Podcast

My guest in this episode is Deborah Carlisle Solomon, a personal mentor of mine. She has taught me much of the foundations of the parenting philosophy RIE (Resources for Infant Educarers) which has deeply informed my own parenting as well as how I approach parenting when working with my patients in family therapy. In this episode, I’ll share how RIE helped me through my own postpartum struggles and deepened my understanding of respectful parenting practices. We’ll cover the psychology, neuroscience, and biology that proves babies understand language long before they become verbal, why it’s beneficial to tell children what we’re going to do before we do it, and the mindset shift and behavioral changes parents can take when approaching one of life’s most common meltdown moments: rushing out the front door in the morning. Plus, Deborah suggests 3 easy and actionable steps parents can start implementing into routines they’ve already established to help strengthen the trust and cooperation within the parent-child relationship. 

:12

MEET DEBORAH CARLISLE SOLOMON

–   Executive director of RIE (Resources for Infant Educarers)

–   Author of the book Baby Knows Best: Raising a Confident and Resourceful Child the RIE Way 

2:10

WELCOME TO DEBORAH CARLISLE SOLOMON

–   Deborah was introduced to RIE when her adult son was just a baby

–   She read Your Self Confident Baby by Magda Gerber, which led her to discovering the world of RIE

–   She loves sharing what she is passionate about with others

4:00

DR. SARAH MET DEBORAH IN A RIE CLASS

–   Sarah was going through postpartum depression at the time and the RIE classes really helped Sarah feel more connected to her new daughter

–   Sitting and observing, slowing down, observing and other exercise helped Sarah develop a stronger relationship with her

–   Sarah was already practicing RIE with her first child, but Deborah’s class helped Sarah to understand RIE on a deeper level

–   It gave Sarah the tools to connect to her daughter and to re-connect to herself at a time when she was feeling somewhat numb as a result of postpartum depression

5:25

THE VALUE RIE HAS IN THE PARENTING PROCESS

–   It gives parents tools to have a more cooperative relationship with their child

–   You also get to experience a more enriching relationship with you child too – it’s not just for the kids that we do this

–   If it helps parents maintain equilibrium, that helps the child as well

6:26

HOW DO YOU PUT THESE THEORIES INTO A TANGIBLE PROCESS TO CREATE PURPOSE

–   How to help parents stay connected (which isn’t always an easy thing to do with small children)

–   How do you help your mind not wander when you’re changing a diaper? Have a conversation with the baby, observe the baby – RIE founder, Magda Gerber, concretized these things

8:04

THERE ARE SOME SIMPLE STRATEGIES PEOPLE CAN PUT INTO PRACTICE

–   It’s too much to do it all at once, Deborah is going to introduce some simple steps you can start with

8:30

SLOW DOWN!

–   Move slowly when you pick up your baby, when you lay her down, even if you’re just in the same room as her – move slowly

–   Unless there is a safety concern, there is no reason to rush

–   By going slow, you often lower the emotional temperature and effect the overall mood and can introduce a sense of peacefulness

–   So much of infants’ sense of well-being comes from their body

–   This will help toddler to maintain their equilibrium

10:25

MIRROR NEURONS ALLOWS US TO PERCEIVE AFFECT IN ANOTHER PERSON AND FEEL IT OURSELVES

–   This is the basis of empathy

–   When you connect with you baby from a place of high affect (panicking to pick them up, aggressively shhh-ing them, etc.) their mirror neurons are flooded with your panic  

–   It is dysregulating to babies for us to be dysregulated 

–   Our brains are communicating this is a safe and slow pace and that is a contagious energy

–   If parents are triggered when their babies cry, consciously practice pausing – if you feel the urge to rush, consciously try to calm yourself before you touch the baby

12:50

FOR SOME PEOPLE, CERTAIN ASPECTS OF RIE AREN’T A GOOD FIT AND THAT’S OK – YOU CAN DO WHAT WORKS FOR YOU

–   When trying to establish new habits, practice one thing at a time

– It doesn’t need to be all day – try just during lunch or during a diaper change, then add to it until it feels comfortable and it becomes a habit

– Caregiving routines are a good spot to remind yourself to slow down – pair intention with a practice/task

– When slowing down in caregiving moments, it means you don’t need to be doing fill-up time in the other moments and your child can go off and play independently 

14:52

WHEN WE SLOW DOWN WE NOTICE AND OBSERVE THINGS THAT WE WOULDN’T OTHERWISE SEE

– There can be a real back and forth with your baby, and a feeling of this is something we’re doing together

– Move at the child’s pace

         – Walk slowly when your kids first learn to walk. If they are hurrying to keep up with us they’ll often become irritable 

16:28

THE STRUGGLE TO GET KIDS OUT THE DOOR IN THE MORNING TO GET TO SCHOOL IS ONE OF THE MOST COMMON PROBLEM AREAS PARENTS COME TO SARAH ASKING FOR HELP WITH

–   Sarah experiences this too – when she is in a rush in the morning, that’s always when her kids have meltdowns

–   The pattern she has observed is – when I’m in a rush, they get really dysregulated

–   And that doesn’t mean you don’t need to rush sometimes, but recognize it’s not that kids are being difficult, it’s that they’re responding to our sense of urgency and that is making them anxious and dysregulated

–   Any way we can slow the process of that transition out the door in the morning with respect to our pace and our energy we should do

–   The amount of time we have may not change, but try speaking slowly and moving slowly, this may be able to get them out of the house more easily – a change in the tone

–   Plus moving slowly may actually end up taking less time because when they’re hurried and dysregulated it actually takes longer to address it all

19:05

PRACTICE TELLING THE CHILD WHAT YOU’RE GOING TO DO BEFORE YOU DO IT

–   For babies this sounds like – I’m going to pick you up, I’m going to lay you down, etc.

–   For toddlers this sounds like – I’m going into the other room but will be back in a minute, etc.

–   We all want to be told about things that are important to us – keeping it age and developmentally appropriate

–   You may know you’ll be right back, but if a kid doesn’t know that, they can become very upset

–   You’ll learn your own kid and when you need to interrupt them to tell them these things and when you don’t

21:16

ATTACHMENT THEORY TIES INTO THIS AND THE IDEA THAT THE BABY IS BIOLOGICALLY HARDWIRED TO BE MONITORING THE PRESENCE OF HER PARENT IN THE ROOM

–   Even if a child is playing, there is a part of her brain tracking Mom and making sure Mom is close enough so she feels safe

–   If Mom gets up and leaves and doesn’t tell the child, she goes into fight or flight survival mode and is no longer able to play. This is even more of an interruption to their play than informing them about what is happening

–   Just by saying “I’ll be back” (then going and coming back) can help reinforce secure attachment – they know their caregiver leaves, but always comes back

–   The child can fully relax and immerse themselves in their play if they have grown accustomed to this, knowing their parent will always tell them what they’re going to be doing or when they’ll be leaving

–   This helps develops sense of trust 

–   When a parent demonstrates that they understand the child has a unique perspective and feelings, they are reflecting back to the child that his experience matters and this helps him develop a sense of self 

24:22

WE’RE GIVING THEM THIS INFORMATION BECAUSE IT IS IMPORTANT AND MEANINGFUL TO THEM, NOT WITH THE INTENTION THAT THE CHILD WILL ALWAYS BE HAPPY ABOUT IT

–   Children will often be upset that a parent is leaving, that doesn’t mean you stay

–   The child can protest and that’s ok – it shouldn’t stop you from doing what you need to do

–   We don’t need to be afraid of our children being upset

–   If we avoid situations where our kids can be upset, we remove the ability for kids to practice tolerating upset feelings in a relatively safe way

–   Teaching distress tolerance – If a kid learns it’s ok to be upset and that nothing bad ends up happening, Mom and Dad can accept these negative feelings I’m having as much as my positive ones – this is all very powerful

–   It’s healthy for a child to experience sadness, frustration, and conflict with their parent so they can practice this distress tolerance

–   Pay attention to whether you’re avoiding setting limits to stop a child from being upset. It’s all about practicing, not about doing it perfectly – through the messes we learn a lot

28:17

AFTER YOU’VE TOLD YOUR CHILD WHAT YOU’RE GOING TO DO, THEN PAUSE FOR A FEW MOMENTS FOR THE CHILD TO PROCESS WHAT YOU’VE SAID (IN RIE THIS IS CALLED “TARRY TIME”)

–   For babies and young toddlers especially, it takes longer for them to process verbal communication

29:15

PEOPLE MAY THINK “BABIES DON’T UNDERSTAND MY WORDS” BUT THEY DO!

–   That’s how they learn language, by being spoken to

–   Use simple words “I’m going to wipe you up” “can you lift your bottom for me” “this wipe is cold”

–   They will quickly understand what you’re trying to communicate to them

–   Babies have receptive language long before they utter their first words

–   Tone of voice and sequence – if every time these sounds are uttered, I’m lifted into the air, I’m going to start attributing that collection of sounds to this event and eventually be able to anticipate

–   They may not know what that collection of sounds “mean” on a verbal level, but eventually those sounds become words to them

31:43

TRY TO SPEAK IN STATEMENTS RATHER THAN WITH A QUESTION AT THE END

–   “I’m going to pick you up” vs “I’m going to pick you up, ok?”

–   Introduces less confidence to the child and can make them feel less secure

–   Just that little inflection on the end and making it into a question is something we want to avoid

–   It’s also a good thing to model that we speak our minds and feel confident to say what we want to happen

–   Sarah’s daycare teaches the kids to say “no, thank you” when they don’t like something, like being hit or pushed – obviously it’s to try to teach the children to be polite, but there is no information in that. She wants her kids to say “no, I don’t want you to push me”

–   When our communication with our kids is presented as a question, it turns the power dynamic around and gives the child the power to make the decision – but kids feel more comfortable when they know we’re in charge. We’re telling our child they need to make a decision that they know they’re not in the position to make, this can be confusing to them

–   If we have mildly problematic exchanges when children are really young, as they grow older the cracks get larger

o   If you’re saying “keep your food on your plate, ok?” – now the food is going on the floor

o   Or it could be “it’s time for bed, ok?” – and now you have a bedtime struggle happening

–   If we can the stage for the way we confidently communicate to show we’re in charge, as the child gets older he trusts our no’s and yes’s

–   The inevitable power struggles we’ll face will be healthy and developmentally normal instead of coming from a place of anxiety

–   We don’t want children to think they can negotiate with all of our boundaries – they may be unhappy, but they’ll be relaxed and secure knowing what to expect consistently and reliably

–   Parents can be in charge and authoritative and still be warm and friendly and loving

37:52

TO RECAP – 1. SLOW DOWN 2. PREPARE YOUR CHILD IN ADVANCE 3. PAUSE

– These are 3 straightforward strategies – you don’t need to buy a single thing, no tools or gadgets

– These are accessible and simple things that can make such a massive difference in your relationship with your child

–   It’s never too late to start

–   Parenthood is a practice, respectful attuned parenting is a practice, slow parenting is a practice – like meditation or mindfulness

–   There is no end goal you reach and you’re done – there is an ongoing way of coming back to it over and over

–   Modeling this process is very healthy for children to see too

40:05

TO LEARN MORE ABOUT DEBORAH CARLISLE SOLOMON

–   Go to her website – https://deborahcarlislesolomon.com

–   Download her PDF about setting limits called The 7 Simple Steps to Calm and Cooperation at https://deborahcarlislesolomon.com/overwhelm

41:50

REMEMBER THIS IS A PRACTICE! THERE IS NO END TO PARENTING – IT’S A DAY IN, DAY OUT WAY OF BEING

–   It’s being more intentional about what you already are doing

42:30

FOR WAYS TO PARENT SMARTER, NOT HARDER USING NEUROSCIENCE TO GUIDE YOU IN INTEGRATING SOME OF THESE SKILLS OF BEING PRESENT, AND CONNECTED AND REGULATED INTO ACTION

–   Go to drsarahbren.com/ to download the FREE guide

42:57

GIVE THESE TECHNIQUES A TRY

–   If you’re new to RIE – you can start by just telling your child what you’re going to do before you do it

–   If you’re a seasoned pro – really try to wait a beat before you follow through on your actions so your child has time to process

–   Comment on @securelyattachedpodcast to let Sarah know how it goes

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05. Using the RIE method to create strong parent-child relationships 

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