Welcome to Voices of Your Village, a place where parents, caregivers, teachers and experts come to support one another on this wild ride of raising tiny humans. We combined decades of experience with the latest research to create the modern parenting village. Let's dive into honest conversation about real parenting challenges, so it doesn't have to be this hard. I'm your host, Alyssa Blask Campbell.
Welcome to Voices of Your Village. I'm super jazzed today because I get to bring you guys my co-creator of the method. Hi Lauren.
Welcome to Voices of Your Village!
Thank you. Very excited.
Can you tell our listeners a little bit about who you are, and kind of how you wound up here?
Sure, in the early 2000s, I finished with a studio art degree and had no idea that I was going to end up working with young children. A friend of mine said their school was hiring an infant teacher. I pictured a roomful of cribs with babies laying in them and thought that sounded pretty boring. But I stepped into the infant room, and I just started to realize how amazing it was, seeing these tiny people developing relationships with each other. So that's where it all began. And I went back to school for early childhood education. Preschoolers has been my passion ever since, and I stay in the field for social justice, and more recently, emotional justice.
Awesome. Thank you. And this is where our paths crossed. I was drinking a mimosa one day when Lauren came up and said, I think we're doing something that's different. And I want to write a book about it. Will you join me? And now here we are. Couple years later, still on this journey, method researched, book and progress all the things. But in developing the method, we created Five Phases of Emotion Processing that all humans not just tiny humans, but all humans are going through to process an emotion, Lauren. Can you explain to me what it means to really process an emotion like what is the difference between that and just push in that a little below the surface?
So I think it would be helpful to put it in the context of the opposite of it, which is surface acting. So I have a feeling, and then I judge it as good or bad. And if I judge it as bad, I don't want to be having it. Then I push it down to be dealt with, maybe never, or I could approach an emotion with mindfulness recognize that it's there. Maybe I do judge it as good or bad, but then I let go of that judgment and just have it, and then we'll go through the phases, but at the end have processed it so that we don't have to keep coming back or shoving it away.
I love that it's been a game changer in my own life. I didn't learn how to do this until my 20s. Thanks therapy. And the more I learned about these tiny human brains, the more I was like, oh, this is happening in my brain too, which was a game changer for me. And now somebody the other day was like, how are you just so calm? And I was like, oh, no, I'm just calm right now. This isn't me always, but I'm genuinely at this point not taking that anger. I felt three days ago, and still hanging onto its not living below the surface, and it did for so long for me. So I'm jazzed to share this with the world. Thank you for joining me. All right, let's just dive in. Phase 1 of emotion processing.
Allow! And I think allow is also best defined by the opposite, so if I'm thinking about it for myself, it's either I notice I'm having it, or I don't. There are a lot of things I can do in order to pretend I'm not having it or distract myself from having it, but allowing it is just simply having it having the feeling.
That is huge. I'm really good at, like ooh, I know that I'm having it, but I'm going to scroll on this screen so that I don't feel it, because I don't want to feel it. Yeah. And with tiny humans, I think we often will distract them out of the feeling like, oh, they're feeling sad or having an expression. And we're like, we're going to go get a snack, or we're going to, and we distract them out of the feeling, because we don't want them to have it, because it's hard. It's hard to let somebody else have a feeling too.
Yes, especially if we're worried that they're uncomfortable. We're not necessarily comfortable with discomfort.
No, I'm not. It's not my favorite thing. I've had. I had to like, make myself feel like you've got to sit here in this. They need to sit here in this, but it's not a natural go to. And I think this is something that parents often bring up to me of like well, instinctually, my body is saying, make it stop, make their hard feeling stop.
And it's extremely difficult to see someone else do what we perceive to be suffering.
Yeah. No, I think it's such a good point. And a lot of when, a lot of my work is working with folks on trying to decipher what is that kid really communicating with us right now, not all cries mean the same thing and being able to decipher that language of cries so that we can respond instead of reacting to make it stop. When we are reacting to make that cry stop, that's for us, not for them. And I get that, I've done it, and I will probably do it again, because it's not about perfection here. We're looking for intention. But all right, number one, just allowing it to happen. I said, just but it's not usually a just. This is something you got to work at, all right phase two.
So if you've allowed the emotion now you have a little more sense of agency, you know, like there. And you can look for a symbol to associate that feeling with. So we're looking for, if someone is able to do that, that's called recognition. So we can. If we're looking at a child, we could present a picture, we could make a sign, sign language sign or we could just offer the word, or both, or a combination of those things. And then for ourselves, it's the same thing where we just think to ourselves. Oh, there's a feeling, oh, and I know the word for that feeling is sad, probably I would sound more sad.
Yeah. And in, yeah, I've shared on here before, but that like I struggled with anxiety. And this part was a game-changer for me, was learning to recognize what I was feeling when I was like at a 3 or a 4, or maybe even a 5 on a 1 to 10 scale versus like, oh, man, oh, man, at 8 or a 9, and just getting used to noticing those feelings early as they were stirring up inside me was a game changer for then being able to navigate anxiety. And I think that we don't expect kids to do this for a long time. But what we've learned in our experience with these tiny humans is that it can happen early, and I get a lot of questions about like, well, should we guess at the feeling from the adult perspective, if a tiny human expresses do we say, like, looks like you're feeling sad, especially when they're young, and they can't necessarily respond with no, I'm feeling mad or whatever. So what are your thoughts there?
Yeah. So we already, as having a lot more years of experience as humans and feeling stuff we already know so much more about symbols for feeling than infants do. So even if we take a guess and it's not quite right, we're still offering something. And then for us, even as adults, that's powerful, because if you're having trouble as the adult, allowing a child to express, or have an emotion, if you stop and pause to name it for them, even if it's slightly incorrect, that's going to help you be present to help them move through the processing.
I love that. I love it so much, and I like to think of it as like, reading where we don't read to infants, expecting them to read back to us tomorrow. We read to infants expecting them to read back to us in like six years. And for these tiny humans if they're not hearing this emotional language, where are they going to get it from right? Like, I think it's our job to be offering those words up so they can start to learn it and learn that emotional library and vocabulary.
Absolutely. And I don't think it's harmful at all to say as many times as we can. It's not about getting it perfect.
It's about going through the process and being with somebody else through that process.
I love it. This is why it's the Collaborative Emotion Processing method. We're in this together. All right. So now we let it happen, and it's they're feeling it, and we've named it or identified it with some sort of picture symbol. And now what's next? What's number three?
Well, with enough practice. And this, this one is going to be a totally different, depending on who this person is and what their personality is, how their tendencies are and how how their brain is developing. Somebody might be able to develop a sense of security with a variety of emotions, pretty early and other people. It might take them into their adult years. To develop that sense of security, right?
My hand just went up. That took me a little while. Well, and this security piece is where, if you're struggling with anxiety like I was like, that comes back to security. If you, if I didn't feel I didn't see that. Oh, I'm not going to feel fear for the rest of my life. When I was in it. It felt like that's where I was going to live.
Yeah. And I think that can be a really scary place, and we really can get stuck in one emotion if we forget, which happens all the time. We forget all the time. The idea is that we remember once in a while, that I'm having this feeling right now, but I know it's not going to be forever. This feeling is temporary. This is also related to mindfulness in recognizing I don't have to get attached. Sometimes we get attached to negative feelings or hard feelings. We just get stuck there, and we can't imagine life in any other state. But if we pause again, that pausing piece is really important, just to remember that it's not always going to be like this. In fact, I might feel a whole different emotion 15 minutes from now. It might be. If there's a big, big, big life event you're dealing with loss or a huge transition, then it might be next week that I feel a different emotion, but we'll get to that.
Yeah, yeah, I love that. Can you explain to me then the difference between one and three, right? Of like one is letting yourself feel. How is three different from that?
Oh, well, so one is it is a much more beginner phase. So you may be a so make it looks helps to think about what it looks like on a child. So a child starts crying, but maybe they're starting to cry uncontrollably. They're going to need our help in that circumstance. But they don't know in that moment that this isn't going to be forever. And children are experts in mindfulness. Whatever is happening right now, feels like every moment from here on out, so that security pieces, like maybe we're going to see it more often in a preschool aged child who has had some practice with this, and they're getting sad, even if it's like drop-off time is a perfect time to think about this. So they are sad right now. And they are. They might even be crying, but they're not even reaching out for their teachers help. They're actually just saying goodbye to their parent, and they know they're secure. I they know I'm sad right now, and it's the natural time to feel sad. My parent is my main attachment figure is leaving right now for about eight hours, but they know that they're going to start playing soon. They're going to be happy with their friends. So they're, they're actually secure in feeling uncomfortable with the goodbye, because they know that it's temporary. Yeah, I think that's an awesome example, and I think it's most common that we would see it, maybe in a preschooler. But I want to note that it can happen younger than that for folks who are just like we do, I just wait this out. I taught infant/toddler. And as you were describing that I had an image in my head, I had the, we had stairs you could walk up and then a slide you could go down. And there was like a platform at the top of the stairs, and we ended up pushing it over. So it was by the window that kids could climb up the stairs and be on the platform and then go down the slide, because at drop-off kids would say goodbye to their parent in my class room. And then they knew they could go over, and they would stand and like wave goodbye. And like, be in it, not trying to like go and play or be distracted from it. They would watch their parent and say goodbye and feel sad. And when they were ready, then they would move on and and come back and play, but they would just stand there and watch them and be in that moment where I think even personally, like so many times I'll be like, okay, let me stop feeling this. Yeah, cool. All right. Number four this one folks is my favorite one. And the most missed, I think of all of the steps.
Me to! So coping and they’re, you know, humans cope in a variety of ways, some aren't. You know, our first idea for coping can often be related to some kind of need we had as a child, and it might even be by the time they're an adult, it might be a pattern that we don't really think about. It just is something our go-to thing, in our yoga world we call it reaching for something, but it's not really a conscious choice. So that would be a mechanism, A coping mechanism. And it is in the moment it's going to give you a lot of relief, but it's also related to the to surface acting. So I'm just reaching for something in order to stop that feeling from happening as soon as possible. And to be real, there are some situations in which we were not going to be able to utilize our coping strategies right now. So, you know, mechanism, they exist, they're going to be with us for all of our life. But as often as possible, you want to choose a coping strategy. So a strategy is something that actually does help you process the emotion, calm down and move through it so that you can let go of it and get on to the rest of, of life, of next emotions.
Such a game changer. I actually did a whole episode on coping because I feels so passionate about this. Think it's episode number 38 if people want to dive in further on just coping, but one of the things that I had to learn and that was a key element for me, is that if we don't teach kids coping strategies, they will develop coping mechanisms, we all will. And that's fine. That's how we survive is by developing coping mechanisms. But strategies usually have to be taught or modeled. And so I had somebody recently asked like wont my figure out what to do with this feeling anyway? They will figure out something right? So I kind of want to dive into some examples of what it looks like in adulthood, and then in childhood often to have coping mechanisms versus coping strategies. I know for myself I, one big thing for me was that I wanted somebody to know where I was at all times, because I was, that made me feel safe. I felt like if somebody knows where I am, then if something bad is happening to me, someone will know, and they'll save me, or they'll help me. And so if I left work and got in the car, I would text Zach or I'd call him. And just so that he knew like she's left work, she should be home in about well in Boston, sometimes an hour in a dream world 10 minutes. And and I'm expecting her at this time. So if she is isn't, then I should check because maybe something happened to her, right? So that was a coping mechanism I'd developed to help me feel safe. And I, going into this before I really dove into this with you when I thought of coping mechanisms I thought of like, which are also coping mechanisms, drinking or opioids, or like big, very obvious evident coping mechanisms. Can you dive into some that we might see in our everyday life if that we might not identify as coping mechanisms.
So my go to, my reach, my compulsive reach is solve the problem. I have a feeling I don't like the way it feels and trying to get it over with real fast. I try to solve the problem right away, which can get me into some trouble, because then I end up doing either, I have too much on my plate or that is, anybody who knows me well knows that's my default. So I just jump in and try to solve before I actually allow myself to process. So then I end up in a stickier situation as even more feelings to process, but I haven't stopped process the other one. So I just ran right away from it, trying to solve problem. Think that's probably something a lot of people, perfectionist in-particular, identifies with having trouble sitting still.
Yeah, I love that. And then I was just chatting with a friend of mine the other day who reached out and was like, wait is obsessive cleaning a coping mechanism. And I was like, it sure is sister. It sure is. You're doing something because you don't want to feel this anymore. And this makes you feel safe, or especially folks. If you have fear around health or safety, you might see things like obsessive cleaning or obsessive of exercise or obsessive dietary challenges, where you're focused on like certain diets at certain times, or kind of what's happening in your body all coping mechanisms. I think it's also important to note that we all have coping mechanisms, and it's fine. And the goal isn't that we rid ourselves of all the mechanisms. And we only use strategies like you said, there are sometimes where we're not going to be in a place to tap into strategy, and we still need to survive.
Yeah, especially if you're providing caregiving.
Yeah, exactly. Or if you're in something where maybe you did experience loss, or you're going through something where it might not, you might not process this emotion for a little while. You still can you tap into coping mechanisms to help you continue to survive while you're working through that. So strategies, what are some coping strategies for adults?
Yeah. So the my favorite, because you can access it anywhere, anytime is breathing. Remembering, you have breath that you can access. Especially belly breathing. So if you, when you take a deep breath, if you expand your belly, it actually calms your nervous system. So it's talking to your amygdala and saying, hey, there's actually no real emergency here right now, and it helps present and mindful with your emotions. Another one that calms the nervous system is looking at the sky. That's also something that you can most often do it. And you can actually do both of those things with children, which is why I recommend them to my teachers. So if you're even if you're with four toddlers that are unhappy right now, if you take a deep breath with them, then everybody just calmed their nervous system together. So those are they're free, they're accessible, and you don't need anything else besides yourself in order to use them to utilize them. And then they're, you know it really, I encourage people to choose coping strategies that fit their budget. So if you are, if you're an early childhood educator, like a fancy retreat is not a coping strategy for you. A coping strategy might be a yoga class, or it could be therapy. Something that's covered by your insurance, so think about that. Maybe you do have a fancy income, and you can go to retreats regularly. That can be a coping strategy for you. But it's important to think about sustainability for yourself when you choose your coping strategies.
Totally and to have a mix. Because what if you have a hard feeling? And it's not, there's no retreat happening right now. Like, what are you gonna do with that feeling? Right? So even if it isn't that it is something that speaks to you, and it doesn't, I think a retreat can be a number of things. It could be like a night away with a friend or whatever. It doesn't always have to be like all-inclusive whatever, like my mama's getaway weekend. Not everyone can afford that. And that is totally fine. There are other ways that like, if that's something that speaks to you like getting away with folks, how do you create that and make that happen within your budget? Also, even just things like reading, got a library card? You can get a book or art expression. My husband would draw as a kid or play drums, and still does as an adult, a friend of mine who runs Bridge School here in Middlebury. She was on the podcast last year, talking about it. But her kiddos have options of sewing at school and other ways to like just be with themselves and using their hands for a lot of folks, I think sitting still and breathing can feel really uncomfortable until you're used to it. And having something that you can do with your hands, or with your body while you're breathing can make it more comfortable, and something that you can kind of get used to then over time.
Yeah, a lot of people use knitting, or even just going for a walk. I know for me, my my mechanisms can be flight. If I choose how I want to fly, it could be okay. I'm gonna walk, just going to walk outside right now, but by myself, I'm not going to try to get somebody to go for a walk with me so I can distract myself from what I'm feeling. I'm just going to keep feeling it. But I'm also going to walk outside by myself.
Yeah. And also, maybe it is having somebody come with you like therapy, right? Like having being able to talk like it can be. You might have someone come so that you can talk through it. Both are fine. It's just figuring out what works for you. And one could include distracting yourself away from it, as you said, in the other, could be talking about it, because that's helpful for you. I think it's also important to note that like, maybe you're talking through it, because you're trying to solve it before you're ready to solve. It's hard to balance sometimes.
I think, Alyssa I think what you're saying is really important. We might not know exactly where we are in terms of processing. And again, it's really not about like getting it perfect. It really is about being engaged in the process, rather than pretending like it's not happening, or just shoving it down and getting distracted with something else. It really is every time it's going to be different, and that after its processed, it will be so clear what just happened. But in the moment it doesn't need to feel clear as you're processing.
Yeah, that is huge. All right. So, say. We have coped this feeling is processed. Now, what do we do next?
Yeah we get to move on! How liberating! And that part, step 5 is the easiest step if you've gone through the first four, so it really doesn't even matter how you move on. And when you think about like a classroom, or if you have multiple children, conflict resolution is the easiest thing in the world. If you've done the other four steps, so you could have your family could have a slogan that's, you know, okay, you can use it in five minutes, or I'll let you know when I'm done that kind of thing, and it really doesn't actually matter what you choose, or, you know, it's easy to move on if you've done the other things.
Yeah, I think that's a very important thing to note. What I've seen the most is this like maybe even one and two where we're allowing and were identifying with the feeling is and in recognizing that, and then jumping to like. Now, how do we solve the problem? And one thing that like helped me when I was starting this was noting okay if they're whining, or they're crying, or they're still like throwing any sort of tantrum whatsoever. They are not calm yet. They haven't processed. So one of my, actually a teacher that worked very closely to me, always used to joke, because I would say, when your body and your voice are calm, I'd love to talk about it, right? And that was like, almost my reminder of what was their voice isn't calm yet they're not. They're still in their amygdala. They're still feeling I don't need to rush this, it's harder to be in it. A lot of the times we can solve their problem, the kid who is having a hard time, getting their boot on to go outside and then throws it and is now having an emotional expression. I could just go get that boot and put it on them and move on. But they're having a hard feeling now. And now this is a teaching moment.
And probably they're going to throw the boot again tomorrow, until they develop the skills to handle the emotion they had when they got frustrated about how hard it was to put their boat on.
Right. Right. And I go long term for these kids is that when they have that feeling, again, frustration,
disappointment, embarrassment, whatever the feeling is that when they have it again down the road, and we're not there to solve the problem for them that they can recognize, oh, I know this feeling, and I know what to do to process it. I have this toolbox. And if we take that moment away from them, where we can teach them that, it's safe to feel this. And you can learn what it is, and you can process it. If we jump to solving their problem, they don't get to build that toolbox.
And the thing is that like, we don't get to control what they will experience in life as much as we would all love to, and we would all love to them to only experience happy things that make them feel good. That's not how life will go for them. That's not how life goes for any of us, but we can get back to positive, warm, comfortable feelings if we know how to process the harder feelings. I want to chat a little bit about coping for kids. We talked about it for adults. But let's take a moment to chat about what coping mechanisms might look like for kiddos and then moving into coping strategies and what those might be, and also how it looks to move from building from coping mechanisms to building coping strategies.
So I think the most common type of coping mechanism for children is distraction just to stopping what you're doing to go to something else. I've just recently been thinking more about how race effects, coping mechanisms and coping strategies. I've noticed in over my 15 years that kids who have who are, you know, their social identity as part of a group that has more privileged in this culture, feel more comfortable expressing, kids who are part, have a social identity of a group of people that's been oppressed or has less power in this culture are more quick to shove it down and go do something else, because it's it's not worth going through the process with this kid who's doing the big expression. Then the kid that's doing the big expression often just ends up with a lot of control over what's happening in the room. So we're trying to be very intentional about how we help kids who would normally just walk away. They might just be shoving that feeling down and distracting themselves with the next thing. Even though they actually felt disappointed, they actually wanted to use those ballet slippers or that truck, but they gave it up because they maybe they didn't have the strategies to help them move through that feeling and then be able to get to the problem solving, moving on part. So helping helping that child stay with the situation so that they can, you know, gotta be right there with them so that they can develop those strategies. So they might not even have the words yet for the feeling that they're having. They're not even allowing it happen. So we have to start at the beginning. If that's happening, at least give them the chance to express their emotions. Just like we said at the beginning, we can't be sure what they're feeling. We really are guessing based on body language and behavior to figure out when somebody's when we're just starting out with allowing how we're going to proceed, or what we guess they might be feeling. So with that child, I might guess they're feeling disappointed, or, or maybe sad, you know, we do. Our brains give us a lot of information about how other people are feeling based on body language. So once that child is able to identify how they're feeling, they might not be ready to stay and solve the problem yet. They might not be ready to build strategies. So we're just going to stay in that naming the emotion. Once they're comfortable naming the emotion, then they might, we might be able to build their vocabulary so that they can name more than just that emotion. And then we get to the coping strategies part where we can say, all right, you can act, we can give them a phrase. They might not even know the phrase. I was still using that. Or maybe the phrase is I felt angry when you took that toy from me. It's a communication tool. Communication is also a good coping strategy. So those are some preschool-aged examples. I imagine you have more popular examples.
Yeah, for sure I was actually picturing this little girl who was in my room. And anytime somebody took something from her, or even like, pushed her body, she would acquiesce, and she didn't know what she didn't have the language to say that hurts my body. Please don't push me. Or I'm still using that, right? Like she didn't have those tools yet, and we would have to help her. We would have to advocate for her in order for her to be all right, like, right alongside her letting her know it is okay to say this or to feel this. And you mentioned race. And I also think that this comes back to gender as well. And there are gender differences here. And I was actually just reading an Instagram post the other day from this woman who was like, I'm so angry. She's like, I just realized, she's 30. And she was like, I really just come into this space where I've learn how to say I'm angry about that. And to be honest, it makes a lot of people uncomfortable. I think when women do this and I've worked in places where if women speak up and say, this makes me angry or express those hard emotions, and how they felt about it that. It people feel threatened by that, and I think that is very much a gender thing as well. And I think it can start so, so young that we might encourage somebody to be a good girl, or a good listener, our or good sharer based on gender, and being able to identify like, is that a bias that we have? That's fine. But now that you're aware of it, then we can move from there. And you might find yourself, something that I had to really get comfortable with it. I feel like I'm always trying to get comfortable with is bias and recognizing we all have it. And it's okay that we have it. Everybody does. But you have to learn where your bias these are, without judgement that you're not. You're coming to adulthood into parenthood or to the classroom with biases. And once you can identify them, then you can be mindful of them as you respond instead of react. But identifying what they are is huge, and it might feel embarrassing that you're like, oh, I do have a bias about who I am. I'm allowing to feel what?
Yeah, you can. Actually, you can go online. You search for Project Implicit. You can take the implicit association test. Most people who take the tests tell the researchers that they there must be something wrong with the test. There's a lot of resistance about the biases that people learn, that they have. And the idea the thing about implicit bias is that we don't know we have it. So, and most people have it. You could take tests on race, gender, body type culture, their age, there are really a lot to choose from, and but we can't do anything about it unless we know about it. So, Blind Spot is one of my favorite books. It's really accessible scientific explanation of implicit bias and how it effects great people of color build-up bias over time. And it's all this subtitle is hidden bias of good people. So the idea is, we know culturally, we don't want to be biased. Most people don't want to be biased, but it doesn't mean we aren't. So once we recognize that we are, we have something to work with. Mahzarin Banaji is one of the authors of that book, and she said something to the effect of, you know, our brain is making all these decisions without our consent. And how is that affecting our behavior? So, so it is really important when we're going through this to have somebody that's holding you accountable, and that you can hold accountable, because it's really hard to see a only when you're triggered when your amygdala is activated, it's really hard to see your biases and action, but it's a lot easier for someone else to see them.
For sure, love that. Now that we've gone through the phases of emotion processing, I want to highlight that we're not always going to have the time and space to go through these with kiddos, that sometimes, if you're trying to get out the door to go to work, you might not have the time to go through all of this. And that's okay.
Yeah, you don't have to do this all the time. The idea is, you do it as often as you remember, as often as you have the time, as often as it benefits the group. And the more frequently I think you do it, the more it becomes a habit of routine for a kiddo to start and for you, but to start feeling something and be able to go through these steps that if we are consistently doing it as often as we can, then it will become a habit for them to feel something, recognize it tap into a coping strategy, find their calm and then problem-solve that it does become habitual. And if it's part of the classroom culture of family culture, then it becomes second nature to everyone. And and you don't have to be the person coaching everybody every time. For example, in I had mixed age preschool classroom. So 2.9 year olds to 5 year olds and one day I saw one of my five-year-olds leave dramatic play and hide behind the easel. To me, I could see his facial expression. He looked sad, something went on. And before I had the chance to approach him, find out more. One of my 3 year olds approached first, and went right up to the you know, maybe my memory is exaggerating things, but it felt like my five-year-old is a whole foot taller. And this little person is looking up at this bigger kid. And asking, are you sad? And the five-year-old just looked back at him, nodded his head and smiled, and then said, yeah, and he went back to playing after that, so you don't even necessarily need to go through every single step, every single time, sometimes just that recognition is enough for somebody to be able to move on.
I think you just brought up such an important point here when we're doing recognition that we are working on empathizing with the feeling, not providing sympathy. So it's not. There's no well, at least or well, I saw you run and fall, looks like you got hurt, I told you not to run in the house, right like we're not. It's not a time where we're providing that like, "but..."
Yes, not a lesson it's not a teaching time. It really is a like it really dropped the storyline. It doesn't matter if you think they should be having the feeling or not. The idea is that they're having the feeling. You definitely had that feeling as well. This is same same situation like I see what you're feeling, because I have experienced what you're feeling, not because not for the same reason, but the feeling itself. This human emotion is, what allows me to see you, and for you to feel seen by me.
I love it, we empathize with a feeling, not a behavior. And it can change. Actually, it was in one of my tiny humans, big emotions groups this week and we start off by going around, and sharing like, how was the last month? We do it, we meet once a month. How was the last month like what you put into play? How'd it feel? What felt comfortable? What felt uncomfortable? What was hard to put into play? All That Jazz. Kind of like a touch point here. And parent shared she was like I was really working on trying to bring empathy to the table and empathize with my kid. And she's like, what I noticed is when I did, and my tone matched what I wanted to say day, and that I really, truly like hit empathy like on the head here, like nailed it. She was like, I saw a totally different response from my kid that like she melted into me, or she was able to process. There was connection there, and it's an important thing to notice too that, like tone plays a role. You can say the "right words" but with a different tone, and we've all been there right, like, even as adults of, Zach can say exactly what I want him to say. But if he does it with the wrong tone, I'm like you didn't even mean that, you're just saying it to say it, because you think it's what you're supposed to say. And the tiny humans can feel that too.
Yes, it will, and you also mentioned something earlier about the but, so saying, like, oh, I can see you feel sad. All right, so you named it, but you really have to go right now, or I'm gonna be late for work if we don't go right now. That, the knowledge that you're going to be late if you don't go right now has nothing to do with that feeling and processing that feeling like that information doesn't help the child process the emotions. So it's not going to get you anywhere. You're just kind of narrating what you want to happen in that case. But instead, if you hear yourself say the word, but take a step back and go for a little validation. So that's the empathy I think Alyssa that you are trying to get here is that like it doesn't matter what's next? Right? So this is, you’re having this feeling, and that's hard. So like I could offer you a hug right now, and I have been so surprised throughout my career that even if I was, the reason that this child is flailing around on the ground right now, because I had some kind of a boundary, or I have some kind of expectation it's that is causing this emotion. Even if I say, oh, I see that you're sad. And instead of saying what I want to happen, I say, would you like a hug? That's a hard feeling. They say yes! So I'm gonna offer. That's what I want somebody to offer me. Even if they just like, piss me off, right? If they offer me a hug. I'm gonna take it. Yeah, that feels good when I feel that way, like it's with, especially if it was the person that's doing something I don't like, it sends the message that like we can disagree about this, but we can still love each other.
Yeah, well, you just brought up something that I think too is so important that you said, if they're responding to you, holding a boundary. So when we're going through this process, it doesn't necessarily mean that because they are having a hard feeling about it that you're going to change, the boundary right like, they might be really disappointed that they have to stop playing to come to dinner. It doesn't mean we're not going to have them stop playing to come to dinner. That rule might still be in place. And you might still enforce that, and they might have a hard feeling about it. All those things can be true the like, they're not happy that this is happening, and we're going to follow through with it. My nephew I think we shared this on one of the episodes and we'll do it again. My nephew was at a Halloween party, and there was like a grab bag where you got to grab something out of it, and he'd seen some kids go already. So he knew some of the things that were in there, and he had an expectation. There was something he wanted, but you couldn't see you just reached in you grabbed, and he got something, and it wasn't what he wanted. And he turned to my sister-in-law and said that he was disappointed because he wanted the ghost, and he got the bat or whatever it is, and she didn't switch it out. He didn't end up getting the thing that he wanted. They processed the emotion. And then he ended up moving on. But it doesn't mean that we necessarily give them the thing that they wanted.
I think it also relates to privilege. I'm not sure that this is a problem among of all races and cultures. I see it very focused in white families, and we want our children to be happy, and we want them to have what they want. And most I believe studies show that most parents want their children to have more than they had or that they currently have. But we really do need to be aware of this, that what's the message that we're sending to our children. You get to have everything you want, especially if you feel feel something negative- when you don't have it? Right. So that's it is even directly related to coping strategies versus coping mechanisms. So giving it to them right away is actually a coping mechanism. But it coping strategy is giving them a tool to move through that feeling of disappointment from it might not feel as disappointed next time, because they know what to do when that feeling arises.
Yeah, I love it. I love it. I love it. And I think privilege, that an important thing to note here that I was with friends recently. And this little girl didn't want to go. They were skiing. We were at the house, and we're going to go skiing, and she didn't want to go. But afterwards, they were going to the pool over at the ski lodge, and she wanted to do that. But the whole thing was like, you can either stay here with the people that are going to be in the house, or you can go to the ski lodge, and you don't have to ski, you can sit, you can, I think they were actually sledding or whatever, but you don't, you don't have to partake in that you can just be with them and then go swimming, or you do none of that and you stay home with the people who are staying home, but the like staying home until it's time to swim. This isn't a choice, and she's like, no, no, no. This whole thing, like I'm not going, I'm not going. I don't want to do that. But I want to swim, but I want to swim. So people start to like, talk about like, how they were going to make this happen. And I was like, nope. And I stepped in and I was like, here's the thing sister you don't have to sled. But if you want to swim, you gotta go, I'm gonna bring you over. This is what's happening. And we could have everybody could have adjusted their plans to make that happen. And you don't have to, right like that's the kicker here is that like you don't have to. And maybe, like you said, like, sending that message of you can just have whatever you want if you're having a hard feeling about it, maybe that's not the message we want to be sending.
I think if most people reflect on adults that they felt safe with when they were children, normally, those memories are associated with adults who followed through with the expectations that they set for us. And were willing to work with us. Maybe there was a little wiggle room where it was logical, but there is safety in expectations that are followed through on.
Yeah, absolutely. I think when we, if we think about it as like, if kids know that we are, at the end of the day, going to call the shots and make sure that they're safe, then they have the freedom to go and take risks and explore, because they know if they were going to do something that was too risky, we would step in. I'm not going to let you run into the street, right, because you might get hit by a car. I will let you climb the monkey bars, and that they expect us to gauge that for them, and it gives them the freedom to explore when we do.
I noticed, I've noticed in recent years, talking to parents, and even my own experience with anxiety that I, almost accidentally, as I was describing a child's behavior to his mom, described that the child was feeling worried often about the potential of feeling worried. And it clicked for me, that that's what anxiety is, feeling worried about the potential of feeling worried.
Oh I disagree.
Oh well okay, with that lens, if that's true. It helps in order to identify the original feeling of worry. Because in reality, the thing you're afraid of isn't happening right now.
But if I can identify that I'm worried about the potential of being worried. Then I can reduce my anxiety level by a lot. For children too, are you worried that he's going to take your toy? Even though somebody might not even be about to take the toy.
Yeah, you're just worried that the child is going to take the toy.
Because maybe at some point in the past, a kid took that toy. And now they're like prepping for it.
Exactly, actually, I did it every day for a while. The teachers are helping them not do that anymore. You're doing anymore. But the pattern already like the anticipation of that already exists in that neural pathway.
Yeah, interesting. I was thinking of it as like, like for me, I was afraid like that the core of my anxiety came back to being raped. And so I was afraid that that would happen again, right? And that I wasn't physically safe.
And then I had a therapist who was like, yeah, it might. And I was like what? She was like in in the same way that you didn't do anything to make it happen the last time you won't do something to make it happen this time. And you can't necessarily do something to make sure it doesn't happen. So you can spend all these days feeling worried in these spots that it might happen again, or we can figure out ways for you to not go through life like that. I was like, ooh I choose the latter. But for me, it wasn't necessarily like worried about being worried. It was worried about not being safe. Does that make sense? And I have noticed in this intensive parenting research that was the whole Washington Post interview was about this Cornell research, 75% of the group researched, agreed that intensive parenting is the way to go here. And that's the best for our kids. And what it, I think it's leading to is this spike in anxiety in parenting, where we're so worried that we're not going to do it perfectly, and that these kids are going to end up with the same crap that we have. And they might have some of it, the anxiety of them potential, you're worried about them potentially having the stuff that you have. It's not happening right now. They don't have it right now and your anxiety about it, not a helpful way to approach this. So how do we break that down and get to a place where, for me, like, using the five phases of emotion processing is how I am confident that our kiddos one day, if what I'm using this, will have the tools to navigate what I didn't have the tools to navigate until later. And for me, that is the answer that like, I might have a tiny human who was also raped if someday and I don't get to control that. But what I can control is the toolbox that they have that I didn't have. And that means I want them to know how to process these hard things. Now while they're with us, right? And so that down the road, they have those tools to tap into think that really is the key. It's not that they are always happy, or always have what they want, or that they're not whining or tantruming or whatever. I want them to do that right now, so I can help build their toolbox for what to do with that feeling.
Absolutely and right now, you know, when we are together, when children are young, the things that we're helping them process are really not that big a deal and there. And for us it's not that big a deal. So that's great practice.
Yeah, then when it is a big deal, they know how to process that feeling.
And they trust us to come to us and help them process it, rather than try to do it alone.
Yeah, that's huge. I love that. I love that so much. Lauren, thanks so much for hanging out with me. Thanks for creating this with me. So for those of you who maybe missed this memo, we made these five phases of emotion processing up. These are created by us, and they're part of the CEP Method. It helped guide the CEP Method, and we have a book that is in the works right now that we will keep you posted on if you want to know when that book comes out, or you want to learn more about the CEP Method, or if you'd like to have Lauren and I come present or speak at a whole range of places or things, we have a website where you can get in contact with us about that, or join an email list that I'll let you know when the book is up and running. You go to cepmethod.com to learn more and to dive in more deeply. And you can also just shoot us an email there. And if you want to hang out with us Lauren, where else can people connect with you?
Well, I, my consulting business is called Engage: Live Life with Emotion and Intelligence. And I can be found on Facebook through that venue.
Yeah, we can we'll link it in the blog post for this episode too, if you go to seedandsew.org/phasesofemotionprocessing you will be able to access the blog post and Lauren's facebook group will be linked there as well, along with CEP method. Thanks so much, dude. I love working with you.
Thank you, Ditto!
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