker. But it is tough. And sometimes you're just, you've gotta give yourself a pat on the back, like, okay, I survived that. Like, we made it through that. But it's really hard. It's really, really hard. But, you know, and again, this is not a quick thing. These are, you know, I have a lot of sessions with parents with it. There's a lot more that goes on ahead of this. So I appreciate somebody listening to me, like, whatever, like, there's a lot of groundwork we're doing before this. But there is, you know, and it's the, and then what I would say after the big feeling moments, the next day talk about what happened at the store. Talk about the big feeling and talk about what happened before. And then you had a really tough time in it. And I know it was so difficult.
And then when we got into the car, we were listening to a song. So you're teaching them that that feeling is a moment in time versus the whole thing. And what could we do before, you know, like, could we have used our breathing? Could I have used a squishy, you know, like, I often use like, breath in for, you know, squeezer for 3, let go for 5. So's a long answer. But yeah, hope it gave a little bit of context.
NM : Absolutely. And actually it sparked a memory that I had in another effective strategy. One time I was in Walmart and a kid was throwing a tantrum and the mom looked at the kid and said, I was like walking down the aisle. And the mom said, if you keep this up, you're going to go home with him. And the kid looked at me and I put my arms out to pick him up, and it immediately stopped crying. Ran to the mom, was good. So also an effective strategy to pretend to give your children away. So.
AD : I wouldn't want to go home with you either.
NM : I Know, I'm with them. That kid stopped crying instantly, tantrum over, ready to best behavior. So.
AD : So Natalie, as you were talking earlier about children are still developing these skills, it reminded me of another scenario. One of our kids is consistently slow in getting simple things done. This is kinda what you were talking about, such as making their bed, putting clothes away, getting ready for the day, whatever it is.
Always the last one causes everyone to wait on them. So we tried telling this child that we're going to set a timer and they need to get things done in that amount of time. And, you know, it was a fair amount of time. The response though was super strong. Like, Hey, timer set. Go get this stuff done. Instead of going, the response was just this emotional outburst. “I'll never get it all that done. This is unfair. I know I'm slow.” What could we have done differently?
NC : Yeah, no, first of all, it's okay. It's all right. You are a learner as well. So as a parent, let's not, don't get into the judgment for yourself, but if you think about it, A, yeah the timer might be a pressure and timers can, it depends, it depends with children. So sometimes even playing their favorite song or having a playlist of songs to get things done. But equally for some children it doesn't because there's [fearful noises], there's pressure. But now you're basically giving them more stress and cortisol in their system and you don't need that. So reminding yourself those organizational skills are executive functioning skills, first of all, for you as a parent.
I'd also say bring your children in, these sort of challenges. We often tell them what to do. And yes, they're boundaries. You know, that's my role as a parent to keep you safe. But bring, if mornings are a challenge saying, do you know what mornings are tough, aren't they? Because I know, you know, you feel like it's hard. There's lots of things you have to do and you feel like you're never going to get it done. And it just feels like daddy's nagging you all the time. And we need to get out of the house. This is a challenge. How can we solve this challenge together? So instead of you versus me, it's us versus the morning challenge.
And what can we do? And then come up with like a morning plan. You know, I call it my power plans. What are we going to do? And when I do our powers, like what am I doing to help me stay empowered, you know, so that I go to school feeling good, feeling confident, ‘da da, da’, all of that. And then breaking it down in terms of, okay, I also want to say like a visual reminder is so important for children. And preferably something that is like tactile. So whether they've got like pictures of like a ‘get up, I brush my teeth, I have breakfast’ and I tick it off. So it's that sense of like progress and seeing that progress. And get them to choose, bring them in. Okay, what do you want to do? Da da da, get them in. And then maybe at the end, that is the I often say there's like, if there's time left, if everything's done and we've got time left, that's when you can do your own exercise, your own activity. Preferably not a screen-based exercise, but something that is, you know, my own time.
And what I'd also say is give yourself more time in the mornings. Because give yourself those extra 20 minutes, right? I know it might be an inconvenience, but you're not going to be here forever. But if you're feeling less stressed because you've now got more time, that's going to make it easier for you to navigate these situations in that moment. And the mindset you're having is these are skills that we're helping my child develop, so how can we problem solve this? And, having that visual reminder is also really important, because kids can't keep these things in their head. They have no idea of like, we're going to brush my teeth and not going to eat breakfast. And like everything just, and they're so caught up in the moment. So having that as a visual reminder and perhaps even everyone in the family, you know, or a couple of unit family have your own morning power routine.
So we are all doing this together. But the idea really is how can we solve this challenge together? Because when we include children in this, their sense of, they're like agency, their sense of agency is being fulfilled. Like, my thoughts matter what I say, what I do, my opinion matters. And I'm sure again, you know, that you could probably relate to this, can relate. Like if we're wanting to run effective teams, it's how valued do the other people's opinions feel? We're more likely to do something if I feel like I feel valued by it. Like my thoughts matter. Although one of the kids I worked with said her mom's going to make pancakes for breakfast every day. And I think I was like, we've gotta obviously have some boundaries. There's not that we've make some breakfast, but not every day[laugh].
NM : All right, so the next scenario I think Aram gave me here so that we can get some more freak counseling out of this. Is that, I have a colleague who has an 11 year old daughter. Each week the night before, the first day of class, she gets incredibly anxious. She's cranky with everyone and can't get to sleep. It doesn't appear to be a social issue as she's been able to share that she's just worried about not having everything done that she needs to have for her teacher. What's your coaching advice in this situation?
NC : Mm-Hmm. And I think that's such a good question. It's a common one as well. And I think we can see that amp up more as kids go back to school after like weekends or holidays. I would, you know, talk about, again, bring it up, right? So if there's been the weekend and she's had a tough time in the week saying, do you know what I was thinking? Sometimes it's tough going to school, isn't it? Because there's a lot in our mind. We are worried about the next day and worried about things that we have to finish our teacher and it can feel, we can feel all these feelings in our body.
So helping her understand what she's feeling. And then, you know, especially with anxiety, let's do a brain dump. What are some of those things that struggle to keep you from going to sleep? What's in your head? Let's get it out on paper. Because A, when we do that, it's that it's not all floating in my head. B, when I get them things down, whether you write it down or your child writes it down, some of the things aren't that a big deal as well when we see them on paper.
But then as well we can come up with a plan. Okay, so if I'm really worried about getting everything done for my teacher, let's, again, that comes with that skill. Okay, what are maybe the things I need to do for my teacher and where am I as the adult, can I help my child with that? Now that we know about organization and those sort of skills only being developed by our mid twenties? And then I'd also say flip it.
So, we've spent so much time using our imagination and for what could go wrong. Now, what if it goes well, what if I have a really good time? What happened the last time I went to school and I was really nervous? Like, what were the good things that happened? You know, did any of those worries happen?
So we then create a visual or we talk about what if it goes well, what if I enjoy it? What if there are positive experiences? And also, I mean there was research done by one of the universities, I can't remember which, but over 89% of the things that we worry about never happens. And the 11% that does, we're still here to tell the tale, even though it was difficult. And also helping your child explore previous times they felt similar situations.
Now, that they're out of that situation, you know, what advice would they give themselves? Because it's, whenever I've done this with children, it is never as bad as what they thought it would be. And you know, I tell myself actually, I am strong and I can do hard things. And so even another suggestion here is making a visual collection of the hard things I'm doing. So tricky things I'm doing. And over time I add to that to really remind our children that I am resilient. I am brave. I have done scary things before. Because even we as adults, we forget, you know, how resilient and challenges that we faced and, and what we've gone through. So those might be a few starting points.
AD : And this has been a fascinating conversation. I mean, I know Nolan and I, this parallels so much of our thinking and work that we do in other contexts. So this, thanks so much for this. You know, one last question on my end, Natalie, you know, as you've worked with children, is there a point perhaps,is, I don't know if it's going to get a little older or something where you're able to coach them beyond kind of self-regulation and self-management to a point where they build sensitivity to the emotions of others and are actually able to become coaches themselves, help others with their emotions? You see that?
NC : Good question. Yeah. I mean, empathy is something that gets built a little bit later developed, should I say a little bit later on. I do cover that with some children as well in terms of, but it very much is a skill again, in terms of what can we do to model empathy? So that's the key point. If you want that for your child, what are you doing to model it? And I'm not saying that their parents aren't empathetic, but maybe we are not, you know, maybe model it more. And also, you know, with the old, you know, the other area that I love teaching about is around kindness and the scientific benefits of kindness and the impact that kindness has.
And you know, even when we were going through these really difficult times with COVID and, you know, a lot of uncertainty, helping where there's a lot of fear, but okay, let's look at what the helpers are doing.
Let's look at what would speak, how can I start to help the impact that I have? And, you know, I find with all the children teaching them about the science behind kindness and the impact that it has on my wellbeing, the person receiving the act of kindness. And I think the study has shown, like, you know, up to five people that witness the act of kindness, the ripple effect that that has. Like when children know the science, I find that things gel in a lot easier. It's the same as making mistakes. When children know about the science of neuroplasticity, they're that much more willing to embrace, you know, embrace mistakes and try new things.
So, but being prepared, you know, that will come a little bit later on. Because initially children are quite self-centered. But that will come through modeling, through stories, through role play. You know, that those sort of areas.
AD : And it sounds like these things that you've taken us to today are really essential foundational building blocks to get to that next point.
NC : Yeah, and I mean, I teach a lot about emotional regulation, but we also look at really becoming aware of our thoughts and our inner chatter, and again, which is a bit more abstract thinking, but really noticing the stories I'm telling myself. And it's not about positive thinking. So, you know, I'm bad at math to, now I'm great at math, but it's actually, let me take that thought through a set of questions to reframe it to a different story, one that makes me feel more empowered.
And, you know, looking at, you know, we also look at things like confidence and flipping our fears to excitement and how to make friends, dealing with friendship challenges. So how do I have a disagreement with a friend or assert my opinion? Because again, we weren't taught these skills. But yeah, it starts with the emotional regulation.
NM : Well, as we get ready to wrap up, do you have any parting thoughts or key points that you'd like to leave with our listeners?
NC : Yeah, good question. I think a key thing is for parents is compassion for yourself is really important because we can put a lot of expectations to get it right, or I've gotten it wrong, what I should be doing differently. But just reminding yourself at the end of the day that, you know, nobody's got this all figured out and you are a learner on this process with your child. So I think, you know, that's really important to remember.
NM : Awesome. Well, thank you so much for joining us on today's podcast. I'm going to turn it over to Aram for closing thoughts.
AD : Yeah, Natalie, I just want to echo thank you. Thanks so much for joining us. Wonderful tips. I really appreciate the idea, some ideas here that really struck with me, which is that you said nothing's foolproof that you share. Although what you gave us was a lot of things we can do before, during, and after. Which I like the holistic approach. I love the idea that there are things that we can, as parents and if we think about parenting and families as small business units, you know, as leaders of small units, to be building some of these things into the culture.
And there are things we practice daily. And that's a real challenge for me. I'm going to take that on. The idea of providing some agency and pulling and just talking through it more and pulling the kids into that and thinking about how we're building. It's not so much dealing with these issues, it's building these skills that are going to help them as they grow into adults. So those are my takeaways. Thanks.
NM : Amazing. Is awesome.
NC : Thank you. No, it's been a real pleasure. Thank you. Thank you so much.
NM : Well, that is it for us on today's podcast. If you haven't already, please rate, review and subscribe to the NEOGITATEx podcast and we'll see you in the next episode.
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