Click here to listen to this episode on Apple Podcasts or Spotify.

In this episode I am joined by professional chef and father to biological, adopted and foster children, Chef Kibby. You’ll hear how he uses the kitchen to help his children learn to trust and work through their trauma. And we’ll walk you through what goes on in your child’s brain when they engage in these activities.

All parents can use the 3 step process we’ll discuss to help you connect with your own children, regardless of whether they’ve experienced trauma or are just looking for a fun way to connect with you. Getting your kids cooking and sharing meals together provides you with a wonderful opportunity to strengthen and deepen your parent-child relationship.

Chef Kibby (00:00):

Because I think you can look at almost anything that you do in the kitchen and look at it as a way of connecting with your child.

Dr. Sarah (00:11):

I’m really excited about this episode for a few reasons. One is that it touches upon an issue that is really relevant right now, as we’re facing the one and a half year mark of this pandemic, which has left a lot of us struggling with feelings of isolation, loss, and a lot of change. In this episode, we talk about how my guests took a unique and personally life altering approach to the changes that his life underwent as a result of the pandemic and how he found some profound insights about parenting along the way that I think would be really helpful for others to hear. Another reason is that we get into some unexpected ways of applying my own personal belief – that connection with our kids can be the vehicle for navigating so many different parenting challenges. My guest in this episode goes by Chef Kibby. He’s a professional chef, caterer and dad to biological adopted and foster kids.

Dr. Sarah (01:02):

And he found that some of his primary identities really risked being completely upended by COVID. We talk about the creative and deeply personal ways that he handled this transition and how he ultimately found out some important truths about himself, his children and human connection. Chef Kibby now has a vibrant social media platform that he uses to help families learn how to cook and eat together as a means for building meaningful connections with their children and all the benefits that flow from that connection. In this episode, we’re going to get into a bunch of different ways to utilize these strategies from addressing trauma, to bolstering self-esteem, whatever challenges you might be trying to address, making quality time with each other, to feel connected, to create opportunities for modeling, to build trust, and make your children feel loved and safe has boundless benefits and are the pillars of creating secure attachment relationships.

Dr. Sarah (01:57):

In this episode, we’ll talk through three steps that you can take to help you connect with your children in the kitchen. It starts by feeling attuned to yourself. Then it requires a bit of a mindset shift and it’s followed by the creation of a game plan to predetermine the moments when your kids can really join in. At the end of the day, we all want to feel connected and attuned to our children and cooking together is a great way to build and strengthen those relationships. So sit back and enjoy this episode and then head into the kitchen and whip up some fun with your kiddos.

Dr. Sarah (02:36):

We are always telling our children to do something, share your toys with your sister. Don’t throw food on the floor, markers, stay on the paper. It can really feel never-ending and it’s exhausting for them and for us. Little kids hear so many corrections throughout their day, sometimes they start to tune us out and we often feel like we’re stuck on a never ending loop, trying to always correct their behavior. So that’s why I decided to flip the script in my next guide. And instead of giving me behavior modifications to try to get your child to do, I’m giving you the swaps to make to your own behaviors as the parent. In my new free guide, Fostering Resilience From Birth, I help you understand the building blocks of resilience with actual phrases that you can swap out of your own language with your children to help your child tolerate distress, to develop a growth mindset, to increase self-esteem and to be more resilient.

Dr. Sarah (03:30):

So you can stop feeling stuck in those moments when your child is struggling and really need you the most. And you can start feeling really confident in your ability to support them in whatever challenge arises. To download this guide go to my website, drsarahbren.com that’s drsarahbren.com and click on the resources tab. Or if you’re listening to this podcast on your phone, as you browse through Instagram, I totally see you just head over to my profile and click the link in the bio to get access this free guide.

Speaker 3 (04:09):

Hi, I’m Dr. Sarah Bren, a clinical psychologist and mom of two. I’ve built a career dedicated to helping families find deep connections, build healthy relationships, repair attachment wounds, and raise kids who are healthy, secure, resilient, and kind in this podcast. I’ve taken all of my clinical experience, current research on brain science and child psychology and the insights I’ve gained on my own parenting journey and distilled everything down into easy to understand and actionable parenting insights to help you understand the building blocks of children’s social, emotional, and cognitive development. So you can tune out the noise and tune into your own authentic parenting, voice confidence, and calm. This is Securely Attached.

Dr. Sarah (05:01):

Hi, I’m so excited to welcome our guest today, Chef Kibby. I found him in the funniest way and I’m so grateful because your Instagram posts are like so hilarious. And like, honestly, the work that you do is so amazing and interesting, and frankly, it’s just really refreshing to see a dad talking about this stuff in the way that you do. So I’m just so grateful that you’re here. So welcome.

Chef Kibby (05:29):

Thank you so much for having me on the show. I’ve been a follower of you as well on Instagram and, and a subscriber to the podcast as well. So the feeling is mutual. I really respect and appreciate the things that you’re doing and the way that you’re helping me to be attuned and present in my own family. So thank you.

Dr. Sarah (05:45):

Oh my gosh. I’m grateful for that. Can you share a little bit, you know, with us like your backstory, how you got to be doing this work? 

Chef Kibby (05:56):

Well, the work I’m doing for those that haven’t followed me yet, I am a chef and a culinary instructor, a content creator, social media influencer. I wear a lot of hats, but really it all comes down to, I am a trauma informed parents, biological, foster, and adoptive. And I’ve come to learn specifically over the last couple of years about the effects of trauma and how my ability to invite my children into the kitchen with me has allowed me to communicate trust and connection in a way that so many other areas of my life have struggled. And it’s made me a better dad. I’m just a better person overall. And I feel the need to share that, that technique, that mindset, that framework with other parents, because I know that there are other folks out there that are struggling with figuring out how to connect with their children, to help them to manage behavior and to work through the issues that come with children, who’ve experienced trauma early on in their lives. And that’s the whole idea behind this cooking is connecting mentality and everything that I’m trying to share through my podcast and through upcoming content that’s to come. And so that’s kind of who I am in a, in a nutshell. 

Dr. Sarah (07:18):

And I, like, one of the things that you have talked about that I think is one of the reasons why I was like, oh, I like get you. And I feel like I love the work you do so much is because of the idea of like the trauma informed parenting piece. Like, because I don’t actually think you need to have a trauma, your child doesn’t need to experience trauma to be a trauma informed parent, but obviously, you know, if your child has, and I ended up, you know, I’m very curious to hear sort of how you sort of understood, came to understand the lens of trauma informed parenting.

Chef Kibby (07:57):

Definitely. I think I am a biological parent as well, and I do believe that understanding trauma and the effects of trauma on young people has helped me to just be a better person overall. I mean, first of all, who hasn’t experienced some level of trauma over the last two years with the pandemic, with the the, the social economic kind of, you know, justice calls that we’ve seen over the last couple of years, especially in the United States who hasn’t been affected in some way and had their lives kind of turned upside down and had to kind of reframe their perspective on things and understanding the, the effects of trauma has helped me to better understand people and why people react the way they do when they’re experiencing things that have them unsettled. How that came about it came about as a result of the pandemic.

Chef Kibby (08:54):

Because before that, I would say life was looked pretty good on the surface. I mean, I had, we had a family catering business, we had a small event center. I was a culinary instructor. I was doing cooking demos at the farmer’s market, doing a hands-on kitchen sessions with students and families and groups of parents and children together. I was an online content creator already. I had the Cooking With Kibby podcast was already a thing back then. And I was also at that point, a biological foster and adoptive dad living in a four generation household, a very strong faith based to all of the life that we were living. And so we really felt that we were living out God’s calling on our lives. And so on the surface, everything looked really, really good. And I had a lot to be grateful for, but underneath that, if I’m being completely honest, there was a lot of internal struggle that I personally was facing.

Chef Kibby (09:53):

And in all of the validation that my career should have been providing to me, what it was really doing for me was kind of offering me a little bit of an escape away from the struggles that we were dealing with at home, because I really felt in over my head we felt like God had called us to be foster adoptive parents and to invite children into our home. But the, the behaviors, the tantrums, the disconnection that we were feeling with these children, it was too much for me as, as, as a male, like you’d mentioned, there’s not a lot of dads out here in this space because I think it is harder for us men, the way we are wired to to adapt and to come to this mindset of being able to handle really challenging relationships. And it hit me pretty hard.

Chef Kibby (10:44):

And so my career was kind of becoming an escape for me to just kind of hand it off to my wife and the rest of the members of family to try and handle the, the behavioral issues. And when the pandemic hit, I no longer had that escape route because catering kind of disappeared overnight. There was, there was no more large groups of people eating together. And so that business pretty much died instantly. And so we had to close the event center, sell off the catering business, and that was a huge blow to my, to my ego, to my self esteem, to my ability to validate my, even being able to call myself Chef Kibby. If I didn’t have these things, could I really still be this person who I’m telling everybody that I am, and it was a big blow faced a lot of depression.

Chef Kibby (11:37):

And I was, I was back home. And so I can no longer escape from the relational issues that was facing either. And so that’s when I, I did two things as a result of this. I, first of all, I came back to the kitchen, my own home kitchen, because I felt like a place where I had some control in this out of control world around me. And so that was kind of a place where I could find some comfort and also be able to…

Dr. Sarah (12:04):

Yeah, it was an anchor. It’s like a…

Chef Kibby (12:04):

Oh, yeah, absolutely. And I know not everybody has that kind of anchor. And so I felt very fortunate and blessed to have that, and also to be able to spend some time cooking and eating with my children as well, because I knew that it mattered to me that they learn about food and cooking and things of that nature. At the same time, I was also going through the process of beginning to educate myself and to fully embrace that there was something going on relationally that I wasn’t figuring out that I, that I hadn’t tuned into.

Chef Kibby (12:36):

And I fell back into TBRI, which my wife and I, several years prior had gone to an empowered to connect a workshop training. And I came back to it. I found the old booklet. I found our copy of The Connected Child, and right around that same time, The Connected Parent also came out. And I tell you what Dr. Sarah, if anybody in your audience has not picked up that book and read it cover to cover, they need to do so because the connected parent really helped me not only understand my child, but understand myself and how my presence and attunement to my own emotional needs and the, the way that I’m interacting with my children is affecting them and affecting their ability to, to receive love and support and felt safety and trust. And between understanding trauma and inviting, you know, a TBRI licensed practitioner into our home and getting really just digging in deep to understand the, the neuro-biological effects of trauma and how that was getting in the way of being able to relate in a healthy way with my children, while at the same time, cooking together with them, it all just kind of came together.

Chef Kibby (14:04):

And it really came together in a really unique and interesting time. It came in a specific moment. And I actually have a picture of this moment that I had with one of my children in the kitchen, where she came up to me and asked me if she could chop my vegetable scraps. And at the time it seemed like a really weird thing for a child to ask. You know, I mean, it was scraps that we were going to feed to the chickens. There was, there was nothing to that that would have added to my ability to put food on the table that evening. And there was so many things in me, so many ways that I could have said no to that request, but in that moment, the attunements, the training, everything was starting to process in my mind. And so I was able in that moment to push all those nos aside and just say, sure, kid, let’s get you an apron.

Chef Kibby (14:54):

We’ll get you a cutting board and knife that is appropriate to her level of skill at that particular time. She asked for a bowl because she was going to chop up these vegetables and put them in a bowl and kind of make the salad that she was going to feed to the chickens. And it was a light bulb life-changing moment for me, because in that moment, I saw the connecting power of cooking and eating together. And it wasn’t anything profound from a culinary standpoint. It was just profound in how that little yes, and the, the invitation of a child and a parent to be together in the kitchen to, to model behaviors, to to invite connection, to have communication and the trust that is inherent in the kitchen, it is such a powerful tool. And what I also love about that example is that again, there’s nothing from a culinary standpoint that you or anyone else could not do in order to begin today, tonight, the next time that you’re in the kitchen, to be able to use that, that mindset, to be able to begin to see the connecting power of cooking and eating together with our children.

Chef Kibby (16:15):

And that’s why I’m just so fired up about it.

Dr. Sarah (16:18):

Yeah. And it’s, you know, it’s actually that, that, that story really illustrates to me something that I talk about all the time with parents, which is focusing on the process rather than the product. Like if your daughter is sitting there being like, I want to make this, you know, I want to chop the scraps and your mind goes to, well, that’s not the goal of the cooking right now. We’re trying to make dinner and we’re trying to get this thing accomplished. And we’re focused on that product versus that process. And what is the process? One might say, you know, the process for cooking is how you make the meal. But I think what you’re really tapping into here is actually the process is connecting. The process is sharing space with someone modeling to get really like technical modeling, knife skills and kitchen safety and things like that, but also modeling compassion and curiosity and patience – that’s process, right?

Dr. Sarah (17:17):

That’s the stuff where all the magic happens. If we are always focused on the end result, which, you know, we live in a world that kind of makes us kind of focus on that more than we may be, would like to, but then our kids learn to focus on that too. And so I think by flipping that on its head and saying, I don’t, it’s not about getting dinner on the table. It’s about helping my daughter find a way to like bond with dad and feel like she can do something that she’s watching me do and internalize that sense of herself as capable in the kitchen, because she watches you do that. And to build that connection, like that’s beautiful. And that’s what helps her to feel confident and safe and loved.

Chef Kibby (18:02):

And I’m not saying that that process is easy and that, I mean, that’s a process that had to happen in my life and it took a pandemic in order to make that happen. I mean, there are, I can look back on my career as a professional chef, like in the industry, working with other culinary professionals and see my lack of trust and my lack of ability to even be kind of vulnerable enough to, to trust other people that I’m working with to be able to, you know, handle projects or procedures or practices, because I felt like I could do things better or faster or safer or whatever the case may be. And so to get to that point where I’m able to do that, then with a child, let alone a child from a trauma background who already has kind of, you know, safety issues and things of that nature.

Chef Kibby (18:56):

It, it took a lot. And I, and so I don’t want to sit here and make light of it because it is a process. And there are parts of myself in, in cooking that I kind of had to let go of a little bit, because even for me, the process of cooking and providing food to my family was a sense of personal pride and affirmation that I would receive. You know, there’s something very satisfying of having this Instagram worthy plate that I’m setting on the table. And while all those things are good and healthy and natural, to be able to replace all of those things, the bad and the good, like you said, with the process and with the connection, those are the things that we’re going to be able to look back on and take so much more pride in than, you know, how many people liked it on Instagram, or, you know, pinned it on Pinterest or anything of that nature. Or, and even the struggles we can, we can look past those and see that when we did it together from the lens of connection, it was totally worth it. And it brought us even closer.

Dr. Sarah (20:03):

Yeah. And it’s not lost on me that the place where this sort of abdication of control and your parenting took place happened to be a place where you almost were desperate to hang on to, because it was the one control you had. So not only were you giving up control, you were giving up control where you kind of desperately wanted that control to exist. Like you were saying, like, I lost all this, this stability. And I went back to the kitchen because it was my anchor. And now here you are in that safe place for you abdicating control to connect with your child. Like that’s really hard to do.

Chef Kibby (20:43):

It takes a lot of vulnerability to bring to that place. And I think oftentimes when we’re dealing with children who have hard to manage behaviors, a lot of times it is in our nature to kind of to harden a little bit, because there’s a little bit of a fight flight freeze that we experience, especially when those behaviors are really big, you know, when we’re getting into the tantrums and the, what, you know, we would, you know, on the surface considered to be maladaptive behaviors, but are actually actually adaptive behaviors to kind of needs that. They’re not able to express. I’m sorry, I’m getting into interpersonal neurobiology here, but anyway,

Dr. Sarah (21:26):

No, but that’s my favorite thing to talk about. We should definitely pivot there.

Chef Kibby (21:30):

Oh, I know. I, I’m sure you’re picking up what I’m throwing down, but there, when our children are misbehaving or behaving in a way that kind of sets us off the tendency for us, and I say that for myself, and this still happens to me, the tendency is to kind of to harden and not want ourselves to get hurt. And it’s where the real work happens in our, in this struggle to be attuned with ourselves and to be vulnerable and allow ourselves to really to connect on a deeper emotional level. And it’s, and the thing that I’ve had to learn, especially as a, as a dad and as a dude, is that emotions, aren’t just this kind of woo woo sort of thing. There’s a neurological component to all of this, that there’s there’s logic and brain function that’s that happens in relationships. And that even I can have more attunement to my own emotional feelings and my own felt needs so that I can be better present for my kiddos. And the result of that ends up being better for everybody.

Dr. Sarah (22:46):

Yeah. And I think like we should break this down a little bit because I imagine some of the people listening don’t know what TBRI is. So it’s, trust-based relational intervention. And it’s from my understanding of it, it’s very similar to a lot of the work that it’s not called TBRI, but it’s, you know, this interpersonal relational, like neurobiology that you’re talking about that, which is a lot of what I talk about here, which is that our nervous systems are communicating with each other. Our parent nervous system is communicating with our child’s nervous system. And that is co-regulation right. When we get dysregulated, when our kids are having tantrums, it’s like pouring gasoline on a fire, it makes them more dysregulated when we can come in calm when we can be sort of coming from that place of the parasympathetic arousal, which is your down regulator, our calm, nervous system, while our child is melting down, we can help down that dysregulation for them by helping communicate safety, which turns off the part of their brain. That’s basically a fire alarm. So, you know, there’s a lot of different ways to get to this place, but it’s all kind of the same. We have different language for it, but it’s all really the same stuff. We’re all really just talking about the equipment we were born with.

Chef Kibby (24:08):

Yes. And I, yeah TBRI has been a great vehicle of communicating that to our family. The Connected Parent, The Connected Child. It led me down this kind of rabbit hole of trauma informed care, which led me to the work of Dr. Dan Siegel and Tina Payne Bryson with The Whole Brain Child and The Yes Brain. And then from there getting into you know, the work by Robin Gobbel who was another podcast, or who’s doing some amazing, amazing content around adaptive behavior and interpersonal neurobiology and brain chemistry. But yeah, it’s all about the same thing. It’s how do we imagine, how do we not imagine that, how do we react to the things that are happening in our lives? There’s kind of a spectrum of, of kind of of impulses and sensory experiences and inputs that we can handle.

Chef Kibby (25:06):

And there comes a point in time where it becomes too much, and we ended up kind of flipping our lid or, you know, going in the red, you know, again, there’s kind of lots of different vernacular to, to explain that, but there comes a point where something happens and we’re no longer able to think logically. And we come out of the, the logic parts of our brain and drop down into kind of the the less evolved parts of our brain, the, the flight fight, freeze and faint falling down the polyvagal ladder, if you will. And for me, not only understanding those things, but understanding that a child who has experienced trauma, whether it be, you know, a one-time trauma or just periods of extended neglect or abuse, their ability to regulate themselves when their needs aren’t being met, or when they’re having things that are triggering them, they have such a smaller range.

Chef Kibby (26:04):

They have such a smaller ability to regulate those things. While at the same time, they are too young to have the, the emotional language, to be able to communicate that to us as caregivers. And so all we see are kids behaving poorly and we don’t know why our discipline or our consistency in expectations, isn’t having a change. And it’s been that, that eye opening experience that I have had over these last couple of years of understanding how to kind of see the needs behind the behavior to see that there are needs for felt safety and, and trust and knowing that their needs are going to be met. And that I can use my ability as, as a dad who is attuned to my own emotional state to invite my children into the kitchen, to begin to meet those most basic needs that they have like, well, food being one of them and being a huge trigger for a lot of children from hard places. And to turn that, that area of anxiety into a place of empowerment where not only do they know that they’re going to get food, but they know where the food is going to come from who they’re going to get it from and begin to see that they can actually have a role in feeding themselves and the rest of their family. And that’s a such a powerful tool.

Dr. Sarah (27:31):

Yes. Oh my God. Yes. And I think, you know, again, like we were saying before, like there’s trauma comes in all shapes and sizes, there’s sort of like the capital T trauma, like this very clear, bad thing, scary thing that happened. I can put my finger on it. I can name it. Then there’s like the lower case T trauma there’s that, that subtle, insidious pervasive misattunement things not needs not being met. That chronic sort of sense of I’m not safe in the world. And that can come from so many different things. COVID being one of them, which is, you know, COVID was kind of both a capital T and a lowercase T trauma for a lot of families, but you don’t need to have these profound. I could put my finger on it traumas necessarily to benefit from trauma informed parenting, because really what trauma informed parenting really is, is parenting that understands the nervous system, right?

Dr. Sarah (28:27):

Understands that when my child is losing it or is completely out of control it’s, I understand what is actually happening in their brain and body. I’m not threatened by it. I understand it makes sense. And I have tools to actually come in and help them manage it from like this sort of comforting containing external way. And that skillset is beneficial to absolutely any parent, no matter what your child’s life story is. Cause everybody gets dysregulated. Everybody has a nervous system that sometimes good we’re raising our hands. Nobody can see that, but we’re both like, yeah, like me, like what we were human beings, who, like you said, the lid gets flipped. And that is a reference to the frontal lobes turning off because the amygdala is blasting a fire alarm throughout the brain saying we’re not safe. We’re not safe, abort, abort, you know, like, and then the frontal lobes go offline.

Dr. Sarah (29:28):

And that’s where the thinking, you know, usually lives. So we’re running on instinct, we’re running on impulse, we’re running on reaction and like, you know, reflex. Hard to parent from a place of reflex. So I kind of want to take this back to this, like, okay, every parent can benefit from this mentality. Every parent can benefit from cooking with their kids. Like how can we, like, if you’re listening to this podcast and you’re a parent, what are some things that you could do like right now to integrate some of these ideas into your life with you?

Chef Kibby (29:59):

I think going back to what you said earlier, I think it starts with the mindset. It starts with changing your idea around the kitchen around what are the negative things that you already think or feel or believe around the kitchen. And what are the positive things you feel about, about food and cooking in the kitchen and how do we kind of either replace them or add to them by looking at them from a frame of connection. Because I think you can look at almost anything that you do in the kitchen and look at it as a way of connecting with your child. I cannot tell you the times when I’ve had a child do the smallest thing from bringing in the groceries or scrubbing some potatoes or peeling, you know, hard cooked eggs to putting the dishes out on the table. It doesn’t matter how small it is that they’ve participated.

Chef Kibby (30:56):

They will take credit for the whole meal. You know, they will say I helped. It doesn’t matter how small they will internalize the idea that they helped. And it’s more than just helping with, you know, the laundry or with washing the dog. I mean, all those things are good and can be connecting as well. But there’s something really special about food. Because again, getting back to this idea of vulnerability and trust, I don’t think that there’s any more trust that you can put into another human being than to allow them to give you something that you are going to put into your body and in a kind of a strange sort of metaphysical sort of way, it’s going to become a part of you. And what you put in your body has a, has a strong impact on your body. It’s a sensory experience and within moments and within minutes and hours, your body changes, you know, some foods make you feel really good and other foods make you feel really bad.

Chef Kibby (31:59):

And especially kids from hard places are very attuned to their sensory experiences. And so even if they can’t express it in the same language that you and I are expressing these things, now, I firmly believe that they get it, they get it. And they understand that by participating in the act of cooking and eating together with their primary caregivers, with their siblings, with the people that they are closest to in relationship, that that is impactful, that that is important, that that is trust giving and trust receiving. And, and it’s so powerful. And again, it doesn’t have to be complicated. It doesn’t have to be hard. It doesn’t have to be something that is so distracting to you, that it makes the process of cooking something, anxiety providing to you. You know, there are ways that you can kind of work yourself into it little by little and begin to frame this process from a different perspective, a different point of view. And the results are just tremendous.

Dr. Sarah (33:07):

What you were saying reminds me of this book that I was just reading. It’s called The Strange Situation by Bethany Saltman. And she talks about this, how like a bird who’s feeding at a bird feeder. If you walk up to that window, the bird is faced with this critical dilemma of do I flee or, and survive, or do I eat? And you can’t do both at the same time. You cannot nourish yourself and eat. If you are threatened and scared, there’s like two, those are two of the base biological processes and they can’t happen simultaneously. It’s one or the other. And so eating, you know, feeding one another, we do this understanding it’s dangerous, you know, like going back to our primitive cave people days, like you had to go and make sure you were in a safe place to be able to actually eat the food that you had.

Dr. Sarah (34:00):

And so I think that’s kind of just a beautiful way of connecting to what you’re doing with kids is like, when we’re eating, we’re safe and that, and even just like, you know, when we feed our children, when they’re babies, like there’s some, that’s so intimate and so vulnerable and so connected. And that’s like, you know, I talk a lot about taking time during meal times to really be present with our kids and other like caregiving moments and the rest of the time, just kind of let them play, let them do their thing, let them lead. But within those moments of deep vulnerability and connection, be there fully. And I think, you know, this idea that making mealtimes, even with older kids, like let’s capitalize on how safe we can make all of our, all of the, you know, all of us feel while we eat.

Chef Kibby (34:50):

And it doesn’t even have to be a meal that you’ve prepared together. You can take advantage of that aspect of, of food and cooking, even if you’ve brought in, you know, dine in or carry out or gone out to eat, getting into that practice of attunement during the cooking process, I think inviting them into the kitchen and that part of the process just multiplies that idea of connection to the meal that they were enjoying together. And in some cases, you know, it can make them, you know, if you have children who have issues with eating and picky eating or things of that nature, it can actually have the potential to encourage them to try things that they may not have done. So otherwise, because they feel a connection to the meal because it is something that they helped to prepare. And and to your point about the, the felt safety I think that this is not a, I understand that this is not something that we can do from a reactive standpoint.

Chef Kibby (35:52):

It’s not going to be something that’s going to help you bring them down from a tantrum. It is something that we have to do while they’re in a regulated state and while they’re receptive to our input and our feedback. And so if you have a child who’s dysregulated, you’re probably not going to be inviting them to be chopping onions. But I think by making this a regular practice, whether it be once a week or twice a week, or whatever is most comfortable, the more often those experiences are happening, the more the connection takes place. And the hope is that in the building of the connection, the, the more you’re expanding that realm in their brain emotionally, where they’re able to handle things more. And the, the tantrums, the blowups, the flare ups, the, the flipping their lid will hopefully happen less and less as a result.

Dr. Sarah (36:43):

Yes, it’s outside of the hot moments where the brain actually gets rewired the best. If we want to help our kids learn to increase their ability to regulate their emotions, to stretch that capacity for distress tolerance, we have to do that in the calm moments, because that’s where the, the neural circuits will start to get rewritten. So I love that. I think that’s so true. So making this a regular practice can actually reduce tantrums.

Chef Kibby (37:10):

Yes. And it just, it connects everything. I love this idea of connection because cooking, I mean, it connects the logical part of our brain with the artistic part of our brain. You know, there’s, there’s kind of left brain and right brain activities that help young minds to kind of integrate it in involves different academic pursuits, like math and science and chemistry and history and language arts. It integrates that with you know, just kind of you know, aspects of ourselves like how to manage ourselves, how to manage time, how to manage finances, how to communicate and problem solve. There’s just so many different aspects of our lives that can be integrated together in this activity of cooking that, you know, when people think, well, you know, cooking is just cooking. There’s just so much more to it that the benefits will hopefully kind of spill out into other aspects of their life, whether it be through school or at play, or just the, you know, the day to day lives that they’re experiencing. And as they grow older, you know, there’s gonna be so much that they’re going to be able to take from those experiences and apply, even if they don’t decide to be a chef, which I don’t necessarily recommend to everybody because it’s not nearly as glamorous as they make it out to be on food network. But there are ways in which the, the knowledge that they are getting and the experience that they’re getting in the kitchen will have impacts in other areas of their life as well.

Dr. Sarah (38:45):

Right. It’s a really rich place to start. And I’m thinking like, okay, you’re listening to this podcast. You maybe you’re not, you’re not a chef. You, you know, maybe you don’t even really feel so confident in the kitchen yourself as a parent, but you’re, you’re hearing this. And you’re like, okay, you know what? This is speaking to me, you’ve already sort of, we’ve talked about changing the mindset about thinking about the process, not the product. So it’s not about like getting a gourmet meal made. It’s not even about getting like a good dinner on the table. It’s just about connecting with your kid. What would be like the next step? What would we be one place parents could sort of start to try to do this.

Chef Kibby (39:21):

 So once you’ve worked on the mindset, once you’ve gotten past and kind of forgotten things that you thought you knew about the kitchen and replace them with the perspective of connection, then it’s kind of coming up with a game plan and starting to look at the things that you already do in the kitchen, whether it be the, the creation of a menu to doing the shopping, to doing the actual process of creating food for your family and looking for opportunities to invite your children into those processes in order to, to bring about connection. So your listeners can check out my Cooking Is Connecting 20 day challenge. It’s an email sequence that goes through a framework that was developed by the search Institute called the developmental relationships framework. And in it, they lay out 20 different actions or activities that we as caregivers can use with our children to communicate different developmental assets that our children need.

Chef Kibby (40:21):

And what I loved about that framework was that each of those 20 actions and activities could be done through the shared act of cooking and eating together. And so I created this email challenge and then transcribed that into a sequence of podcast episodes as well, to go through the different areas and aspects of parenting that our children need from us and giving parents a few very simple things that they can do in and around the shared act of cooking and eating together to begin to implement those things. And it’s not about recipes, it’s not about dishes. It’s about again, reframing and looking at the things that we already do or could be doing from a lens of connection and inviting our children into the process with us. So I think that would be a great place to start. And even now I’m continuing to develop some more content kind of behind the scenes right now.

Chef Kibby (41:16):

And hopefully in the very near future, I will be releasing and unveiling. What I’m calling kind of my, my cornerstone course, the cooking is connecting program where parents can take this program and begin to not only get their mindset change around the kitchen, but to have some really practical steps, you know, kind of ABC here are the steps that we need to take to really begin to put this methodology and this mindset into action, because it is a process. And it’s a process that I have had to go through myself, even though I am a chef and I’m still going through it. And I want to share that in a way that parents can, can have it in their hands or available at any time online and be able to put it into practice in their family’s life.

Dr. Sarah (42:08):

Oh, what an awesome resource. I like didn’t even know you did that when I asked you that question. So that’s perfect. Okay. So we’ll put that. We should put that in the show notes, for sure. How can people get in touch with you or find out more about what you’re doing so they can like take this to the next level?

Chef Kibby (42:23):

Well, Cookin’ With Kibby is the name of my personal brand. It’s cookin with Kibby. I had to leave off the G because it was too many letters for Twitter. So cookinwithkibby.com is my website. Like Dr. Sarah has done, you can slide into my DMs on Instagram. I’m pretty active over there. And from there, you can also find links to to my email list. And the Cooking is Connecting 20 day challenge. And I also do have one online course already available to parents because one of the biggest hangups for a lot of families around inviting their children into the kitchen is the handling of knives. Because rarely do you find a recipe where you don’t have to handle knives and they can, that can be very anxiety ridden for a lot of folks. And so I’ve created a 10 week course called Knife Skills for Busy Families. And it goes through all of the basics on how to safely and effectively handle kitchen knives, and to teach those things to your children as well. And I’ve integrated it into a 10 week program where every week you’re actually cooking something together as a family, as a way of practicing the knife skills that I’m teaching you along the way. So it’s really practical, really easy to just kind of weave it into your normal weekly routine.

Dr. Sarah (43:42):

That’s so cool. Awesome. Well, thank you so much for coming on here and talking about this stuff. This was wonderful. Thank you so much. And we’ll see you soon, I think.

Chef Kibby (43:51):

Awesome. Thank you so much for having me.

Dr. Sarah (43:52):


Dr. Sarah (44:00):

I hope you enjoyed this episode. I love how Chef Kibby uses his passion for cooking to bring levity and love to a heavy parenting situation – working through behavioral issues in children affected by trauma. I’d love to hear from you too. What is an activity that you do to connect with your own child? Is it playing a sport together, gardening, crafting? At the end of the day, if we’re focusing on the why sort of being present and invested in strengthening our bonds, the where, and the what doesn’t really end up mattering that much. And if you’re interested in checking out some more resources to help guide you on your parenting journey, visit my website, drsarahbren.com. There you’ll find everything from articles about navigating childcare transitions, to support for growing families, to understanding the neurological and psychological causes of fight or flight mode. There’s lots there for you to explore at drsarahbren.com. That’s drsarahbren.com.

Dr. Sarah (44:59):

Don’t forget to follow, subscribe, like, and rate the podcast. And until next week don’t be a stranger!

I want to hear from you! Send me a topic you want me to cover or a question you want answered on the show!

DM me on Instagram at @securelyattachedpodcast or @drsarahbren

Send an email to info@drsarahbren.com

And check out drsarahbren.com for more parenting resources 

12. Healing trauma and fostering connection through cooking with children with Chef Kibby