Jennifer Kolari 0:04 As a parent, you’re a substitute frontal lobe intensely really until they’re teenagers. And then you’re kind of backing out of the job slightly but really up until a teen, you’re the job of the frontal lobe and then their job is to push back— “No, you’re mean.” “Why? Why do I have to?” And you’re actually providing a substitute brain function which is why parenting is so hard. We need to teach and train our kids to help them be successful adults, but the way you get there is through connection, not control.
Blake Schofield 0:43 My name is Blake Schofield, founder and CEO of Connections Illuminated, mom to three and former corporate executive who got tired of sacrificing my life for a comfortable paycheck. My mission is to change women’s perspectives about what is possible, empowering them with the tools to create greater impact at home and at work without sacrificing their health time family or income. This is The Bridge to Fulfillment. Hello, and welcome back to another episode of The Bridge to Fulfillment. I am incredibly excited for this interview and to share this interview with you today. I am interviewing guest Jennifer Kolari. She is one of the nation’s leading parenting experts and she’s a highly sought after international speaker and the founder of Connected Parenting, a child and family therapist and parent educator with a busy practice based in Toronto and in San Diego. She’s the author of Connected Parenting: How to Raise a Great Kid, and You’re Ruining My Life, but Not Really: Surviving the Teenage Years with Connected Parenting. She’s a frequent guest on many morning shows and podcasts, and the host of the Connected Parenting podcast and co host of the Mental Health comedy podcast with Eddie Crasnick. In this episode, she shares incredibly powerful insights and real life examples of challenges that parents are struggling with, and some clear techniques that you can use to build a stronger connection with your child to help them grow up to be more resilient, more healthy and more successful in their lives. It was an incredibly powerful interview. And one, I’m so grateful for Jennifer’s time. And I’m so happy to share with you today. So with no further ado, I’m gonna turn it over to the interviewer and have you meet Jennifer. Thank you so much for joining me today. Jennifer, really excited to share your expertise with our audience.
Jennifer Kolari 2:36 I’m happy to be here. Thank you.
Blake Schofield 2:38 I’d love just to kind of launch in you shared with me a little bit about your background, and that you’ve got a really interesting story how you got where you are today. So can you share a little bit with our audience? Who are you? And you know, what’s your background? And what do you do today?
Jennifer Kolari 2:52 Awesome. Yes, so I’m a social worker, a family therapist and a parenting coach. And I have started an organization called ConnectED Parenting where I teach parents, it actually is applicable well beyond parenting, how to use language and love and compassion as medicine to really create change and adaptability and resilience, all things that we very much need in our world. And then my secret agenda is kind of I feel like the more we can all adopt these principles and really use it as part of who we are. We literally make the world a better place. Like one little human being at a time. So yeah, it’s a pretty passionate thing for me. So yeah, I work with kids, I work with parents, I feel very lucky to have this job people let me into their lives. And it’s such a privilege I just feel wonderful about and I love kids. They’re weird, and wonderful. Not getting the elevator button first can be a national emergency. But they’re just interesting. And there’s so much they can teach us. So I feel very privileged to do what I do.
Blake Schofield 3:52 Awesome. So what led you to this work? Tell me how did you end up in this?
Jennifer Kolari 3:56 Yeah. So you know what’s funny, probably at 15 or 16 I knew what I wanted to do. Kind of always knew. So went through, you know, did my undergraduate degree in psychology. And it was right when I was finishing psychology that I thought, Okay, I want to do something real right now, before I go on and do my master’s work, my graduate work, I want to I want to get out there and do something. So I actually found in the newspaper, and an advertising for Groupon. And this is a Groupon for street kids. So these kids who were literally working on the streets, it was sex trafficking, basically, they were involved in pimps, and it was all of them had been severely traumatized, sexually abused, physically abused, horrendous histories. They were taken from the streets and put into this group home was called the receiving home. So they’re only there for about two or three months, while they kind of get pulled away from their street family as it’s called. And they all had what are called Romeo pimps. So these were men who pretended to love them and give them up they wanted their whole lives and then basically put them to work. So they were pretty damaged and struggling and they were in this place and You know, we were trained in this setting to be, you know, very tough. And we’re literally taught that don’t turn your back on these kids, and they’ll take advantage of you. And, you know, be tough on them. And, you know, don’t get too attached to them, because they’re not here for very long. And none of that made sense to me, they were 11 to 16 years old. By the way, these are children. So none of that made any sense to me. They don’t know love, they don’t have any consistency. They need kindness and caring, not a prison. And so I just didn’t follow any of those rules, and really became quite connected to these kids. And one of the things I started doing was spending some really connected time at bedtime. So what would happen is, you know, the makeup would come off, and the teddy bears would come out and the jammies would come on, and they turn back into children. And it’s when they were their most vulnerable. And so I couldn’t just shut the door and say, That’s it time for it. So I would spend time and I’d sit on each of their beds, and I’d rub their backs and I’d sing them lullabies. And I would tell them bedtime stories. And these tough, scary kids who were really quite difficult to be around during the day, would melt into this beautiful bedtime childlike routine, someone would cry, sometimes I would cry thinking these poor kids, because where was I at 12 or 13, I was home with my dog at the foot of my bed and my parents down the hall. And you could just see how much it meant to them. And it was so interesting was the next day. When it was time for me to get those kids to do the things that they needed to do. All of a sudden, they were much more likely to do it for me. So now it wasn’t getting so much resistance now it wasn’t getting out. Why should I was getting okay. And it was really palatable, you could really feel it. It was quite beautiful, actually. And I remember one little girl in particular, who was so tough. We’d actually had meetings for weeks before this kid came to this setting, she actually punched her six foot two male social worker in the nose and broke his nose like she was, we were battening down the hatches for this kid. And surprisingly, she was one who just especially loved this bedtime routine. And she was only there about a week and a half. She wasn’t there very long. But she really loved this routine. And I remember her leaving about a week and a half into how long she’d been there. She got in she was getting into the car to be driven away to another setting, she stopped, she paused, she ran back up the sidewalks and she her hands on my cheeks. And she said I just want to remember the space. Let me just look at the space for a minute, the face of someone who actually cared about me. So I never forgot that moment. That was a pretty powerful moment that okay, this is big, this is big, something important is happening here. And so I devoted and still do my practice and my studying and my learning and everything I do as a therapist, to really capture that moment. And to bring that to other people that is magical. That is medicine. That’s what we all need. And so from there, I ended up going back to school during my master’s training as a therapist, and I was an intern at another agency. And this was actually a children’s mental health center, there was a girl there who was very, very prickly like one of those kids, it’s just like you said that word wrong and your teeth are crooked on the bottom. And, you know, she’d let the door slam in your face. And she was just a really difficult kid to be around. And I found it so challenging to find empathy to find that moment. But that kid because she was so difficult, and she was never late for her appointments, she used to like arrive early, of course. She’d throw magazines on the floor in the waiting room, she tripped people that walked by, she’d make horrible noises, she was just so difficult. And we get into the session. And I actually had to be a few minutes late because I honestly had to deep breathe before sitting in this room for an hour like you think an hour isn’t that long with a kid. But honestly, I would look at the clock and think how was that only 20 minutes, I thought it was 40. Like it was really hard. And it challenged everything I sort of had been building. And I went back to my supervisor and said, You know, I’m really struggling, I’m finding it so hard to find a connection with this kid to find this empathy. Now, the history with this little one, I promise this will make sense in parenting in a second. But she’d actually been the product of a rape. And her mother had decided to keep her. So you can imagine the attachment issues going on between this mom and little one. And so her mother really had a difficult time connecting with her. This child used to throw herself down the stairs at the age of four literally tumbled down the stairs, just to get her mother to show compassion. So by the time she came to see me she was about 12 I think she was going to be she was gonna offend everyone and hurt everyone’s feelings and keep everyone away so that nobody had an opportunity to hurt her. And she was darn good at it. She really was. And so that day when I went back and said, I don’t know what to do, I can’t find it. And my supervisor said, look, you’ve got to go back in that room. And you have to show that child ruthless compassion. And somehow you have to show her something different from what the rest of the world has shown her. And that’s how you’ll make change. That’s how you will do the work with this child. And she taught me a technique called mirroring which we’ll actually talk about today. I’ve got my own spin on it called the contact make and I’ll walk everyone through it but so my back into the room and the way they’ve gone previously is I would be a couple minutes late because I had to debrief she would say you’re an idiot I hate you should swear at me, you’re stupid. I wish I had a different therapist. And I would be very therapist II. And I’d say things like, well, that must make you feel very angry. And she would say things like, of course it does, you idiot. Anything I have learned to do really backfired with this kid, it just didn’t work. And so when I use this mirroring technique, something pretty magical happen.
Jennifer Kolari 10:19
You’re late, I hate you, you’re stupid. I ignored the behavior, you get to come back to the behavior, the behavior, and it doesn’t matter. If you’re talking about a colleague, a family member, your spouse behavior is never the problem. It’s a symptom of the problem. And so she’d swear at me and I would literally say to her, You know what, this is not the first time I’ve been late. I’ve done this to you before, you’re always on time, you are never late, you’re sitting here waiting in the therapy room. And several times now I have walked in like non defensive, totally joining, not not even apologizing, just frankly, in that mom with this child. And the first time I did it, there was silence on her face. And I could see tears in the corner of her eyes. And I could just feel something shift, and then it became your teeth are crooked on the bottom. And instead of being defensive and saying what a lot of parents do, which is like, how do you think you would feel if somebody pointed that out, I literally just said, You know what you’ve caught the kind of brain that notices when things are straight. And when things are at a place that stands out for you. And now what I got back was oh, oh, it’s okay. Because your talkies are really nice. Now I can work with that I can connect with that. And as we kind of develop this underlying kind of beauty that could be there. All of this stuff, I found out that was a funny, sensitive, spicy, sassy, intelligent kid under all that prickly behavior. And now came the change. Right? Then I remember the receptionist in the office saying I don’t know what you’re doing with that child. But she didn’t throw any magazines this week. She didn’t call anyone named, she didn’t trip anybody. She said good morning to me, I almost fell off my chair. And I was like, What is this? This is massive, went back to my supervisor. And she started to train me in self psychology, which is a lot of what connected parenting is based on. And then I turned it into a parenting model. And it was really interesting, because at first other therapists were like, oh, you can’t teach parents how to do this. They’re too close to it. It doesn’t work. And I thought, but who better to teach, like, like, so you don’t have to go to a therapist later. If it’s therapeutic parenting, and parents actually have these tools, and they’re that powerful. Wouldn’t that be amazing. And so that’s how connected parenting came to me. It’s still evolving. I’m always learning and growing. But it’s pretty powerful parenting method. Awesome. I love it.
Blake Schofield 12:33 So whether you are parents dealing with teenagers or kids that are challenging, or just a parent who wants to build more connection with your kids, and I think every parent wants their child to grow up to be healthy and happy and successful. What would you say, Jennifer? Like if I were to ask you what are the key mistakes you see parents making? And then I’d love to kind of shift into this technique of the calm technique, and some that you feel like are key to parents being successful in their journey and building that relationship with their kids?
Jennifer Kolari 13:03 Yeah, I think I said probably the first one is, it’s interesting, because what I what I teach parents to do is how to connect first to connect before correcting. They didn’t really step into their world without your agenda, and just really try to understand where they’re coming from. And then you get to correct behavior. In fact, you have to correct behavior. That’s your job. And so what happens is, it’s very counter to intuitive to kind of feel like if you’re listening first and deeply listening, first, that you’re somehow condoning negative behavior, there’s some time teaching your children that it’s okay. And that’s probably I don’t want to use the word mistake. But misconception maybe it’s actually through deep listening and really connecting with empathy first, which is, by the way, all any of us ever want. That’s how real growth and real change happens. And that’s how that inner kind of you’re sort of strengthening your child from the inside out. So that I guess the trickiest part of this parenting method is that it’s counterintuitive. You want to say, Are you kidding me? And you can’t do that. And if you do that this is going to happen. And what if you did that it’s cool, but like, you’re gonna get your work done, or when you’re an adult you like we love to give all these we do and there’s absolute importance to that we need to teach and train our kids to help them be successful adults, but the way you get there is through connection, not control. And a really interesting thing to understand, too. This is where another misconception can be is you’re not actually a parent. We’re actually substitute frontal lobes. So think about it. The frontal lobes job, right is to prioritize, organize, motivate, take perspective, inhibit all of the understand time, all of those things. The mid brains job is to freak out. Is this dangerous, that go fight flight or freeze, right? And so as a parent, you’re a substitute frontal lobe, your frontal lobe until intensely really until they’re teenagers and then you’re kind of backing out of the job slightly, but really up until 18. You’re the job of the frontal lobe and then their job is to push back now mean, why, why do I have to? And you’re actually providing a substitute brain function for several, which is why parenting is so hard. That’s why when parents say to me, why do I have to say something 50,000 times, because you are a prosthetic frontal lobe. Because until that brain can do it on its own, you have to do it. But you can see how that can erode and fragment and fray a bond. Right? If you’re always the one get up, stop it, don’t talk to me like that, do your homework, when you get off that computer. If that’s constantly your job, which it is, then it frees the bond. And it’s actually that bond that helps kids develop resilience and a strong sense of self. And what’s so interesting, we’ll get into the contact Nick in a moment. But the more you do that with your child, the more you listen in that really beautiful way to them, the more they intuitively do it on their own, you don’t have to teach your kids how to do it, it’s a skill they will go on in life. And I basically say it’s a superpower. Like, don’t just think about using this with your kids, like, I do corporate stuff all the time I go in, and I teach these techniques, it has nothing to do with parenting if you worked on humans, it’s just, it’s how we make connection. It’s how we may change.
Blake Schofield 16:13 I love that so much. I think even there’s been a lot of discussion last few decades about emotional intelligence. But I think still as a society, most people do not understand what emotional intelligence is. Most people do not understand self awareness, and the power of building these tools, right, but your brain is a muscle, and you can teach it new things. And as you become more aware, as you become better understanding of how you feel, how you react to things, what control you actually have over your thoughts, your feelings, your actions, it empowers you to create more of the life you want. But it also empowers you exactly what you said, which is to build stronger relationships with other people. I see that all the time with my clients, right, a huge part of what we focus on is getting them clear on what they actually need, and want their life to be fulfilled. And what are the things standing in their way of being what’s the root cause of why they’re unhappy. And a lot of that really is about become aware. And it’s a wonderful thing, just like you said, I watched my kids come back and talk about how they’ve had, you know, the first really long conversation with their husband in a long time about what they both want for their future, or to really be able to spend the entire weekend and connect with their kids. And I think there’s a lot that we don’t realize about lack of connection that we can fix through our own actions.
Jennifer Kolari 17:28 It is as important to us literally as food and water like connection, we are social beings, every one of us is here because somebody at least cared about us enough to raise us and feed us right that we are. And we are if you’re not good with your people, you’re not going anywhere. Right? It’s really important, the more solid your relationships are, and not just in your family of origin and your kids, but also at work and in communities that you’re in your own community, the healthier you are and the better you feel. And it’s so really sort of lining up with love, not fear. We’ll talk about that a lot in the next few minutes. And really understanding feelings before I even get into the contact Nick is sort of touching on what you were talking about that and I would say we live in a culture, but I think most cultures are like this, too. We’re afraid of our feelings, especially what we call the negative feelings and they’re just your GPS system. They’re just information, they’re there to tell you, if you’re on the road, or off the road and big emotions like sadness or depression, it’s kind of like a smoke alarm, like do something and if you don’t do something, you’re going to have a fire. So learning to use your emotions as that GPS system as guiding you. And so what we typically do is we run away from emotions, we blame people, we drink something, we smoke something, we think, oh, I’ll just fix this, or I’ll just become more successful, I’ll buy that car or whatever, we have all of these external ways of thinking that we’re gonna be happy. But those things never work unless you really are in a place where you feel, I mean, the most important relationship is the one between you and you. Right? When that relationship is good, then your other relationships fall into place. And then success falls into place. So we tend to run from our emotions and what I think is so important when I work with parents, but also when I work with kids, and also help the parents to help their kids is understand that feelings are there to be felt. And if you run away from them, they’re just going to chase you. Right, and they’re just going to get louder, and then they’re going to knock on the door and then they’re going to kick at the door and then they’re going to kick the door down. Like eventually you can’t ignore your feelings, they’re gonna find you. So the more you turn around, and actually feel them and register that information, and literally alchemize it metabolize it, then you can move on to the next thing. And it’s simple. In theory, it’s not so easy to do. But you talked about the brain being a muscle and to teach children how to feel, what they’re feeling, how their bodies talking to them, and how to either be in alignment with their best self and how it feels when they’re out of alignment with their best self and when you’re out of alignment with your best self. That’s when you feel gross. That’s when you don’t feel good. It’s not actually the person that’s made you mad. It’s you knowing that you are too far from who you want to In that moment, and that we really have so much control, so much more control over our lives and others in relationships than we think we do.
Blake Schofield 20:09 100%. I often tell my clients emotions are a gift. Right? And I completely agree with you. I think as a society, we’ve not been taught how to deal with them, we stuffed them down. We overwork, we drink, we eat too much we do all of these things, searching for happiness, but never really addressing the emotions that we have. And I think there’s so much that I have learned in the last I got my degree in psychology as well was going to be Marriage and Family psychologist, gay. Yeah. And that was my initial track until I started to see that there was something not quite right, right, that took me a number of years to finally put all the elements together. But what I often talk about, and I’ve spent a lot of time in the last four to five years really exploring is we think that the emotions go away, we think we stuffed them down, and then they go away, we don’t really realize that they don’t, they literally sit in our body and make us sick, right, create toxicity, create cancer, create heart attacks, create all of these things. Because until we’re willing to deal with the feelings are not going to go away. You’re just building, building, building, building, building. And I think that’s really important to no just personally, but then I think it’s also important to think about as a parent, right, because what I watch with my clients is when they learn and understand these things, it fundamentally shifts how they look at their childhood, their parents, who they are as people, and then who they are as parents. And I think a lot of times when you become aware of the things that you’ve done to your children that you didn’t realize you were doing, because you’re just repeating the cycle of what you knew. Yeah, it’s a real aha moment. And we know that most children’s beliefs are formed by the time they’re seven years old. Right. And so you’re so instrumental in creating that healthy perspective, helping our children learn how to avoid sickness, by taking care of themselves understanding the value of who they are as people. So I’m really excited to hear you share a little bit about your technique and start to give some tools to our audience about how and they start to apply some of the learnings that you have really built and understood from your career into their families and their relationships. Absolutely.
Jennifer Kolari 22:09 Well, and the so we’ll get into it. And I think the probably the best thing that this helps you do is respond to your kids and the world. Because this isn’t just for your kids. This is basically something you kind of integrate into how you interface with the world, and you integrate it into who you are, versus react to the world. So it allows you because we don’t really have control over conditions very much like a little bit. But mostly we don’t. And life is always going to be full of these contrasts. And you can see them as problems or you can see them as opportunities to learn. And that’s a very big difference between being a victim and a student and, and modeling that for your kids I think will really help us. Because this generation, let’s face it, these kids coming up, they’re going to have to save us all like, literally, they’re going to. So we have a big responsibility right now to grow the best humans that we can, and be the best people we can while we do it. So let’s kind of break down a few things. I think the most important thing to understand is that compassion and kindness and love, really, it’s medicine. So when you have deep connected moments with other human beings, the body, the biochemical, what happened is oxytocin is released. And oxytocin is a very powerful hormone slash neurotransmitter. It’s known as the love drug. It’s an incredibly powerful chemical. It’s really what makes us human. It helps us understand and feel what others are feeling. But it does a whole lot more. So oxytocin is actually a cortisol inhibitor. So the higher the levels of oxytocin in the bloodstream, the lower the levels of cortisol and cortisol, of course, is the stress hormone. That’s what makes us you get stomach aches and our heart race and headaches and the causes behind the whole fight or flight thing that and adrenaline and a number of other chemicals. But we’ll just for the sake of simplicity will say, you know, primarily cortisol and oxytocin inhibits that it actually mitigates that oxytocin speeds up neuroplasticity. So when you’re trying to create, change, and learn and grow that muscle, that is your brain, that’ll all happen faster when there’s higher levels of oxytocin. So as parents, we want our kids to be successful in school we want them to do well guess what’s going to help them do well, more than anything else. Oxytocin love, connection, compassion, empathy, it is a super fuel. It’s it’s incredibly important to mental health. It strengthens the immune system, it upgrades the immune system, what could be more important given what the planet is dealing with right now? It’s free. You don’t need a prescription, you can’t overdose on it. You can’t use it too much. Like it’s just incredible. And what I think is so amazing, is you get the same bounce back. So when you use the techniques that I’m going to talk about in a second with other people, oxytocin releases in their bloodstream, but it also releases in yours, so you’re medicating yourself all day. Long through conversations that would normally be excreting cortisol. So it’s pretty amazing. As I say, it’s like having a little superpower that really helps you not be so afraid of conflict. It gives you a place and a position to have conversations in that you can feel good about. And guess what, when you blow it, because we all blow it, you can go back and you can use the same technique to repair. Remember, yesterday when I told you, you should go live at the neighbor’s, I didn’t actually stop and think about what you were going through when I was making you wear that raincoat. Let’s talk about it. And now comes the prepare. And now comes the oxytocin. So the neat part is, as you’re learning this technique, you can just go back and do repair over and over and get better and better at it that way. And when I as you know, we’ll talk about the technique and now but practice it all day long. Do it on everybody, the person at Starbucks, the person, you know, just can’t live this way and build that muscle because you wouldn’t go to the gym and do one sit up and be upset. You don’t have abs like, you have to practice, right. It’s a practice. Alright, we’re ready to dive in then yes, I’m technique. Okay. So let me give you the kind of neurological stuff leading up to this. So most of us the good news is this is based on a technique called mirroring. Now a lot of people think they know what it is, oh, I’ve learned that already. I’ve been trained in that I’ve been in a leadership group, unless you’ve been trained in self psychology, unless it’s Heinz Kohut, who is the developer of this theory, you haven’t been trained in it exactly this way, it is very unique. So a lot of people think they know what it is, or they think they’re doing it already. But there’s a very, there’s some very fundamental differences. Now, the good news is most of us are pretty good at this with babies. You look at a baby a baby’s crying, you look at the baby go, Oh, my goodness look good, you your little lips quivering. And the baby doesn’t know what you’re saying. But the baby sees on your face, a perfect representation of what they are feeling, which hits the mirror neuron cells in the brain, which then release oxytocin and settles the baby down. So we’re pretty good at this. Nobody picks up a baby and goes, Hey, how are you, you look a little upset, like, you know, you really got to get over this deal, you got a whole life of crying, like we’d never do that with a baby, right? So we’re quite good at it until around the time of language acquisition. So right around the time that children start to develop language, we drop that beautiful, natural intuitive mirroring from our repertoire. And we start using language. So the best example I can give is, let’s say you have a little baby, they’re four months old, and they’re fussing and crying, because you’ve taken them out of the bath, and they’re cold, most people would go on No, you were so warm in that bath. And when you were having the best time in that bath, and now this towel is scratchy. And again, baby doesn’t know what you’re saying. But the baby looks at and go, Oh, she gets me, I’m good. I’m safe, I’m going to be okay. And as you repeat that the baby becomes more resilient, more organized, and more comfortable that whatever’s going on in the environment, this person keeps showing up or, and she seems to know what she’s doing, or he seems to know what he’s doing. And there’s a constant kind of reinforcement of that. And now we’re in the time of language acquisition. So now you’re getting your three year old out of the bath, or your four year old bath, how different is that look.
Jennifer Kolari 28:06 Please get out of the bath, please just get out of the bath, we’ve got to go, you’re not gonna have your story. If you don’t have a splashing, don’t splash. And then we start you know, getting upset, get out of the bath, please, 1233 and a half. Now we’re getting mad. Now it’s all kind of falling apart, right. And it’s because we didn’t start with the connection first. So I’ll break this down. But it’s literally as simple as giving yourself a little bit of extra time, going into the bath, putting your hand in the water. If I was in that water, I wouldn’t want to get out either Oh, it’s so warm, and you’re playing with all your boats, and you’ve got all this stuff going on. This is why it’s so hard to get out of the bath. Sometimes we’ll stay here for a minute, we’ll just enjoy the water. And then I’m pretty sure in a minute that you’ll do the right thing and you know what to do. And then watch how often they will get out of the bath, how quickly they will get a bath. It’s starting with connection with empathy and really joining how they’re feeling in that moment in that empathic space. And then usually you’ll get more compliance. If you don’t, we will talk about that, because it won’t work every single time, but a huge amount of the time it will work. So before I break down the content make any thoughts or questions about that park?
Blake Schofield 29:13 No, I think it’s great. What goes through my head is I think that probably the number one barrier that I would think that comes up, which is so many parents were not raised this way. And so many parents were not raised with empathy, and were raised that you have to suck it up, you need to deal with it, etc. that I think there’s almost an emotional pool if you are that person that was raised that way. And it’s like, well, why did they get this and I didn’t get it done? Yeah, yeah. Do you run into that? And if so, what would you share to help shift that perspective?
Jennifer Kolari 29:43 Yeah, that’s a really good question. I get that a lot. And I also get people saying things like, well, aren’t they just can’t expect everyone in the world to do that. Then, like what if their teacher doesn’t do that then what are they going to do and scientifically and there’s there’s lots of studies that show this, that it’s that actually builds they will need the teacher The teacher can say sit down and be like, What’s with her they feel so understood and so grounded by how loved they are at home that it actually thickens their skin outside so that when teachers yell at them, or somebody says something to them, it’s not that it doesn’t affect them. Of course it does. But it doesn’t go like Oh, like, right, right through your heart. So if resilience is really what you’re interested in, that’s how you build resilience. That’s how you organize your kids. And you also don’t have to, I mean, listen, if parents could do this all the time, every day would be fantastic, but you can’t always. And the ironic thing is, the more you mirror like this, unless you have to, then you will be able to go into the bath and go, You know what, you got to get out? This isn’t funny. Get out right now. And because you had so many other moments where it’s been lovely, they’re like, Okay, I know, it sounds like that’s not possible. But I’ve been doing this 30 years. And it’s really mind blowing how powerful this is. And there’s two halves to connect a parenting tooth. So for parents that start worrying about that, that’s only the first half the connection and the grounding and the kind of oxytocin and serotonin, all those beautiful here now, chemicals that flow, set that brain up, so when you have to say, Okay, you need to get out or there’s a consequence. Now, it’s going to make sense. Now, it’s not going to be an injury. And you can, you can be a very firm parent, I’m all about parents being a frontal lobe. It’s actually very important. The best analogy I can give is if you were on an airplane, and it was a turbulent, terrifying, scary flight, and the captain decides he’s gonna wander down the aisles. Hey, everybody, I know this is scary. It’s really scary to be in this plane. When it’s bumpy. I totally get it. But I could go around the storm, if you want. I could do 29th What would you say to him? Are you insane? fly the plane, right? We can say for the sake of argument, the cockpit doors open and the captain’s there screaming and yelling, why is that red button flashing? Why isn’t that why isn’t the control tower? answer now?
Jennifer Kolari 31:57 How are you going to feel as that passenger? Terrified, right? You want to be in the middle? Remember Captain Solly, the airline pilot who landed the plain old robber a few years ago, and was just like super calm. That’s who you want. You want to be captain Sally, you want to be in that lovely motionless center. And so what happens when you do the first part is you can be very firm, you can be absolute, I’m sorry, you know, I get it. I love you. But I’m sorry, you have lost your phone for the rest of the night, you can be as mad at me as you need to be. I love you enough for you to be mad at me. But it’s my job to take it away. And you knew that would happen if you kept doing X, I’m not yelling. I’m not screaming, I am just absolutely centered. And that’s when consequences work. Because they’re fair. And they’re meaningful. And they’re they’re talked about in advance, and then it becomes cause and effect. So let’s break down the technique itself. So the answer to that is your children will be more resilient, if you’re actually doing this. And the times when you can’t do it, it’s much more protective, they won’t care as much, it won’t hurt as much if you just got to go. If you’ve done a million times before that we’ve been really gentle and lovely about it. There’ll be okay, so let’s break this down now. So there’s four things that you’re going to do when you have a really powerful mirroring moment. The first thing you’re going to do is connect, and you’re going to take your agenda. Are you kidding me? Again, you’re doing this and why can’t you do this? For one second? How are you ever gonna learn and all the stuff that we say 1000 times a day, you’re just gonna park it, I promise you your frontal lobe, you get to bring it back, just not right. Now the next thing you’re going to do is the effect matching, this means the look on your face needs to match. Not exactly because that’s weird, but close enough, it’s got to match your child. So if your child is crying, and you’re angry, there is no match. If your child was doing a picture, and it didn’t turn out, and they’re crying, and you’re saying, Well, honey, it’s quiet, it’s actually a really good picture. There’s no match there. There’s no neurological match. And when there’s not a neurological match, your child will up the ante and increase the behavior until you get how important the situation is for them. So you’re actually causing your child to escalate by not doing this for so the effect match has to be there. The third thing you’re going to do is the language part, this is where you’re going to be listening. You can paraphrase, you can summarize, you can clarify and you can wonder out loud, and you do all those things with the effect and with your agenda, parked. And then the M of course stands for mirror. And when you’ve pulled all that off, you’ve had a good, powerful mirroring moments. So let’s take an example. Let’s say, let’s take this is so classic. I use this all the time, but it’s such a good one. Let’s let’s say a kid kid was doing a picture. And they spent a lot of time on it. And it was really kind of perfect. And at the very end, they ruined it somehow and there wasn’t a way to fix it. And they start screaming and yelling. So usually as a parent, our first response is often like oh, what now? Right? Oh God, here we go. Right. And so you got to kind of check your your own stuff first. Well, we can talk about how to do that in a second remind me we’ll come back to that. But let’s say you’ve been able to do that you’ve grounded yourself, you’ve gotten yourself ready to actually respond to your child instead of react. That’s a good place to be in because normally we don’t do that. And we come upstairs and we’re like, what honey? What is it? I beg jar look at add it up face. I’m garbage. I’ve got a rip it up. Oh, no, no, let me look at.
Blake Schofield 35:21 That’s really good. I really like it.
Jennifer Kolari 35:23 What do you think the child’s gonna say when I say that?
Blake Schofield 35:25 No, it’s not.
Jennifer Kolari 35:34 It’s not. It’s why don’t you turn that into a now you have this whole escalation. And now you also have this feeling as I came in trying to help, and now you’re being nasty. You don’t have to now we have a hole. And then it usually turns out, you know what, fine, we’re gonna take these crayons, or we’re gonna take these paints, or we’re gonna put them up or to give them to a child who can really appreciate. I hate you, you’re there. And now you’ve lost control the whole thing, right? They’re upset, you’re upset. It didn’t really work. And what’s the problem? They had an agenda. I was just working on something that was perfect. Until I ruined it. And we came up with a different agenda, oh, life’s a learning experience. You can always make something look better than you started. And what this teaches you resilience, and I have to do this all the time. And those two things, those are important lessons, but not in that moment. Right. In that moment, those two agendas are going to clash. You’re also tired, you’ve got other kids, you’ve worked all day, you’ve had a team complaining to you about everything, you just wanted to relax for five seconds, and now your kids ripping up his picture and screaming that he’s never going to create anything again in his life. Right? So that’s where the parent is coming from. And the child similar to us, let’s say you were working on the most incredible PowerPoint and just happened to me in the world. Like it was so good. You were so proud of it, and then you deleted it and it’s gone. And your spouse came in and said, Oh, well, you know, this could be good, actually, like you might the second round could be even better than the first how would that go over that? Well, not Well, right? So you really have to think about suspending your agenda and being in that moment. So how do we apply the technique? Okay, so I sit with my child, I have pictures of wires. I never drank anything. Nothing ever works out for me. Everything I make is stupid. So everyone’s better at this all that stuff. Now that hits all our trigger points, because we see our child’s life flashing before our eyes. They’re gonna give up on everything. Oh my god, I’ve got a kid who won’t try and and what do we know? How is he ever going to advance in life? If he doesn’t do this? Or how is she ever going to write we go right to kind of seeing their life flash before isn’t it our anxiety starts doing for us the situation now they’re dealing with their anxiety plus ours. So what we’re gonna do is gonna ground ourselves first, and then you’re going to go in and you’re going to while they’re screaming, you’re gonna say, oh, my gosh. So you got all the way to here. Your picture was so perfect. And then you thought happened, right? You pick out the detail in the thing that went wrong. I see what happened is, this is way too big for that. Like, it sounds so counterintuitive, right? It sounds like you’re gonna make the kid more upset. But you can feel as I’m saying it, that the kid’s gonna go Yeah, you see, it was ruined. It was better when it was here, right? Oh, my gosh, and you’re so good at drawing. Normally, you spent so much time on this. And this is where and you have to match the child’s effect, or did it and sometimes you can actually pick out. So there’s the four kinds of things you can do, you can summarize. So I can say to the child, you know what this happened last week to the same thing happened when you’re drawing that tower, or when you’re drawing that shield? This is something that keeps happening to you. Let me know you’re going to get nodding, right? You can clarify. Okay, so what Where did it go wrong? Like, it was good until here show me what when it just went off the rails. Who here here is right here. So that’s not necessarily an emotional reflection. It’s more of a detail. And for really highly sensitive kids who really get upset. That’s a really powerful way to do it. Because it’s still urgent is still important, but you’re not actually picking up the emotion. You can paraphrase. I’ve never drawn anything again, every time I drive anything. It’s stupid. So you just you kind of feel like why even bother? Like, it’s you’re telling me every time you draw, that just goes wrong somehow before I start with honey, that’s how you get better at things. And that’s practice like that comes later. You can also wonder out loud, so sometimes it’s because they didn’t get invited to that birthday party, or they just had a fight with their sibling, or they were bad around supposed to see their dad that weekend. And it didn’t work out. Like sometimes it’s about something else. So you can mirror the picture first. And then you could say, and I’m wondering if on top of all of this, those invitations were handed out in school and you didn’t get one. So there’s that and this right now you’re going to get the connection, right and it seems so the opposite of what you should do. Because it feels like you’re going to make your child more upset. But the truth is, you’re going to feel understood, right? It’s very deep even as I’m saying it you can feel it right that oxytocin flow is it is so when I tell you it’s a superpower. I am not kidding. You can take someone from here bring them right down. Now, the other thing that happened, and you mentioned this earlier, is that we sort of think, Oh, well, what would have happened to me if my parents could have done that for me, right. Or if my boss could do that from our spot, my spouse could do that for me. And the truth is, it would change, it would change a lot of things. And it’s our responsibility now to help to do this for our kids. So recognizing where we’ve, we’ve had that injury or that trauma and sending yourself some love. It’s so important to use the contact Nick on yourself.
Jennifer Kolari 40:33 So when you had a moment and you didn’t mirrors, they’re going ‘idiot, you’ve read that book, you know, you should have done better, bla bla, bla, bla, bla,’ you sit there and you go, well, that’s how it feels. That’s what happens when you’ve missed things in your own life or you’re exhausted or if you’re pulled and pulled in 14 directions, you use the contact me on yourself, and that strengthens you enough that you’re able to use it more and more with your family. And the other thing to remember is, as you do this with the people in your lives, they become more emotionally organized, less dysregulated, more calmer, happier, everyone around you starts to do that, too. So you can actually have a huge impact on your environment takes bravery. And it takes practice, and it’s not easy to do. But it is it’s a superpower. That’s the best way I can explain it.
Blake Schofield 41:17 I love it. It reminds me of that old quote, ‘when you know better you do better,’ right? Yeah. And I think that’s just such a big part of personal development and growth is to to recognize, right that there’s no place for like shame or beating yourself up that doesn’t do anything. But to recognize when you know better you do better. And so, for those of you guys listening, I hope that you know, this has been as impactful. As far as I feel like it has been just being able to participate and hear this from you, Jennifer, I think you did such a beautiful job of making it visual and real. Like, what does this actually look and feel like on a day to day basis? So I know we’re getting close to running out of time. But I would venture to bet there going to be someone and listening today that are like how do I learn more from Jennifer? How do I find her? Yes? Can you share a little bit with us about? And get in your world?
Jennifer Kolari 42:04 Absolutely. So you can go to connectedparenting.com We have all kinds of information on there. So we’ve a number of different services, we have a number of different practitioners. So therapists and coaches who’ve been trained in this model that help you through it, I’ve got an online parenting course that just and you keep it forever, it’s not one of those courses that disappear. Because I think there’s a resource parents need to hold on to as their kids grow the teen version and a kid version. There’s also another version where I interact with with everyone. So I interact in the Facebook group, often with audio answers to direct questions. There’s also a monthly coaching call that I’m involved in. And there’s a really beautiful community of people that help each other. And then we have something called the village. So people pay the membership fee for a month. And then you get for weekly calls with connected parenting team and you’re on there helping each other supporting each other. A lot of the clients that we have, I mean, there’s lots of parents who just want more information on amazing ways to parent and sort of cutting edge neuroscience of it all. But a lot. And I bet your your audience, too, are really bright parents, who then have bright kids, which is not always so easy, like bright kids are what I call gladiators. They challenge everything why? That’s not fair. I’m not why should I do that they have a really powerful counter well. And I feel like especially people who are, you know, do well in business, or they’re entrepreneurs, they tend to have kids who just are outside the box, which is great in a boardroom when you’re sort of developing a company it sucks when your kids eight, you’re trying to get them out the door. Why? Why do I have to do that’s not fair. So it’s I call them gladiators. And they’re just kind of sassy, spicy kids that I actually think, are child really challenging to parent. Right. And no matter how successful you are in your outside life, kids can bring you to your knees. They just can’t. And you say I can manage a team of 100 people, but I can’t manage my four year old. How is that possible? Because parenting is brutal. It can be wonderful. It can take you to the highest of highs and it can take you to the deepest, darkest corners of your soul. It is really, really hard. And people don’t talk about that. They like to talk about, oh, my kids do this. And I read this good book and blah, blah, blah. And those kids, those gladiator kids, they’re the type of kid where the only other beautiful parenting models out there don’t work on them. They don’t. But this one will. This is actually designed it will work on all kids. But it really works for the sassy, feisty, spicy ones. And I feel like those are the kids that are are going to be pushing through paradigms and breaking through labels and actually doing stuff that needs to be done in the world that’s going to help bring us to a place of change. And so we have a huge responsibility to not crush those kids, to nurture them and keep them strong. But help them be the human beings that they need to be to help us all and I know that sounds very drastic, but I really do believe that and I think this model really helps with that. If we have two seconds I realized that I didn’t do what I promised I said I was going to give people techniques couple on how to calm themselves down before they get into the calm state.
Blake Schofield 44:59 Absolutely. I was just about to ask, is there anything I didn’t ask yes, to share.
Jennifer Kolari 45:05 So yes, I read people that and that’s so important because if you’re reacting, you can’t go there, this you have to be very cerebral to use this technique. So first thing is just change your breathing, just literally drop your tongue on the bottom of your teeth, just let your tongue go soften your teeth, you’ll see, you’ll feel that your stomach will let go. And your core will relax, that sends a signal to the brain right away that you’re not in danger. And take some deep breaths, you can imagine your child as a baby, you can look at pictures around the house of how cute they were, you can take a moment and just go towards the feeling. literally put your hand on your chest and go, Okay. This is how it feels to be a very busy parent to have a lot on the go to feel like nobody ever does anything for you. And here we go. Again, this is a normal, healthy way to feel I’m just going to let myself feel it. I’m going to thank my body for having this feeling because it’s alerting me because it thinks maybe something’s dangerous. Remind my brain that it’s not an emergency. It’s why kids screaming. But it’s not an emergency. This is not life or death. So you can actually turn off the fight or flight signal. And then as you’re going upstairs, control your breathing, try to picture your kids cheeks, try to like find some moment where it can bring you back to a place of feeling more connected. And then you’ll be able to use the comp technique, remember to use this as repair also. So if you blow it about the picture, and you lose it, you can go back the next day and go you know what, I didn’t stop and think about what that felt like to create a picture like that, to put so much into it, to love it so much. And at the very end, a mistake that you can’t fix. I didn’t really think about that when I was telling you about you know getting better at drawing or whatever it is, you can do the repair. And very, very quickly. One of the quickest ways to get an upset an uptick of oxytocin both with your child and for you is baby play, grab their cheeks stare in their eyes, don’t even say anything. Just look in their eyes, rub noses, tell them stories about when they’re a baby, show them baby pictures, I don’t care if your kids are teenagers, they’ll still love it. And in those moments, you’re gonna get huge influx of oxytocin if you do nothing else. And just that, you’ll see behavioral changes in your child.
Blake Schofield 47:04 I love it. Thank you so much, Jennifer, what a powerful episode. I feel like he brought so much value to my audience. And they just could not be more thankful for you taking the time to be here with us today.
Jennifer Kolari 47:14 I loved it. Thank you so much for having me.
Blake Schofield 47:18 Absolutely. All right. So for those of you guys listening, I hope that you were really able to take this away. You know, most of you, I believe listening are parents, some of you are thinking about becoming a parent, I’ll tell you what I wish, having a 1614 and nine year old that I had knew I knew some of this stuff early on. So kudos to you. And some of you maybe aren’t parents. But just as Jennifer said, these techniques work for everybody. So I encourage you think about how you can go and start building this muscle and start developing stronger relationships, better connection, because at the end of the day, Jennifer, you said something earlier, which is one of the things I always tell myself is you can’t control and connect at the same time. Right. And often I think we try to control when we really do need to connect. And connection is vital, just as much as food and water to our lives. And with more connection. I believe we have a much healthier society, much healthier, happier people.
Jennifer Kolari 48:08 It’s a process so I have a connected parenting podcast, too, that will help parents through that.
Blake Schofield 48:12 You do! What is it called?
Jennifer Kolari 48:13 Connected Parenting. Yep. And I have two podcasts I’ve Connected Parenting, which is and I go through this all like I really feel like this is important to give to people. So there’s tons of episodes on everything from the contact itself to sleeping to sibling fighting, eating everything, it’s all in there. And I have a second podcast called The Mental Health comedy podcast where I have co host with Ed Crasnick. And we interview well known celebrities and comedians about their mental health, but depression and anxiety and that is very strategy based. That’s like tons of strategies in there and how to regulate your emotion and, and it’s a lot of fun. And it’s funny too, which is nice.
Blake Schofield 48:49 Awesome. Wonderful. Well, thank you guys again for listening. And until next time, have a great week. Thanks for joining me today. Rather than hope the grass will be greener, identify what the right next step is. We can help you do just that. Get clarity on where you are in your journey to career fulfillment, where you’re headed, optimal paths to get there, and the right next step to take. Start your complimentary personalized career fulfillment plan at www.thebridgetofulfillment.com/plan. Again, you can get your personalized career fulfillment plan at www.thebridgetofulfillment.com/plan. Thanks again for joining and have a great week ahead.