Dr. Laura Markham is the founder of Aha Parenting and the author of Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids and Peaceful Parent, Happy Siblings.

She makes frequent TV and radio appearances and has been interviewed for thousands of articles by publications as diverse as The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Real Simple, Newsday, Men’s Health, Redbook and Parents Magazine.

458: Relisten: How To Handle Tantrums (184)

Dr. Laura Markham

You have a child and they are starting to defy you and say, “no.” What do you do?

There’s so much conflicting advice out there and pressure to have a well-behaved child, but what is the best way to handle misbehavior and raise healthy, happy kids?

In this episode, the big-mama of peaceful parenting, Dr. Laura Markham shares the fundamentals of how to do this in three basic steps. 

This post may contain affiliate links.

Relisten: How To Handle Tantrums - Dr. Laura Markham (184) [458]

Read the Transcript 🡮

*This is an auto-generated transcript*

[00:00:00] Hunter: Hey there, it's Hunter, and welcome to Throwback Thursday. Most Thursdays, we are going to re release one of my favorite episodes from the archives. So unless you're a longtime listener of the show, there's a good chance you haven't heard this one yet. And even if you had, chances are that you are going to get something new listening to it this time around.

[00:00:18] Dr Laura Markham: The child is dysregulated. When you put them on the naughty step, you're not helping them learn to regulate, but you're just connecting them from you. In fact, what you're doing is you're telling your child that their big emotions are not okay with you.

[00:00:35] Hunter: You are listening to the Mindful Mama podcast, episode 184. Today we're talking about how to handle tantrums with Dr. Laura Markham.

Welcome to the Mindful Parenting podcast. Here it's about becoming a less irritable, more joyful parent. I'm 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 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 international bestseller, Raising Good Humans, and now Raising Good Humans Every Day. 50 simple ways to press pause, stay present, and connect with your kids. Welcome back to the podcast, my friend.

I am so glad you are here. A big special welcome if you are new to the Mindful Mama podcast. I'm so excited for you to listen to this episode because we are talking Mindful Parenting. To none other than Dr. Laura Markham, who's a great inspiration to me and so many others, she's the founder of AHA Parenting and the author of Peaceful Parent Happy Kids and Peaceful Parent Happy Siblings.

She makes frequent TV and radio appearances and I have been interviewed for thousands of articles and publications like the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, Real Simple, Redbook, Parents, and more. She has been an inspiration to so many in this peaceful parenting world, so I'm so excited to kind of give us, have her give you a little bit of a peaceful parenting 101 here.

And we're going to talk specifically about tantrums. You know, you have a child, they're starting to defy you and to say, no, so what do you do? And the way we respond in these early days really can create a pattern for later that can either get more and more difficult or easier and easier over time. So I'm so excited for you to hear the fundamentals of peaceful parenting in this in three basic steps.

So I want you to listen for a few takeaways that I had talking to her. So, Thinking about the number one question you need to ask yourself before you discipline and the research that explains why, why your child's big emotions are so hard to handle. And then also we're going to have a conversation towards the end, so stay through all the way to the end because we're going to talk about how to get your partner on board with your parenting style.

Really important and vital stuff here. So, all right, enough, enough with the intro. You're dying to get to Dr. Laura. Her audio's not amazing in this, but stick with it because what she says is so amazing. I love what she says about partners and kids, and it's just so deep. So join me at the table as I talk to Dr.

Laura Markham.

Dr. Laura Markham. Thank you so much for coming on the Mindful Mama podcast. It's my pleasure. I'm so glad you're here. And we've talked before, but we had an audio problem. So I'm so glad to have you on again. I love your work and I love your books and what you've put out in the world. And I thought today would be so helpful to think about, think about kind of like Peaceful Parenting 101.

And I love the idea of thinking about like, You know, if you imagine I'm, I'm the parent of a recently turned two year old and there's all this conflicting advice out there. There's so much pressure to have a well behaved child. What should I do when my child starts to refuse to do things or misbehaves?

It's like the big, like, oh my gosh, here it is, here it comes. What do I do now when I'm this parent?

[00:04:44] Dr Laura Markham: Well, first of all, You said there's pressure. I mean, there's so many different parts of what you asked that we want to unpack. First of all, pressure from outside. What is your commitment when you decide you're going to raise a child?

It's a sacred commitment and the commitment is to the child. It's to facilitate the child's blossoming so that the child is able to be healthy, happy, able to contribute positively to the world, right? That's our commitment. Our commitment is not that our two year old will always exhibit, uh, behavior that the adults around the two year old approve of or like, because first of all, the two year old is still basically a baby.

And secondly, even if they were 12, they're still a child. Their brain is still maturing. They're still learning. And how many adults do we know who always exhibit? Behavior that everyone around them always approves of? I don't think very many. Certainly as they get older, they will be, they will understand social norms better.

They will understand how to take more responsibility for their actions and how their actions affect others. They will become more considerate. But I think putting the, just the idea that we approach our tree rolled from the perspective of what random adults in the supermarket think is such a betrayal of our actual commitment.

Actual commitment is to provide the conditions for our child. to grow and thrive and that's emotionally as well as physically. And we know what kids need to develop emotionally. We know there's a lot of research on it. So John Gottman, who's the foremost couples researcher in the United States, also because he studied couples for so long, saw them, you know, they were having babies.

They brought their babies into the lab. He saw them interact with their children. He did a lot of research on it. And some time ago now, He published some of that research in a book about raising an emotionally intelligent child. And one of his findings that's very striking is that most Americans, and he's only studying Americans so he's not over cramming here, but it probably applies, you know, to many people in the world.

Most of us are actually uncomfortable with our children and we're uncomfortable because we are, um, we don't want our children to be in pain or to hurt or to be sad. We're uncomfortable because other people are judging us or at least we think they're judging us in that supermarket or anywhere. We're uncomfortable because we, we didn't ever learn to be comfortable with our own emotions, right?

And so we were afraid having big emotions is a sign there's something wrong with our child. We're weird. We. are uncomfortable. They're child's emotions because we learned as children that that that's manipulation. That's what we were told when we had big emotions. Don't you try to manipulate me. So we respond by trying to shut down the emotions.

Trying to distract the child, Oh, don't worry, we'll get you another one. We respond by shaming and blaming, Oh, a little scratch like that doesn't hurt. That wouldn't upset your brother. He would take that in stride. Why are you getting so bent out of shape about that? So, there's a lot of ways we respond to emotion.

that are not healthy actually for our child, because the research that John Gottman, uh, did and that many other people have replicated is that when we respond to emotions with empathy and understanding, even while we change the child's behavior, we may redo, you know, maybe they're not allowed to. Sweep everything off the supermarket shelf, right, and throw the eggs on the floor or whatever.

Of course they are. You need to guide their behavior. But even as we guide their behavior, we accept the emotions. We understand the emotions. We understand the child's point of view. They're hungry. They're tired. They feel disconnected from us. They're angry about something. They desperately want something because they think it'll make them feel better, even though we have to say no to that something, which might be a cookie, for instance.

So, when we back up the camera and we take a larger view of what our child actually needs in that moment, in order to have the conditions to thrive, the conditions are about accepting and understanding, and certainly guiding the behavior. They're not about making the child look good. The message we want to impart to the child is not, you have to look good at all costs.

What kind of message would that be? Right? The mess, you know, look good behavior. The message is I understand you're having a hard time right now. I can't allow you to do X, Y, Z, but I totally get why you're upset. Come with me. We're gonna, we're gonna settle down. We're gonna, I've got your back. We're gonna come back and tackle this together.

You don't always get what you want, but you can get something better, but you really need, which is a mom or a dad who understands and supports you, helps you no matter what. That is what we want to hear.

[00:10:16] Hunter: Stay tuned for podcast right after this break.

Hmm. I love that. So basically new parents step back, you know, come step back and look at what is, what is, take a step at the big picture, right? We're kind of so in the weeds, we're so in, I just need to get the shoes on to get out the door that it's, it's hard to step back and take a moment to look at the big picture.

So maybe. Dear listener, we can do that now. Like what, what is our commitment to our child? That's really, really beautiful. But then to play devil's advocate, what about that, that parent who, you know, needs to get these darn shoes on because they need to get to work because their livelihood depends on it.

So there's really literally, you know, threat to the livelihood when, when the child is refusing, uh, a behavior like that. So what, what might you say to a parent in that situation?

[00:11:17] Dr Laura Markham: Yes. I would say that there are all these tools that you can use within the general context we've just outlined. And there's preventive maintenance you can do so that the child is more likely to cooperate more of the time.

And even in that moment, there are, there's a whole range of interventions. In that moment, you could, if you, you're trying to, first of all, you're trying to get to work, you're trying to get out the door, the kid refuses to put on their shoes, you stop, you take a deep breath, because you know that your child's.

Their limbic system, their emotional system is taking its cues from you. You act like it's an emergency, the child will very quickly escalate in their panic. If they're digging in their heels, if they're being defiant with you at this moment, that's fight, fight, or freeze. They're already in a panic. And if you go into a panic too, you know, you just jumped off the cliff with them, right?

So your job at that moment. Is to take a deep breath and calm down because then your child's limbic system is taking its cues from you and it resonates with you much of the time as you take a deep breath and you slow down. What is the, our impulse when our child gets, um, revved up and difficult is that we get revved up too, in trying to control, you cannot control another person, the tool at that moment, when your child is upset, whether it's the in the morning before school or in the grocery store is to slow down.

Don't speed up, slow down. You slow down. You bring yourself fully present. Children follow presence, just like an adult student, more so. Children follow presence. You bring yourself fully present. You take that deep breath. You look at your child and you connect. So the very, so peaceful parenting, what I teach, it's only got three parts.

First, you self regulate and that's, it's a lifetime work, but it is, it is. The bottom line of everything we do in life, we are always monitoring our own well being and bringing ourselves into more presence. So, that's self regulation. The second thing we do is connect. You can't control your child. All of your influence comes from the connection.

So, you're connecting and we can look at what that looks like with this toddler that morning. The third thing is you coach the child as opposed to trying to control them. You're not using rewards and punishment. You're not threatening them, which is The natural thing that comes out of control when we're trying to control their behavior.

You put your shoes on right now or you won't get to watch your show later or you won't get to, we won't, you know, whatever. You come up with some threat that you're, that you're kissing your child to behave or you know, greasing your voice. So those are the three parts of Peaceful Parenting, self regulate, connect, coach.

And the coaching is to help them with their emotions. So in that moment, you've taken. You've shifted yourself to be as present as you can, even though you're worried about getting to your meeting and your boss at that moment, and you connect and say, you don't want these shoes on. That's how we connect.

The first thing you do is you state what the other person is trying to tell you. You don't want these shoes on, huh? Yeah.

[00:14:38] Hunter: Like that, I see you, I hear you moment, right? Like I, I see what's going on with you.

[00:14:44] Dr Laura Markham: And at that moment, you suddenly, the door opens to connection that you've created. Suddenly, you have an opportunity.

You influence your child. So you have to assess at that moment. It's an art form. It's not a science. What's going on with your child? Maybe, maybe you don't want to go out the door and get dropped off at daycare so you can go to work. They don't, they, you've had a lovely morning, they don't want to stop.

Maybe you've had a very hard morning and you've raised your voice on morning and they're just mad at you and defiant, right? And they're going to resist you at every Maybe it has nothing to do with you. Maybe it's because They were allowed, once they're dressed, to watch a screen, and they're trying to take them, you're trying to take them away from the screen, and the last thing they want to do is, because humans are addicted to screens, because that's the nature of screens in humans, right?

They don't want to leave that screen. Maybe they're just feeling like you're rushing them, and they weren't, you know, because you're in a hurry for your meeting, and you were running a little late, and so they're They're anxious about that. Maybe your partner's out of town, and you've been harried, and your child is feeling that, and so they're already feeling a little out of sorts.

Could be any number of things. Maybe they're too, and every, as the studies show, every, you know, third word out of their mouth is no. Right? Whatever it is. Well, it brings, you really don't want to put these shoes on. Your child looks at you. And then you see, they soften just slightly because you're just soft.

And then you see whether you have an opening. Now, if you generally have a good relationship with your child, and you can sort of reclaim that connection through humor, that's almost always the best way in. So you might, Have the shoe in your hand as you say that and then you might make a squeaky voice as you hold the shoe up and the shoe is dancing and you're dancing the shoe in the air scene and let's say your child's name is Jacob.

[00:16:50] Dr Laura Markham: And you, and where do you, and you say to the shoe, where do you go on Jacob? And the shoe says, I go on Zier and you pretend you're putting the shoe on Jacob's ear and Jacob says, no, no, go ahead. And then you know the shoes are on the feet. That's that. You're done and you. Grab your, your briefcase or your backpack and you grab your kid and you're out the door, you know, um, and you're done.

And it's, and you make it fun the whole way to the car where the shoes are still talking and you say, You know, or to the subway, wherever you're going, you know, um, which way do we go now? Shoes? Can you show Jacob's feet where to go? Do we, and do the shoes climb up or does Jacob fly? You know, and you just do the whole, the shoes are talking the whole way and Jacob's just had a lovely start to his day because children love to play, it is their work, it is the way they approach the world and he probably can't resist an invitation to play, actually, as long as he's not proud of sorts.

Now, that doesn't always work. Let's say you try it and Jacob says, No! And he kicks his shoe across the room. At that point, if it were me, even if it were the middle of winter in Maine, I would pick up my, the shoes, put them in the backpack for the child that you're bringing to the daycare or whatever, and put it on my back.

and say, you are having such a hard morning. It's not going the way you wanted and you really don't want those shoes. As I put this in the backpack, I'm saying, let's put those shoes away so you don't have to put them on now. When will you wear the shoes? What will you decide? As you pick your child up, you're giving them total control of the shoes, but not control of your morning and getting to work on time.

You're picking them up. You're, you're saying, do you want to put this shoe in the backpack or do you think we should put it You know, I don't know where, um, you know, in my, you don't wanna really wanna put your purse 'cause you could forget to bring, you know, whatever you, you wanna, you wanna get it. The point is, you're giving your child some control.

Do you wanna put with the shoe in the backpack? Um, and or do you wanna carry them? I would probably not let him carry them to the car. He could throw them across the yard, you know, so, but you're giving them control of something and you're, you're moving to the car at the same time. Your child is probably not gonna resist the car seat because something amazing just happened.

You're giving the child control of the shoes. You're not fighting with them. Wow, says the child. Mommy's listening to me. She hears I don't want the shoes. She's, she, and, and I, I said the child doesn't have to get everything they want. They do have to have a parent who understands. And sometimes that does mean that you're saying to your child, you really don't want these on.

You want to choose when to put your shoes on. You can put them on now or you can put them on when we get to daycare. What do you think? And the child's like, daycare, because no child in their right mind wants to put their shoes on right now. And so, you're, you're buckling him in and saying, won't Miss Cynthia, his daycare teacher, um, think it's great when you come and show her how you can put your shoes on yourself.

She's never seen you put them on, or maybe she sees it every day at naptime, who knows, but whatever. You say something about how Miss Cynthia is going to be very excited to watch him put on his shoes, and you're buckling him in. And you're driving the car and you're singing his favorite song with him and you get out of the car and you say, Do you want me Cynthia to see or do you want to put them on now before you go in?

So you could run with the other kids right away. You know, whatever it is, you're giving him a choice. Now, does it really matter that he went out in his socks into a cold car? He's not gonna get frostbite, right? You should got heat in your car. Parents just assume that the child has to obey them or something terrible is gonna happen.

In fact, obedience is not what you want. You want a child who does the right thing based on their own air compass. And often, you do need a child to do what you say at the moment you say it. You need a child, if they're on their little scooter going down a city sidewalk, which, you know, I live in New York City, so I see this all the time.

You need that child to stop at the end of the block. No questions asked. There's, you know, a taxi cab hurtling down the street. But those, if you, um, are judicious. about what's important and what's not, and you give them choices about the things that don't actually matter, like getting those shoes on before they get in the car, then your child is much more likely to say, yeah, this is a serious thing.

Mom and dad mean it when they say I stop at the end of the street. If I don't, I have to get off the scooter. I can't ride the scooter for the rest of the day, you know, and there's nothing punitive about it. It's just, it was too hard for you to stop. It's just too dangerous. Kids can't ride scooters and, and, you know, I see three year olds on scooters.

So, you know, um, but, but you can't ride a scooter until you can, you can handle it, which means you always stop at the end of the street and then you crouch down with them and you say, see these cars going by? They wouldn't even see you. They're too high up. You cannot go in the street without me no matter what.

So if you can stop your scooter at the end of the block that without, without me telling you, then you can ride a scooter. Otherwise you can't. We'll try again tomorrow, you know, so again, nothing punitive. It's just these, this is the structure. It's sort of like it's bedtime now, or now we're leaving for work.

They don't get choices about those things. But there's nothing wrong with giving them a choice about when to put those shoes on.

[00:21:53] Hunter: You're, you're highlighting something that I wish I had learned better when my kids were younger. I remember feeling very worried about the jacket in winter and I've seen this with, you know, at the bus stop and things like that.

Jacket at the bus stop, and I remember feeling, you know, like, Oh, I need to get this jacket on my child, you know, and in my brain, kind of subconsciously, it was always like, otherwise, I'm like, not a very good parent if I can't even get a jacket on my child, right? But if I could go back in time, I would tell my younger self that it, you know, Doesn't matter that much that I could just bring the jacket with me and hold it under my arms.

Like that, that lesson didn't need to be learned in that specific way, in that specific moment, you know, like a court, you know, this was the, the moment in my brain, you know, it, It was such a great example of natural consequences. Like say that toddler goes out the door in Maine in the winter with no shoes on and says, yikes, you know, mommy, I need my shoes.

There's ice on the ground. You know, I mean, that's such a great example of, of letting go of some control, letting your child have some autonomy. And, you know, forget what the neighbors think. That doesn't matter that much. That doesn't matter that much. You explained that so, so beautifully, Laura. Thank you very much.

[00:23:24] Dr Laura Markham: I really appreciate it. I have a question for you. So, you know, when you say that lesson doesn't have to be learned in that way at that moment, what even is the lesson we're trying to teach? I think it's more about our own self image. I'm a good mom. Therefore, I, of course, can get the jacket and shoes on my toddler.

But that's, that's not a lesson for our child. That's a question to ask our spouses, well, what does it actually mean to be the best mom I can be at that moment? It does not mean getting into a fight with our child, actually, that's not being a great mom, right? So, so, and it certainly doesn't mean worrying about what the neighbors think or the people at the bus stop.

So, I do think that's the question is like, what is the lesson at that morning when we're trying to get the kid out of the house and go to the bus stop? If the lesson is about the inner compass. We want our children to have a strong inner compass that tells them how they, that guides their actions, that guides them in their, in choosing their actions.

And it needs to come from their sense. At a visceral level, at a body level of what is right and what they need and how to keep their bodies safe. Now, they don't always know. They don't know that not brushing your teeth is going to give them a cavity and you know, that's fine. Those are the things we learn that are more intellectual, but they can tell if they're cold and if you turn it into a power struggle, they won't ask for that jacket, but if you're just matter of fact about it, like, okay, when you're ready, you'll put them on and you're right.

They'll be saying, Mommy, I need my shoes.

[00:25:01] Hunter: Yeah, it definitely, there's so much, you know, we don't want to admit it there, but there's so much ego there, right? There's just so much about the sense of self and self identity, who we are as a person and, and what is, what does this mean? And, and I think there's also, it probably comes from a lot of fear, right?

Like fear that, Fear that we're not doing a good job, right? Fear that we're, you know, we're not enough or not doing a good job. So therefore, like fear drives us to want to like control things, right? So therefore we want to control our kids. This is this idea. And you said a number of times, you can't control your kids.

We can control, you know, ourselves. We can control the situation. We can, um, And you know, there can be, we can control the, the environment, but we, we can't control our kids. And that's a really hard lesson to learn that we can't control our kids. 

[00:25:56] Dr Laura Markham: Right. And I think when, before people had children, they had this fantasy of what it's going to be like and how they're going to have a perfectly behaved kid because they're going to be that parent who somehow does that.

And in fact, they You wouldn't want, you wouldn't want to control. If you could control your child, you would have broken their will and you would be raising someone who would need you next to them for the rest of their lives. in order to make choices. That's not what you want.

[00:26:27] Hunter: Yeah. Yeah. So you say, so you talk about punishments, shaming and blaming that these are not, let's just dive in a little bit more to that.

Why aren't, why is punishment not something that you recommend? Even timeouts, right?

[00:26:43] Dr Laura Markham: And that is true. So, the reason I don't recommend it is the research, and the research is pretty clear that when children are punished for something, they become worse behaved. And I think we can easily understand, I mean, that may seem contradictory, not contradictory, it may seem shocking, until you think about yourself as a human.

So, you're an adult, you're a human, let's say you go to work and your boss says to you, you didn't handle this correctly with this client, so we're punishing you. We're going to, you know, uh, dock your pay. It would be like, what? We're going to give you an electric shock. Oh, my God. You know, that would be barbaric, right?

You, a place where, where you, you receive a physical punishment, but let's say you receive some other punishment, even let's say an emotional punishment, you're shamed in front of everyone else at the staffing. Do those things make, or, or let's say your boss raises their voice and yells at you, either in front of people or not in front of people, by your, by, in their office along with you.

Any of those things make you wanna do a better job? You know? Let's say you something that you could have done a better job with. The report was turned in a day late, whatever it was. Does it make you wanna get that next report in on time? Well, maybe because you don't wanna suffer the consequence, does it?

Does it make you do a better job with the next report? Does it make you feel good about yourself in that workplace? Wanna be your best self? No. You're looking for another job to get under there as soon as you can. Well, your child can't get another job, you know, they're home with you, they can't, they can't go to another family, like it's not making them want to be a better kid to get yelled at or to be shamed.

Or humiliated, or to be physically punished, you know, spanked, slapped, and to have you purposely hurt their, hurt them emotionally by taking away something that is important to them, for instance, a triplet, or, um, you know, uh, Combining them. A timeout is, uh, is basically isolation. You cut them off from contact with you.

That is the description of timeout. That's what it was created to be. It's called timeout from reinforcement and it was developed as a way for parents to market their children. And, uh, because parents didn't know how to emotion coach and handle the kid's emotions. So they would end up hurting the child physically.

And the pediatricians in the country all got together and said, okay, we're going to do something different. We're going to stop people from hitting their kids, which often escalates because it does escalate. When you hit a child, you have to then up the ante and hit them more next. Uh, you have to keep increasing it, right?

So the pediatrician said, okay, we're not going to do that. We're going to have the, the child and the parents separate so the parent can calm down and the child can calm


[00:29:40] Dr Laura Markham: That's things on the face that I'd like a great thing and if you need to calm down so you don't smack your child, Great! Come, move away.

Go take a timeout yourself. That's a great use of timeout. A timeout for your child will put them on the naughty step. It means that your child is being isolated from your Connect, from connection with you, and kids need young children, and you're not doing timeouts with a 12 year old, so it's young children, need to be in connection with you to self regulate.

So, if you have a child who's dysregulated, and you put them on the naughty step, you're not helping them learn to regulate, because you're disconnecting them from you. In fact, what you're doing is you're telling your child that their big emotions are not okay with you and are shameful. And until they can swallow those emotions and stuff though, you will not relate to them.

Now parents might say, no, no, I'm just asking him to regulate the emotions and talk to me in a reasonable tone of voice and bang, and he can get off the naughty. What does that really mean? Because those big emotions that child is having, he's angry. He's angry at something. An example from one of my clients that I often use when I speak is the child who knocked down the tower his brother was building because his brother took his favorite block, and he tried everything he could think of to get the block back, beating with the brother or whatever, and the little brother wouldn't give him the block back.

And he knocked down the, he pushed the blocks down onto the other kid. And the other kid, of course, is crying. The 2 year old is sobbing because the blocks have just come down on his face. And he's, he's hurting and sobbing. And the mother has a choice at this moment. They can go over and they can do what most parents would do, which is scream at the kid who knocked the blocks down.

Naughty Step, and what do you think that kid is thinking? Oh, I want to be a dad. Next time I'm going to be feeling, um, more responsibly. Sure. Well, my brother's fault. It's always my brother's fault. My parents always take his side. I hate him. I hate them. No one here understands me. This is the chip on the shoulder.

And if you have older children and you're listening to this, you may recognize what I'm talking about where sometimes There's a chip on the shoulder from the older child, but the younger one, no matter what, they're just angry

at the younger one.

[00:32:08] Dr Laura Markham: And it comes from handling things in that kind of a way where we take the old, you know, of course you have to protect your younger child and, and all your children.

When we handle things so we're automatically blaming, even a child who did the wrong thing, like this kid clearly did the wrong thing, knocked the blocks down on his brother, even when that's the case. When we step in and we're blaming and shaming and punishing, we're creating more sibling rivalry and that creates that chip on the shoulder.

Now, imagine, because this is, I'm answering your question about timeouts. Imagine that instead of that, you just took care of the kid who's nailing the two year old. You ignore the other kid because you can't really deal with him in a muddied way at the moment. You just ignore him. You're picking up your toddler out of the mess of the blocks and you're saying, Oh.

Ouch. It looks like you got heard and must have scared you. Those blocks came. Yes. I see He's pointing to his knee and it hurts your knee. There were blocks on your knee and they heard, ouch. Let me kiss that. Let's go get an ice.

[00:33:13] Dr Laura Markham: And you're,

you're, you're, you're shifting yourself out of a bending. Mom, mom, mommy too, you know, nurturing, which is good.

'cause then once you get your toddler set up to play with his trainer or his truck or whatever he needs across the room, you can go back to the kid who did the hurting and. You sit down next to me and you say, Wow, that was hard, huh?

[00:33:37] Hunter: And he looks at you suspiciously.

[00:33:39] Dr Laura Markham: You're connected, that's the first thing.

And you're saying, Your brother was crying. Those blocks, that scared him, huh? He must have been pretty upset to knock the tower down. Now, if he trusts you, he might already begin to tell you why he was upset. Of course I was upset! He took my favorite block! He wouldn't give it back! I tried everything! Most of the time, if you're listening to this, you haven't tried this before, so the first time you try, your kid's going to be totally suspicious of you.

Why are you not dragging me to the naughty step? Why are you not screaming at me? Right? So, they're not going to just open up. You're going to have to really go overboard with your effort. You must have been so upset that it seems like you really wanted something, and something you didn't know what to do, and is that what happened?

[00:34:31] Dr Laura Markham: And then the blocks came down. Is that because you, you knocked the tower down because you were so upset? Notice my tone of voice is completely not judgmental. I'm trying to understand you. At some point, your child is going to start to tear up a little bit, and he's going to tell you all the terrible things that caused him to do this egregious thing, and you're going to acknowledge it.

Yes, I hear you. If you're listening to this, you're thinking, yes, but he has to know he can't knock the blocks down on his brother. Of course, he doesn't know that, but he didn't choose to do the right thing. So, we need to speak to the part of Nick that didn't choose it. That's the part we'll buy right along.

He knows that, oh, we're going to go back to the rule, don't worry, but we're starting from where he is because that's the only way to get it. And what happens after he has told you all this, the ways his brother was so terrible and this is the only choice he had, and at that point, it's after you said, oh, my goodness, don't want to hear his thoughts.

And then you tried that and it didn't work, and then he would trade it, you know, wondering you're so upset. I mean, no, that's your special block, isn't it? And you didn't know what to do except to knock his tower down. And then what happened? And he looks at you and he says, the tower fell down. Like, you know, I knocked it down.

[00:35:54] Dr Laura Markham: And you say, yeah, no.

It was Kai. It happens. People don't expect it. But it blew.

[00:35:59] Hunter: And you're not ashamed, you know? Can you repeat yourself, Laura? I didn't hear that last part. Well.

[00:36:05] Dr Laura Markham: Your voice is so softening as you're talking to your child, right?

[00:36:08] Hunter: Oh yeah, your voice is softening.

[00:36:12] Dr Laura Markham: Put a little word in, you know, you're saying, it's like, yeah.

You're not shaming him, you're not blaming him, you're just, you're just describing what happened. We're so mad. You were so upset. You knocked the tower down and it all fell down. It was a loud


[00:36:28] Dr Laura Markham: I know you weren't trying to hurt him. You were just trying to get your block back, right? And then he was crying and crying, right?

He must have felt terrible. I know you love your brother and often you two have so much fun together and when he was crying, he must have been upset, but you didn't know what else to do. Is that right? He's like, yeah. Yeah. Yeah. That's right. Mom gets it. And by now, he's in your lap and you're holding him and you're hugging him and you're saying, Sweetheart, we've paid for you.

We've watered your butt. You've hammered her. You've hurt other people. What else could you do next? And by now, he's willing to brainstorm with you. Yeah, I guess I could have called you, you know, or I could have traded with him or whatever, right? And then you say, And the, the two year old would not have had the, um, ability to sit through this.

This is more like a, a four year old, you could do this. But parents will often say to me, my child won't sit through that kind of conversation. No, of course they won't if they think it's a lecture. Mm hmm. But it isn't when you're doing it. You're understanding. Every child is hungry for understanding, every human.

When you're telling a friend all your problems and all the details of it, You're not in a hurry for that conversation to end. You may feel like, Oh my God, I have to get the conversation back to her. We're dwelling on me too much, but your four year old is not doing that. You're like, yes, she understands.

They are not having a hard time sitting through this conversation. They feel understood. And at that point, when you say, what else could you do? It's pretty short. And then you're saying, you know, your brother loves you so much. And he looks up to you because you're the big brother and it hurt his feelings.

His body and it scared him when those blocks

came down.

[00:38:14] Dr Laura Markham: I wonder what you could do to make things better with him, to help him feel better. What could you do? And that's the repair part of the equation. And this is what ends, you know, wouldn't it be an amazing world if every child learned when they were very young that they could repair the things they do wrong?

And not only that, but that repair takes work and they don't want things to go wrong. They'd rather upfront not do those things. Instead, what we're teaching our children with timeouts and consequences and all kinds of punishment is when you do something wrong, you will, parents, your parents will intentionally hurt you either physically or emotionally.

That's what it is. So of course you're trying not to have your parents find out about the things that belong, but you're not, you're not seeing that cost to your brother of what you did wrong. You're just trying to save your own skin. So when mom's out of the room, you'll pinch your brother because you're at it, right?

And mom comes back in the room and she's like, what happened? Oh, I don't know. Why is the baby's crying? You know, I remember watching my nephew when his mom was out of the room and he didn't know I could see him pinching his brother. And then his mom came running back in the room, his brother was eight months old.

And he's like, I don't know. I started crying mommy. Right. But.

Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.

[00:39:37] Dr Laura Markham: When, when the child is trying to avoid punishment, as opposed to when the child is trying to redeem themselves. We all want redemption for the things that we do all, and children can learn very early on how to make those repairs and also that they don't wanna do those things.

[00:40:00] Hunter: Stay tuned for more Mindful Mama podcasts right after this break.

Yeah, that in itself, that whole experience in itself doesn't feel very good, you know? But I love this. This approach of coaching rather than controlling, because this is really what we need to do, right? We need to be coaching our kids to be able to do all of this themselves. Have you seen with kids who, with parents who have raised their children this way, kids who are older?

Now, my assumption is that over time, Things get easier if you have a child who has learned how to self regulate, who has, who has an intrinsic motivation to, you know, behave well in this, in the family, and take care of people in the family, resolve conflicts, rather than kind of a reward and punishment.

Have you seen if that becomes easier over time?

[00:41:00] Dr Laura Markham: It totally becomes easier. So my children, who are now 27 and 23. Never had a time out, and they never, I'm not saying that they didn't do things when they were little that other people might have given them a time out for, but I'm saying that because they didn't, because they had the kind of interventions that I'm describing, they made better and better choices.

As they got older, right? I'm thinking of one time when my daughter, um, it was,

was the, it was several weeks after the World Trade Center came down and she was at a friend's house and her, this is her best friend, and the mother brought her home. The mother was clearly livid and she dropped my daughter off. She said, Alice, my daughter, her daughter, used her daughter's name. And I said, really?

What's that in there? I don't know what's going on. She said, yes. She hit her. I don't remember what she said, but she was clearly very angry, as you would be if your child was hit. And, and so I brought Alice in the house, and the other mother was gone. And And he said, Fred was acting so weird. She wasn't acting like herself.

It really, it really scared me. And I realized that one of the parents friends was a firefighter who lost his life. And their house had been full of people, and the daughter was traumatized by this experience. Many of us in Europe were traumatized at the time, but that, um, this daughter was close to what was going on.

She knew the daughter of that family the father had done. She was traumatized, she was scared. And she, she somehow, in her playtime with my daughter, had been unable to, to communicate. Helping a child to cope or function or whatever, and my daughter had been very scared by the way she was acting and hadn't known what to do, and had actually hit her, trying to get responsive, trying to get her to be responsive.

Now, was that the right thing for my daughter to do? No! But she was six years old, she didn't know what to do, and mind been a bit bothered, I can't remember exactly, and she was scared and upset and there was no adult there to go to. You And so she did something that was irresponsible. Do you think that giving her a timeout would have, I mean, parents are scared when their children hit, right?

It's a scary thing. I think punishing her at that moment would have helped her with her fear. Punishing makes kids more afraid, right? Instead, she was able to articulate what was going on. And I think that when kids have that kind of, they become more emotionally intelligent. They're able to understand what's going on with their emotions more readily, and they don't need to act on those emotions.

And I would say that, um, you know, my son once said, my son actually never hit anyone. And I remember asking them when they were, I remember this only because I have it in a blog post that I wrote at the time. He was 16 12. She may have been 18, but at any rate, they were, they were by then much older. And I, I asked them how they had learned to behave when they had never been one.

And I said, they were totally puzzled. I said, well, you know, like, how'd you learn not to hit people? And she said, well, mom, you can't go around hitting people in our society. You know, you get locked up in jail. Everyone learns not to hit people. The question isn't, do you learn not to hit people? It's, do you learn not to hit them because you're afraid you'll get convicted?

Or do you learn not to hit them because it hurts the other person? is in fact the basic question of moral development. And it's in fact the reason why punishment sabotages moral development. If kids who are punished have their moral development is actually behind. It's not as advanced for the same age kids who are not punished for exactly that reason.

Moral development is about caring about the impact of your actions. And if you're punished, you don't care about the impact of your actions. You only care about not caring. My second answer was Oh, well, I remember wanting to hit people, especially her, according to his sister. But, oh, and you would always understand, so I never needed to do it.

[00:45:40] Dr Laura Markham: And that 

creates how we're hoping to deal with emotions. When we have more awareness of the emotions that drive our behavior, when the child has more awareness of the emotions that drive their behavior, they don't have to act. There's more mindfulness. They're more aware of it. And then, because, I mean, what is mindfulness?

It's noticing what you're feeling without taking, most of the time when we take action, we're actually unconscious. We're not even noticing what we're feeling. We're just lashing out or, you know, raising our voice or running from something emotionally or opening the refrigerator to, to run from something, you know, uh, by eating, you know, those stepping down the feelings.

[00:46:24] Dr Laura Markham: When children are

shamed for their emotions or punished, they have to stop those feelings so they can't be consciously aware. They have to cut off their conscious awareness. So in a way, they can't be mindful. Those are, those emotions aren't conscious because they can't manage. Whereas, you know, once emotions are cut off, once we've stuffed them, they're out of our conscious, conscious mind, isn't controlling them.

They're just in the body, right? And they might make us anxious. That's where anxiety comes from. Anxiety is the, is an overactive alarm system. And like the amygdala says, Oh, there's an emergency. And it could be about things outside us, like I'm scared of dogs or I'm scared of elevators. Or, often, it's things inside us.

I have a vague sense of dread or unease. And what is that? Those are emotions that we have cut off awareness, that we're carrying around. I say it's in the emotional backpack, but there's no backpack, it's the body. So, when we're carrying around those emotions, we can't control them because they're not conscious.

Whereas, when we raise children to accept their emotions and to talk about their emotions, And to express their emotions safely and they learn that emotions don't have to be stopped. They may still have big emotions. My daughter still has big emotions. She's 23. She doesn't act on them. She doesn't hit anybody and she doesn't even lash out at anybody.

In fact, she's one of the most, um, she, her equilibrium is astonishing to me. Her, her ability, you know, compared to, and this has been true ever since she was maybe 12, that I've noticed through the teen years and the college years, that she's the one who's talking and gets off the cliff. She's the one who can take a.

A role when there's a problem of calming everybody down and helping people work things out. Because even though she was born with big emotions, she was the kind of young, she, when she was a toddler, people said things to me like she's a spicy one and I would say you're a teeny, you know, he was a volatile, right?

Big emotions. But, because she was parented this way, can learn to manage them. So, even very strong willed kids with very big emotions, when they're parented this way, may become more able to manage their emotions. And that means that they're making wiser choices. Because when we make bad choices as adults or as children, it's always out of some unmet needs, frustrated emotions, or unconscious emotions.

that we really can't control because they're not under our conscious control.

[00:49:01] Hunter: Yes. Yes. Amen. And that all, of course, points back to the work of the parent to, to, to maybe reparent ourselves into taking care of our own emotions and things like that. It was interesting. I was thinking about how, as you spoke of dealing with like the toddler, Aggression, the siblings and, and going to the sibling who's hurt and comforting the siblings of hurt and the, who, who is hurt, that has the dual aspect of like you said, you know, you talked about shifting into that nurturing mind and it really also has the, it's also shifting your brain out of threat response, out of that stress response in, in accessing your prefrontal cortex, right?

You're, you're, uh, Later evolved part of your brain. And so it's actually giving you time to do that too, which is so beautifully in the repair and all this. And I love this about moral development is caring about the impact of our actions. My only, um, Everything is a big amen for me. Laura, you say it so beautifully.

So my only worry is like for the parent who says yes, yes, yes to all of this, but has a partner who doesn't agree and wants to yell and use punishment. Do you have any, you know, brief words of advice for that situation?

[00:50:22] Dr Laura Markham: Well, uh, I think. There's nothing brief about it. It would be a whole other

podcast, but I would say start always by regulating yourself and reconnecting and acknowledging what your partner is saying.

So an example would be, I hear you. You're, you're really worried that he hurt his brother. And you, and I completely agree, we need to protect both of our children, all of our children. And I am in total agreement with you, we need to make sure that, and that's our priority. We're parents, we have to protect our children.

I, my, my question is, what's the best way for him to learn? And so then, then, then, you know, obviously it's a larger discussion with your partner, you're not having one discussion, right? It's the kind of thing that you're going to talk about over time. So much of our learning about how to be parents comes out of the way we were parented.

The one question I want to be asking my partner in that instance would be, I wonder what would have happened to you if you had knocked the blocks down? And you might hear, you know, you know, whip within each of my life. You might hear, um, Oh, they always loved

my brother better anyway. Or you might hear, Oh, my parents just let us, you know, You know, get on with it, right? Um, and my brother was the one who knocked the blocks out of me and I always got hurt. You know, people always have their baggage, right? That's their own stop from their own childhood. And whatever your partner says in response would be very useful because if your partner was punished, there are a lot of hurt feelings there.

Most people cover up those shared feelings. Most people say, Oh, well, I needed that. I was a hellion. And it's a way to justify that the people you loved most in the world, you depended on, were your parents. So, you justify. You say, I needed to be. I needed a firm hand or I would have been told to hold


[00:52:33] Dr Laura Markham: Because the research shows that absolutely every child needs guidance. When we ignore our children's behavior, when we make excuses for it, when we let them do whatever they want, when we let them ride, ride, rock, shot, or brother people, including us.

[00:52:47] Dr Laura Markham: That's for sure. And when we crack down with punishment, that doesn't help.

So it's a much longer discussion, but I think starting with your partner with empathy and trying to understand what baggage they're bringing to it. And what they really need. What would have been ideal for your, speaking to your partner


[00:53:11] Dr Laura Markham: What would, what would you like it for your father had done, to have done in that situation?

Maybe the one, and you got the belt, or you got whatever. What would you like your parents to


[00:53:22] Dr Laura Markham: What would have been ideal? Those are great. What words, right, what did you need to hear from your parents that would have helped you want to be a better person? I think those, that's a beginning. I would always bring the research in as well.

[00:53:39] Hunter: Those are incredible questions. I love those. What, what's the best way for him to learn and, and what would have happened to you? Um, Laura, I could, I could pick your brain for this with this incredible wisdom that you have for, for hours, but I want to, of course, be mindful of your time and, um, I just want to wrap up by saying thank you for, thank you for what you're doing.

Thank you for your books, Peaceful Parent, Happy Siblings is amazing. All of your books are amazing and, um, and the work you've done in the world is, is so helpful for, for so many. Where can people find out more about you and connect with you? My website is

[00:54:19] Dr Laura Markham: aha guarantee.com. Aha. Like aha moments. And, you know, my books are in every bookstore and on Amazon.

If they aren't in a bookstore or in a library that you'd like to go to, just request them. Libraries usually tell me they have a long waiting list for the books. And, um, you know, you can, I have an online course that takes these ideas deeper. And it's sort of like a boot camp for 12 weeks. You know, I say a boot camp, you're doing it at your own pace in a way, but totally you can take as long as you want to complete it because you have lifetime access, but it helps you take these ideas because, you know, they're not things we usually hear and it's not how most of us were raised.

So most of us need a little extra support to be able to put these ideas into effect in our families.

[00:55:09] Hunter: Thank you so much, Laura. I, I really appreciate your time. Thank you so much for coming on the podcast today.

Thank you so much for listening. Dr. Laura, well, her audio wasn't great. Her, she is so wise and just so kind and so compassionate. I love that. Uh, vital information on how to get your partner on board with your parenting style. Thank you. Thank you so much for listening. I'm wishing you a peaceful week, and I hope to connect soon, uh, in that live training.

And yeah, wishing you all, all the joy, all the attention, you know, for the joy, right? Sometimes the joy happens and we, these things happen and we're just distracted, right? So let's. Be there for it. Let's pay attention for it. All right. Take care of my friend. 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 for it. You can benefit from 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 had


[00:57:05] Hunter: You can continue in your old habits that aren't working or 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 will be joining the 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


[00:58:22] Hunter: Go to mindfulparentingcourses. com 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.


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