It is important we give ourselves permission to not always get it right in parenting. But after we do have a messy moment, it’s also important we know how to reconnect to create a sense of trust and intimacy in our parent-child relationship.
I’ve invited Dana Rosenbloom, founder of Dana’s Kids, back on the show to continue our conversation about regulation and coregulation and to address what happens after there is a rupture. We’ll discuss exactly what rupture and repair is, how this cycle is an important piece of maintaining strong and connected relationships, the impact that generational transmission of trauma can have on our ability to properly apologize or repair, and the necessity of slowing down to give ourselves time to respond rather than simply react.
Rupture and repair doesn’t have to be a dangerous place. When that is a safe cycle, that’s how we enhance attachment and relationship.
Dr. Sarah (00:16):
Parenting is hard and there will be times that our own frustration, anger and even annoyance bubbles over and we snap. But don’t worry just because you’ve yelled at your kid doesn’t mean that you’ve ruined your relationship with them. After we do lose our cool though, it’s important that we take the steps to properly repair our attachment bond. In my interactive workbook called “I lost my temper with my kid… Now what?” I walk you through the five step process of effective repair with done for you scripts that say exactly what to do after you lose your cool, prompts for adapting that into your own voice and a breakdown of exactly why these strategies work. To get this resource head to drsarahbren.com/resources and download this workbook so the next time your child’s tantrum pushes you past your breaking point, you know exactly what comes next to feel connected and centered again. Go to drsarahbren.com/resources to get your copy today.
Dr. Sarah (01:24):
Being able to regulate our own emotions to stay calm and in control in the face of our triggers is something I talk a lot about. In fact, I had today’s guest, Dana Rosenbloom, founder of Dana’s Kids on the podcast in episode 6 to talk about how we can use our calm, nervous to co-regulate with their child signaling to their brain and body that they are safe and can move out of fight or flight mode. But at the end of the day, no matter how calm, cool and collected we are, there are times we will lose it with our kids. We’re human and these things happen. So I invited Dana to come back and continue the conversation and discuss what we can do to repair our attachment bond. After we do lose our temper or have any sort of rupture in our relationships with our children.
Dr. Sarah (02:17):
Hi, I’m Dr. Sarah Bren, a clinical psychologist and mom of two. 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. So you can tune out the noise and tune into your own authentic parenting voice with confidence and calm. This is Securely Attached.
Dr. Sarah (02:50):
Hi, I’m like thrilled to welcome back to the podcast someone who is a dear friend of mine, and just brilliant when it comes to all things parenting. Dana Rosenbloom. Thank you for being here.
Thank you. I’m just sitting here laughing, cuz you know, we spent about 37 seconds, like quote unquote, going over, prepping what we were gonna talk about. And then it was just like, nope, we just need to talk cuz this is what we do.
Dr. Sarah (03:12):
We just need to hit record.
Right. I’m thrilled to be back talking with you because it’s always, it’s always fun and just, you know, get all the juices going. So thank you for having me.
Dr. Sarah (03:20):
Right. I’m like already on fire. This is gonna be a good episode. I can feel it.
Dr. Sarah (03:25):
But the reason why, yeah, the reason why I asked you to come back was because we did an episode way back at the beginning of this podcast and we’ll link to it in the show notes because it’s very worth listening to, but we talked a lot about coregulation and emotion regulation and things when they’re messy. And I think a really important follow up to whenever there’s a messy moment is how do we come back together? And you know, you have a lot of interesting insights into this concept because I think as we were just getting all excited about before we hit the record, we’re talking about, there’s a lot of misunderstanding about repair. And let’s clear that up for people. So let’s first just start off talking about like what is rupture and what is repair. These are words that are kind of flung around a lot right now. And I think there’s a lot of sort of nuance to them.
Right. And you know, it’s one of the things that I think is really interesting even in that, you know, few minutes that we had just chatted before because you and I were even coming to this conversation kind of with some some different ideas about what it was. So, you know, the, you know, you mentioned kind of this idea of sort of toxic information out there, toxic feelings around this whole concept of rupture. And you know, for me, my brain goes to, you know, a rupture can be as simple as limit setting, right? Like you can’t have a cookie for breakfast. And a child, you know, at any point sort of in, in the age span, feeling really angry about that feeling like I should be able to have that. And you’re mean, and you’re the worst and I may be a toddler they’re having a tantrum about it. I may be a teenager saying like, you never let me have what I, what I want, you’re the worst person ever. Right. And so one way or the other that rupture, you know, is there’s that tension and that conflict and that discomfort in the parent child relationship. Certainly I think that the conversation very often about what is rupture between a parent and a child, you know, is automatically about what a parent did wrong, right? What we, as the grown up sort of shouldn’t have said, or we lost our cool or we yelled, or we created this moment. And you know, it has such a negative connotation where I believe in reality when we complete that rupture repair cycle, there’s actually a lot of growth and increased, you know, safe attachment and all of these wonderful things that I’m sure we’re gonna get to today, that are really actually part of what that rupture, what that disconnection for a moment that anger, all the different emotions that come can be. Right. And so, you know, just to go off on the tangent, as I’m thinking for a second, you know, one of the things I work on with parents a lot is this whole concept of get comfortable with your child feeling uncomfortable. You know, we try veer away when we are with children, from all the uncomfortable feelings, we shouldn’t do things that are uncomfortable. We don’t wanna see them uncomfortable. Maybe uncomfortable feelings. Aren’t really great. And the truth of the matter is, is that so much of what you and I both do is just allowing parents to get more comfortable, to understand that all emotions are okay. They don’t always feel good. But the whole concept to me of the rupture repair cycle is the fact that you can have those uncomfortable feelings, whatever they may be. And then you can come back from them and then we’re gonna be okay because that’s what this attachment and this relationship is about.
Dr. Sarah (06:55):
Absolutely. And I think you bring up a very good point that I think there’s a misunderstanding sometimes of what rupture is. And it, a lot of times is spoken about kind of like the product versus what actually causes it to happen. So rupture really is any time when two people feel misaligned with one another. And that can be very small, it can be really non explode. It can also be really big and really explosive. So like, you can obviously, if you lose your cool and you yell at your kid, there’s a rupture. Okay. And we can talk about reframing that in a less sort of shameful damaging way, but also we can recognize that, okay, that’s a rupture. That’s a sort of a neutral description of what that is. But also like, to your point, like I could say, Hey, no cookies before breakfast. And my kid can feel very mad at me for not giving them what they want in that moment. And Hey, that’s also a rupture. Right. Me setting a limit, which is well within my like good parenting handbook, could also create a rupture. So it, rupture is not simply the product of us messing up as parents.
Right, exactly. Right. And I think, you know, one of the other interesting things that comes up for me when we, when we start thinking about sort of who am I as a person when rupture and repair come up, right? Because to me, that’s, that’s a very good starting point for a parent, as I think about what my natural inclination is to do in the moments that these things come up, how do I react? Right. We hope, how do I respond? But the reality is, is that very often in those moments, we’re reacting, not responding as well as we might like. But if I, if I start from a point of who am I, and what do I do with these moments? I can really look at very many relationships in my life with a spouse or a partner, with a parent, with a friend. What are those things that I do? Where does my discomfort come from? Or my approach to, again, once we get to that repair. And I think that can be very informative about where your go to is when these things are happening with your child. And listen, when it’s your child some way, it feels even heavier, right?
Dr. Sarah (09:18):
Here you are your responsibility to this person, the weight of that relationship. Right. But if we can step back and kind of go to a little bit more, and I love the idea of thinking about rupture as kind of like a semi neutral statement. Like we know it’s not fun for anybody, but we’re not placing blame. We’re not saying so if we can kind of pull back from the weight of when those things go on with your child to say, who am I, when these uncomfortable things happen, then we can start to think really constructively about maybe where we make some changes, maybe where we continue something, maybe how we wanna do it different because we’ve taken a moment to be reflective about ourselves in those moments, and then do it, do it in a way that that maybe is going to be. And again, we spoke about this before, you know, that teachable moment, that learning experience for everyone who’s involved in that, that momentary disconnect. Whether, again, as you said, it’s a big blow up something more minor.
Dr. Sarah (10:18):
Yeah. And I think that requires a couple things. One, it requires us to slow down. Like that we have to slow down so we can think this through, right? Like you talked about the difference between reacting versus responding. And I think it’s not semantics. I mean, it’s a bit semantics. But really the difference is a reaction is impulsive. It is a quick, quick gut sort of boom. And a response requires a pause, a reflection. Oh, I noticed something happened. Let me think about what that means for me. And then let me make a choice as to how I wanna respond. So there’s space and slowness in a response, whereas a reaction is very tight and close to the thing. The other thing that, what you said makes me think about is the fact. Okay, this, I love this idea of like who we are when we are rupturing, who we are, if we can get to that repair. And I think a lot of that stems from the way that we were responded to when we were kids, right. We learned that potentially highly defensive position around rupture and repair from the way that we were responded to. If we messed up as kids, if we got mad at our parent for setting a limit to us, and we showed them that anger, was that seen as, oh, you’re mad. Let’s acknowledge that and give you space for your anger. And then let’s try to repair your anger and try to like, get back into a place of connection. Or was that shut down and say, you don’t get to be mad at me.
Dr. Sarah (11:48):
That’s not an acceptable behavior or response. And so then, you know, or if you have a parent who is highly defensive when there was any sort of rupture, not my fault, this is your fault. Then we’re going to internalize that as well with our kids. And it’s gonna come out when we are parents with our kids.
Exactly. And you know, there’s been sort of a recent, amongst some colleagues of mine, you know, we’re hearing language around generational trauma a lot. Right. And I think when people hear the word trauma, they think really big and listen, we’ve all just gone through this sort of universal trauma of, you know, the height of the pandemic. And so we’re in it. And so there’s this real, like trauma has to be this, this large just sort of enveloping concept. But when you are a child whose parent is dismissive of your feelings or who is taking responsibility for a parent’s feelings, or, you know, any of these things, it can be traumatic. And it does, it does influence the way then we, as when we are on the other side of that relationship respond. And I don’t say that by way of saying, you know, there’s like more room to mess up, right? Like, you know, if you were messed up that your likelihood of messing up your kid is that much higher. But it’s an opportunity to say, you know, that didn’t feel good for me when I was a kid. And I’m still gonna set this limit for my kiddo, cuz that’s my job as a good parent, whatever good means. That’s a whole other conversation.
Dr. Sarah (13:29):
New Speaker (13:29):
But I can, I can access and acknowledge that I don’t wanna do it in the same way. And I still love my parents and I still, all of these things and respect, you know, this adult who I am today, who’s capable maybe of reflecting. But that I can say for my child, I need to be able to say, I hear you. That’s a real feeling for you. You’re really mad right now. And I can sit here with you or I can walk away from you. I’m always gonna love you. The limit stands. But like I own that. That’s the way you feel about this. And you’re entitled to that moment. You know, we’ve talked before I have something, I call a mad minute with kids, right. And sometimes a mad minute is five minutes and sometimes it’s not mad, but it’s just this, and again, you know, it goes back to, we were just, you just used the word pause and I had written down as you were speaking the word pause. Again, I think pause is a great topic for another conversation. And how, how we allow for pauses. But that pause in being able to say, you know, I can do this for my child. I can let them have of this mad minute, this moment to just be in there without having judgment about it. You know, acknowledging that that’s how they’re reacting and now what do I wanna do with that? And in the best of situations, it’s opening up an avenue for that repair for that reconnection so that we can move forward and know that rupture and repair doesn’t have to be a dangerous place. When that is a safe cycle, that’s how we enhance attachment and relationship.
Dr. Sarah (15:09):
Yeah. Let’s talk about that.
I feel like I need to step down off my soapbox right now.
Dr. Sarah (15:12):
No, my God, I’m always up there on that soapbox with you. And the thing is like we could talk circles around sort of, and I’m so glad you brought up intergenerational transmission of trauma because I think it’s really, there’s no rupture and repair conversation that doesn’t have ghosts in the nursery as we often say.
I was literally just going to say those words, that’s exactly where I go. They’re real. They’re there.
Dr. Sarah (15:41):
When we, and it’s about human, it’s a human thing, right. When we rupture with a human being and we have the choice to repair or we can’t access that either that happens to. But that rupture elicits in us memories of all the times we’ve had significant ruptures in the past. Right. Cause those ruptures, especially when unrepaired can leave scars. Right? Yes. And so, and the idea of intergenerational transmission of those scars is that we hold within us, the scars of our mother and our grandmother and her grandmother. And you know, you know what I’m saying? So like, we pass these wounds onto our children and we can certainly do our best to be a cycle breaker, as they say, and stop that, that cyclical passing down these wounds. But you’re never gonna be able completely prevent some passing down because it’s frankly like we’re talking epigenetic in a lot of ways it’s in our DNA.
Absolutely. But it’s also an opportunity. And so, you know, we talked a little bit about sort of like the toxic language around some of this stuff. And I just, you know, listen. I don’t believe that a parent is going to be quote unquote, perfect all the time. Right. You’re not always gonna have the right responses versus the reactivity. But every now and then being able to step back and reframe these moments as opportunities to say, you know, I get into bed at night and today didn’t go the way I wanted it to go with my child. What can I do differently tomorrow? Those are the opportunities it’s never gonna go a hundred percent right. It’s never gonna be seamless. You know, and again, this goes back to the rupture and repair, and I know I’m off on a different tangent than you were going at the moment. But you know, it’s, it’s this, this opportunity to build resilience, to know that these things happen and I’m okay. I’m okay. And if there’s anything we wanna pass down generationally, you know, even if that means it’s coming along with some of the extra baggage and it probably will, is also like this might feel uncomfortable for a while. It kind of sucks. And I’m okay. I can get through this.
Dr. Sarah (18:01):
And I think you bring up a really interesting kind of scenario, right. That I think is important. Cuz I think a lot of people think of rupture repair has to happen kind of in sync with one another. Like we, we have a fight. We repair, I lose my cool. I say, I’m sorry. My kid gets mad at me. We immediately repair. They’re often spoken about, you know, as almost like a two word with a hyphen in between.
A unit. Right.
Dr. Sarah (18:23):
But the reality is, is repair can happen. There is no expiration date for an effective repair. So if you are a parent laying in bed being like, oh my God, today was a hot mess. I didn’t show up in the way I wanted to. I have things that felt like ruptures in this day and now my kid is sleeping and I can’t sleep. And it’s just, I’m holding this weight. Right. You can certainly go to your child sometime later in the next day or even you know, whenever. I always say, look for the calm, connected moments, those are the best moments for repair. Hear the moment nobody wants to hear debrief on what happened wrong and why, we’re sorry, it’s just not gonna land. Right. You’ve gotta let everybody cool off. It’s okay to do a repair another day. And it’s never, and you know, oftentimes in therapy I’ll be talking to people, parents who are like, you know, this thing happened like a month ago and we have never talked about it. And I’m like, so talk about it. Now there’s no expiration date on repair.
And what a huge piece of sort of almost permission that is to know I can revisit. And I think, you know, and I think we’ll get more, you know, further into talking about repair. And I think there is something, you know, I deal a lot with children with emotional regulation, challenges and anxiety, certainly developmental differences. And I think the way we approach repair and understanding that repair is going to look different in different scenarios, right. It’s not always about getting into the specifics of what didn’t go right. Sometimes a statement, you know, and, and certainly naming it is important. But sometimes the statement sort of as broad as just saying like, you know, yesterday didn’t feel good. I really wanna make today feel better. We don’t have to get in there with the specifics. So particularly for my sort of highly sensitive kiddos who are internalizing so much of what a parent says, even that little bit of saying like, yeah, that didn’t feel good for me. I bet it didn’t feel good for you. And we kind of forget sometimes that those moments don’t feel good for kids either. They don’t want that, you know, but we can all move so far forward by saying like, Ugh, breakfast yesterday was so hard. Let’s try to do it better today, you know. And whether we get into the specifics of how, or we, don’t just the acknowledgement that, that went on is so huge in that step towards repair and in the repair.That, you know, it’s, it’s just, it’s so big.
Dr. Sarah (21:00):
Right. And this brings us to a perfect opportunity to like, just like we’re saying, like let’s define rupture, let’s define repair and it’s not exactly an apology. Always an apology is a type of repair. Correct. But there are so many ways that we can repair acknowledging is a form of repair Reconnecting. Maybe we’re just gonna read a book together after a fight. Right. Maybe we’re just gonna say, you know what? That was a tough moment. Why don’t we do something that a little bit special for us right now? Why don’t we just cuddle up in my bed and read a story? Would that feel better? You know, sometimes that’s repair, right? We don’t always have to hash and rehash. And again, to your point with very sensitive kids, where all that verbal stimulation just loses them. Like less is more.
Right. And that takes us back to the conversation about co-regulation right. Particularly when you do have a child who is more sensitive in any variety of ways, we have to be conscious of how we are co-regulating in those moments. Right. So listen, I mean, we all know parenting is not easy. Caregiving for children is not easy. There is, who am I in these moments? There is who is my child in these moments? How do we satisfy to some extent everybody’s needs in the way they approach these moments? I get asked a lot and this kind of came up for me when you were talking about like, let’s read a book or do something special together is, you know, sometimes parents feel that if they move into that, let’s do something together that they are dismissing the issue that came up. Right. So maybe a child, a limit was said, a child throws something or yells or whatever it is, you know, if I then take that child into my lap, aren’t I saying to them, Well, it was really okay. Right. It’s okay that you did that.
Dr. Sarah (22:50):
This comes up so much. And it’s a very valid question, I think for parents. This idea that like, cause I think most parents are for better or worse informed from a behavioral a behaviorism based model of parenting, which is very reward, punishment model. Like if you award a behavior, it will continue. And if you punish a behavior, it will stop. And so if that’s our logic, if that’s what we, if that’s the framework by which we look at behaviors, then then to, to cuddle someone on your lap after they’ve thrown something feels very counterintuitive. Right?
Dr. Sarah (23:27):
But I think you and I are actually operating from a non behaviorism framework. We’re operating from a relational attachment based framework, which actually allows for a very different strategy. And it doesn’t interfere with the behaviors because I think, and you and I are both aligned on this. I know because we’ve talked about this a million times and this is why we have such, you know, great conversations because we’re passionate about this. But when you’re looking at parent child relationship and you’re looking at behavior from that relational lens, connecting with your child, after they have done something that was evidence of a dysregulated kind of impulsive act, an emotion driven act. Connecting with them can actually help them to move out of that space. And then be able to reflect on why that behavior didn’t work. What could we do differently, but you can’t do that until you co-regulate and you connect and you recreate that sense of safety for them. And I don’t believe that reinforces a child’s propensity to throw something or do whatever the bad behavior quote unquote was. I think it actually helps them to create context for why they did something, help them to connect dots, help them to understand alternative behaviors. Like they’re learning in this process. So I believe genuinely, and I teach this with great confidence, cuz I’ve seen it work, you know, across the board. That when you do connect after a hot moment, you are not reinforcing the bad behavior you are increasing their emotion regulation capacity, which in turn decreases the bad behavior. So it’s like, I kinda dunno.
Yeah, I know. And I would almost go so far as to say, listen, I definitely work and your dead on, from this relationship, you know, standpoint. Right. So anytime I’m doing kind of a behavior strategies list, pretty much connection is always number one. And I talk a lot about proactive strategies and reactive strategies. And how do we connect beforehand so that during these more difficult moments with behavior, we’ve got that basis and that reconnection, I would say that I don’t know that it has to be, or that the way we parent has to be exclusive of one or the other, right. I think there’s moments where there are more behavioristic responses, right? When you make this choice, then this thing happens and this thing may be positive or negative based on whether that was an acceptable choice. So that can be in there. But when we take this place that we’re getting to this rupture, and now everyone’s feeling uncomfortable, I’m with you a thousand percent. Nothing moves forward if we’re still disconnected. And that is absolutely true with kids who have special needs, children who have, you know, whatever level of sensitivity from a sensory or emotional standpoint. That co-regulation and connection in that moment is the only way as far as you and I are both concerned, I know, to effectively move forward to, to move forward in a way. And I talk about, you know, can your child use the type of discipline you are using right? When we throw certain things out at children and they, whether they’re developmentally not able to do it, or because of their regulation state not able to use it when we’re throwing stuff at kids that they can’t use the chance of them repeating, whatever that thing was, again, is way high. That if we take a moment to say that wasn’t safe, I love you, and I’m gonna help you calm your body down, and then we’re gonna figure it out together. And again, obviously that looks different based on where your child is, but the likelihood then after we’ve done that, co-regulation, we’ve made that connection. We’ve helped that child feel safe. I’m not saying this was okay. I’m not, not gonna readdress what happens. And often, particularly with very young children, you know, when a child is throwing something and I say to them, I’m gonna stop your body. I’m gonna move that away from you. Cuz throwing is not safe. And again, certainly the amount of language I use is gonna shift based on who the child is. But that limit is me saying, this is not okay. Now I can then hug my child and I can then say to my child, you know, or think through my past experiences with my child to know what is going to be effective for them, for getting their body and their person back to a place where they can use our interaction, where they can, you know, move forward. But until I’ve gotten them to that place, by giving a hug or sitting next to them or whatever it may be, they’re not learning. They’re not going to be able to use that the next time. And even when we think about this rupture repair cycle, as I was saying earlier, when we reframe this as an opportunity, then it’s a teachable moment. Then it’s a moment for us together as a unit. It’s a moment for my child. And we can then move forward, hopefully in better ways going forward rather than just like I’m doomed, I messed up. I’m doomed.
Dr. Sarah (28:41):
Right. And it also takes us out of us versus them. Right. It’s more of like a, we versus the problem. Like it’s, we’re gonna come together and say, Hey, this didn’t work. How can we do this differently together next time. Right.
And a hug, a hug part way through that. Doesn’t make that conversation any less effective in making things better next time. And that can, I think that can feel very scary for parents, right? It’s like the same, you know, parents will say to me like, oh my child never wants to tie their shoe. They always want me to tie their shoes for them. And my first question is, are they able to tie their shoe? Then if the bottom line is that they can do it. And you’re trying to get outta the house in the morning, tie the shoe and move along. Like we don’t need to make that moment more than it needs to be. Right. It’s okay to say, I’m gonna give a hug now because I know this makes me and my child both more available to the positive next step, to the repair, I’m gonna do that.
Dr. Sarah (29:41):
Right. And I also think, you know, talking about repair. Repair, cause I think, you know, we I’ve talked a lot about repair and in the context of like, okay, I’ve lost it with my kid because I’m a human being and I definitely do lose it with my kid. Like I’m not talking about like the, all of you parents out there who might lose it. I’m saying when I myself do definitely lose it with my kid, like how do I connect with them afterwards and take some ownership over that? Because I do think that’s a big part of repair and it’s more, we have a little bit more control over that, right? Like when our kids are really mad and they, you know, show us how mad they are at the limit that we’ve set by maybe hitting or throwing or throwing a big tantrum. Um it’s harder for our kids to come back to us and say, you know what, I’m really sorry. I did that. That didn’t really feel good to you. Right. But do you know how they learn? How to one day be able to do that by us doing it for them and modeling that, right. We need to have appropriate expectations for our kids and appropriate expectations for ourselves. We can do that. Not always and sometimes not right away. But eventually, repair doesn’t have to happen immediately. We can cool off, we can take a break. But then we can come back and say, you know what? I really lost it for a second there. And I yelled and I don’t think that felt good to you and it didn’t feel good to me. And I’m sorry.
Dr. Sarah (31:10):
And I don’t say, but you were doing this and you were doing that.
Right. But when you, you make me right. We don’t need that part.
Dr. Sarah (31:19):
We can get to that part later. You know, we can, we can debrief. I love a good debrief and that’s not part of repair, repair and debrief are not the same thing. Let’s make that very clear. Separate out repair from a debrief. Repair is a moment of reconnection. It’s not about…
It’s not the problem solving. It’s not about, you know, how are we gonna do this differently necessarily. It is just about bringing that connection back together.
Dr. Sarah (31:48):
Yes. And the debrief could happen in that moment. Right. We could say, how could we do this differently next time? Right. That’s a perfectly appropriate time to bring in a debrief sometimes. Right. And you’re gonna have to be kind of feeling that out. Right. If our kids can receive that, then fine. If they’re really upset. And again, I wouldn’t do a repair when they’re really upset. You need for both of us to cool off a little bit, regulate a little bit, come back down a little bit. You go in for the repair, you say, I lost my cool and I didn’t feel good to you. And it didn’t feel good to me. And I’m sorry. Done. Right. There is our repair. We don’t need to add, we can then if we feel like that our child can receive it, do a debrief. But I would separate them out a little bit because I don’t wanna teach a kid that apologies come with a, but you.
Right. Right. And I think just the idea that number one, it doesn’t have to be an apology always. Right? It’s not always just about saying, I’m sorry. In that moment, it can be an acknowledgement. It can certainly be. I’m sorry. But that’s not the only way to make a repair. And I think exactly what you’re saying is, is going back to sort of how I frame as can they use it right. To get to that next, that debrief, that problem solve whatever, when your child is not ready to hear it, not ready to use it, not available to it again, you know, it’s like our agenda is overriding then the repair and the repair needs to on its own.
Dr. Sarah (33:20):
Yes, yes. I love that. I think, and then the debrief should happen. Don’t get me wrong. I think that’s where I think a lot of people misread this sort of gentle, respectful, mindful, conscious fill in the blank adjective parenting style is that it’s all about repair and it’s not about teaching and it’s not about having consequences and it’s not about it’s all permissive.
Well, right. And I was just gonna say, you know, they so often, and I think I have a post about this somewhere positive parenting people read as permissive parenting and it is not, it is not. I’m gonna prioritize the relationship. I’m gonna prioritize the connection, but I’m still getting to the rest of that. Right. And I think, you know, knowing how to do a debrief, knowing how to go through a problem solving with your child, and again, looks very different at different ages for different personality types, but that’s a really important piece as well. But again, as you said, two separate entities, right. That don’t have to happen in exactly the same moment.
Dr. Sarah (34:25):
Yeah. And frankly, it, you know, might look different at different times with your own kid, your same kid, right.
Dr. Sarah (34:34):
In like milder moments, you could put them all together. In really hot moments, you really might have to spread them out quite a bit. And that’s really, you are not undermining your authority or your child’s ability to learn consequence. If you do the debrief a day later, I really genuinely don’t believe it. And I think there’s, that’s the myth, there’s this urgency that, that authoritative parenting, even that anything other than permissive parenting requires the discipline to happen immediately. And I don’t agree. I think discipline can certainly happen…
And that discipline has to look in a certain way. Right. There’s there’s that, that, and again, I think this takes us back to reactivity, right? When we have all this pressure on us, that it has to look this way. Right. It has to be a consequence, you know, so often, you know, I’ve got parents of three and four year olds saying like they’re taking away toys and they’re throwing things in the garbage and you know, they’re, they’re making threats. And it’s like, if we’re doing that at three and four, what are we doing at, you know, 10 and 11. But there’s this pressure that like, we’ve gotta get all of that done in this moment. That that’s how we teach them. And it’s just not a useful framework. I think we don’t lose the, there’s a consequence to behavior. We don’t lose the, let’s think of about how we do this better next time. But, you know, and, and you know, when you think about a child’s nervous system and your own nervous system, and we talk about that so much when we talk about co-regulation. When your nervous systems are screaming, right? You’re not working with your logical cognitive brain. You’re working just with your nerves and your emotions and your feelings. And until we can get those back to a regulated state for both parties, and quite frankly, this is with your partner, this is with anybody else, you know. And this is again where we get to that reflection of who am I in these moments. Right. You know, like even with my partner, you know I’m a person who like needs a minute and wants to walk away for the second. And he gets so mad. He’s like, why can’t you just stay in here and do this? And it’s like, my nervous system is off the charts right now. There is nothing that’s gonna come outta my mouth in this moment. That’s going to be positive for us because I’m just in that reactive fight or flight stage when I can have a second. And again, go back to that pause word that we keep using to just both of us cool down. And yes, when it’s a parent and a child, you can do that together in the same room. You can use physicality for that. Sometimes, sometimes you can’t. But when we take that moment to say, wow, we are both in this like super heightened nervous system place. We cannot get to the next piece right now. And let’s just give it that minute and just acknowledge that. Like, we’re just like, we need a minute. We need a minute and that’s okay. And then we will get to.
Dr. Sarah (37:34):
Yeah. And I think that there’s permission in parenting to lose the urgency. And I think that that’s something that’s very kind of novel. I think that, and I don’t blame parents for having that sense of urgency. Like, I have it. And, and I have to actively remind myself.
I think in life we have it today. Right. I think that this is, this is a state it’s like, what do they call it? The problem of being busy or it’s not the problem, but it’s something like, it’s an epidemic of this like busy urgency, gotta be moving, gotta get it right. Gotta, gotta, gotta, gotta. And it’s just like, so, you know, it’s like, I, you know, I hear you say, you know, permission to let go of the urgency of parenthood. And I’m thinking to myself, like, this is your next book or your next, your next something. Because there it’s so huge. And you said it right at the beginning. And it struck me. Slowing down, it’s so hard to do. It is in all, in all aspects of our lives. It’s so hard to do, but so valuable.
Dr. Sarah (38:35):
I know. And I think the only way we can do it is giving ourselves a little grace and also giving ourselves some context too. When we say to ourselves, cuz if you can slow down, sometimes you can notice the feeling, right. You can say, I’m feeling this urgency. I’m feeling like I’m supposed to act right now. And there’s like, fear that if I don’t act, I’m gonna mess up my kid. They’re not gonna learn this very important thing. Then they’re gonna go through their life being this like kid that throws or hits, or doesn’t say, you know, please, and thank you, or is just like a nonproductive member of society and that’s a terrifying fear. Right.
And how easy it is for us to run there. Right. Because you’re right. We are, we are fed this like, you know, one little, one little rupture and what road is this kiddo gonna go down?
Dr. Sarah (39:26):
Right. And so there is a lot of toxic messaging in the parenting world I believe. And some of it is that, you know, you’re a bad parent if you’re not, you know, stopping every single behavior and that your child’s behavior is an immediate and direct reflection of how good of a parent you are. And that’s just not true. Your child is a human being, a whole individual agent full creature. That sometimes is going to lose their cool, no matter what you do.
Dr. Sarah (39:56):
And they’re learning to be in this world and they’re going to figure it out in a really messy way sometimes. And that’s not you failing, that’s you holding space for a kid to figure some stuff out on their own too. And that’s okay.
And it doesn’t make parenting. What I call parenting in public any easier, right? When you have an audience for those moments, or even if the audience into somewhere in your brain, right. We go back to that generational idea, right? It’s not easy and it doesn’t feel good. But they are human and they are not direct reflections of our skillset, our person, whatever. We are part of that, we are part of helping to help them learn to make good choices and all of these things. But you know, they are their own whole entities. And we’ve talked in the past about, you know, this whole parenting dance and the idea of learning your partner, learning your child. And as they get older and move into different phases of, you know, their development, that the dance is going to shift. And as you grow and change as a parent, as a person that dance and those steps are going to shift and change. And, you know, it’s, this is not for the faint of heart. It, it is it is an ongoing living relationship. And it’s allowing yourself the decrease in urgency. And, you know, you talked about kind of noticing what what’s happening, right? We’ve got like getting yourself to a point where you can notice this thing is happening or I’m feeling this way. You know, you move beyond the noticing and you say, here’s how I’d like to do it better. And then you need to move even to the next step to then start applying that. Right. And it’s a learning process for ourselves in kind of moving through those, oh, you know, these moments are triggering for me. These moments bring up these things. I feel this way. Okay. Now next step. And it’s not all gonna happen at once.
Dr. Sarah (41:59):
No and sometimes you need help to see it. You know sometimes you can’t get out of this, you can’t get that kind of bird’s eye view by yourself and that’s okay too. You know. That’s where I think good therapy and good coaching comes in because you know, this is, this is really deep stuff for a lot of people. This is like, you know, we have to learn to reparent ourselves. Sometimes we have to learn how to give ourselves, you know, repair. We talk about rupture and repair. You know, obviously we wanna be able to do that with our, to repair with our children, but we might have to actually go in and do some repair work with internalized parents inside of us. You know, internalized significant objects in our life that we have internalized. We may have to actually repair with our inner child. We might have to create a safer relationship between us and our inner child. And this is really complicated stuff. Right. And it’s not easy to do by yourself. And so I, and it’s actually really common, really, really, really common.
Yes. I was that’s I was just gonna say that this is not unusual stuff. This is not people who aren’t functioning. Well, this is not, you know, this is, you know, I would say to some extent, almost every parent that I work with, almost every parent that I meet. We all have our stuff. And I think, again, it goes back to this idea that, you know, rupture has such a negative connotation, but if we can take the time to whether it happened for us, with who, whatever the significant person, object is, if we take the time to do that work, that’s how we then can be better for our children. Yes. That’s how we can then reframe that cycle, that rupture repair cycle, those interactions, that connectedness in a way that says, ah, okay, this is why I do what I do. Here’s how I’m gonna do it differently with my kiddo. So that I’m being really intentional about what I want them to walk away from. And there’s an extent to which like you can teach that, I can teach that. And you, and I often talk about this in the ways that we work differently, but complimentary with parents, right? I tend to refer out to a psychologist when I feel that a parent needs to do their own repair work. I will sort of highlight, I think X, Y, and Z is going on. And here’s how we wanna do it differently for a child. And sometimes that’s enough. And often it’s a much more effective process when that parent can go through their own process separately, be able to feel themselves repaired and healed and better. And it’s not necessarily gonna be a hundred percent so that when they reenter these engagements with their child, that may be rupture, they can move into the repair with more self-awareness and more intention.
Dr. Sarah (44:57):
Yeah. And more choice. Yeah.
Yes. Because you have a choice. It’s not easy. But it is.
Dr. Sarah (45:05):
No, none of this is easy. None of this is, none of this is easy. And it makes me think of, did you ever see that movie, Far From The Tree? It was like a little Disney animated short, and it is beautiful. I cannot watch it without crying. It’s like, I think eight minutes long or something really short, maybe 12. I don’t know, but it’s on Disney+ if I’m sure a lot of parents listening, probably have Disney+, but you can, I think you can find it in other places. It’s this beautiful animated short about two generations of raccoons, a mom and a baby. And then that mom, the baby grows up to be a mom and her baby. And you can, it’s just illustrates in the most beautiful way, how intergenerational transmission of trauma happens and how to break a cycle. And it’s, I’m like getting goosebumps, just talking about it. Cause it was like so beautiful. There aren’t even words. It’s just, but it, if you wanna understand the concept of intergenerational transmission of trauma, watch this short. And it’s funny, cuz actually I’ll watch it with my daughter and I’ll narrate it. Like I can’t, they don’t talk. So I’ll be like, I’ll just say the words that I think that they might be thinking. It’s really beautiful. But it just goes show you have empathy for the person who sets that, that cycle in motion. Cause it’s not, cause what you can see in the film is the mother, the first mother who’s gruff and very fear based and vicious. She’s not vicious cuz she’s mean she’s vicious cuz she’s scared and you learn why like you learn her trauma in the short. And so to understand that that all trauma usually stems from fear, fear of not being able to survive and the things that we learn to do to keep ourselves alive. And then we wanna pass that survival capacity onto our children. It’s not because we wanna punish them. But in order to not effectively indirectly punish them for these traumas, we have to go and unpack that trauma. We have to figure out where it lives in our body. We have to figure out where it stems from. We have to repair that with ourselves and our inner child. And then that allows us to kind of have that insight into saying, you know what I understand what I’m feeling here is fear actually. And so how do I soothe my fear? How do I establish safety? And then from that place of safety, I can parent it in a much more intentional way.
Right. And, and that’s where I go back to again, you know, that progression of noticing it right, thinking about how you wanna do it differently. And then the application and it’s not all in one fell swoop, right? Being able to notice it again in these urgent reactive moments, it doesn’t come easily all the time. So that pause and being able to step back and go oh, something’s happening here. This is not going right the way I want it to. And it will take some time to be able to move seamlessly through the noticing to, I know what I want to do differently to here’s how I’m going to do it. And I think, you know, there’s, there’s, there can be a parallel process of, you know healing and for forgiveness and understanding and empathy for where it’s coming from, where it lives in yourself while also wanting to do the active work of making that change with your child. You know, I don’t think that it’s like you’ve got a complete one period, end of story to do the next. I think, I think it makes the next, that piece with your child that much more effective. But I think you can move through a bit of a parallel process. And again, that’s why I collaborate so much with psychologists because we can be doing the work at the same time so that we can help mend and shift and change and improve the current while also building up the foundation and the base self understanding and empathy of this didn’t feel good for me. And this is where it came from and this still doesn’t feel good for me now and I’m doing it to myself and I don’t really wanna do this anymore. Yeah. you know, it’s and it all kind of goes back to, again, I think so much of this rupture repair cycle stems from giving a little bit of time to understanding what you bring to that, right? Yes. When I set a limit and my kid loses it, is there fear that they are going to remove love from me even though I’m the adult, right. And I should, should, whatever should means, you know, be able to stay and hold onto the fact that that love is enduring. You know, is it that I am coming from a guilt place when I set a limit and my kid is mad that, oh, I’ve done something wrong. I’ve done something mean my kid should love, you know, should, should approve of what I do and feel good all the time. And I should be the friends and all of this kind of stuff. So, you know, it is this understanding of yourself and your view of what rupture means that allows you to figure out what kind of repair you need and how you approach that cycle.
Dr. Sarah (50:18):
And tolerate it.
Tolerate it. So much is about, it’s again, it’s why I talk about getting comfortable with being uncomfortable. It has to do with your children. It has to do with yourself, right? That, that being able to have that toleration for discomfort, whether it’s frustration, anger, whatever it is. And again, it comes back to, I talk a lot about helping children recognize that all different kinds of emotions are manageable. They don’t always feel good, but they’re manageable. We can get through it. It’s that same stuff for us, right? When we don’t feel that and we lose safety in those moments that are uncomfortable, it’s very hard to co-regulate and help your child feel safe.
Dr. Sarah (51:01):
Right. And so, yes, I think that that’s a perfect place to kind of end on that., Like, you do all this stuff and you get to resilience. You know, you do all this stuff and you get to this place of, I can rupture and repair and we can move forward. Where we have stronger muscles for this stuff.
Yes. And that’s attachment. And that’s also where I think, so, you know, you get this this incorrect definition of what attachment is, right. Attachment doesn’t mean you’re never gonna rupture. Right. It’s exactly what you’re saying.
Dr. Sarah (51:38):
Yes. Thank you so much for coming on again.
Thank you. As always, this is just always fun and exciting and invigorating. So I appreciate you having me.
Dr. Sarah (51:47):
And if parents wanna get in touch with you, if people want some support on your end. Can you share a little bit about how people can get in touch with you?
Sure, absolutely. So you can always go to my website, which is Danaskids.com. And you can email me through there. You can also email me at Dana@danaskids.com. I really work with people all over the place of via zoom. I do a lot of in-home in, on the east coast. But I am available for working with parents and teachers and children. I’ve got a team of really wonderful people who work with me as well. And I’m happy to, to be a resource. Even if it’s me pointing you towards somebody else who might be the right person for you.
Dr. Sarah (52:25):
Yes. I mean, I’ve sent you, I’ve sent you some very important people to my myself because I trust you so implicitly with this work.
I appreciate that. It means a lot to me really. I’m very lucky to love what I do and feel really passionate about it. And you know, it’s important work.
Dr. Sarah (52:42):
It is, and you’re good at it. So good at it.
And likewise, as are you my dear, this is just this is, this is a wonderful, really that developed out of corona virus.
Dr. Sarah (52:52):
I know, right? So funny. The silver linings.
That’s it. We gotta find them where we can.
Dr. Sarah (52:59):
Have a great day.
Thanks again. Take care. Bye bye.
Dr. Sarah (53:07):
By now, you know how critically important proper repair is. But if you’re not sure exactly how to go about facilitating this within your relationship with your own child, I’ve got you covered! In my new interactive workbook called, “I lost my temper with my kid…Now what?”, I walk you through a simple five step process for effective repair and explain how each step affects your child. Plus I will give you scripts and mantras that you can use and also prompts for transforming those into your own words to make it feel authentic to you. So to get this workbook, head to drsarahbren.com/resources. That’s drsarahbren.com/resources to download that interactive workbook and learn how to mend your parent-child connection after you lose your cool. Thanks for listening. And don’t be a stranger.
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