Oh. My. Goodness. I have been searching all my life for a parenting expert who is at the same time a practicing Registered Psychologist, and will also use words like “grumpy bumps” and “yelly yells”. Dr. Vanessa Lapointe is that person!
I adore Dr. Vanessa (ever since I learned she was recommending my products from Easy Daysies to her clients), and in this conversation she does not disappoint! We cover several kinds of discipline and determine what works and what does not:
- Reward charts
- Removal of privileges
Hint – only one of them works consistently and for the future benefit of your child!
These points are taken from Dr. Vanessa’s brilliant book, Discipline Without Damage – How to get your kids to behave without messing them up.
Show notes: www.elaineskitchentable.com/vanessa
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Welcome to Elaine's Kitchen Table. This is where we share tips about business and parenting. Being a mom of three, CEO of the award winning company Easy Daysies, speaker and educator, you're going to learn the tips and secrets of successful and incredible people. Elaine wants you to be inspired, challenged and motivated and that person you want your kids to grow up to be. This is real talk for real life.
Elaine Tan Comeau: 00:24
Hi, welcome to Elaine's Kitchen Table. I am just so excited to have you here joining me again. So thank you and so grateful always. Today, we're going to talk about a topic that is going to really hit home with many of us many of us are parents, and that is a huge blessing. And it is also I'm going to say the most important and toughest job on the planet. It is a huge blessing but it does not come with a manual on how to be a parent. There is no crash course that you have to take or a test that you have to pass that allows you to be a parent. And yet it is the most important, influential job anyone could ever have. So my guest today is an awesome, wonderful friend. She is an author of multiple books. She's a sought after speaker, a parenting expert, a Registered Psychologist, a mom, and just an incredible human being. And she's going to come on in just a moment. And we're going to talk about something she's actually written a book about, which is discipline, and not just discipline. I love the title of her book, "Discipline Without Damage", right like that. We don't want to damage our children in any way. And the title of her book is actually "Discipline Without Damage - how to get your kids to behave without messing them up". Hello, that is an excellent, excellent title.
Elaine Tan Comeau: 01:56
We don't want to mess up our children in any way. We want them to grow up to be caring, kind, intelligent, risk taking confident, empathetic, human beings who care and just go for it type of people who do want to lift up other people and to learn how to stand themselves. So, where does it begin? Right? It starts with us. We are the parents who who help these beautiful human beings unfold into the person they were each meant to be. And one of the trickiest parts is how do we do it when sometimes there are moments where it doesn't seem so beautiful because there are discipline issues that have to be dealt with. And you know, there are people, we've tried, many of us have tried different things, right, a combination of things. Like whether it's timeouts, taking away privileges, there's consequences that we give reward charts, so many things. But what this podcast conversation is going to do is going to actually blow your mind because as I was talking to my guest, I thought, wow, no one has ever said it like this.
Elaine Tan Comeau: 03:16
And we're going to talk about connection. It is going to make you rethink how we talk to our children. It is going to make us rethink when something happens when they have a meltdown when whether they are two years old, or 15 or 18 years old, how to deal with it in a way that is just going to make them inspired to be better, right? And that's what this podcast is about, it's about how to create better family, how to create better health, better business and better self. And one key thing that my guest shares is that discipline is actually not about the child. It's about us. So without further ado, I want to introduce my guests, Dr. Vanessa Lapointe. And let's figure it out together how we can be better and do better, and help raise incredible human beings. Here we go.
Elaine Tan Comeau: 04:18
Oh my goodness. I am so excited and so very, very honored to have this beautiful guest with me. She is my friend. She is someone I look to. She has no idea that she is secretly my mentor, my parenting guru mentor. And I just want to say welcome Dr. Vanessa Lapointe. Hello.
Dr. Vanessa Lapointe: 04:41
Thank you, thank you. Thank you. I'm so so happy to be here.
Elaine Tan Comeau: 04:45
I just want to catch up with you. How are you doing? How is your family?
Dr. Vanessa Lapointe: 04:50
My family is wonderful. Thank you for asking after them. And I am wonderful. You know it hasn't been without its challenges and downs. I think we've all been kind of living through that in the last little while. But one thing that I have learned, especially now as I've entered, what I like to call my second adulthood is that you can't know what the ups are without having experienced the downs. You can't know the light of life without having the dark. So, here we are, walking along together.
Elaine Tan Comeau: 05:23
I love that, your second adulthood. I love that. I want you to elaborate on that. Why is it your second adulthood? What does that mean?
Dr. Vanessa Lapointe: 05:33
You know, I think like many of us, we come into our adult lives, walking along, trying to kind of figure it out, piecing it all together, and in a lot of ways, whether it be through health or through relationships or through some version of abundance. We often get a wake up call at some point along the way, just to make sure that we have landed on the path and are walking the journey. And so as with many people, I've had my big wake up call. And, and I have picked myself up off the ground and found myself standing in sort of a new light and carrying on with life in a different way, ie, the second adulthood.
Elaine Tan Comeau: 06:20
Love, love and love because you know, this is not a topic we talk about often it's always all about the kids. But you know, we do need to take care of ourselves, right? We need as, whether you're a parent or not a parent, you need to take care of you because who else is going to do that? I think, right? We have to make smart choices. And it begins with making small little decisions every day. And you know, like off this call I was saying to you that I'm a recovering people pleaser. And it's not that I stopped being a people pleaser, but I have to make conscious choices all the time to say yes and no to the right things so that I am respecting myself. That's right, and my time and my family, and, and so on. But congratulations to everything, I didn't get to say that earlier. And all the wonderful things that are coming for you.
Elaine Tan Comeau: 07:14
Now, my listener, thank you for joining us. Thank you. We are so excited to have you join us at my kitchen table as well. And you know, I know that some of you are driving some of you or you tell me through your messages that you listen, whether you're on a hike or driving from your meeting to picking up your kids, or just doing the dishes. We're so honored to have your time with us. And Vanessa, you wrote this awesome book, and I love the title. It's called "Discipline Without Damage - how to get your kids to behave without messing them up". Hello. Nobody wants to mess our kids up. It's like there literally there was no manual when when these people show up in our arms at the hospital, or wherever we had these beautiful babies or, whether we adopted a baby, or a child at any age, huge responsibility. And during this time of COVID-19 I've had so many parents reach out to me, saying, Oh my gosh, I don't even know what to do all day long every day, 24/7. I don't know how to get them to listen, I don't know how to not go crazy with it hiding in the bathroom. Or they're just not listening to me. And one thing I truly truly appreciated from your book that you said it so well. And it was very eye opening was you brought light to a word called connection? Hmm. And you talk about disconnection and connection. And there's a story that you gave an example of this little girl who was jumping on it while she wanted to go on the trampoline and then she ended up not getting to because her brother or brothers were on there and then she got mad and I think she threw something at them and, then you talk about different forms of discipline. You covered timeout, reward charts, consequences, grounding, removal of privileges and connection. Now, I know that we parents have touched on many, one, two, maybe even all of these but probably not connection. In the word of connection because some people do it, but they didn't know it was called connection. And I, you and I are very much on the same page and I have been an educator for 14 years. I am a mom of three and when I created Easy Daysies it was out of parent demand. And they were asking to help their children get out the door faster in the morning become more cooperative and independent. But it is about teaching intrinsic reward. It is not about getting a sticker, a lollipop or something for demonstrating a behavior that might not be real for them or understood. Because there is that disconnect because we don't really meet the need of that child. And so, I would love for us to just like talk about each of those steps. Using that example of Sophia on the trampoline, losing her book, not being able to use that trampoline and having that sibling rivalry and I can hear that parent right now saying Oh, of course you would just take her off and reprimand her for hurting her brothers and give her a timeout or take those stickers off her reward chart. But let's break it down. And then we'll talk about connection at the end. So so if we were to do timeout, why would someone choose it? And why shouldn't we maybe use that?
Dr. Vanessa Lapointe: 11:15
So I think the allure of the timeout is that it is a rather quick fix kind of solution. So if the goal is to extinguish the behavior, we have a child who isn't able to wait her turn, she's getting emotionally disregulated. And then she has a bit of a meltdown that involves throwing something and you know, getting kind of big, getting kind of loud. And as parents looking in, I mean, all along, we've been sold a line. And the line is that we need to have well behaved children in order to have really secured the idea that we're good parents, like if we're good parents, we would have good children. And so we don't want our kids behaving this way because what if that means then we're a bad parent or what if that means then this Sophia is going to grow up to be somebody with the, you know, never ending greedy gimmies with no gratitude, unable to enter into the world as a benevolent human being, right, like we go to a fear of future around all of these things. So we want it to stop, and we want it to stop now. And what we have discovered is that if we take the relationship that we have with the child, away from them momentarily, but we take the relationship away from them, it's like magic! The behavior immediately stops, and usually the child becomes quite distressed or sad, they'll be upset. And so when we put a child into a timeout, I was well trained as a doctoral student for how to do the right kinds of timeout, and you send them away from you physically. And also, oftentimes, putting a child in timeout involves separating from them emotionally. And so you turn your back to them you refuse to connect with them emotionally and physically. And then the child because the number one need that all humans have is to be seen and to be heard, to be connected to those that are caring for them, the child will do anything in the service of the relationship. And so the behavior becomes extinguished in order for the child to secure what they need most in life, which is the connection back to you.
Elaine Tan Comeau: 13:23
I know I know. And, you know, like, as you're saying this, like, I even remember back in being a school teacher, and I'd walk down the halls because I, my children, my class is at music, and I'm going to the photocopier. And I will see outside of doors a child is sitting alone by themselves. A timeout, I'm imagining and you know, I'm, I've been guilty of that too. Like just to separate a child who's hurting somebody else. I have done that as well. And, and I have quickly learned when I was a school teacher, no, no, no, this is the exact exact opposite thing that they needed and and I love that your book touches on how it is so important that children need strong emotional and physical connection. And you talk about a study that this one doctor did and I apologize I don't know the name of that doctor. But actually, there was a study where the adult had to have like an unemotional face like no matter what.
Dr. Vanessa Lapointe: 14:26
Edward Tronic, out of Harvard.
Elaine Tan Comeau: 14:29
Yes. And yes. And children actually got physically ill like threw up like, so distraught because their parent did not give them any emotional feedback, any physical, any invisible support or connection. And it's so true and I can't wait to get to that topic of connection what that really means, because, you know, parenting is hard. And we all, we all have to, we try all sorts of things like, you know, I have three children and it's so funny like, you know, I've tried it all, like my first one, we just went for it and did what we did second one, we tried Montessori. Third one is in French Immersion and who knows like, it's just like there is no formula. Well, let you know in 20 years.
Elaine Tan Comeau: 15:25
Let's go to your second one, the reward chart. Let's talk about that because lots of people do this. So pros and cons with little Sophia having this tantrum meltdown, didn't get to go on the trampoline, threw something at her brother, physically hurt him. What are we doing with this reward chart and maybe why we shouldn't?
Dr. Vanessa Lapointe: 15:46
Yeah. And so sometimes because a lot of people have gotten the message. There's been a lot of mainstream media about timeouts being, you know, timeout for timeouts and all of these kinds of things. And so then we look to reward charts because we see them so frequently used everywhere what possibly could be the problem with the shiny star or shiny sticker going up on the wall to, you know, signify to a child that they're on the right path. And the challenge I'll explain to you by way of a story. And so my youngest son, who was diagnosed at the end of his second grade with a learning disability, yes, so he struggled to learn how to read. And the, his very well intentioned teacher in his grade one year had a sticker chart up on the wall that was tracking everybody's progress. Fun, fun, yay, yay. Right, you're getting shiny stickers up on the sticker chart. The problem is for my son, the sticker chart because he could not perform the task that would have secured the sticker on the wall. He came home from school every day, devastated by the sticker chart, which allows us to to see sort of an in kind of a more general sense that the seedy underbelly of a reward system is that it is also simultaneously a no reward system. Right? Right! In that way, it actually is a consequence disguised as a shiny sticker.
Elaine Tan Comeau: 17:19
Wow.Wow. I don't think I've heard anybody say it that eloquently. Or it's like a light bulb. I truly agree with you. And I don't think I've ever heard it worded that way that it is actually the opposite. It's and an anti-reward system.
Dr. Vanessa Lapointe: 17:41
Right? It really is. And it's interesting because if we go back to that sort of thematic thread of connection as being the most important thing, then we can see how you know, my son felt very disconnected from his teacher in the idea that his teacher who again, just the loveliest human being, but couldn't understand that, who he was and what it was that he needed in those moments. And so the, the consequence of not getting the sticker was experienced by him as an absence of connection. And that would be the same of our children, no matter the behavior. And so, you know, two year olds will bite other children, it's part of being two. It's not a problematic behavior, in the sense that the child isn't wrong for biting, of course, we're going to, you know, help them figure out alternative strategies for figuring their way through all of that, but we're not going to make them wrong for it, because we want for them to be seen and heard for the very one that they are. And two year olds bite, and three and four year olds don't share. And five year olds have a really hard time doing the things that we ask of them when they've got their mind so intent on something else that's much more exciting to them. And so we don't make children wrong for any of those behaviors because they're all a natural part of healthy and normal child development. Rather, we have them feel seen and heard, and we figure a way to come alongside
Elaine Tan Comeau: 19:15
I love that, seen and heard and so true. And I, you know, I think of okay, so when people say, Oh, no, no, I'm just catching them doing good. catching them doing the right thing. What was your thought on that?
Dr. Vanessa Lapointe: 19:31
Yeah, I mean, I think there's something to be said, because we are sort of "velcroed to the negative and teflonned to the positive". And we do tend to become the parents that are sort of constantly on the lookout for the bad things. And so I think for us to train our mind, it's almost like a practice of gratitude, where you train your mind to see the good in your child. And I also think, and you've probably had some experience with this, especially as an educator, but also as a mother. That there's this weird kind of, you know, when we got really focused on praising kids, and then it just got weird. And kids were like, what are you doing? Like it didn't seem authentic and resonant and natural, we were just hyper-praising to try and focus on all the positives and the kids are like You grownups need to sort your business.
Elaine Tan Comeau: 20:22
Yes, right. And you know, even with this conversation I could think of taking that to the sports field where there is no winner now, beacuse everybody is a winner. And there is no outs, it's just let's try again like I don't know if I think that is right either though. I think that you know, with sports there is there is a winner and, and obviously someone who is like, yes. And like just have like a board game. Not everybody's going to be the winner. And that's okay. Because otherwise you don't know what you're working towards I think.
Dr. Vanessa Lapointe: 21:00
Yeah, you have to, I mean, I think as parents, and you probably get the flavor from our conversation so far that I'm an attachment theorist and an attachment practitioner and an attachment parent. But I've also noticed that there's a very kind of weird underworld that comes with all of this, you know, hyper focus on being really connected and attachment focused and the weird underworld is that we have misconstrued that to believe that it is our job to find our children happy, which is not our job. It is our job to find our children growing and developing into the biggest, fullest most extraordinary version of who it is that they are intended to be. And so if we never give them the opportunity to experience disappointment, or to experience frustration, to experience loss, then pray tell how they will ever grow neurologically or emotionally, the capacity to ride out the storms of life. Not that we have to go creating all of that for them, but that we have to allow life to unfold.
Elaine Tan Comeau: 22:09
Oh, absolutely. And I think that allows them to build empathy, right to understand that things don't always work out. And that's okay. Yeah, what are we going to learn from it? And, you know, it's so awesome that you went through this. It's, I'm so sad with you that this happened. And, you know, but it's okay. And now that you've gone through this, we can help somebody else who will go through this because yeah, it sucks to only get three out of 10 on your spelling list and yeah, you worked so hard for this speech and didn't place first a second or third and that's okay. And you know, our heart breaks with our children, and you know, it just makes us more proud of them. Because they went through it. And I think we need to verbalize that. And like you said, see them and hear them. And, you know, like, I've been on that side as an educator seeing unsupported children and it breaks my heart. And you know, and as a parent, my heart breaks, when, you know, things don't work out for my kids. And I'm so proud of them at the same time when their hard work pays off. But it's not always been like they know this is a journey, and it will be up it will be down. And I hope that my own life mirrors that for them. Because we don't, I don't want my kids to think that life is perfect. Everything just gets handed to you. Because it doesn't and I want them to see when I am struggling so that they can be on my journey with me to learn that it is a journey, and there will be ups and downs but look what happens at the end. It's awesome, right?
Elaine Tan Comeau: 23:58
And another one of these forms of discipline is consequences. And you know, I know this resonates with every single parent out there or aunt, and uncle or teacher who's listening. Consequences, so you did something, there's a consequence, right? Whether they are preschool age, or you have that teenager, where we're always talking about the consequences. So talk, let's talk consequences. We give them and maybe why shouldn't we?
Dr. Vanessa Lapointe: 24:33
Yeah. And so, let's, first of all, be reminded that relationship is everything. We are a social species by design, which means that our most foundational need is that of connection and relationship with one another. And so, pull the lens back a little bit and think about this. From an adult example. I love me a morning cup of coffee like nobody's business.
Elaine Tan Comeau: 25:00
Amen, amen and amen.
Dr. Vanessa Lapointe: 25:04
First sip. I mean, I don't know if you can see I have goosebumps talking about it. I love it that much. It's probably wrong. How much I love my morning coffee.
Elaine Tan Comeau: 25:13
I think we might be twins. So I fully I fully relate. Anybody else? Yeah, they're probably at the drive thru picking up that coffee now, please share with us.
Dr. Vanessa Lapointe: 25:24
And so imagine, imagine that I'm struggling. Maybe I've had a no good, terrible, very bad awful time at work or something else has happened. And so I come through the door and you know, you walk in the front entry and it's shoepalooza, everybody's stuff is everywhere. And you're already kind of like resourced to a lot of coping resources on board. And so you get a little grumpy lump coming through the door and your partner's standing there and you kind of just let it spill over onto them. Like Why doesn't anybody do any work around this house? Well, I'm the only one that ever picks up after anything. Ba ba ba blah.
Dr. Vanessa Lapointe: 26:02
So now imagine that your partner can go one of two directions with that. The first is that they can look at you and say, what's wrong with you? Don't speak to me that way. Go to your room. No coffee for you tomorrow morning. Right? And so, like no coffee for you tomorrow morning. So you've already had this challenging go of things, which yes, you let it erupt out your mouth and all over your partner. And now you're going to receive from them a consequence. Remember, you're already depleted. And now they're going to take away your coffee too? How's that gonna go? Like really? How's it gonna go? Are you going to be from that moment forward like really inspired, just to speak so much more kindly to them? Probably not, right?
Elaine Tan Comeau: 27:17
No, the inner Godzilla has awoken.
Dr. Vanessa Lapointe: 27:20
That's right. You thought it was bad already. You just wait. So now let's consider that your partner goes another direction. Instead of giving you a consequence, your partner like, listens to you, as you have your yelly shouts all over them, and looks upon you with eyes of compassion, and says to you something like hmm, it sounds like you've had a really tough go. Listen, we're okay. You're good. I'm good. We're good. Go and find yourself a little bit of space if that's what you need. I'm going to get dinner started. Let's get the kids through their homework. I'll meet you on the couch later and I want to hear all about it.
Elaine Tan Comeau: 28:01
Oh my gosh, I want to marry that person. No, I have that person but. Right? Wow.
Dr. Vanessa Lapointe: 28:06
Now are you inspired? Or does make you feel like you could take advantage of them the next time?
Elaine Tan Comeau: 28:13
No, it makes you want to say, Oh I'm so sorry.
Dr. Vanessa Lapointe: 28:16
And it really inspires you to want to be your best self going forward from there. And so if that's true of us as adults who have fully formed brains, imagine how much more true it is for our children.
Elaine Tan Comeau: 28:30
Absolutely. Such a awesome example. And I love your wording. It's like you're grumpy bumps, and your yelly yells.
Dr. Vanessa Lapointe: 28:41
You have to change your language when you're working with young children right?
Elaine Tan Comeau: 28:44
Yes, oh, my goodness. It was yes, very traumatic when I was teaching kindergarten, I had to coach the grade seven boys basketball team.
Dr. Vanessa Lapointe: 28:51
Oh, I bet they loved that right?
Elaine Tan Comeau: 28:57
That's a whole other conversation on things I should not say to grade seven boys. But I love it. I truly love your coffee examples like are you kidding me? Are you seriously gonna take that away? Right. And that's relatable to whether it is the four year old who's losing it, or the 14 year old who is losing it. So let's rewind that.
Dr. Vanessa Lapointe: 29:22
Or when a spouse is losing it.
Elaine Tan Comeau: 29:24
Yes. Oh, thank you. Yes, yes, yes, yes. Right. If you have a life partner. Let's remember when they come in with those grumpy grumps to not lay it back on them, but to say, Hey, it sounds like you had a really tough day. I'm so sorry. So you know what, just go have some space. I will get dinner ready. I will help the kids with their homework and I will meet you on the couch when like in an hour. Yeah, I'm like wow. Oh my goodness. We could like end this podcast is on that but we're not because I love you, and we're gonna keep talking.
Elaine Tan Comeau: 30:05
Grounding. Okay, I have never done it because my kids have no social life. So like, what is grounding? But let's talk about it because I know people use it. I know people do it.
Dr. Vanessa Lapointe: 30:17
Yeah. So grounding is a version of a consequence, with a little bit of a backhand. And the idea of grounding is that you're going to take away from the child, their social connections, their ability to be out and about in the world. And maybe even access to some of the activities that make their world go round in order to teach them a lesson. And so again, understand that you know the things that are important to your children, because you are in an intimate relationship with them. You are one of their people. And then you're like, haha, because I'm one your people, I know the things important to you, and I shall take them away from you in order to secure your good behavior. And once again, I ask the question, as an adult, do you feel as though you would be inspired to then behave well? Or do you feel kind of like you want to show them who's boss. And so when we look at the cumulative impact of those kinds of disciplinary reactions to our children, the impact is that we actually end up with kids who are less able to emotionally regulate themselves and make good choices. And we have ruptured the relationship we have with them, which is the number one foundation that they require in order to grow in the manner that nature intended.
Elaine Tan Comeau: 31:50
So then with grounding, are we then like you said, we're showing them who has the power, showing power and instilling fear. Let's let's talk about that. Why, how is that damaging? It must be right. Yeah, to create an individual who thinks that you get your way because of instilling fear and power.
Dr. Vanessa Lapointe: 32:16
Mm hmm. So think about how that will translate over the lifespan as that child enters into adulthood, and other kinds of relationships. Relationships with significant others, professional relationships, and eventually one day, perhaps relationships with their own children. When you have learned when the narrative as a child that gets written upon your soul, is that you control through fear and fear based power. Then how we do one thing will be how we do all things. We take that template that's given to us by our big people, when we are children. And we apply that template to the other relationships in our life. Yesterday I posted a quote on social media. It's a Rumi quote and it goes something along the lines of don't move the way fear moves, move the way love moves. And that we could adopt that idea as parents. Love doesn't move from a place of fear and power mongering. Love moves from a place of faith and trust. You know what, children are stunning. They are innocent and innocence. They are if you've ever looked into the eyes of a newborn baby untarnished you see light and you see innocence. That's who they are. That's the essence of who they are. And so what if we go from that place? And what if we honor that place within our own selves as parents that we are light and innocence and that we can bring that to the experiences that we raise our children with.
Elaine Tan Comeau: 34:08
Absolutely right? Absolutely. Like they are this beautiful, clean slate right and I did a talk once were I was talking about how they are like doors and the words that we say leave marks and the more painful they are like they leave like painful like slashes into the doors. And it takes a very strong young child and individual and teen to, like those marks are permanent and they can repaint that over it but you'll still have that mark underneath. So we do have to be so careful of the words we put upon are beautiful children and you know, it is a privilege I think to be a parent. It is an can be a tough journey. But so rewarding, it's such a blessing. And I mean there's no greater privilege than to be given a human life that you are responsible for and in bringing into this world and, offering them as this incredible human that we cannot wait for them to unfold into that human that they're supposed to be. And so, you know, like even when I was a schoolteacher I always remember different teachers saying How come you always have such a good class? And you know, that's because I have a great class every year. I tell my children you were the best class I've ever had. I am blown away at the privilege I have to be your teacher, like, I am just blown away like you are all incredible. And I think some of them are thrown off by it. The kids themselves are like What? And I'm like I've never had such a great group of kids. You're such good listeners. You just surprise me every day. I'm so excited to come to school every day because of you. And I have a great class every year. And I'm not saying there isn't misbehaviors and of course there is they are children. But they live up to that expectation of being awesome because they are, they are they are.
Dr. Vanessa Lapointe: 36:18
And they're inspired. Because of the connectedness that you extend to them. They want to be good for you. We say when connect, it's like a teeter totter when connection is high, then resistance will be low, Mm hmm. Wow. When connection is low, then resistance will be high. And so if you can parent, if you can educate if you can, coach, if you can, I mean all of the roles that we have as big people, if we can flow into those roles with connection as our ultimate guiding North Star, then you will have nothing but cooperation to the best of their ability. As you said they are children, which means that they will be more frequently dysregulated emotionally speaking, and thus lapse into different behaviors and other kinds of things. But they're not by nature, bad or manipulative. They're kids.
Elaine Tan Comeau: 37:14
I totally love that visual. I'm like, there's our YouTube clip right there. But I say that again. So when connection is high, what is low?
Dr. Vanessa Lapointe: 37:23
Elaine Tan Comeau: 37:26
Dr. Vanessa Lapointe: 37:27
And then you flip the teeter totter. When connection goes low, resistance increases. And I'm going to tell you, you get like just everybody that's listening. When connection is high resistance is low. And I'm going to borrow from the one and only Dr. Gordon Neufeld. He talks about when you're getting them to sort of connect and that you get their eyes, their smiles and their nod. And so I remember my youngest son going to preschool and his teacher who was just, I mean, an angel dropped down from heaven. He would walk up and she would say, Maxwell, are you wearing your Superman t shirt today? And he'd say Yes, I am. She would say jump and he would say how high? Try it out on your servers the next time you're at a restaurant, right? Grocery store checkout clerk, try it out on your partners. I mean, when connection is high. Everybody just wants to please.
Elaine Tan Comeau: 38:29
Yes. Yes. And yes. And I love this talk so much and, and I know you talk to schools and I'm so grateful for that. Teachers need to hear that message. And yeah, you know, I'm so grateful for you, Vanessa and Dr. Vanessa, so grateful for you. Because, you know, like, you know, I share this when I talk to new teachers and workshops and just taking that moment every day to say a child's name. I said to them, you have two opport- your plate is full. I get it, as a classroom teacher, you're super busy. You have anywhere between 20 to 30 children all at once on you. But you have two times a day where you have the wonderful opportunity to meet eye to eye with that child. And don't give this opportunity away because so many teachers do by handing that attendance list to somebody else in the class. And that's a wonderful job of responsibility. But take that back and say, you know, when I say your name today, I want you to tell me your favorite ice cream flavor. Okay, are you ready? And I'm you know, I say this because there is a trigger right in the brain when you hear your own name. Oh, yeah. That just gives you confidence that gives you belonging and it makes your shoulders go back, it makes you happy, like chocolate.
Elaine Tan Comeau: 40:08
And so use that opportunity to connect and use it twice because you should know if your child is missing after lunch. But as a parent right to say, hey I love and say their name. Justin I love how you did your hair today. It's like oh, thanks mom or, but to say their name, to connect to look at them in the eye. I love love that. And I love how you expanded that to your partner. To the waitress that's serving you, right? Like one small act of connection, could be that moment that makes their day right? Because when I was a new teacher I did this case study on a child who is in grade six, who committed suicide and that child left a note saying that today at school the day that he ended his life. Not one person said his name not one person talked to him. And no one noticed, and no one will notice that he is gone. And that spoke volumes to me. I felt so grateful to have had that opportunity to study this so early in my teaching career when I was a school teacher, that it did change how I found the importance of making sure I said everybody's name. Because of that value it gives to that individual of connection, their importance that they do belong somewhere. And it just my heart, my heart explodes. I totally miss being a classroom teacher.
Dr. Vanessa Lapointe: 41:49
It's in your cells, isn't it? It just oozes out of you. I love it.
Elaine Tan Comeau: 41:54
And I want to talk about connection. I think we talked about, I can talk to you forever. Connection. So if this is the ultimate way we should be disciplining our children. And by disciplining, I know that's such a harsh word. But it is the term that is to help guide our children from harming themselves harming others and, and living that fruitful, confident, empathetic, caring, giving, intelligent life as an adult. Let's talk about connection. So little Sophie, who did hit her brother, threw something and hurt him because she did not get to go on the trampoline. What is connection and how are we supposed to use it as a form of discipline?
Dr. Vanessa Lapointe: 42:53
Yeah. So to explain that, let's understand what's happened in her little brain. If we think about the brain as having a downstairs part and an upstairs part. And the downstairs part is where your emotional circuitry is housed. The upstairs part as an oversimplification is where rational thought, logic and problem solving abilities are housed. Brilliant. Everybody knows that the secret to a solid structure is a solid foundation. And so the downstairs part of the brain, that emotional circuitry part of the brain is the foundation. Now she's just gotten upset for all of the right reasons. She's seven, she really wants this thing. It's not working out for her. When you're seven you aren't able to always hold on to your big feels about things and so you get upset. So her downstairs brain gets a little weeble wobbly. Remember, it's the foundation and the secret to the solid structure is that the foundation is solid, now it's not solid. So we say she flips her lid. Haha. Now what's in the lid, rational thought logic and problem solving. So the upstairs brain when the downstairs brain gets like this, the upstairs brain ceases to exist, so now she can't access problem solving. She can't access rational thought she cannot access logic. She has gone limbic, she has become dysregulated.
Dr. Vanessa Lapointe: 44:13
We know from the science of child development that children actually require co-regulation from the outside in order for their fired up downstairs brain to be settled back down. And so as the child fires up, what they need is for us, the adult to come in from the outside and settle down the brain. And we also know through the science of child development that there is but one way to access that part of the brain to get it settled back down, and that is through connection. It's those, the connecting pieces to have the child feel seen and heard. It's so hard to be a little sister, isn't it? I'm really frustrated that you're not getting your turn on the trampoline I really get that honey, if I were you, I think I'd be feeling the exact same way as she's reaching down to grab the second shoe to throw at her brother.
Dr. Vanessa Lapointe: 45:09
And then you drop a flag, five words or less, that must stop. Gentle hands. We don't throw. And I know you're mad. Come with me. I'm going to go get you a drink of water. We're going to get this sorted out. Let's set the timer. We'll make sure that you get your turn when the time is right, whatever it is. And so you as the adult, you see that the thing that we've misunderstood about discipline is that we think discipline has to do with the behaviors of children. But actually, when we flow from the science of child development, we see that discipline has to do with the behaviors of adults, children will behave as they do, because they are children. Adults get to choose. Wow, we get to choose if we're going to be connection-focused deriving from the science of child development and the best that the research in that area has to offer us or if we are going to, you know, slide back to antiquated views on who children are and what we must then do as adults to be in charge of them.
Elaine Tan Comeau: 46:21
Wow. I love, love, love what you just said. And I think it's the first time I've ever heard anybody say it. That discipline is not about displaying the behavior of children. But it is about displaying the behavior of the adult - one who has choices. Unbelievable. Wow. And I think you've just poof - blown all our minds because I'm like what, but yes, yes, because we are the ones who supposedly had the grown up developed minds to know how to act rationally and how to problem solve and act logically hopefully based on hopefully some type of stable emotion and yes, of course, if you see someone hurting somebody you do react quickly. And I like what you said, you know, throw that flag down and saying stop doing that, right. So that that there is that beta interrupt for that child who is acting in a rage and maybe they might not hear you and, and you might have to step in, right and, hug or embrace from behind, because they aren't hearing, to have that beta interrupt. And not to react back and snapping and yelling and mortifying and belittling and because and, I've said this to classroom teachers as soon as you start yelling back you've lost the battle. And and so we want to not.
Dr. Vanessa Lapointe: 47:54
Connection is gone, resistance is gonna be really high.
Elaine Tan Comeau: 48:00
I remember when I first started teaching I was teaching at inner city schools in Eastside Toronto. And I taught in a very inner city school, like not, I had a great two class not one married family. Seven moms were prostitutes and I had so many cuts and bruises in that first year because not that they were fighting me but I was stepping in to grade two children who would break glass bottles to fight somebody else. And I had to go behind them and hug them, just so that they would stop kicking, fighting going towards another child with a weapon. And they would resist, they might even bite and then they would melt. Yeah, they would melt into that hug that I was giving them. And because you know, you can't grab them. You can't because you can never you never want to bruise a child at all. But I would come behind and hug the child to stop the, the harm to themselves or to someone else. But I would always remember the feeling of the melting. And that embrace of something they probably are longing for and maybe their first connection they've had in a very, very long time. But, and to not give them that timeout to not send them out to be alone, but to say it's okay. It's okay. I feel you I'm here for you. You know, I cried every night when I was a school teacher at that school. I'm like these kids showing up with Doritos and Diet Coke for lunch and yeah, no socks and it's harsh Toronto winters and my heart was just so broken. But and this is before I was a parent, so I could not understand. Yeah. And I'm sure that their parents had such a hard life. Right. Yeah. But, you know, that fight could have resulted from anything, right. Like the wrong words were said or someone took their Doritos, which was their only lunch food. And you know, this like to just connect. And I would love for us to end on these notes, because I could talk to you forever. And I would love to have you back because there's like all these other things I want to talk about when talking about like, screentime regulation, like how do you get that happening in this world? Yes. Well, thank you. I would love to. So I have these wonderful listeners, this listener who's listening right now who may have that early age child in preschool or kindergarten grade one, or that middle school aged child or that teenager. What is your one advice that you could give as a tip as a strategy that we could use today on how to connect. You could break it into one of those three categories if you want to, or if there's one way to fully connect with our, our child today, what would it be and it's never too late to start, right?
Dr. Vanessa Lapointe: 51:18
It's never ever too late. And I would say the one thing would be always, always, always, always, always, always, always, to see through the behavior, to the truth of who your child is. Your child is not defined by their behaviors. They're not defined by their, you know, challenging temperament or personality. See through it, see through it to the truth of who they are. And when you can connect with the truth of who your child is, they will feel it and they will know it. And once you land there, you will be inspired to step in on their behalf and journey alongside them in a way that allows your child to grow and also allows you to grow.
Elaine Tan Comeau: 52:06
Love, love and love. Thank you. You are so awesome and I'm so grateful for you and all that you do for our world, our planet and I it's just a huge blessing to me to know you and I'm so grateful for you.
Dr. Vanessa Lapointe: 52:25
I feel exactly the same way my dear Elaine. Thank you.
Elaine Tan Comeau: 52:30
I made it through this without crying because I love this woman. Okay, I just want to ask Vanessa if anybody wanted to find you, Dr. Vanessa, where would they go?
Dr. Vanessa Lapointe: 52:41
You can go to drvanessalapointe.com. I'm also on Facebook and Instagram. Dr. Vanessa Lapointe.
Elaine Tan Comeau: 52:50
Perfect I will have all of this in our show notes as well. And for you who is listening right now we are so grateful for you please know you are awesome are doing awesome. And just keep loving your kids and loving you and taking care of you and I'm just so grateful. Have an awesome day everyone and we will talk to you soon. Goodbye for now. Bye
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