3 Things You Need To Do So Your Kids WANT To Listen To You – Part 3

Yo-Yo, everybody! Andee, here!

We are talking about strategy three today.

If you need a refresher on the other two CMP strategies check out the blog posts here and here.

Moving on to the topic of today’s post, strategy three. Strategy three is Choose Closeness. That is the focus.

The point of the three strategies is that if you put your time and attention and effort and energy, into these three things, you’ll be successful parenting by connection. You will become a Connect Method Parent. So that’s why we’re starting off with these things. These are the three things that you need to be doing if you want to transition from corrective parenting, which we know all too well.

Corrective parenting is all about the punishments, the rewards, the ultimatums, the timeouts, the lectures could go on and on. That’s what we’ve been doing, that is how society teaches us to parent. We’re getting out of that game. We’re getting into this new game called connective parenting.** If you are thinking, “yes, sign me up! But I have no idea how to do it because we haven’t seen very many examples of it”. Don’t worry! I’ve distilled it down to these three strategies because one, I like simple things, and two, because they freaking work. These strategies are a perfect entry point for parents looking to start connective parenting.

Understand Your Nervous System To Choose Closeness

One of the most important things that allows us to choose closeness is to understand what’s happening with our nervous system.

The impact it’s having on our parenting, and to be able to regulate our emotions and our nervous system so that you can actually choose to be close and not get triggered when things start going off the rails.

You might be able to handle a five minute tantrum, but if it lasts 20 minutes, you’re starting to feel agitated. So what you wanna do is to continue to increase your window of tolerance to handle the off-track behavior from your kids. All the three strategies are working together to help you be able to come to this point in your parenting where nothing will phase you.

You will be able to stay calm and connected no matter what. Now, I’m not saying you’re going to be perfect, but you’re going to get pretty darn good at showing up that way or course correcting if you don’t, and recovering quickly.

Let’s talk about the nervous system. Now I want to be clear. I am not going to go into neuroscientist mode because I’m not a neuroscientist. I am a nurse and I’m a mom. I love learning, so I’m always out there learning. I am always reading and learning about new things to help me in my parenting and I need it to be simple and easy for me to use in my everyday life. I love to teach what I learn to the moms and dads in League so that they can learn it as simply, easily and make it very doable for them. If you’re a scientist, you might, find my explanations a little simplistic, but bear with me because they work for those of us who need to be able to understand them so that you can choose to shift the way you are showing up for our parenting.

So let’s just start at the top.

The Nervous System.

There are two parts of the autonomic nervous system: the parasympathetic nervous system and the sympathetic nervous system. The role of the parasympathetic nervous system is to promote relaxation, rest, and recovery. The body is incredibly smart, we don’t wanna be relaxing and resting if there’s danger. If there’s danger, we wanna be ready to defend ourselves, and this is where the sympathetic nervous system kicks in. The sympathetic nervous system is there to protect us and keep us aware and alive in times of need and times of danger.

It’s our fight or flight response. And this is not the place we wanna be when we’re parenting our kids. Because if our emotions are high and our thinking is low, and we’re going back into autopilot, fight or flight mode to protect ourselves, we’re not gonna be saying or doing really sweet kind things.

The reason we’re so caught up in the external is because we are in a world where external evidence is how we measure success instead of internal evidence. So it’s a lot easier to get all up in arms about the messy room because not only does that messy room now mean something terrible about your kids, it means something terrible about you and your parenting.

You go into fight or flight mode and you don’t show up as your best self. And when you go into fight or flight mode your kids can feel that. And so their nervous system says, “Ooh, mom is not safe. They’re in fight mode, we need to protect ourselves.” Which leads to their nervous system kicking in and then they go into fight or flight mode.

And now you have two people with their brains turned off, fighting each other. You don’t wanna be doing that. This situation is not helpful to anyone. You don’t want to be triggering your nervous systems and then triggering your kids’ nervous systems and you also want to be aware that just because your kids’ nervous systems are triggered you don’t have to go into fight or flight mode back to protect yourself. You need to remind yourself that you are safe and you can stay in that parasympathetic state. Not go into fight or flight mode to protect yourself.

Your child’s brain, it is built to co-regulate with you, meaning they literally, needs this adult in their life to help them learn how to emotionally regulate, how to get back to equilibrium. They need you. And so the better you are able to regulate your emotions the better you are able to come to a situation where your kid is struggling and help them regulate and calm themselves.

Maybe they’re fighting their sister, maybe they’re just have a big attitude with you, whatever the case may be. When they’re acting like that, that is a big red flag that their nervous system is activated. What you don’t want to do, if you want them to calm down is give them a consequence. If you do that you are just activating their nervous system more. What you want to do is give them a place and the space for their nervous system to calm back down.

We have not been taught this, but now that you understand the nervous system and we’re learning about strategy three, choose closeness, this is all gonna come together for you and you will understand why the nervous system is so vital to mastering connective parenting. You will understand why setting a connective limit and holding that connective limit and choosing to stay close works wonders.

When we change our mindsets surrounding parenting and we can come in and see that, hey, my child is having a problem right now, they’re fighting, they’re really emotional. That the real reason behind the off-track behavior is that their nervous system is activated. You now know that their nervous system needs my nervous system to be able to co-regulate back down to a calm place to get back to that parasympathetic nervous system.

We know that the best thing I can do if I want them to calm down and be able to navigate this in a healthy way is for me to be calm and choose closeness. Choose to stay close instead of disconnect. Choose to not make it a big deal that they’re having this problem. Just allow the nervous system to run its course in a place of safety so that they can come back to equilibrium.

Mirror Neurons

There is something inside of our brains called mirror neurons. They’re sending out a message, essentially telling our kids how we are internally. Are we calm? Are we activated? Are we frustrated? Where are we at? Those mirror neurons inform our nervous systems on how we should react. You guys! This should be evidence for all of us to say, “this is the work I need to be doing. I don’t need to try and fix the kids and fix their behavior and give them a consequence. No. The work is figuring out how to come with a calm nervous system even when what they’re doing is very alarming or has been alarming to me and give them the space to calm themselves down because that is what will actually work in the long term.

When you are in a calm, regulated nervous system state, you’ll be able to help your kids get into a regulated nervous system state.

If you are in an activated state, you’re charged, you’re triggered, your children are going to mirror you. Their neurons are being informed by your neurons, and they’re going to activate as well. They’re going to stay activated because they’re going to think that’s what they need to do. You are informing them how to respond.

Change takes time

It is easy to get frustrated with your nervous system. I know I was frustrated for so long because I knew my nervous system was getting in the way but I didn’t know how to overcome it. I want you to remember how incredible your nervous system is when you want to be mad at it, because we have all yelled or slipped back into old habits, and that’s your nervous system going into that fight or flight mode to try to protect you.

And you might be so upset with yourself that you messed up again, but before you beat yourself up, remind yourself that, to be grateful for your nervous system. It’s protected humans for generations. It’s trying to protect you. Now you can move on and re-train my nervous system to help it know the difference between faux dangerous situations and actually dangerous situations.

You might not like what it’s doing right now, it might not seem very helpful, but I promise you it is there to serve you and keep you alive as a human. And the more gentle you can be with this process of retraining your nervous system, which is one of the elements that you need to do to be able to Choose Closeness when things are off track, the kinder you are and the more success you will have. So repeat after me. I will be kind to my nervous system as I am learning to retrain it.

When I first started retraining my brain to think differently about my kids’ behavior, about myself, how I showed up parenting, what their behavior meant about me I was very mean to myself. And as I have worked with many, many, many, moms and dads and what I have found is that especially with women, we are very hard on ourselves and we beat the crap out of ourselves. I did for years. I beat the living crap out of myself.

All in the name of constructive criticism. I don’t have any problem with actual constructive criticism, but I wasn’t being helpful, I was just being mean to myself under the guise of constructive criticism. I had thoughts like, “you’re, not worth anything” and “you can’t figure this out”. Beating the crap out of yourself is not what’s going to change things.

This leads right into the nervous system discussion because you know what is happening when you’re beating yourself up you’re actually re-triggering our nervous system. You are in fight or flight mode about yourself. When you are in fight or flight mode you are not thinking straight.

So get off the criticism train, get onto the curiosity train, it’s gonna serve you much better. You wanna get curious and compassionate about what’s going on with your life. Not critical and mean. Don’t want you to repeat what I did. I was stuck for years. I was so convinced that being mean to myself was how I was gonna shift my parenting and if I was nice to myself I wouldn’t change.

Something to try this week

So here’s what I want you to do as we wrap up. I want you to be thinking about your nervous system response when your kids have off-track behavior and to write down what you notice. Become aware of it. Understand it. There’s nothing wrong with it. Just see it. Even if it’s not pretty.

What do you typically do?

How does that play out for you?

I want you to be thinking about the ways that work for you to calm your nervous system down this week.

I have found many different methods that help me calm down, including intentional breathing. There’s so many benefits of deep breathing, even breathing out twice. As long as you breathe in that physiologically signal to the nervous system, you’re safe.

I also enjoy meditation, walking and being out in the sun. There are all sorts of things that are going to help you calm that nervous system down and stop feeling so triggered. I want you to start creating a list of things that help calm you down that you can use in times where you have a difficulty doing so. Things that help you to relax. Music is also very powerful, pressure points, closing your eyes. If I was frustrated and I was walking around the house and was overwhelmed and couldn’t handle it anymore, I’d often just lay on the ground. That really worked for me.

I’ve talked to moms that say, walking outside, exercising regularly, journaling, sewing, crafting, and even organizing have helped calm them down.

You want to be able to go into a situation where your child is clearly activated, they’re triggered, they’re in fight or flight mode, and not get sucked into the drama.

You might have to set a limit. You might have to tell them no, you might have to separate kids, but you are able to be genuinely neutral about it. This will help you to choose closeness.

Final Thoughts

We’re gonna keep building on this and change your parenting forever.

Thank you so much for joining me today for coming and joining this parenting revolution of parenting by connection, not correction. Be sure to share this with your friends and family or parenting bestie and help them learn about Connect Method Parenting.

Spread the word. I would really appreciate that if you could share it with people and comment below if you liked what you read today. So we’ll talk to you next time. Until then, have a wonderful day!

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Gets your kids to WANT to listen... without the yelling, ultimatums, or bribes!

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Andee Martineau

Andee’s a mom of 6, reformed yeller, and the creator of Connect Method Parenting. She’s on a mission to help moms feel in control, bring the fun back into parenting, and ditch the yelling, corrections, and endless feelings of failure!

Can you imagine your kids happily listening to you, helping around the house, confiding in you, and getting along with their siblings? She’s got you covered with simple, scientifically-sound steps to do just that (that actually work. For real!)

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