Dayna Abraham on Helping Parents Calm the Chaos

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Today I’m welcoming back Dayna Abraham to the show to discuss her latest book, Calm the Chaos: A Fail-Proof Road Map for Parenting Even the Most Challenging Kids. I really resonate with Dayna’s work because we both are committed to empowering families, especially those who are deep in survival mode, and in her new book, she shares her signature “calm the chaos” framework, which is designed to give parents a doable plan for navigating challenging situations and finding genuine calm in the midst of the storm. In our conversation today, Dayna gives us the highlights of this framework and gives us some strategies to start employing right away.


About Dayna Abraham

Dayna Abraham, bestselling author of The Superkids Activity Guide to Conquering Every Day and Sensory Processing 101, is on a mission to create a more accepting world, one challenging kid at a time. As a National Board Certified educator, parent of three neurodivergent children, and an ADHD adult herself, Dayna brings a unique and out-of-the-box perspective to parents raising kids in the modern world.

Through her compassionate framework, Calm the Chaos, she has helped millions of desperate parents around the world, find peace and meet their children where they’re at when conventional parenting tools have failed them.


Things you’ll learn from this episode

  • What the five stages of Dayna’s Calm the Chaos framework are and how they work together
  • Why every stage of the framework includes these four elements: You, Connect, Understand, and Empower
  • What emotional anchors are and how they can help parents regulate themselves
  • Why getting back to emotional safety and nervous system regulation is so important and what it looks like in action
  • Ideas for finding calm in the midst of challenging situations


Resources mentioned for Helping Parents Calm the Chaos

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Episode Transcript

Debbie Reber  00:00

Tilt Parenting is proud to partner with Fusion Academy this season. Fusion Academy is the world’s most personalized school with one to one classrooms that match your student’s pace and preferences so they can learn better, dive deeper, and never get left behind. Learn more about the most personalized school in the world and how it’s changed the lives of 10s of 1000s of differently wired students, including mine at 

Dayna Abraham  00:26

When you think of the most challenging moment, that’s what I call storms. And so this is about getting everyone to safety and you becoming the safe place. And I think so often, as parents, we beat ourselves up, because we end up adding fuel to the chaos we end up yelling or losing our own cool. And a lot of times it’s because we don’t have the strategies for writing it out. And so that plan really is about So if we go back to those four elements, you connect, understand empower the UPS is all about telling your brain You’re safe. You’re okay, you’re gonna get through this. You’ve done it before you can do it again.

Debbie Reber  01:12

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 welcoming back Dayna Abraham to the show to discuss her latest book, Calm the Chaos: A Failproof Roadmap for Parenting Even the Most Challenging Kids. I really resonate with Dayna’s work because we’re both committed to empowering families, especially those who are in deep survival mode. And in our new book, she shares her signature calm the chaos framework, which is designed to give parents a doable plan for navigating challenging situations, and finding genuine calm in the midst of the storm. In our conversation today, Dayna gives us the highlights of this framework and share some strategies that we can start employing right away. I’m betting that most of you listening are familiar with Dayna already, but just in case, here’s a little bit about her. Dayna Abraham is the best selling author of the Super Kids Activity Guide to conquering every day, and she is on a mission to create a more accepting world one challenging kid at a time. As a national board certified educator, a parent of three neurodivergent children and an ADHD adult herself. Dayna brings a unique and out of the box perspective to parents raising kids in the modern world. Through calm the cast, she has helped millions of desperate parents around the world find peace and meet their children where they’re at when conventional parenting tools have failed them. Before I get to my conversation with Dana, if what I’m doing here at tilt parenting and the guests I bring on the show are providing support and encouragement and hope for your family. And you’re ready to dive deeper with me and uplevel your progress. I invite you to join us in the differently wired club. The club is my most favorite thing I do at tilt as it’s really just an incredible community of parents raising complex kids like ours. We get together regularly for virtual office hours, coaching calls and live calls with expert guests and authors. And we also dive deep into a different theme every month like noticing and observing scaffolding, advocacy, co regulation, you can learn all about the club at tilt So if you’re feeling alone or overwhelmed in your parenting life, please join us we are in this together. Go to tilt to learn more. Thanks so much. And now here is my conversation with Dayna Abraham.

Debbie Reber  03:48

Hey, Dayna, welcome back to the podcast. 

Dayna Abraham  03:50

Thanks for having me. I’m so excited. 

Debbie Reber  03:52

Yes, it’s been a couple of years. And I’m pretty positive that my listeners know who you are. And I’ve read your formal bio, but how are you introducing yourself these days? What would you want my listeners to know about you before we dive in? 

Dayna Abraham  04:06

Yeah, so I’m the founder of Calm the Chaos Parenting, and I help parents create a family that works together, advocate for each other and empower each other, despite whatever challenges they’re facing at the time. 

Debbie Reber  04:21

First of all, you have a brand new book out. So congratulations. I know this has been years in the making. And I also know what it means to give birth to a book. So your book is called Calm the Chaos: A Failproof Roadmap for Parenting Even the Most Challenging Kids. I’m curious about your personal evolution a little bit when we first met, sensory processing was like your sweet spot. I’d love to know more about how kind of your personal work and mission has expanded to be broader within the neurodivergence space. 

Dayna Abraham  04:48

Yeah, so it started out I mean, I kind of fell into this by accident. But when I really looked back, I think I was born into this. I was raised with a brother who’s bipolar.So he was extremely explosive. So I had to navigate all sorts of storms throughout my childhood. And then as a teacher, my favorite kids were all the kids that had like a paper trail behind them and all the teachers knew about. And you know, the kids came with their head hanging low, they knew that they were the ones that were talked about in the teacher’s lounge as well. And they were just my absolute favorite kids. So when I had my son, I thought, I’ve got this parenting gig figured out. And we talked a lot about that, you know, last time, we talked, how when I had my son, he just pushed everything away that I knew about parenting and education and children and their development. And I had to relearn everything. And so I spent seven years feeling like an absolute failure, started the blog 10 years ago, really just talking about how I didn’t know what I was doing. And I was looking for one other person who was going through what I was going through. And I found you early on Asher, I think is one year older than my oldest and so very similar stories. And, you know, what I’ve found much like you found is there’s not one other person dealing with this. There’s millions of other families and parents trying to understand their kids for who they are, and not trying to change them. And my first kind of foray into understanding my son differently was understanding sensory needs and understanding what a role that plays not just in how he interprets the world, but how our whole family interprets the world, and how we can create an environment for him to thrive in understanding his sensory preferences. But it expands so much further than that, once I started realizing it wasn’t just about sensory and understanding under the surface, there really was more to it these like four key elements that I spell out in the book, but then I know we’re gonna get to, but once I started kind of sharing that with other parents, about five years ago, I started sharing this framework with people. And I was actually really shocked when it worked with people that weren’t my friends, that weren’t my own family. And for a while, I was like, you know, I don’t know if this is going to work with all families, because every family is so unique, every child is so unique. And what I’ve found is it’s worked with 1000s and 1000s of families around the world and with all different backgrounds and challenges and situations, because it’s a framework that really leans on your expertise of your own child. And it takes into account your hard won knowledge or hard won experience as a parent, doesn’t discount that, and then couples it with all of the amazing science and research and findings that we found in the last, you know, even we’re still learning to this day, but it just couples it with best practices, so that you have a guide to follow when things are really rough or when things baffle you or confuse you. 

Debbie Reber  08:05

Yeah. And I’m curious to know, in terms of your own family, were you kind of experimenting, were they the first case studies of how this worked? And what did that look like? 

Dayna Abraham  08:14

Yes, 100%. I mean, so this is a framework that has been built with iteration over iteration, it didn’t magically appear one day, and it’s not a magic button that fixes everything, it started working in little bits and pieces. So we found that there’s four key elements that every parent needs when cultivating a relationship with their child. And it’s like you imagine three concentric circles. I know we’re on a podcast, but you know, a Venn diagram, and there’s three circles, they meet in the middle, you is in the center, and that’s you, as the parent, the one person who sees your child for who they are, and who is grounded and a safe presents for them. Then there’s connection. And this isn’t just like one on one time or play time. But it really is that true acceptance and affirmation of this child that you have in front of you, not the child you thought you’d have or that you’d hoped you’d have. Or this child that fits a mold that you wanted, but it really is like, I accept and value and see this child for who they are. And then understanding is really getting really deep under the surface and understanding what makes each person tick. So what are their their sensory preferences, but also what are their likes and their dislikes, and, and their triggers and the things that light them up and excite them and the things that motivate them so that you really can cultivate and create an environment that matches their unique needs. And then finally, is empowerment. And this is collaborative problem solving, creating solutions together, working together as a team, and empowering not just your child but also yourself so that everyone’s voice is heard. 

Debbie Reber  10:03

So  we have you connect, understand and empower, I love to understand, I talk about this idea of fluency. And I do think it’s so critical, because our kids are all so unique. And it requires that we really pay a lot of attention to, to get to know them on such a deep level that we can almost anticipate their needs that we can recognize, even if there’s no verbal cue, or otherwise, what’s happening with their nervous system. So I love that. 

Dayna Abraham  10:29

Yeah. And I found that anyone who’s raising a differently wired child, challenging kid, whatever you’re naming it, they’re deep in the understand, right? That is the area that they really lean heavily into, because they’re trying to understand not just where things are coming from. But whatever all the experts are telling them, there’s this lagging skill, there’s this deficit, there’s this problem. And for me, understanding isn’t about deficits and problems and holes to fix. But it is, like you said, of like having this true understanding of who you’re working with? And who, who you have in front of you. 

Debbie Reber  11:08

Yeah, it really all has to start there. So you’ve just broken down the four elements you can act to understand and empower and I love that visual of the Venn diagram that really helps me wrap my brain around this. And then all of those elements play a role in every stage of your roadmap. So could you talk a little bit about the development of that roadmap, and why you structured it in the way that you did? 

Dayna Abraham  11:35

Yeah, absolutely. So you know, you’ve been talking about the evolution of my family and how this came about. And when we first brought my son home from school, he was in a really bad place. He was saying things like, I hate myself, I wish I was dead. Why do I have to be like this, we were dealing with three to five hour meltdowns a day, my husband and I were on the brink of divorce. I mean, we were in the worst of survival mode that you could be in. And so these elements sound great on paper. And what I found is a lot of strategies or systems or programs out there, they start you out at best case scenario, here is how to have a family that works together, here’s how to create resilient kids. And they start you out at the end goal. And when you’re in survival mode, you can access it. And so you need a way to be able to access these four key elements no matter what you’re dealing with in life. And so in survival mode, you need the most basic way of staying calm, the most basic connection, the most basic way to understand what’s going on. And a basic way to empower yourself. And the beginning stages really are mostly about yourself, the parent or the adult, because you haven’t built trust and safety and relationship with your child yet to jump into getting them on board and to collaborating with them and creating solutions with them. Yeah, you have to first start at the most basic pieces. I know that’s one of the things that really has always struck me about your work and why I think we’re so in alignment in terms of, we both really prioritize the parent experience. We’re both working with families who are, who are feeling really stuck and who are in that survival mode. That’s why I love that the first stage that you talk about is getting to safety. It is so basic, but it’s so critical. And I’m wondering if you could share a little bit about that stage. And I don’t know if you have a good example from a family that you’ve worked with, what does this actually look like in action? Yeah, absolutely. So the first stage is that ride the storm or surviving the storm. And I liken it to I grew up in Tornado Alley, I live in Tornado Alley. Again, we actually just had a tornado rip through Little Fock where I live just recently. And when the tornado siren goes off every Wednesday as practice, everyone checks to make sure Oh, that must be Wednesday at noon. And they make sure that they have everything in place in their safe place. And they make sure that everybody knows what they’re supposed to do when a tornado siren goes off when it’s not noon on a Wednesday. And so when this came through town, just a month ago, the sirens went off, and everyone knew what their ride the storm plan was, is that you don’t go outside, you don’t batten things down. You don’t try to run outrun it, you don’t try to fix anything. You’re really just getting everyone to safety. And here in Arkansas, that’s usually the bathroom or the hole, but it’s getting off of the top floor away from windows. And in our house we have this teeny tiny basement. So we crawled into the basement and just waited it out. And that’s really what you’re doing is you’re waiting it out. And the same is true when we’re dealing with really extreme challenges. And that can be a really extreme Fight With Your Spouse, it could be a really big meltdown or tantrum or an outburst from your kids, it could be a big fight between the siblings really whatever it is, when you think of the most challenging moment, that’s what I call storms. And so this is about getting everyone to safety and you becoming the safe place. And I think so often, as parents, we beat ourselves up, because we end up adding fuel to the chaos, we end up yelling or losing our own cool. And a lot of times, it’s because we don’t have the strategies for writing it out. And so that’s what this plan really is about. So if we go back to those four elements, you connect, understand, empower, the UPS is all about telling your brain you’re safe, you’re okay, you’re gonna get through this, you’ve done it before, you can do it again. And so the way we do that is by doing something called Stop, Breathe, anchor, which is just stopping in your place. And I’m not talking about for 510 minutes and doing a meditation practice, just literally just stopping in your place, taking a big deep breath, and then anchoring with something that you’ve practiced ahead of time. And an anchor is something like a memory, or an affirmation or a visualization. So the memory anchor is really powerful, because if ahead of time, you have envisioned something that always brings you calm and joy and a reminder that your loving family and you are going to get through this, and this is just a moment, then it reminds your brain, hey, you’re safe, you’re good, you can get through this. And it means that you’re going to be less reactive to all of the danger that is around you – the kicking the hitting the screaming. So that’s the first step is just stop, breathe, anchor. And a lot of our students just remember their child as a baby. And if you didn’t have a traumatic birth, then you know, this is where people will remember their child, when they were born and holding them the first time or the first time they got their child if they have a foster or adoptive child. If you didn’t have a great birth, then sometimes parents will remember cuddling at night with their child, like those moments where your child is just your child, and you just have that deep sigh of like, I really love you, right? Like, if you remember that moment that will help you go into any situation and wait it out. 

Debbie Reber  17:32

I love that concept of the anchor when I read that I was like, oh, yeah, and to know what that is, you’ve got your go to thing because I think this step in particular, is certainly I hear from so many parents, it’s really hard the knowledge that we need to stop. But how do we do that? You know, how do we create the space for that. So having a visual reminder, I’ll share that I have this for maybe the past year, I printed out a photograph, not of ash as a baby, I do not want to ever think about that birth again. But I have a picture of Asher talking with an astronaut at the European Space Agency we used to go to visit day. And there’s this older retired white haired astronaut leaned down in estrus, just this little kid looking up at these big eyes. And that to me, when I see that picture, it’s really grounding. And it just yeah, it fills me with that sense of I see you I got you. And the essence of who Asher is, I just think that’s a really powerful tool. 

Dayna Abraham  18:30

And another example, my husband uses a radically different anchor. His is actually, to me a traumatic experience. It was when my son was we had to take him to the emergency room because he was having such a fit that it was incredibly dangerous. And we didn’t know what else to do. No one was telling us what we could do in these moments. And so we pull up to the emergency room, I’m in the backseat being his seatbelt because I couldn’t put a seatbelt on him. He has his jaws in my shoulder. He’s biting me on the whole ride to the emergency room, and six grown men come out to get my son into the hospital. And my husband uses that as his anchor. And to me, that baffles me because that was really a hard moment for me to watch my son go through that. But for my husband, he said these were strong male nurses, it took six of them to get our son onto a stretcher and into the hospital. And they were so calm and so collected. It was just their job. They weren’t taking anything My son was saying to them personally. They weren’t mad at my son. They weren’t feeling like they were in danger. They were like, we’re in control. We’ve got this, we’re calm, we’ve got you. And he says that he kind of borrows that. When things get rough. He’s like okay, it took six of them to do this, so I’m just gonna remember Wait a second. He just needs me to be that safe place for him right now.

Debbie Reber  19:59

Wow. That’s so powerful. So there are four other stages of the roadmap, we really dove into getting to safety. So I’d love it if you could kind of touch upon the other four, just so listeners have a sense of what it’s about. And we’re going to do that as soon as we get back from this break.

Debbie Reber  20:14

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Debbie Reber  21:03

Okay, so we’ve gone through going to safety, which again, is where this all has to start. But there are four more stages of your roadmap. So would you mind touching upon each of them? So we have a sense of what it looks like? 

Dayna Abraham  21:15

Yeah, absolutely. And I’m just curious if you want me – we talked really deeply about the ups of the first stage. So can I just really quickly go through you connect and empower, please? 

Debbie Reber  21:27


Dayna Abraham  21:27

Okay. So we’re that first stage, the ups if all you do is stop, breathe, anchor, you are golden. If that’s all you take, from this whole call, you really are going to be able to ride out the storm a whole lot easier than you have in the past. The other three steps connection is all about, you obviously can’t play games in the middle of a big storm. And so it’s really about the signals of connection that you’re sending. And to me, connection is synonymous with safety. So what signals of safety are you sending from your body that aren’t being perceived as danger by your child? So are your eyebrows furrowed? Is your jaw clenched? Like right now as you’re listening to this, like check your jaw? Most of us keep our jaws clenched? Because we’re so stressed. Are your shoulders raised? Are you using a loud voice? And what we call is like, how can you do a body scan in the heat of the moment in the middle of the storm to just shift some of those signals that your body is sending to send more moments of safety than signals of danger. 

Debbie Reber  22:37

I just want to say that I really liked that reminder too, because I used to fake regulate, and our kids are so perceptive. They know if we’re feeling it. So that’s just such a great reminder to check what signals are coming out from my body that my kid is picking up on. 

Dayna Abraham  22:54

And what’s interesting is for my oldest, sometimes we’re in a storm, we’re totally fine. But we don’t understand why our kids are being so reactive. My oldest, when I was sick, my throat would be really groggy, and I would talk like this. And he thought I was angry just because my throat was groggy. And so now if I notice him being really reactive, I do this body scan, and I checked to see what could he possibly be seeing that he’s perceiving anger from me because he is automatically triggered if he thinks the other person is upset. Yeah, that makes total sense. So do you want to touch on the other two? Real fast understand, again, you’re not going to ask 20 questions in the heat of the moment. And so the understand really is just that shift, you do such a great job of this already. And I know a lot of the listeners already do. But it’s just staying curious, like what’s really going on here. And in the book, I talk about two really key kind of shifts you can make that can help you remember in the moment, but it really is like high level, it’s just staying curious and saying, Okay, this is not about me, I’m going to remove emotion, I’m not going to take this personal right now. And then for the Empower piece. There’s not a lot of empowerment in the moment. It’s the empowerment afterwards. And after the storm has passed, you’re just noticing the teeny tiny progress and steps forward that you are making. Because when you’re in survival mode, and these storms are coming fast and furious, and you have no time for rest, it’s gonna feel like there’s no end in sight. And so looking for that tiny progress. Maybe it lasted 30 minutes instead of an hour. Maybe this time, they yelled and screamed, but they didn’t kick or hit. Right. You’re looking for that little bit of hope in the middle of devastation that things are going to be okay and they’re going to get better, but you’re not ignoring the fact that things are still hard. 

Debbie Reber  24:52

Yeah, I love that. I was just meeting with a group of parents last night. We spent quite a lot of time talking about this idea of the bright spots and how critical it is for our sense of hope, our mental emotional well being. And sometimes they can be hard to find. But they’re always there if we look hard enough, so that’s great. Would you kind of walk us without spending as much time but I do want listeners to know what they can expect. And I’ll just reiterate that each of those four elements that you just went through you connect, understand and empower. So each of those four elements lives within each stage. So it guides you through this journey as you’re progressing down the road. 

Dayna Abraham  25:31

Yes, but with each stage, you’re always going to have a plan that’s always you connect, understand and power. So if you’re like, Oh, what am I supposed to do to get ahead of electronic battles? Okay, you connect, understand and power. And at the very base, you’ll at least be able to remember one of the tools you’ve learned, they each build on each other as you go through the stages. 

Debbie Reber  25:54

Did I just hear you promise that you solve all screen time situations with this book?

Dayna Abraham  25:59

Solve? No, no. 

Debbie Reber  26:01

Okay. All right. Just kidding. Wouldn’t that be good? Somebody needs to write that book. Okay. Yes, please go ahead. I’d love to hear. 

Dayna Abraham  26:07

Okay, I love that. So the five stages are the first one is that surviving the storm, getting everyone to safety, the second stage is actually still not involving your child. And it’s really about your own energy reserves. And so it’s building up enough time and energy for yourself, so that you can weather any storm you can get through any electronic battle, you can get through any argument over homework, and still keep your composure and your peace and, and not get into that guilt spiral that we all get into. And so it’s still using that you connect, understand, empower. And what I love about this stage is most people think that you’ve got to create hours in your day. But we’ve created a plan that you can do with five minutes a day, where it’s just one minute of focusing on your mindset, one minute of connecting with another adult in your life, one minute of understand like removing a drain something that just drains your battery or adding in something that boosts your energy, and then one minute to just take care of your body, activate and empower yourself with like daily habits. So really simple stuff that you don’t have to completely redo your whole schedule to do. 

Debbie Reber  27:27

Awesome. Okay, so that’s restoring trust and energy. So tell us about finding calm in the moment, which is like what we all want so badly. It is what everyone wants. 

Debbie Reber  27:39

Yeah. And there’s just confidence that comes with having that plan, because we’re going to have plenty of opportunity to practice. For me, it’s always about how can I avoid getting caught off guard. Obviously, there are some things we can predict is going to happen again and again and again. So just knowing I at least have a strategy when this happens, if I can recall that and say the thing, do the thing. I can just change everything. 

Dayna Abraham  27:39

Yeah, a lot of people try to jump to this stage, if they’re not trying to jump to one of the later stages. But this one is, what do I do and say in the heat of the moment. And while I’m not a fan of cookie cutter scripts, I think having a script of what to say and do in the moment that works for your unique family is golden, especially as someone I have an ADHD brain. And I forget where I left my coffee, right? So I forget all sorts of things. And word retrieval is really hard for me when I’m stressed out because of that executive functioning and all the things that kind of go south when your stress goes up. And so having something in place of what I can say what I can do, and what I can provide my child in the heat of the moment, it just keeps me feeling so much more confident, and allows me to be more compassionate, more understanding more open to helping them instead of resistant and frustrated and coming up with something like why do you do that? What’s wrong with you, which we all do anyway, right? We all slip, say things like that. But this just gives you kind of a leg up and helps you identify what’s going to work for your family. And again, it’s mostly about you, it’s not really about them. So it’s, you know, swapping your thoughts ahead of time, like what are the common thoughts that come up, like my child always does this or my child never listens. And being able to swap that with something more empowering. It’s connecting in the moment by getting closer and lower. And lots of people are gonna say it doesn’t work, but it’s just about like changing your proximity and changing again, that body language, and then understanding we actually have like, a really in depth tool to help you understand what’s under the surface instead of having to guess and you do that before you need it in the moment. And so just knowing Okay, are their basic needs met? Do they feel safe? Do they feel connected? Is there anything I can remove from the environment, sensory wise, and usually those three things can help you in the moment. And then it moves to empowering yourself with what to say one tiny script, what to do, which is that move closer get lower, and one thing to provide in this simplest thing to provide is your calm presence. 

Dayna Abraham  30:29

Yeah, because a lot of times at this stage, parents feel like they’ve literally tried everything. And they feel like nothing’s working. And the scientist in me is like, have you really tried everything? And what combinations of things are you trying? And so this Empower piece of the say, do provide this, we call it the 111. You can actually after the moment, you can look back and say, Okay, I’m gonna try a different phrase next time, but I’m gonna keep my do and my provide exactly the same. And so become a scientist in your own relationships and families, figuring out what works for your dynamic. 

Debbie Reber  31:06

Yeah, that’s great. Okay, so the fourth stage is getting ahead of the moment. So what does that mean? 

Dayna Abraham  31:12

You just talked about it, you said, there are some things we can predict. And, you know, I hear all the time, it just came out of nowhere, my child went from zero to 60, in a matter of seconds. And that was the thing that the experts the educators told me when my son was in school is it just came out of nowhere. There’s some very outdated ideas in behavior management and behavior analysts about where behavior comes from and why it happens, and how to predict it. And so this one really is about just taking a very zoomed out approach, a more holistic approach. And this is where you actually start involving your child more, and being more collaborative with them. And so the UPS really is not just about changing your thoughts or calming yourself down. But it staying focused again, it’s that scientist in me, when we try to solve everything, we solve nothing. And so when instead of like, there’s all these things going wrong, we’re like, let’s just hone in on our biggest chaos cause or the thing that if we could solve this, I think we’d have so much more joy and connection and just enjoyment in our family. And so we’re going to focus in on this one thing, let’s say it’s aggression, or let’s say it’s electronics battles, and then the connection, you’re building connection out of the moment, so that you can build that trust. And you’re doing that with the very traditional connection methods, like one on one time, and game nights, and movie nights, and vacations, all those things. But I think the one that’s more powerful is the in between moments, the way that you talk to your teenager, when they walk in the room, the way that you interact with them when you walk in their room, and you see that they haven’t cleaned the room for the 20th time, it’s those little in between moments to, to stay connected to join in on what they’re interested in just how you react, how you respond, those are going to build trust. And sometimes it’s using those scripts that you use in the moment when things are hard, you’re using them out of the moment, so that your kit doesn’t connect them only with bad situations, right? Something like my notice, right? Like, how many of us say I noticed that you know, or whatever. And then our kids get triggered by hearing I notice, because they think it’s only used when, quote unquote, they’re in trouble. 

Debbie Reber  33:32

I just want to say that when you’re raising a teen, it’s all about the in-between moments, like that’s all there is. So I love that I’m leaning on that hard right now for sure. 

Dayna Abraham  33:42

It’s sending that little text that says like, let me thinking about you or I have to try so hard with my teenager, I opened the door. And I want to be like, I asked you to clean your room. But it’s even that, they can see that right? So changing the way that in just like before you even open the door, right? Not Hey, you have a moment you walk in and go, Hey, I just wanted to walk in and just say, you know, I was thinking about you. I hope you’re having a good day. And then you leave and don’t expect to do anything with. 

Debbie Reber  34:13

Absolutely, absolutely. 

Dayna Abraham  34:14

Yeah, the empowerment piece is something that I’m actually really proud of it like takes family meetings to a whole nother level because most kids hate being called for a family meeting because it’s again, just when they’re in trouble, but we use something called huddles, and we do a lot here we talked about the team approach where it is all about the family team and every creating an ecosystem where everyone can thrive. And so at this stage, you’re starting to have collaborative conversations because you’ve built safety, you’ve built the relationship, you’ve built the understanding. And so now you can start brainstorming together. You can start skill building together, you can start problem solving together, you can start celebrating together and you can even debrief when things don’t go well. You can create plans together so that your kids can use so when your brother takes your toy, what could we do? How could we address it? How are we going to solve that? Okay, how are we going to remember those sorts of things? And then after it happens, doing a debrief huddle of like, okay, what went? Well, great, what could we do differently? Just removing the, it has to be perfect. And it’s just that experimentation and iteration. 

Debbie Reber  35:25

Yeah, I love that. Your last stage is defining a family’s success. So that’s a nice segue. So can you give us an overview of that? 

Dayna Abraham  35:33

So yeah, the last age really is when you’re starting in survival mode, it’s about you getting everyone to safety. And it’s about usually one child, we don’t like to say that. But a lot of times, there’s one child that you can notice is struggling, what happens almost always is when you’ve got like, my oldest was the one really struggling, once we got him to a place where he could advocate for his needs. And he could speak up and he could make plans, and we understood him, the other kids started struggling. And it wasn’t that they never were struggling, it’s just that we couldn’t focus on that. And so at family success plan, that’s where you’re starting to create a family team, you’re creating family values, you’re creating agreements, as a family for how the family will run and what works and doesn’t work for your family, helping them create personal boundaries. And you’re just working together to understand each other, and how each other tick. So just a quick example, my husband is really triggered by loud noises, he’s really sensitive to any auditory input. And so my whole family knows that and they will work around ways of if we’re going out for the day, or if we’re gonna go even to see a movie, my kids, all ages will say, Papa, did you bring your earplugs like they all make sure that we’re creating an environment where everyone can thrive. 

Debbie Reber  37:00

That’s a great story. Thank you for sharing that. Listeners, I hope you’re getting a sense of how sturdy and well thought out this framework is, I feel like you’ve really thought of everything, which is great, because a lot of parents feel like I’ve tried all the things, and they don’t work for me, or I can see how this would be successful. But there’s so many parents who believe that their kid is the outlier, their situation is so extreme that nothing is actually going to be effective for them. So I’m sure you hear that all the time, too. So what would you say to listeners who are feeling hopeful? Like maybe this could work, but there’s that seed of doubt that it’s actually going to work for their specific situation? 

Dayna Abraham  37:41

Well, I think number one is I want everyone here to know that they are exactly the parent that their child needs. And by being here by listening, by seeking out support and help, you’re already on the right track. And the way that this has been laid out, it has been tested, it has been reiterated the way that we built this framework and roadmap for you is that we would build the roadmap in one iteration, we would test it with 1000s of people. And then we’d go back, and we build bridges anywhere where people were getting stuck. And so it really has been tested in 1000s of different situations. But your child, your family is unique. And that’s why you’ll lean on your unique situation and your background as a family and what you already know. And what I think this framework does, and this roadmap allows, is for you to become the expert in your child so that you can teach your child to be the expert in themselves. That’s my goal here. And it’s not about getting all the steps perfect. It’s not about remembering all of the pieces to the whole roadmap. It’s about focusing on just that next step that’s right in front of you. So if you’re at ride the storm, start there. If you’re needing time and energy, start there, and just focus on one step at a time. 

Debbie Reber  39:00

That’s great, great advice. Before we wrap up, I always like asking authors what they hope their book does in the world. And I happen to follow you on social media and I know that you have, I’m sure you have many goals for what you wanted to do in the world. But there’s one specific goal in terms of a book that you’re really wanting calm the chaos to replace. So can you tell us about that? 

Dayna Abraham  39:22

Yes, I have a goal to replace the book 123 magic because it is outdated. It is the number one book that is handed to families when they go to their doctor, when they go to a therapist, and when they go to schools. And the advice not only is it outdated, but it provides so much disconnection for families. And then it places so many seeds of doubt. Because at the end of the book, it says if this doesn’t work for you, your child is either broken or you’re doing it wrong. So you either need to seek out help or you need to change how you parent. And my goal with this book is for parents to know number one that they are not failing. And number two, that their child is not broken. Amen to that. 

Debbie Reber  40:11

Awesome. So listeners, let’s help this book replace 123 Magic. Before we go, I know that you are super active on social media, I know you have a new podcast. So let listeners know the best ways to engage with you and learn more about your work. 

Dayna Abraham  40:27

Yeah, the best place to go right now since the book is just now coming out is called the chaos Because we have some amazing launch bonuses just for your listeners that we have put in place. And then the other place is called the chaos podcast. Because you can follow along that you can also check out and get a free chapter of the book just to check it out first, and then you can listen to our journey and how we’ve been implementing this framework in all sorts of different situations. 

Debbie Reber  40:56

Awesome, awesome. So listeners, as always, go to the show notes page for this episode. And I will share those links as well as other places like Instagram and all the things where you can check out Dayna and her work. So Dayna, congratulations again on your book, birthday and all the hard work that’s gone into this and bringing it out into the world and just everything you shared. Thanks for this conversation. I really appreciate you going through it in such detail with us. 

Dayna Abraham  41:21

Well, thank you so much.

Debbie Reber  41:25

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