S1 E04 - Radical ConnectionMar 15, 2021
Positive parenting goes by so many names, but the gist is always the same: relationship and connection above all. The real power of this philosophy is that children naturally want to love their parents, be close to them, and respect them. As we make developing this connection with our children the primary focus; and focus less on doing things to mitigate the negative behaviours, those behaviours will actually decrease over time. This sounds so strange to so many people, it sounds like avoidance and denial, but its not, it is the best way to develop lasting change for even the most difficult behaviours. The reason is that when your child has this radical connection with you, they will want to make you happy, they will be drawn to do good things because they will love to feel the love that comes from those actions. When a child makes mistakes, which they still will, they know of their own accord that they have done wrong. They don’t need that discomfort or pain to be magnified by the very person who is supposed to love them the most and help comfort them through these feelings. One of the biggest mistakes I see parents make, is getting in the way of the natural cycle that goes on in a child when they do something wrong. Focus on building radical connection above all else.
This episode of The Freedom Moms Podcast covers:
- What positive parenting is and why I call it “radical connection”
- What it is not, and some myths around it
- It’s focus on relationship above all
I would be honored to be your coach and help you get the changes you want to see in your life. I have come so far, completely turned around my life and my relationships with my children, I know what it takes and how to make it happen. You can use the links below to get more of my content and learn about my monthly program By Design, where I provide monthly training and live coaching to help you build radical connection in your life.
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Read more on the blog: Positive Parenting blog post
Crystal The Parenting Coach: Hey, I'm Crystal, a certified life coach and mom of four. In this podcast, we combine radical connection and positive parenting theories with the How-To Life Coaching Tools and Mindset Work to completely transform our relationship with our children.
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Episode 4, Radical Connection.
What positive parenting is
There are so many terms for what we now kind of think of as positive parenting. Some people call it conscious parenting, intentional parenting attachment-based parenting, peaceful parenting, but I love to call it radical connection parenting because it is really radical.
It's so different from the way that our brain wants to parent naturally, it's so different from what the mainstream is happening here. And I do think it's gaining more and more popularity, but I wanted to take this episode to explain a little bit about what it is.
So, if you're new to positive parenting or connection-based parenting, listen up; and if you're old and it's old hat for you, don't worry – not 'if you're old', if it's old hat for you, if you already know all these things, stay tuned because I am going to share five tips about radical connection parenting.
So, number one--
The definition of positive parenting
Actually, before we get to number one, I'm going to tell you about positive parenting. So, this is a way I kind of explain it to my clients, the way that I was raised, and the way that most of my friends and family and the people that I know and even the clients that I work with were raised, was on-- We're going to put this on a continuum. So, it's kind of on this one side of the spectrum.
Different kinds of parenting
So, I want you to imagine, way on the far left, we have this authoritarian-based parenting – so, this is fear-based parenting. This is using things like rewards and punishments, bribes, threats, yelling, grounding. I don't know about you, but I got grounded often. This is things like spanking, yelling, maybe taking the Xbox away or taking the cell phone away, any of those kinds of things.
And so, it's constantly convincing our children to have good behavior by either: reward – so that they get what they want; or a punishment – they don't want something. And so, it's kind of manipulating their behavior; and we'll talk more about rewards and punishments, because it's one of my favorite things to talk about when it comes to parenting, but this is kind of what's happening on the one end.
Pros and Cons of Authoritarian-Based Parenting
- Now, the pro to that is that often, it does work immediately – so often, you are going to get the behavior that you want right away.
- The cons are that over time, it's probably going to break down your relationship with them because they aren't necessarily going to feel emotionally or physically taken care of. Often, this happens because we're kind of using their attachments or using their base fears against them, right?
So, if we have a toddler and we decide to put them in a timeout, yes, that time out's probably going to work immediately, but that's because they don't want to be separated from us. Connection and staying close to their mom is one of their biggest needs – so, we're taking that need and using it against them.
And even an older child, maybe they're really connected to their phone – maybe that's one of their main attachments – and we're like, 'We're going to take this away from you.' Right? So that's kind of what, we do when we do it because it just works right away; it usually works.
Over time, it's going to break down our relationship. Over time, we're going to have to up the ante, right? You've probably noticed this with your children; you're going to have to give them longer timeout – so, you're going to have to ground them for longer. You're going to have to do more things to get the outcome of behavior that you want.
So, let's zoom all the way over to the right-hand side of this continuum or the spectrum that we have. When I talk about peaceful parenting or I say the word 'attachment-based parenting', this is what people think I mean; either, permissive parenting – permissive, meaning would they just get to do whatever they want, we're not going to guide them or lead them at all, we're just going to let them do anything – or sometimes I get attachment-based parenting (people will think that that means that you have to be with them constantly).
So, there's a lot of misconceptions about what this is, but we're going to stick to the one side being permissive parenting – where we just kind of are friends with them and we let them do what they want; basically, parent themselves.
So, Radical Connection doesn't fit in either of those sides, right? Both of those are going to be low on relationship. Both of those are going to break down the relationship. With permissive parenting – yeah, maybe it's easy because you don't have to worry about that negative behavior, just let them do whatever.
But over time, they're not going to feel physically and emotionally taken care of either. So, it is going to break down your relationship over time.
Why I call it "Radical Connection"
So, in this center is where I feel that this kind of parenting lies, whatever you want to call it, there's loads of different names of it. I'm going to explain to you what my version of it is, what I think it is, and why I call it Radical Connection.
Firm Love – Firm vs. Love
So, in this center, I think of it as Firm Love – emphasis on the 'Love', a little bit less on the 'Firm'. So yes, we can be firm in our boundaries – and yes, we can be teaching them things, but there's way too much emphasis in that in our minds. We feel like teaching should be foremost – that we need to change their behavior, that we need to change them because what they're going through isn’t acceptable, and all of these things, right?
We focus so much more on the firm; what boundary can we set here, how can we change their behavior here? And we focus so much less on the love proportion of it. So, in the center I see Love above all. So, I usually call it relationship above all. So, preserve the relationship at all costs.
This has been drilled into my head through pretty much any positive parenting book that I've read, is relationship above all. So, no matter what's going on in that situation, drop the teaching – drop the 'I'm trying to change their behavior' and just love them, no matter what.
Now, in the center here, also, is to be generous with your Yeses and firm in your Nos. So, maybe there are some things that you're like, 'Nope, this isn't okay,' or 'No, I'm going to put my foot down here,' but being generous with your Yeses.
So, oftentimes, we like to have lots of different rules, right? If you can imagine having a house where maybe you can't wear your shoes in the house, because it'll track mud.
Maybe you have to clean up after yourself every time you make a mess – maybe you have to wake up in the morning, and remember to do your chores, and make your bed all of the time – maybe you have to do your homework before you're allowed screens – you have to eat your vegetables before you eat your main meal, right?
There's all these little rules that we put in place; and they sound really nice, and they sound really lovely – and we can have some rules, for sure. But often, we do too many rules; and rules, our children are going to break them. Inevitably, there's going to be a point where they don't do all of those things.
So, if we lower our expectations of them, we're not swinging all the way to permissive where we let them do whatever they want, but we are just allowing ourselves to love them. Lowering expectations is not for them; it's for us. It's so that we can feel more loving and connected towards them, so that we don't show up frustrated.
Rules of Radical Connection
Number one, relationship above all.
Number two, teaching through role modeling behavior.
So, number #1 rule here is Relationship Above All. Relationship is foremost, working on our connection with them so that; they feel safe, they feel seen, they feel heard, they feel loved, they feel taken care of.
Number #2 is teaching. Now, when we say teaching, we usually think of the times where we're sitting down and lecturing them; those are not the greatest teaching moments. I don't know if you've ever tried this with a teenager or even a toddler, doesn't work that well.
Relationship of above all
So, number #1, we're not going to sit down and teach them in the mode where the negative behavior is happening because they're really frustrated, and they're really angry, and they're not-- It's just not going to work. We will talk definitely more about that later, but there is no point.
The other thing is role modeling behavior is the best way to teach. Think back to when you had like an amazing teacher that you loved; you wanted to be like them, you wanted to learn from them, you wanted to show up for them – you wanted to do your homework and do a good job at your homework because you felt loved by them, and you loved them.
And it was all about the relationship; it was so much less about the teaching. So, if we have that relationship with our child, they'll naturally obey us, they'll naturally want to be near us. And yes, this is not going to happen immediately, like I said; but over time, this is the shift that can happen.
Teaching through role modeling behavior
So, number #2 is teaching through role modeling behavior. So, how is our inner negative self-talk? How is-- How do we handle emotions? How do we show up in the world in a way that we want to? How do we take care of ourselves? All of those kinds of things. We can do a little audit on ourself, how are we doing, and role modeling the behaviors that we want our children to have. And then, secondarily in this teaching, we can take little teaching moments. So, we will talk about how to teach our children.
But the two main things here are teaching moments don't happen in the moment when they're really frustrated, and a lot of our teaching is indirect; so, through stories, through conversation, through books, through role modeling, through even just like role playing or playing with your child. All of those things happen indirectly and you can do it directly as well, but that definitely doesn't need to be the focus.
- So, how I explain Radical Connection is connection above all, no matter what, that's number #1.
- Number #2 is teaching.
The center of this continuum, now we have, is high relationship, where over time: they will start to want to be with you more, they will start to want to obey you more, right? Think of anybody in your life that you really love. Why do you love them? You probably love them because you feel loved by them.
And when you truly love somebody and feel loved by them; you're going to want to do little things to make them happy, you're going to want to do little things to show your love for them, you're going to want to be around them and spend time with them, you're probably going to want to be like them, you're probably going to be inspired by them. So, this is the benefit of positive parenting.
Five secrets about radical connection parenting
So, now I'm going to share with you five secrets that you probably didn't know about this radical connection parenting.
1. It's natural
I think it’s really natural. We have these natural positive parenting instincts, but I think that culture tells us, "No, your child cannot disrespect you. It's not okay for them to have a meltdown in public. They're not allowed to scream and yell, but none of that is okay. That's not okay. That's not okay."
And so, then we think, 'Okay, well, I have to do something about this. I have to change this because all these people--' You know, even if there's subliminal messages – I'm getting – is that I have to be more strict of a parent.
But when we get rid of all of the negative stories we have about ourselves and the negative stories we have about what parenting should or should not look like, and we can deal with our own emotions and our own thoughts and our own stories and get rid of all that impatience and stress and overwhelm and doubt in ourselves, that this is just a natural way to parent.
I've seen it time and time again with my clients, in that they come to me and they're feeling stressed and burnt out and overwhelmed; and we’ll work through this and we'll talk about connection-based parenting, and we're able to get them to a space where they already know what to do.
I'm like, well, what do you want to do? What feels good in that moment – like, not coming from anger or frustration or overwhelm? What would you do if it you were feeling love and compassion? The answers that they give, even if they've never heard of Radical Connection before, are always connection and love and acceptance.
So, I think it's just a struggle for us because we're dealing with all our negative emotions in really unhealthy ways, because we don't really know any better. I didn't really know any better. And most of us were raised in this authoritarian style home, and so that's just our natural go-to.
So, once you spend some time on your own emotional and mental wellbeing, you'll start to up-level your relationship with yourself and clear some of those negative beliefs away, then you'll be able to have this positive parenting that will emerge from you naturally.
2. Our brain is wired for negativity
All right, number #2 is our brain is wired for negativity. It's called the negativity bias. So, it just naturally feeds us negative thoughts, more often than positive thoughts, by a lot. There's a lot more negative thoughts in there.
So, if we walk around with a head full of negative thoughts, it's going to be a pretty difficult place to parent from in a positive way. It's not going to be a very fun place to hang out in. So, what I teach people is to start getting aware of those thoughts, start thinking about your thinking.
So, step one is just to, you know, all week-long, this week, start thinking about your thinking; when your child's having a meltdown, when you're thinking about yourself and how that day went, what are those thoughts going through? Because number #1, here is you are not your thoughts.
Just because you have a thought does not make it true, does not make it feel good, does not make it necessary. I'm going to say that again. You are not your thoughts. If you think about this, it really is true.
You could have a thought, like, I don't know, 'Santa is real', or 'I just saw unicorn fly out the window', or something and you would be like, 'That's a weird thought', and it would just immediately go away. You wouldn't think that just because you thought it, now you have to believe it forever.
Yet, when it comes to our negative inner self talk, that inner critic that we all have because of this negativity bias, we often listen and believe it. So that's number two – start thinking about your thinking.
3. Self-care is key
Number #3 is self-care is key, so key, right? We cannot take care of others when we have not taken care of ourselves first. And it seems so logical yet, time and time again, we, as moms, do not do it.
We become these mother martyrs who pride ourselves in giving and giving and giving, and not focusing on our needs, and not feeding ourselves, and not drinking enough water, and spending all of our time with our children, and never taking a break; and, you know, kind of losing ourselves in motherhood, and we think that that's what motherhood should be.
But what if being a good mom means taking care of you? What if being a good mom means realizing what your unmet needs are and meeting those needs, filling yourself up so that you can actually show up in a way that you want to show up?
I just imagine the parenting that comes from myself when I'm burnt out and overwhelmed and stressed versus the parenting that comes when I feel nourished – I feel like maybe I've learned something new and interesting, and maybe I've spent some time taking care of me, maybe I've had some connection time with myself and, you know, stretched or meditated or gone on a walk.
Like all of those things that really truly do make us feel better, I'm going to parent in a totally different way. So, often, we think that self-care is selfish, but the opposite is actually true. Self-care is selfless and not taking care of the self is selfish.
4. Attachment doesn't mean that you spend every moment with your child
Number #4, attachment doesn't mean that you spend every moment with your child. So, we are trying to develop what's called a secure attachment, right, a secure attachment relationship here. So, when I start talking about attachment parenting, which is kind of what Neufeld talked about in his book, was all of this attachment stuff.
People are like, 'Oh, so then you have to nurse your baby forever, and you have to have them co-sleep with you all the time, and you have to baby-wear them all day long, and you have to never be away from your child, never leave them - you have to be with them constantly forever; but it's actually the opposite.
It's actually that the more connection we have and the secure attachment that we have, they can go off in the world and feel emotionally and physically taken care of by us, even when they're not around us. So, I'm not saying that any of those things are bad. In fact, I was a baby-wearing, long-nursing, co-sleeping, you know, 'not leaving my children for the first few years' type mom; and it was awesome, but that is not what a secure attachment necessarily is.
A secure attachment means that they can go off in the world, and feel emotionally taken care of through your attachment and your relationship with them. So, know you don't need to be with them every moment of the day. When they are young, yes, this is going to mean that there is a lot of physical time spent together. But over time, they will start to feel that connection and that attachment, even when you're not with them, and be able to go off into the world on their own.
5. The biggest benefit of radical connection parenting is interpersonal synchronization
So, last, number #5, the biggest benefit of radical connection parenting is interpersonal synchronization. So, interpersonal synchronization means that as we start to shift and change, people around us start to shift and change too.
An easy example of this is if I decided that, all of a sudden, I was going to go on this big health kick, and I was going to eat like only Whole Foods and drink lots of water – I'd start to talk about it to other people, right – and people around me would start to shift and change too. And they would get a little bit healthier, and maybe people around them would even start to get a little bit healthier.
It, kind of, is just like a domino effect, right? So, we're not making these changes so that our children change; I mean, that's definitely a bonus. That's like the dessert on the top of the cake, right? But we are making these changes so that we feel better about how we show up.
But the benefit is, as we change that waltz, like we talked about, like I'm in the waltz – he's dancing, these moves, I'm dancing these moves with my son – when I started to change, then he didn't know what moves to dance. And, for a while, it got a little messy, because he was like, 'I don't know what to do here.'
But after a while, it got so much better because we were in this new dance; and that's what interpersonal synchronization is all about – as I start to change, people around me start to change also; including my children.
So, as you focus on you and your needs, everything else will improve. You don't need to spend all of your time with your kids. You don't need an expert to tell you what to do, you know deep down, and you just need to be true to what you already feel and you already know.
And spending time on your emotional and mental wellbeing, will help you be able to access that knowledge that you already have deep down. And lastly, you can make huge shifts in little moments, and they will start to shift too overtime. So, keep it up. You got this.
I hope you enjoyed today's episode. Make sure that you give it Five Stars on Apple, and check out my monthly membership for moms in the show notes.