How can I remain calm with my kids and their chaos? || Coaching Call with LizAug 20, 2023
Listen to a live coaching call that delves deep into the challenges and triumphs of modern motherhood as Monica and Liz explore the emotional rollercoaster that is parenthood. They tackle the common struggle of emotional regulation and how to stay calm amidst the chaos of raising toddlers. Liz opens up about the fear of failing as a parent and the desire to instill values like personal responsibility and respect in her children.
Throughout the conversation, you will gain valuable insights into the real, unfiltered experiences of motherhood and gain practical strategies for embracing the highs and lows with grace, humor, and unwavering love. Learn how to apply this in your real life with my challenge to create a small moment where your parenting reflects your values.
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Monica: Liz, welcome to a coaching call with me. Thanks for being here.
Liz: Thank you. I'm so happy to be here.
Monica: I always love to start with a little introduction. So how about you say hello to our listeners and tell them a little bit about you.
Liz: Yes, my name is Liz. I live outside of Atlanta, Georgia. I'm a mother of two toddler boys and I'm expecting a third baby girl any minute now. Hopefully.
Monica: Any minute!
Liz: And my background is in education. I was an elementary school teacher and now I am a stay at home mom who is trying to use her pedagogy to raise her children well.
Monica: And that chuckle is only from a fellow teacher who then went into having kids and be like, boy, is this different than being a teacher? Because those kids, they knew I wasn't their mom. And it's just different. It's just different. What brings you here today? Tell us a little bit about what problem you're facing.
Liz: My biggest problem is just emotional regulation, I, it is so easy because it's mothering is 24/7. You don't get to break. You didn't go outside and breathe and have a moment and get back on. You're on all the time. And so for me, my biggest problem is just trying to not take out any stress or frustration or trying to remain calm and peaceful and loving to my kids as much as possible. I snap, sometimes I yell, sometimes I respond in a way that I don't want to. I get triggered by my two year old dumping stuff on the floor again for the hundredth time. I'm just like, I just picked that up and I just wanna be done and move on.
So it's just how do I make sure that I am in a good place, that I'm not taking out any frustration or any negative, that honestly doesn't always have to do with my kids out on my children because they're there with me in the morning. They're there with me in the afternoon. They're there, they are.
And to just be the kind of peaceful mom that I actually wanna be.
Monica: Got it. I'm already getting some great seeds of things I know we're gonna touch on to start with. Maybe we can think of, you alluded to a situation where this comes up for you, but paint the picture of a scenario that might come up a little bit more often where this is happening. This is playing out for you.
Liz: Yes. So right now I have a four year old and I have a 21 month old who I basically say is a two year old because. He's acting like a two year old and that's where he's, and with the two year old, it's they walk into the room and things are gonna get on the floor, probably gonna have stuff drawn on.
The other day I had Sharpies out for 30 seconds and he got into it and drew on himself. And you're like, how? Like within, I turned around to talk to the four year old and the two year old had the markers and it's just like the frus, the frustration of constantly picking up, making sure things aren't constantly destroyed.
And I'm a little bit of a neat freak. And then with the four year old, it's that kind of defy, he's starting to get a little bit defiant. No, I don't take care of my toys, well. I'm like, you need to take care of your stuff. I don't wanna take, pick up all your things, or, no, I don't wanna do that. Or no, I don't wash my hands, or, no, I don't wear socks.
So a constant just defiant of we'll not listen to you and. It's just the constant of not listening, plus the constant of baby tornado is what I like to call him. And it's just like that kind of scenario where you just feel like you just want calmness and cleanliness and just like things to go a little smoothly.
And so it's bumping. And then I I feel myself boiling a little bit. I feel the boiling coming up.
Monica: Okay. And when the boiling comes up what does that look like? What does it feel like?
Liz: Sometimes on a good day, I like breathe it down, but most of the time it's like it boils and I just go, rah. Like I actually yell out, rah. And I'm like, and then I see my kids do that when they're frustrated. I'm like, wait, that's not how I want them to deal with frustration.
So I'll yell and I'm be like, you know what? I need space. You go to your room da. I'm just like I try to remove myself or remove my kids and be like, or start punishing harsher than I
Monica: want to.
Monica: So it sounds like you get triggered.
Liz: Yeah, a little bit.
Monica: And if we'll zoom out and we look at this circumstantially, this, let's give yourself a little bit of grace there. You're constantly being input sensory wise. You're constantly being, lots of sounds and sights and smells and getting touched constantly. It's a pretty frenetic environment with just little children that are essentially animals at this point of their lives, and that's a lot. Okay, so there's a lot coming in, but your regulation is a great, that's the perfect word for this, and it's actually the right term for it too, is that's what's not happening. You get triggered into dysregulation and you react more than respond in ways that are not in alignment with who you are and who you want to be as a mom.
Have I painted that picture right ?
Liz: Yes. It's like. Yeah, it's almost, it's interesting 'cause I don't know if just like learning growing up or whatever, but it's almost like I almost get like rage blinders that just oh, just I'm so frustrated to fix this situation. It's like in my brain and it blinds that like, The grace part of me that is looking at and seeing my children and saying, you're two, you're gonna be a tornado, you are four you're trying to assert your childhood. You're trying to be a person, and so the part that knows that this is developmentally appropriate behavior, like that part, that frontal cortex that I want to access more. That the mental response of I don't like how things are going
Monica: Yeah. Because you're triggered into reacting with the brainstem, which is the fight or flight, freeze bond part of your brain. That's what gets in. That's what kicks into gear here. And let me just say, I know this well. I have some special needs kids and one of them, like it was a dysregulation diagnosis for him and the number one way for me to help him learn how to be regulated, which took years. I think there's a lot more hope for you in that regard, but it was me staying regulated myself. So I know this from personal experience, but I also know professionally in one way. The one way I don't is parenting.
So even though I've lived this out, I got professional help with how to actually help the, with my kids, that technique. So I know you know this, I'm just gonna say it for those who are listening in is we both know I'm not here to help you with the parenting technique side of it. We're gonna leave that to other experts.
But what we are gonna talk about, and that I do have that professional experience in, is helping you know better who you are and who you want to be as a mom. And how to act in more alignment with that person and what to do when you don't. 'cause that seems to be another part of the puzzle here, right?
Because it will happen. You will get dysregulated, but it will happen less often over time if we're working on the first half of this. Does that sound good for you to work on that? The first half I
Liz: Someone a note this like rage finding also has come up over the pregnancy because my hormones are, yeah. So it's been escalated more and I then it feels bad because it's oh, like when you have your own personal, like physical and emotional stuff that just comes up in your life, and it could be anything from Sometimes stress in my marriage.
Sometimes it's been external family stuff, like grief we've gone through or
Monica: It layers on top of it all.
Liz: all these layers and you're just, I think it's, for me, trying to acknowledge the stuff that is, that has affected me and really actually honor that without being mad at myself that I snap.
Monica: You've actually done the first step of what's really vital here is zooming out and just taking stock objectively about what's going on here. You just modeled that perfectly. The reason you do that is not to give yourself a pass, but to give yourself more information so when you can understand how and why you're getting triggered and look for those triggers to come and better prevent like some other things that are controllable for you. even I, as I'm saying this, I'm like, how much you sleep might not even be controllable right now thanks to pregnancy, but maybe it's other ways of supporting yourself so that you can be more emotionally regulated.
So we have that knowledge now. Now we're gonna zoom in and we're gonna go more deep inside about your identity as a mom and how that ties into just like your larger identity. Who do you want to be as a mom? If you were to have your children, this may sound morbid, morbid but if your children were to describe you at your funeral one day, hopefully like 80 years to come, right?
What kind of characteristics do you hope they will say you embodied?
Liz: I think two big things. First I think it's interesting 'cause I think a lot of times we think about like our own mothers, right? And we think about the people both good and bad. And the first thing I want is my kids were like, she was here, she was present, she was somebody who like I knew was gonna be there for me.
When I needed. And so like that kind of strength and that stability of this is my comfort safe place to go to is big. And my mom was good with that, but also just like present for me this is gonna sound interesting. I want my kids, I think of it how I like want them to be like, I want them to be confident and capable in the world and I want to be that person who.
Invokes that confidence and that belief in them to God into this world, unafraid and able to face good and bad. I don't believe in like sheltering my kids from pain because they're going to pain in this life. I want them to be able to face whatever comes, knowing that they're going to be okay, and that they have love and that they are loved.
Liz: I I don't know. It's hard to be like, I'm not really invoking like a characteristic of myself. It's more like I what I want to leave with them, if that makes
Monica: Yep. And just like that regulation piece, the professionals taught me your child will learn best how to regulate. Not by you teaching him, but by you showing him. So you showing him them how to be confident and capable and loving as an adult is the way they're gonna learn that. The biggest way, even more than you sitting down and saying the words to them.
Liz: Oh yeah.
Monica: So let me review. You said, as a mom, you would love to be present, dependable, stable, safe, confident, capable, and loving. Anything else?
Liz: Oh, really big into humor. I just like to laugh at them and play with them really into just. Someone you can laugh with and be real with and feel like they can come to the things. So I think that's yeah.
Monica: So I would put there like available, that's different than being present. That's a more like an emotional availability. Lighthearted fun. What sounds right to you?
Liz: I think Joy better. I feel like lighthearted joyful is probably more,
Monica: Got it.
Liz: Grounded to me. I think lighthearted, I'm like lighthearted fun. Honestly. That's like their dad is the one who like runs around and goofs around with them. Mom is let's keep it going. I'm gonna get you to the next, event or whatever.
I'm the one who's the kids are want to do something and make it happen, but yeah, not like the.
Monica: And that feels out of alignment for you. I can tell. That makes you a little sad that you have to be more of a drill sergeant than like the cheerleader, or the coach. Okay. So I've been getting so clear with you on this. And it might seem like, what's, are we actually gonna talk about the problem?
And Yes, we're, and this is how we do it. First, we're gonna do preemptively. We want to seek for ways for you to embody these characteristics as often as possible. And the key here is it's not in grandiose big moments. I'm not gonna leave you with a system, to do or like a, an elaborate routine to do with your children each day and embody these characteristics or an activity you always need to do or even an event, anything like that.
What we want you to do is find moments where you can step in to this person, any part of that person. We need to take this moment by moment. Otherwise, you're gonna be running back into that cycle and you'll still find yourself in the cycle. So let's like just be clear about that, right? That is gonna happen.
You will just get dysregulated less often over time. But if you're trying to be on this a game, like every single moment of every day, and then big ways, that's gonna be exhausting and dysregulating. So instead, we are looking at moments where you can use eye contact with your kid while you're teaching them about how to not throw a toy at you or just or saying, do you wanna hug first and then we can talk about this, a moment.
So that's what it needs to look like. What's that bringing up for you? I can see you're thinking that through.
Liz: It's interesting what I've been trying to do lately, 'cause I've been obviously thinking about this, is if I see something that's frustrating, how to like kind of start using humor to be like, being like, oh baby tornado. Versus being like, oh, that child again, driving me crazy.
And to be. And then weird way being like, okay, the kid is driving you crazy. Yes, it's going to the floor. And then, okay, like how can I connect and value with that child? So I'll go up to him and be like, Hey, help mommy put these little vegetables back in the basket again that you just dump on the floor so that no one can walk in the kitchen without hurting themselves.
Like just redirecting and focus. It's just like taking that time to think this is bothering me, and then how can I like let my child into the behavior that we can heal together, if that makes sense.
Monica: Yeah, that's exactly right.
Liz: Yeah. And I think it's just like extending grace to myself and to my kids at the same time.
Liz: And that's been an interesting shift.
Monica: I think that is, that's what Parenthood does for all of us. It's it forces us to have more of that grace, both for ourselves and for our children. 'cause we're all figuring it out together. And as part of that, like when you're looking for these moments and you're stepping into someone who's being present, even if you're ticked off, I'm present.
I'm ticked off, but I'm here. I'm available and I'm safe, but I'm still gonna move through this with that presence here. Or I am confident I know that I can help this kid. It's gonna take time. It's gonna be hard. They're not gonna listen because that's their defiance stage of learning how to use their voice and be independent.
But I'm confident that as I continue to be present and as I continue to be consistent in handling this in a way that I feel proud of, he will get it over time. That's a big part of it too, is overtime. So we're gonna look for moments. Okay?
Monica: On top of that, now let's talk about what to do when you're in the moment and it's not going well.
Like when you feel dysregulated, you're not showing up in any of these characteristics and. Can you tell me a bit more about that first? Like why is it so triggering for you? Let's talk about the power struggle one in particular. Okay. Why is it so triggering for you when your four-year-old disrespects what you've asked him to do?
Liz: Yeah. Again, like I know like it's developmentally appropriate for where he is. I think it's because there's identity and feeling like you're failing, like your child is not obedient and good to you and listens to you, and the fear is like, does my child respect me? Am I putting enough authority?
'cause I truly believe as parents, we're not made to be our kids' friends. We should have some, they should see us and thi and see us as authority that gives them security in the world. That they know that, especially at his age, that there's somebody who is in charge and taking care of him. And so there's that fear that does my child listen and respect me enough and am I a authority figure in his eyes? Because I guess also like life history wise, I'm a pretty friendly person who people get comfortable with very easily, which is a gift. But I also, with my kid I want him to see me as this is somebody who I admire and look up to and that I want to listen to because I trust them to take care of me.
So it's almost am I not.
Disciplining in the way that gives him the confidence that this is somebody I should listen to.
Monica: What makes you afraid of that not being the case? What To you, and I'm not saying that this isn't bad, by the way, I'm not judging this fear at all. Let's dig into it a little bit deeper here. So when you have that thought, my child doesn't respect me, why does that scare you?
Liz: Lemme think about this. What does it scare me? I guess? Twofold there. It must be like also a sense of then I won't have control to be able to manage my child's behavior or control over my household So there's a little bit of that which is unhealthy. And then there's also that fear that you have to learn to listen to people who you trust take care of you, and that he won't be do well in life if he doesn't learn how to respect his parents or his teachers, or like people who are there to help guide him and love him.
And he will just think that he can do whatever he wants with no consequences. It just it just bodes for long-term failure in my mind. If you don't have a strong sense of am going to honor authority, and I guess this also comes from my faith background 'cause we're, we are Catholic and we are very much in like the, you are going to honor your father and mother.
So that kind of like making sure I'm instilling that in him is important to my faith and I guess identity as well.
Monica: Yes. You know it always it, you probably heard me say this on the podcast, it always goes deeper. Even these parenting issues. I'm gonna ask one word probing question with this. When you have that thought like, my child doesn't respect me and you're afraid, that means you can't control what's going on in your household or how you're raising him, and also he won't do well in life.
What does that mean about you? What do you make those things mean about you?
Liz: it makes me feel like I failed as a parent.
Liz: A parent,
So here's another reason we are yet seeing why this is so triggering for you. Yes, it is environmentally triggering to have so much going on and on so little energy that especially happens when you're near the end of a pregnancy. But it goes deeper too. So when your child's going into a power struggle, it's not just about the power struggle for you.
It's not just about putting things away, it's about your fear of failing him.
Monica: When he doesn't listen to you, it's not that you're thinking, my child doesn't respect me, you're thinking I am a failure.
Liz: Which is a lot of weight to put on a situation that shouldn't have that much weight on it.
One of the mistakes we make in parenting, because we are so rightfully eager to be good parents and to do right by these children, and the process of doing that, we mistakenly put the burden of proof on the children. Like we, we ask them to act as evidence that you're doing a good enough job. And that means not only are you setting this child up for a pretty loaded life, you're also setting you both up to fail. They will make mistakes, right? They're always they're not gonna be perfect children. They might live life a lot different or just a little bit different than you thought. Even just the way they clean up their room one day when they're teenagers. And if we're constantly layering that on it's hard on both sides.
they'll never tell you're good enough as a mom.
So let's go back to the value that you wanted to be confident.
We want that confidence and that capacity to show up as a mom to be separate from their behavior.
Monica: Does that seem like somersaults in your brain to do,
Liz: No, because it's don't take their behavior and their development personally. They're growing as who they are, but it's not. Yeah, and I get that. 'cause it's just something that I watched. My own mother wrap up her identity and her daughters and their success and failures and it was not healthy for us.
It's like they need to have toddler they set from that.
Monica: A burden.
Liz: yeah. It's like they need to know that who they are in this world and what they do and what they don't do is not gonna hit my happiness or my joy or anything. And I think, yeah, I think it's, I. Trying to take a step back and be like, this is not a personal attack on me.
This is a, he is trying to do what he wants to do because he's a child and he's developing, and he wants to not have to put his toys away because why would he wanna put away.
Monica: He's gonna play with them in three hours or tomorrow. That's what I get from my little five-year-old, but I'm gonna play with them. I'm like, when? So we're in the same boat over here, just so you know. So it's not like we're saying, okay, Liz, now that you can be a confident, capable, loving, present, available, joyful mom, no matter what, just let it all go.
Like it's all okay. Just let it all go. Like they don't need to clean up. You don't need to worry about them being adults that listen to authority or obey the laws. Yes, still all worry about that, but do it with an identity that is your own. on helping these children become adults as an adult yourself.
Someone who is grounded in knowing that these are the values I wish to embody and this is how I can show up to this situation with those values along for the ride.
Liz: Kind of like the reason I want my kids clean up after themselves is so that they understand like personal responsibility. I want them to understand that you take responsible for what you own and you take care of it and you're a steward of what you own,
Liz: As well as yeah. So it's about personal responsibility for me.
Monica: So this is value driven parenting. This is value driven living where we live based off of these deeper parts of who we want to be, and it does help us show up differently. So here's what I want you to do from here. From here, I want you to start by trying to find those moments where you can embody any of those values slash characteristics that we shared in the beginning of the call.
When you have even a moment, and I'm talking moment, like 10 seconds or less, not even a full 60 seconds here. When you have a moment of showing up as that person, I want you to affirm it in yourself. This is just brain science and that can be as simple as, I'm so loving, or I was so present there. Or it can be like, Good job, Liz.
You can even say that to yourself, give yourself a pat on the back, something like that. It helps your brain wire that as something that feels good and they want to do more of it. Your brain is the they there. But in addition to that, when you have a moment where you are dysregulated, I want you to take that deep breath that you said you were working on, but I want you to ground yourself.
A mantra of sorts that helps remind you who you are, regardless of if that child deals back at you or as an obedient little child and you get your pride, inflated. 'cause they're just so obedient, they're just so good. And then you get another child who's not, it just becomes ah, a rollercoaster if you're banking your identity off of the kid's behavior.
Anyway, other side tangent. Take a deep breath and remind yourself this is who I am. What could that look like for you? What? What could you say to yourself that would be pretty grounding?
Liz: One thing I say, especially when I have a bad moment, is I am not, this does not define a relationship like this. The bad moments or the angry moments don't define who I am. And then also, I don't know, it just I. Something funny and no, I actually am a really good mom who loves her kids.
And just saying that, and it's funny 'cause it's I dunno why it's so hard, and I've talked to a lot of moms about us just saying I'm a good mom. Like why is it, because then it feels oh, like you're like, you're not saying you're better than every other mom or whatever. You're just, you are a good mom, your kids.
And I think a lot of times we don't just acknowledge that and say that and own that. It's so much easier to be like, I'm a good mom 'cause I'm a growing mom and I'm here.
Monica: Yeah. Yes. I was thinking that could be an excellent mantra just to ground yourself like I'm a good mom because your fear is failing. It's not just about them putting their toys away or respecting you. It's about, I don't wanna fail as a mom.
I love this little person. I want to do right by them desperately. And sometimes that makes me act in ways that aren't the way I wanna act with them, but it's instead embodying. I am a good mom. I'm a good mom. I made a mistake there. I'm gonna repair. I'm gonna recorrect and we're gonna move forward as in the loving way again.
'cause that's one other piece to this Liz, last piece. Take that breath. Give yourself that mantra. I'm a good mom. And then I want you to try to step into one of those characteristics as soon as possible, even if it's in just the repair and the recorrect work of being like, I'm sorry, I yelled at you. I messed that up.
Can I have a hug? Or is it okay if we read a book together today? Or can we do something that makes us feel connected or add a joke in there? Then affirm it in yourself.
Liz: we reconnect? You're okay? Yeah. Yeah. Can we
Liz: Yeah. When mommy gets angry, does she say sorry? Yeah.
Monica: There you go. See, you are good mom. You're showing them. You're showing them every day how to do that. Okay, so Liz, we've got three things. We're three ways we're hitting this problem. One is preemptively, moment to moment, embodying those characteristics. Second is in the moment, taking a deep breath and reminding yourself in this grounding truth that you are a good mom. The third way is to seek another moment as soon as possible. Okay, so you're going. The third is to go back to number one. Basically find a moment where you can step into that as soon as possible. That true identity in yourself. What do you wanna take away from this conversation?
Liz: I wanna take away the. The small moments. I think a lot of times you just wanna be, you wanna be per you wanna be so perfect. You wanna have big things and consistency and Oh, I wish I was more consistent, but to be okay with just Hey, let me just take this moment. Okay. This is a frustrating moment.
We're not cleaning up again. Yeah. Yeah. And then it's okay, how can I make this attempt to try to get my kids to be responsible and pick up their toys in a way that keeps me. Calm and keeps them involved. And even if they yell and cry and they're like, no, and refuse that, I'm still able to take it with humor and take it with grace and still love them through the growth.
Monica: You got it. That's beautiful. I can even see, just they're darling and you're doing such a great job. Look at him cuddling. You a kid who you know that's a kid who loves their mom and knows they have a good one right there. Liz, from here, we're gonna try those three things. And I also just want to say, This won't get fixed overnight, and that's okay.
Be willing to believe and practice the process here, that small wins do build over time, and maybe some parenting techniques can help as well, or maybe some other supportive habits for yourself that you need, or asking for more help or family systems.
Those things can totally come along for the ride, but at the heart of it, I think this is the most important part. Because parenting techniques can only take you so far when a mom is just coming from a place of total fear.
Monica: Thank you. Thanks for spending this time with me, and thanks
Liz: Thanks for talking.
Monica: They're so cute.
Liz: Yeah. Sorry. I should have warned you. They get up at four, so should have been at four. They're like,
Monica: They did it. I'm impressed. Thanks again, Liz. I appreciate you.
Liz: No, thank you. It's good to I don't know, be honest and open and be like, you know what? This is just, I want to grow and I want to, because it's so easy to show the good parts of your motherhood and kind of hide the parts that are just like ugly.
Monica: I hear you.
That's what Instagram is for. This is real life and I'm here for the real life side,
Liz: yeah. Thank you.
Monica: So let's go back to your value of competence. I know there's a dump truck outside my window. I don't know why they always come when I record. I'm like, any day. You just come when I'm recording. Okay,