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Episode 32: Parenting Without Consequences or Punishments with Sarah Rosensweet

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Brief summary of show:

Have you heard of Peaceful Parenting? I sit down with Sarah Rosensweet, a certified peaceful parenting coach, speaker, and educator. She lives in Toronto with her husband and three big kids (ages 14, 17, and 20).

Peaceful parenting is a non-punitive, connection-based approach that uses firm limits with lots of empathy. Sarah works one-on-one virtually with parents all over the world to help them go from frustrated and overwhelmed to, “We’ve got this!”

We have a candid conversation about peaceful parenting, and how to discipline our kids without punishing them. I learned a lot from Sarah’s perspective and I hope you do too!

Listen in as we talk about:

  • The three main parts to Peaceful Parenting

  • Consequences vs. punishment

  • Tips to avoid yelling at your kids

  • How to become a leader in your household

  • The four parenting superpowers

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Connect with Sarah

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Podcast Highlights:

[00:01:30] The three main Peaceful Parenting ideas

[00:03:41] Consequences vs. punishments

[00:05:41] How to help our kids care about their lives

[00:07:48] How to handle situations when our kids are misbehaving

[00:11:49] Do kids know when they've done something "wrong"?

[00:17:07] The four parenting superpowers

Full transcript of episode:

[00:00:30] Natalie: Hi, everyone yelling, struggle conflict. Do your kids bring this out in you? And don't be afraid to say yes because you are not alone. If it feels like tension is high. Well that's when parents need to take a step back, press the pause button. I want to talk about that today because I know that struggle.

[00:00:49] And today I'm talking to a parenting expert. Sarah Rowson sweet. Sarah is a mom of three. She's a parenting coach and a blogger. We're going to talk about kind. Limits with lots of empathy. So I want to remind you, go to my website. I have a whole lot of parenting tips and tricks. You can also sign up for my newsletter, where you will get recipes and a lot of extra content for your health and for your family.

[00:01:12] That's Natalie Now to my interview with Sarah Rose and sweet.

[00:01:17] Sarah is joining me now. And I'm all about parenting tips. I think maybe you know that, but I think there are different styles Sarah of, of parenting. And tell me about yours. You call it peaceful.

[00:01:30] Sarah: Yup. Peaceful parenting is three main ideas. The first main idea is a focus on self-regulation. And just so you know, that doesn't mean that you never get upset because we're always going to get upset.

[00:01:42] We're human. Right? What it means is that when we do get upset with our kids, we know how to calm ourselves so that we can respond. To the situation rather than reacting in anger to the situation. So self-regulation, we always start there. I mean, I could tell you a million parenting tips, but if you're like totally dysregulated and yelling your head off, you're not going to be able to access any of those tips.

[00:02:03] Right. We don't think. Right. Yeah, exactly. I was thinking brain is whew gone. the second big idea is a focus on the relationship and connection, because really the only true way that we have to influence another human being is through our relationship with them. we can try and control our kids when they're little, but you know, you've got teenagers, I've got teenagers.

[00:02:24] You can't really control a teenager. The best you can do is. Influenced them. Right. And hope that they'll, that they care what you think. That's what I, that I found really important when your kids care, what you think. And then the third big idea is, we use kind from limits with our children without punishment.

[00:02:40] So we don't do time-outs consequences. Um, we don't, we don't believe that you need to make children feel bad to teach them something. So yes, we set limits with kids, which might mean. If one child is using a stick and like using it to like whack all the flowers in your garden and you ask them to stop and they don't stop, you might take the stick away.

[00:03:01] But th the idea isn't that you're taking it away to punish them, you're taking it away to help reinforce the limit.

[00:03:07] Natalie: Okay. I had a backup just a second. So. When you say you don't use consequences, it's actually a word I use instead of punishment. Like we'll tell her son if he's done something wrong or he didn't get a good grade or something as well, there are going to be consequences for that.

[00:03:22] And usually for us, it's like, we'll take away. Games or phone or something like that. But tell me about that. How does that work? Because consequences have been the only thing, at least in my parenting, it's like that something that they care enough about that they're going to change their brains. Right.

[00:03:40] Sarah: So you're right.

[00:03:41] That consequences has come to mean like another, just a synonym for punishment, right? Because I think most parents would feel uncomfortable if they said the punishment for that is going to be X, Y, Z. And I think that came out of, a movie. the sort of the precursors to peaceful parenting would talk about natural consequences.

[00:03:59] So a natural consequence is something that happens without any involvement from us. So if your son doesn't do his homework, the natural consequences that he's not going to learn the material and that he won't get a good mark or a good grade. So those are the. Natural consequences. I mean, there could be consequences down the road of like, he doesn't get into college and, you know, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.

[00:04:19] But those are the only actual natural consequences. So you, you know, you forget your coat and your cold, or you, you know, throw something in anger and it breaks. Those are natural consequences. Anytime a parent steps in and says, what should the consequence for that be it's actually a panic. Right.

[00:04:35] It's actually like, we're going to take away your phone or you're going to be grounded until, you know, you get your grades up or whatever. the problem with that in a, it hurts your relationship with your child. You know, every teenager in the world, the worst thing you can do is take their phone away.

[00:04:48] Right. And it actually is going to take the focus off. The real problem is the real problem is, is that, you know, your son needs to take more responsibility for his schoolwork, or maybe there's even a deeper problem. Like he's having some trouble and nobody has identified that he has a learning challenge.

[00:05:04] Not that that's your son necessarily, but you know what I'm saying? Like sometimes it's not just the surface and we need to sort of look underneath, like what's, what's driving the behavior. Like what's the real root cause and doing a punishment is. You're going to hurt your relationship, as I just said, and you really need to be on the same team because that connection and relationship is so important.

[00:05:24] And B it sort of hides what the root cause could be like. we're no longer looking like, Hey, why aren't you doing your homework or what's going on with the marks that you're getting? it takes the focus off what the actual problem is. I could give you more reasons why, if you're, if you're

[00:05:39] Natalie: interested, there's lots.

[00:05:41] Let's talk about options. If, if. Punishment, or as we say consequences, but punishment for behavior or grades, whatever that be. The alternative, like, so, and the reason I asked that is like, for instance, say you have a child who doesn't get good grades and you need them to care about their grades as much as you do.

[00:06:02] I mean, obviously not every child is going to say, I really feel like I need that. A, they might be perfectly happy getting a C. Um, so how do we get our kids to care for those things as much as we do so.

[00:06:14] Sarah: That's kind of the wrong question, in my opinion. the question is, is how do we get the kids to care about their own lives?

[00:06:21] Right. Not to care about their grades or whatever, as much as you cared about it or the

[00:06:25] Natalie: same umbrella. Sure.

[00:06:26] Sarah: so the idea is that you talk about the big picture, like what's going to happen if you don't, um, get, I mean, I'll use an example. My daughter is a freshman in high school.

[00:06:35] She's has a real struggle. she's never really cared that much until this year. She decided that she wants to be a nurse. And so we talked about, if you want to go to nursing school, there's, you know, I don't know exactly know what they are yet, but I think there are math and science requirements that you're going to have to have.

[00:06:51] You're going to have to have decent grades in high school so that you can get into nursing school. And all of a sudden she's like, I need to try harder at math. Right. So it's like, she sees this bigger picture. you know, same thing with my middle son who wanted to, he wants to play college baseball. He knows that you can't play college baseball if you don't have the marks for it in high school.

[00:07:12] So those are just two examples. it really has to be coming from within the child and it could be. I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that maybe academics, isn't the end all be all for all children. You know, maybe there's something else that they're really into that is going to have a better life for them then, you know, going to university or college.

[00:07:31] And what is that thing? And maybe it still is important to finish high school in order to, you know, maybe they don't care about their marks, but they want to be, I don't know, I'm trying to think of some trade or something where they do need a high school diploma. They do need to finish high school. but that's not the end goal.

[00:07:47] Do you see what I'm saying? What

[00:07:48] if

[00:07:48] Natalie: it's not a grades, but it's just bad behavior or lying or something else that especially younger kids, like I understand that at a teenage level in, you need to care about your life enough to not make these decisions, but when we're talking maybe five. Ten-year-olds who don't really have that reasoning yet.

[00:08:10] How would you handle situations like that?

[00:08:12] Sarah: Okay. So I'm still going to use an adult example, like say you. You were at your job and you, you know, you messed up, there was some important project or report that you had to get done on time. And you, you know, for whatever reason you missed the deadline and your boss was really upset with you and, came to you and said like, Natalie, you know, what's going on with this thing because you didn't do that.

[00:08:34] You have to stay late for the rest of the week. And I'm also gonna take a thousand dollars off your paycheck and like yells at you in front of all of your employers or, sorry. Is that going to help you do a better job next time?

[00:08:47] Natalie: Probably not. You're going to be embarrassed. Yeah. You're

[00:08:49] Sarah: gonna be embarrassed.

[00:08:50] You can be mad at your boss, but what would help you do a better job?

[00:08:53] Natalie: You

[00:08:53] Sarah: tell me, well, I don't know. Maybe your boss, Hey Natalie. What's going on? Like, what happened? Why did you miss this deadline? Anything in your life? Yeah. Yeah. how can I help you to make the deadline next time? Right?

[00:09:06] Like what are, what are the underlying root causes? That, made you miss that deadline and made you mess up and make the client unhappy. So for your boss to actually come alongside you with empathy and say, you know, I'm not that they're not upset and not that we wouldn't be upset. If our child lied, you know, broke something and then hit it and lied about it or something.

[00:09:24] Not that we wouldn't be upset about that, but the answer to not having a happen again, next time is to figure out why it happened to try and support the child better, to help them understand. repercussions of their actions like your boss might say, listen, that's one of our most important clients and they're really unhappy.

[00:09:42] Like, what are we going to do about this? Just like you might say that, you know, picture frame that you broke and then tried to hide, like grandma gave it to me. And that's real is really important to me. Like what are we going to do about this? Yes, I'm unhappy about the thing getting broken or the report being late.

[00:09:57] But the more important thing is how can we do a repair. Going forward. And also how can we help you as the employee or your child as the, you know, the one who's broken, something still feel like a good person who can fix it and do better next time.

[00:10:11] Natalie: Okay. I can see that. And I can also see you broke the picture frame.

[00:10:15] How did that feel? How do I feel and how are we going to pay for that? and, and being a part of the solution instead of the discipline. So I, I can understand that. And I think that that's parenting probably a lot of people use and they don't identify it that way. Maybe they use that in conjunction with some consequences or punishment.

[00:10:34] But

[00:10:34] Sarah: I think that parents sometimes would like to do that and they would like to not have like a harsh consequence, but our culture. Fixated on, um, you have to make people feel bad to teach them something that parents have this fear of. Well, I can't, I have to do something like I have to ground them or I have to take something away or they won't learn.

[00:10:55] And so it's really like becoming aware of that fear. Like I have to do something right. And you don't have to, you don't have to make people feel bad to teach them something. And so it's that trust that like my child innately wants to be a good person and I can actually. You know, not punish them and they'll still learn.

[00:11:14] So I think it's that, that fear, like, yeah, maybe there are a lot of parents who want to do that, but they are worried that it's not enough and that their child won't learn without.

[00:11:23] Natalie: Do you feel like there are in having three kids of your own? I have three kids. Like some of my kids are much easier to reason with that way where they have a little bit more, just have a, self-conscious like, oh, I feel really bad about that.

[00:11:37] And then, you know, some other kids are just more like, oh, it doesn't really matter to me. Like the personality of the child really matters in, in how you parent and how you handle situations. Like.

[00:11:49] Sarah: I think there are some kids who are, maybe more sensitive who it's easier for them to see that. you know, repercussions of the, of their actions, but I think all children do.

[00:11:58] And I think that if you do see resistance of, they're just like, oh, it doesn't matter to me. It could be like a little bit of hidden shame there. Like they actually do know, but they don't want to feel like the bad person. So they have to not show any remorse or not act like they care because they actually do care and they don't want to be, they don't want you to be unhappy with them or they don't want to be a bad person.

[00:12:18] Yeah. That's

[00:12:18] Natalie: interesting. A really good way to look at that. let's talk. Avoiding yelling struggle. Any tips that you would have when things escalate to that?

[00:12:29] Sarah: Yeah. So we always want to use our pause button when we're starting to feel like we're getting upset. I mean, even before that, I think we have to make sure that we're being effective.

[00:12:38] you know, you're trying to get the kids to like get out the door in the morning and you're in the kitchen, getting your stuff together, making lunches or whatever. Pretty ineffective to just yell up the stairs, you know, time to go get your backpack or whatever. Cause kids are going to be playing in their rooms or, you know, doing whatever and not necessarily hear you.

[00:12:54] So I think before we even start with the, you know, avoiding yelling, we want to make sure we're being effective at being a leader. Right. And so that might mean, going over to your child, then getting their attention and getting in their face in a friendly way before you make the request and then sort of following up on it.

[00:13:10] another thing. I find we can prevent yelling is don't ask 20 times the same thing, because then we get frustrated, right. So, you know, get their attention in an effective way, ask once. And if nobody's listening to you, then you have to do something right. Go over to them. Offer some help offer some support.

[00:13:29] but asking the same thing 20 times is just an invitation for them to ignore you because they know she's not serious or he's not serious until he's yelling. So I just don't even have to listen right now. So a lot of parents are like, I'm so nice. And I'm so patient and yeah. Get frustrated. And then I yell.

[00:13:45] I'm like, well, you're giving too many chances. You have to, you have to do something and only ask once, maybe twice. And nobody's listening to you, that's your cue? Like, okay. Change the tactic here. So I think that's important to think about those two things before we even think about what we do, when we start feeling upset or, or we're yelling or we're in the middle of a yell.

[00:14:05] So if you get to that point and you're in, you're about to yell or in the middle of a yell. You want to use your pause button and recognize that you've gotten hijacked by your big feelings that it's an emergency. So the pause button we talk about and peaceful parenting is stop, drop, and breathe. And so the stop is just stop.

[00:14:23] Whatever you're doing. If you're yelling, you know, clap the hand over your mouth, shut your mouth. Drop is drop your agenda of whatever you're trying to get somebody to do or not doing, but just for a minute, like, it doesn't mean drop your agenda forever, but just for a minute, while you calm yourself down and then of course breathe, breathing is a signal to your body that it's not an emergency.

[00:14:43] There are no tigers after you. Some people find that breathing actually makes them feel a little bit more upset. So if you're one of those people, instead of breathing, you might try handle. Maybe like rub your test a little bit, just something to signal to your body that there's no emergency. So that's sort of the pause button for the body.

[00:15:00] And then we also want to use, a mantra mantra is basically just a fancy word for talking to yourself. So you might say something like, this is not an emergency. Or you might say, I can handle this. This is tough, but I can handle this. Or you might say this is one of my favorite ones. Um, they're not giving me a hard time.

[00:15:16] They're having a hard time. So you might just, you know, use one of those mantras to just remind yourself, okay, this is not an emergency calm down. And you just use that pause button, do a little bit of a reset. And then start again. I think that's

[00:15:30] Natalie: great. And then that's great modeling of course, to kids.

[00:15:33] When they get frustrated that they take a push the pause button, take the break before they deal with a difficult situation. if

[00:15:41] Sarah: I could share just a little story with my daughter using that word. She was little, she got a gift certificate to the American girl store when I'm sure most people know that, you know, let know that store and think it was $40, which she spent about an hour choosing something.

[00:15:53] She had no idea how little $40 was going to get the American girl store. anyhow, she finally chose something. She went up to the desk, um, and she didn't want me to come with her. I think she was eight, probably she had the card, she had her thing. She went up to pay. And the woman said, oh no, sweetheart, I'm so sorry.

[00:16:11] You can't use that here at the store. It's for the online store only. And I was just like, oh no, you know, I'm over at the side. And she, she stopped and she said, Excuse me. I just need to take a minute. And she stepped away from the cash register and took some deep breaths over at the side of the, of the store.

[00:16:29] And there are all these other people in line and they all just looked at me like, oh my God, my kid would be like screaming right now if that were her. But it was impressive to see that in action in a kid. I

[00:16:39] Natalie: love that. Did she put her hand to heart and

[00:16:41] Sarah: take a deep? I don't remember, but she just knew she needed to take a pause.

[00:16:44] Right. She just took that pause and then she went back and collected the gift certificate and, and, uh, we ordered something online.

[00:16:51] Natalie: I'm sure that she had watched you do that many times and her that, um, you talked about. Uh, parenting superpower and how we can use that. I know you even have a quiz for that.

[00:17:00] Tell me about that and what some of those superpowers are. I don't know what my parenting superpower, but you should take the quiz. I think I might have to

[00:17:07] Sarah: give you there are, I came up with four parenting superpowers and the reason why I did this is because. We all have something that we are really good at with parenting.

[00:17:15] Like we tend to beat ourselves up about everything. You know, we tend to focus on all the things that we're not good at or all the things that we want to improve on. And I think we need to remember that what we focus on