Alyssa Blask-Campbell is a thought-leader and expert in emotional development. She is deeply passionate about building emotional intelligence in children and co-created the Collaborative Emotion Processing (CEP) method. Her book, TINY HUMANS, BIG EMOTIONS, will be available Fall 2023 from HarperCollins.
424: Navigate Tantrums, Meltdowns & Defiance
Small humans can have some BIG emotions! How do we navigate tantrums, meltdowns, and defiance and actually raise emotionally intelligent kids? Alyssa Blask-Campbell returns to the Mindful Mama Podcast to discuss her new book, Tiny Humans, Big Emotions.
Navigate Tantrums, Meltdowns & Defiance - Alyssa Blask-Campbell 
*This is an auto-generated transcript*
[00:00:00] Alyssa Blask-Campbell: I experienced some pretty big trauma when I was 14 and was really just like treading water to stay afloat sort of thing. And at one point said to my parents, I think I would like to see a therapist. And they just said, no.
[00:00:20] Hunter: You're listening to The Mindful Parenting Podcast, episode number 424. Today we're talking about navigating tantrums, meltdowns, and defiance with Alyssa Blask Campbell.
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.
Hello, and welcome. Welcome back. I'm so glad you're here. If you haven't done so yet, please make sure you are subscribed so you don't miss any episodes. And, of course, those podcast ratings and reviews, they make a huge difference, and I so, so appreciate it. And in just a moment, I'm going to be sitting down again with my friend Alyssa Blask Campbell, a thought leader in emotional development.
She is deeply passionate about building emotional intelligence in children and co created the Collaborative Emotion Processing Method. Her book, Tiny Humans, Big Emotions, is out now. We are going to talk about that because, man, those small humans can have some big emotions. Boy, how do we, how do we navigate that, right?
How do we navigate those tantrums, meltdowns, and the defiance, actually raise some emotionally intelligent kids who You know, care about themselves and our feelings, all that stuff, right? Before we dive in, I want to remind you, of course, about how you can take it things deeper with the Mindful Parenting membership.
And every week I talk to members inside the Mindful Parenting membership and we celebrate our wins. And I want to give a shout out to S who did a yoga workout and some meditation and has managed to pause and respond playfully a few times. Yay! She said, I noticed that our focus on managing our big feelings is really helping.
And Kay has been focusing on the positive, which was wonderful in days when her son was having a rough time. She also notices that she is better able to calm herself when she remembers all the good instead of the one negative thing. She's doing better with not over planning and talking to her husband more about things doing to do together.
Yay! I love these wins. In Mindful Parenting, we love to celebrate all the small wins and we focus on them. And then we face those challenges head on too, of course. So, that's a little taste of what's happening inside there. We open up the membership twice a year, so if you are interested, get on the wait.
All right, let's dive in. Join me at the table as I talk to Alyssa Blask Campbell.
Alyssa, welcome to the Mindful Mama podcast. I'm so glad you're here.
[00:03:50] Alyssa Blask-Campbell: I am so glad to be here with you, Hunter. It's funny
[00:03:54] Hunter: because we've talked like a bunch of times and yeah, we haven't talked on the podcast yet. So, um, I'm happy that we finally get to release, which I'm once you're like on the podcast, I feel like you're officially in the podcast.
the roster of people.
[00:04:09] Alyssa Blask-Campbell: Hilarious. Yeah, we've been able to collaborate in so many other ways and now I'm excited to check this one
[00:04:14] Hunter: off. Well, I've collaborated with Alyssa, dear listener, a bunch of times because I really love and respect her work and we're going to talk about it today. Um, and we're going to talk about her book, which comes out today, Tiny Meltdowns, and Defiance to Relate, Raise Emotionally Intelligent Children.
Because Alyssa is a little bit of a toddler whisperer here. I think she, so, um, but before we dive into your toddler whispering, how are you raised and what was your childhood like? Was it anything like what you do now? Um, there are parts
[00:04:50] Alyssa Blask-Campbell: of it that still shine through. Yeah. Uh, but no, I, I'm one of five kids and I have awesome parents who started having kids at 19 and I grew up, yeah, I grew up, um, they dropped out of college and just really worked to make ends meet for a while.
My mom was a stay at home parent and ran an unregistered family childcare, like, home. daycare program. And my dad worked a bunch of jobs to just get a roof over our head and food on the table. And they were awesome in so many ways. And they never missed a game or a concert or like a thing at school. Like they showed up to all the things.
And we often had dinner all together as a family, uh, or a meal, you know, my I have four brothers and we're all involved in sports and clubs and things. So heading off to things. But, uh, there were a lot of parts of my childhood that I carry on now as a parent and, and hope to pass on. And I didn't grow up in an emotionally supportive environment.
So like that part I don't have, or didn't have in my childhood that I Then got to go down a really fun journey as a teenager and into therapy and doing my own work that led me to the privilege of getting to do research, uh, in this space.
[00:06:18] Hunter: And what did that, I mean, I don't think I, it would be the rare person who had, I think, what we should call an emotionally supportive childhood back in the day.
And looking back at all the things that have been traditionally happening with kids, you know, we now look back at things and we say, Oh, that was straight up abuse that was happening in our totally normal back in the day. So what was your flavor of not an emotionally supportive childhood? What did that look like?
[00:06:46] Alyssa Blask-Campbell: Because for me, I
[00:06:47] Hunter: was spanked and I was terrified for my father, even though he was incredibly supportive and loving in so many
[00:06:52] Alyssa Blask-Campbell: ways. Yeah. Sure. Yeah. So there wasn't spanking in my household that I received anyway. I don't know about the boys. Um, say four brothers, but for me, it was like feelings weren't welcome.
In fact, I, I experienced some pretty big trauma when I was 14 and was really just like treading water to stay afloat sort of thing. And at one point said to my parents, I think I would like to see a therapist. And they just said, no. Thank you. They were just like, no, I don't think you need that. Like, it's not a, you're just, it's just like teenage years are hard.
Like there was no room to feel. There was, you could have feelings behind a closed door, right? So you, I wrote about this at the beginning of the book, like the, the intro to the book is this story that's so vivid for me of being three and we were in church. And the rule was we had to stay in the pew, and I crawled under the pews, up to my friend Nora's.
pew and sat with Nora during church and they let it all happen. And then afterwards, we went to this like bakery in town and everybody got to pick a donut and I went to pick a donut and my parents were like, no donut for you. You crawled up under the pews, you know, you're not supposed to. And I had a tantrum on the bakery floor and I wasn't yelled at.
I wasn't punished. I was just removed. They just carried me. And my dad said, you can feel sad. You can just do it in the van and just like put. in the van by myself for my family to go do their donut thing. And so you could have feelings. They were just always behind closed doors in isolation.
[00:08:28] Hunter: That was me too.
And in fact, I grew up and like the first place we lived in was an apartment that was a former bank and it had, it was cool. And it had, um, it had a big cement vault that was like the bank vault and that was my room. And I was Yeah, so they used to joke that they would close this, like, thick ass, like, cement door sometimes to, like, not hear me cry, which is so
[00:08:57] Alyssa Blask-Campbell: sad.
Yeah. My mom said after I had Sage, my two year old, she was like, I, she said something about how all of us slept through the night by the time we were 10 days old, and I was like, oh no, you just didn't respond to our cries. Like, no, we didn't. You just weren't responding to our cries. Uh, but like, yeah, it, we, we could have feelings.
We just couldn't talk about them. And then if I, I got a lot of labels like dramatic or the opposite of what I ever wanted to be was high maintenance. Like not having needs was very much how you showed love in my family. Mm
[00:09:31] Hunter: hmm. The thing is, our parents were encouraged to do this because you were shown that you were considered a good parent if your children did not express any needs.
And that still is to some degree today. Yeah. And I don't, I don't, yeah. And I don't know if you've seen the like, there's like some documentaries about some extreme versions about this that I've seen recently. The, um, Shiny Happy People documentary about the Duggar family is like so.
[00:09:56] Alyssa Blask-Campbell: Ooh, I can't. Yeah.
[00:09:58] Hunter: Yeah, yeah, you might, you might not, you might be fascinated or might not even be able to go there.
Um, but yeah, so this, this was very normal. And I'm just wondering also, like, I notice now, so my kids, when they're, you know, they're teenagers now, so when they're upset, like my daughter, if I'm upset, she wants to give me a hug and comfort me and be there for me. And if I get really upset, my instinct, I have to, like, go to my room by myself to have a cry.
Like, I can't do it in, like, in company, even though, like, that's, you know, we help each other co regulate our feelings even as adults, right? I don't know if you have that sort of same, like, response, like pull away response
[00:10:40] Alyssa Blask-Campbell: to it. A hundred percent. And, like, even if, like, my husband comes in to give me a hug, I will, like, tense up and I have to, like, talk myself down off the ledge of, like, You want this, this is comforting, this will bring you comfort, but like in the moment I want to like push away.
And our, the method that we created, uh, my colleague Lauren Stable and I called the Collaborative Emotion Processing Method Set. For sure it's what we research, it's what the book's based on, it's what all our work's based on. And it's right there in the title, like, Collaborative Emotion Processing, that we are meant to process emotions in community as social beings, and it doesn't mean we don't have some coping strategies that can be done independently or solo, but the process of experiencing emotions and then So, um...
Forcing ourselves into isolation is a learned behavior. It's this idea of like, oh, I'm not supposed to, uh, feel this. And there can be shame layered in there and guilt. And it can be really hard to actually access coping skills in the moment with other people around if we've been so accustomed our whole life to being separated.
Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.
[00:11:51] Hunter: Okay. So this is where we get to the crux of, like, why we have so much trouble with our kids and their big emotions, because they're just these, like, natural, you know, completely unconditioned, you know, human beings who have big feelings, and they, you know, and we are like, Oh my gosh, there are big feelings happening and we were conditioned to not, you know, to push those all away and to, to not, you know, get in, get in the weeds of them and not really process them, of course, in front of people at all.
Um, basically I feel like the ways we were taught was like, you're either block it away You're drowning in it. Those are really the only, you're like swinging from the one extreme of not feeling it at all, or you're like completely drowning in it. And that's like for me as a highly sensitive kid, like I would find myself drowning for years and years and years until I really started meditating, you know?
Um, yeah. But just 'cause those were the only options
[00:12:51] Alyssa Blask-Campbell: for us. Stay
[00:12:56] Hunter: tuned for more Mindful Mama podcasts right after this break.
So tell us now. about SEP, Collaborative Emotion Processing, and how you guys kind of came to it. Totally.
[00:13:11] Alyssa Blask-Campbell: So we were both teaching at the time in early ed. My master's is in early childhood and uh, I was teaching infant toddler and Lauren was in a preschool pre k room and we were at this like really, really resource rich school in the Boston area attached to university.
And Lauren said, I think we're doing something different. And so we started diving into it. We were video lessening each other and just learning, like, what were we doing? What was the basis of what we were doing? And it wasn't for us to actually create our own method. We were like, let's find the research and literature to support what we're doing so we can bring it more broadly to our school as a whole.
And as we started diving into it, we were finding bits and pieces of what we were doing, but nothing that really was comprehensive and encompassed. Um, our whole approach. And so we ended up creating SEP, which is five components. One is adult child interaction. So this is the one everyone comes to us for, like, what do I say to my kid?
What do I do with my kid? And then we have these other four that are about us. And this is the doozy part of it all, right? That like, I would find myself like going to workshops or listening to a podcast or reading a book or doing whatever. And I'm like, Oh, that sounds great. Right? Like it makes total sense.
And then in the moment when a kid slaps me across the face or throws something at me or says something that is, uh, disrespectful or feels defiant or manipulative, I would be triggered and then I can't access. Not only that language that I'm quote supposed to use, but I'm not feeling compassion for this kid in the moment.
Like, I'm not able to connect with them. And so even if I said the right words, I'm not actually in it. And so that for me just came really real. They're like, Everything I was hearing, I was supposed to say and do, didn't match up with how I was feeling in that moment. Mm-hmm. And we, I, I wasn't given tools both in childhood but then in a master's program for Elliot Ed and ongoing professional development, wasn't given tools for the me part of it.
So we outlined these four components that are about really the adults. We do have self-awareness where we start to learn like, what is happening in my body, what does it even feel like to be regulated or calm? And then what does it feel like when I'm dysregulated? We dive into uncovering implicit bias, really leaning into like, what are our biases, strong biases around respect.
So I have a lot of triggers around defiance or, um, manipulation or things like that. And kids, it spikes for me, like, this is disrespectful, uh, from my childhood. And so diving into those biases, and then we have self care, which is really rooted in like, What does it look like to take care of our nervous system?
So not necessarily like a weekend away, although like, cool, that works for you and you have access to that. But really, how does your nervous system work, yours and yours and yours and yours, and that we're all different. We all have unique nervous systems. And so what refuels me is going to be different than what refuels someone else.
And how do we access that throughout the day in a practical manner? So sometimes, you know, we're working with teachers for teachers or with parents. If I have a two year old on my body all day long and I'm, you know, currently seven billion weeks pregnant, what does it look like to access health care and like practical ways to take care of myself?
And then we have scientific knowledge. This is where we get pretty nerdy about the neuroscience of it all. So um, Looking at what's happening in the body when you experience an emotion, what's happening in a child's body, what's happening in our body, and then how do we, I see this often, like bring the calm.
It's like, yeah, that sounds so cool. How do you do that? What does it look like to actually bring the calm, to regulate in the moment and for our nervous systems to communicate regulation instead of dysregulation? Uh, and then once we have really been fine tuning that work, like, how does it... Look now in practice to respond to these kids to build these tools starting in infancy with the idea that it's never too early or too late.
[00:17:15] Hunter: it's brilliant. I mean, obviously, all the things that you teach are so much about, you know, what I developed in Mindful Parenting, except like, you know, the reverse, like the biases or, you know, I use the language of like, sort of the triggers and the self care and then how do we talk to our kids, right?
Like, we do need that too. And then. Yeah, that is what people come for. But, but everything else is the foundation. Everything else has to be there because otherwise this fails and then people feel like sad and guilty if they only know how to respond. And then
[00:17:47] Alyssa Blask-Campbell: They can't. It's not working if you're reciting a script, that's for sure.
Because that's not the goal. Then it's inauthentic and you're not connected and your kid feels that. Just like at one point, this was a little bit ago, I was crying, I was having a hard day and I was crying. My husband walked in and he just said, Oh, you look sad. And it's like, way to go, bud. Like, is it the tears coming down my face?
Like, yeah, you're right. But it felt to me in that moment, like he was trying to say the right words, you know, rather than like, Oh man, what's going on? Like. And just like, it was so not how he talks or how he shows up. I was like, yeah, this doesn't feel connected. It just feels like you're trying to say the right words.
I think we do that with kids a lot and then we're like, oh, this isn't working. And I really want to actually help adults with our work around this so that when you do show up in the moment with that kid, you can truly connect with them. And I think one of the things that gets confusing is like. You don't have to condone behavior or agree with why they're feeling what they're feeling to connect with the feeling.
Does that make sense? Yeah, yeah, yeah. No, I agree. Yeah.
[00:18:57] Hunter: So, let's use an example, for instance, right? Yeah, let's do it. So, you know, like there's two siblings, you know, seven and nine, and the seven year old has been teasing the nine year old, you know, and so the nine year old finally hits the seven year old and is like, leave me in the air.
And they're fighting and all of those things. If with the SEP method, like walk us through kind of how we would say approach a situation like
[00:19:21] Alyssa Blask-Campbell: that. Sure. Yeah. So first starting and just like noticing like what comes up for us. Right? I think a lot of the times we'll go into that protective mode of like, we're supposed to keep our kids safe and somebody's hitting somebody else.
And so you get into that primal state, being able to notice it and regulate yourself first to say, you know, if, if they're still beating on each other, like, how do we separate that? But if they hit them and this stopped, And nobody's currently in physical danger. How do we first regulate? And for me, like, taking deep breaths is really helpful if I pair that with like a mantra or a phrase that I can, that could remind me in the moment.
Otherwise, I just like take deep breaths and seethe, like, just like continue to go. I need a mantra and I have different ones for different people in my life that, you Just, like, remind me of what their actual goal might be. Uh, what
[00:20:12] Hunter: are some of your favorites? Because I have my favorites, like I love, this is not an emergency, because if nobody's like in dire danger, it's not, right?
You know, so I can just, like, tell my nervous system that, or... For, if it's kids, like I'm like, I'm helping my child, but generally this is not an emergency. Really does it for me.
[00:20:32] Alyssa Blask-Campbell: Yeah. Oh, that's nice. Uh, honestly, a common one for me is they're not trying to piss you off like that. Because in the moment with the like defiance manipulative stuff, it's going to have a lot of triggers around that.
Like. It can feel like they're trying to. Um, and so that one can calm me. I have some for my one for my husband that comes up for me a lot that's really helpful is he's not trying to make your life harder. He's not trying to make you look farther, um, although sometimes it can feel that way.
[00:21:03] Hunter: But is he
[00:21:04] Alyssa Blask-Campbell: really?
Really, it's like underlying this whole time, uh, and yeah, I have like some, one for my mother in law who's awesome and so involved in our life and obviously still like you spend enough time with any human and you're going to get triggered by him in some way, is that she is really trying to be helpful.
She's really trying to be helpful. So different ones that in the moment I can say to myself and it just helps me come back to now and what they're really after and not the like what is my brain, what's the story my brain's often telling myself about this. And so for in the fighting, in that moment in the fighting, for me it's usually honestly as the one who was Often, I have biases around like, I was the one who would like, lash back and hit, and I felt like my mom never saw my brother teasing me or being annoying or whatever.
And she would say, just ignore him, just ignore him and he won't do it anymore. And, oh gosh, it's just like, ugh, makes my blood boil. But so for me, I actually have more triggers in these instances around the kid who is doing the teasing, um, versus it's easier for me to usually have compassion for the kid who hit.
Because that was me. Uh, so even just noticing like where are your biases and like, who do you feel like you need to support? Uh, and then we look at it as triage. Like if somebody's really hurt, I'm going to turn and support them. Do we need an ice pack? Do we need a band aid? Is there something that needs to happen here?
And really just like kind of quickly emotionally go to the kid who was hit. And then I'm going to turn to the kid who hit, who at this point is usually pretty dysregulated and let them know like, I'm not mad at you. You're not in trouble. I'm going to help you.
[00:22:50] Hunter: A bunch of people. I'm going to stop you there because a bunch of people would say, but wait a second, doesn't the kid who hit need consequences for them or learn not to do it again?
Because I know that that's what people would say here. So that I just want to stop you and, and, and throw that question out.
[00:23:07] Alyssa Blask-Campbell: Yeah. I, if we wanted like a short term fix, totally. I think that's a way to go is like in the moment to say like. I want to make sure this doesn't happen again. And in order to do that, I'm going to make you feel shut out from this.
I'm going to do it through shame, or I'm going to do it through punishment, or I'm going to like make you inside deeply regret what you did. And that's not my goal. My personal goal is to help this kid build tools to do something differently in the future, which requires for us a relationship of trust and connection.
And so. For me, personally, like, it's not just to make this stop for now as my goal. My goal is like, alright, next time this comes up and this kid has this feeling, do they have a tool for what else to do with it? And if not, it's my job to help scaffold that and like teach and support that. Um, so it depends on what your goals are.
For me, like, it's a longer term game that I'm looking at. And so turning to them and letting them know, I'm not mad at you, and I want to help you figure this out. For me, it's that relationship of connection and trust. I believe that these kids are good kids. And that we don't, that all of us, in the same way that like just this morning, we woke up and Sage, my two year old, had thrown up all over his crib, uh, and yeah, cool way to start the day, very real, and my husband was like getting him cleaned up, and I came in and realized what's going on, and my husband snapped at me, and I don't think it's that he's trying to be rude in that moment, I think that he's overwhelmed because he just walked into puke in a crib, right?
And so, I think when we can come at this from a place of like, humans who genuinely want to be in a relationship with us, and they want to feel connected to their siblings, to us, they want to feel loved and included. And there's something that's coming in the way right now of them feeling connected, loved, included.
I think we can shift our perspective then and then shift our response. Um, and so I'd let that kid know like, I'm going to help you. And then it's looking at like, Who, and you're going to know your kids best, who needs the most support with regulation? Some kids are at this point or at any, will have some tools for regulation and other kids really rely more on that like interdependence kind of co regulation component.
And I would turn to that kid and say like, I'm going to help you feel calm. And we'll help your sibling feel calm, and then we'll figure this out together. Really letting people know, like, I'm not here to punish, we're here to figure this out. And we start with regulation. And so I'm gonna, because really, like, what we do is separate out sensory regulation from emotional regulation in the book, and in our approach, where we're looking at the body first, of like, what's happening with your body?
It doesn't mean that you stop feeling your feeling. Once you're regulated, you're still going to feel it. You can feel really angry at somebody and be screaming and all fired up and regulate and still feel angry at them, but be able to communicate with words or communicate in a different way, work through that emotion.
And so that's what we aim to do first is focus on the body. How do we get back into a space where we feel safe and calm and able to communicate with each other? And we're doing that through regulation. I'm not talking about the behavior yet. We're not talking about the emotions even really yet. I might validate their emotion and that's about it.
Otherwise, I'm allowing them to feel their emotion and helping them get back into a safe regulated body. We have a whole bunch of tools in the book because this is not one size fits all. What helps one person regulate might be dysregulating for another kid. I love touch, I love a hug, and touch is a sensory sensitivity for my child that's dysregulating for him.
He does not like to be touched when he's upset, and as we start to learn these things about our kids about what Um, then we can figure out what coping strategies in the moment, we have a whole bunch of examples there in, in the book. And but getting back to that safe body, and then I'm going to turn to the older kid and say like, all right, I want to hear your story.
And to the younger kid, I want to hear your story. Who's going to go first? And they might both be like me, me, me. You both want to go first. How are we going to do this? They're awesome problem solvers. They're fantastic at conflict resolution, but we're just there to scaffold. And I don't see it as my job to lead, it's my job to facilitate this conversation, especially at seven and nine.
[00:27:39] Hunter: I love this. Um, yeah, this is something we talk about in Mindful Parenting, is like, this is, this is not my problem, right? Like, actually, your kid's problem is not your problem, and so you are... You don't have to solve the problem, like, and then that is, uh, just a beautiful example of that. Like, okay, how can we do this?
Okay, you both, you know, turn it back on them, improve, bring your kids into it and they're going to be involved and they're going to be, then they're going to want to follow up with the solution. And then you don't have to actually like be this enforcer either, which is a really stinky role to be in. But I love, I just want to underscore this.
It was all about like, Hey, I am a. person. My kids are, you know, people, we are primates with nervous systems that are making us like, you know, shriek and scream like that. You know, think of the chimpanzee like shrieking, like, right? Like this is kind of like what's happening when we're getting all dysregulated like that.
And what Alyssa is talking about is the body first, like first in you, your body first. So you can be there, you can use your whole brain, and then your kids, like, their body first. And how can we do that? And so, you know, you talked to, let's throw some, a couple of those tools that do help kids regulate. You said touch is one, just, you know, I find that, you know, just, Your presence, being there, being, regulating yourself, that's, that's part of it, right?
Is like you, you not bringing more fire to the situation and bringing your own calm. That really helps a lot. What are some other things that you, you find that helps with different kids?
[00:29:16] Alyssa Blask-Campbell: Yeah, movement can be really helpful for a lot of kids, and there's two different types of movement we really look at here, proprioceptive, which is like that big body movement, or vestibular, which is going to be moving the plane of your head, so spinning, dipping upside down, um, this could be like an inversion, uh, and so we just had a conflict in my backyard.
We have like, um, My backyard is a neighborhood gathering space, and we had a conflict with two kids who were five and seven, and In this time where it was like time to regulate, I turned and I said, Oh man, my heart is beating so fast and my shoulders are up to my ears. I need to slow my heart down and bring my shoulders down.
Do you want to play a game with me before we figure this out? And we did just like a race. I was like, I wonder if I can beat you over to that tree. I am going to, and now if they were really young, I would have chosen like, I'm going to hop like a kangaroo. What animal are you going to be? Do you want to slither like a snake or do you want to, you know, jump like a frog?
And to make it playful, we're going to get some dopamine in here, just that like reward center of the brain. We're going to breed connection through this game and we're going to start to produce serotonin, which is going to regulate the nervous system, start to calm when we produce serotonin, it's going to pump the brakes on the cortisol or adrenaline, which is our like fight, fight, freeze hormones that come in.
And so it's going to truly start to like regulate us, but movement can be really helpful. It's not always accessible. We're not always in my backyard. And so I, with like younger kids, I'm doing a lot of this right now with a two year old, I'm doing like big jumps with him. He also, my little guy, really benefits from downregulation or a sensory break.
He can get overstimulated. And so he benefits from having a little space. And I'll say, hey bud, before we figure out what's next, Do you want to read a book with me? Or do you want to take some space and we can color a picture or, um, depending on the age and stage would, would bring into like, what are you doing in that sensory break?
Um, but downregulation, so taking a break from stimuli, movement, deep breathing. Now, when I'm working with kids in like a classroom setting where they can't leave, I'm looking at how do I get some of that Um, pressure and movement in. So literally could be like, we're going to bring our shoulders up to our ears and drop them down.
We're going to squeeze our fists tight and let them go. I'm going to push my toes into the ground and let them go. I think it's so important to add, you're not adding any of these strategies in, in the moment. We're never adding in a new strategy at the moment. Yes, this is all stuff that we work on outside of the moment, that like, just yesterday my two year old came up to me and said, Mama, my heart's beating fast and I'm feeling nervous.
And he's only aware of what's happening with his heart and that he's feeling nervous because we talk about it seven billion times a day in all these other ways, right? Like I'll be reading a book and I'm like, Oh wow, that person sounds nervous. I wonder if their heart's beating fast. No wonder how they could slow it down, right?
So like when he's in a regulated state or modeling it, Oh my goodness, I am feeling so overwhelmed right now. My heart's beating so fast and my shoulders are up to my ears. I need to take a minute to slow my heart down and showing what I'm going to do and talking about what I'm going to do. I'm going to bring my shoulders up to my ears and drop them all the way down.
I'm going to squeeze my fist so tight. and let them go. Oh, I feel my heart starting to slow down. Okay, this is helping. And really just like modeling that and talking about it outside of these moments then gives them a toolbox to pull from in the moment. I think this is something that's so important. We usually don't think about it until we're in the moment.
And we talk a lot about this. We call it proactive versus reactive in the book for building coping strategies and building that toolbox for your kid. What I want for kids is to be able to have like two to three things in their toolbox. It doesn't have to be huge. Two to three things that they know help them calm so that when they're in the moment down the road and you're not there, they're like, okay, here's what I can do.
[00:33:30] Hunter: tuned for more Mindful Mama podcasts right after this break.
Okay, so yeah, so this is something we should be teaching. from the beginning, right? Like, modeling and teaching from the beginning, so that our kids aren't like, oh, surprise, I have all these feelings, I don't know what to do with them, and I'm at a complete loss, like, what do they do? You know, I was thinking that.
I'm, I'm picturing you, like, in your house, like, reading to your toddler, and like, Saying these things that I'm wondering, like, I wonder, like, does your husband say these things? Does your mother in law say these things? You know what I mean? Do they feel like it's a little funny because it's not the language they grew up with and they feel like they're coddling their child?
You know, like, I'm curious about how does this sort of play out in
[00:34:15] Alyssa Blask-Campbell: IRL? It's so uncomfortable at first. At this point, it really is a part of my vernacular. But it's uncomfortable at first, especially like, given what I grew up in, no one was saying these things to me. And we can't do something differently if we don't make any changes, right?
So I was like, I know I don't want to do what my parents did, and I don't want someone to like, produce my script either. Like, I want you to find what makes sense to you. Like, one thing in our family. Often we'll, I'll just say like, Oh man, that sucks. And like, that's not a phrase that's going to work in every household or every cultural context or whatever.
And it's one that works for us. And it like feels connected. It's language we use, but that's kind of mother in law's. Yeah. My mother in law's never going to say the word sucks. Like it's just not going to come out of her mouth. Right. And so like how this shows up is different for, for different folks. And my husband isn't, he's pretty on board.
I mean, He's been around it for years and years and years. The research ended five years ago, so he's, he's been very exposed for a long time, but, and he's seen how it changes, how kids respond, right? He's had the, that's been a privilege of mine and going into parenthood with him is before we even became parents, he'd seen me do this work with so many kids, where he was like, Oh, I now see that like this kid has these tools and now they respond in this way, whatever.
He got to see the fruits of the labor, if you will. Um, that it helped kind of convince him a little bit of it, but still his scripts or what comes out of his mouth is different than what comes out of mine. And it doesn't super matter to me like what you say. It's more. For me about like, is it authentic connection, right?
And I think of this with like babies where, or people do it with dogs, where we like say what we're doing out loud to them and like talk about the day or whatever. We're not having a back and forth with a baby where they're verbally responding to us. The dog isn't going to verbally respond to us, but we still talk to them.
And explain things to them and share what we're doing or just even have any sort of conversation. And I think, like, we do this for a little bit with babies on certain topics and with toddlers on certain topics. And for us, we're just opening up, like, we're going to also do this with our emotional experience.
for our sensory experience. I'm going to also talk to them about that. They're like, man, I'm feeling overwhelmed. Here's what's happening in my body so that they can start to learn that.
[00:36:48] Hunter: I love this so much. And, and the fruits of this labor that you get kids who are emotionally intelligent and get, have tools and things like that.
Now, one of the things I see, the hurdles that I see when people come to me with this, they're afraid. Um, about this idea of they don't want to dump their feelings on their kids. Do you get that question? About Yeah. About this as well? Yeah.
[00:37:12] Alyssa Blask-Campbell: And I would say, like, yeah. First of all, don't. Like, that's not an appropriate place to dump your feelings.
And yeah. Also, sharing your feelings and having your kid be responsible for your feelings are two different things. When I share my feelings, oh man, I'm feeling overwhelmed, and then I share, I have tools for regulation, and I list them out, like, I need to slow my heart down. I'm gonna squeeze my fists and let them go.
I'm gonna bring my shoulders up and let them down. I'm showing my kid, like, I'm having this feeling. This feeling is totally normal, and I have tools to calm. It's not your job to calm me down. There's two totally different things. If, like, I'm dumping my feelings on you and it's your job to fix them or to take care of me, then it is to, like, I have feelings too, which makes your feelings feel normal, uh, and I also have tools for regulation so that you don't have to take care of me, which also means you can come to me with your hard stuff without worrying that if you, if I feel upset or I feel disappointed or I feel frustrated that I don't have a tool for that.
You know that I do have a tool for that. It's okay for me to feel frustrated or disappointed. Yeah, I
[00:38:20] Hunter: think that is part of the hurdle, right, is that we were told that it's not okay to feel these feelings. So, then when we, if we talk about them, this is our own, you know, baggage that we feel like it is dumping.
Even if we are just talking about our feelings, we feel like there's something wrong or bad about it because we were shamed for having those
[00:38:43] Alyssa Blask-Campbell: feelings. Yeah. Or punished. Yeah.
[00:38:45] Hunter: Yeah. Okay. So, you talk about shame in your book and you say, you know, you say that parenting should be shame free. Yeah. Yeah. Um, why do you think shame is such a big factor and, you know, and, and what can parents and caregivers do to move beyond it?
How can they even identify it if, if they don't even know they're using it? And also like, just, I think it's important to think about too, like the idea of big difference between shame and guilt. Cause I do think like. That's what Guilt is actually quite helpful. Like I don't know. Yeah. Okay. So let's go there.
Talk to me, Melissa. Yeah. The
[00:39:20] Alyssa Blask-Campbell: research is actually pretty good on this. Brene Brown has really good research on this of like shame versus guilt and what guilt does for us versus what shame does to us. Um, and. My goal actually isn't totally shame free, it's shame resilient. So they're going to encounter shame inside of them, outside of them, and I want kids to be able to translate it.
To be able to, like, translate that message of, Oh, that's somebody else's thing, right? Like, they projected that onto me, but like, that's their bag to carry. Oh, they do that. Yeah, right? Forever a work in progress. That's also a fun note. There is no perfection here. We talk about that times in the book. And, um, I've never left a day as a parent, but like, well, I was perfect today.
Uh, it's not the goal. Yeah, no. Um, and like, thank goodness because I want kids to know they can make mistakes too. And we talk a lot about what repair looks like in an emotionally supportive manner. But from a shame guilt perspective, guilt is, Oh, I like made a bad choice. It's about the behavior or the thing.
It's not about me. It's not the, I am bad. It was, or I am dumb or I am it's, I made a dumb choice. And so I said just the other day to somebody like, man, I know that you're so kind and that wasn't a kind choice. I want to help you. And so there is the like, shame would be that they aren't kind, that they are bad.
And the guilt is in the, no, you made an unkind choice and it's okay to feel a little guilty about that. Just the other day, Sage Did something like hit me or move towards me, if you strike me, but it's something where he like then pulled back and he wanted to hide. And I said, are you feeling embarrassed?
I'm wondering if you're feeling guilty for hurting me. And he said, yeah. He just like with his face hit and said, yeah. And I don't have to talk about it yet, but I want you to know that I'm not mad at you and it's okay to feel guilty. It means you did something that doesn't feel good inside, and we can talk about it.
And I want them to have that. That's your conscience, right? That's like, Ooh, I'm outside of my values alignment. And what I'm doing or what I'm saying isn't in alignment with what I believe or how I want to show up in this world. That's really healthy for us to have to navigate the world. Because we're going to teach you
[00:41:46] Hunter: what your values are, right?
You're feeling terrible about something. You're feeling a lot of guilt or something. I mean, that can actually be an indicator of what you do value enormously, right?
[00:41:56] Alyssa Blask-Campbell: Correct. Correct. And that's different than like, oh, I'm a terrible friend, or I'm not smart, or I always do this thing. I'm so lazy. Like those, that's shame ridden.
That's an Anytime we're looking at those I am's and it's about us as a person rather than I was feeling really lazy today and I didn't move my body or whatever, like, those are different than I am this thing. And that's when we're seeing shame.
[00:42:23] Hunter: This identifying thing. I think that's, that's so important.
And, you know, we want to think about it. And that's one of the things I think about with that is, uh, this idea of like the, you know, freeing ourselves from the labels that we're given, right? Cause it's like, you are this thing, you are that thing. No, let's actually practice to be open to who we are in every moment, which is really different.
Right. And so I like the idea that guilt can be a part of that, because actually, you know, what I find is that when. And, you know, when we, um, confront kids, like, in a skillful manner about maybe some behavior that they did that, like, impeded on our needs or made us feel, you know, whatever, uncomfortable or stressed or whatever, they feel a little guilty.
And that's actually really good. That's a good thing because it means they care about you and they want, you know, it's feeling wrong because they're a good person and they care. And so, yeah, um. I don't know, you know, maybe it's
[00:43:25] Alyssa Blask-Campbell: a really crucial part of repair and like feeling sorry for something or apologizing like guilt plays a big role in that and if somebody doesn't actually feel guilty or remorseful and they come and apologize to you just because they think they're supposed to apologize to you, you can feel that as the recipient.
There's really good research on this too that like it actually yields not great results. Uh, to, to give an apology that's forced because the other person isn't actually feeling guilty or remorseful versus if you feel guilty and you're like, Oh man, I'm sorry. I was not being a supportive partner there.
I'm having a tough day and I just took that out on you. I'm really sorry. You didn't deserve that. You can hear and feel the genuine remorse or guilt that's happening and it leads to this repair, which can deepen connection.
[00:44:19] Hunter: I love this. I'm like, this, having these conversations with you, Alyssa, makes me so excited and so hopeful for the next generation.
But I wanted to, I wanted to ask you also about the idea of defiance, right? Like this is the thing that is triggering for you. And a lot of people feel, you know, that's a big thing for a lot of people. I feel disrespected by my child. Like when they feel disrespected, they feel bullied. Defiance. Can you talk, I mean, can you help us understand a little bit about if all behavior is communication?
Yeah. And defiance is some kind of communication. What are our children trying to communicate there? What do we need to understand about those kind of moments?
[00:44:57] Alyssa Blask-Campbell: Yeah. Well, I think this is one of those, like, another Brene Brown, two things can be true situations of like, behavior can be manipulative or defiant or disrespectful.
Behavior can be. Yeah. Yeah. Hmm. This is the guilt versus shame. The behavior can be that, and it doesn't mean that kid is that . The kid is trying to meet their needs. They're doing this in the only ways that they know how in those moments, and it's usually a sensory need or an emotional need. Emotional need being a need for connection, and need to feel seen and valued and loved and connected.
A sensory need could be hungry, tired. It could be my body needs to move. It could be I'm overstimulated. And we go through all of that in, in chapter three of the book of like the sensory systems and those needs. And then you get to be a detective of like, what's the actual need. But first is looking at like, yeah, that might be defiant behavior.
If they stare you in the face and they do something any way that they know they're not supposed to do, like that is defiant behavior. Label that like, yeah, that's defiant behavior and it feels disrespectful and I feel nervous that if this pattern continues, they're going to do this with other adults and they're not going to get their needs met down the road.
They're not going to be liked by that person and that person's not going to want to be their friend or whatever it is that's coming up for us actually. And being able to say like, that makes sense. that I feel that way about this behavior. I learned that, you know, and so then as you like can have those conversations and we do those deep conversations outside at the moment with ourselves, but in the moment you can say like, Oh yeah, that's defiant behavior.
I wonder what they need right now. And when we can get curious about like, what do they need right now? Now, sometimes we might still have another narrative come up of like, Oh yeah, they need connection. It feels like a leaky cup. I've been with them all day, or I just played with them, and now I have to go cook dinner, do this thing, and they're still asking for more.
Other things might still come up for us about it, but when we can at least get to the point of like, Oh, they have a need here. That's what's driving the behavior. It's going to be huge for us then saying like, Okay, where do we go from there? And then, how do I teach them another way to ask for that need?
And so, for Sage, my little guy, we started teaching him to say, like, when he wanted connection, he was doing things that were very annoying, right? Like poking me with the fork or whatever. And, yeah, right. And so I started to just say like, Oh, did you want me to notice you? Did you want to feel connected? And, or were you feeling left out and you wanted to feel included?
Zach and I, my husband and I are having a conversation and, um, so we started to like adopt that language. I would just call out what it was I thought he was experiencing and now, and then I would tell him, you can say, what are you talking about? Or mama, I want to play with you, letting him know what he could do instead of the very annoying behavior to get that need met or to communicate that need.
And then with repetition, he starts to pick that up and it's not like the next time he was like, great, I'm going to use that. It, it takes repetition to build new habit. Uh, but now he'll largely say like, I want your attention or what are you talking about? Or I'm feeling left out. I want to feel included.
And, uh, it, that's all really from us just getting curious about what's the need here when he's poking me with the form.
[00:48:31] Hunter: I love this so much. Let's get into our place of, like, moving from judgment. Into Curiosity and, um, and this is all sort of based on all of this, like, wonderful research methodology. I love it.
Love it so much. Alyssa, obviously, we could talk for hours about this. I've been thinking about this. I was like, well, there, at some point, we're going to, like, have to, like, have, like, have, like, a conference where we get together and we're going to love, like, wouldn't that be so fun? Dear listener, if you like that idea, let us know.
Elisa's book is called, out today, is called Tiny Humans, Big Emotions. How to Navigate Tantrums, Meltdowns, and Defiance to Raise Emotionally Intelligent Children. I couldn't recommend it more. Go get it. Support this book. You'll learn a lot and your kids will be better for it. Melissa, thank you for doing this work.
Where can people find out more about you
[00:49:31] Alyssa Blask-Campbell: and what you're doing? Yeah, um, well since you're all podcast listeners, I have a weekly podcast, Voices of Your Village podcast, um, The Hunter's Been On, and those drop every Thursday. Seed and Sew, Seed and Sew, S E W, is where I hang out. Um, so on Instagram, seed. and.
sew, and threads, and Facebook, and uh, we have seedandsew. org is like the mothership, um, of all things, and Yeah, I just, like, have so much gratitude for folks who... are taking a look at what they came to adulthood with and are wondering, like, what do I want to pass on and what do I not, and are down to dive into this work with us.
I'm jazzed to get to do it with you. Yay.
[00:50:28] Hunter: Hey, I hope you loved this episode. I love talking to Alyssa. We share so much. There's so much overlap, clearly, um, with what's happening here. If you love this episode, I would love it if you could subscribe and leave a rating on Apple Podcasts. It's super easy to do that. You just open up your podcast link where you're like listening to this right now.
You go, just go to the Mindful Parenting Podcast show page and scroll down past like five episodes or so and you'll see ratings and review and you scroll down. And right before a review in like a purple box, there's like a purple link that says write a review and just click on that and write a review.
And maybe I'll give you a shout out, which I would love, love, love to do. Today I'm going to give a shout out to Lujia777 who left a five star review saying grateful. And saying simply, this podcast has helped me so much with my parenting. Thank you, Hunter. Thank you for leaving that review. I really, really appreciate it.
Okay. This has been amazing. Thank you so much for being here. I'm so glad we get to do this work together from me and my team, from everybody who works on this podcast. Shout out to Chelsea and Emma and Lynn and Alex. We all appreciate you being here and we all wish you well. You know, that you can also do these practices, focus on what's working, you know, in your life.
Practice those changes, right? Practice that growing and learning from the things you learn here, but don't make it be about perfection because you're not going to get there. Okay? It's not possible. You are good enough as you are. And good enough parenting is what we're going for. So just bit by bit, slow changes.
If, you know, as you make those mistakes, as you inevitably are human and fail, It's okay, Mama, Papa. You just gotta pick yourself up, offer yourself some kind words, give yourself some understanding about how hard it is, and know that you are not alone. I'm so glad you're here with me. You are not alone. And I will be here with you again next week with more stuff to help your parenting, and I hope it helps, and I hope you have more bits of peace and ease in your life this week.
And I really thank you for watering your good seeds. By listening to this. Wishing you a great week, my friend. Namaste.
[00:53:11] Alyssa Blask-Campbell: I'd say definitely
[00:53:12] Hunter: do it. It's really helpful. It will change your relationship with your kids for the better.
[00:53:16] Alyssa Blask-Campbell: 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. It's 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. You can learn some new tools and gain some perspective to shift everything in your parenting.
[00:54:15] Hunter: Were 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. 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 mindful parenting for 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.