top of page

Episode 51: Keeping Our Cool When it Matters Most with Carla Naumburg

Brief summary of show:

You know those moments of frustration that come creeping in, and the next thing you know, you’ve completely lost it on your kids?

It happens, and we know it happens, but is there a way to recover from it? This is what we’re talking about in this episode with Carla Naumburg.

Carla Naumburg, PhD, LICSW, is a clinical social worker, parenting expert, and mother. She’s the author of five non-fiction books, including her international bestseller, How to Stop Losing Your Sh*t With Your Kids (Workman, 2019), and the forthcoming You’re Not a Sh*tty

Parent and How to Stop Freaking Out, the middle-grade adaptation of How to Stop Losing Your Sh*t With Your Kids. Carla lives in Massachusetts with her husband and two daughters.

Listen in as we talk about:

  • [2:30] How to stop yourself before you lose it

  • [5:40] Tips to managing our emotions in the moment

  • [9:30] Practical things you can do to not lose it

  • [12:45]: Single-tasking vs. multitasking

  • [17:40]: How to recover after a blow up

Resources mentioned in this episode:

Notes from Natalie:

Connect with Carla

Connect with Me

View Transcript for this Episode

[00:00:00] Natalie: Hi everyone. It's Natalie. We all lose it. Sometimes we get busy, we make mistakes, we yell. Then we feel terrible about yelling. Do you relate? Well, unfortunately, this often happens around the people we love the most, our spouse, our parents, even our kids. None of us want this to happen, but when we're stressed, It just happens today.

[00:00:20] We're talking about keeping our cool when it matters most. And my guest is Dr. Karla. Numberg, she's a clinical social worker and author of three parenting books with a fourth on the way she works with parents day in and day out on techniques for keeping themselves together. She's a working mom and she knows how to stop those triggers from becoming blowups.

And Carla, we all know as parents and even those who aren't parents, what it feels like to be triggered and to have a meltdown. But I want to get into today how to prevent that from happening. It's like you see the whole world around you, you see it happening, but you don't know what.

[00:01:07] Carla: Yeah. I just want to start out by saying Natalie, that every single parent on the planet loses their temper with their kids, including me. And I wrote the book, right. And I lose my temper with my kids. I lose it less often now. And I recover more quickly, which is what we're going to talk about today.

[00:01:23] Um, So the first thing you asked was how do we lose it last? Was that what you asked? I lost my train of thought. Yeah. Like I

[00:01:29] Natalie: I feel like it happens so often and I know. That it's often me and not something my kid did, but it's actually something wrong in my life or I'm stressed or whatever, but yet, how do you stop it from happening?

[00:01:43] You walk out of the room, take a deep breath. Like how do you stop that moment? You

[00:01:48] Carla: know, you're going to.So in order to stop that moment, we need to take a step back and understand a little bit about why we lose our tempers with our kids. And I think a lot of parents have decided that it's just a matter of willpower.

[00:02:02] If we could just decide not to lose our tempers. Then we would stay calm or maybe we're just, we've already labeled ourselves as a bad parent. And if we were just a better parent, just a patient parent, we wouldn't lose it. And it's actually neither of those. It goes back to our nervous system and what happens when our nervous system is overloaded by stress and big emotions and exhaustion and multitasking and all those things that every parent deals with all day long.

[00:02:28] If we can take care of our nervous system and keep ourselves a little bit calmer or at least a little bit better cared for, I'd say over the course of the day, the week our lives, we will be less likely to get to that point that you're talking about, where we're on the edge of the cliff and we're hanging on for dear life.

[00:02:44] And the way I think about it with parents that I think makes it a little easier to sort of conceptualize. That have talking about nervous systems is I talk about our buttons, that all of us are sort of covered with buttons. And the more triggered we are, the more exhausted we are, the more we're anxious or worried or angry or stressed or dealing with too many things, the bigger, brighter, more sensitive and more pushable our buttons become.

[00:03:09] And as anybody who's ever been in an elevator with a kid knows when they see a bus. Right. Everybody's kids are expert gets to push it, right? They've pushed the button and it's not because your kid is a psychopath. It's because that's what kids do. Don't worry about that. They are professional button pushers and their fingers are just the perfect size and shape for your buttons.

[00:03:30] And so the more over the course of our daily life, and I know this is a big ask for busy parents, but it really makes a difference. The more we can get enough. The more we can move our bodies every day. The more we can spend time with some friends and maybe even more time away from our kids if we need it.

[00:03:47] Right. If you are with your kids 24 7, that's rough. Nobody was really designed to do that. No parent can parent well that way. The more, we can make sure we have the right amount of caffeine, perhaps not too little, but not too much. All of these things. And I go into them in more detail in the book, really help calm our buttons down.

[00:04:07] So they're darker, they're less sensitive. Our kids have to push them maybe 15 times before we lose it, instead of just pushing it once or even barely touching it once. And we explode. So. I really want parents to understand that all of these things that we traditionally think of as sort of generic care are actually highly relevant to not losing your temper with your children.

[00:04:28] Yeah.

[00:04:29] Natalie: one thing I talk a lot about on this podcast, and I know I'm as professional, I think you're going to agree with is we're modeling. So everything we do to our kids. So if we react a certain way, they're like, well, be okay for me to react that way. So how can we model this and actually talk about it in the moment?

[00:04:49] Or do you recommend you walk away? Cool. Or do you talk about it? Do you say, you know what, that really triggered me or that's pushing my buttons. What do, what do you

[00:04:57] Carla: recommend first of all, I totally agree with you on the modeling, but I also want to be clear with parents that you don't have to be perfect at every moment.

[00:05:04] Right? it's also okay. To model for our kids, that we are imperfect creatures and we're always doing. We can and sometimes the best we can is actually not great. And that's okay. Right. So I totally agree with the modeling, but I don't want parents to feel like they have to hold themselves to a standard of perfection, which I think too many parents already do.

[00:05:23] Having said that the way you handle the moment in any given moment and by the moment, I mean, the moment when you're about to freak out or you are freaking out really depends. I would say on how triggered you are, because sometimes we get so upset and again, This isn't a personal failing. This is the way the human brain is wired, that we can get so overwhelmed that we literally can't find the words.

[00:05:45] There's no words. There's no conscious thinking. There's no logic, there's no awareness. There's no modeling. There's none of it. There's just losing your temper. And so in that moment, the minute you realize. But you've lost it. What I talk about in the book is, is notice, pause, and do literally anything else.

[00:06:03] So the minute you notice you've lost your temper and is any parent who's ever lost it with their kids knows you can be neck deep in a parental meltdown and have no awareness that it's happening. Right. You're just so caught up in the moment you don't even realize. Yeah. So the minute you get that little shift in perspective, just pause for a minute, just put a pin in it.

[00:06:23] Closure. Whatever, just take a breath and then do anything else. And so what does that, anything else look like? Well, if you have enough head space that you can say, wow, guys, I totally just exploded on you. I'm sorry. I need a minute to calm down. That's great. Say that, right. But if you just have this explosion of energy and you have to get it out, you can do what I do sometimes.

[00:06:47] And just cluck, like a chicken in the middle of the kitchen. Right? Cause I will be at this place where I either am screaming or I feel like screaming and the energy is in there and my nervous system is tense and wrapped up. Sorry, ramped up. And I need to get this noise out. And so I'll just say. Clock or sing or make some garbled.

[00:07:06] Right. And it breaks up the moment. It sort of interrupts this tense moment with your family. It gets this tension out and it doesn't sort of, you know, contribute to the toxicity or the difficulty. And usually everybody laughs and then sometimes the moment has passed and there's nothing to talk about. I lost my temper over something ridiculous.

[00:07:29] We can move on. And sometimes there was a situation that we need to process a little bit and we do that. So. You know, for some parents getting that tension out, dropping to the floor and doing pushups is a thing you can do walking up and down the hallway of your house. You know, putting your hands flat on the counter and taking 10 deep breaths, reciting a prayer or a mantra or counting to 10, or, you know, whatever.

[00:07:53] Some people need to calm down. Some people need to get this energy out. You will get to know yourself. But really anything other than exploding is a great way to sort of break up that moment. Yeah.

[00:08:04] Natalie: Okay. I, your book has so many good. The last book that I read a nurse, so many good tips, but if we take a step back.

[00:08:14] Carla: Before the explosion, you talk about you, you mentioned make sure you're getting enough sleep. Make sure you have enough. Self-compassion let's go through a few of those things. And again, like you said, a moment ago, we are not perfect. I even as hard as I try, I don't get a good night's sleep, but I'm trying I know you talked about.

[00:08:31] Single-tasking instead of multitasking, I am so guilty of that. We have a joke in my house. I always burn the taco shells because they only take three minutes and I leave to do something else. One of the talk shows and have it like, so that's like our version of single task mom, single task. What are some of those other things that will help us not lose it?

[00:08:51] Because we're remembering

[00:08:53] Carla: these things. Yeah. So in the book I call these button reduction practices or burps. That's my sill