[E173] Discipline: Connecting while Correcting with Dr. Rachel Peterman

Episode 173 January 03, 2024 00:32:10
[E173] Discipline: Connecting while Correcting with Dr. Rachel Peterman
Empowered to Connect Podcast
[E173] Discipline: Connecting while Correcting with Dr. Rachel Peterman

Jan 03 2024 | 00:32:10

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Show Notes

Happy New Year! We wanted to start off 2024 with a series on discipline. As the year begins and routines and rhythms kick back into place, it can be difficult for all of us. Holidays often bring less structure, more junk food, different sleeping habits and lots of excitement...which can mean a tougher return to regular life. Have no fear, though, our series on discipline kicks off with the brilliant Dr. Rachel Peterman walking us through the importance of understanding one of the most fundamental connected parenting principles: Connecting while Correcting. 

To learn more about Empowered to Connect, you can check us out on YouTube, follow us on social media or explore our website!

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Episode Transcript

[00:00:10] Speaker A: Welcome to the Empowered to connect podcast, where we come together to discuss a healing centered approach to engagement and well being for ourselves, our families, and our communities. I'm JD Wilson, and I am your host. And today on the show, we're going to talk with Dr. Rachel Peterman about lots of things regarding discipline, but one specific thing that will kind of guide our time together is this principle of connecting while correcting. And so we've got Becca McKay here also with us, and we're just going to talk, Becca and Rachel and I, about connecting while correcting and why that is so key in the parenting that we are all trying to do, trying to parent through an attachment based, connection based lens. And so we've got them on today. This is continuing in a series of talking about discipline. And so what I would say is, if you are listening to this kind of not right when it first posts, just know this is part of a bigger series on discipline that we believe kind of is a holistic work. And so each episode is kind of a helpful piece of that puzzle of helping to figure out discipline and having a framework for discipline in your home. And so, without any further ado, now here they are, Dr. Rachel Peterman and Becca McKay and myself, talking about connecting while correcting. All right, well, as we said today, here is Becca McKay and Dr. Rachel Peterman. Rachel is the program manager for Safe and secure Tennessee, which I'll let her share more about in a second. But is our statewide works. We have three programs at empower to connect. There's the empower to connect Institute, which does content. There is the safe and secure Tennessee program, which works across the state. And we'll hear more about that in a second. And then locally, our Memphis family connection center, which you've heard folks from in the past, which does clinical therapeutic work here with families in the Memphis area. And so, Rachel, thank you for being here. I cut you off earlier. Sorry. Why don't you, for people who have not heard you share about this yet on an episode, will you just kind of give us brief your professional background and then what safe and secure is doing statewide? [00:02:20] Speaker B: Yeah, sure. Good to be here and love coming on the podcast with you guys. It's so much fun to talk to you guys about things that I'm excited about. And my background is in psychology, school psychology. So for those of you who haven't heard me yet before, I have a phd in psychology from the University of Memphis and did therapy at the Memphis Family Connection center for a number of years. Also have worked in schools and lots of other organizations around the Memphis area. Then a couple of years ago, after doing a lot of training and consulting with organizations in Memphis, we expanded our training and consulting work to launch the program safe and secure Tennessee. So for safe and secure, we provide training coaching in the trust based relational intervention, or TBRI, principles all across the state. And we do that by primarily supporting TBRI practitioners. We help organizations and individual professionals that understand TBRI and want to implement it. We help them get that information, deepen their knowledge, and then actually apply it in the day in and day out so that the systems can then serve all of our kiddos and all work together to serve them best. [00:03:44] Speaker A: And as we were expanding that work across the state, we were also having conversations with TCU and applying to be an ambassador.org for them. And so we are an ambassador organization for the Care and purpose Institute of Child Development out of TCU. And so that's kind of where the TBRI piece fits within that work. And so we're super grateful for their partnership and love them. We love all the folks down there at, uh, yeah, that's great. Okay, so, thank you. So, before we jump into the topic today, Becca, why don't you kind of lay out the framework for how we're going to view this discussion today? [00:04:20] Speaker C: Absolutely. Man, when you hear the word just discipline, I think the first thing that jumps to people's mind is this idea of correcting behavior. Like, discipline is when I have to correct behavior, and that is 100% part of it before we hit record. The reason that we're really intentional about this idea of connecting while correcting is because we tend to kind of just alienate those two in two really different buckets, and we're like, well, this is the connection piece, family game night, pizza, coming to support you at your soccer game, and then correcting is, do your homework, your brother. Like, we just completely isolate them from each other. And even if you were to Google this idea of, like, connection correction, you would find connect before you correct. And so even then, you're seeing it as two separate buckets. First, connect with our kid, and then lay the hammer down and let them know what's up. And so I think the difference that we want to bring to the conversation is this idea that actually, while you are correcting, you are letting them know the boundary. While you're steering them in the right direction, while you're redirecting them from one behavior to another, you can actually maintain connection throughout that process. And so that's what we want to bring to this conversation. [00:05:40] Speaker A: Yeah, so, Rachel, when we begin to think about, however subtle they might be, the differences between connecting before correcting and connecting while correcting. Becca talked on it being when you think about them as a sequential thing, it still separates them until you come back. So when we're looking at connecting while correcting, what are some of the differences in that? And then why is that so important for us to understand? [00:06:09] Speaker B: I think we can start with what is connecting before correcting. And I think one of the biggest pieces of that is to focus on the relationship with your kid, right. It's like sort of the bigger picture, making sure that we are connected. And that's just sort of foundational, right. In a lot of what we talk about with etc. And with TBRI and safe and secure, all of our work kind of focuses on building that relationship, which we do through connection. So then when you think about maybe something has happened, so you're talking about discipline. We've got something that's challenging before we jump into, okay, don't do that. Right? Before we start telling people or telling our kiddos what to do differently, how to do better, et cetera, we want to make sure that we are really drawing on that relationship and saying, look, I've got you. So you want to make sure you're actually connected with them in that moment on the front end. Like, okay, look, we're in this together. We're going to do something here because this is my job as your parent caregiver to support you through this. So if you're not connected on the front end and you jump in, it's almost like disconnected, right? Literally. I didn't really mean that pun, but it kind of came out. But it is like, wait, where is this coming from? Why are you just telling me what to do? So I think that's the before piece and I think it's relevant and we need to do that. But then the connecting while correcting is really about taking it through. So actually, it's interesting when I think of it this way, because a lot of that is about what we do with safe and secure. It's like you can kind of say it on the front end, but how do you actually get through the hard stuff? You need someone there with you. So a big part of what we're doing, I'm doing with adults, but I also do with my own children at home and used to help with therapy and helping families. To do this is to, in the moment, connect and stay connected and help the kiddos know, like, I'm here with you, let's figure this out so that we can do what's best for you in the long run. Right. Because we got to teach them things and they got to learn how to live in the world and follow the rules and the structure that's there. Right. So staying connected while you are helping them learn to do better is so important, too. So that's, I think, sounds like the both. [00:08:38] Speaker C: I want to piggyback on something that you just said, which is you said, and then we just figure out what they need to keep moving. And I think maybe as you're connecting before and then, as in that correction, sometimes we skip this really important step of just like, let's be curious about what's really going on. Like, what actually is this? Because it can be so easy. We see things. I mean, we see adults, we see it with kids, and we're like, that's not right. It's easy to see the areas of concern, but we often miss so much of what could be contributing to that behavior. And so if we can be curious before and during that is going to be a game changer in our ability to connect while we correct. Connect before we correct. And it's really going to be helpful. And so I think, yeah, there's just so much. We often just think, well, they're just making a choice to do the wrong thing because they're being selfish or because they're being demanding or because they're being attention seeking defined. We just are quick to categorize. Just, we talk about this all the time on the etC. Podcast, but there's just so much more that's going on underneath of that behavior. [00:09:47] Speaker A: Right. [00:09:49] Speaker B: I really like this idea of being curious and wondering. It reminds me of so much of what we do even in therapy or what I do at home is trying to figure out what's going on. Right. Really, sometimes we have to get super structured with it and actually write down, like I remember in grad school learning about ABC charts and what was before the behavior, what happened after the behavior. Very behavioral focused. Right. But a lot of the time we are trying to just figure out what is contributing to this. Why is this happening? Because once we understand, it helps us to do what's needed to move forward. Right. If we don't know what's going on, it just becomes about us and not about what's actually going on with your kiddo. [00:10:43] Speaker A: Yeah, no, I completely agree with that. And I think there's so many times where there are similarities or metaphors we can pick up from. And to me, the analogy of finding out an issue that's happening with your car. If you keep having specific things happening with your car, you can't only think about the actual things coming up. When there's a sequence of things happening, you have to then take it to a mechanic to go, hey, curious to see what's going on here, because I had this issue, then I had this issue, then I had this issue. So we tend to even medically we'll do that. Like if we have the. Remember my dad years ago? Just saying, hey, I'm having these couple string of certain symptoms in a row. And the way they were sequenced together could have been part of something much bigger. And so that was the concern. So I think we always have to take that same approach and thinking with our kids. One of the most helpful things that we encourage parents to do in cultivate connection that was helpful for us is just in the idea of getting curious. Maybe it's time to keep some type of a chart, a loose chart or some notes on man, we are starting to see some consistent meltdowns or dysregulation and just making notes of like, what's the context each time? And I would bet a large sum of money that when you keep a steady record of those things, you're going to start to find some through lines or some threads that connect those things together. And so that's the thing. There's not an instant fixture, there's no silver bullet. There's no word that we're going to teach you in Greek that can stop kids like a Doberman who's well trained or whatever. Now would that be nice? Yes, but we don't have that. But the thing that we're going to hopefully start doing together is looking for the sources of these things that are happening and addressing things at the source, not just constantly addressing the symptoms over and over again. [00:12:43] Speaker B: I really like that. JD, you mentioned sort of the through line makes me think of patterns, recognizing patterns in the behavior. So when you're thinking about discipline and correcting, we're often looking for what's really going on. And the way to figure that out and to better understand and be attuned to your kiddo is really looking for some of those patterns and even to take it to the next step of that connecting while correcting is if you're not paying attention. So you've got to write about what's going on around, right? Like, were they tired, what's happening in the environment, all those things are relevant. But if you're totally disconnected from your kiddo you don't really know what's going on internally. So the connection piece is your window to that. Right. It's like, okay, what is this kid actually thinking? Not that they can always just say it, and I think that's really important to hold on to is that you can't just say, what are you thinking? That will often come across not very well also. But what are they thinking? What is causing this? What is leading to this, contributing to this? There are some thoughts that lead to those behaviors, and they may be explicit. They may know what they are. I'm really mad. I don't like that they took my thing or I don't like that you're making me go to bed. I don't want to go to bed yet, or someone hurt my feelings. I had a rough night at practice, and they were mean and I didn't play well, whatever. Right. You might realize that if they're insightful enough to know that that's what's causing what's going on, or they might not. So we become that detective to try to figure that out, and we can't do that if we're not connected, if they're not willing to share that. Oh, during practice, I'm thinking about my teenager. Sometimes in practice, things are frustrating, things are hard. Whether she's not playing well or something a coach says, things come up. And so if you don't have that conversation with them and stay connected on the front end and in the midst of it, I now have a better understanding of that attitude and can at least address it in a way that's going to be helpful and not make it worse. Right. So we're going to stay connected then. Correct. Which then could lead us into the more correction piece. Right. If I could start going there and say, what do we do about that? Right. How do we fix it? Because one of the things that's so important and can be easily misunderstood about TBRI, I feel like I got this a lot when I was doing therapy. It can feel very permissive, and it's really important to recognize. It's not that it's permissive. It's not that we're rewarding that behavior by connecting. That's not the problem. Right. That's not what's really going on. We're not rewarding it. We're saying, oh, look, something's wrong. I'm here to help you figure that out. You've got an attitude, which is a sign that something else. You're being rude or mouthy or you're not doing the thing I'm asking you to do. Okay, that means something's going on and how do I help you do it? And then you can get into, like, all right, it's not okay to talk to me that way, but let's figure out what to do. And then that's where your correction depends on what the kids need. And we can get into that even deeper. [00:16:09] Speaker C: But that was, you're highlighting something super important, Rachel. A lot of times as adults, I'll say, and maybe really specifically as parents, we think our job is to enforce the right behavior and obedience now. And what we're asking of ourselves all the time is, am I okay with my role being meeting needs? Because that's an important attachment role. And over time, that secure attachment can lead to more mature behaviors and better expressions of their feelings and better socioemotional skills. And so I really like what you're saying because you're giving parents permission to see that meeting needs is your job. And from that place, you're going to have, hopefully some of the success that you want in getting some of those behaviors corrected and teaching skills and helping them process and all those different types of things. But it's really just permission to be a need meter like that is to do and that is right to do. It's not permissive. It is actually super thoughtful and intentional and those types of things. [00:17:22] Speaker A: Yeah, well, I completely agree. I think the natural follow up question to all of this first part of our conversation is, yeah, cool, but how do we do that? Literally, how can we connect while correcting? And you might be thinking, I don't know if you've ever corrected before, JD, Rachel and Becca, but you're not usually in the best mood when you're having to correct. So how do you then maintain connection? Is it forced smiles through gridded teeth? Which I would say, no, that doesn't really work. But what are some ways we can begin thinking about outside of the moment? Maintaining connection. While correction has to happen. [00:18:08] Speaker B: I think it's really important that we recognize the differences in age and development. So I want to just start with that and say that how you respond and be connected to a two year old is different from how you're connected to a six year old and that's different from how you connect to a 16 year old. So as we give examples and thoughts about that, I want to highlight that we can't cover everything, but it is about knowing your kid, right. And thinking, okay, so if you're thinking about younger kids, playful engagement is what comes to mind is at least the place to start, if we can. So playful engagement is a term that comes out of TBRI, has to do with the levels of engagement and correction. And when we're doing that, there's some sort of mild misbehavior. Right. So discipline is needed. Discipline meaning, and I don't know how much we've defined this yet, and there are lots of definitions on discipline, but from my perspective, and right now, what I'm talking about is teaching them how to the best or most helpful way to respond in the moment. So we're teaching them what to do. So if you've got a young kid, if it's mild, we're going to use playful engagement. We're going to play through it. We're going to just keep things moving forward by doing things like, wait, what? It's bedtime. I'm going to get upstairs first. That's one of my favorites. It works really well. The kids lead it now half the time, and nobody wants to be a rotten egg. And so they are running up the stairs, which terrifies me a little bit because they're running on the stairs. That's a whole different thing. I'm just going to roll with it for now. Nobody's fallen yet and somebody will roll with it later. [00:19:59] Speaker A: Yeah. [00:19:59] Speaker B: Oh, no. I'm calling you. You're going to help me that week, JD. No, but just something fun. If you can incorporate a game, just your tone and your voice, the way that you talk about it, it doesn't have to be. No, it's time for bed. Go to bed. You don't have to get so big and mean and forceful immediately. It's like, how can I get some compliance and help them get into those routines and habits of just doing the right thing so they know it? That's a little more fun. And that's easier to do with younger kids and it's easier to do as a parent or caregiver if that is part of your personality. That is not true for everyone. So being aware of that as well, it might be something that's hard for you. So just being playful, casual, that kind of thing. Older kids, it's a little different, right? They'd be like, wait, what are you talking about? I can't hear those words. Maybe they're saying the rule is my teenager is not supposed to say bad words. That's the rule in our house and she knows that. And sometimes it comes out and it's okay. I'm not going to get all upset about it. I'm going to be like, wait, I don't think I heard you right. And all of a sudden it's corrected. And she understands why it matters and all of that. So it's just a little bit of that play and fun that you can incorporate in. I could keep talking, but I'm going to stop for a second and see what either one of you have to add because I'll keep talking. [00:21:41] Speaker A: Well, before becca goes, I'll just interject that this is something that my wife is really good at. Elizabeth is really good at this. And so if you have not, this is going to be such a niche thing. I'm interested to see your comments on this, listeners. There is an Internet video that is hilarious. It was filmed in Memphis and it always hits in the 4 July. And there is a guy in a wheelchair who is trying to light off fireworks. He starts letting them off, but his chair is malfunctioning. He can't go backwards. So the commentary in the background is hilarious and nobody gets hurt. It doesn't involve anything. It's not like everybody's laughing in the video. It's like all good fun. But the guy's name in the wheelchair is Terry. And so as the wick is like going down on the fireworks, you hear the guy in the video is like, back it up, Terry. Back it up, Terry. Put it in reverse, Terry. Oh, Lord. And then it starts. The fireworks are going off. And Terry's laughing. He's trying to back up. And it ended in somebody buying Terry a new chair that would go like turbo speed in reverse. But that clip tickled our family so much. And it's one of those things that when you have a shared experience, when everybody does crack really hard at one thing, sometimes that reference in a moment can even snap somebody out of dysregulation. So Elizabeth will say, somebody starts getting an attitude sometimes you're like, oh, back it up, Terry. And as soon as she'll say that, it'll usually crack a smile from them. And then she can say, let's just try it again. Come on. So I think being real with your kids, number one, and especially as your kids get older, they have such a good insincerity sensor or fake sensor, and they can tell if you're just reciting things that you know you're supposed to say, especially if you're using like, a kid voice about it. And so just being yourself and figuring out what are ways that you can be playful with your kids, that fits your personality, not just co opting scripts that you hear, but thinking about the principles of what can I say to bring some lightness to some lightweight to the environment and hopefully allow there to be a little bit of playfulness that can ease the tension some. [00:23:54] Speaker B: Okay, just one tiny comment, because this reminded me of this. One of my very best friends has this clip and she showed it to me. I can't remember the whole thing because I watched it the one time, but she says, listen, linda, listen, Linda. And she always keeps saying so her family knows it, I know it because I saw it. And so someone's not listening. She'll shout that out. And that kind of catches everyone and cracking me up. So it's the same, totally different. I don't even think the clip is appropriate for kids, if I'm remembering correctly. But they know and not that, they just know that phrase, they have that and it means something. And so I love being able to pull from those other experiences and integrate that and then add the humor and the fun to what could be kind of a tricky situation. [00:24:46] Speaker C: Yeah, we talk so much about just stress levels and stress capacity around here. And so this is something that can be so helpful, but you just have to start doing it. And that's the hardest part. So if you're stuck in a pattern of you feel like your kids don't listen until you're yelling or you're threatening to take away something, or you're like, I would love to do that. But they don't listen until the fifth time I've asked it and I'm yelling, give yourself time. Give yourself time as a family to learn a new way forward, to practice a new way forward. Depending on their age, if they're not toddlers, talk to them about it. Hey, I want to try something different. I don't want to be level eleven frustrated about picking up our dinner table dishes. I've been level eleven frustrated, haven't I been? And that you can kind of make it funny about you. Like, hasn't mom lost it quite a few times about the dishes of the table? I don't like that. Do you like that? No, nobody likes that. And so have conversations proactively with your family as you start to try to make some of these changes and then give yourself and the kids time to adjust to a different way. So I would just encourage you, like, if you try this tomorrow and it's outside the box for your family, it might not go right away. It takes time to build a muscle of interacting in a playful, light hearted. And it takes you resetting what deserves that strong, strict, sometimes harsh response and what can be corrected in a gentler way. [00:26:20] Speaker A: Yeah, I agree. Also, I feel like we just need to give the disclaimer. This is, again, not a silver bullet. There's not a quick fix to this where use playful engagement and it solves every blow up right as it starts. It won't, right? Like sometimes you're going to have to go to the next attempt, the next try, whatever. But Rachel, as we kind of close this thought out, any kind of final thoughts on this topic or things that you want, encouragement you want to offer parents as they're leaving this conversation? [00:26:58] Speaker B: Becca. Becca's was really good. Just say that I think I love the giving yourself grace and giving yourself time to adjust. We didn't jump into even talking about all the more challenging behaviors and what do you do as it gets harder, but it requires a lot on us as the caregivers to make those changes. And one thing I don't know that we really talked about, we talked about the connecting piece, but what goes along with that is empathy. And so if you're thinking about no matter how hard that behavior starts to get, whether it's minor and little, and you can use something playful or it's dangerous even, we can have things or kids running into the street or not checking in or riding home with somebody that they shouldn't be riding home with or whatever, some of these things are more serious than just talking back. And playful doesn't always seem like that's the answer. But what I would encourage you to do is think about what do you need if you were in that situation? What would you want somebody to do or help you with? If you can kind of empathize, put yourself in their situation, see what they're going through, then connecting in that moment is way easier. And once we do that and we understand what's going on, then we can find the right tools and pieces in order to help them change that behavior and do it differently the next time. Because a lot of times I just believe our kids are doing the best they can. I say that a lot. If you've listened to any of my other podcasts, I probably said that on those two. But I really strongly believe they're doing the best they can and they made what they thought was the best decision in that moment based on all the factors that we don't even think about. I can't not do this and get this ridicule from my friends, because then all of these other things happen, and it's like the end of the world to them. So just being empathetic and that will help you connect and then finding your way through what that looks like. Playful and fun and just gentle. I'd also just even add that word that it can be more gentle than pushy, I guess. I don't know if that's the right opposite word, but that's where I landed. [00:29:20] Speaker C: I love that Rachel, and I think it's that we started this podcast kind of with the idea of what's really going on here. And so connecting while correcting is really about getting to the root. So instead of just, you said it early, instead of just addressing symptoms, kind of whack a mole. The symptoms, like, instead of doing that, take a step, build that relationship. If you've been overreacting, make an adjustment. Try playful engagement as an entryway into some of those little things and use them more. We've got lots verses about higher levels of intervention at different places, but even in those, we want to connect, so we want to connect with them. And we can do that by seeing through their perspective, showing them empathy, choosing the right boundary or limit that we want to set into them before, after, and during behaviors. Like, there's lots and lots of ways this episode is not all things connecting while correcting, but it's just cracking that window a little bit and just trying to see, hey, maybe this is a different way to approach discipline with that lens of let's really connect and let's connect to the root. I think that would be my final closing. It's just like, let's not keep doing whack a mole. Let's connect with the root of what's going on and think about a big picture plan of supporting them. The whack a mole is exhausting because there's always going to be stuff that pops up that's not going to stop. [00:30:48] Speaker A: Yeah. So good, y'all. Thank you. I appreciate your time today. And, yeah, we're going to see y'all soon. [00:30:57] Speaker B: Thank you. [00:31:06] Speaker A: Again. A huge thanks to Dr. Rachel Peterman and Tobeka McKay for joining us today. And again, to reiterate, we'll be talking about discipline over the next several weeks in lots of different facets and ways. And so just another encouragement to not think of this episode as the discipline episode and that's it. But to think of it as a piece in the puzzle of a bigger discipline conversation that we're having throughout January. I don't know about you personally. I know that in our home, we don't need this conversation at all. We don't need any conversations about discipline in our home. Everything's perfect. And the holidays were not stressful, and there's no fallout from having pounds and pounds of sugar every day. But. But for all of you other poor suckers who have these issues. So for everybody here at Connect, for Becca Rachel, for Kyle Wright, who edited audio and tag you as the creator of the music behind podcast, I'm JD Wilson, and we'll see you next week.

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