Nicole Porter is a Child mass trauma responder, art therapist, and songstress.

461: Help Kids Process Trauma & Difficulties

Nicole Porter

When your child goes through a difficult time, how can art help them through that experience?

What if it’s something truly scary or even traumatic?

Hunter talks to Nicole Porter, creator of the Emerald Sketch about how to help kids through traumatic & difficult events and how to support their emotional regulation.

Help Kids Process Trauma & Difficulties - Nicole Porter[461]

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*This is an auto-generated transcript*

[00:00:00] Nicole Porter: I was an artist, naturally, and a musician, and um, was really interested in human psychology, so it felt like a natural fit, you know, and now, living as a parent in my 40s, it's quite fun to be feeling that full circle where I have my professional career as an art therapist. And it absolutely helps feed my life as an artist.

[00:00:27] Hunter: You're listening to the Mindful Parenting Podcast, episode number 461. Today we're talking about helping kids process trauma and difficulties with Nicole Porter.

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 have calm and peace within, then you can give it to your children. I'm your host, Hunter Clarkfields. 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 international bestseller Raising Good Humans, and now Raising Good Humans Every Day, 50 Simple Ways to Rest, Pause, Stay Present, and Connect with Your Kids. Hello and welcome.

Welcome to the Mindful Parenting Podcast. So glad you are here. Listen, If you get some value from this podcast, please go and just tell one friend about the show. This is a fabulous way to grow the show. We love that you tell your friends about it. Tell one friend today and you can make a big difference.

And I hugely appreciate it. Hugely appreciate it. In just a moment, I am going to be sitting down with Nicole Porter. I loved this conversation with her. It was so wonderful. She is a, an artist, an art therapist, a songstress, and she is a child mass trauma responder. And we talk about how to help kids move through difficult things and traumas.

Like, when your child goes through a difficult time, how Um, things like art can help them through that experience. And even if it's something like truly scary or even traumatic, she is the creator of the Emerald Sketch, this organization to help art therapists come into places. And we talk about kids in really tough situations and in just regular difficult situations.

So how to help them move through that experience. Difficult events and to support their emotional regulation. Make sure you listen to the end. We're going to talk about a really awesome resource too that she has for kids that help them work through things with music. So, so cool. I know you're going to love this conversation.

So let's dive in to talking to Nicole Porter.

Nicole, thank you so much for coming on the Mindful Parenting podcast. Thank you, Hunter. I'm grateful to be here. Well, I'm glad you're here, too. And I always like to start out sort of thinking about parenting, we're thinking about kids, we're thinking about generations, um, how were you raised and what was your childhood like?

[00:03:21] Nicole Porter: Hmm. I was really fortunate. I had a wonderful childhood. So it's a joyful question. Um, I was born outside of Philadelphia. And then when I was about four or five years old, my parents moved to a farm near the Poconos a few hours, um, northwest of Philadelphia. So, it was quite lovely growing up in the countryside, um, and then also had the exposure of the art museums in the city with my grandparents and all the extended relatives on the holidays and everything.

So, um, spent most of my childhood in a little place called Zion Grove. And then between there and the Florida Keys, my parents actually moved to the Florida Keys right when I went off to college, and we spent a lot of time there in the winters when I was growing up. So, between the Poconos, I'm a Florida Keys, I'm a East Coast child.

[00:04:14] Hunter: That sounds like there's a lot of like playing outside and a lot of like running around like in fields and woods and climbing on trees and stuff like that.

[00:04:25] Nicole Porter: Yes, exactly. Like in the winter, I just have really fond, it's winter, right, it's cold, I have really fond memories of sledding and like how we could go a mountain across from the farmhouse and my parents could watch us.

And they'd just see the little silhouettes. It was like, that's how much distance we had. It was really, um, a joy. It's really rare to be able to grow up like that.

[00:04:49] Hunter: Well, and it sounds like your parents were pretty chill. Yes, they were

[00:04:53] Nicole Porter: young. They were, they were young and, um. Young parents, so very, um, athletic and involved and always had us doing outdoor stuff.

You know, it's like if the, if the creek froze, we would skate on it and, um, yeah, swimming and biking, all that good stuff. Yeah. Nice.

[00:05:11] Hunter: Yeah. I think you have kids have so much less outside time these days. Do you know that? Like there was a study in England where like school children in had less time outside than maximum security prisoners.

Did. Lul. Because they were like required by law to be, have a certain amount of outside time. It's crazy. Wow. I think, I think of so many issues, like, would, could be helped by just like three hours of running around outside a

[00:05:41] Nicole Porter: day. Oh, absolutely. Well, and things automatically come up for me with, you know, with my clinical work.

We haven't gotten into that yet. And as well as being a parent, as far as like the access to the outdoors and like, I love bringing children that don't have exposure to the outdoors on hikes and taking them sailing and getting them ice skating. You know, things like that for children in the city all around New York, um, is really rewarding because it, it comes back to that mindful, the topic of mindful parenting, right?

Being in the moment, it's a lot easier when you just sit with nature, that practice alone.

[00:06:17] Hunter: Yeah. Being in nature. It truly is. Um, so you went to school, you became an art therapist, which is so interesting because I was an art kid. I was like, and I was like, okay, what do I do with this? How do I actually make a living with this, this being my like major skill?

And I ended up looking, going to, um, Massachusetts College of Art for Graduate School and Art Education. I was like, okay, I can actually have a, a real steady job and not be, I, I ended up like not liking being a teacher, but anyway, that was my, uh, so I wonder if that was similar for you, like where you were like an art person and you, you were like, okay, let me, what can I do that, you know, brings this

[00:07:02] Nicole Porter: into the real world?

Yeah, definitely. I'm well, and I was fortunate again, my mom, showed me an article on art therapy. I was 17, I think, in that zone of, you know, then in the 90s, we had catalogs. You'd look through the university catalogs and think about where you were going to go. Um, so I knew about the field and I was already really, I was an artist naturally and a musician and, um, was really interested in human psychology.

So it felt like a natural fit. You know, and now living as a parent in my forties, it's quite fun to be feeling that full circle where I have my professional career as an art therapist and it absolutely helps feed. My life as an artist, which was the goal with the higher education.

[00:07:49] Hunter: Yeah, yeah, that was the goal is to have a job where you could make art.

That was the idea. So that's working for you. Oh, good. I'm so glad because I hear so many people it doesn't end up well.

[00:08:01] Nicole Porter: I'm tenacious about making time for the art. And then I think being an art therapist lends itself to that. Like I, I find a lot of joy in. Living, living by example, right? So the, the children that see and know me and work with me are aware that I'm an active artist, right?

I'm not just encouraging art making. For the sake of it, I'm saying no, it really improves our life and our sense of well being. Mm hmm.

[00:08:27] Hunter: Yeah. I, we recently just watched, um, a whole bunch of home videos and we saw, I saw this like video where I'm like having my second daughter draw like for the first, you know, maybe she's maybe like, you know, barely hold the crayon, you know?

And, um, yeah. And it is so wonderful to watch that. I imagine it's very satisfying to watch kids start to turn onto their curiosity about what the marks and the colors and the things are showing them.

[00:08:58] Nicole Porter: Oh, well that's the piece that I find so joyful is sitting and watching children or adults, people of all ages make art and, and that piece of being the therapeutic person that's Witnessing, the creating, and being comfortable with that quiet, just watching, um, I find that part of the work so joyful and fascinating.

It's really fascinating to watch because we can see so much about the individual based on how we create. So having that in an analytical lens on while opening up a studio space and encouraging someone to create and identify what's going on and express it, um, It's really great seeing people's personalities come through, through their art making.

And all ages, like you're naming, like I love the baby phase, like, even just teaching parents, parents listening, put your babies on paper, like when they're five to six months old, it's, and put the crayons down and start to show them, draw on the paper, and they pick them up, they mark, you know, and you just redirect beautifully.

and reinforce when they mark the page, because they'll put it in their mouth, but you just say, paper, drawing goes on the paper, and it starts right away, and it's so great.

[00:10:14] Hunter: That's so funny. That's exactly what, like, was happening with this little video. I was like, oh, on the paper, drawing goes on the paper.

[00:10:23] Nicole Porter: That's the exact word. But it does work, and they keep going. It's just so, isn't it the juiciest? Yeah, I love, I love that age to like two and a half, but like five, six months when they start the pumping, and then. Yeah, all that, that pre verbal world, so, is just so. Magnificent. 

[00:10:47] Hunter: Yeah. Stay tuned for more Mindful Mama podcast right after this break.

So in 2012, you were called to respond to the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut. Um, and that's kind of where your, your organization Emerald Sketch came from. But can you tell us about what that day was like for you?

[00:11:16] Nicole Porter: Yes, the day I went into town was a few days after the tragedy, um, and I, I do remember I was in my parents living room in the Florida Keys when the news came on all across the country and we knew right then, all the family members in the room knew that we had family friends that lived in Newtown and we all knew that my focus was early childhood and trauma.

I had been working at a crisis treatment center on Callahill Street in Philadelphia. Um, for little children ages two to five, where it was, um, a day program. Mm hmm. Um, and that, I'm, I'm avoiding the question of how that day was because it was so default. I mean, I'm not avoiding it, I'm getting background, but it's like my own natural reaction to how horrifying it was.

Um, but there was a knowing that, oh my goodness, that town needs the skills that I have, because my training is so rare. It's very rare to become an art therapist. We need so many more people that are trained in creative arts therapy. We should be like nurse practitioners, um, but we're not. We're like unicorns.

It's very rare to have conversations with us, or you come across people like me. If you're. institutionalized or going through a revolving door on a unit. So, and then within our therapy then to choose early childhood trauma is again a track that is very rare. Um, like when I was in graduate school, there were no locations to work with early childhood.

I, I found one and created it. Um, and that was because I saw the bigger picture, how children that were struggling in adolescence clearly could have benefited from intervention when they were very young, um, is what I was noticing environmentally. Um, so here I am driving into Newtown a few days after that tragedy and another community member had put up something called the Sandy Hook Healing Project right away with the help of lots of people in the community.

Heather Gunn Rivera, and she is the daughter of the art teacher at Sandy Hook School. Um, Mrs. Leslie Gunn, and she is close friends with Virginia Hutch and David Atkins, um, my close family friends. So I immediately connected with this entire group and pulled in. It was, I remember it was snowing, um, and I remember I took my diploma and my license and even my trauma focused cognitive behavioral therapy certification just so that everyone knew what my background was.

And it was challenging to walk in and introduce myself, but I know it was not nearly as horrifying as what all these little beautiful children lived through and what the community lost. So I didn't hesitate at all. Um, once I knew, you know, like that hit the news and we knew right away. There was a connection, I knew I was going, and then when I got there, the town had set up a place for the clinical work to begin, um, so immediately devised a space within this healing project specifically for the children.

And, uh, there were 10 other clinicians that arrived. I was, I was the one of 11 that had the, the background and work with children. So by the next morning, I, I had a consent with me and everyone, and everyone was coming in and I was helping redirect adults because in, in that kind of situation, like when it, when it's immediate, everyone, Most people are primarily in a state of shock and or flooding.

And by flooding, I mean like telling, telling, telling, telling, I have to share what is going on. Um, so creating the space for the child and reinforcing and gently letting the adults know that we want to be mindful of the children in this space. So if you have the need to talk. I can, you can come talk with this person over here, but this space, we're going to focus on the child and near the child.

Um, and that's really the start line of we come back to safety. And for those, it was only a few weeks that project lasted through the holiday. Essentially, this happened right before Christmas. Um, so it was basically an open therapeutic space where children and their families could come in and I would be there and or I, I was able to pull in more people that had the clinical experience needed that were rotating with me a little bit, um, where someone was there to courier them and we would encourage a safe creature or adding to a safe place we had on the wall.

And a lot of it in that one is A safe creature, you said? Yeah, like we would provide an art therapy task, and that's what it was, where we're giving them choice, and that helps in the immediate aftermath or during active war, even in the instance, right, of what's going on globally right now, where when we're mobilizing immediate creative arts therapy response, we're going in with these creative art therapy tasks that help.

the individual start to re establish what helps them feel safe. So we'll encourage the child to pick a safe creature or a safe place, and that invites them to make it in the art. We're not necessarily making it in the art, like in, in the immediate scene, sometimes I'm sitting there and we're blowing bubbles.

You know, and I'm, I'm mirroring the child and being with the child and that helps them start to feel safe.

[00:17:15] Hunter: The mirroring helps them feel safe. Yeah. More about that.

[00:17:19] Nicole Porter: Yeah. And that's where just that gentle redirection of all the adults that are overwhelmed and devastated and hurting themselves of encouraging people that we just want to focus on the child and let them know we're here and we're giving them choices, because choice helps the.

The individual feel less trapped when we've gone through something really scary and life threatening. Uh, we automatically start to ask the self, how did I let that happen to me? How do I make sure that never happens again? Right? These are the beginning symptoms of PTSD. But you know, in those first week or two, everyone's in this total state of devastation where we just want to come back to, we're, we're right here right now, it's like the maximum level of mindfulness.

Yeah. And I'm here with you and this is a safe place. And by it being a safe place, that means no one's going to talk about the devastation unless it's on the child's territory and the child brought it up.

[00:18:28] Hunter: Okay. All right. So, kind of from what I'm hearing from you, I mean, obviously these adults, everybody needed incredible help, obviously, and these adults are, you know, were, they needed their own help, but the children, so, and maybe we can extrapolate a little for all children who maybe have seen something traumatic or witnessed something traumatic or gone through something traumatic, that this part of this.

Sort of is to first create a safe space. And I think that's interesting, this idea of a safe creature or safe place and the choice, you said the choice helps. And I was really, I was reading recently, I was thinking about the idea of like that, you know, that people have an internal locus of control when they feel like they have control over their, some control over their own lives.

They have like less anxiety, better outcomes, all this stuff. And when you feel like. You have no control over your own life when your life is just happening to you, you have an extra locus of control that leads to more anxiety and things like that, that can, you know, and this is obviously the most extreme example of life happening to you.

So you're trying to just kind of make these tiny micro places where there is control and choice is kind of what I'm hearing. Mm hmm. And safe, and, and in a safe way. Right? So, with, yeah, go ahead. No, tell me about that, and also tell me about the mirroring, because I imagine it might be helpful for people to understand, like, hey, if my kid has been through something too.

[00:20:05] Nicole Porter: Right? Like, I want to hear what are these, you know, things. Here's a normal, bizarre example. Okay. It's not a clinical example. Yeah. An old friend of mine from middle school, we're catching up, three quarters of the way in the conversation, we're talking about children going into adolescence. I say, yeah, put your seatbelts on.

Seatbelts! He remembers, oh, by the way. My car just, my mother in law's car exploded while I was driving my son home. He has a son with disability. He had to pull the son out. He's sending me a picture. So for the listener who, like, traumatic things happen to parents and children all the time is the reason I bring up an example that I'm comfortable to talk about that, you know, I don't need a consent for.

Where in my own life, it's like these things happen and you're like, The advice for that friend and that any parent I would give that's lived through something that was devastating, you got through it, it was horrifying though, and you're like, oh my gosh, we were close to the edge, is to then go back through that story with that child.

In a safe way, where you're not necessarily talking. Like, I advise that friend and that dad to go through the motions in their living room like they're sitting in a car together, and make the sounds and make the noises and express the feelings. Grab his child again, undo the invisible seatbelt, go to someone else in the house, but then, so what you're doing is you're going through the story again, but you're making it a positive experience.

Because you're in your, you're in your environment, you're safe. And this is something I, I advise that like someone could do in a normal instance, right? When something's really, if a family's really no longer sleeping, you're having nightmares, appetite's changing. If there's real symptoms of PTSD, you need to contact someone like me or, you know, go to rtherapy.

org and find an rtherapist, right? Like the difference between role playing certain things to help you and your child integrate it so that it doesn't develop into PTSD. is the mirroring and the role playing, right? 

[00:22:16] Hunter: So the, what I, so like, this is great because like in, in Mindful Parenting, one of the tools that we teach is, um, you know, for less, you know, for difficult moments, maybe not necessarily traumatic moments, is this idea of storytelling, right?

Like helping be that sort of external processor of this experience. And what I'm, What I'm starting to understand from you is that, um, when trauma becomes like a PTSD, it's some, it's, then it's like, that's when it's something that's stored in the body, right? That isn't processed and isn't worked out. And you're saying we need to find a way to process it and to work through it.

And, and it's so interesting that you're saying like, without talking, it's almost like, because we know, you know, The body keeps the score, right? We know that, that this lives in our body, but you're saying it. No, no, it really is in your body. 

[00:23:12] Nicole Porter: Do it, body. It's so interesting. Yeah. Well, this is the, this is the stuff that gets me really excited, right?

Like when we have a, a threat to our life, to our physical body, our mind body, what happens in the, in our neurotransmission is like 97 percent of it turns off. Verbal processes shut off. We have no access to them. This is why people go, like, suddenly stutter, can't get the words out, um, have all types of reactions, sweaty palms, anxiety attacks, um, because the story wasn't integrated, right?

And that's why I'm saying it's all pre verbal. Like, the core brain, when Children are 0 to 7, when this core brain's being developed, our pre verbal cortex, that's where all the exciting SOS action is is stored. So that's where we need to go back in as though, and that's where this therapeutic relationship is such a benefit, because we come in as that person being, being the parental figure again.

I'm like doing the mom, the holding the baby motion of the, You want to go back in and goo and gah and, and be playful about, wait a minute, I need to crawl through this story because that was really, really scary. And as adults, we're completely disconnected from the reality that children live in the moment.

Children have a far more elastic resiliency to integrate a story and articulate it clearly and move along. It's when these things repeatedly happen to children and or. are not acknowledged by the people around the child that more maladaptive behaviors lock in. Like so much of the healing process is about the people, our, our group, who we are around each other and how we respond to each other, um, and helping each other stop the negatives and focus on the positives.

Um, but in the instance of like a normal meltdown, even that, like, you know, when I work with children that have expressive language disabilities, right, like trauma aside, right, children that are born all forms of different disabilities where they don't communicate like a, a normal does, right, they're more apt to have tantrums because they have a difficult time being understood.

I throw myself on the ground with those children when they have a tantrum. And the tantrums stop like that. Like, I don't, I don't want to say it's a magic trick. It's going to work every time. But when you mirror the child and you let them see what they're doing, they see what they begin to understand themselves better.

They're in it, they're so in it until they see what they're in. 

[00:26:12] Hunter: Yeah. Stay tuned for more Mindful Mama podcasts right after this break.

So it's almost like, um, it's, it's like, uh, telling the story when you can't use words. You're te you're showing them the story. Uh huh. Uh huh. That's so interesting. And so the mirroring, oh, okay, so let's look at like a normal meltdown. Say a little kid is, you know, pre verbal or with, um, expressive difficulties or whatever is really upset.

Oh, emotions get overwhelmed, has a normal meltdown, has a meltdown. You mirror the child, but maybe your goal is to help the child calm down. Do you start to slowly, like, what do you do after the mirroring? Is there a step two after that?

[00:27:06] Nicole Porter: Yeah, the quiet, calm. Yeah. Quiet, calm. And letting them know that you're available.

Hmm. You like, like, extreme situations when I'm like in a therapeutic nursery. Mm hmm. Mm hmm. The children that are sent to what's pretty much a rubber room, right, where it's like all walls matted, I sit, I just sit calmly, and I let them know, when you're calm, I'm here.

[00:27:39] Hunter: And you kind of let them borrow your calm because we feel each other's emotions.

[00:27:45] Nicole Porter: And I even advise that over, you know, I, I'm, I don't even like to say the words time out because I think it's very, um, you know, I, I, I, children are learning, they make mistakes. That's how we learn. Constantly making mistakes. Otherwise we would learn nothing. So punish a child because they're being human.

Uh, you know, I like to say. You're experiencing the ya ya ya. When you're ready, the group's over here doing this. Because what the little human really wants is human connection. They wanna be seen, and they wanna know that someone's with them. Most of the time. Especially up through 7, age 7. So, as long as you add that, and that's the anchor.

Is, hey, here's the norm. Whether it's one parent trying to anchor one other child, or it's a whole family and there's one person outlying having a fit. That's it. It's like, we love you. We really want you to come back to the group when you're ready. Or in a classroom situation, it's like, you're really upset right now.

It's like, I believe very much in creating a safe, quiet space over a timeout where it's like, go into that space and draw and come back when you're ready, you know, we take creativity away from children so quickly in the education system, um, when it's really the cure all to helping them get back into the game all the time.

Um, and also giving that, giving choice of like, You know, like I would be, I'm quick to give a group of boys, um, brown paper bags to go rip up before I would give them a hard time for reacting to something that they just don't have the skills yet to handle. Yeah. Yeah. Whether they're two or 14.

[00:29:39] Hunter: Yeah.

Impulse control, sadly, is like, what, we're 25 maybe? Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. And then we know ourselves, right? Like how good is our impulse control, really?

[00:29:53] Nicole Porter: Even now, here's a funny one for you, not too long ago. My parents have a very tall gate in front of their house. Not too long ago, I'm in my early 40s, I couldn't get in.

I was like walked out. I got on top of it and I'm standing there and I'm like, I'm in flip flops and a skirt. I should not jump over. And my brain was like, if I was 24, I would have, I would have been cleared this thing. I like safely got back down like a 40 year old mom. It was hysterical.

[00:30:22] Hunter: That's hilarious that you got up in the first place.

It is. It's like a scene from a movie. Only the gate needed to like open when you were on top of it. And that would have been like, Something to say. And I'm just on like one leg on each

[00:30:40] Nicole Porter: side. Yeah. It's very funny. Yeah. I know. I chose to retreat. By my own head. I was like, 15 years ago, I would have been at the front door already.

[00:30:48] Hunter: And part of you is like, dang it. Why don't I have that? I was like, I can't afford to maybe hurt myself on the way down. I take care of too many things. Too many people. Yeah. Now I have knees that are not 25 years old. So funny. So funny. I think it's the brain development. Yeah. Yeah. I think that, but you're saying, well, you know, what you're saying is like, you're having a lot of compassion and realism for us, right?

Sometimes our expectations for kids are so crazy. Like we expect kids to learn something the first time we say it, you know, we, that we shouldn't have to repeat ourselves. And they're just crazy. Like we as adults need so much repetition. We expect so much organization and impulse control and we often don't have it yet, right?

And then sometimes the things that we're just so most frustrated in ourselves are the things that we expect. pick on most in our kids, I think, too. At least for me. But what you're saying, too, is so beautiful. Like, and this is, goes with what, you know, we teach in Mindful Parenting is the idea of this, just this, like, acknowledgement of what you're saying.

Everyone wants to be seen and heard. Like, I'm acknowledging you. I see you. You're, you know, you, you're upset. It's okay, right? Or, you've had this event, you've had this experience where, you know, you felt crazy and you might even mirror that, that, the body language of that, which is all this, like, acknowledgement of, of, yes, I see you, I hear you, and, you know, and we're here for you.

And all of that requires a lot of, for us, for you, I imagine, a lot of, Um, I mean, your, your daughter's got to be crazy lucky because you have probably had a lot of like ability to regulate your own emotions and when things become difficult for you, you must, um, have, you know, a lot of practice in moving through those sensations in your body and, and your, those feelings.

[00:32:54] Nicole Porter: Oh, by far, uh, parenting, co parenting has been the most challenging thing of my life.

[00:32:59] Hunter: It's, it's so much harder with your own kid, isn't it? I know I have teachers who come and work with me and they're all like, I, I teach preschoolers. What's wrong with they? Why am I so triggered?

It's so much harder with our own kids.

[00:33:16] Nicole Porter: It's the nature of the process. Um, no, I love it. I love parenting. I think it's just so much fun. Um, I'm really fortunate to have a healthy, healthy girl, and um, I have the best time. And I am, and uh, and she definitely has a, seems to have a high empathetic intelligence.

Um, which is important for listeners too to be teaching children, right? Like the more we articulate and tell children what they're experiencing, we're saying. The more that helps build their language skills around emotion and their actual experiences, which is very important moving into the future with the tech era that we're in right now.

Um, like the future generations, those with those high emotion quotients, society needs, needs more and more of, of us and, and children being raised this way, of knowing what their experience is. And knowing that anger is normal. Amen to that. And that it happened because I think there's so many culturally, from my experience, there's so many families that like have so much rage, but nobody is like, Hey, that's part of life.

Stress is part of life and there's positive ways to release it. Um, sometimes you might need to just go outside and scream for a second and then come back. Or, like I said, the ripping of the paper, whatever it is, but I think so often it's not normalized at all, and it's shamed and punished. Mm hmm. With anger.

With more anger. Um, so, the more we can treat that and encourage each other, the better. You know, that it's okay to mess up as parents and it's okay to get back on the horse and say you did that, say you messed up, right? Like that's part of, part of that mindful parenting that I do a lot is I admit it when I screw up with my child, right?

Like right away, she's probably totally like, enough already.

Yeah. Or a simple example, you know, a simple example, it's like the morning is always challenging, right? It's hysterical. She was trying to get into the car with the backpack on and it's like. I'm not going to fit, so I'm gently like, well, perhaps take the backpack off, get in the car then. But then it's like, you know, you're down to the wire.

You need to get a move on. It's time to leave. We like being on time. This is where like all the cortisol. It's the funniest thing. Well, before you know it, she's like screaming at me and I'm like thinking in my head, I just want her to be kind to me, you know, like I just want you to be nice to me. But that's not part of being a child.

You're not like, they're little, it isn't feeling. She was having a tactile thing, probably. I don't even know. But anyway, I was ready to be really angry, and I'm like, She's safely in the car. I close the door. I face the wall. The wall's like right in front of me by the house, and I'm just like, Screaming to the air, not making any noise.

And being like, I got this! Yes! Got back in the car.

It's like, so, I really like it when we can be nice to each other. And then I, like, put on the children's radio. And before you know it, I, like, put my hand back. She touches my hand and we're talking again. But it's like, you know, waves like that happen all the time, every day. Like, seven times on a normal day.

[00:36:38] Hunter: And it's so much easier if you're not shooting the second arrow at yourself, if you're not shaming and blaming yourself for having that, because then you just do what Nicole just described. You move through it, use the tools you have, and then it passes. When you shame and blame yourself, it's like, it keeps, you know, it just goes on and on and on.

[00:37:00] Nicole Porter: It's super important, and even, yeah, I mean, that goes across all layers again, from clinical work to personal life. Never being hard on oneself. I mean, obviously, be a good person with that mantra.

[00:37:18] Hunter: Yeah, no murder and then I'm not standing up.

[00:37:22] Nicole Porter: Right, I mean, but like, you can't have an offensive hiccup. It's like, because I think so many parents get hung up on that, feeling bad about it, and it's like, it's okay. Just keep moving through it, like you said.

[00:37:33] Hunter: Yeah, it's, it's actually quite practical to like be compassionate to ourselves.

I think it gives us, that we are able to like respond, then be present for our kids so much more quickly and easily than if we shame and blame ourselves, we're like a pathetic puddle on the floor and unable to do anything, right? Then we just feel terrible. And if we give ourselves a soft landing, we can just get back up and begin anew again, which is what's so, so required.

Well, you made the perfect segue, Nicole, the radio, uh, you end up writing a kindy rock album, Calming Panic, which I was, I think this is so cool. Tell me about Calming Panic.

[00:38:14] Nicole Porter: So, Calming a Panic, it's our second album. That I got into in, You and Us is the children's music band and. That pivot happened during the pandemic, right?

Like the music, the children's music has always been a part of the art therapy work that I do, um, because I'm a musician and singer myself, and it's really childhood. So, you know, it's like, before you know it, popsicle sticks become drumsticks. It's like music and art and dance all live together in the same house.

So the children's music has always been a part of my work. Um, and during the pandemic is when I really appreciate it. opened up to, okay, how do we access more people, right? It's like, there's so, it suddenly was like everyone needed trauma response because that was so traumatic. Like moving along like that wasn't challenging.

That was so difficult living through the pandemic and all the different scenarios that everyone did. So that's where recording the music kicked in. Um, and Calming a Panic is the second album and it's really. About being in the moment with your family. Like all the songs are written with the intention of bringing people into the moment with also, there's some subconscious good layering in there of mindful living.

Healthy mantras. for children to grow up with, so they choose to be happy. There's also that part of mindful parenting and choosing the joy. And that's in there too, because I'm also, I'm using and pushing the music as advocacy, child advocacy for greater mental health response in the United States, um, because most states, creative arts therapy isn't valued the way it should be, even though it's billed as psychotherapy.

Um, so wanting to use the music for more awareness for creative arts therapy too.

[00:40:13] Hunter: Yeah, I think it's a really cool album. I listened to a song or two and I thought they were great. And so I really wanted to have a chance to showcase that and share that with the listeners. Well, Nicole, there's so much here.

I think like this, this has been such a valuable conversation. I think you've, um, shared and normalized so many beautiful things. Is there anything we missed that we need to, that, that, that is, is, you know, your guess? Dying to get out there.

[00:40:45] Nicole Porter: Um, that's a great question. Um, I'm accessible, right? As far as in the Emerald Sketch.

Yeah, yeah. The Emerald Sketch. Yeah, um, and I think the biggest piece, again, is everything we're talking about, it's, it's just, it's such a joy to be able to share and, and talk about the benefits and, and the good things to do for children and families, um, because I think there's so many, um, Positive Outcomes and wonderful things we can be doing together more and more, especially now that the pandemic is somewhat under control, right?

Yeah. Yeah, so it's just wonderful to join you briefly and share little bits because I think there's so much, there's so much vast information in early childhood and psychology and creativity. It's, it's always great to share little bits of it.

[00:41:40] Hunter: And we didn't mention it fully, tell people what the Emerald Sketch is and where people can find it.

[00:41:45] Nicole Porter: Yes. So the Emerald Sketch is the art therapy response program that was initially started in Sandy Hook, Newtown, Connecticut, um, and it continues to this day. Right now, it primarily provides global trauma response trainings. Um, like last year we launched a big program for Ukraine where we were able to train hundreds of creative arts therapists.

In and around Ukraine, working with children and families on the ground there, um, and I mobilize and train all over the nation. And that can be anything from preventative measures of basically how to know your community, like within a school where you want to just take preventative action to keep the environment healthy versus post disaster when something horrible goes wrong and we're, and we're called.

And in those instances, it's to help mobilize trauma response and help the community find the local creative arts therapist. It's to get something like the Emerald Sketch up and running locally and keep moving. And then it also serves a handful of individual families that just want art therapy and seek it out.

[00:42:51] Hunter: It has been such a pleasure to talk to you. I so appreciate the work you've done with the Emerald Sketch and the music with Calming a Panic and et cetera. Uh, thank you so much for Podcast.

[00:43:07] Nicole Porter: I'm very appreciative, Hunter. Thank you so much for having me. It was really great to be here.

[00:43:20] Hunter: Hey, I hope you appreciated this conversation. I, I loved talking to Nicole. Um, we even talked about how cool it would be to, you know, have some do, you know, we both do talks to, um, communities and schools and things like that. How fun would it be to do it together? So if you want me and Nicole to come talk to your town, your community, your PTO, let me know.

I would love that. We could do some workshops. So much fun. Um, yeah, and that's all I got for you today. I hope this episode watered your good seeds and helped you, you know, become a better parent. Listen, be more present with your kid and, um, and for you, you know, the kid in you and help you maybe you'll get some, get a little creative today after this.

I hope so. That would be really lovely. So, um, thank you so much for listening. Thank you for being here. Listen, remember if you got something out of this episode, please just tell one friend about it. It's such a huge, huge help. That would be great. And I'm wishing you the best. Wishing you peace and ease, joy.

It's going into really in spring here and I hope you are enjoying. Some beautifulness of the world wherever you are. Thank you so much for being here. Namaste.

I'd say definitely do it. It's really helpful. It will change your relationship with your kids for the better. It will help you 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 bang for your buck. Being a better parent to your children and 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, 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. You can learn some new tools and gain some perspective to shift everything in your parenting.

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 Clark Fields, and if you answered yes to any of these questions, I want you to seriously consider the Mindful Parenting membership. You'll be joining Hunter's team. 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 opportunity 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. MindfulParentingCourse. com

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