Notes and Mentions
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Serena: Hey Everyone, I’m Serena.
Tina: And I’m Tina and we are the Mental Health Mamas.
Serena: Welcome to No Need to Explain, we are so glad you’re here.
Tina: First, as always, a quick disclaimer.
Serena: We come to you NOT as mental health professionals or experts in the field, but rather as parents with lived experience who are on a mission to normalize the conversation around mental health.
Tina: If you or someone you love is experiencing a mental health crisis, please seek professional support. You’ll find a variety of resources in our show notes and on our website, NoNeedToExplainPodcast.com.
Tina: As we often say on this podcast, and we will say several times during this podcast, parenting is hard and we are all doing the best we know how to do. AND…when we know better, we can do better. And while we often talk about parenting from the perspective of taking good care of us so we can take good care of our people, we often know that part of that is the ability to kind of hone our parenting skills so that our families can function more effectively, more peacefully. So does that make sense Serena?
Serena: Yes. That makes perfect sense to me. And this may not be true for all parents out there but this is certainly true for us, we have kids with, what today’s guest calls, BIG EMOTIONS. Rachel Bailey has a masters degree in Clinical Psychology, she is a certified parent educator, a fellow podcaster and most importantly a mom.
Tina: Yes! We love the moms and on her website www.rachel-bailey.com, after sharing her credentials on her website she says, “this is true about me too…EVEN WITH A MASTERS DEGREE IN CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGY, WITH A CERTIFICATION IN PARENT EDUCATION, AND WITH A CAREER HELPING PARENTS AND KIDS BRING OUT THE BEST IN EACH OTHER…I STILL MAKE MISTAKES. I AM A PARENT, BUT I AM NOT PERFECT. I HAVE ALL THE TOOLS I NEED AND I KNOW HOW TO USE THEM…BUT I STILL MESS UP SOMETIMES. We love that Rachel! Rachel welcome to the podcast!
Rachel: Thank you! Thank you so much for having me here.
Serena: We were both very drawn to you because of your work with families of kids with what you call Big Emotions. I want to comment that I too have lots of tools. I do some parent education myself and yet, there are those times when I can’t access my tools. We would like you to talk to us a little bit about your story and how you came to do the work you do.
Rachel: Yeah so it is interesting because I work with parents for a living and I have been doing it for about 13 years now. But I stumbled on to this completely. I did not intend to work with parents. I was actually, my goal was to become a neuropsychologist. So I was in graduate school along that path and then I got pregnant along the way so I did not finish my PhD and I didn’t become a neuropsychologist. What I was doing at the time, once I had my first child was…I was at that point a therapist for kids and for teens and what I realized is that if I shifted my work to parents, I could actually have a bigger impact on the kids and the teens but also in the entire home. So when I made that realization about thirteen years ago or so, There weren’t that many people helping parents. There were a lot of therapists for kids and for teens but there were not a lot of people helping parents. So I did start to do work with parents working on you know, behavior and discipline, and how do we raise resilient children and things like that. But eventually I realized that I had two kids with what I call Big Emotions. I am also a Big Emotions person. I am actually what is called a highly sensitive person. So I have big reactions, big feelings. So I realized I was attracting a lot of parents who also had kids with Big Emotions. And I eventually switched the focus of my practice in helping parents to those who are raising kids with big emotions because I think there are unique challenges when we are doing that.
Tina: Yeah, so…we have listened to some very powerful episodes of your podcast specifically around the idea of parenting from our values rather than from what you call the “Yuck”. Love that. Can you tell our listeners a little bit about the concept of Yuck and how it gets in the way.
Rachel: Yeah. And Yuck actually explains what we were talking about where we have the tools, we have the strategies but we can’t … literally we can’t access them. So basically this term Yuck is a blanket term I use to describe anything uncomfortable. So Yuck could be that we are hungry or tired or frustrated or disappointed or annoyed or sad. Anything that our brain sees as uncomfortable. I call all of that Yuck. What is interesting is that we do have a part of the brain when we can remember our tools and parent from our values and be that patient parent we want to be. Once our brain senses this Yuck, this uncomfortable feeling, it actually senses that as a threat. So it turns on an alarm and that alarm is our fight or flight response. And one of the first things out fight or flight response does is shuts off access to any part of the brain or body it feels is unnecessary for survival. So the part of the brain where my tools live, my strategies that I teach everyday all day, the part of the brain where those live, it is shut down at that moment. So let’s say I want to be a calm parent and my kids have not picked up their clothes after I have asked them 8 or 9 times. Well now I am frustrated, I am annoyed and I know what I am supposed to do because I teach it for a living but my brain has shut off my ability to access that part of my brain or the access to it. Now this is not an excuse for sure but it is definitely a reason so often what happens is that we have so much Yuck that we may know our values but in the moment, we don’t align with them.
Serena: I love that whole idea because that is … it removes some of the guilt right? When we make mistakes parenting knowing that there is a physiological reason behind it all.
Rachel: There certainly is and once we know the reason, like I said, this is a reason, not an excuse but what is interesting is that once we know the reason then we can do something different. And I like that you used the word guilt because I find that a lot of the times, especially when we’re feeling more shame than guilt like, “Oh my gosh I am such an awful parent.” What we often get stuck in that but when we realize that Oh, there is actually a reason then there are things you can do about it and you can change. But if we stay stuck in, “Oh I am such a bad parent.I am always doing this and that” then we actually can’t get out of this place. So knowing the reasons really can help us get to a better place and feel and act a little bit better.
Serena: Yeah. Thank you . So another concept you use a lot and it is the title of your podcast is the idea of Long-Game Parenting vs Band-Aid Parenting. Can you talk about that a little bit?
Rachel: Yes. Absolutely and what I find is that most people when they come to me are using what I call Band-Aid Parenting strategies. So these are the strategies that really don’t have long lasting effects. So let’s say your child is not listening to you. It's thinking about what is the best consequence. How can I make them feel the worst so they can act differently? How can I make them pay for their behavior so that they will do something different. Or if you have a child with big emotions band-aid parenting would be how can I get them to stop tantruming and just be quieter for a little bit longer. How do we get these quick fixes and I am too tired, I don’t know about you all but I am too tired for quick fixes. So I teach what I call Long Game parenting which is how do we actually understand, like I was saying, the reasons for behavior, the reasons for big emotions so that we can actually foster internal motivation in our kids so that they can be more resilient, that they want to listen to us more. So it is really about not putting the band-aid on to control our kids, or by doing what feels good in the moment when we are in Yuck. But it is really aligning with my values, understanding what is causing your child’s behavior, so that we can get those results that actually last. So there really is more peace and predictability in our homes for not just now but also for in the future.
Tina: That makes so much sense. And I have to be honest, I am thinking about my dog right now. I have a two year old puppy and really it is true. It is easy in the moment to do whatever she needs and to do the consistent training is quite honestly just as exhausting but it works you know. You know it works in the long term. Sorry I am thinking about my dog but I don’t have little people but it’s all the same right?
Rachel: It is absolutely the same. What happens is we are exhausted and we have a lot of Yuck so we do what works in the moment and what feels good in the moment and helps us feel in control in the moment because we have so much Yuck. And the results don't last. So we yell at our kids so that their behavior stops. Or when we try to cut off their tantrums maybe it stops in the moment but all that happens is that those behaviors and emotions just kind of go underground and they pop back up later. So it just exhausts us more later and what I always say about long-game parenting is that it doesn’t take longer, it just lasts longer. It doesn’t take more energy. It is just partly a mindset shift. And it lasts so much longer so we end up being less exhausted and have less Yuck.
Tina: That makes total sense. And so it sounds like you promote kind of the same concept that Serena and I talk about a lot and which is tooling yourself up. Building your toolbox, getting the tools in it that you need to parent so that you know, as you say, not as exhausted, right? So while we are honing our parenting tools, how do we take good care of ourselves and specifically, and how do you take good care of yourself? Share some of those things.
Rachel: Yeah. I would love to say how I take good care of myself although I am not the best at it. I am definitely in the pool where I say I know I should do it but I don’t always do it! But once I catch myself, I'll be honest. The way I do this is I notice the patterns in my behavior that are a symptom I need to go take care of myself. So when I find myself shaming my kids like intentionally trying to make them feel bad, because I feel bad, that is like a sign to me like Whoa Rachel. You need to go. In fact I just did a facebook video on this in my group. That is a sign to me that I need to go do something. So I have a couple of silly practices. I am going to be honest. These are not ones that I always share with everybody but I feel like I can do that here.
Tina: It is just us! It is really just us!
Rachel: Exactly! This is an expecting audience. So probably the thing I do most often that I don’t share so much and I have another one that is not as embarrassing. I actually watch movies that make me cry. Believe it or not. It is like I have all of this stuff inside and I am such a highly feeling person. That I need to get it out. Crying helps me get it out. So I watch sad movies so that is one of the things I do. I also, this is a little less embarrassing but do something called Zen Tangles. So I am not sure if you have heard of them.
Rachel: Yeah. They are really cool. You are like drawing in pattern over and over and it is very very soothing to me. I have a hard time meditating but when I am focusing on something over and over it helps me calm down. So those are just two of the little things that I do when I notice I am in the moment to shift things around.
Serena: I appreciate that you acknowledge that you have trouble meditating. I hear that a lot from people.
Serena: Yes, thank you.
Rachel: We are being real here right?!
Serena: Yeah. Thank you.
Tina: Yeah. We like the real. For sure!
Serena: Tell our listeners what you offer specifically on your website what can they find?
Rachel: So my website tell you how I can help you especially if you are raising a child with Big Emotions. Because it really is for me all about the strategies both for yourself and how do we foster resilience in children which again starts with us. And for me it is also about when you are raising a child with Big Emotions, how do you really bring the rest of the family on board. Cause I know when you know there can be a lot of marital disagreements on how you handle things. There could be a lot of sibling issues when you have a child with Big Emotions. So I do have the services and programs including a free training that I do on how to diffuse situations more easily so all that you can find on my website.
Serena: Why don’t you say your website again. And are there other places people can connect with you?
Rachel: Yes! Absolutely. So my website is https://rachel-bailey.com/
And the best place probably if someone wants to get some free content and know what I talk about is probably my podcast actually. Which you mentioned is called Your Parenting Long-game. And I do have a Facebook group that goes along with it and I am in that group doing videos of things like that very frequently. It’s called Your Parenting Long-Game Community. I am on instagram as Rachel Bailey parenting but mostly I spend time on my podcast and my Facebook group as well.
Tina: Nice. So I have watched a lot of your videos and like I said, listened to your podcast. It is a go-to. So you are giving me good tips…for my dog and my kids! So there you go. I know, right?!
Rachel: You are welcome for that!
Tina: yes! Thank you!
Rachel: Good. I am glad.
Tina: So is there anything you haven’t talked about today that you want to put out to the world?
Rachel: I think the thing I would say is, you know it really comes down to is reducing Yuck because we do align better with our parenting values and our instinct. And I would say one of the biggest things that I find is a contributor to Yuck is when we have unrealistic expectations of our children and ourselves. One of the things I always say is if you are struggling right now ask yourself what are you expecting yourself to do. And is it really possible especially with the resources you have right now. Maybe it will be possible when you are in a better place but is it possible right now. And then ask the same question of your child. What you are asking of them. Is it really possible for where they are right now? So that would be one of my big tips for reducing Yuck if someone is struggling.
Serena: That is great! Thank you. We really appreciate you taking the time to join us today and we love that you were real and shared not only your professional side but also your vulnerability as a perfectly imperfect mama if we can call you that!
Rachel: yes. Absolutely.
Tina: Love it! And so podcast friends, we are, as always, grateful for all of you listening and supporting us. You can help us out by visiting Apple podcasts, leave us a review, subscribe and please share with others. You will find lots more content on our website NoNeedtoExplainPodcast.com. And you can also connect with all of our socials on our website as well! And we have a new ability for you to leave us a voicemail right Serena?
Serena: We do! We have got a voice message number that you can call and really whatever you would like but we would love to hear your ideas, your stories, your thoughts or just say hi! And this is your gentle reminder to take good care of yourself while you are also taking care of your people.
Tina: Thanks for listening!