Punishment-Free Parenting with Jon Fogel


00:00:00    Alyssa

You're listening to Voices of Your Village. And today I get to dive into punishment -free parenting with Jon Fogel. He's a parenting educator and soon -to -be author who operates under the moniker Whole Parent on social media where he has over 1 million followers across multiple platforms. As Whole Parent, Jon offers a unique perspective on parenting grounded in evidence -based research in areas of child development, adolescent psychology, and basic neuroscience, which synthesizes strategies from the worlds of cognitive behavioral therapy, general counseling, and even contemplative meditation to help parents manage problematic behaviors and grow deeper in their relationship with their children, their partner, and themselves. This holistic multidisciplinary approach is what lends itself to the name Whole Parent. You'll hear me dance a little bit with Jon in this episode. I gave a little pushback on some things, and we had such a fun, lively conversation. I really enjoyed getting to hang out with him and chat, and I'm excited to get to share this interview with you. If this podcast is serving you, please take a minute to rate the podcast and leave a review. It helps other folks find us so that we can continue to provide free support in an ongoing fashion for folks all around the globe who want to raise emotionally intelligent humans. All right, folks, let's dive in. 


00:01:36    Alyssa

Hey there, I'm Alyssa Blask Campbell. I'm a mom with a master's degree in early childhood education and co -creator of the Collaborative Emotion Processing Method. I'm here to walk alongside you through the messy, vulnerable parts of being humans raising other humans, with deep thoughts and actionable tips. Let's dive in together. 


00:01:58    Alyssa

Hello, hello, Jon. 


00:02:00    Jon

Hi, sorry, I'm just getting myself organized here. 


00:02:04    Alyssa

How are you doing today? 


00:02:06    Jon

Good, good, good, good. Good, that probably sounds better. 


00:02:11    Alyssa



00:02:12    Jon

Zoom H audio driver, there we go. No, my microphone should be.... 


00:02:16    Alyssa

Yeah, that's way better. 


00:02:18    Jon

That should be my microphone. 


00:02:20    Alyssa

Yeah. Yeah. 


00:02:20    Jon

As far as yep. Yep. Yep. Awesome. 


00:02:25    Alyssa

Awesome. Where are you located? 


00:02:28    Jon



00:02:29    Alyssa

Oh, okay. I didn't know that. 


00:02:31    Jon

Yeah. Yeah. What about you? 


00:02:32    Alyssa

I'm in Vermont. 


00:02:34    Jon

Oh, cool. 


00:02:35    Alyssa



00:02:36    Jon

Beautiful. Beautiful Vermont. 


00:02:38    Alyssa

So gorgeous and cold. 


00:02:40    Jon

Do a lot of skiing? 


00:02:41    Alyssa

I don't. We're bad Vermonters. Uh, we, my husband grew up here. He's from here. I'm originally from like the Buffalo area, but yeah, we're like bad at getting out in the winter and doing winter outdoor things. I grew up as a basketball player. And so growing up, we, I was always inside in the winter, I was in a gym and there was no, we weren't encouraged to ski or snowboard cause you could get hurt and not be able to play basketball. So yeah. 


00:03:15    Jon

Interesting. So like you were competitive, like you were very competitive basketball player. 


00:03:20    Alyssa

I'm..  yeah, I played some ball.


00:03:23    Jon

Did you play in college?


00:03:23    Alyssa

 Uh, no, just, uh, for funsies in college. I went to a D-1 school and I was not  a D-1 athlete. Uh, so no, but yeah, I, my whole family, I have four brothers. We all played. My dad was a coach. So yeah. 


00:03:38    Jon

Got it. Makes sense. Makes sense. 


00:03:41    Alyssa

Yeah. Do you have siblings? 


00:03:43    Jon

I do. I have two brothers. Yeah. But they're seven and 10 years older than me. So it was, it was a different, it was a different aspect growing up. Yeah. To compete with them was not really a thing until I was much older. And then at that point they were like in their late twenties, they weren't going to like ball out in their like high schooler, you know, you have to be a special kind of person to do that,  like, I would do that, but like not, they wouldn't. 


00:04:09    Alyssa

Hilarious. I remember like, I was like a teenager, maybe 16, my oldest brother is eight years older than me. We were on vacation in the Outer Banks, North Carolina. And he said he could take me one on one. And I was like, there's no way. Like, there's absolutely not. I'm in my prime. You're 26. Like he was about 24. I was like, you're so old. There's no way. And 


00:04:37    Jon

He had some length on you, though. That's the problem. 


00:04:40    Alyssa

He's a better athlete than I am, too. And I'm like, literally within, it felt like 15 seconds. I was like, oh, I don't want to have the ball in my hand. And this is one -on -one basketball. Like, this is a problem. He smoked me. So eight years older than me, still down to ball out. 


00:04:59    Jon

Yeah, you know, I was the most athletic of the three of us. And so, if it had ever come down to it, I think that part of it was that they were like, we're not gonna put ourselves in a position here for, for you to like totally come after us, like that, you know, they, they were smarter than that. 


00:05:19    Alyssa



00:05:20    Jon

They were like, that doesn't... 


00:05:21    Alyssa

I'm gonna embarrass myself. Yeah. 


00:05:23    Jon

That's kind of like no good. Like if I win. So what, I was the older brother, if I lose less good, 


00:05:30    Alyssa

Yeah, a lot at stake here, 


00:05:31    Jon

Yeah which is kind of like, that's a bold choice for your brother. Cause it kind of goes the same way. Right? Like, you don't 


00:05:37    Alyssa

I think he knew I was the better, he was a better athlete. 


00:05:41    Jon

Yeah. So he felt pretty confident. 


00:05:43    Alyssa

Yeah. Yeah. He came in real confident and rightfully. So good job, Eric Blask. 


00:05:47    Jon

My, my one of mine is an Eric too. 


00:05:50    Alyssa

Oh, yeah? Oh, funny. Yeah. We are, are you from Chicago or you're just there now? 


00:05:57    Jon

Well, so like when I say Chicago, that's just the easiest way to say it, but I'm technically right, so, outside the Southwest suburbs. And so like maybe 30 minutes from downtown. And then I grew up 30 minutes from downtown, but straight north. So it takes over an hour to get home. 


00:06:15    Alyssa



00:06:15    Jon

But yeah, opposite sides of the city. 


00:06:18    Alyssa

Yeah. Are your brothers in the area? Are you guys close? 


00:06:22    Jon

Everybody else in my family still lives in my hometown. 


00:06:24    Alyssa



00:06:25    Jon



00:06:26    Alyssa

Wild. That's wild. 


00:06:29    Jon

It's cool. It's cool. Yeah. One of them still lives with my mom and the other one just lives in another part of Evanston. And then, yeah, we live where they like, they, we live in the same metropolitan area. 


00:06:40    Alyssa



00:06:41    Jon

And yet whenever my family comes over, there are jokes of like, I had to charter a flight to get here. Like, Oh, like it takes so far to get, Oh my gosh, why do you live out here in the sticks? I'm like, like, I just live in a different suburb than you. 


00:06:56    Alyssa

Sure. Yeah. I just don't live in the same town we've all lived in always. Yeah, totally. Oh, so funny. Um, I have a little brother that's in Chicago right now. He's in med school. 


00:07:08    Jon

Oh, where at?


00:07:08    Alyssa

Ooh. Um, uh, he's doing a residency in Chicago. So I don't know. I... bad...


00:07:15    Jon

Loyola or Northwestern or something?


00:07:16    Alyssa

He's not, I don't know what med school he's going to either. This is a bad sister moment. Uh, I'm like, he's in med school and he's doing a residency in Chicago and that's all I've got. Yeah. But he's liked it. They've been there a year or so, two years, maybe, uh, 


00:07:31    Jon

Great. It's a great town. 


00:07:32    Alyssa

I have never been.


00:07:33    Jon

It has everything. Like everything that you, except for mountains. So you can't have that.


00:07:38    Alyssa

Sure, you don't have ocean.


00:07:40    Jon

Yeah, well, we don't have an ocean.... 


00:07:45    Alyssa

I was like no you don't.


00:07:45    Jon

But like, like Lake Michigan, you can surf on Lake Michigan, 


00:07:49    Alyssa



00:07:50    Jon

Like it's so big, that in my mind... 


00:07:54    Alyssa

It is huge. 


00:07:55    Jon

It's an ocean. It's just it's just not it's just not saltwater. So there are definitely there are definitely that you know, there are definitely aspects to, 


00:08:03    Alyssa

You can do a lake beach. 


00:08:04    Jon

---Ocean living that is different than lake living, but, but it's not like a lake. It's like an ocean. 


00:08:13    Alyssa



00:08:13    Jon

Like there are tides. 


00:08:16    Alyssa

Yeah. Yeah. I'll give you, okay. I'll give you, I'll give you some of this. 


00:08:19    Jon

So, so I mean, not like the ocean, right. Not where it's like, you know, 40 feet, but for sure, like there are tides, like it's, it's substantial. So my town that I grew up with on was on the lake. So I grew up in the lake, but Northwestern University is in the, is in the town that I grew up in. And so it was the all a hundred percent of the lakefront that we, that was part of our town was either owned by Northwestern University or was beach. 


00:08:47    Alyssa

Got it.


00:08:47    Jon

So yeah, that's where we, that's where I grew up. 


00:08:50    Alyssa

Cool. Very cool. I grew up obviously near Buffalo, also Lake life. We had Lake Erie was my closest lake, but definitely so different than the ocean. And now we live in Burlington, Vermont, where we have Lake Champlain. 


00:09:06    Jon

Isn't that, isn't Burlington, Vermont, where Bernie Sanders was the mayor? I love that. 


00:09:13    Alyssa

Sure is. Yeah, his family's all here. Yeah. 


00:09:16    Jon

That's fun. 


00:09:18    Alyssa

Yeah. I have run into him a couple times in Vermont. Yeah. We call it a small town here. This entire state is one small town. 


00:09:27    Jon

Yeah. Well, I have met Obama twice. 


00:09:31    Alyssa

Oh, my God, Jeals.


00:09:32    Jon

For Chicago. Neither of which went after he was president, but when he was running for Senate. Yeah. Because he came to my high school and then he also went to this university where my mom was teaching. 


00:09:48    Alyssa

Super cool. What's your mom teach? 


00:09:50    Jon

She doesn't anymore. She was a nursing professor. Now she's back to just nursing. 


00:09:54    Alyssa

Cool. Why'd she leave? 


00:09:56    Jon

She retired. She's 70. 


00:09:59    Alyssa

Oh, fair. Yeah. Good for her. 


00:10:01    Jon

So she was just like, I'm done teaching. I'll just go back to being a nurse. I'm surprised that, you know,  most people are retired from everything. But she's still running. 


00:10:11    Alyssa

She can't give it up. 


00:10:12    Jon

She still runs the whole hospital. Yeah. So she's the nursing consultant, which means that she doesn't do like a lot of one -on -one patient care. She is like over all of the nurses, like the nursing supervisor, nursing manager. 


00:10:23    Alyssa



00:10:23    Jon

That's what she does. 


00:10:25    Alyssa

It's a pretty badass role. Yeah. 


00:10:26    Jon

Yeah. She's bossed around doctors. Yeah. 


00:10:28    Alyssa

Cool. I dig your mom. Did you have another parent in your household growing up? 


00:10:34    Jon

I did. My dad. My dad was around. Yeah. Two, two parents. My dad died six years ago, seven years ago. 


00:10:41    Alyssa

Oh, I'm sorry to hear that. 


00:10:42    Jon

Yeah. So yeah. 


00:10:44    Alyssa

So what did he do? 


00:10:45    Jon

...go around, but he was in sports equipment. So he ran a sports equipment company. 


00:10:51    Alyssa



00:10:51    Jon

Yeah. It was cool. It was a cool job. It was a super cool job. He worked a lot, but he was super cool. 


00:10:57    Alyssa

Was it his company or he worked for someone? 


00:11:00    Jon

So I always grew up kind of thinking it was his company, but technically he worked for somebody. He didn't own any of the equity in the company, but he was the first employee hired. 


00:11:11    Alyssa



00:11:12    Jon

So, so now it's like a multi -million dollar, huge, you know, hundreds of employees business. And even before he died, he was, it was like that. But when I was born, he was like taking boxes off of the one truck that did deliveries that week. 


00:11:29    Alyssa

Is that what he did? Kind of. He, did he stay with that company all the way through? 


00:11:33    Jon

For my whole life. 


00:11:33    Alyssa

So cool. He got to see its entire growth. 


00:11:36    Jon

Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. 


00:11:37    Alyssa

So cool. 


00:11:38    Jon

Yeah. He, he, uh, he got a text mesSage about an hour before he died of, of his boss saying like, okay, I got it from here. Like literally that, like that, that level of commitment. 


00:11:50    Alyssa



00:11:50    Jon

So super, super, super, super cool. 


00:11:53    Alyssa



00:11:54    Jon

Yeah. That's, that's what he did. 


00:11:56    Alyssa

What did your household look like growing up in terms of, you know, obviously follow you on social media and I've seen what you're working toward now in terms of parenting. And I think what so many of us are working toward and working on, what did it look like for you growing up? You know, my parents, by and large, did the gentle parenting thing as kind of as well as they could have. My dad, definitely his default was to yell at his kids, like, there's no doubt like that. But that was just that was his thing. 


00:12:29    Alyssa



00:12:29    Jon

But he was never he was well, I shouldn't say never because I don't really know for sure. But to his memory, he was never hit as a kid. And so because of that, that was never like in his neural pathways to do that. 


00:12:43    Alyssa



00:12:43    Jon

So he like would scream at us. And like my friends would be like, he's about to smack you. And then he like, I would be like...


00:12:48    Alyssa

 Like, no, that's not the cards. 


00:12:49    Jon

Yeah, no, it's not really. He's never done it. So yeah, so he definitely didn't do that. My mom grew up in a much more, you know, corporal punishment household. 


00:12:58    Alyssa



00:12:58    Jon

But she was very, very progressive and very, very liberal. And so she was like, no away. But that's not to say that I grew up in a punishment -free household, but 


00:13:07    Alyssa



00:13:08    Jon

It was just in comparison to a lot of people. I think the statistic is, of people who were born in the 90s, over 85 % or over 83 % were hit as kids. 


00:13:20    Alyssa

That's nuts. 


00:13:21    Jon

Yeah. So the number of times that I was smacked by my mom in the face is I can count on one hand. And it was because... I'm not saying it's justified, but usually it was like older. It wasn't like when I was two, it was like when I was 14 and I called her some horrible name or something and she just lost it and slapped me across the face. So that was a totally different vibe. So in many ways, the gentle parenting thing, but also raised into a religious system too. So there was all of the baggage related to that. 


00:13:56    Alyssa

Sure. Some obedience culture. 


00:13:57    Jon

Oh, for sure. Like obedience culture, like "I said so" culture. Although my mom would say today that she didn't say that, but no. 


00:14:08    Alyssa

I wrote about it in my book of like, there's a part that is called "because I said so". And it is the phrase that has just like stuck with me. 


00:14:16    Jon

For sure. For sure. So yeah. And then the, I mean, Tiny Humans, Big Emotions, right? So the identification of some emotions as bad, like that was a part of the experience too. But because my parents were seasoned parents, like they had two kids who were much older, by the time I came along, there's a lot that I lament about that fact, namely that my parents had a lot of experiences in the 80s that I just didn't get to be a part of. But in other ways,  they had really chilled out and they had really figured out that like, you have to kind of meet kids where they are. And so by the time like my brothers both got into different different aspects, they got into pretty heavy stuff sometimes, like they got into position like, like tough positions. Like my brother was married with a kid at 18 or 19. My other brother had, you know, some run ins with law enforcement, things like that. 


00:15:14    Alyssa



00:15:14    Jon

And so by the time I came along, they were like, Oh, yeah, as long as you're like safe, that's pretty good. 


00:15:20    Alyssa



00:15:20    Jon

And so I wouldn't say that all emotions were welcomed at home, but definitely more emotions were welcomed than probably had ever been welcomed in their home. So they did a really good job in comparison, I think. So I think we can always hold our parents very accountable and at the same time, give them so much grace. 


00:15:39    Alyssa

A hundred percent. 


00:15:40    Jon

And it's always both, right? 


00:15:42    Alyssa

God, I hope my kids do that, right? 


00:15:44    Jon

Right, right. 


00:15:45    Alyssa

They will hold me accountable and give me grace. 


00:15:48    Jon

Right, right, right. Right. So yeah, I think that it's both, you know, and so they really, they kind of went that way and yeah, it was good. I point out a lot of things in my upcoming book about the ways in which things could have been, in ideal circumstances, done better. But I would also say that the only reason that I can even get to where I am is because they did so much work where they were. So I'm not really responding to the, people process things in different ways, but I'm not going, I'm not either just mirroring exactly what was modeled or completely rejecting the way in which I was parented and trying to go a different way. It's like a hybrid of, I feel like I'm kind of passing, the baton is being passed. And so I probably give them a little bit too much of a hard time in the book in comparison to how I actually view it. But in talking to parents and in having these conversations, I've learned that, you know, by and large, they did so many things really well. And then it's the moments when they had not done self -work around it. Like in so many ways, it's not like they were inflicting something on me that they weren't going through themselves. Like they were struggling with shame around all of the same things that they were that I then struggled with shame around. 


00:17:13    Alyssa



00:17:14    Jon

So it was not like, oh, you are bad. It was like, we are bad. And I think that that identification is an important tool because it's almost harder to deconstruct those things then, but then at the same time, it's very rewarding when you do. 


00:17:29    Alyssa

Yeah, for sure. And I.. ugh.. just had a thought that popped up when you were saying that, that resonated with me. I heard my baby cry and it pulled my attention away. I have a three and a half month old, who's refusing all bottles. So it makes work -life super fun. Oh, it left me. But, oh, I feel so grateful to be in my mid -30s and parenting at a time when there's, when the culture is so focused on self -work and is focused on reflection and there's access to tools to do so and supports for doing so. And when I think back to like what the culture looked like that my parents were parenting in, just so vastly different. And I have so much gratitude for what they were able to do, given, yeah, like they made progress from how they were raised and into how they parented. And I by no means had like a perfect, idyllic child. And I don't think that that exists. I'm so grateful for the work that they were able to do given, yeah, just what was even available in terms of culture. Does that make sense? Like we get to parent at a time where you can follow 7 million accounts that are helping you do self -awareness work and build tools for regulation, etc. My mom and dad didn't have access to that. 


00:19:13    Jon

Yeah, I think it's I think it's a double -edged sword, though. 


00:19:16    Alyssa

For sure, it can be a shitstorm. 


00:19:18    Jon

Yeah, yeah, I think it's a double -edged sword, because, because one of the things that I really struggle with is, and I don't mean to say like you shouldn't follow all of the, like, I am so, such good friends and affirm so many of the kind of thoughtful, respectful parenting accounts out there. However, all of us disagree on some things, 


00:19:40    Alyssa



00:19:40    Jon

Like there are places where I say, like one of the things that I was getting into recently on TikTok was all of the psychological research that I read for the book, but just in general about resilience related to giving kids autonomy and autonomy specifically, like to do dangerous things, which it tends to be kind of a more conservative parent ideology, even though I don't identify that way. And so you have people like Jordan Peterson who I'd like fundamentally disagree with on so many things say things like you shouldn't stop your kid when they're doing a dangerous thing safe- like carefully and and the research bears that out the way that I read it, but yeah, it's so many people in that that are other accounts out there, like child safety accounts, and so they're like don't do that don't do that to do that and I and I find myself being like, yeah, but, but like, also if your kid doesn't, if you don't let your kid fall off the playground equipment, then they're, then they're not going to learn that they're resilient and that they can get back up and all this stuff. And they're like, well, didn't you hear the study about where this kid or this like story on the news where this kid in Burlington, Vermont or something, you know, fell off of this playground equipment and died. And then, and then I go, and then I go, yeah, you did hear about that because of the access to information.


00:21:07    Alyssa

Yeah, we hear too much. 


00:21:09    Jon

We hear too much. And that's the thing where I say it's a double -edged sword because yeah, we have access to so many accounts. And then at the same time, we have access to so much. Like the amount that, there's more information in one page of a New York Times newspaper about the world than a person a thousand years ago would accumulate in their entire life. 


00:21:33    Alyssa



00:21:34    Jon

Like this is, this means that we are going to have oversensitivity. And I talk about in my book, like I let my five -year -old walk around the block by himself and people are like, you live in Chicago, how? And I'm like, 


00:21:48    Alyssa

Oh, your accent just came out strong there. And I love it. 


00:21:50    Jon

Yeah. How, how like you live in Chicago. 


00:21:54    Alyssa



00:21:55    Jon

And I'm like, and I'm like, I, I understand how scary it is that kids get abducted. I also understand that the likelihood that my child gets abducted by somebody who's not related to them or they don't that they don't know is like literally 


00:22:11    Alyssa

So minuscule. Yeah. 


00:22:12    Jon

Literally one in a million. And it's not like I'm going to let him go, and if he doesn't come back for two hours, I'm just like, Oh, 


00:22:18    Alyssa

He'll figure it out. 


00:22:21    Jon

No, this isn't the 80s. You know, I'm not letting him walk home from school at five. But but like, yeah, when we fail to do that, then we actually set our kids up for all of these kind of other things. And so, so what I, one of the things that I've taken to telling people is like, hey, follow like two parenting accounts, like go find two, follow those two. And if you, if, if one of them is not working for you and if mine's the one that's not working for you, like..


00:22:47    Alyssa

Peace, yeah.


00:22:48    Jon

Unfollow, go find Eli attachmentnerd, Seed and sew, go find Aliza Pressman, like listen to her podcast, like go, go find the people who you want to find. But if you think that you're going to be able to follow me and Aliza and Becky Kennedy and like, you know, insert five more, and that we're always going to agree with each other and then you're just gonna have this perfect little Parenting cohort, you know, no like me and Becky you disagree on a lot.


00:23:19    Alyssa



00:23:20    Jon

And so so if you're following both of us understand that you're going so like and then it makes you feel like you're a terrible parent because you're damned if you do it if you're damned if you don't, no matter what you do, you're just going to fail. 


00:23:29    Alyssa



00:23:29    Jon

And then you just go. So I think it's simultaneous. I love that I'm raising kids in the age post 1999, where we have so much information on neuroscience. I love that we're raising kids post 2020, where the overwhelming majority of people now, even if they do spank their kids, they feel like this was not an effective tool and I shouldn't. I'm not saying anybody, but 80, I think the number is like 80%. 80 % of people say that they don't think that spanking is an effective form of discipline, even if they... 


00:24:03    Alyssa

Sure, they're like, this isn't my first choice. Yeah, right.


00:24:07    Jon

Even if they did that in a moment of dysregulation and they feel bad about it, compare that to 1990, where 80 % said that it was an effective form of discipline. So, I think that this is, I think there's so many positives, but then at the same time, we're also flooded with the perfect parent narrative and.. 


00:24:24    Alyssa

I appreciate that I was scrolling the other day and there was like a reel that was basically now like we're changing our kids diapers wrong and like I shouldn't pull my kids legs up this way I should do it this way and I was like I can't. I can't with this. That like now I'm changing her diaper wrong are you kidding me like I yeah I was like a quick easy unfollow for me.


00:24:47    Jon

My 3 year old is It's like, whenever I change the diaper, he's like, but do it nicely. And I'm like, okay, nicely, I'll do it nicely this time. Like, I don't always do it. And I'm like, okay, 


00:24:59    Alyssa

Help me understand what it looks like when I don't do it nicely. 


00:25:02    Jon

Well, I'm probably like, I'm in a rush, like just kind of going too fast. I'm not like, you know, 


00:25:07    Alyssa

Do it nicely. 


00:25:08    Jon

Let's do it nicely. So yeah, I, I also think it's not to like feel the empathy for the creator, but, but also, you know, if I publish some reel, that's like a super nuanced take... 


00:25:22    Alyssa



00:25:22    Jon

That really that really like gets into the data and basically leaves people with questions of like oh, maybe yes, maybe no, I guess we will never know.. like 100 views.  If I, if I post the same reel and I'm just like... did you know that every single time you put your kids in the car seat you're setting them up to be a victim of...


00:25:42    Alyssa

Yeah, it's like viral. Yeah 


00:25:44    Jon

There're like 4 million views, right? 


00:25:47    Alyssa

Yeah. That's my beef with social media. There is no nuance. It's not a place where we should be having, I don't think, long form discussion. I think podcasts are rad for that, but yeah, I mean, 


00:26:01    Jon

I hate the term, I hate the term gentle parenting. 


00:26:05    Alyssa

Me too. Me too. 


00:26:06    Jon

Not a fan. And I was like, look, I hate the term gentle parenting. I made this video the other day. I didn't post on Instagram because I knew I would just get smoked. So I posted on TikTok and I was like, I was like, I hate the term gentle parenting because nobody knows what it is. Like everybody has their own definition and the majority of people who we want to convince to parent this way have a negative association with this term. 


00:26:29    Alyssa

Correct. You're just preaching to your choir. 


00:26:32    Jon

So why are we using a term that alienates the very people who we're trying to reach? And maybe I'm, maybe, maybe my demographic is a little bit unique because I tend to reach the people who are unreached. And I tend to not necessarily always sit well with the people who I'm, who are in the car already. So I'm just like, yeah, this is why I don't use this term. This is why I don't identify this way. I think it's a dumb term. And by the way, psychological research does not use this term. So like, if you're like, it is a thing, I'm going to be like, no, it's not. 


00:27:00    Alyssa

And I'm going to do it in that voice. Yeah. 


00:27:04    Jon

Why doesn't Tina Payne Bryson talk about gentle parenting? Because she knows too much to talk about, you know what I mean? Like, like there are terms we can use the correct terms. I don't even like the correct terms, but, but, or we can use shorthand or whatever. Um, and yeah, anyway, so that, so that's kind of, I make this video and people are like, you don't know what it means. It means this. And I'm like, that was the point of the video, but it's social media. So the point of the video was, I don't like using this term because then everybody complains that nobody knows what it means. 


00:27:37    Alyssa

Enter in complaints about nobody knows what it means.


00:27:39    Jon

And I had over 200 comments, of which maybe 50 of them were like, just because you don't know what gentle parenting means, doesn't mean that nobody knows what it means. I know what it means. And I was like.........thanks. 


00:28:01    Alyssa

Yeah. Oh, social. I have a we have a interesting relationship. What brought you into this work? 


00:28:11    Jon

Um, yeah, basically, I mean, that's a long story. But essentially, why I became a parent who parents this way is where it begins. And basically, I don't have a degree in psychology or anything like that. But I did have to take master's level counseling courses as part of another program that I was in. And I took them with the counseling department at the university. So these are the same courses that people who go on to get, you know, licensed professional counselor or a licensed marriage and family therapist, but the same courses that they take, I took. So I took those courses and I was like, wow, this is really, really good stuff. This is really important stuff. At the same time, I had a kid, you know, really, really young, like six months old or something. And I find myself knowing what to do. But then where it relates to my own kid, just like the wires in my brain weren't connected. 


00:29:05    Alyssa



00:29:05    Jon

Like I just was going to do. And I realized at some point my wife had these instincts towards this way of parenting. But I realized in myself, wow, if if there was no intercession on my part, I would literally just do exactly what my parents did to me. Which by the way, as we started talking about the beginning, that wasn't the worst thing in the world. I did turn out okay, but there's a lot of stuff , I'm in therapy and learning there's a lot of stuff that could have been done differently. Do I just want to do exactly what was done to me? Probably not. Especially now that I'm in these counseling courses, which my parents never had the benefit of, where I'm learning, oh, like, this is how you handle this stuff. And so I started to get these like tinglings of like, oh, maybe there's a better way to parent. But my kid was so young, it didn't really matter. I don't want to say matter, but you're not going through the hard conversations about things yet at six months old. And so it was just treating your kid with respect. And I was like, well, I can do that. And I was still sometimes yelling at my kids and it was not good. But then I became a licensed foster parent. And in that training, they were like, punishment doesn't work, but punishment is totally ineffective. And I was like, with these kids? The kids that, and don't take this in a negative way, these kids are set up by the system that they're going to wind up in jail, because of the prison pipeline, 


00:30:26    Alyssa



00:30:26    Jon

Because of behavioral issues and our inability to manage people who have complex traumatized experiences. They were the kids who, like the way in which we deal with them in society is the police. And these educators were like, yeah, so punishment doesn't work at all on these kids. And I was like, wow, well then I wonder why punishment works on people who aren't traumatized, if punishment doesn't work on people who are traumatized. It seems like, if anybody needs to be punished, it's the, it's the kids who are punching and kicking and biting and doing this, you know, failing their classes and doing all this stuff. And I was like, well, if anybody needs to be punished, it's these kids. So, so I wonder why punishment works for like the other kids. And then basically what I learned was it doesn't. Like I did all the research. I was like, I had all the counseling background to be able to actually read the psychological studies and the research studies. And I start reading these studies on punishment and on just in general neuroanatomy and, and fMRI scans, and how emotional pain is dealt with in the brain. And I'm like, Oh wait, punishment's actually often impeding the way our kids learn. And just the fact that they come from stable home environments means that they're able to overcome our punishment in order to learn. So the punishment's not teaching them anything. They're having to overcome it in order to learn. And so the other thing in my master's degree program that I learned to do was communicate because it was an M.Div. So it's a master's of divinity. We can get into religion later, but a master's of divinity, so I had preaching courses. I had communication courses. I had the counseling courses, and then high level academic research courses too. People don't know this, but if you go to a reputable seminary, you basically come out thinking that a lot of the Bible is just like, oh, well, this is just an academic exercise at this point. So I had all this kind of training and I was like, oh, I'm a pretty good communicator. Maybe I'll go on Instagram and TikTok and start talking about parenting. And I had helped a lot parents in my life to kind of join me in the way that I was thinking about parenting. And so I just started making videos. And within two months, I had 200 ,000 followers on TikTok. Because the thing is, it wasn't me. There was just such a massive void of people who could talk at a level that most people can understand. So it was either the people who were way too academic, people who were specifically talking about educational environments, or frankly, women. 


00:32:57    Alyssa

Sure. Yeah, I was going to say, there aren't a lot of men in this space. 


00:32:59    Jon

They were doing all the heavy lifting as far as the practical implications of gentle parenting. And most of them didn't have the training to know the psychological backing, they just knew that it worked. And so most of the accounts that were on TikTok, they were either people who were talking at a practicality level, and they didn't know the psychological research and ability to research that, or they were people still all women basically, who knew the psychological research, but we're talking about it like it was psychological research. 


00:33:29    Alyssa

Sure. Getting too nerdy. 


00:33:31    Jon

Yeah. They were just not necessarily at the practical level. Like they would just nerd out over like there was this study, but Albert Bandura and like it's, and it's like, yeah, no, that's a really important study, but tell me why it matters for my kid today throwing the Cheerios on the floor. So I was speaking to the middle while also doing it as a guy. And so tons of women followed me, not because they were like, I was saying anything they hadn't heard. They had heard it, but they were like, honey, I found this guy. And so then I just kind of blew up. And then I went over to Instagram and I started posting kind of my best content on Instagram. And I kind of sat at a couple thousand followers forever. And then one video got me like 200 ,000 followers. 


00:34:15    Alyssa



00:34:15    Jon

So at that point, I was like, okay, I really need to knuckle down and figure this out. And then kind of everything else fell into place. But it was kind of by accident. I care about parenting and I care about communicating the way that people understand. And taking really complex research about a topic that people are really emotionally invested in and consolidating it down into a way that they can understand, that's the job of a historical critical scholar of the Bible. So, ironically, that training, even though I don't ever talk about the Bible on my platform, that training was like, oh, you have to explain something that people are deeply emotionally invested to and tell them that they've been thinking about this all wrong. And you do it in a way that's accessible to them without learning ancient Greek. 


00:35:01    Alyssa



00:35:02    Jon

And so, I had done for five years before I started the account and, you know, 40 times a year, get up and give a sermon, which was essentially a TED Talk on that, at least my sermons because that's how I am. I'm a nerd. No other people, I'm not like a real hellfire and brimstone guy. So that was not going to be my thing. So yeah, it was, it was very, it was kind of a natural progression and then it just happened. 


00:35:25    Alyssa

You said that like punishment doesn't work. And so I want to dive into this of like, so many of us, you, as you stated earlier that like, you didn't grow up in a punishment free household. I didn't grow up in a punishment free household either. And it was interesting, because I have three older brothers, one younger brother, the one that's four years older than I am closest in age to me, I would say the most punishment resistant human I've ever met. And he was like, Oh, I'm grounded. Great. I'm still gonna go do what I want to do. Like, oh, you're taking this thing away. All right, fine. I'll use this other thing. Like, he does not carry people pleasing tendencies. And so like, I got to be the human after him, right, where they were like, okay, punishments worked on these first two, they responded really well to it in terms of a behavior change, which is what we were just as parents trying to see, right, there was not a go beneath the surface to the root. It was like, how do we get this behavior to stop? Boom, punishments worked here. Or even the fear of a punishment worked there. And then the third child, correct. The third child, not so much. Third child was like, Nope. And so then they came to me and they were like, Oh, shoot. Nope is an option. Let's see what happens here. And I feel like I was a little bit of a mix. I was like, some things I cared about having taken away or I was afraid of or whatever. And some things I was like, doesn't bother me. I was kind of the blend of those that my two older brothers and then my third oldest older brother. And so my experience, though, was so different, where they like try different things other than punishment with me. And I feel like I was maybe the first kid in my family that even something else was tried. Does that make sense? And I want to break down, like, what does it look like to try something else? I think if my parents hadn't been kind of pushed into that, they wouldn't have needed to, from their perspective, because their goal was behavior change. 


00:37:32    Jon

Right. And this is my book. So like my book, I don't know the title yet, but if you wanted to boil it down, it's how do you parent without punishment? Like how can we do it? And the short answer is we first have to understand why punishment makes our teaching generally ineffective. And it's because it doesn't work with the way our kids naturally learn. Like, there's so much data on learning and, oh, the visual learning, auditory learning, like, oh, the kids who have to be self -guided or instructional or curriculum -based and like, there's so much information about this. A hundred percent of that research agrees that if a kid feels threatened, they will not achieve academically.  So even when we think about learning, like when we generally think about people who study learning, we think about educators. And what we've known now for a long time is that if you take away a kid, you know, if you put a kid in an abusive home environment or they're in a situation with food scarcity, right? Why do you think the schools, it's not just an ethical reason that schools provide free and reduced lunch and also free breakfast for kids. It's because without those things, kids struggle academically, why..


00:38:51    Alyssa

Basic needs 


00:38:52    Jon

Basic needs. Why did we, why are there all of these initiatives for busing in high risk areas? Because walking to school is terrifying for a lot of kids and it creates psychological, like literally complex PTSD, CPTSD. And so because of these things we've known, this is a lot of the stuff that I learned in my counseling course. We know that you threaten a kid, the parts of their brain that are responsible for learning, internalizing, making critically thinking, complex reasoning, those parts of their brain shut down. What we have failed so far to realize in just general society is that the same is true for parents in teaching social emotional skills, proper behavior, culturally appropriate living, morality, ethics. All of these things are processed in many of the same parts of the brain as academic cognitive learning. They're prefrontal cortex or neocortex activities. And so when you punish a kid, you actually send them into a state. If your goal with the punishment is to make them sorry for what they've done, which is I think most punishments, then you actually send them into a state where they become non -receptive to your learning and teaching. And so they usually internalize the wrong mesSage as a result. So the behavior may end, but they may have no idea why they're ending the behavior. They may just be ending the behavior because mommy doesn't like it. Not because hitting is wrong, not because hitting hurts other people, not because it's socially inappropriate to hit people and people won't play with you you if you hit them, but because hitting makes mommy mad, and so I don't hit around mommy. And you can see kind of where the beginning of this becomes when kids behave in front of authority. But really, it's the likelihood of getting caught that prevents problematic behavior. Kids don't develop an internal moral structure where they go, oh, maybe this is just not a kind thing to do, and kindness is one of my values as a human. And people are like, oh, but they're just kids, they can't do that thinking. No, they can. They absolutely can. But most kids don't. The reason most kids don't is because their world is wrapped up in just pleasing their parents, or not incurring the wrath of their parents. And so that's why punishment is ineffective, is because it works against your kid's brain. When you threaten your kid, when they kind of do that, like, I'm sorry, and they're like screaming and like melting down, you might feel like, oh man, they're really sorry, they're not going to do that thing again. Yeah, all the parts of their brain that are drawing connections to why that thing they just did is problematic, those are all shut down. Even their organization of that memory, it can be disorganized. So they might know that they felt bad, but they might not even be able to remember what they did. In fact, there are so many examples of studies being done where kids are physically hit and they ask the kid a week later, why were you hit? And they go, I remember my mommy hitting me. I remember when that was so bad, I was so scared. And then they say, well, what did you do? And they're like, I don't know. And so literally you mess with their memory systems, their ability to categorize and place memory in space. This is why people with PTSD just generalized PTSD from traumatic scenarios, they struggle. They don't really have memories of those events. They're just intrusive, right? Because they're not categorized in the way that normal memories are. And so if you want to teach your kid in a way that's going stick, where you're not going to have to go over the same things over and over, and that they actually learn some moral and cognitive reasoning skills of why they shouldn't do the thing or why they should do a different thing instead, then you don't want to punish them because you actually turn off all the parts of their brain that are listening and that are processing. And so that's why punishment doesn't work. If you want to know what works instead, you just have to then take that and go, okay, well, if I wasn't trying to make them feel bad, if that wasn't my goal, if I wasn't just trying to disincentivize this action, then how would I teach a person this? If you had a person coming from a different culture, different part of the world, and they didn't know that it was impolite to ask about somebody's weight or something, would you slap them when they did that so that they learned that they shouldn't do that? Or would you explain to them, here is why somebody might be really uncomfortable if you go down that path with them in that way, you know, you would do the latter. And so most people don't think of kids as being able to have nuanced conversations. And a lot of that is because many kids are never given the opportunity to. They are just punished and then the kid seems irrational and they seem out of control and then you go, yeah, well see, they're out of control and irrational. I was never going to be able to talk to them. Well, you did that. You put them in that brain state. So that, you know, the something else there, again, there's, I have an entire book about why it's not just that something else, but just start from the perspective of this is not how you would want to learn anything. This is not how you would teach any adult anything like this. And in fact, there are the Geneva Conventions that prevent us from teaching adults in this way. And yet, as it relates to kids, scaring them, yelling at them, which is another, you know, isolating them, taking something away from them that's a prize possession and threatening to never give it back or to throw it away, doing all these things that send them into a fight or flight state. All of that stuff is just punishment and, and, and it doesn't work. Yeah, go ahead. Sorry. I talked for a long time. 


00:44:43    Alyssa

No, no, no. I, I, as I was listening, I'm like, yes, of course. And like the brain science all matches up. I think it assumes, though, that the goal is to teach them, and I don't know that that's always the goal. And I think that for some folks, and we have a professional development program, we work in school systems, and that's the bulk of our work at SEED, is working in schools. And there is, in some school systems, a desire for compliance, for obedience. And that it's then looked at not the how do we get them, how do we teach them this? But instead, how do we get them to stop this behavior because it's disruptive to the class, or because it's not going to help them socially or whatever, but not necessarily like what can I teach them to do instead? Or how can I teach them about their body? Or how can I that isn't necessarily the goal. And so I think starting with like, well, what's your goal? If your goal is just to get this behavior to stop, sure. Punishment might actually be effective, at least for the short term. If your goal is long term, to see new skills built...


00:46:05    Jon

I actually, I actually even push back on that. 


00:46:10    Alyssa

Let's dance.


00:46:10    Jon

So, punishment might be that in the short term, it might be the tool which is most natural to gain that short term compliance to you, or the tool that is most intuitive to gain that short term compliance. But actually, you've experienced this. I remember my fifth grade class, there was a girl who was just brutal to me. She was a bully, but she was absolutely loved, super high achiever, absolutely loved by all the teachers, whatever. And I was the screw up, right? Like I had ADHD, I was not diagnosed yet. So like I was the problem kid. And she would, as soon as the teacher would walk out of the room, she would just rip me apart. And then as soon as the teacher walked back into the room, I would usually be caught with, you know, throwing a piece of paper back at her or something. And I'm not saying that it was like intent, you know, she was like waiting until he was like at the door to do this. But her entire paradigm was not to not do that action that she had been probably at home punished for, it was to never do that in the presence of adults. So I actually don't even think that it's in the short term effective. I think that it's only effective, if at all, at getting them to not do that behavior in front of the person who they fear punishment. 


00:47:31    Alyssa

Sure. But that might be the goal, right? Say you're at an adult, like a bunch of adults around, a bunch of families gathered, and maybe there's a parent that's like, I want to present a certain way. I want our kids... then your goal is that kids don't elicit certain behaviors in that scenario. You can likely achieve that in the short term with punishment. And so I think it's really starting with like, what's your goal? Because if that's your goal, then like, yeah, you might be able to achieve that with punishment. If your goal is to teach kids pro -social behaviors for the long term that they can take with them through life, then yeah, punishment's not going to be effective. But I challenge parents, teachers, caregivers to start with, you know, what's my actual goal here? Because if your goal is that longer term pro social thing, it might mean that sometimes in social gatherings, your kids not going to be obedient, or they are going to have a hard feeling or a hard emotion, right? And it's going to come up against this, like, I want them to present this way. And I think that's where it can challenge us in the like, am I doing this the right way? Is this the most effective? They're still having these meltdowns or these tantrums. They're having hard emotions. And it's in these scenarios where if I did this other thing, if I punish them, if I bribed them, if there was a threat, maybe I wouldn't see that behavior in that scenario. And so I think really getting down and dirty with ourselves as the adults of like, what's our real goal here? 


00:49:04    Jon

I think, I think that that's a very, no, that's an excellent point. And, and I think that you're right. That many, I, I think that many parents don't even stop to think about their parenting goals because they, they would have never been presented with parenting as something that you would even have goals in like, so, so it's just, you know, my, my job is to keep my kid to be, you know, to fit in and I think that it's, that's a normal thing too. We're very social creatures as humans and the, you know, the, the human who sticks out of the pack? Sometimes they're the leader, most often they're the one who's getting kicked out of the pack. It's a threat to your safety. They're a threat to your safety. And so if your kid is, if you determine that your kid melting down in Target is getting you the side eye from all of your tribe, like it can feel like hey the the lesser of two evils here is to stop this at all costs.


00:49:59    Alyssa



00:49:59    Jon

And that is a real thing. That's not true. Most people are not judging you for your parenting. We should stop and say, sometimes it's your family does. I think that that's a reason. 


00:50:16    Alyssa



00:50:16    Jon

If you're doing this in front of grandma, and that's also why I say, if you're only parenting in front of grandma four to eight times a year, do whatever the heck you want, to be honest. Like you can, like if Bluey needs to be on..


00:50:30    Alyssa



00:50:31    Jon

Hours a day during Christmas break because grandma is visiting, like, I don't care. 


00:50:37    Alyssa



00:50:37    Jon

That's small stuff. But you know, if you're like, man, every time I'm out in public, I feel like everyone's judging me. No, they're not like, they're not, you know, what they're really happy about that. It's not them. They're just, 


00:50:51    Alyssa

100 %. It's empathy. They're feeling compassion because they're like, dang, I've been there. 


00:50:58    Jon

The only people who judge you are the people who like are, are, I wouldn't even say older people who don't have kids, but like, like the 25 year old, who's like, Oh my God, she needs to shut that kid up. And frankly, why do you care what a 25 year old thinks?


00:51:12    Alyssa

We talked about this with our early childhood educators a lot, because a lot of early childhood educators don't have kids because it's hard to stay in the field financially once you have kids. And so like what it looks like to be a part of somebody's village and co -parenting and collaborating when you don't have the perspective of being a parent. And it's very different to have a kid dropped off and picked up and you go home and you have a full night of sleep and all the things than it is to be a parent. 


00:51:42    Jon

Yeah, I think that that's true. I also think, you know, and I made a video about this yesterday. And this is a big deal, I think, too. I do also get the comments of people saying, when I advocate for pro -social behavior or not screaming at your kids or whatever, this guy clearly doesn't have kids. It is different before you have kids that you may not have that perspective. But when they say that, oftentimes what people mean is, if you had a kid, you would understand how terrible they really are and how they are deserving of punishment.


00:52:14    Alyssa

 Oh, I disagree. I'm going to push back. 


00:52:16    Jon

I think that when people say that, I think when people say that, they say, you don't understand how hard it is to have, what they're saying is, 


00:52:23    Alyssa

Thats what it is. Yes.


00:52:23    Jon

You don't understand how hard it is to have kids, and if you're advocate, but hear me out though. They don't post that when I say, all you got to do is just this and it'll be so easy. They post that when I say, respecting kids and respecting their wishes is important. And then they say, clearly you don't have kids. To me, when they say that, I go, okay, so what you're saying is, if I had kids, I would understand that they are not deserving of respect. And that's where I push back and I go, I think it's different when you say, this is just so hard for me, how do you do it with kids? That's a totally different comment than the person coming in and saying, when you have kids, and I've been told this, when you have kids, you'll realize that the only thing that corrects behavior is a belt. And those people I'm like, that's really sad. That's really sad that we're at a place in society where the response to it's, yes, it's hard, but we should still try. 


00:53:23    Alyssa



00:53:24    Jon

Is no, we shouldn't try. 


00:53:26    Alyssa

I think, I agree. And I think that the, what they're really saying is this feels so hard for me that what you're presenting feels unattainable. I don't feel like I have the capacity to do that or the support or the resources or, you know, that I'm so exhausted that the idea of doing that feels hard and too hard. And like, it won't be successful. You don't know my kid, my kid wouldn't respond to that. And I think that it's more that than yeah, that kids aren't deserving of respect. It's that like, man, that feels hard. And I don't know if that's going to pay off. And, I get that.


00:54:06    Jon

Yeah, I struggle with that. I struggle with that because, because, you know, and this is maybe just a perspective thing. Like I understand empathy and I, and I am empathetic because, because here's the thing. I'm not the perfect parent. Like I do all of the stuff that I say, don't do like almost everything. Like I, I do not lay my hands on my kids, but again, I was, that was not a part of my parenthood. So who's say whether I would, if it was, you know? So I do have empathy even for that, right? I understand why a person could get to that point. And I'm not saying that if I was raised in a different way that I wouldn't sometimes get to that point. Although if my mom is evidence, she was able to completely break the cycle. After it was not broken for her. So, you know, I guess there is an example in my life of a person doing that, but I'm not saying that I'm better than anyone else, but I am saying you do have to care. And, and there is, there is a level at which when somebody says like, but this is just too hard, I appreciate that not everybody else has, and not everybody has the support system to be able to do a lot of this work. But I was just on a podcast with this guy who was saying, it was Larry Hagner, he was like, but at some point you also have to take responsibility that once you know better, you have to do better. And I think that that's, I think that that's the real challenge for me is that, you know, when people say like, this is just unattainable and maybe this is why, maybe this is why I don't connect with some of the people that I don't connect with. They say this is unattainable. I say, yeah, you know what, it is unattainable a hundred percent of the time, but if you're not even trying, then like that, then that's a whole different conversation. 


00:55:41    Alyssa

But I think that's key. It's unattainable a hundred percent of the time being the mesSage is so key because I, we did a poll a little while ago, just in our stories, I had shared a story of just like I'd had a hard morning with Sage and we were not connected. I didn't parent in a way that felt good for me. And then I navigated like repair after nap, whatever we would be connected. I was just like sharing the like shit storm part of it. And I got so many mesSages of like, oh, thank God. Like this happens to you too. Like, and I was like, yeah, of course. And so we did a poll in stories to ask, like, how many of you think that there is perfect that like if you did all these things "right" in quotes, that you would get to a point where you're responding with intention and regulation all the time everything's perfect your kid then is collaborating with you because you have laid the foundation for this and they're like yes mom, can't wait to go get ready for bath even though I'm having a great time playing, right like how many do you think that there's gonna come this point if you do all the right things. 98 % of the people said, Yeah, the follow up was how many of you think that "parenting experts" in quotes that you follow on social media are doing this perfectly. And it was over 80%. And I was like, Oh, man, shoot, like, this is part of the problem, right, that I think that no one is doing it 100%. It's not it's not 100 % attainable all the time, right? That mesSage, I think is the part that's left out often. And so then... 


00:57:22    Jon

Yeah, so what research tells us, right, is that a secure attachment is established, and I'm gonna throw a terribly low number at you, but secure attachment is established with 40 % responsiveness. 


00:57:37    Alyssa

It's actually even lower. 


00:57:39    Jon

40%. It's, well, so the studies, the, I'm trying to remember the guy, what's his name? I just had to look all these up for the, for the, for the book, but whatever the study was by, um, the guy who did the still face, I'm just forgetting his name, 


00:57:53    Alyssa

Ed Tronick 


00:57:54    Jon

Tronick. So Tronick came up with this number and it's hard to find anywhere because everybody cites it now, but like nobody can find the original study, but the original study was 40 % of the time. That's enough for secure attachment. So if you're parenting, I think that's kind of too low because I think that then at that point we get to a point where 40% is a hard number because it's less than half the time. And I think that at that point, it's hard to really judge yourself. Am I doing this? You know what? So I like Aliza Pressman, who says more often than not. So if you're, if you are 51 % of the time more often than not parenting the way that you want to parent, and at the same time you are limiting the extreme behaviors on parenting, right? Like you're not physically hitting your kids. Even if it means you have to walk away, that you are limiting how much you're screaming at them. Like even if it's just one time less this week than last week, if you're moving in a positive direction and you're the parent that you want to be more often than not, you're doing enough. That said at the same time, like if you think that that's going to mean that your whole life is going to just like fall into place, it's not. Like at all. And so I would say that I am the parent that I want to be more often than not. If that number is higher than 65%, I'd be pretty surprised. Like the other 35 % of the time I am NOT the parent that I want to be.


00:59:17    Alyssa



00:59:17    Jon

But I will tell you at 65 % if that's the number, maybe it's lower, there is a totally different.. what I also don't like when people say well kids are gonna be kids and no matter how you parent It's not gonna matter like no. No, it matters.


00:59:31    Alyssa

False, yeah.


00:59:31    Jon

Like yeah, it matters like like if you think that your kids won't get easier as you do this well, you're wrong. You're also wrong. Like if you do this 65 % of the time or 70 % of the time, like not only are you establishing long -term healthy relational dynamics for your kids, no, it will get a heck of a lot easier. So people also don't, they think about it in terms of like, oh, well, if it's not going to be perfect, then why achieve it? No, because it's so much easier. It's so much easier once you have some form of rapport. 


01:00:04    Alyssa

Yeah. They're trusting connection, right? Like they're more likely to collaborate with us when they feel that we are connected and that we have a trusting relationship. Doesn't mean they're gonna do it all the time, but if we don't ever pour into that emotional bank account and we're only ever taking out, yeah, they're not going to. One of what I was just chatting with my sister-in-law about this, she, the twins are like maybe 12 years old. They're turning 12 this year, so she has been doing this work their entire lives. I would get phone calls when they were three, okay, this is coming up, how do I navigate this? Talking about their sensory systems. Like we have been on this journey together. She's been really intentional their entire lives. And she'll get comments about kind of how easy they are. And she's like, oh my gosh, there are still so many challenges. There's still stuff that comes up, new stage, new age, whatever. And, but from other people about like, oh, I wish my kid would X, Y, and Z. And she's like, it's been a decade of foundations. We had so many hard things along the way to build this one skill. 


01:01:20    Jon

Well, yeah, I get that. I get that too with my, with my seven -year -old or people, people will kind of be like, but well, if you had a kid who had behavioral issues and ADHD and was super sensitive about everything, then, then you would under, and it was an explosive child, then you would really understand. You have a cakewalk kid, so it's not surprising that you think you're God's gift of parenting. First of all, I don't think that I'm God's gift of parenting. But they'll say that, to which I respond with, oh, yeah, my seven -year -old does have ADHD probably. 


01:01:51    Alyssa

Totally. Yeah. My three -year -old is sensory sensitive. Yeah. 


01:01:55    Jon

He's a highly sensitive kid. Yeah. Everything you just described, he is. It doesn't feel that way to you because when he goes there, it feels like how many kids would just, that would be their natural disposition. 


01:02:15    Alyssa



01:02:15    Jon

Sometimes he has meltdowns. The meltdowns used to be like an hour. There was so much trust. And now they're like, well, but your kid just isn't addicted to his iPad, so it's easy. to get him off. When you had this video about how to get your kid off your iPad, well, your kid's clearly just not as addicted as mine. Well, he is, but there also has been, and I'll say with the collaboration thing, it's not just the emotional bank account, it's also the evidence to suggest that their opinion is going to be validated and listened to. So if you want your kid to collaborate with them in the same way that if your boss wanted you to collaborate with them, right? If your boss came to you and said, hey, I got this project that we're working on. I really want your input on it. You know, just come up with something and then come to me and we'll figure out. and you go to your boss and they go, yeah, actually, I kind of figured it out while you were doing all that. And this is what you're going to do. And everything that you just worked on is pointless. So NBD, but go ahead and do what I am telling you to do. You would go back and you'd be like, yeah, never collaborating with that guy again, or that woman again, versus like you bring that, bring it to them. You know, I actually had a different idea, but I like yours. I like where you're going with this. Let me alter it a little bit in this way, but let's, uh, but, but let's keep your, your basic idea. I think you've done a lot of really great work on this. The next time they ask you to collaborate, you're going to be like, heck yeah, I'm going to collaborate with them. Of course, kids are the same way. When I was like, Hey, I think we need to take, you know, some time away from the iPad where we're getting too connected to this. Like Minecraft is like this creative thing. I'm like, you know what? That's okay. If you do that more than, than other things. So like, I'm like, okay, that's fine. You can do that. But we're getting to a point where it's not good anymore. I almost said, I'm like, I think we need to do this and this and this. And he goes, you know, no, no, no. What we need to do is this. And parents were like, yeah, but you, you stuck to your guns. I was like, no, I didn't. 


01:04:03    Alyssa



01:04:04    Jon

I, I went with what he said and they were like, why? You gave in? I'm like, I didn't give in. Do you understand that? He set a limit, whatever that limit was. No, you just have to give me a five minute warning or whatever. I don't remember what it was. When I do the thing that he's asked me to do? Compliance immediately. Why? Because he asked me to do it. Now it's not always the case, but that's the other aspect too. It's not just the emotional background. It's the trust to right of am I in charge of and this is man This is where I get in most trouble on social media I think kids should be in charge of their their own lives to an extent to what's happened to a healthy extent. I think that kids should feel like I have say in what I wear,


01:04:49    Alyssa



01:04:49    Jon

 What I eat, you know in my kids situation he's homeschooled, so what I learn how when I'm learning how I'm doing that Um, and when kids feel like they have that say, it's amazing how, how all of a sudden, when you say, nope, sorry, we got to do it this way, they're like, oh, well, you don't, you're not just saying that. You've built up the relational capital here, where when I say it's time to, he hates taking medicine. He had a fever last week. He absolutely hates it. Sensory, taste, doesn't matter. Like it's just horrible. Five minutes to take it. It's like, no, I don't want to do the whole thing. Screaming, like almost dumped it four times, like drank it, like, like drank it again. Like, like just so, so overwhelming, but he still takes it. Why? Because there's a cutoff and there's a rule. You have a hundred degree fever, you take it. And he's just like, you know what, if you weren't really actually doing this for my own good, I wouldn't have to do this. Now I'm not judging anybody else's, like medical decisions, right? 


01:05:57    Alyssa

No, no, totally. Right. but he trusts that you wouldn't impose this boundary if it wasn't something that you felt was really for his safety. 


01:06:05    Jon

Exactly. And this is what I think this is, if you want the, I know that we got to kind of come to an end here, but you want the, the real, like the thing about parenting. I think I have four pillars of how you can parent without punishment. The first one is consequences. We can't really get into that. Modeling that's somewhat obvious. You have to do the thing that you want your kid to do. I'm not even thinking of the third one right now. But the fourth one, and I think the most important one is setting effective boundaries. 


01:06:35    Alyssa

I think so too. 


01:06:35    Jon

And if you are unwilling to set effective boundaries, then your kid, you will have to punish your kid because you'll get to a point where your kid does not trust the boundaries. And then you get to a point, like I had a mom in my, I have a group coaching that I do a couple of times a month in my membership, and I had this mom who's like heartbroken. She was like, I just felt like I had to spank my kid. And I was like, why? And she was like, because she tried to climb out the window of the second story. She took the screen off and she tried to climb out and I just didn't know what else to do. She had to be scared of that. I needed to cause her some pain so that the worst pain wasn't avoided, was avoided. And I was like, I totally get it. I totally understand that logic.  Also, we got to talk about why your kid cannot trust you when you make a hard boundary about, you know, the window, where, how can we set that boundary better? Are we going to, are we going to like screw a piece of plywood over the window? Like maybe, like maybe, maybe that that's the boundary of like, we can't do the, but like, why are we, how are we getting to a point? And the answer was we didn't set effective boundaries all the way up to that. And so many of the boundaries were like some of this and some of that. And sometimes it was just, I don't like that you're doing this and it's annoying. And some of it was like, for your own safety. And at some point, kids just go, well, if the boundaries aren't really about my safety, I'm not going to follow any of that. 


01:08:00    Alyssa

Totally. I make my own rules. 


01:08:02    Jon

Yeah. We don't even get into punishment and 15 year olds and 16 year olds. You know, that's a whole nother conversation when you punish a nine year old for doing something and then they're 15, are they going to come to you? And like, that's a whole nother separate thing. 


01:08:14    Alyssa

Spoiler alert: No. 


01:08:15    Jon

But that gets into the boundaries too, right? Which is like, if we're setting boundaries around things that are for our kids on flourishing, and they can identify that and that you're willing to actually, when they make a good case, compromise those and say like, you know what, you're right, this is a boundary that I'm just setting because I'm annoyed. 


01:08:37    Alyssa

Totally. There's a whole chapter about it in Tiny Humans, Big Emotions is like, when to move the boundary  and how, and that's a crucial part of setting boundaries is knowing how to... in our house we call it being a team and being a team doesn't mean it doesn't mean top -down. It doesn't mean we're being a team you're doing what I want you to do. It's we're being a team and you get to bring your thing to the table and I bring mine and we have a conversation about it and Sage is just turning three and he'll stop me and say mom, you're not being a team. And it slows me in my path from like you're right. I'm just like I'm moving through the motions, I'm trying to get us out the door. I'm not being a team now is like our phrase that it slows me down and it brings me back to like, all right, yeah, what's going on here. Let's make a plan together. Here's what my goal is. We're trying to get to this doctor's appointment. Here's what time it starts, you know, and like, let's be a team. 


01:09:31    Jon

I love this so much. So I have a, someday I'm going to write a book on siblings and not only from my own siblings, but, but also because I don't about siblings in my book. And it's just, you can't talk about everything. I don't even try. And that's my paradigm for siblings is that you guys are on the same team, but I've never thought of it as we're all on the same team in that term. I really, really like that because I think that's so massively important for siblings. And yeah, you can welcome them on. I guess I do have an aspect of that, but never with the kids pushing back, man. I love that. I love that. 


01:10:09    Alyssa

Thanks. Thanks, Jon. Thank you. Thanks for being in this space and doing this work. When does your, do you have a tentative release date for your book? 


01:10:17    Jon

You know, it's supposed to be like January '25 or something like that. January '25. 


01:10:22    Alyssa

Well keep us posted. We'll share about it. I'm excited for it to be out. 


01:10:26    Jon

Yeah. You know, the main thing is if you follow me on, on the Whole Parent, you know, at Whole Parent on all the socials and especially those who are on the email list. You know, they get the stuff. I have a podcast. I'd love to have you on sometime. 


01:10:37    Alyssa

I'd love to. 


01:10:38    Jon

But yeah, I have a podcast and stuff like that. And basically, if you're on the email list, you learn everything about everything that I'm doing, which is probably the same for you. So lets keep in touch.


01:10:48    Alyssa

Yeah. Perfect. Perfect. Thank you so much. 


01:10:52    Alyssa



01:10:57    Alyssa

All right. Who do we get to hang with today, Rach? 


01:11:01    Rachel

We've got Jon Fogel, punishment -free parenting. 


01:11:06    Alyssa

Yeah, we got to dance a little bit. 


01:11:09    Rachel

Mm -hmm, yeah. I have a lot of thoughts. 


01:11:12    Alyssa

Yeah, I bet you. As I was interviewing him, I was like, oh, I'm excited to chat with Rachel about this after. I think I texted you and was like, oh, I can't wait for our chat. 


01:11:22    Rachel

Yeah, because I grew up in Christianity and he is a pastor. And respectful parenting and a lot of Christian parenting ideologies are like at odds with each other. Yeah, so there were so many times that I was just like, ah, I had all these like thought explosions. One thing that I really liked was that he, well, you both talked about how like the term gentle parenting doesn't really serve anybody. It means different things for different people. I think that some people think of gentle parenting as very permissive parenting and that's not helpful for adults or children. So I like the distinction of like, it's not gentle parenting to treat children as full humans and treat them with respect. And maybe you can dive into a little bit of like the concept of punishment -free parenting and how I think that can be really triggering to hear. 


01:12:22    Alyssa

Yeah. Yeah. 


01:12:24    Rachel

Love to hear your thoughts. 


01:12:26    Alyssa

Well, I think of like, and this is where I challenged him, where I was like, depends on your goals, like punishment might serve some people's goals for the short term. And I also, I grew up in a Catholic household and respect, in terms of like having respect for other people, treating people kindly and treating yourself kindly, having respect for the like environment and the space and all that. It feels really important to me. It's one value that I think I took from my childhood that I'm for sure trying to pass on. 


01:13:10    Rachel

Totally. Can we break down together how there's a difference between respect as in like being kind to others in the environment and all that and this other idea where respect is conflated with obedience. 


01:13:23    Alyssa

100 % yeah. Well and that's I was raised more, well I think both. I had there was like respect for just like people and things etc and then there was the obedience piece of like respect meant you obey you don't push back. That what this person says because they're older than you, or they hold a certain title, is the end all be all. And there's no questioning that. 


01:13:49    Rachel

And if you do question it..... 


01:13:51    Alyssa

It's disrespectful. 


01:13:53    Rachel



01:13:54    Alyssa

Yeah. And I actually I would say so fortunately, I have so many memories of my dad being like, listen, as long as you're kind and respectful in how you say this or do this, I've got your back. And I was, I was in 10th grade, and my best friend from childhood, her dad, was my history teacher. And he was my dad's best friend. 


01:14:26    Rachel

Okay. Some enmeshing happening. 


01:14:29    Alyssa

Correct. And teachers were humans that were supposed to be respected. Right, this was like a thing in our culture, growing up. And I have been a human my whole life who's asked, okay, but why? Like, tell me more about this. I want to understand the why. And that doesn't bode very well sometimes when somebody's like, I want to say something to you and I just want you to believe it as fact and not ask any questions. And that was the case in this particular history class where we were learning about the Vietnam War. And I offered up a question of like, OK, but why X, Y and Z that challenged what was being taught.  He answered. I wasn't satisfied with the answer. So I raised my hand again. I further asked a question. He answered again. I still was like, no, I don't understand this. And he still wasn't speaking to the question. I felt like I wasn't getting an answer that felt satisfying. And I was told like, Blask, we're done on this topic.  Like, no more questions. 


01:15:39    Rachel

My way or the highway? 


01:15:41    Alyssa

Correct. And I said, with all due respect, I remain with my question unanswered over here. And I will have no further questions until this one is answered, was what I said. And we went for months, me having sleepovers at his house, so many things, without talking. I refused to ask another question until this question was answered. Very true to form. Some might call it stubborn, strong -willed. If you're raising one of those humans, sometimes they grow up to be a CEO and do research in emotional intelligence. Sometimes it's okay. You're just going to get through the now. But my dad said, as long as you continue to be respectful, this is fine. He used the word brat. He was like if you start to be bratty about it, it's not okay. So I feel really grateful that I had like a lot of instances like that where I was allowed to push back if I could do it respectfully. 


01:16:46    Rachel



01:16:47    Alyssa

And I think, I mean a lot of people that I know didn't have that, or it was like you couldn't push back you couldn't have asked that question. I couldn't have continued to raise my hand and push back.


01:16:59    Rachel

Right. I think, you know, going back to Jon, I think he's a little bit of a of a rarity because he does really believe in treating kids with respect and not, without a focus on obedience. And in his culture, that's uncommon. Of course, he has the privilege of being a white hetero Christian male in our in our culture, which gives him a ton of power. But he's still going against the grain. 


01:17:29    Alyssa

Yeah. Yeah. And that's what I think it is. When we're looking at punishment. I just think if the word power is so huge, we're looking at I have power over you, 


01:17:37    Rachel



01:17:38    Alyssa

And I, and the reality is like, sometimes I do need to power over Sage, if he's running into the street or he's doing something where his body is in danger, I'm going to power over him and stop him. 


01:17:52    Rachel

Yeah. I mean, no brainer, right? So I'm in charge here. My job, my literal job is to keep you alive. 


01:18:00    Alyssa

Yeah. Yeah. I'm gonna power over you here. 


01:18:04    Rachel

Sorry if you don't like it. 


01:18:05    Alyssa

Correct. Correct. But I think that can get conflated with like, I want you to do this thing. Or I want you to stop doing this other thing. And now I'm asserting my power over you. I think what's really tricky is that then you get to a place down the road where you have a tween or a teen, etc. And they're just like, no, and that punishment they don't care about or doesn't work and they just don't listen to you. And they walk away or they, you know, I grew up in a household where we had to work at young ages to have stuff, like to have money to go to the movies, to get new things, whatever, like I've had a job since I was 12, at least one. And so they weren't providing financial assistance in that sense, they had a roof over our head and food available. And so if we could find another roof over our head and food available, we could just leave if we wanted to. And it happened. One of my older brothers, my parents tried to assert punishment after punishment, like you're grounded, you can't go do this, and he would just leave and do it anyway. 


01:19:18    Rachel

Yeah, my brother did the same thing. And I remember as a teen, like, sneaking and lying and not being honest with my parents or like, not even, I remember one time, like, drinking at a party, right? And I was going to be late for curfew. And I was like, there's no way that I can call my parents in this condition. 


01:19:45    Alyssa



01:19:46    Rachel

And my friend who was sober was like, that's all fine and good, but I'm not letting you leave. So what's going to happen here? And I, we ended up getting a ride from another friend who did feel comfortable calling her mom and being like, sorry, mom, we drank. You got to come get us. And like, I know that if I had called my parents, of course they would have come and got me. But then it also would have been like, they would never have trusted me to hang out with those people again. And I would have had all these restrictions on what I could do and all of these consequences, punishments that I didn't want to navigate, so I was just like, I'm just gonna lie. And one thing that I am really hoping to cultivate in my relationship with my children is that, like, if they are honest with me, they're never gonna be in trouble. 


01:20:33    Alyssa



01:20:34    Rachel

Like, there will be expectations and boundaries that I expect them to meet, but, like, if you are drunk at a party, I don't want you to be like, oh my gosh, what's my mom gonna think? I want you to be like, Oh my gosh, I need to call my mom. 


01:20:46    Alyssa

Yeah. Right. But it starts so young. Like you don't just get to the point where you have a teenager who feels safe enough to call you. And I think that's the thing that people don't always connect is like right now, just the other day, Sage, he, he knew he wasn't supposed to do it. And he went and he did something and we're in the kitchen. He came back in and he could just see it his face like tail between his legs. It turned. Spoiler alert. Didn't go out. Didn't turn out as he planned. Like it went down exactly as we thought. And something had gotten broken. We have said like this ball is a ball that's only thrown outside. It's too hard to throw inside and it can break things, et cetera. We're in the kitchen. We hear it happen and he comes in and he's like, uh, I threw the really bouncy ball and it hit a glass on the ottoman and the glass is broken. And I looked at him and like inside I wanted to be like, Yeah, remember when I said don't throw the bouncy ball in the house? Right? Like, hello. And now it tells me that you can't play with this bouncy ball in the house. Like that's like, that's where I want to go first. And I turned and I was like, trying to find the words and Zach jumped in and just said, thanks for being honest with us, bud. We'll figure this out. Can you please stay in the kitchen so that I I can go clean it up and do it safely. So no glass is on the ground. And Sage didn't look scared. He immediately came in and told us the truth because he knew he wouldn't be in trouble and that we were still gonna love him. Our love isn't conditional. You don't need to show up a certain way for us to love you. And then Zach went and took it. And now it doesn't mean there were no consequences, right? And that's, I think, the part that can be tricky for people. One thing for me is like asking myself has he learned what he needed to learn here, or does it, is a consequence necessary. Right, like, in my mind this was a natural consequence where he bounced the ball maybe if he had bounced the ball inside and nothing broke then I would have to step in and have an imposed consequence. 


01:23:04    Rachel

Yeah, like maybe that ball only lives outside. 


01:23:06    Alyssa

Correct. But because the glass broke, he already felt guilty. I don't think he's gonna do it again. And so I was like, yeah, bud, this ball is really heavy and strong. And so when it's time to bounce it, where should we bounce it? And he was like, I'll do it outside. I was like, great. And we'll see. Maybe he won't. Maybe he'll try it again and then I'll have to have an imposed consequence. But I didn't need to punish him just because he was curious and tried it on for size. Like, he felt guilty. His punishment had already happened. Like, he felt guilty. 


01:23:48    Rachel

That's the thing. Sometimes when I'm trying to figure out, like, alright, how do I respond to this? I ask myself, like, am I trying to assert dominance here and like prove to my kid that I'm in charge? Or like, do I need to slow down and be collaborative here? Because oftentimes when my kids do something that they know they're not supposed to do, they're coming to me already with this like embarrassment slash like guilt slash a little bit of like shame even like, oh, I know I shouldn't have done this. And I did it anyway. And now I'm coming to tell you and like, that's hard for them. 


01:24:19    Alyssa



01:24:19    Rachel

Put yourself as an adult when you mess up. You do something you're not supposed to do and then you have to like go and like talk it out. Like it's hard to be vulnerable, you know? So I think like yeah, the punishment kind of already happened for Sage because he knew he wasn't supposed to do it and he did it anyway and he already was like, crap, right? 


01:24:36    Alyssa

Yeah. Yeah. 


01:24:38    Rachel

And that starts so young. 


01:24:41    Alyssa

Yeah, it starts so young. 


01:24:43    Rachel

And it only grows in complexity. So laying that foundation so that.. But like now my oldest is nine and so the things that she's bringing to me are like things that are happening at school or like conflicts with her peers or conversation. So for instance, she knows what sex is and knows how it works and whatever and like recently learned that it's recreational, by accident from me, because I, we were talking about how like, I was a surprise. She asked how old I was when my mom had me and I said she was 31. But like, I was kind of a surprise. And Nora was like, wait a minute. How does that happen? So I was like, Ah, all right, well, here we go. I told her that sometimes people do it for fun without going into a bunch of detail kept it like, age appropriate. Then I had to have this conversation of, like, your friends may not know that sex is recreational, and it's not your place to tell them, right? 


01:25:52    Alyssa



01:25:53    Rachel

Which, like, she agreed with me, whatever. So then I guess her and one of her classmates, like, went into the bathroom at school and were talking about the word sexy. And she thought that that was, like, the biggest scandal of her lifetime. So she was, like, weird with me at bedtime, and I'm like, honey, is something going on like, you're acting funny. Is there something you want to tell me? Abel's asleep. I'm here. What's up? And she like kind of confesses to me that she had like talked about what the word sexy means with one of her classmates in the school bathroom. And you know, it's that right now. Like it's this funny little conversation where she feels like she maybe shouldn't have done that. So she's coming to tell me and like, it's no big deal right now. But like later, what's it going to be? Right? 


01:26:34    Alyssa



01:26:35    Rachel

And I want her right now to feel like, okay, yeah I can bring that to my mom and she doesn't make me feel like crap about myself. And I don't leave the conversation feeling like this immense guilt and shame, like I'm a bad person because I did this. It's like, yeah, maybe don't talk about sexy with your friends. Like, you're not in trouble, but we don't know what their family has talked about yet. So let's not do that again. But like, it's okay. Stuff like that happens. 


01:27:03    Alyssa

Right. But if you punish her in these instances, right? If Sage gets punished when he does the thing. If she gets punished for these things, what it does is start to erode your relationship, where then you're--


01:27:14    Rachel

Not going to come to me.


01:27:14    Alyssa

She's not going to come to you. She's not going to feel safe coming to you. She's not, she's going to lie instead of telling the truth because if she tells the truth, this is how I felt as a kid where I was like, well, I mean, it's worth it to lie because if I tell the truth, I'm definitely going to get in trouble. And so if I lie, maybe I won't get in trouble because I'll get away with it. 


01:27:31    Rachel



01:27:33    Alyssa

And then it's always worth it to lie.  And so I think about that like really for me punishment is-- it's just not effective for the long -term relationship I want to have, because it moves us into this like power over dominance relationship where he, and then Mila, don't want to come tell me things because they're afraid and don't have that place to turn to because they're afraid and that's not the relationship I'm trying to cultivate. What I think is really hard in the moment is when it's something that's triggering like the other day I had been playing with Sage and then Mila needed to nurse and I sat down to nurse her and I'm nursing her and he still wanted more of my attention and he came over and he was like come do that, like telling me, like come I need you over here, you need to stop nursing, and you need to come over here, and he'll do this, like really directive. And I'll validate for him like you really want me to come playing, and it's hard that I'm nursing her. And he's like getting frustrated. And he took his two hands and kind of like pushed on her head a little while she was nursing. And I was like shocked, right? Like I like pulled back and I could feel it in my face. And I saw it in his face that he read it on my face and he immediately felt guilty. And I could just like see it all over him. And I pulled back and I said, whoa, did you just push on her head? And just like that, I said it like in that tone, almost like judgy and he like pulled back and he ran about five steps away and he went on the ground and he started yelling, you can't be here. You can't be here, mama. You need to go away. So I had to like regulate myself because in that moment, like it's the, I have to, I feel like I have to protect her, et cetera. And I, thankfully, was able to like regulate enough in the moment  to identify for him, like, buddy, I'm not mad at you. You're not in trouble. Mila is safe. It didn't hurt her. Because now I can see, like, he's now scared that he hurt her. Maybe that he is in trouble, etc. And it took him a little while before he was able to, like, receive any of that. But if I had focused on his behavior, like, I can't let you push her. That's going to hurt her. Like, he is already feeling that so much he's shutting down and wants me to go away. 


01:30:08    Rachel

Totally. And I think, like, that happens for kids. It's a vulnerable place to be in front of an adult who does have a ton of power over you and know that you've done something that you're not supposed to do. 


01:30:23    Alyssa

And he will say, go away, you can't be here. The other day we're in the car and I'm driving and he was embarrassed about something. And he said, you can't be in the car. And I was like, well, I'm driving, so. 


01:30:32    Rachel

Yeah, but it's his way of saying, this feels too vulnerable for me. 


01:30:35    Alyssa

Correct. I feel uncomfortable. And we'll use the word guilty or embarrassed in those instances where in the moment and then later when we talk about it, I'll say how sometimes when I feel embarrassed or I'm feeling guilty about something, I really want to hide and I don't want other people to be around me. And I've noticed you've said X, Y, and Z. Are you feeling guilty or embarrassed? But in those moments, if I just deliver a punishment because he hurt his sister, it actually isn't the most beneficial thing. He's already feeling guilty. What is beneficial is for me to regulate and help him regulate so that we can move forward and be able to talk about what else he can do next time. When you want my attention and I'm nursing Mila and your body feels so overwhelmed, you want to push on her or you want to hit or you want to throw something, what can you do? What does that feel like in your body what can you do? That for me it's it's really asking like what skill is he still building that he doesn't have yet in this moment to access.


01:31:35    Rachel

Yeah and I think too, I want to note, when this is happening between yourself and your child, it's okay if your tone and your body language show them that like you're not jazzed. It's not the goal to be like oh whoops you put your hands on Mila's head, and that surprised me. No, like, whoa, what's happening? And not in a judgy tone, but like, it's okay. I've had conversations with my kids, because like often we'll have to circle back after we've had a situation like the one you just described, and I'll say like, hey, I just want to let you know, like, even when I feel frustrated or disappointed or shocked because of something that happened, it never changes how I feel about you. And my kids like to play a game because I'll say like, nothing you do could ever make me stop loving you. And they love to be like, well, what if I did this? And what if I did that? And they love to hear me say over and over and over again, nothing you do will make me stop loving you. And so I think like there can be a balance of like they can see us not feeling jazzed about the situation and also have like that trust underlying where like, yep, my mom is disappointed in what I just did. I know that I'm not going to be punished and I know that it doesn't change how feels about me. 


01:32:51    Alyssa

Yeah, a hundred percent. I, thank you for noting that. Like, when I pulled back and reacted, I wouldn't change that. It's okay for him to see that. In the same way that, like, I think guilt's a really powerful emotion. I don't want him to never feel guilt. I think guilt lets us know when we're not in alignment with our value system. And it's shame that I would love to have like shame -free parenting as much as possible, or shame -resilient at least, where he knows that he's lovable and worthy and that he is kind. And I will say that to him in the moment sometimes, like, buddy, I know that you're so kind and you don't wanna hurt her. I'm here with you. And later when we're talking about it, I'll bring that up too. Like, I know that you're so kind and that you love her. 


01:33:43    Rachel

Yeah, like you losing control today doesn't change your value as a human. 


01:33:48    Alyssa

Exactly. And like your identity and who you are and that you can also make mistakes. And that guilt is, and I've literally said the words to him as a two year old and now as a three year old, that guilt is what we feel when we feel uncomfortable about something that we did. And that it's okay to feel guilty. And you can notice that and think, hmm, why does this feel uncomfortable? And helping him just like, for him right now, those words don't mean a whole lot, but we continue to repeat them and he'll continue to take them in. And what I want him to know down the road is like, yeah, you're gonna make mistakes. You might gossip about somebody or make fun of someone or do something like drink at the party and find yourself feeling 


01:34:38    Rachel

Or talking about the word sexy in the school. 


01:34:40    Alyssa

Correct, exactly. And then feel guilty later like oh that didn't feel right inside. And even just start to notice that and that that's okay. It doesn't mean you're bad. 


01:34:52    Rachel

For him to start to connect the feeling that was in his body after he pressed on Mila's head with the word guilty so that as that association continues to grow So he'll be able to say to you, Mom, I'm feeling guilty because... 


01:35:06    Alyssa

Correct. Mm -hmm. 


01:35:07    Rachel

And that will be another way for you guys to connect and communicate when he's navigating something that he's not sure about. 


01:35:12    Alyssa

Exactly. Exactly. And I think we only get to access conversations like these and have moments like these when I'm not focused on powering over him, which is what punishment does. 


01:35:23    Rachel

Totally. Many of my default reactions based on social programming from my own childhood is to want to assert power and that's something that I have to recognize and stop myself from doing a lot of times. And there are times where I've had to go back and be like, um, you remember when I texted you and it was like, I just took screens away from Nora. I just punished her for the first time. And so I did hold that boundary of that next day, no screens, which was a punishment to myself. And then I'm like, awesome. So glad I did that. Um, then I had a conversation with her and I said like, Nones, I'm taking things away from you when I'm upset with you is not what I want for our relationship." And I said it was something that I experienced in my childhood because Mimi and Grampy didn't have access to the tools that Daddy and I have access to, and I'm working really hard to make a different choice for you, but sometimes I make mistakes. And I said, I'm not gonna take things away from you in order to show you that I'm in charge. I said, you do need to respect my boundaries and expectations but I'm sorry that I punished you because that's not how I want it to be between us. 


01:36:35    Alyssa

Yeah. And like so powerful for her to hear that, so powerful for your relationship. And I think for a lot of folks, it can lead to fear of like, okay, but are they going to know that I'm in charge? And like, what do I do instead of punishing, right? And this idea that like, in order for them to learn this lesson, they need to be punished, I think can come up. And I totally get that of like, yeah, I don't want him to keep making the same mistake over and over again because he's not learning the lesson part of it, right? Like I don't want him to keep hurting his sister when he's upset. And I understand that desire to punish so that they might learn that lesson. And I think what's missed there is the reframe into believing. I genuinely believe that he doesn't want to do that, that he doesn't want to hurt her, that he is kind and loving, and that it doesn't feel good for him when he hurts her. In the same way that I don't want to yell or snap or be sarcastic or snippy. It doesn't feel good for me after when I do that. And still I get dysregulated and sometimes I do that. And so when I see Sage exhibiting behaviors like that, that are undesirable, if you will, I believe that he doesn't want to. And so then my next question is, is he still building a new skill or can he not access a skill I know he has? 


01:38:14    Rachel



01:38:14    Alyssa

And if he can't access it, great. How do I help him build self -awareness and self -regulation so that he can notice when his body's getting out of control and tools to calm so that he can choose his words or his actions, or what's the new skill he's trying to build here? What does he not know what to do? And how do I teach that? 


01:38:33    Rachel

Yeah, it's that fear of like, I don't want my kid to continue to grow up and be in this world and exhibit behaviors that I know are going to make life hard for them. 


01:38:42    Alyssa

Yeah. Or be a reflection on me and my parenting, to be honest. Like if I'm getting down and dirty. 


01:38:48    Rachel

That can be a whole other conversation, but yeah, that for sure comes up for me. But like that time that I was like, okay, no screens for you, it was because she had been bugging the crap out of Abel over and over and over and over again. And what it really was, was that she needed connection time. I couldn't give it to her. Abel didn't want to play with her. So like, how do I help her to access things that meet that need? So that when I set the boundary of like, no, I'm not going to let you bother him. She has some place to turn, right? And so I can punish her all day. I can take screens away for life. She's still gonna bother him if she doesn't have the skills and resources to meet that need. 


01:39:29    Alyssa

Yep, exactly. And so you could take away her screens all day long, but if she doesn't have that skill, you're gonna see the same behavior or just like other versions of that behavior. 


01:39:39    Rachel



01:39:39    Alyssa

Yeah, exactly. And so I feel like it's just, honestly, I love efficiency. I don't love feeling like I've wasted my time and energy on things, and punishment for me feels like a waste of my time and energy, but I'm going to go all in on this punishment, but then they're still not going to have this skill. It's not going to shift it next time. I'll see a different behavior where they're trying to meet that same need because they still don't know how to meet that need in a different way or in what we would consider a pro -social way. 


01:40:08    Rachel



01:40:09    Alyssa

Yeah. Yeah. Woo. 


01:40:12    Rachel

So many layers to this, right? 


01:40:14    Alyssa

So many layers. Yeah. And I also have just a crap ton of compassion because especially for those of us that grew up in punishment households where, yeah, you were in a timeout or you got punished for something, it's hard to shift that and to understand. Something like a timeout, for instance, we know that the most valuable thing is our attachment and our love, for kids to feel safe in relationship with us emotionally, physically. And in a timeout, we're saying for a specific amount of time, I'm taking that away from you. I'm taking away your ability to be connected and safe with me. I'm yeah, I'm like taking attachment away from you. And when I think we say that out loud, it's like, yeah, of course. It's like, that's not the way I want to go. But if that's all you ever experienced in life growing up, doing something differently in the moment feels really hard if you don't have a guidepost or examples to lean on. I think for me, that shift had to start with really the belief that they're not choosing these words and these actions in the moment, and that their body's out of control. 


01:41:40    Rachel



01:41:41    Alyssa

Because if it feels like they're choosing it, then I'm like, well, buckle up.  Because I can power over. Mm -hmm. Exactly. And so that shift for me, that true, genuine belief that I hold now, that they're not choosing these words or these actions in the moment, that allowed me to be able to explore different questions even to ask myself or to ask them. 


01:42:07    Rachel

Yeah, that detective work of like, what's actually going on here? 


01:42:12    Alyssa

Yeah, right. But it has to start with like, it's not just in the spirit of manipulation or defiance or whatever, that there's something else that is going on. 


01:42:23    Rachel



01:42:24    Alyssa

Yeah. Cheers. Cheers to diving through these friggin layers. 


01:42:30    Rachel

Yeah, it's just we could go on and on and on. What do we want to leave folks with? I think for me, it's I want people to know that if their knee -jerk reaction is to power over, like they're not alone. 


01:42:42    Alyssa

Makes total sense. 


01:42:44    Rachel

And that they're also not stuck in that if they want something different. 


01:42:50    Alyssa

Yeah. And I mean, there's a bunch of stuff in Tiny Humans, Big Emotions, I think that's helpful on this in terms of like regulating your own nervous system, challenging all that jazz and what else to do, we have a whole chapter on punishments, consequences, et cetera. And fun first -time podcast announcement, Rach and I are writing a book together, also going to be published with HarperCollins, that is that next age range, so kindergarten to fifth grade. And what this looks like here, if you are looking for those resources, stay tuned, we'll let you know when it's available for pre -order. But we're going to be diving into things like this, like what does it look like to be in relationship with your kids as they get older, where they're going to have more independence and the topics get sometimes more triggering and dicier--


01:43:45    Rachel

And heavier


01:43:45    Alyssa

And yeah. And where a lot of us did experience punishment. 


01:43:51    Rachel



01:43:52    Alyssa

Buckle up. Stay tuned. 


01:43:54    Alyssa

Thanks for tuning in to Voices of Your Village. Check out the transcript at voicesofyourvillage.com. Did you know that we have a special community over on Instagram hanging out every day with more free content? Come join us at @seed.and.sew S -E -W. Take a screenshot of you tuning in, share it on the gram and tag @seed.and.sew to let me know your key takeaway. If you're digging this podcast, make sure to subscribe so you don't miss an episode. We love collaborating with you to raise emotionally intelligent humans.


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