Ep #101: Connective Parenting with Andee Martineau

Connective Parenting with Andee Martineau

We all have preconceived ideas about what motherhood and parenting will be like, and beliefs about who we need to be in order to be good mothers. Often, our experience of parenting is filled with mess-ups and mistakes followed by judgement, guilt, and shame.

My guest today, Andee Martineau, has made it her life’s mission to help moms use connective parenting to create the bonds and experiences they want in their families. Andee has been where many of you have, feeling exhausted, frustrated, and disappointed, and she knows the exact steps to start parenting in a way that inspires connection, not correction.

Listen in today as Andee shares her journey of parenthood and what inspired her to help other women practice connective parenting. Her story is like so many of yours, and mine, so I know her advice is going to be so helpful. We dive into the pressure we put on ourselves as moms, why using logic with kids doesn’t work, and why connection is what we truly want.

Join me in Self Healing Masters, a program to heal your health, wealth, and relationships. Enrollment gets you lifetime access to my integrated healing approach so you can finally live your life’s purpose and help others. I can’t wait to see you there!

What You’ll Learn from this Episode:

  • Andee’s story of learning connective parenting.
  • The negative costs of typical discipline models and parenting cycles.
  • How to look back on the moments you messed up from a place of compassion.
  • How to use connection over correction when disciplining your kids.
  • The power of play in connection and parenting. 
  • How Andee helps parents create an environment for their children to thrive.

Listen to the Full Episode:

 

Featured on the Show:

Full Episode Transcript:

Welcome to More than Mindset. The only podcast that bridges the gap between spirituality and success. Go beyond the mind with clarity and confidence coach Kim Guillory and learn how to integrate your passion, to serve with your skills and experience to create a business you love. Let’s get started.

Hey guys, welcome back to the show. I have my new coach crush with me here today, my coach client crush I should say. I absolutely love what Andee is doing in the world for parenting. And so I asked her to come on the show and share some of the goodness with you guys. And so I laugh because whenever someone has something that I’ve been stalking for a while I call it client crushing because I love it so much.

And I really want to have this platform and community to be a space where everyone gets to share their soul essence with the world. And that’s what I feel Andee is doing and so here we are.

                                                                                                                   

Andee: You’re so nice. It’s so kind of you. I do feel like I’m sharing my soul essence so it’s fun to hear someone else speak that because that is what I feel is getting this out into the world for parents to see their potential really of what they can create for their kids so this is so fun. I’m so glad we’re going to talk about it.

Kim: Yes. So Andee is in Arizona.

Andee: Yeah, good old Arizona, it’s so hot, hot and dry.

Kim: Is it?

Andee: I mean it depends on who you talk to, we’re getting low, but the high, I mean the, yeah, the highs are like 70, so in the middle of the day we’re still hitting 70 degrees. So for some people that’s hot. I remember telling somebody what our high was as a kid thinking it only is 80 and so much. And they’re like, “That is so hot.” But it is a dry heat. So I wouldn’t say it’s hot right now, it’s actually to me really cold but it’s in the 60s and 70s is our top temp.

Kim: It’s nice here in Louisiana, the sun is out. We did have sleet warnings over the weekend which is really weird for us.

Andee: That’s so fun.

Kim: But today is nice and sunny and it’s drying up all that yucky rain and muck. Anyway, Andee is in Arizona, she’s the mother of six and I absolutely love her way of parenting and I want to share it with you guys. So, Andee, I’m going to give you the floor to tell a little bit about just your family life, your personal life.

Andee: Well, it started off – I’m married to my high school sweetheart. So I’ve known my husband forever. So from a young age I was dreaming about the family we were going to have together and all of the things which ended up happening years later. And we had our kids pretty quickly, so before I knew it I was in a world of chaos because I thought I was going to be a certain kind of mom and I would be able to handle parenting. And what I found is I was completely ill equipped.

I had no idea what I was doing. And all of the things that I had seen or seemed like the normal parenting things weren’t working. Or they would work for a short of period of time and then I felt the cost of them was so negative. I was finding myself kind of stuck in a – digging – what is the expression?

Kim: Right, yeah. What does that look like though the cost was too much, [crosstalk]?

Andee: Yeah, so that’s a good – because I didn’t get this at first because I just started doing the discipline, consequence, reward cycle that is pretty much what a lot of people define as parenting. That’s what I thought, lessons of parenting was discipline, giving them consequences. And that’s just pretty typical because that’s around the World War 2; the whole behavior modification became kind of mainstream.

But specifically what that looked like is my kids would be fighting with each other or not clean up their room, because this started when my kids were just little. And so the examples were temper tantrums and meltdowns because they didn’t get a cookie before dinner. And I would use the pretty typical tools of a parent, the threatening like, “You guys, if you don’t start getting along then you’re going to lose out on this”, or the threatening of, “You’re going to go to your room or you won’t play with your friends.”

Or if I was feeling on a nice day I would think that this was a great alternative was bribing them, “If you’re nice to each other then we’ll do, you know, we’ll go on that bike ride that we talked about or I’ll give you something.” And the costs looked like – there’s a couple of ways that the costs started becoming pretty apparent to me.

One is the rewards and punishments I had to keep up-leveling; I had to get stronger rewards and stronger punishments for the behavior to continue to be able to be managed by those consequences and rewards. The rewards had to be bigger. They weren’t satisfied with one cookie. The next day it had to be two cookies. Or the consequence went from just a slight really quick timeout to an hour and then it just it felt like I had to escalate everything. And that was something that became apparent. I think most parents can see that.

Today I asked two times and tomorrow I have to ask 12 times and it just, it continues to need to grow and I thought that doesn’t feel right. But also even more than that was the cost on the relationship. I felt intuitively there is something off. When I was really just – really it felt kind of like I was manipulating them to do what I wanted sometimes. If it was a safety issue, that was one thing. But most of the time it wasn’t a safety issue, it was just this personal preference like, “Hey, clean, because I want it clean and this is really bothering me that you’re talking so loud.”

And the communication that was being conveyed that I didn’t catch on at first but became apparent was there’s something wrong with me, mom can’t handle me. Mom doesn’t like me. And that kind of message that started being conveyed to them became apparent to me. I would see their eyes; I would see their confidence drop. I would see the behavior even get worse because they felt so terrible about themselves. They were like, “Well, I’m a bad person, I’m a bad kid.” And I was like that’s – to me that was the kicker was I’m not going to do things but damage relationships.

There’s got to be another way. I had no idea what that other way was. I couldn’t even conceptualize what it would look like because it felt like my options were correction, discipline or passive parenting. It felt like those were the two spectrums and I felt like I didn’t really like either of those options. I didn’t want my kids to walk…

Kim: A numbing out, yeah, like I just can’t handle it, so it’s a numbing out. Go have a drink. Leave them with someone, go and do something else.

Andee: Go do me time or something, and maybe just give up over the messy, you know, just tolerate the bad behavior because I just didn’t want to correct, that was one side. Or me escaping, or me just continuing to up-level the consequences, give them bigger and bigger or more severe or the rewards more exciting. And that’s not really what I wanted. I remember thinking there is no way that this is the only option for me is to do one of these two things. There’s got to be another way.

And I started to just go on a search. I’ve got to figure this out, there has to be a way that we can parent from a place of love and compassion. Because what I really wanted my kids is to want to listen to me. I wanted them to…

Kim: How old were your children at this time?

Andee: My oldest was in kindergarten or first grade. I had five out of my six at this time. I remember the house. I remember when this epiphany hit me. I had a couple of kids at school, at least my oldest. I can’t remember exactly the ages of all the kids, it’s this big blur but I had…

Kim: I get it.

Andee: I had three kids – no, I just had one at home because my second child was home, my girl, Megan was home. So I had three kiddos and one baby asleep and a child at school. And I got busy doing something and I was like oh my gosh, they’re playing so nicely, this is fabulous. I really got just some stuff done. And all of a sudden I realized I probably should go check on them. And I went into the playroom and they had found literally like a Costco sized bottle of baby powder. I had baby powder back then. And they had made the playroom into this winter wonderland.

And I have pictures because thank goodness I was able to recover enough in the moment and not totally – but I did lose my – I lost my mind for a while. And I was like, “What in the crap have you guys done?” Doused each other, doused – we had just bought a brand new – which was a big deal, we had no money. We had bought a GameCube for Christmas, it was brand new, doused it, never worked again. Every cupboard was full, it was like winter. We had a big beanbag that was brown. That was now a big white snowball. I was like, “Oh my gosh.”

Kim: I’m trying not to laugh. I’m muting myself so I’m not laughing. But I could so be there with you.

Andee: Yeah. And I had a baby so I was so tired. I was not sleeping. I went into that room and for some reason in that moment it was like the world had ended for me. I was like, “This is not”, and I yelled. And I, you know, and lost it. And I remember looking – because my son who was there who’s now 17 and he was probably three at the time or four, he looked at me. And I could tell he was so – when I first walked in he had this big grin on his face. He thought he’d done this really fun thing. They were all just having – they were just trying to be mischievous.

They were just clueless and just thought this is super fun and we’re having this imaginative experience. And I remember looking at his face going from excitement, like, “Mom, isn’t this so fun”, to complete despair and just crestfallen. And that was one of – I mean I had more moments than that but that was one of those moments for me where I was like this is – after I yelled, after I lost it, after I completely crushed all of their souls in that moment it felt like, complete mom failure.

I thought no, this is not going to work. And I had – for some reason; you know how sometimes we’re given those moments of clarity? I was able to go from completely losing my mind to all of a sudden looking at his face realizing I’m not going to do this. And I paused, it was a magical moment, I don’t know how I did it. I couldn’t recreate it for years because I didn’t know exactly what had happened. Now I know, I changed my thoughts. I know, I get what happened now but I had no idea what I had done in the moment or why I believed that.

Anyway and was able to – then we started laughing about it. I was able to switch it and take photos and we laughed and the cleanup was actually not as hard as my brain was trying to make it when I first walked in the room. So I think I noticed that there was another way. I had no idea how to do it because there were lots of moments after that that I got triggered and I couldn’t recover like that.

But I had this glimpse, probably because I had been so wanting it, I’d been messing up so bad. I had this glimpse, this hope and it was enough to say, “Okay, there is another way. I don’t know exactly what I just did but there is another way.”

Kim: Yeah, I call this punching holes in the doubt or punching holes in the beliefs. It’s like there’s only this particular perception or view and suddenly there was some doubt, like wait a minute?

Andee: Yeah. And I’m so glad that I had this little moment where things worked out because it gave me enough belief that I kept going. And when I messed up over, and over, and over again after that I just kept saying, “I know there’s something that happened that I can recreate.” I just don’t know exactly how to do it. I just don’t have the recipe yet. I just don’t understand what, you know, but I just was on a study. I was like on a mission. It was like do or die because I am not going to keep doing what I did, you know, had done before.

Kim: Can we talk about this for a second because I think it’s really important to speak this for the parents who have done the other way because there’s so much guilt and blame. And I even hear it in your voice, the messing up, I kept messing up.

Andee: Yeah, I know, yeah.

Kim: And even for myself I have so much guilt. I talk to my children about it, they laugh at me about it because it was, five kids. It’s insane. I was so young to have so many children. I had two that were within a year apart. I get it, I get everything you’re saying and I had my moment. And it was hard. It was so hard. I threw stuff. I cursed. I had the belt out. I had one experience with the belt and the belt buckle hit my daughter on the top of the head and I still cry about it today. And I never touched it again. I never touched it again. I never thought of it as wrong.

It’s what I saw, it’s what we knew but it changed everything, that one moment. And I want to give the parents’ permission to let themselves off of the hook. Because as much as I know, it’s all I knew, it’s what I had is the resources that I had been given. It was hard. It was hard to be in the moment where all we want is to love them. And we want to be the example for them.

We want to – we take that responsibility seriously. And maybe it’s just for me, maybe this moment is just for me to give myself permission and it’s not for anyone else but I will just pause for myself if that’s the case and the rest of this.

Andee: No, it’s not just for you, yeah. It’s a huge part of the journey for me. And I did use the words ‘mess up’ just because that is so part of our languaging around, we think there is even such thing as that, but there’s not.

Kim: And there’s so much judgment about, “You used a belt. You did what?” And it was like you ate sugar and flour. It’s like yeah, it’s kind of that kind of moment where guys, if we can drop the judgment and comparison of what we think is so wrong and dangerous. And kind of just be in the experience of using what we knew to get to where we are. And if we don’t give that grace and permission then we can’t arrive where you and I arrived at today.

Andee: A 100%, yeah, totally. We have to go back and on those moments that we thought we messed up, realize that was exactly what needed to happen. That was the best we could have done in that moment. And I am able to look back after – there’s a mental gymnastics that I feel like I had to – I don’t know if that’s the right way to describe it. But there was some tug-of-war with my brain releasing the judgment and being like if you release the judgment that means you’re letting yourself off the hook and you’re not being serious, we think like…

Kim: We’re all going to go to jail.

Andee: Right, or like you’re not – you’re being irresponsible, you did mess up. You need to take ownership for your mistakes. And it’s not that we’re not really being serious and introspective and looking at the behavior we taught in the past. But we’re not doing it from a place of judgment, or fear, or scarcity, or in a negative way. We’re just saying, “Let me look at that with compassion and love and really believe that that truly was the best I could do.” Because as parents we do love our kids all the time, even when we maybe act in a way we don’t like to, the love is there.

I would say for moms, I have never had the experience where a mom’s like, “Yeah, I just kind of don’t love my kids very much.”

Kim: There were times when I said I didn’t love parenting though, just so you know.

Andee: That’s different. That’s different.

Kim: But I love the kids.

Andee: But you love your kids. They always love their kids. And so that and I think that’s why the belief that we need to hold on to this beating ourselves up about the behavior starts getting so strong inside of us. Because we feel like well, if I don’t beat myself up over it then maybe I don’t really love them. Maybe I am not a very good person or whatever. But as we go through the – just the reality of processing the past from a place of love and compassion, we learn so much about what we maybe can do better the next time.

But we don’t do it from a place of we could have done better in that moment. I truly don’t believe that was possible. In that moment because of the way your brain was firing and the hormones in your head, that was going through your body, and all of the programming, and all of the things that you’ve learned by society. That was whatever your brain thought was the best because if we could have chosen more love, more compassion, more patient in the moment 100% would have done it if we could have.

Kim: Yeah. And something else that you said that I felt completely aligned with was we didn’t have much money. And so the fear, and the anger, and all of the things that come up when oh my God, we got you this and why can’t you just appreciate it? And all of that starts tumbling through, and I think that’s the case for many of us, especially who have grown children.

But even today where, you know, and this epidemic – is it – no, it’s a pandemic that’s happening. And people losing their jobs and not sure if they’re going to have another paycheck and kind of experiencing all of this stress and anxiety compelled, on top of this is my responsibility. And there’s so much happening all at one time, and you hit the nail on the head with the chemicals that are coming through our body. We are reacting without – we don’t know how to compose, we don’t have the tools.

Andee: Yeah. And all of those other areas outside of our parenting so to speak, they impact us, the job, the money, the weather, the pandemic, all of these things, they’re like you said, are influencing our ability to show up in a certain way at any given moment. The fact, maybe I had a baby, I wasn’t sleeping. I was tired and exhausted. And you know what I mean?

All of those things impact, and when we look back and we evaluate how things went in the past, that literally I was doing the best I could, allows you to change the future. Because if we’re beating ourselves up over it we get stuck in the past, we just keep bringing it forward, the terrible mom I am. I’m very impatient, look at all this evidence of all of this collection of data to show how bad of a mom I am. And then we wonder why we can’t get out of it. It’s because we’re so stuck in that identity.

Kim: And it’s preventing the one thing that we need, which is presence.

Andee: Yeah, can’t be present when you’re still stuck in your past, when you’re living in the past, yeah.

Kim: I remember really, it was not just living in the past but I was fearing the future. And I was doing it because I felt so responsible for how they turned out. And I had to discipline this way or I had the evidence of what would happen of the going to jail and the getting in trouble and all of the things that could go wrong if I got this wrong. And so I was coming from that pressure of trying to prevent because I even thought I was in control of that, it turns out.

Andee: Yeah, it turns out we’re not. And it’s funny, the worst case scenario drama that moms go to, they’re going to be lazy and they’re never going to amount to anything because they’re not getting their homework turned in. Or they’re going to drive their wife crazy because they can’t clean anything.

Kim: No one’s going to marry them, they’ll never leave.

Andee: No one’s going to marry them. They’re going to be a bum on the street. We start being there instead of in the present too, exactly what you said. And the crazy thing is about their future is so I would say almost all the time, whatever we dream up in the future never really happens anyway. And if something is going to happen that’s unfortunate in the future that we wish, why would we start trying to experience it ahead of time? Do we just get more of fear?

And when we’re in that place of fear we don’t get to just be in a belief that everything’s going to work out just as it should and our kids are amazing. We start forgetting how incredible they are because we’re so focused on their weaknesses, or what they’re not doing right, or the problems, and they feel that. They feel that from us when that’s what we’re talking about, that’s what we’re focusing on. And not to say that we don’t have conversations, that we don’t think about those things, but just not from a place of fear.

From a place of belief that we’re going to totally figure this out. I don’t totally know how to help him in this way or I wonder what would serve him the best in this situation. Instead of I’ve got to fix him and control him, none of us like that feeling. None of us like other adults coming to us, as adults we don’t like other adults coming to us and giving us feedback from a place of fear, or negativity, or worst case scenario thinking. That’s usually when we’re like, “No, thank you. I’m not going to listen to you.”

But if someone comes to us and they believe in us and we know they trust us and they know we’re doing our best and they give us some feedback, might be the same words, but we receive it differently. And so, so much of it is how – what we think or what we’re believing about our kids and who they are, and then also our self-concept as a mother. If we don’t feel like we’re capable then that’s going to be tricky too if we’re doubting ourselves.

Kim: So I want to make sure we give the audience some – from here, because I’m sure they’re like, “Okay, we get it, we live there. Now what, what did she figure out? What does she know? And where was her husband? Where was their father in all of this?” These are the questions that come up. So I do want to make sure that we cover this. So you had this moment, snow globe all over the playroom, freaking out, no money, they ruined the toy that was just given and you see the broken heart, you catch it – I want to say like you catch your shit.

And now where do we move forward? You were like, “Okay, there’s got to be something better. I don’t know what it is but I’m going to go and figure it out.” And you did, you figured this out, you figured out a system, or a way, or a framework, or process, something that you were able to ground in or what I say is like an anchor that you could go back to that would help you, what was that, where are you now?

Andee: Well, where I am now and where I was after the winter wonderland playroom.

Kim: Yeah, take us to both, take us to both. And how many years is this? Your children have grown now.

Andee: Yeah, my oldest is – at that time my oldest was probably seven, maybe eight, I can’t remember exactly. And a baby who I didn’t even have at the time is now 12. So now my kids are 21 to 12, so yeah, a lot of years have passed, been a mom for over 21 years. I mean in my brain the best outcome after the snow globe experience was that everything was fixed and I never messed up again, but that was not the case. Because I really didn’t understand how I had done it.

Kim: What a boring story that would be.

Andee: I know, I was like and then everything was perfect and I never messed up. No, it was – actually in some ways it was harder, I wanted to believe there was another way before that, now I experienced. And it wasn’t that I hadn’t ever had shifts before. I wasn’t always losing my mind. But this was a pretty big one where I thought okay, I was really fired up. I was really angry and I was able to shift it. So there is something here, it got a little bit more frustrating before it got better because now I have the awareness more clear than ever and no tools to implement.

So it was really hard, yeah, I believed in the possibility, I believed in the possibility more than ever, yeah, I had no map. So it was a lot of stumbling around in the dark, a lot of trial and error. I sought out parenting experts, and books, and I would go in open to whatever I was trying to explore and then just find the things that resonated. So I started picking up little things here and there. I didn’t find at the time any complete solution that – it took some time.

It really took me piecing together different things for me to find something that now I call this connective approach to parenting, the connect method, this framework of using connection instead of correction as our primary response to off track behavior and to just life in general with our kids. So yeah, just was a slow, in some ways, daunting process of knowing better but not doing better and falling back into old patterns and habits. And just slowly replacing beliefs the best I could.

And it feels like as I went it became, like I was able to – as soon as I started finding a couple of things that I started understanding of a little bit then I would be able to start attracting. I would find things and I’d be like, “Ooh, that’s”, and I got better and better at discerning, okay, this works, or let me try this. And started studying developmental psychology, didn’t know what that was at the time. Mindfulness and mind work, that thoughts create our emotions and that whole thing was really empowering.

And just little by little, just found different pieces, and parts, and puzzles, and just loved every time I could find something, especially – and I went to school to be a nurse. So I love science and data, so I love the developmental psychology stuff, and the statistics, and the studies, and the evidence. My brain loves the evidence. I know you probably are not surprised by this but I love the evidence. And so that evidence I was able to turn into stronger beliefs and then glean more of this is what worked, let me figure out how to do this.

Because a lot of the studies were done not in families of, you know, they weren’t in a – maybe it was in a school setting, or maybe it was just an experiment they did with kids where they would take toddlers and do different thing with them and see how they responded. And so I had to kind of sort through how does it actually look in real life and real moments when the kid’s having a breakdown?

And then my kids were getting older so then I was having to start to apply this to older elementary kids. And then how does this look like for teenagers? And now how does it look like for adult children? Yeah, so it was just a process of mining the things out there that were good and that were connective.

Kim: This is a great place to kind of drop in the understanding the frontal cortex is underdeveloped in these children. And we’re treating them as if it were fully developed. Because we don’t know, we’re like, “You must be an idiot. Why wouldn’t you know this?” But they really don’t have access to that control. They’re emotionally driven and even that haven’t been fully taught on what to do with those. So do you want to speak a little bit about that?

Andee: Yes, because this was such good information for my brain who loves information, seven is around the time that most prefrontal cortexes even start to come online, so before seven, literally no logic or reason. And we still use logic and reason and we think that’s why consequences just don’t do what we think they’re going to do. Because they literally cannot make the logical connection between I did this and mom does. I mean they can start to do it kind of, but it’s an emotional connection, not a logical connection.

And so that’s so powerful to just realize and that’s best case scenario, seven is best. And that’s barely coming online, there’s starting to be blood flow to the prefrontal cortex, there’s starting to be some activity there. There’s starting to be, but nothing like an adult. And what really blew my mind is that 25 is the age for women and 30 for men that the brain is fully developed.

Kim: It’s crazy.

Andee: And that’s best scenario.

Kim: But that’s like your husband [inaudible], think of him as a four-year-old because that’s kind of what you are. We expect so much so quick so bad and it goes back to the judgment and comparison, we’re always going to suffer if we keep doing this. But yeah, that is beautiful information. So for you guys who did not hear that, let us just kind of say it one more time.

Andee: Prefrontal cortex is an amazing part of our brain, and it’s something that’s really unique to humans. It’s what allows us to have our higher thinking; it allows us to think about our thinking and to make logical connections. We have the most fully developed prefrontal cortex and it’s not even really present in a lot of animals. So it wasn’t really even fully developed for me probably. But it’s important because a lot of times we think we’ll just talk to the kids, and we’ll help them, explain why this is a bad idea. We don’t color with sharpies on the wall. This was one of my kids loved this.

Kim: Don’t get marker on the floor.

Andee: We think we’re going to create this beautiful argument with data and be able to use logic and reason with our four year old. And they’re like, “Yeah.” And they nod their head and be like, “Yeah, do you understand?” They’ll be like, “Aha, aha.” And they have the best intention, so I don’t want to do that again. I don’t want to make you upset.

And then the next minute you turn around and they’re coloring on the wall with the sharpie. And you’re like, “What is going on?” And it’s just literally because they are not making that connection. It’s not that they’re not trying to. It’s not that they’re being defiant. It’s not that they’re trying to be difficult. Their little brains don’t work the way our adult brains work, it’s still developing, and so if we can just give space for that emotional driven little toddler that’s in the world, and even elementary school.

I mean it takes a long time, 25 for women like I said, 30 for men, that’s best case scenario, it doesn’t always happen at that age. I think we just would be happier as parents to not expect our little people to be full grown adults because it’s just not possible. And the other thing is there’s so many beautiful ways to help them, we work with the emotion. One of my favorite developmental psychologists says, “Play is the best thing we can do with little kids.” We think it’s about consequences and rewards, and logic, and reasoning.

They are one emotion drivers so if we can just harness that emotion and let them feel it, and redirect it, that’s such a powerful thing. So there’s definitely a lot of us, I was in this boat, that just as parents we just don’t – no one’s told us that. We don’t actually understand the brain development part. And we don’t have to get into all the specifics of it, of how the lumbar system works versus the prefrontal cortex. But just to know they’re just nothing thinking logically. So just let’s not use that as a tool for a while, even if it’s a teenager sometimes they’re not thinking logically.

Kim: Yeah. Let’s talk about what you did find that does work and kind of go on that path because I think that is – what can they take away from this? What’s the difference between connection and correction? What did you discover in this process? What’s your wisdom that you can share and pass on? Because I do feel like we are standing in the gap between generations of changing the way things are.

We’re blessed and lucky to be in the position to be able to do this, even though it feels terrible whenever you’re trying to figure it out for yourself. But there is someone listening that you can give a shortcut to.

Andee: I’m going to give it out as if that was me because if I had had that shortcut, man, that would have been amazing. I would have loved that. And I want that for every – really that’s my mission is I’ve got to get this out to anybody who it resonates with. It’s fun, it feels good. It works so much better. But one of the things I found I really didn’t understand, I thought play was something we grew out of and was for the little kids. And it was because they couldn’t handle big kids’ stuff or adult stuff and it was not valuable.

And it’s so interesting because when they’ve studied play, play is – and as adults we should be playing more. And it doesn’t necessarily mean we need to be drawn. We can play as we work, it can be a playful experience. We can have fun. But when we play our thinking brain is working really well. Our ability to cognitively process at whatever level we’re at, if we’re a little kid it’s not too high, but as an adult it’s a lot higher, emotions aren’t overpowering us, so that’s the power of play. It also drops defenses.

So if you think about with a kid, if you’re going into, “This is the consequence and this is rule”, or this, you know, you’re threatening, ultimatum bribes. The walls of defenses come up. So now your ability to make an impact on them is diminishing. And with play when we can engage in play the defenses stay down, the hormones that start getting released in our body increase the bond and the relationship is actually increased, which is what we want.

Because people that we are most willing to listen to are the people we feel connected to and the people who we have a tight relationship with. Learning kind of takes place within this context of relationship. When our child has off track behavior, and we’re able to connect with them, which I say, I call it seen and hearing them. So we look in their eyes, we make sure we have, they’re actually aware of us, they can respond to our voice. And we take a moment to get present with them, to be with them before we say something about whatever they’re doing.

So it’s just like one little moment of a little connection, because if they’re not, if they won’t look at you in the eyes and if they won’t nod in response to what you’re saying you have no working relationship. You probably shouldn’t go beyond that point, nothing is going to happen. I mean if there’s a danger, you need to get them out of harm’s way, I’m not saying that.

Kim: The nervous system fires up and then it blocks out the reception.

Andee: Yeah, nothing’s going to make it through. And it’s funny because with adults we would never go to lunch with a friend and if the friend wouldn’t look at us or respond, we would never just blow through, like push through the conversation. We’d be like, something’s odd here, before we continue, I need to like, be aware there’s no connection here. We wouldn’t push through. But with kids we blow right through it, we just bulldoze over it and [inaudible].

Kim: And disrespect.

Andee: Yeah. So we just take this moment, I call it just to see them, look at them in the eyes, see if they’ll smile and nod to us. If that connection is made then we can set a limit. And I always say, “Set a limit that’s five words or less”, because that forces us to stop doing the lecture train, or get super emotional. And there’s a whole element of this I can’t even go into probably right now about how the mom can stay in a place of not getting triggered. So obviously if the mom’s off the rails and frustrated, this is not going to be as powerful for you.

But if you’re able to stay calm and look at them in the eyes and see and hear them and then just set a firm limit, “I can’t let you hit your brother. You don’t hit brothers. And we just touch them, maybe their shoulders.” Or if they’re running towards their brother maybe we just kind of hold them softly. And they might throw a fit, they might have a meltdown, they might say, “You’re so mean”, or whatever they say and you just stay calm and say, “Yeah, it’s hard not to hit our brothers. Sometimes we just want to hit our brothers but we can’t hit our brothers.”

If they were having a little wrestling match and you felt like it wasn’t okay. And you just stay with them. You keep just saying these little five word things because one way is you just see them, you set the limit and you’re present with them. You didn’t set the limit from across the room, you didn’t say, “Boys stop fighting in there, why are you fighting?” You’re taking a minute to connect, you’re with them. And then you just stay, you stay with them. That’s one possibility. And just instead of sending them away to their room, “You guys are so much, get away.”

And you might need to separate them. I’m not saying you don’t. But you don’t give the message like, “You guys are too much. I can’t handle you.”

Kim: Yeah, get out of here, get away from me. Get out of the environment. I do think that’s so much about messaging is what we’re dealing with, [inaudible] we’re dealing with.

Andee: Right. Because when we stay present the message we’re sending is you’re not too much for me, we’re totally going to figure this out. I’m here for you. We’re on the same team, I get it. Express those emotions, just the emotional, freedom to express their emotions is – just that alone is so beautiful. So there’s the see, set, stay. And then another variation that sometimes I set the limit and then maybe play with them. In the same scenario you might say like, “Look at those cute little arms. Those cute little arms”, you know, this is like a little kid.

“Those cute little arms are too sweet to push their brother down. I’m going to have to kiss those sweet little arms.” And you just start playing with them because then you’re able to hijack in a good way, their emotions and get them to kind of switch out of it and get into play mode. And sometimes that’s all that’s needed. Their little brains when they’re four, or five, or six, they’re not making the connections between I hit my brother and I’m a mean person. Yeah, so you’re just able to pivot and then just get out of it.

And they’re going to start to see, I’m not allowed to hit my brother. Mom’s going to come set that limit but I’m not in trouble. I’m not a bad boy. And maybe sometimes she stays with me and sometimes she plays with me. And that’s just one example of how to kind of navigate it in a totally different way where we stay connected instead of going to correct them. We’re still setting a limit, but you’re not doing it from a, “You’re a problem, this is the problem. This is not okay.”

Kim: It’s really just a very simple technique for you, you know, for the parent just to – but first they need to be able to attain that presence for themselves. So that’s where you’re saying there’s some taking the parent through the processing also.

Andee: Right. And there’s a whole part of just our awareness of what we’re thinking and how we’re feeling about our kids and get clear on that so that we can get intentional and stay present and not get triggered in the moment. And I want to just say though, this doesn’t mean that if you’re feeling triggered, if you’re feeling frustrated, there’s anything, that’s just part of the human experience. We’re going to get triggered sometimes. It’s just knowing how to navigate it, how to start practicing your beliefs about your kids, about yourself, about your capabilities.

So yeah, we have to focus on that too. And I think that’s one of the things that I’ve found with – I can’t think of any of the parenting programs that I’ve found where they talk about that. They’ll say, “Stay calm, don’t get frustrated.”

Kim: Count to 10.

Andee: Count to 10, go on a walk.

Kim: 10, what is 10? What, are you stupid? Or count backwards. And you can’t even have access to it.

Andee: Yeah. So there’s no direction on that, it’s just like – and we can’t – I don’t know about you but if someone tells me, “Be calm. Stop being so frustrated.” That usually doesn’t work very well. The awareness of what’s behind that, what’s my belief that’s causing me to feel so triggered? So going through the, you know, using the model, using mindfulness, using thought downloads, going into our body and opening up to our emotions. All of that stuff is so important as a mom that we do, because we’re retraining our brain on how to believe about the – to look past the behavior.

We think the behavior means something about our kids and about us. We have to uncover the belief and sort through it so that the belief is different. And we can start to stay present and not get triggered when they’re hitting each other, not make it mean anything about them, just to go in and say, “Their brains aren’t able to set the limit right now, I need to and let me just do this from a place of complete love and acceptance that nothing’s gone wrong with my kids. Nothing’s wrong with them and nothing’s wrong with me that they’re doing it.”

Kim: Nothing’s wrong with me, exactly. And it takes us right back to the same exact process we’re always talking about in this community. You’ve got to get present first so you can start unpacking the story and unraveling these emotions and these reactions. And then you can change, navigate and create a new direction or pivot like you’re saying. We didn’t have the framework, Andee, we just didn’t have the framework. The books didn’t have it. I remember throwing a book against the wall. I was trying to figure out how to stay married and raise those kids and keep myself alive.

I want to be alive, there was so much going on. And three or four hundred pages, these books over and over, all of the boundary books, understanding temperaments and that’s another thing. Each one of these children are different. You think you’re going to figure it out with one and then you’re going to have the process for the next one. Not true. Not true. Every single one is different.

Andee: Yes, they’re all different, they’re all unique and…

Kim: But the framework works for everyone.

Andee: The framework’s the same, yeah, the framework’s the same. And once you start learning that for yourself and you can start, really what you teach, the Punch Line Approach. We’re applying that to the moms and helping them start to see I really am doing my best. I yelled today and that was the best I guess I could do. Let me learn from that, let me process that, let me get present with that, let me not. Going through that work first, that’s what I found is such a critical part of the process. I remember thinking something was wrong with me because I couldn’t stay calm.

I’d read the book and be like if you stay calm and then I’d be like, I’d read one sentence or something. I’m like what’s the matter with me that I can’t stay calm? There must be something really wrong with me. And I just want to say, anybody who’s listening, nothing’s wrong with us because we feel emotions. Nothing’s wrong with you as a mom that you’re getting triggered, nothing. Nothing is wrong with you.

Kim: [Inaudible] emotions, and some of them – their temperaments are so – did you watch Soul, did you watch the new?

Andee: I have watched part of it. I haven’t watched all of it. My kids have watched it all a couple of times, but I haven’t finished the whole thing.

Kim: They talk about – it shows where they’re getting that little personality piece, it’s like oh, we’re like, “What are we going to get this time?” It feels so real. Of course on the other side of the bridge I can look back. But when I was in the middle of this stuff, man, it was deep. It was hard. And if my kids are listening to this, I’ve apologized to them so many times. I mean they pick on me and we talk about it and I really let myself off the hook for a lot of it because I really didn’t know what I was doing.

But when we know better we do better and I think that’s the mission you and I have in common, that we really want to help it to be easier, give them the framework, give them the – this is the process and it’s a matter of practicing it consistently. That’s it, we just tatter through that. We try, we assess, we tweak, we try again, but at least you have something tangible, something that can stick, this anchor of wait, where am I at? Where is the process, what part, what step? And to keep taking yourself back to yourself.

If they don’t trust themselves, I think, I don’t think I did, I did not trust. Who would put me responsible for these children with no handbook, no manual, no guidance? How did this even happen? And I remember thinking with my husband, are you crazy?

Andee: Yeah, so much self-doubt. We have so much self-doubt in our abilities. As we gain more awareness around it, if you’re listening, wherever you pause is the perfect place to pause. If you recognize two days later, I could have – I don’t love how that worked out, I could have done something different maybe or I want to do something different next time and try a better way to say it. Whenever you pause that’s when you get to open up to compassion, and awareness, and growth.

And there’s this really awesome quote, I’m going to probably botch it, but Nelson Mandela said something like, “I never fail, I only learn or grow.” And I love – I say that to my brain all – I remind myself, “No, I don’t fail. I only learn and grow.” I think the only time we fail is when we judge and we cut ourselves off to growth because we keep it stuck, we’re like that’s who I am. I don’t know. We beat ourselves up. That’s the only time I think.

And I don’t even know if failing is the right word but that’s when we get stuck. That’s when we stop growing as quickly, but if we can just open up and stop.

Kim: It’s like afraid to be wrong, I have gotten it wrong, we’re doing it wrong, instead of just really just letting the experience be the experience and letting [inaudible].

Andee: It’s all perfect.

Kim: I hate that we’re out of time. I really want to continue this and do a whole another show on it. But just give our parents an idea of what do you offer, how do you help them?

Andee: Yeah, I love sharing how I help because this is what I wish someone had offered me when I was in the midst of the aftermath of that snow disaster, or baby powder disaster. But I help moms just really start to lean into this belief that – and it really is a belief and for some of you it’s a big leap of faith, because there’s such evidence in society, it’s so – I don’t know – just has this belief that correction and discipline is the essence of parenting. And help parents lean into this belief that parenting isn’t discipline. It’s not telling our kids what to do and not to do.

It’s truly creating an environment, cultivating an environment where they fulfill their potential.  That’s what we really – I mean I know moms will come to me and be like, “I just want my kids to listen.” But really when we dive deeper they want to feel like they’ve done their best. They want to know that when their kids leave they are living their best life and they want to have a dreamy relationship with their kids. They want to just feel…

Kim: Relationship, intimate relationship.

Andee: Yeah. It really all comes back to them feeling connected to their kids. And that’s what it’s all about and we just lean into that.

Kim: Lean into it, but being – it’s the juicy intimate joyous relationship of connecting and getting to know each other because we think we made them so they’re supposed to be a certain way. That’s so not true. We’re so far from the truth. We’re getting to know each other and how we contribute to the world.

Andee: Yeah. I like to think of it like a plant, that we don’t know what it is. So we go and we get this mystery plant, we know it’s a plant. It may be starting to sprout green, but we’re not sure if it’s an oak tree or a daffodil. We’re like, “I don’t know.” And we just have to start to figure out how do we get to know what this plant needs? How much sun does it need? How much fertilizer does it need? And we don’t have maybe the owner’s manual. We don’t know exactly so we’ve got to just trial and error, we figure it out.

All of the potential is in the seed, my only job is to help that seed become whatever it’s supposed to become. And so to take that pressure off, it’s not my seed. I have no idea how to make a seed. I don’t know how to make a seed that would grow into a plant. I can’t do that on my own. My job’s not to decide what it becomes, just to help it become what it’s supposed to become.

Kim: Oh my God, I have the chills everywhere, so I really just have to stop with that one and take a moment. That’s so good. Thank you.

Andee: Breathe it in. The tendency is we think we’re a sculptor and we have this piece of marble and we’re sculpting it into the statue of amazing-ness. And we kind of are deciding what it’s becoming. But when we can release that and be like, “Nope. It’s not my creation, I’m just here to tend it.” Then so much of the burden of responsibility shifts from what we think is it, the correction and the chiseling the rough edges to cultivating an environment where they can grow. So it just takes all the pressure off, it takes the pressure off.

Kim: Alright guys, so you see why I have the crush. My new client crush, this is good stuff, again, thank you for putting it out there. And we will definitely get you back on the show. What I’d like to do is a Q&A. And so I’m going to invite the audience and anyone in the More Than Mindset group to, like we’ll just compile a list of questions and then we’ll come back on and we’ll do it more in the Q&A style so that you can share it. Because there are so many incidences, there’s so many things that come up that someone else is thinking about right now in this moment.

Or what about when they do this, or what about when this happens? Or what about, and we didn’t even get to the part about your husband, their father. It’s like there’s just not enough time to go to all of the places. But I think this was a beautiful introduction. Thank you for coming on. We will continue this. Is there anything I did not ask you that you want to – you’re just itching to tell the audience?

Andee: Let’s end it there, that’s perfect.

Kim: Alright you guys, we’re going to end there. And like I said, you can find this in the More Than Mindset Facebook group, Self Healing Masters is the place where we’re really hashing out this work on the daily for the humans to make the changes. And it is all about relationship at the end of the day, our whole entire life is all about relationship.

How do we get to know each other, love each other, have compassion and gentleness? And it’s not about healing the individual or healing the human. It’s about healing humanity and bringing this all to wholeness and connection with each other, which is exactly what Andee is helping with parents and their children. And until next week that’s it. Would you like to say goodbye?

Andee: Yeah, thanks Kim. Bye everybody. This was really fun.

                                                                                                                   

Thanks for listening to this episode of More than Mindset.

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