Dayna Abraham, bestselling author of The Superkids Activity Guide to Conquering Every Day and Sensory Processing 101, is on a mission to create a more accepting world, one challenging kid at a time. Her latest book, Calm the Chaos: A Failproof Roadmap for Parenting Even the Most Challenging Kids was released in August. 

421: Calming the Chaos with Challenging Kids

Dayna Abraham

Do you have a “challenging” kid? Then you need to listen to this episode. Dayna Abraham, author of “Calm the Chaos,” talks to us about the 5 stages of moving out of the crazy days of multiple meltdowns to building a family team.

Calming the Chaos with Challenging Kids - Dayna Abraham [421]

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*This is an auto-generated transcript*

[00:00:00] Dayna Abraham: I think it's what fueled me to want to do things different when I went into education. My favorite kids were the ones that were like me that didn't fit in a box, the ones that came with a paper trail behind them that were highly misunderstood.

[00:00:21] Hunter: You're listening to the Mindful Parenting Podcast, episode number 421. Today we're talking about calming the chaos with challenging kids with Dana Abraham.

Welcome to the Mindful Parenting Podcast. Here it's about becoming a less irritable, more joyful parent. At Mindful Parenting, we know that you cannot give what you do not have, and when you get calm and peace within, then you can give it to your children. I'm your host, Hunter Clark Fields. I help smart, thoughtful parents stay calm so they can have strong, connected relationships with their children.

I've been practicing mindfulness for over 25 years. I'm the creator of the Mindful Parenting course, and I'm the author of the best selling book, Raising Good Humans, a mindful guide to breaking the cycle of reactive parenting and raising kind, confident kids. And now, Raising Good Humans Every Day, 50 Simple Ways to Press Pause, Stay Present, and Connect with Your Kids.

Hey, welcome back. Dear listener, I'm so glad you're here. I'm so grateful that you're here. It's great to be connecting with you. Listen, if you haven't done so yet, please make sure you are subscribed. You don't miss any of these amazing episodes. And I would love love, of course, a rating and review from Apple Podcasts.

And in just a minute, I'm going to be sitting down with Dana Abraham, bestselling author of The Super Kids Activity Guide to Conquering Every Day and Sensory Processing 101. She's on a mission to create a more accepting world one challenging kid at a time, and her latest book is called Calm the Chaos, a fail proof roadmap for parenting even the most challenging kids.

If you have a challenging kid, oh my goodness, then you really just need to listen to this episode. Dana. It's going to talk to us, we're going to talk about the five stages of moving out of the crazy days of multiple meltdowns and towards building a family team. So if you are really struggling, this is definitely the episode for you.

Before we dive in, I want to mention that you can now listen to the Mindful Parenting Podcast sponsor free and with bonus content. Go to, you can click on podcasts and we have a link to Podcast Plus where you can get a feed of the Mindful Parenting Podcast Plus. It's super easy to subscribe and it goes right in the feed where you're listening to this episode right now.

Awesome. So anyway, check it out. If you've loved the podcast, this is a great way to be a supporter and you get the episodes ad free, which is great. It's at under the podcast link. And now join me at the table as I talk to Dana Abraham.

Dana, I'm so excited for your book. It is so thorough. I think it is going to be such a helpful book for parents. It has all helpful drawings and things like that. I'm so excited to talk about it, but I first, before we dive in, I want to just dive into your story and was, is this kind of parenting that you're obviously very passionate about?

It was, is this different from the way you were raised

[00:03:45] Dayna Abraham: and what was your childhood like? That's a great question. This is 100 percent different than the way that I was raised. So I grew up with a very top down approach. I was also raised as a sibling of a bipolar brother. So at the time we didn't know what that, what it was, but we were dealing with a lot of meltdowns and outbursts and he was kicked out of every school that he had ever gone to.

My mom did the absolute best she could with what she knew and with the information she had at the time, but It still was a lot of blame and shame. It was a lot of really high expectations. A lot of, if I had anything to say, then it was seen as talking back or being disrespectful. And I was probably grounded more days than I was in.

[00:04:35] Hunter: Oh, wow. So it sounds like you were a challenging kid if you were grounded a lot. It sounds like you pushed back a bit against this.

[00:04:44] Dayna Abraham: I did. I pushed back a lot and my mom would not have said that I was the most challenging out of all three of hers. My Brother was the one that was, really challenging for the family.

And so for the most part, I tried to stay on my best behavior and I tried to do everything I was asked. And I think that's why it was so hard for me when I did push back or I did have a thought that was different. My mom and I were just complete opposite people. And she wanted things to fit a nice pretty bow and in a box and I did not fit that mold very well.

And so we really struggled to get along most of our life and started to repair that relationship towards the end of her life.

[00:05:27] Hunter: Wow. So you could see that. That sounds a lot, for me, it sounds a lot like it was with my father and just that. that you could see that, oh, what is happening?

This has pushed me away from her. You could probably see I'm trying, and then you could probably see that resentment build and things like that. And I think this is so helpful to think about this as parents are thinking about, do I want to move away from the authoritarian ways of my parents?

What are the actual repercussions of it? You may get that compliance in the moment, but for me and my dad, it was, like, my late 20s, maybe, that I finally forgave him and healed and stuff like that. How long was it for you?

[00:06:12] Dayna Abraham: I am embarrassed to say that I think it was probably after my mom was fully gone before I started healing from a lot of it.

I loved my mom and still love her. Yeah. And I loved her while she was here and we had Both a very loving relationship and also a very volatile relationship. People that knew us knew if we were in the same room, we were going to end up in a fight. We were both fighters. And so we would end up in screaming matches.

We would end up, if we were on the phone, hanging up on each other. There was just a lot of animosity and frustration towards each other. And it wasn't a very pretty relationship. Wow. I'm

[00:06:56] Hunter: sorry, but I imagine that was like a big fuel for your fire to do the work that you do. So it was that was like the way you were raised with this was what fueled you to do, help you become interested in learning what's really going on with the challenging kids.

[00:07:12] Dayna Abraham: Actually, I think it's what fueled me to want to do things different when I went into education. My favorite kids were the ones that were like me that didn't fit in a box, the ones that came with a paper trail behind them that were highly misunderstood. And so when I became a parent, I had these things that aligned with what I believed and what I wanted to do as a parent.

But at the same time, I had a kid who was extremely challenging, who was kicked out of preschool, who was in trouble in kindergarten, and by second grade, he was suspended more days than he was in school. And he was on the same trajectory as my brother, and that's really what led me down the path of, what did I miss in child development?

What did I miss in my education that I'm not able to help my son despite my... Education Vector.

[00:08:04] Hunter: Yeah. Yeah. It sounds like you had this upbringing and then now you're having this repetition in your life. So you have an interesting view of challenging kids, right? So let, why don't we dive into this and I assume your son is involved in this view.

So can you explain your viewpoint of what's going on with challenging kids?

[00:08:25] Dayna Abraham: Yeah, so I think that, just to describe a challenging kid to begin with, it's that kid that is a little harder to understand. Maybe you would describe them as strong willed or spirited or highly sensitive. Maybe others describe them as defiant or disrespectful or aggressive.

But these are the kids that they beat to their own drum. They are a little too much or a little too little of whatever it is we're expecting as adults from them. And as those children are growing and developing, they know it. They know that they are not meeting the expectations of those around them. The parents are struggling because they feel like they're not able to help their kids.

And then the teachers are struggling because they feel like this kid is You know, making the classroom more difficult when really this child does not feel seen, heard, valued, or understood. And so we're going to see a lot of outward behaviors that are part of their personality. So what I mean by that is if you've got an Incredibly passionate kid, you're gonna see that intensity come out in things they love in amazing ways.

And you're also gonna see it come out in aggression and in big emotions and big fits that they don't know how to handle yet. And so it, I believe it's our job as parents to become their guide and their mentor and to accept them fully for who they are and help them hone those different skill sets and the different pieces of who they're.


[00:09:57] Hunter: looking now on your understanding this, when you look back at your son in preschool getting, you said, kicked out like in second grade, what was missing for him? What, with your kind of hindsight is 20 20 what was not being valued or understood about him? I

[00:10:15] Dayna Abraham: mean, I think there's a lot here.

It's not just like a one, one thing and then we solve it. And so it really comes down to the framework that I've discovered and it wasn't just one thing. It was really these four principles and part of it is the connection piece. He didn't feel seen or heard. He didn't feel like he belonged. He was, he felt like he was the bad kid, like he didn't fit, like he was always different than the other kids.

And that was really hard for him. He didn't feel safe. In his environment, he didn't feel like he had a safe person to go to when he was in these schools. And even if he did find a safe person, they would typically take it away from him because they saw it as a reward, that they were rewarding his behavior by giving him a calm and safe place to go to.

And then he was missing. Adults that understood him, that didn't pass off his behavior as him just being disrespectful or it being purposeful or manipulative, and he was missing adults who didn't know how to look under the surface and see the behavior for more than what it was and really get to the root of the missing needs, the sensory needs, the missing skills, the lack of connection, the lack of his basic needs, all of those different things that were leading to these behaviors.

He was also missing what I talk about as the third component is empowerment. And he was missing a say in how things were going to be done. What were the plans? What were The outcomes and he had a plan in his head, but nobody was really asking him what those plans were even at three. And he couldn't always verbalize those plans.

And so he needed a collaborative approach. He needed help problem solving and creating solutions that worked for everyone. And then the very last piece of the framework that I've discovered is a lot of it comes to, and this is what you talk a ton about, is that mindfulness piece for the grownup, right?

He needed a grownup that Was going to be able to shift the way that they saw him and was going to approach the situation with curiosity and with openness and with love and compassion towards him. So instead of saying he always hits or he always melts down instead, it's Oh, when he does This is what's happening, right?

And really shifting those thoughts and beliefs behind the behavior.

[00:12:42] Hunter: Stay tuned for more Mindful Mama podcasts right after this break.

I'm so curious as to what kind of preschool and kindergarten he was in. Was it like a typical kind of middle of the road kind of preschool and Kindergarten or

[00:13:00] Dayna Abraham: pre school was it was a, like a Catholic school and so it was pretty traditional. But my son at the time, he didn't have any diagnoses.

We now know that he's autistic, has ADHD, sensory processing disorder, anxiety. And so I, at the time, because I didn't know what it was, I used to call it peeled grape syndrome. And so basically what I meant by this is he would watch other children and whatever another child did, he said, in his head. He was like, that's how we do that.

And then he would take it in. And then when it came out of his body and when he would do that action, it came out tenfold. And so that was one of the things that would happen. And so he bit in preschool and biting is you bite, you're out. That is a big thing in preschool. And there's not, Even though it's a very developmentally appropriate behavior in preschool, as children are trying to learn how to navigate problems and challenges, fighting is pretty common, but that was one of the big ones.

The other one is he really couldn't sit still. And I know that's developmentally appropriate, but even at. Preschool, he'd always be touching things, he'd always be out of his seat, he'd be running around and he would, he was that very loud, rambunctious, standing on the furniture kid. And at the time, not many people understood sensory needs and this really intense need for sensory input that would help him be able to regulate.

Yeah, I,

[00:14:29] Hunter: I guess I'm, my personal life, I'm a big advocate for Montessori education. I'm like a founding board member of the first public charter Montessori in the state of Delaware. And I'm thinking, this kid needs a Montessori classroom where he could walk around and choose his own things he wants to do.

Oh, I'm sure that's not the only thing, there's, I'm sure that obviously much deeper than that, but but that's great that, ultimately it was able to, lead to all this insight and understanding. Dana, I love your book, Calm the Chaos. It's really thorough, like I said, and you have a five stage roadmap that I really like, and it breaks down if you're a parent in a a chaotic environment, like Dana was when her son was getting kicked out of preschool it talks you through different stages of moving out of the chaos.

So can you walk us through these five

[00:15:28] Dayna Abraham: stages that you present? Yeah. Absolutely, and I'm going to talk about my situation and apply it to some of our students situations as well, but this also works if, you're not dealing with kids getting kicked out of preschool, or you're not dealing with a teenager who's starting to experiment with drugs, like the really big things.

It's also, if you're just really struggling with a kid who refuses to go to school, or a kid who, You know, melts down anytime you say no. So this works with all kids. I just happened to have to learn it with the most challenging situations. And so the five stage roadmap, the concept behind it is that I was teaching our students the framework that I just shared, the four pieces, the you, connection, understanding, and empowerment, and we were seeing some success, but what we realized is that.

In the worst situations and when you're overwhelmed or stressed out, you're not sleeping, your kids aren't sleeping, your kids are getting kicked out of school, it's really hard to access even the best information. And a lot of the advice out there starts at stage three or four or five where your kids are already doing okay and now it's about setting up systems or routines or boundaries that help your children thrive.

But if you're barely getting through a day without One to five meltdowns, then you need something that is so incredibly simple that you can implement even before you have a plan that works. And so the five stages are ride the storm, which is getting everyone to safety. The second one is your energy reserves, which is getting everyone or yourself, particularly the time and energy that you need so that you can handle any storm that comes your way.

By storm, argument, outburst, tantrum, meltdown, you name it. And then in the moment is how to diffuse the situation and a lot of the great advice out there starts with how to diffuse situations. So how to say, what to do in the heat of the moment that matches your kids unique needs. And then getting ahead of the moment is stage four, where you're proactively taking a step back, you're building positive interactions with your children, you're starting to really get a deeper understanding of what's going on, where these things are coming from, and then you're problem solving with your kids, you're creating.

Problem solving discussions and brainstorming discussions, and you're coming up with solutions that work for everyone. And then finally is the mecca, where we all want to be, is the family success plan. And that's where we have a family that is working together, that enjoys spending time together, that advocates for each other, empowers each other, and truly understands Each member of the family and you can't start at that stage, especially if you don't have that safety, the relationship, the trust, the mindfulness and the calmness to be able to approach your kids, understand your kids and get to know them for who they are.

[00:18:33] Hunter: Yeah, and Dana's book has a wonderful quiz to help you figure out what stage you're in, which is really cool, and action steps for what to do. So let's imagine, let's take us for the people who have those really challenging kids. They're having three to five meltdowns a day. They're pulling their hair out.

They just don't have the support they need. Which is one of my big pet peeves with our, government and structure in general, and it's like, how parents are so under supported. But let's imagine, that person in that stage one place. Can you describe what does that look like, and what are some of the action steps that they can take to get out of that?


[00:19:15] Dayna Abraham: typically at this stage, the parents are waking up with dread before their feet ever hit the ground. They're worried about what is going to happen today. It feels like Groundhog Day. Another day, another problem. And they're worried, maybe they're walking on eggshells, worried that they're going to set their kid off.

or maybe they're going to set off multiple kids. They're having to fend off their kids from each other. And like I was talking with one of our students the other day and she was in the kitchen with our kids and she had to walk to the other room. And in that 2 second she walked to the other room, her kids were on top of each other, fighting.

So you're dealing with, it doesn't matter what time of day or when in the day, you're just. Constantly bombarded with fights, arguments, yelling, and hitting, and all of this chaos is ensuing, and so the way to get to the next stage where you have even a second to breathe is creating what I call that ride the storm plan, which I like to think of it as the plan you need until you have a real plan that works, and so this is just the plan to ride it out.

It's a lot like a plan for tornadoes or hurricanes. Thanks for watching! It's having a plan for the worst storms and in a real storm, a weather storm, you're not running out and trying to put things away, you're not trying to fix things, you're not trying to outrun it, you're not trying to solve it, you're just getting in your basement, you're getting in your bathroom, you're covering yourself with a mattress.

That's what you're doing. You're just writing it out. And that is what this really is creating a plan for yourself that helps you stay that calm, centered, safe place for your children. And it starts with a simple mindfulness activity that I call Stop, Breathe, Anchor, which is where you just plant your feet in the ground.

You take a big, deep breath in, and then you anchor yourself in a memory, a sensory sensation, something that's going to help remind your brain, Hey friend, we're safe. We can get through this. This is just a moment. And it's not having all the cute affirmations or all the great words to help you. It's finding one that works for you and practicing that out of the moment.

When you go to the bathroom, when you're washing your hands, when you're stopped at a red light so that when it happens again, And because it will when it happens again, you are ready to just, I'm going to stop, I'm going to take that pause, take a big deep breath in, and I'm going to anchor myself in this moment.

And for a lot of our parents, that's remembering their child as a baby. Because, as a baby, their child would cry, and they didn't get mad because their child was crying. They would say, Oh, my child needs something. They need, my baby needs milk, or they need to be changed, or they're sleepy. And we innately will try to solve that thing, or try to be there for them.

So if we can remember our child in the heat of the moment, and in those worst moments as they need us. Whatever's happening, it's just, they need me, or this is just a moment, something that's going to help you get through this. So that's the you piece of that plan. And then there's the three other steps, and I don't want to take all our time going through them, but one really big one that can help is being able for the connection piece.

It's not about talking, it's not about getting closer, it's not about validating even, it's really just about shifting our own body language. So it's about. Taking, I think of like those movies with the red lasers and it like scans your body from top to bottom and so I just imagine those lasers going from my head to my toe when I'm frustrated and what is my child seeing my eyebrows furrowed, they're seeing my lips pierced, they're seeing my jaw tightened, they're seeing my shoulders raised and my voice is probably groggy and I'm probably huffing.

For Not again, and even if I'm not saying it out loud, they can feel that energy of where I'm at. And so what can I do as I scan my body instead of sending out signals of danger to them, how can I send out signals of safety? I'm your safe place. I'm here and I'll wait this out with you without even saying a word.

Those are the big pieces of that plan and really focusing on the tiny progress you're making when you're in this stage. I always tell parents in this stage, don't judge your progress on your worst day. Hey guys, you're going to feel like you're not making any progress at all, but if you focus on the one small win, or you focus on that meltdowns were 30 minutes and now they're 20 minutes, there were five and now there's three, that your kid is now receptive of you and they didn't used to be receptive.

Maybe they're still the same length. Maybe they're only happening at school and not at home anymore. Maybe they're only happening in the morning and not at night anymore, but really focusing on that little bit of progress and holding on to that. And sometimes that progress can be your new anchor in the moment.

And you can remind yourself, we always come out of this. We always get through this. We can do it again.

[00:24:27] Hunter: I think that's such a hopeful message. And I like how you're You know, breaking down these tiny steps into important increments to be acknowledged, right? Because we all see the Instagram, moms and we're all, who are doing everything perfectly and we think, what is wrong with us, right?

And but it actually this is so valuable to be able to take these things and really acknowledge the wins, the tiny wins that are. And I love that you said it's not about what you're saying, or to your child and I say this a lot it's really about you, right? Your presence, like about you and how are you listening?

Are you this like giant, scary, domineering, like adult, right? Or are you, can you feel into your body? Breathe, listen to yourself, let yourself be a mountain, a calm mountain in that moment. And that's like exactly what I'm hearing here, which I love this. And you also talk about speaking of body language, I really you talk about closer and lower and Dana, you have so many like very specific steps.

You talk about the energy to bring all of those things, but while we're on body language, can you tell us about closer and lower? Yeah, so

[00:25:52] Dayna Abraham: Closer and Lower is something in Stage 3, it's the connection part for In the Heat of the Moment, and it's, the idea of it is a lot, it's like a, just an extension of what we just talked about, of really checking our body language, and instead of actually just standing still and checking our body language, this time, we can move into the same room as our kids, we can sit down on the couch with them, we can sit down on the floor beside them, and it's about increasing the proximity to our kids, getting closer to them, and then disarming our body, making our body seem smaller, closer to their size, so they're not overwhelmed when they see us.

How many times do we, from the bottom of the stairs, yell to upstairs, guys, quit fighting, right? And so it's about actually walking up the stairs and standing there, and I do the same thing. I'll forget sometimes. I just did it today with my 18 year old and I didn't yell to the top of the stairs, but what I did is we turn on and off electronics and I didn't want to go up the stairs and I also didn't want to yell up the stairs, so I just turned off his electronics and he came down to smell it.

Why did you turn off the electronics? So I stopped what I was doing, walk over to him and say, I know I should have come up and told you. It was because we missed a couple steps. Let's go do those steps and then I'll turn him right back on. And he was like, Oh, why didn't you just tell me instead of turning things off?

[00:27:21] Hunter: Like I know, but just cause

I'm a human too.

[00:27:26] Dayna Abraham: I am a human. I am totally human. And my son is, he's the one I was talking about that got kicked out of second grade and he's now 18. Just graduated high school, but he is just transitioning back from his dad's and so Everything we're doing right now is about body language And it's about creating these moments of safety and these small moments of connection Because he's not really ready to talk about things He's not really ready to process a lot and he right now is super edgy.

So he'll be like Do this, or why'd you do that? And in that instant, I want to be like, don't talk to me like that, but that's just going to set him off more. And so it's not that I'm letting him talk to me that way, but it's in the moment I have to ground myself, I have to get closer to him, and I have to say, when you talk to me like that, it makes it hard for me to want to help you.

And then he's Oh I didn't mean to yell. I didn't think you did. And so we're able to get through that moment. So I just encourage parents to think about when they're in the heat of the moment, their kids are fighting or they're not putting away their toys or whatever it is, or even if it's time for dinner and you're yelling from the kitchen to the other room, that can be really jarring and alarming for kids.

And so if we can just move closer, get down on their level. And give the request or be there for our kids, it can make a huge difference. Yeah.

[00:28:53] Hunter: I love that. Thank you. And I thank you for sharing your human moment because I think it's so helpful for people to understand that I make mistakes plenty of times, Dana makes mistakes, we are all human and We are all human.

The goal is not perfection, but it's use the tools more, as much as we can and offer ourselves compassion and forgiveness when we are inevitably human, because,

[00:29:19] Dayna Abraham: that's what I always tell people, I always tell people, kiss my brain, and so I say, thank you brain for reminding me I'm human.

That's my little saying that I do when I yell or I mess up or I act human. I just remind myself, yep, thank you brain.

[00:29:35] Hunter: Kiss your brain. That's great. Okay, so we skipped to the stage, three, but let's like say let's move or move from stage one to two. If we're We're riding out the storm.

How do then do we make it so there are fewer storms in our, in the, with these, with challenging kids and kids who are fighting and things like that?

[00:29:55] Dayna Abraham: Yeah. So it does take a little longer than we think, right? It's not an overnight success and it's not a magic button. And so I think knowing that it's going to take longer sometimes gives parents the fortitude and the resilience to go through the battles, but when they think it's supposed to be magically better after they create.

One plan or another plan, then that can be really disheartening and frustrating and they can feel like they're not doing it right, but you are doing it right. It just takes time, especially when you're dealing with extremely challenging situations. This is going to take time. We've seen parents go from these really tough situations of multiple meltdowns a day, parents hiding in their pantry, feeling like they're not the parent for their kid, wondering if their kids would be better off with another parent.

And then having plans that minimize the outburst and being able to collaborate with their kids, being able to have fun family nights and things like that in three months. But that's not all the time. And so give yourself that permission for it to take as long as it needs to take as you're navigating this journey.

So that's my little caveat as we talk about going from Ride the storm. Many people want to jump into, okay how do I stop the behavior? And that skips a step. And this step is, and for a long time, we didn't even teach this step as well. We went right into let's stop the behavior. The thing that we need as the parent is we need enough.

Battery and enough energy to be able to handle an argument, a disagreement, a fight, a meltdown, a fit, whatever it is, being woke up in the middle of the night. We need to be able to handle that and the only way we're going to have enough Calmness and enough presence to be able to do that is if we have enough time and energy in our own tank.

And so that second plan really is about creating these daily tiny habits that boost your energy, remove the drains from your life so that You're less stressed because when you're less stressed about real life outside of your home, outside of your kid's relationship, then you can be more present for your kids when they need you most.

[00:32:16] Hunter: Stay tuned for more Mindful Mama podcasts right after this break.

Yeah, that really goes to the... Self care being the foundation for being able to parent mindfully or consciously or whatever. Like it, it's, if you don't have the energy to do all this, nothing you're not going to be able to do anything. You're not going to be able to access your whole brain.

You're not going to be able to model the behavior you want to model. You're not going to be able to listen. You're not going to be able to get curious because you just don't have the bandwidth. It's a recipe for

[00:32:50] Dayna Abraham: burnout. A hundred percent. And so many parents try to skip this, especially when they're in the worst of the stages.

They're like, I just want to get my kid to stop doing XYZ. In order to get your kid to stop doing XYZ, you have to have enough calmness and you have to have enough battery in your tank. And when I see a lot of resistance here, I'm going to say something, I might frustrate some people, but the root of this resistance to taking care of ourself, even if it's just five minutes a day.

really is that we don't believe we're worth it. And that's hard, especially as women. A lot of times we've been told that it's somehow selfish, that we should be focusing on our kids, that we should be helping our kids, that we should be stopping the behavior, getting our kids to quote unquote behave. And so we jumped to that and serving and helping others, but we can't serve others.

We can't help others until we take care of ourselves. Yeah, I couldn't,

[00:33:45] Hunter: I couldn't agree more. It's interesting because this, I think, is so foundational. I identify the same exact reason as that comes up with a lot of resistance, that sense of worthiness around it. And it's interesting, and we think about this is also a generational pattern that is modeled for us, and this is one place in my own life, where I feel very lucky, where my mom...

My mom was a nurse. My dad had a carved sign business. We were lower middle class, we had, we just, we bought a house when I was 12. So like it wasn't, we didn't have tons of money to throw around, but my mom, without any much fanfare, I don't remember anything about it, but she did spec writing lessons and horseback riding lessons.

It's not it's not like a lower middle class activity it's like it costs some money to ride horses. And I remember spending all this time at the barn and holding these big carrots and, trying to pet these giant horses. And later in life, I realized oh, this was an incredible model of self care.

It wasn't like, no, there was no discussion about. We're hand wringing about whether, we should be doing this or affording this and all of this stuff. It was just something that she did for her. And the only reason she did it was because it brought her joy. And I realize now that's like an incredible model that a lot of people didn't have in their

[00:35:12] Dayna Abraham: life.

I did not have that model for sure. And, my mom did a lot of the traditional, what we've all grown up believing as self care. Getting her hair done, doing her nails, getting quote unquote pretty. But I never saw her really take time to take care of herself. And I think that ultimately led to her leaving this planet very early in life is because she didn't believe in herself.

She didn't love herself enough to truly take care of herself despite having the means to do yeah,

[00:35:49] Hunter: or I've seen it go the other way where like moms have given so much to their kids and then at some point they just are done and there's nothing, it just goes, swings to the other side of the pendulum, right?

There's no balance there, so yes, I love that is an essential step in the roadmap, taking care of your energy. You put it in a very practical way too, which I think is hopefully very appealing that you're identifying the root of it, like you need some energy to be able to do these things.

All right. So then take us to stage three.

[00:36:23] Dayna Abraham: So stage three is that in the moment plan. We talked a little bit about it, but the key here is about diffusing the situation. So this is, you're already calm, you've got your strength and your energy to be able to go through whatever battle you're having. And this could be anything.

This could be your kids not wanting to put their things away after they come home from school. It could be them not eating the food that you set out for dinner. It could be them not getting off electronics when you ask. It really doesn't matter here. But it's what does that interaction look like in the heat of the moment?

And it's a lot less interaction than you might think it is. And so the you piece here really is, again, we go back to that mindfulness piece and it's identifying in the heat of the moment, what is the most common disempowering thought that comes up in your head? Is it my kid never listens? Is it my kid always walks all over me?

Whatever that is, identifying that and then coming up with a swap. We call them thought monsters and super swaps. So in this case, it would be the always and never beast. And it's coming to attack you, it's like your kid is never doing this, your kid is always doing this, my kid never listens, my spouse never supports me.

And then going to, okay what's the opposite of that, I can call on FactFinder Freddy and FactFinder Freddy can help me find proof that this just isn't the case. So a really good example of this is my kids never get along, they hate each other. FactFinder Freddie's no. Remember the other day, your daughter was really struggling with their Lego and the brother came and helped her put it together.

See, they don't hate each other. They just don't always see eye to eye. Okay. All right. So there's room there. And so I'm not entering the situation already bottled up, ready to defend. What I'm frustrated about or what I'm worried about or what my big fears are. And then that connection piece, like we said, is move closer, get lower, get on their space.

And if you've got a kid who's a hitter, a kicker, a biter, any of those things. Obviously don't get so close to them that they can hit you, kick you, or bite you, right? So it might mean getting in the same room and being on the other side of the room. It might mean, being on the other end of the couch.

We're in the vicinity of our kids. And this is where we're finding something that works specifically for our kids. The Understand piece is really looking at, and you can't ask 20 questions in the heat of the moment, but you can do a mental checklist, and this is where, I know we've all seen the iceberg memes with a million things on them, and we know that what we see Our kid's doing is just the tip of the iceberg and there's so much underneath.

Created a tool to help parents because it's hard to identify what is under the surface without throwing a dart and being like, I think it's that they're lacking communication skills. And so it's, all right, is it basic needs? So this is hunger, thirst, tired, but it's also safety. Do they feel unsafe?

So this might be, do they have a big worry? Do they have a plan in their head? Is there a fear that they have? Do they just not feel like they can be themselves or they can make mistakes? And then we can, if all those are like, yes, as we can move down in our mental checklist and say, okay, do they feel connected?

Do they feel heard? Do they feel like their opinions are matter? Do they feel like the other person really knows what's wrong? And is really listening to them. This is where that validation comes in, but we're not actually validating right now. We're just checking. Do they feel validated? And then sensory.

This one gets missed a lot, are they overstimulated? Do they have they not been able to move enough? Have they been around too much movement, too much light? Are they touched out, sound out, noised out? What are some things that could be going on there? And then we look at skills, which is, are they lacking problem solving skills, communication skills, the self regulation skills to get through this moment.

And in the heat of the moment, and there's two more avoidance and desires, but we don't really in the heat of the moment have to go through very many because a lot of times. Basic Needs, Connection, and Sensory. You can pretty much go down those and solve those pretty quickly, just by making very small adjustments.

And then knowing that understanding piece, in the heat of the moment, having a plan of what are you going to say, what are you going to do, and what are you going to provide in the heat of the moment. And you're making this plan way ahead of time. You're saying, when my kids fight, I'm going to say, I see you guys are having a hard time getting along.

What am I going to do? I'm going to separate you two for now. What am I going to provide? I'm going to provide my safe presence in between the two of you until we're all calm. So it doesn't have to be something big and elaborate, some huge strategy. It's just very simple, one thing to say, one thing to do, and one thing to provide that works with your family.

[00:41:17] Hunter: I love this plan. It sounds so simple, and it just, I love the breakdown of sensory and the different needs that we may, that kids may have. And this is really about what Dana's doing is taking let's get curious, right? Let's, rather than jumping to conclusions, jumping to judgments, noticing those unhelpful thoughts and judgments that happen, and then getting curious.

What is really going on with my child? Are, Is it those basic needs? Is it some underlying needs? Is it a sensory issue? So we can get curious and really, and what I'm also hearing from you is this piece about listening. Listening to your child, using that curiosity, using that sort of I'm a mystery solver kind of modality to be a good listener, for a kid whose behavior is saying, I need some attention and listening to me.


[00:42:14] Dayna Abraham: Yes. And then what typically happens is people will start to say, okay we're just letting our kids do this. And this is, how are they ever going to learn? And in the heat of the moment, is it when that happens? Yeah, it happens. Out of the moment. And that's where the ahead of the moment plan comes.

Where we're building, connection with our kids. We're focusing on just one challenge that we want to solve at a time. So that our kids don't feel like we're picking apart every little thing that they're doing wrong. But we're picking one that really makes a difference in our family and our relationship.

We are building those positive interactions out of the moment. We're spiraling out the behavior instead of just looking at the one incident, we're saying, okay, what led up to the siblings fighting? What led up to them not being able to go to school? What led up to them not wanting to do homework? What were the things that happened that I said, that they said?

That they interacted with that led up to this big blow up and where's the tipping point where it became too far gone where we just got to ride the storm and that's where we can place a new plan by empowering that empower part is creating a head of the moment plan where. Your child is actually helping you come up with solutions, your skill building, your brainstorming, and you're saying, okay, when this happens, how will we know we need this plan?

What are we looking for? How will we know it's time? What will we say? What will we do? So you're now helping your child make one of those one one one plans. This is what I will say when my brother takes my toy. This is what I will do when my brother takes my toy, or this is what I'll provide. And they may not need to provide anything, but for instance, when this was happening for one of my students, they actually had an extra toy outside the room that they would choose before they would go play in the playroom, and they each had their own toys outside.

And if they started fighting over something, they had a statement that they would say. And the mom would come in and say, I can see that you guys are having a hard time. And then they would say I wanted that toy. And the other one would say I wanted that toy. And she would say, okay, I think we need to take a break.

And they would say, okay. And they would go outside and grab the toy they had chosen beforehand. So they had something to play with. And then they would go take their breaks in their own calm space. And then they'd come back when they all felt ready. And that way it didn't feel like a punishment because they weren't able to communicate.

And so that, that plan worked for that family because they really practiced it and role played it and problem solved how to handle when they're in the playroom and two people want the same toy.

[00:44:51] Hunter: That's such a great example, and this is why I really like your book, and I definitely recommend it, because it takes these things about getting curious, and talking with your kids, and including them, and problem solving, and things like that, and you really bring it down to a very granular level.

About, I love your chart, about common misbehaviors, and possible beneath the surface causes and etc. In all the different examples, I know that parents are going to really feel seen and heard in this in this book that we've written. You also talk about things that are in your control, things that are not in your control, stress responses, behavior types, and, their struggles and their superpowers.

There's a lot here.

[00:45:35] Dayna Abraham: It is a very comprehensive guide. I wanted there to be, people always say there's no handbook for parenting. And I was like, oh, but there could be. And so I had seen this work for so many different situations and different types of children and types of parents and cultures and backgrounds.

And. Even countries living all over the world, and I was like, I think we can create a system that parents can use for any situation. And so that's my aim is not to give parents more to do, but really for parents to feel like, okay, Like you said, I feel seen, I'm not alone, I'm not failing my kid, I just need to maybe do a little tweak to our plan.

I might just need to adjust a little bit here or there, and my kid's not broken, my kid is exactly who they need to be, I just need to help them hone their superpowers or help them build skills or help them build problem solving or feel safe, feel seen, and that's my aim with this book, is that parents know they're not failing and their kids are not I

[00:46:39] Hunter: love that.

That's so beautiful. Dana's book is Calm the Chaos, a fail proof roadmap for parenting even the most challenging kids. It's out now, and you can get it anywhere. Books are sold. Where can people sign up more about you if they want to talk to you about it, Dana?

[00:46:54] Dayna Abraham: Absolutely. So you can go to calm the chaos to get some special goodies that we have when you order the book at your favorite store, and then you can find me on any social channel at Calm the Chaos Parenting.


[00:47:08] Hunter: It's been such a pleasure to talk to you. I love your work. I think it's doing so much good in the world, and I'm really glad that you put it all in book form so that we can all access it super easily. Thank you so much for doing what you do and for coming on the Mindful Mama

[00:47:27] Dayna Abraham: podcast, Dean. I am so honored to be here.

Thank you for all the work you do and for helping parents everywhere feel calmer and seen and help them navigate parenting in a more conscious way. So thank you for what you do.

[00:47:47] Hunter: Thank you so much for listening to this episode. I hope you got a lot out of it. I did. I feel like the whole guideline for pulling yourself out of the depths of the chaos is so needed. Man, I needed that long time ago. Yeah, I hope you appreciated this episode. If you like the Mindful Parenting Podcast, the best thing you can do is just make sure you're subscribed and leave a quick review on Apple Podcasts.

You can do it right on the app you're listening to right now. And I want to give a shout out to a reviewer, to Jackie Page, who gave a 5 star review and said, this is my go to parenting podcast. On my good days, on my hard days, there's something for me in every stage of the parenting journey. This is an absolute must try.

Yay! Thank you so much, Jackie. I really appreciate it. Thank you. Thank you for listening. I'm so glad you're here. We've got so much good stuff for you on the way this fall. It's going to blow your mind. So make sure you're subscribed. I'm really excited about where the podcast is going. So you'll be here, I hope, along for the ride.

So wishing you a fabulous week. I'm wishing you less stress. More ease, some time to chill, maybe some time to do something that's completely unrelated to parenting. I hope you have a little of that, and I hope you have lots of hugs and things like that too. And if you're going through a challenging time, I want you to just know that you're not alone.

That it's hard, and we know that it's hard, and and you're not alone. Anyway, I'm wishing you all the best. I'll be chugging along here. And I can't wait to connect with you again next week. Thanks for listening. Namaste.

[00:49:42] Dayna Abraham: I'd say definitely do it. It's really helpful. It will

[00:49:45] Hunter: change your relationship with your kids for the better. It will help you

[00:49:48] Dayna Abraham: communicate better. And just, I'd say communicate better as a person, as a wife, as a spouse. It's been really a positive influence in our lives. So definitely do it. I'd say definitely do it.

It's so worth it. The money really is inconsequential when you get so much benefit from being a better parent to your children. I'm feeling like you're connecting more with them and not feeling like you're yelling all the time or you're like, why isn't this working? I would say definitely do it. It's so worth it.

It'll change you. No matter what age someone's child is, it's a great opportunity for personal growth and it's a great investment in someone's family. I'm very thankful I have this. You can continue in your old habits that aren't working or you can learn some new tools and gain some perspective.

[00:50:46] Hunter: Are you frustrated by parenting? Do you listen to the experts and try all the tips and strategies, but you're just not seeing the results that you want? Or are you lost as to where to start? Does it all seem... So overwhelming with too much to learn. Are you yearning for community people who get it, who also don't want to threaten and punish to create cooperation?

Hi, I'm Hunter Clarkfields. And if you answered yes to any of these questions, I want you to seriously consider the Mindful Parenting membership. You'll be joining hundreds of members who have discovered the path of mindful parenting and now have confidence and clarity in their parenting. This isn't just another parenting class.

This is an Mindful Parenting to really discover your unique, lasting relationship, not only with your children, but with yourself. It will translate into lasting, connected relationships, not only with your children, but your partner too. Let me change your life. Go to mindfulparentingcourse. com to add your name to the waitlist, so you will be the first to be notified when I open the membership for enrollment.

I look forward to seeing you on the inside. Mindful Parenting. MindfulParentingCourse. com

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