Have you ever stopped to think why you cross paths with the people you meet every day? I believe there are no accidents and everyone you meet is meant to be in your life, be it a fleeting moment or a life time.
Less than a year ago, I was at a writing retreat and met five amazing women. We came from opposite ends of the world, from Australia to Alberta, and a few cities in between. Our ages and experiences are vastly different, but we all have a story to tell. These women are the friends I never knew I needed, but now couldn’t imagine my writing journey without them.
One of those women is Dr. Jody Carrington and she is the first of the group to launch her wonderful book into the world. Dr. Jody is a child psychologist, motivational speaker and mom of three. She wrote “Kids These Days” primarily for educators, those that spend more time with our kids each week than we do, but the wisdom in this book is for parents too.
Dr. Jody believes we are all wired for connection, but our busy lives, increased use of screens and bigger living spaces have led us to be more disconnected with the ones we love and live with every day. We tell our kids to go to their room to cool down (guilty) or text our teenagers to come downstairs for dinner (also guilty). She uses the chapters of this book as a “game plan for (re)connection with those we teach, lead, & love”.
Have you ever wondered why your kids act like angels for their caregivers, but have major meltdowns when they are home with you? The reason, Dr. Jody explains in the book, is because our children look to us to learn how to emotionally regulate their feeling and behaviors. In fact, she goes so far to say emotional regulation is the only thing parents need to teach their kids. She describes it best:
“Emotional regulation means staying in the window of tolerance (during times of distress) versus not losing your friggin’ mind when things get tough or when things get too exciting. And the only way you learn emotional regulation? You guessed it: through relationship.”
She goes on to give a great example:
“Think about what happens when you hear a baby you love, start to cry. Your likely response is to pick the baby up to try to soothe her or him…..Not surprisingly, we rarely give up after we have tried a thing or two to get them to calm down. For example, we wouldn’t say to our four-month-old baby, after we tried every trick we know to soothe them and they’re still crying, “Hey baby, you’re making a bad choice,” or “Show me when you’re ready and then I’ll talk to you again.” But we do this all the time when they get older; we stop helping them regulate their emotions.”
I have been guilty of doing this, especially when your kids have moments where they show they can regulate their emotions. When they backslide and lose it, you’re caught off guard. In those moments, I totally overlooked what was happening right in front of me, my child was overwhelmed with the emotions they were feeling and didn’t know how to react. I had to lead by example, not by punishment. Dr. Jody continues:
“The important part, however, is the more times we assist our kids in regulating emotion when we are with them (to show them how to do it), the less they will require assistance to self-regulate when they’re not with us. The more you can regulate them in your presence, the less they will require somebody to do that for them in your absence.”
She also has a section in the book where she describes some of the most challenging kids. One group she refers to as Caillou™ kids, those kids where there is always something wrong and they ask their teachers a million questions a day. These kiddos can sometimes be labeled as “attention seeking”, but Dr. Jody suggests instead thinking of them as “connection seeking”. Another group, she describes as Flat Stanley™ kids. While working in a local hospital, one of her Flat Stanley™ patients asked her if she knew “Mad was just sad’s bodyguard”. How many times have we seen our own kids get angry for what we think is no reason and never realize there may be a sad moment triggering it all?
It always comes back to (re)connection. We must make the time in our schedules to enjoy each other’s company and just spend time together. It’s often in those moments when your kids start to open up and reveal what is going on inside their heads.
“Kids These Days” is just a small slice of the powerhouse that is Dr. Jody Carrington. Follow her on Facebook and Instagram where she shares so much of her wisdom every day and broadcasts live Sunday nights. If you are a teacher, school administrator, office staff or counsellor, “Kids These Days” was written for you and I hope you’ll check it out.
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Photo by Daria Obymaha from Pexels
I started writing this blog because I wanted to have deeper conversations beyond "How are you?", "Busy", with other parents. Over the years I've shared personal stories, articles, authors and topics to facilitate conversations with parents about the joys and the challenges of parenting.