How to Talk When Kids Won’t Listen, with Parent Educator and Author Julie King

gender nonconformity kids
 

Are you challenged by kids who won’t listen? This week I’m bringing back to the podcast a guest who is well known in the parenting world, Julie King, who has been educating and supporting parents and professionals for more than 25 years, often alongside her dear childhood friend Joanna Faber, daughter of Adele Faber of the popular How to Talk parenting book series. Together, Julie and Joanna have been leading parenting workshops and writing books, their newest of which is called How to Talk When Kids Won’t Listen: Whining, Fighting, Meltdowns, Defiance, and Other Challenges of Childhood. I had the opportunity to read an advance copy, and I loved how accessible, tangible, and real it is.

Julie and Joanna have a lot of ideas about how to handle difficult situations, including kids who can’t, don’t, or won’t listen, in a way that’s respectful of the child and is actually effective. Today Julie shares some of them with us, including ways to respond to big behavior as an alternative to punishment, how to be empathetic without being indulgent, and situations when saying less is actually more. I also crowdsourced some questions from the Tilt community for Julie, and she tackles those as well.  Oh, and while Julie and Joanna’s book is meant for a wide audience, it’s definitely not just for parents of neurotypical kids — something I love about this conversation is that Julie brings the perspective of having raised two differently-wired kids alongside one neurotypical child herself. 

Get ready to take notes because there are so many good nuggets in this conversation!

 

About Julie King

Julie King has been educating and supporting parents and professionals since 1995. In addition to her work with individual parents and couples, she leads workshops and gives parent education presentations to schools, nonprofits and for-profit companies, and parent groups of all kinds. Julie received her AB from Princeton University and a JD from Yale Law School. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area and is the mother of three.

 

Things you’ll learn from this episode

  • How growing up as children of the authors of one of the most popular parenting books influenced Julie and her co-author Joana Faber How the book How to Talk When Kids Won’t Listen came to be
  • Why we need to reexamine our traditional ideas about punishment as a parenting strategy
  • How to practice empathy without indulging undesirable behavior
  • Strategies for acknowledging a child’s feelings in a ways that are actually effective
  • How to respond to a young child who is hitting you or do something dangerous
  • Effective ways to get a child’s attention 
  • Why sometimes less is more when it comes to talking to children

 

Resources mentioned for parenting when kids won’t listen

 

Episode Transcript

Julie King:

Because it’s one thing to understand the theory and the concepts. It’s another thing to figure out what do I do in the moment?

Debbie Reber:

Welcome to Tilt Parenting a podcast featuring interviews and conversations aimed at inspiring, informing and supporting parents raising differently wired kids. I’m your host Debbie Reber. Today I’m bringing back to the podcast a guest who is well known in the parenting world, Julie King, who has been educating and supporting parents and professionals for more than 25 years, often alongside her dear childhood friend Joanna Faber, daughter of Adele Faber of the popular How to Talk parenting book series. Together, Julie and Joanna have been leading parenting workshops and writing books. their newest book is called How to Talk When Kids Won’t Listen whining, fighting meltdowns, defiance and other challenges of childhood. I had the opportunity to read an advanced copy and I loved how accessible tangible and real it is. Julie and Joanna have a lot of ideas about how to handle difficult situations in a way that’s respectful of the child and is actually effective. Today, Julie shares some of these with us including ways to respond to big behavior as an alternative to punishment. How to be empathetic without being indulgent, and situations when saying less is actually more. I also crowdsource some questions from the Tilt community for Julie and she tackles those in this conversation too. Oh, and while Julie and Joanna’s book is meant for a wide audience, it’s definitely not just for parents of neurotypical kids. Something I love about this conversation is that Julie brings the perspective of having raised two differently wired kids alongside one neurotypical child herself. Get ready to take notes because there are so many great nuggets in this conversation. Before I get to that, if you are new to tiller parenting, and found this podcast while searching for resources to support you on your journey of parenting a neurodivergent child, I have a few other resources I want to be sure you know about in my book differently wired a parent’s guide to raising an atypical child with confidence and hope. I share my best practices and practical strategies for supporting not just our kids, but ourselves through this journey. And if you’re looking to make some quick positive shifts in your day to day life, you can sign up for my free differently wired a seven day challenge. Every day for one week, you’ll get a short daily video highlighting one actionable thing you can do right away to impact the way you think, feel and act in relation to your child. You also get a downloadable mini workbook and access to a private Facebook group. And again, it’s totally free. Just go to tiltparenting.com/7day to sign up. That’s tiltparenting.com/7day. Thanks so much. And now here is my conversation with Julie. Hey, Julie, welcome back to the podcast. Thank you so much. I’m excited to to bring you back to talk about your new book. But before we start talking about that, Could you just tell us a bit about your story and the work that you do in the world?

Julie King:

Sure. So this might be familiar to people who are familiar with my first book, I wrote this new book with my good friend Joanna Faber, she and I have been friends since we were babies. Literally, we lived around the block from each other. And our mothers became very good friends. We went to nursery school together and our mothers studied the work of high and cannot who was a child psychologist, and then they would experiment on Joanna and me and our siblings. So we were really guinea pigs for this approach. And over the years, her mother ended up writing a series of best selling books on parenting, the most famous of which is how to talk so kids will listen and listen. So kids will talk. And they wrote a bunch of others. Also, I recommend them all too. your listeners. When I was a teenager actually got to copyedit their book called siblings without rivalry. I think I found a cop out of place in that book. So I like to say that I contributed to that book too. But then after we after high school, we went our separate ways. I actually went to law school and practice law very briefly before I started having my children with my husband. And what I noticed was that you know, even though I had spent a lot of time with kids and I babysat and I had read all these books, the actual putting into practice when you are responsible for a child 24 seven was really quite challenging. So when Asher my firstborn was in preschool, the parent education committee was looking for a Some sort of more than one time event to do with the parents. And I volunteered to lead a workshop based on the original How to Talk book. And that first group was scheduled to me for eight weeks and halfway through, they said, Well, we can’t learn this eight weeks, we need another eight weeks. So we added another eight weeks, and then another eight weeks, and we ended up meeting for four and a half years, which was a tremendous support to me, as well as the other parents in the group. And other people heard about what I was doing and asked me to come and lead groups for them. So that’s really how I got into doing this, I didn’t actually intend to be a parent educator specializing in communication skills with kids, I thought I was gonna be a lawyer. But it became very meaningful. And when I ended up having my three kids, two of whom had their own special, differently wired issues. That really worked for me to be, you know, to be doing this kind of work. So it was I did end up leading workshops for parents of neurotypical kids and differently wired kids. And sometimes I did a few groups that were specifically for differently wired kids, but most of my workshops are really just for any parents, because the communication tools that I’m teaching, I believe, really apply to all kids. Yeah.

Debbie Reber:

And so and I just have to say, I love that you have on your website, that photo of you. And Joanna, when you were little, it’s just awesome to have that.

Julie King:

I have to tell you that when we were working on the first book, and I had this idea, it would be so cool if we could find a picture of just the two of us. And I live in California, and my parents at the time, were still living in New York. And so I called them up and I said, you have to go through all your photos and see if you can find something. And they went through everything, they couldn’t find anything. That was just the two of us. There weren’t any really great pictures that included the two of us. And so we sort of gave up on that idea. But just before the book was going to go, you know, to its final version, I happen to visit my parents and I was upstairs, where they used to my dad used to do photography, and he would do, what’s the call when you put a whole bunch of the photos on one page just to see what they’re going to look like. And I found this photo of Joanna and me, I was like, oh my god. It’s so exciting. Yeah, so then her parents found one. So we have a couple, not a whole lot was it’s not like today when people are taking tons of photos. And there’s, you know, photos of everybody?

Debbie Reber:

Yeah, it’s very, it’s very different. And the quality of those photos from from yesterday are not so great. Well, so you join the podcast, I think it was probably about two years ago, we did an episode on sibling challenges. And listeners, I’ll leave a link to that in the show notes. You should definitely go back and check that out. And we talked about the book that you wrote with Joanna, How to Talk So Little Kids Will Listen. And so you have a new book that is coming out probably just a few weeks after this episode airs. It’s called How to Talk When Kids Won’t Listen: Whining, Fighting, Defiance, Meltdowns and Other Challenges of Childhood. So of course, when I heard about that book, I was like, okay, that is right up our alley here. And I was eager to learn more about it. And I luckily got a chance to check it out. So could you just tell us about that book specifically, and your why for writing it?

Julie King:

After we wrote our first book, we got a lot of messages from our readers, emails and people on Facebook and people loved the book. And of course, then they had more questions. You know, they would say, we want to know what are you? What do you do specifically, when a kid is whining, or we’re getting divorced, we need to know how to talk to my kid or the kids are fighting we need they needed more help with fighting. We got a lot of questions about screen time, how to deal with anxiety, even just like toothbrushing like so many different questions. And so, you know, we started collecting stories. And we started, we wrote a few articles that we thought, well, maybe we should turn this into a second book. So that’s really the motivation for the second book was there was just so many more questions that people had, because it’s one thing to understand the theory and the concepts. It’s another thing to figure out, what do I do in the moment? You know, oftentimes, if we don’t have practice with some, some specific issue in the moment, you know, we can’t think of what to say. So we have just so many chapters in this book on but I think of is like the hot topics that parents are wanting to know about.

Debbie Reber:

Yeah, absolutely. It’s very thorough, and it is full of examples and anecdotes and questions. So it feels very relatable. And I’m actually wondering if you could tell us a little bit about how you tackle that book, you know, where you and Joanna are always on the same page about how you would answer something, you know, did you find that certain questions? Kind of challenged you a little more to apply the approach in providing a solution?

Julie King:

Well, I’m very lucky that my writing partner and I, we have a fundamentally we have the same orientation. So sometimes Yes, we would argue about one word over another exactly how to say something. We do argue, you. But we were able to listen to each other look, you know, we, we have to practice what we preach, right? We try to hear what the other person’s point of view and some of these chapters we really struggled with, you know, the screen time chapter, we actually ended up breaking it up into two chapters, one for younger kids, one for older kids, because as we were writing it, we kept saying, well, this is true for younger kids, but I’m not sure I would say this with the kids were older, I think would handle it differently. And we were sort of arguing about which to put, until we realized, wait, we don’t have to choose one or the other, let’s just address the two at different ages, because it really is different, depending on how old your kids are. But the other thing that was a challenge was we’re not experts on screen time, per se, our expertise is on communication and building relationships. And so we’re using all of these issues as a way to show parents how they can help they can continue to do that, even as they’re struggling with I think this past year screen time has just been such a huge issue for people because of the pandemic and shelter in place. And every every kid who even parents who said to us we never let them use a screen ever, and now school is on a screen like what do we do? Know? So it became a real challenge for people. So we knew we had to address it. But those chapters took us took us a while to write, let’s just say I had to really work it out.

Debbie Reber:

Yeah, I bet I bet. One of the chapters that I was drawn to is the problem with punishment. And this is something that comes up a lot in conversation within the Tilt community, a lot of parents feel, you know that without punishment of some sort, or maybe punishments disguised as consequences, that they don’t really have any power when it comes to addressing really difficult behavior that they want to curb quickly. So I’m wondering if you could talk a little bit more about what tools do parents have, and when they’re not using punishments or consequences?

Julie King:

Yeah, I think it’s it’s important to acknowledge that it’s hard to figure out sometimes what to do when our kids are, you know, doing something that we really want them to know, that’s not okay. And we go into some detail in the book about some of the problems with punishment, because I think that, for most of us, actually, that’s what we think we’re supposed to do. I actually was leading a workshop at one point, and I had a dad, and I was talking to them about the problems with punishment. And there’s a lot of them that, you know, when a kid misbehaves, you know, say, a kid’s running in the grocery store, and you tell them, you know, cut it out, you’re bothering the other people you’re knocking over the cereal display, or whatever it is, you know, the temptation is to try to control them, and to say, you know, you do that one more time, and you’re not getting any of this ice cream tonight. But the problem is one of the you know, one of the many problems is that when we punish a kid and say, Okay, that’s it, no more ice cream, we don’t ever ask ourselves, what’s going on for this kid? Why is he misbehaving? Is there some other way to meet this kid’s needs without, you know, without just trying to come down hard on him and take something away from that he’ll feel bad about, if you’re looking at the social science, that studies say that kids who are punished, they tend to be the kids who misbehave again and again. And part of why that is, is that kids who are misbehaving, often that’s the best they can do. They don’t know what else to do. And ideally, what we want to do is teach them how do you manage this, this moment when you feel like running around and you know, and you’re in a place where you’re not allowed to run? Or kids who are in conflict with another kid, and they just grabbed the toy and you know, or bash a kid on the head to try to get it. If we just punish him, we never teach him like, what do you do when you want a toy that another kid is playing with punishment will let him know that what he did was wrong, but it doesn’t teach him what he you know what to do. So and, you know, I won’t go into all of it, because we could spend the whole the whole interview talking about the problems with punishment, but you know, there are many problems. But on the other hand, we need to do something. So we talk we have a number of different tools that parents can use. And the one that I like to mention first is to take action without insult because I don’t want people to think that this is a permissive approach that we’re just going to sort of be so understanding of kids that we never hold the limit and you know, say no, that this I cannot allow but the kid who is drawing on the furniture and you’ve said you know the furniture is not for drawing on and or the walls. My kids always when they were little at one point they thought, you know, we put pictures up on the walls. Why can’t they draw on the walls too. And so you know, if you’ve told them the walls aren’t for drawing on and you’ve suggested No, you’re given them some choices. You can draw on paper, or here’s some boxes you could draw And if none of that is working, and they still keep grabbing the markers and running over to the wall, that’s the time to say, you know, I can’t let the walls get drawn on, I’m putting the markers away, I see it’s too tempting right now, to use them on the walls, you know, so we take action to protect ourselves, right? Because we feel like I can’t, you know, I’m gonna lose my mind, if I keep having to clean the walls. For markers, you know, we do it to to protect the furniture or the or the, you know, I think of it as protecting people or protecting property, or as Joanna reminds me to protect relationships, because, you know, sometimes we just feel like screaming at the kids when they keep doing these things. It’s not good for our relationship either. So, so taking action means protecting yourself protecting the furniture of the other kid. And it’s really important that words that we use, when we do that are important, it’s not, you have lost the privilege of drawing, you knew you weren’t supposed to do that, how many times do I have to tell you, because that shames a child that could put them on the defensive makes them feel bad about themselves, what we want to tell them is I can’t let this go on anymore. That’s an easier message to hear. So we’ve talked about using I statements, and we’re not the only ones. But this idea of of talking from what I need, I need to I need to know that markers aren’t going to be ending up on the walls for a little while. Rather than using the word you.

Debbie Reber:

I’m wondering how that approach… you talk about hitting in the book, when a child is hitting, and again, you addressed so many issues that I think parents have differently wired kids, so are so grateful, you know, that kind of talk about these very specific and tricky, really difficult behavior. So how would a parent take action in this way, with a child who might be hitting them?

Julie King:

I can’t, I won’t let myself be hit. That’s what I would say, you know, I don’t like I don’t like that, or I don’t want to I won’t be hit. And I might step away, it depends on the age of the child, you know, I’m imagine this is still a fairly small child. So I might move away, or I might even have to hold the child’s arms. As I say, I won’t let you hit me. I don’t like to be hit with anything like that. And then of course, if I have, if I’m present enough to be able to do it, I would say, You are mad, you wanted me to give you ice cream for breakfast, or, you know, why is this kid hitting me I want to put into words what this kid is trying to say, because a lot of kids when they get frustrated, even kids who are verbal, and I know some of your listeners have non verbal kids. So this definitely applies. But even the kids who who do have a lot of language, when they get frustrated, let’s make that more generally, when we get frustrated, we lose some of our skills. And kids who are verbal, might not be able to figure out what to say when they get mad or when they get frustrated. So even as I’m saying, I can’t, you know, I won’t let you hit me I won’t, I don’t like being hurt that, you know, our that hurts me, I’d say you wanted whatever it was ice cream you want you want it to, you don’t want to leave for school now or whatever it is, if we can put it into words, that really helps a child in so many ways. It helps them calm down, it helps them understand that somebody gets it, it helps them learn what you can say and what you can do when you have these feelings. And what are these feelings Sometimes kids get really flooded with, with strong emotions.

Debbie Reber:

Yeah. And and again, differently wired kids more so probably and, and it can take a lot more repetition of these strategies, right? It’s not kind of a once and done and then we’ll solve that problem.

Julie King:

Yes, yes. Sometimes my parents will say to me, Well, he knows how to do it. He did it just did it this morning. You know, and the truth is, yeah, he did it this morning when he was fresh. And this afternoon when he’s not so fresh, he can’t do it anymore. Or, you know, there’s so development is not linear. You know, I think of it as like, you can do two steps forward one step back kind of image, that kids will learn how to do something, but they can’t do it all the time. And think about it. It’s true for us to, you know, sometimes parents will say to me, Well, I know I shouldn’t yell at my kids. But sometimes I just lose it and like, yes, that happens to all of us. And it happens to our kids, and the fact that you know what happens to you, you’ll have more empathy for your kids, and it will happen with them too.

Debbie Reber:

Mm hmm. Yeah, great point. So you have a chapter in there called Enough Already, where you talk about the challenges of empathizing or sympathizing with the child when it seems you know, as if their demands or their complaints are unreasonable. And this is another thing that I hear a lot from parents that they are concerned they’re indulging their child by listening to their complaints go on and on and on. So what strategies do you have for parents who, who want to acknowledge but don’t want to indulge?

Julie King:

Yeah, we wrote that chapter because, like you, we got a lot of questions like that from our readers too. And the big point we want to make is that we can acknowledge all feelings, even when they seem unjustified. Even when they seem, you know, irrational or just completely unreasonable. So we have a whole bunch of stories in that chapter about kids who, you know, wanted very expensive shoes, or they wanted a stick just like their sister. And, you know, the parents in the stories. They, you know, they they would say to us, I don’t want to divulge my daughter in thinking that she can get these ridiculously expensive shoes. That’s not my values, or my little kid who thinks that his sister stick is straighter than his like, I couldn’t I have to put them under a microscope to see the difference. You know, how can I acknowledge that feeling? But the feelings are real, and we aren’t, we aren’t judging them. We aren’t evaluating. We’re not saying you’re right, you should have those those shoes, or we’re not saying you’re right, that stick is better. But that’s how the child feels about it. And when we say, Oh, those sneakers look really cool to you, you let you’d like to have one like you’re like your friend has you like the you know, the zigzag on the bottom, or you want to stick like your sisters, that helps them know that we get it. We don’t have to give it to them. You know, we can say to that child who wants the shoes, here’s the problem. You know, we here’s our budget for, for for shoes, and those shoes cost, you know, 10 times the budget for an older child Do you want to see put them in charge? Do you want to see if you can find something on the internet that that appeals to you that that fits with our budget, you know, but you can’t start there. I think what happens a lot when parents are learning about this new approach to you know, solving problems and trying to meet everybody’s needs is we are so keen on trying to find a solution to whatever conflict we’re dealing with. We want we want the conflict to go away, which is very understandable, right? But if we skip that first step of acknowledging what the child wants, the how the child feels about it, then the child is not really interested in solving it because they feel like you don’t get it. Like I don’t want to look for some cheaper sneakers. I want the ones that are like my friends. If we acknowledge first Oh, yeah, those do look cool. Yeah, I see how much you want them. I wish, I wish they you know, they were on sale now. And then we could go and buy a couple of dozen, you know, when we start by acknowledging what they want, then they become more open to hearing, you know, what, how we see it and what the problem is, and what what we can do to try to meet everybody’s needs as best as we can.

Debbie Reber:

So as you’re sharing that story, I’m just gonna be honest and say that I’ve I flashed back to when I really wanted a pair of Jordache jeans. And my parents were like, there’s no way we’re spending $40 on a pair of designer jeans, you know, there was no empathy happening there. So I could see how I would have been a little less resentful.

Julie King:

Because what you want to do is to argue with them and say no, this, you know, these are these are really cool. I want these No, I don’t want those other ones. Right. If they don’t acknowledge what you want first, then anything they proposed, you’ll think well, that’s just not good enough. That’s not they don’t understand. Yeah, yeah.

Debbie Reber:

So I have one more quick question. And then let’s move on to a couple of listener questions for sure. Which I’m so appreciative that you offered to take some listener questions. And but I just want to touch upon the troubleshooting chapter, which was fantastic. And the very first question you answered in that was about how a parent empathizes with their child, you know, by saying, I can see this is frustrating for you, or you must be so scared. But that for that child, acknowledging their feelings actually doesn’t work. And it may actually escalate things and you know, the child will that’s not how I feel, or that’s not what’s going on. This is another thing I hear from a lot of parents. So I’m wondering, you know, what can parents do when when this acknowledgement the empathizing actually feels like it’s pouring gas on a fire?

Julie King:

Oh, yes. So, you know, this acknowledging feeling thing? That’s tricky. Right. When, you know, we, sometimes parents will say, Well, I understand how you feel when a kid is really upset about something they like. And then he says, Oh, I understand how you feel. And the kid just escalates it because they feel like no, you don’t what you just said, first of all, you’re talking about your, your understanding, rather than how I actually feel and your tone isn’t matching what I’m saying. But the the chapter that you’re referring to, we’re honing in on one of the other issues that sometimes comes up, which is that parents use that word you I mentioned before that, it can be tricky. We actually have a little chart in our book to do a little translation for parents who have a hard time dropping the word you. Yeah, I’m just gonna share some of them with you because I think it’s helpful to hear the difference. So a parent might say to a child, you know, who hears thunder and gets really scared. Oh, you look really scared. What can be more helpful if we take out that word you and talk about what’s making that child scared? Oh, Under can be scary. It’s so loud. Oh, can you hear the difference? Or I can see how frustrating that is for you. I’ll be now it’s making it sound like well, normal people don’t get frustrated, but something’s wrong with you, you get so frustrated, right? So what could you say instead? Oh, long division can be frustrating. There’s so many steps to remember. You know, or I, you know, I hear this from parents, you know, you must be so upset, it’s okay to cry. What’s more helpful would be to but be much more specific. It’s upsetting to be left out of a friend’s party. You know, that’s the thing. That’s a common thing that parents say it’s okay to cry, it’s okay to be sad. I don’t think we need to tell kids in words that it’s okay to feel the way you feel. Because by acknowledging their feelings, we’re giving them that message much more effectively. Right? So so it’s not that we can never use the word you. But if you’re, if you’re using that word, you that’s one of the ways that parents can be doing their best to acknowledge a child’s feelings, but just irritate the child even more.

Debbie Reber:

Yeah, that’s great. That was a really helpful distinction. Thanks for those examples. So again, when we first talked about during this interview, I asked if you’d be willing to field some questions from my audience. And thank you for agreeing to do that. And so we’ve got three questions, I’m going to read the first one. So listeners have the context, this parent wrote, I fully acknowledge that I repeat myself far too often when trying to get my twice exceptional eight year old boys attention. And I’m trying to get better at this. However, even when I get on his level, and touch his arm, he still only responds about 25% of the time, I think he just doesn’t want to disengage from whatever he’s doing in the moment to transition to whatever I’m asking of him. But his lack of response is so frustrating. And it’s hard not to yell. I’ve tried whispering, lowering my voice with some success. But I’m curious to know if Julie has some other suggestions that might help with transitions or even just getting his attention.

Julie King:

Yeah. Now, when I hear this question, I back in early days with my son who also did not respond, I can tell relate to this. It’s really frustrating when you just want to get in there and ask a question or get him to, you know, to get ready for the next thing. And they just ignore you. It’s it’s really hard not to take it personally. Right? You know, I remember, you know, trying to get my son’s attention and like, he doesn’t even look up. I think, you know, that that feels like he’s just ignoring me. And I was talking to a friend, she said, Well, have you had his hearing checked, and like, I know yours. So you know, what really helps me. And what helped me with my son was one of the things we talked about, you know, in both of our books is to put myself in his shoes, which is a little tricky, because he experiences the word world very differently from the way I do. But I know that my son has a hard time shifting his attention, you know, that’s the the positive spin on it is that he’s really good at focusing in on something and thinking deeply. But what that means is he kind of tunes out the rest of the world. And he’s really focused on whatever issue or problem or thing that he’s working on. And I can relate to that. Because there have been times when I’m highly focused on something or maybe I’m, you know, maybe I’m working on an email, and I’m trying to get just the right wording. And this just happened the other day, my husband comes in, he tries to interrupt me, I’m like, No, I have to finish this thought, or I’m gonna lose my train of thought, I’m gonna forget what I was gonna say. And I don’t want to be interrupted. So when I think about it that way, when I think that’s what’s going on for my son, it gives me a little bit more patience for him a little bit more empathy for him. And so what I found that was helpful, because, of course, that doesn’t mean that I don’t need to get his attention and try to do something. So what I would say is, hey, Rashi, then I would pause. So now I’ve just given him a little cue that I’m going to speak. And then I would pause. So he’s heard his name, because oftentimes, when you hear your name, you know, that can break through the, the fog. And then I then the next thing I’ll say is, when you’re ready, I have a question. And then what I needed to do, because I was like this, this the person who asked this question, like, I was not feeling especially patient, I really wanted to ask him a question, right? But But I knew that it could take 10, 20 seconds before he looks up. So I would count to myself 1, 2, 3, 4 rig t. You don’t go on and it fee s like forever when you’re doing this, right. But when you look at the big picture, 10 or 20 seconds, really, I mean, it’s i ‘s way long for a normal conversation, but it’s really in th grand scheme of things. If I say my He needs 20 seconds to look p like I can do that. These days, I probably would carry on y cell phone and read an article or something. But then he’ l look up, you know, because n w he’s curious to know, like, hat is this question? So I would, I would not ask him u til he looked up. So he was rea y. And then I would set you k ow, do you want a turkey or a peanut butter jelly for lunch or whatever it is that I ant to ask them, or give them some information. So, yo know, standing there c n feel excruciating for a parent until you remember what it’s what’s going on for him. And think that’s a respectful way. That’s being respectful of his process. And it’s also engaging his curiosity about, you know, what I’m going to say. So, t some point, he’s going to want to ask like, what, what is it? What’s your question? Right?

Debbie Reber:

Yeah, I like that. That language of when you’re ready. And as you’re answering that question, I was remembering that I used to have, you know, this idea of cocktail words, a word that you would could say, at a cocktail party, or if you heard it at a cocktail party, it would filter out from all the noise. And I used to try that with with my son. And I think I would say like Lego Star Wars, and all of a sudden would, huh. But But I really like this when you’re ready, I too, tried, you know, I sit down, I put my hand on the leg, you know, just try to and really just wait for them to finish. For him to finish what he’s doing in that moment. It’s hard.

Julie King:

And you have to know your kid. Because like my child, if I touch him gently, he’ll be so disrupted. I mean, it will be so disturbing to him. He’ll be startled. But it’s a very noxious feeling a light touch for him. So So if I’m going to touch him, I know it has to be a firm touch. Like, don’t be tentative, you know, not like harsh, but it has to be firm. And I would start with words with my kid. Because, because he’s so sensitive to that experience of being touched when he’s not expecting it. You know, but if you have a kid for whom that is comforting or feels good, then you know, by all means, you know that? In that sense, you have to know your kid and what’s effective for your kid?

Debbie Reber:

Yeah, definitely. Thank you at next question is, what should I say? Or do when I catch my six year old on the verge of doing something possibly dangerous, like holding a knife or climbing up on the shelves? This parent says my son always reacts with screams and refusal to stop I’m presumably when she tries to, you know, get them to stop doing that behavior right away.

Julie King:

So I empathize with her, you know, you see, you see a kid doing something, what do we want to say? We really it was like, stop that, you know, put it down? No, no, no, right? We want to scream at them and like, but that can really, you know, scare a kid. And for kids who feel like, I’m fine, you know, I’m not gonna put it down. I’m busy. I’m doing something, right. So she doesn’t, she says a six year old, it’s a so you know, one of the things I might try is to be playful. So I might try talking to the knife, knife knife, you need to go into your drawer don’t you don’t you don’t belong in Joey’s hand, that’s not safe, that sort of thing. Now, I have to say that I know that some kids, like a lot of kids, I don’t know a lot. But some kids on the spectrum do not like this, this sort of playful approach where you’re pretending to talk to a knife. They’re like knives, don’t have ears eat or talk to them. That’s ridiculous. Like, they get resentful. I feel like, you know, that’s, that’s stupid. So if you have a kid like that, now, maybe try this next tool, which is to give them information. Ooh, the knife is sharp. The knife belongs in the drawer. But also, let’s ask our kids, why is that child holding a knife? What is it he wants to do with it, and maybe we can tell him what he can do. Instead of what he can’t, you know, instead of saying, you know, put it down on the knife, you can say, Oh, you want it to you know, you want to cut that cheese here, you can use this butter knife or this plastic knife. Joanna told me this story is somewhat related. Like she, she has dogs. If you if you read her books, you know that she’s a dog lover, and her dogs get ticks. And she would be picking ticks out of her dog with a tweezer. And her then two year old saw her doing this and wanted to do it also, and he grabbed the tweezer like to run after the talk. And you can just imagine what that dog would feel like with your old running after him with sharp tweezers. So she had to figure out like what to do, you know, to satisfy his urge to practice what she was doing, without, you know, threatening the safety of the dog. She pulled out a stuffed animal and she made little paper ticks which she taped to the stuffed animal. And she gave her kid the tweezers and said here you can you know you can take off the ticks from your stuffed animal. And you know, he was happy to do that. And it was great activity and the dog was saved from from torture. I tell that story. Just as an example of when your kid wants to do something. We have to ask ourselves, you know what is why is he doing it? What does he want and is there some other way Let me make one more comment about the knife thing. Of course, we talked about modifying the environment. So we, you know, adjusting your expectations, rather than expecting a six year old to resist using the, the sharp knives that are sitting in the knife block. Maybe we put those those knives away out of reach so that they’re not tempting. So there’s always that. And the kid who, let’s say he’s, he’s climbing on the shelves, instead of just, you know, get down off the shelves right now, you know, you’re not supposed to climbing up there, like that kind of thing, which of course, what we want to say, right? You know, we can we can give him information. Oh, the shelves aren’t strong enough for climbing. We can acknowledge what he wants, oh, you’re in a climb mood? Let’s see if we can offer him a choice. You know, do you want to climb on a or be like, what I don’t know what you have around, we have a very old coffee table that I used to lean up against the couch. And, you know, let the kids climb on that. Or maybe put the child in charge? You know, what can we find that is strong enough to climb on? You know, you helped me find something let’s look around. Or let’s ask ourselves, why is he climbing? Is he wanting to reach the bread? No, let’s let’s find the stool? Or do you want to use a chair? Or maybe we should get this kid a grabber so that he doesn’t feel like he has to climb? So how do we resolve it? You know, you and I talked about this before? You know, parents ask about behavior and how do I change my child’s behavior? And I’m always asking myself, okay, why is this child behaving the way they do? Why are they doing what they’re doing? And a kid climbing on a shelf might be a kid who just needs to climb or it might be a kid who’s trying to reach something and how we meet that child’s needs and how we resolve that conflict between him wanting to climb and us wanting him not to will depend on why he’s climbing.

Debbie Reber:

So good. So many creative, great answers and lots o strategies for this listener. Thank you so much. Okay, do you have time for one more question? Okay, let me read this one. I read so much about neuroscience and positive parenting, it seems like the expert I read are saying that when a child is quote, unquote, behaving badly, his or her brain is offline. And my main role become Regulation and Safety. And I should not react or heavily weigh anything specific. The child unloads in those moments, this often requires me to do lots of breathing and centering. So I show up with calm and love. What scripts might help in moments like this, when I need to be quiet myself to breathe and get centered? Should I narrate what I’m doing? Or should I just do it?

Julie King:

Okay, so I have two thoughts about this. You know, if you have a child who is very dysregulated, the last thing they need is more talking, right? No more, no more stimulation, it just will add to their distress, it will overstimulate them. So if that’s what’s going on, and she’s, you know, trying to keep herself centered and breathing, then yes, I think she should talk to herself, they say to herself, do her own breathing, but saying it out loud. I mean, of course, you need to know your own kid. But I think as a general rule, a dysregulated kid doesn’t want to hear you talking more about what you’re doing for yourself. But I want to throw out another thought to her. She doesn’t, she doesn’t give us any examples about what this badly behaving child is doing. But I think it’s not always about a kid whose brain is offline. Sometimes kids, kids don’t behave, because they just don’t like being told what to do. Or they just don’t want to do what you want them to do. And it might not be that their brain is offline, it might be that they just want to assert their autonomy. And this is true for differently wired kids, this is true for neurotypical kids. This is true for adults, let’s be honest, right? It’s true for people, people don’t like to be told what to do. So the other thing that she might think about is, can she change how she talks to him? When she’s trying to get him to do something that might affect, you know, how he feels about doing it? So instead of No, no, no, stop, put that down, hurry up, let’s go, we have to get you know, we have to get out of here. If we talk to them differently, they might behave in a way, you know, that’s more consistent with what we want. So if you’re trying to leave the library, you know, instead of just announcing, okay, we have to leave the library. Come on, we have to go now Come on, you know, there, we can give them a choice, we can be a little playful about it. Okay, well, it’s time to leave. There are two ways to walk to the door. Do you want to walk forwards or backwards? Which do you choose? You know, one of many examples. So, again, you know, you need to know what’s going on for your child. But it’s not always about, you know, I can’t engage his brain. And I just have to sit here till he’s ready to go.

Debbie Reber:

No, that’s super helpful. Well, thank you that it’s so wonderful to have access to you and that you took the time to answer those questions and the book is really fantastic. So I highly recommend if this is resonating with you guys out there listening, definitely check it out. It is, as I said earlier full of examples, which I think that’s what I always wanted, right as a parent was just what does this actually look like? What do I do in this moment? And that’s really what the book is. So congratulations on the book. And Julie, can you let listeners know how they can engage with you and learn more about the work that you do?

Julie King:

Sure, they can go to my website, which is julieking.org. And I have information here about the workshops that I o, and talks that I give, and f they want to contact me, I ave a contact sheet there. And e also have a Facebook page here I post about upcoming vents, which is at faberandking, if they search for the title of our first book, How to Ta k So Little Kids Will Listen, they will find it. And I’m building up Instagram, it’s howtotalk.forparents. And we also have a new website for you know, Joanna and my joint work, which is ow-to-talk.com but with dashes between the words, and you ca see pictures of us there a d find out what we’re up to. Aw some. Yeah. And I do want to also, can I just mention that we have a lot of stories in this new book, How to Talk When Kids Won’t Listen, that involve kid who are differently wired, we don’t always call it out, because we think that they are the kinds of things that kids of all types do and parents of all types would you know benefit from learning about. So we’ve sprinkled them throughout the book.

Debbie Reber:

Oh, yeah, it’s great. I mean, I think that that is something I really appreciated about it is it is a more of a mainstream parenting book. But we feel very represented as parents of differently wired kids in this book. So that’s great. And listeners, I will have links to all of those resources, and including Julie’s new Instagram account, we’ll be watching that. We’ll have that on the show notes pages, so you guys can check that out. So Julie, thank you so much. I really appreciate I know you’ve got a super crazy month going on right now. So I appreciate you taking the time to chat with us today.

Julie King:

Oh, it was a pleasure. Thank you for having me.

 

THANKS SO MUCH FOR LISTENING!

Do you have an idea for an upcoming episode? Please share your idea in my Suggestion Box. 

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This