Baby Talk, "Fake" Helplessness and Regressions with Caley Kukla, M.Ed.


00:00:00    Alyssa

You're listening to Voices of Your Village and today we're diving into baby talk, "fake" helplessness, and regressions with Caley Kukla. I have been following Caley on Instagram for a long time and so it was no shock to me when it felt like we could have just hung out forever. It was such a fun conversation to get to have because I feel like these things are so triggering for so many of us. I know for myself, the like fake helplessness, the like, oh, I can't do it, I need help, in like that voice, oh gosh, it can like grate at my insides and it takes a lot for me to be able to respond with intention. So if you are in a season or you are triggered by baby talk or that fake helplessness or regressions, this episode is ready to rock for you. I hope you enjoy this hang with Caley Kukla as much as I did. All right, folks, let's dive in. 


00:01:03    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. 


00:01:26    Alyssa

Hello everyone and welcome back to Voices of Your Village. Today I get to hang out with Caley Kukla. She earned her bachelor's degree in special education and her master's in early childhood education from the University of Florida. I love getting to hang out with fellow nerds. She has worked in a variety of roles to serve families, including preschool teacher, early interventionist, behavior therapist, and now as a private consultant. She's a mom to three boys. And what I love so much about you, Caley, is taking that brain science and really marrying that with the practical tips piece. And I think you do such a great job of that. So when we were, we were sitting down as a team and one of the requests that had come in from our village as a topic was the idea of baby talk and like this fake helplessness. We were brainstorming how, like, who do we want to chat with about this? And you came up and we were all just like, yep, she's the perfect one, like, love to bring that in, the science and the practical strategies here. And so thank you for coming to join me. 


00:02:28    Caley

Oh, thanks so much. I got goosebumps as you said that, because this is such a vulnerable topic. You know, it's a vulnerable place for our children to be. And I think it's a vulnerable topic to talk about as moms, just because there's a lot society pressure, cultural pressure around it. So I'm just thrilled to be here and talk to you about it. And you did a lot of real life examples for the season of life I'm in right now. 


00:02:53    Alyssa

Yeah, I bet you got a bunch of them right now. I think, you know, it's so hard when we see these seasons of regression, right? And I, we just experienced one recently. So just for the listener to know, we're recording this before this little baby girl is born. So I'm sure that we will see tons more regressions as she comes. But we just experienced one recently where Sage was sick. And so he was out of routine and just like home sick for five days. And it meant he was like watching more TV. He had his binky more that he only has when he sleeps usually. Like he didn't get out of pajamas, right? Like our, just like our day -to -day was different as he was feeling sick and we saw like definitely regressions into like yeah he was asking for his binky more he was doing uh he wanted to like sit on my lap to eat food right like all these things that we were like you don't usually do that like he just sits in his high chair he sleeps through the night he has his binky when he sleeps like all these things that for him have become commonplace that we were like wait where are we going like who is this kid you know? And I feel like baby talked one of those things that comes up here. 


00:04:12    Caley

Yeah, and I think, yes, and I'm so glad you used an example of like, when he felt sick, he didn't feel good. And, and so when we don't feel good, and I say we intentionally, because this is just a shared human experience of we crave comfort when we feel like garbage, when we feel sick, when we're feeling, you know, sadness, or when were overwhelmed or any of those things. And so of course, children's job is to ask for these things. Why wouldn't they? Because we seek them out too as adults. We don't feel good. So that's just such a relevant, I think, conversation. And then the baby talk piece is this extra layer that I think triggers a lot of parents. Because I mentioned the societal and cultural pressures in our Westernized world, especially of independence and how independence is glorified and pushed. And so we see this quote unquote, I'm gonna use this term loosely, "regression and dependence" as we're doing something wrong or something is wrong with our child. And so the first piece of the conversation for me is really just normalizing it. Like, hey, it's actually a really relatable experience and let's just normalize it because nothing's wrong here. And so it kind of helps take that edge off that initial trigger or insecurity we feel as a parent in this really common situation. So that's, that's a great example, not even related to having a new baby on the scene, which we can talk about that too, because we both share that or are going to share that experience. But sickness is a great example of what can bring this behavior up for kids, for sure. 


00:05:58    Alyssa

Yeah. And I, that comfort piece makes sense. And I, gosh, it's just like loved when you were like, the independence part is glorified. I love that acknowledgement because it's so real, right? This, this idea of like how we were just working with one of our S.E.E.D Cert programs-- we have a professional development program for early childhood educators and preschools, childcares. And we were meeting, we offer expert services to them for no cost. So we can bring in an OT, we can bring an SLP, we bring in psych, et cetera. So we're having an OT coaching call with one of their teams. And it's a kid who's in pre -K and they had this huge focus on self -help skills. And they really, really wanted him to have these skills. And like, I totally get it, right? He's gonna go to kindergarten. They feel like it's their job to make sure that he is well -resourced for kindergarten, right? It all makes sense. And,  he couldn't access the self -help skills because he was in such a dysregulated state that the task demands were too high, right? Like what was being asked of him, kind of like how at the end of every day right now, when I'm 7 billion weeks pregnant, I'm like, Zach, will you please just carry me up to bed and brush my teeth, right? Like, can you please? And it's like, do I know how to brush my own teeth? Yes. Do I want to right now? No, it feels like a whole like thing to even get myself to the bathroom to do this, whatever. And I think when we're looking here at baby talk, really taking into consideration that narrative that we have around independence and this focus as like our goal is to make sure these kids are independent humans and maybe even a little reflection on what that's done for us as adults and our sometimes inability to now ask for help or realize like, we don't have to do it all, we can lean on each other for support, like not a shock that we've gotten to where we are when independence seems to be the goal. 


00:08:07    Caley

It's the goal and we forget about interdependence. 


00:08:10    Alyssa



00:08:11    Caley

And that super healthy, a super healthy relationship dynamic for us as adults is to be interdependent upon one another. Different people play different roles, we call upon, you know, your whole village mindset of supporting each other. And this isn't my strength, but this is yours. And we can collaborate and figure this out. And I think for children, this push for independence, especially for children who either have some developmental stuff going on that, you know, the tax demands become more overwhelming for them than maybe your neuro, more neurotypical, or typically developing children. And additionally, when times of stress, you know, so pregnancy is the time of stress, like it's a time your body's under a lot of stress, 


00:09:00    Alyssa

So stressful. 


00:09:02    Caley

I just weathered it. Okay, I have a four month old. And I will share that, you know, when he was born, we went through a time of acute stress. One of the most stressful events you can have, having a baby in the ICU. And, I had no choice, but what you were talking about, you know, jokingly, like, I want you to carry me upstairs, I don't want to brush my own teeth, you know, people were checking on me, making sure I was eating. Nurses were coming up to me and making sure like I was getting up and leaving his bedside, like sleeping, all of these basic needs, because during times of stress, it can be so difficult to even meet your own needs, let alone when we're talking about little children meet their own needs, they're developing things like self awareness. Even the ability to recognize like, oh, I have to pee, like that's a signal from my bladder to my brain, I need the restroom. And then the fine motor skills to unbutton their pants or, you know, take their pants off, or, or and the ability to shift their attention. So what I'm doing now to using the restroom, like impulse control to say this takes priority and prioritization that takes priority over what I'm doing. So all of these big skills are actually rolled into what I'm not going to just single out OTs, but in early child in general, they're labeled as self help skills. I'm like, yeah, but when you break down these self help skills, there's so many other pieces we need to look at for these things. And stress is going to cause so many of those pieces to go offline. And that could be sickness, it could be moving to a new classroom, it could be a new sibling, it could be a move to a new house, it could be a new sleep routine, anything, you know, we, we take for granted what is perceived as our children as stress. And it, stress is, stress doesn't necessarily have to be a negative thing. 


00:11:06    Alyssa

No we write about it in the book. Yeah. So stress is actually crucial for our survival. And there's tolerable stress and there's toxic stress, right? And so that's what we dive into. We all need some tolerable stress. And I love that. And then the nod to what causes stress. And I even think, so my husband's presently traveling. He's out of town. And he doesn't travel a lot for work. In fact, I travel more for work at this point than he does. And so, for him to be gone definitely feels different in the household. He's only gone for two nights. My child sleeps through the night in his own crib in his own space has for a long time. That's his jam. Last night was his worst night of sleep he's had and I don't know how long. And then he woke up an hour and a half early this morning saying Mama, I'm all done sleeping. And I was like, and I texted Zach, my husband, I was like, why does this only-- the last time he traveled, the same thing happened. And I was like, why does this only happen when you're gone? Right. And like, and I'm pregnant. And he was like, you know why this happens when I'm gone. And I was like, I do. And I hate it. Like, I hate that this is also a reality. Right. But that just that shift of like, he's gone, Sage feels it. And there's a nervous system reaction. So he doesn't like, hey, you know what I'm going to do tonight? I'm going to wake up more. It's not conscious. He's not choosing that. It is literally his body responding to things feel different tonight. Dad's gone. And things feel different. And what we've in the past when he's traveled, it's like the first night, that's what happens. And then things start to like chill if he's gone more than one night. But like, it seems like such a small thing, right? Like, yeah, he saw him yesterday. Like the only thing that was different was literally like going down for bath and bed with me, like Zach was here through dinner even, but like that shift and him knowing, and he knew we had told him that was going to go after dinner, he was going to drive and go whatever, and just that shift, right. It was enough. And I think we don't give that enough credit. And, and now I want to move into the like, and the symptoms: because baby talk's a symptom, right? Like, this is something that we're seeing on the surface as a reaction to I'm feeling stressed, or things feel different. My nervous system feels we say in our household out of control. 


00:13:40    Caley

Yeah, yeah. And I like, I like using sports analogies. I'm not really a quote, unquote, jock. I never was that... But I do love being active. And I think sports are just very visual, right? So it's easier for people to visualize. Whenever I think of, I did grow up playing tennis or kind of baseball, even long jumping. My kids were asking the other day about broad jumping, track and field. There's always that wind up before the pitch. You always take your racket back before you swing it forward to hit the ball. You know, broad jumpers, you have to push your hips back and throw your arms back behind you before you launch yourself forward. So I always think about these behaviors and we will, you know, let's just go down the list of what they are as the wind up before the pitch, they're going back to their safe zone before that tolerable stress, they can leap forward through, whether it's a developmental shift, adapting to something that's different or changing in their environment, or even just managing, you know, daddy being gone, Papa being gone for a couple days. And so yeah, the sleep disruption is huge, or maybe more clingy at bedtime or during any transition, maybe they normally easily go to child care or with their babysitter. And now all of a sudden, the separation anxiety is through the freaking roof, like they're screaming and yelling and you know, clinging, they cling to you, peeling them off. And now everybody's crying. You're like, what's happening? The baby talk, so my boys were about the same separate, like age separation as your children will be. 


00:15:27    Alyssa



00:15:27    Caley

And my first never took a paci like he just, he rejected it, he was one of those kids. My second took one. And I'll never forget one day, my first picked up that paci and popped it in his mouth and started sucking on it. And I just kind of looked at him and I was like, Oh, what do you think about that? He was, you know, two, an older two. And he kind of sucked on it. And he just took it out and put it down. But it was so interesting, because he wanted to be more like his baby brother. 


00:15:59    Alyssa

Totally. Well, just say curiosity. 


00:16:02    Caley

Yeah, yeah. And then so the bathroom struggles, that was a huge thing, bathroom regressions for us. And he started going, he had been toilet trained. I mean, he basically he was an easy pottier. 


00:16:16    Alyssa

Same. So was Sage. Yeah.


00:16:17    Caley

Like, yeah, potty learning was just like, it was great for us. And all of a sudden, I don't know, his brother was like four or five months old, because it doesn't happen-- let me just dispel the myth that it will happen as soon as you bring baby home from the hospital. Lies.


00:16:31    Alyssa

No, there's a honeymoon period. 


00:16:32    Caley



00:16:33    Alyssa

And you're like, great. We've escaped this, it will not touch us. 


00:16:39    Caley

It was about six months, about six months into it, where I was like, we made it, I'm a pro, I've got this. And then things blew up. And he started pooping in his bedtime pull up, like four or five in the morning, because he knew that would get us out of bed. 


00:16:56    Alyssa



00:16:56    Caley

Right. It was a huge mess now. And he was toilet trained. And I'll never forget, it was it was one of those mom moments where I broke and I just, I would never do this if I was in my--


00:17:06    Alyssa

 Sure.  Judgement free zone. I've had many a breaking moment. 


00:17:12    Caley

I was crying in the bathroom with him at like, 530 in the morning having just been up all night with my newborn, my infant. And I looked at him I said, Why? Why are you pooping in your pull-up? Like I don't understand. And he was three at the time he looked right at me and he goes, baby poops in his diaper. And I sat there and I looked at him and I went, Oh my gosh, he's right. He's trying to gain my connection, test our relationship in the same way he sees me dote on his brother, how freaking intelligent and instinctual and just our kids are so brilliant like that. 


00:17:58    Alyssa

Yeah, I want you to notice me 


00:18:02    Caley

Yeah, oh I get goosebumps to this day, I mean this was like six, seven years ago and I still get goosebumps when I think of that morning because that was such a powerful teaching moment for me as a really exhausted desperate fed up mom who had reached her breaking point and that just put me right back to where I needed to be then reset. 


00:18:24    Alyssa

Yeah to have that compassion and I think that's the thing with baby talk. For me, baby talk and whining are really closely related. Both are really triggering for me. They weren't allowed in my household growing up. It was definitely pushed aside. And so now when a kid is whining, and I'll say sometimes to Sage, you can tell me in your regular voice, and he'll say, mama, I want to whine. And it's always what I need to hear, because I'm like, yeah, you're right. This is my thing, not yours to deal with, right? But like, I need that reminder in the moment because in the moment it feels like, no, you need to stop this so that I can respond to you with intention. And I need you to get calm for me basically. And when he comes back with like, mama, I want to whine. I'm like, okay, yeah, Alyssa, it's not his responsibility to change what he's doing to calm you, but it's always my like reality check when I'm like trending in that direction. And baby talk is the same for me of like, Oh, just like my insides throw up a little bit. And I, you know, where I was like, I can't hear this and really truly listen to you. It like immediately is dysregulating for me. And I, as I was reading like people who had reached out for this episode, as I was reading what they were submitting, I was like, I relate to all of this. Like, it was really truly, I was like, okay, I'm not alone in this. We're like, yeah, it's really triggering. And so then being able to enter into the decoding space of like, what are they really communicating, whatever, is way harder when you're triggered, right? Like a kid who's melting down, I'm not super triggered by meltdowns. They don't usually get me. 


00:20:18    Caley

Nope me neither.


00:20:19    Alyssa

And so being able to like see beyond the behavior feels really accessible. Usually, you know, if I'm resourced, but then triggering behaviors, defiance is one for me, that's super triggering and whining and baby talk are in there too. Where like it then all of a sudden it's so much harder. Every like, it's a cloudy vision where I, in order to really see beyond the behavior, I have to navigate this frigging trigger first. 


00:20:48    Caley

Yeah. Yeah. And talk to yourself. And it's so interesting. So whining and baby talk, full disclosure are not mine. But what is mine under the umbrella is helplessness. Because I had to be hyper independent. I'm the oldest of four, my mom had four in five years. So I was the oldest at a young age and had to be very independent at a very young age. And I'm, I was great at it. And I'm so great at being hyper independent. 


00:21:15    Alyssa

Sure. Nice trauma response.


00:21:16    Caley

You know, one those toxic, those dysfunctional things that I rewire now as an adult. But that being said, so when my children start, you know, my six year old is like, I can't wash my hair, I want you to do it. You know, I'm like, the nails on the chalkboard, my full body gets like rigid and my fist gets clenched. I'm like, you can wash your own hair, you know, that's the initial response. And so, while whining and baby talk might not be mine, I still recognize the trigger and we I think anybody has one of these under this umbrella that is, and also, I just want to say, I used to be able to respond to it pre-baby, like pre-third, much easier. Now with the third, just sheer because I'm, I'm overwhelmed, I have a lot more to do. And I do have a totally dependent little infant on me who basically needs 24/7 care at this point. So it's triggering now in a different way because I am so overwhelmed. So I just wanna like, you know, to these caregivers, a caregiver who's listening, like sometimes, yeah, it is from our childhood. And even if you've healed a lot of that and you're pretty good at recognizing that we're responding, let's throw in just the day -to -day overwhelm that a lot of us deal with. It's a lot. 


00:22:46    Alyssa

Totally. So many of us are under -resourced, right? Like moving through the world and we, just today, with Zach out of town and me having been up most of the night and Sage telling me, mama, I'm all done sleeping at 5:45 and I was like, nobody's all done sleeping. 


00:23:01    Caley



00:23:04    Alyssa

And just like all that, I was like, okay. I had like a moment with myself this morning where I was like, you, we're not gonna be thriving today, right? Like that's not the goal today. Today's goal is to survive and to be as kind as I can be, and also like order takeout and whatever. And like, what does it look like when we're under resourced? And so many of us are, we cycle in and out of it sometimes, or sometimes it's just seasons where it's like, yeah, in this season, I feel under resourced. In my first trimester, right, when I was sick, I'm like, yeah, I'm under resourced. So my patience is much thinner. I'm also famously not a patient person in general. If I'm relying on patience, we're all screwed. And so I need boundaries. I need certain things in place. Otherwise, yeah, shit hits the fan. But I like that note of how resourced you are is going to play a huge role here. That like if today, Sage starts whining and is using baby talk, my bandwidth for responding with intention is gonna be way lower than when Zach's back and I can get a night of sleep and I can tap out for a minute and whatever. And that's fine. 


00:24:23    Caley

It's reality, it's real life. And I think, you know, we were just talking before we started recording about the theory. And if you apply this stuff in a vacuum in the perfect world, like we both live in the real world and have kids and manage, you know, the work and the job and marriage and like all of this other noise that gets in. And so for me, a lot of the trigger is really when I feel overwhelmed, and it feels like this is just the burden. Now that my kid wants me to come in with him when I'll share with you this weekend was a really great weekend for us. My husband was home, we had like lots of family time, I passed the baby off to my husband a lot. So I get got to be like a normally functioning human a little bit more. And was able to, I looked at my six year old who was sending me signs of dysregulation. And I said, Hey, bud, do you want me to go and help you wash your hair in the bathroom? And Alyssa he like, melted on the spot, just beamed at me, ran to the bath, like no power struggle, no battle. 


00:25:32    Alyssa

Yeah. It's like if you said, Hey, do you want me to come brush your teeth tonight? And I'm like, Caley, I love you so much. I would make out with you. Yeah, totally.


00:25:39    Caley

Yeah. Like, I mean, just like, exactly. Like, because one of his, one of his love language, like he loves to be-- felt taken care of. That is his, right. And so I see that in him. And sometimes so one of the tangible things we can do as parents when our kids are stuck in the baby talk or the regressive behavior that it's like leaning in and just offering to do something proactively for them that they would normally do be able to do independently like, hey, I used to do this with my, my eldest, when he was four or five, his classic line was, I can't put my shirt on, I can't put my pants on, you know, and I was like, my kids go to a Montessori school where independence and self help like these are things in their curriculum, okay, so he can fully do it at school. And he loves doing it at school. 


00:26:29    Alyssa



00:26:30    Caley

And then at home, it's a different story. But I learned with him turning, getting dressed into moments of connection and leaning into that with him changed the entire tone of our morning and people would say, Well, aren't you worried? Like, shouldn't he be able to dress himself? He's five years old. 


00:26:49    Alyssa

You're like he can. 


00:26:49    Caley

Yes, he can. But he doesn't want to, he'd rather have that moment with me. And guess what, he's almost nine now. You want to know how many times in the last year he's asked for help getting dressed? Zero, 


00:27:02    Alyssa



00:27:03    Caley

Zero times. 


00:27:04    Alyssa

Yeah, it'll go away on its own. 


00:27:06    Caley

Yeah. And sometimes I'll follow him into his room. He's still like, sometimes he wants privacy and he'll close the door and he'll say that. Sometimes I'll just, he'll get dressed on in his room. And he just wants to talk to me while he's getting dressed. So now it looks different than it did when he was five. But it's still the same need being met. And so just, yeah, lots of grace for everybody involved in this dynamic. 


00:27:30    Alyssa

Totally. Well, and I, but like, there's just so much brilliance in there. So the proactively doing it, the stepping in and being like, what you're really saying is, hey, I see you and I want to connect with you, right? Like, and it's so hard to do when we're triggered by their behavior, especially when it's like, no, I grew up in a culture where I think they should have access to this skill independently or whatever. Or the comments of like, Caley, aren't you nervous? He's gonna what, go to college, not able to dress himself? No, I know he can dress himself. That's not what he's asking for. You know, like I know how to wash and blow dry my own hair, but if there was a way that somebody else could like, I love that feeling of like somebody washing my hair and brushing it and blow drying it. And if I could outsource that every day and somebody else could do that, I love it, right? Like,


00:28:24    Caley

Oh my gosh, Alyssa I just had this moment of like this aha moment when you said that . I was like, I love getting pedicures. Can I paint my own toenails? A hundred percent, but I'm going to go pay for the service because I love having it done for me. 


00:28:39    Alyssa

Yeah. Yeah. And like, that's fine. Right. Like, and so with, with our kids just being able to notice like, oh, it's not the baby talk or the helplessness. It's not them saying, I don't know how to talk like a big kid. And that's a common phrase that will come out. Or I don't know how to do this thing anymore. It's them saying, I need you right now. I am looking for your connection. I was just sharing this story actually earlier today. Someone really close to me has lived with Zach and I kind of on and off. She's six or seven years younger than me. And Zach, my husband, he was one night where they were in the kitchen together. I was in the living room and she was just like snapping at him and just like being rude and snippy and whatever. And he was just like quiet and kind of listening, taking it. And then she went into her room, which was off the kitchen. And he was about to make dinner and he just pivoted and made one of her favorite dinners, tuna mac salad. And so he made tuna mac and he finished making it and he just knocked on her door and he was like, Hey, there's tuna mac in the fridge, whenever you're ready, it's there for you. And he just started to walk away. And she opened the door and she was crying. And she was like, I was so rude to you. And you made me tuna mac. And she was like, I'm starting my period. And I'm feeling so grumpy. And I was so rude to you. And he was like, Yeah, you get to have a hard time. Like, there's tuna mac there. I know this isn't normally how you are. So I figured you probably needed something a little extra. And I was like, Oh, like that. That's this here, right? It's like our kids saying, I need something a little extra in this season, or this week or today or in this moment. I, can I power through and do it? Probably. Yes. Is that what we want to teach kids? Or do we want to teach them like, when you're having a hard time, you can let me know and I will show up and support you, I will go wash your hair in the tubby, or I'll do those little things to help reduce tasks for you and connect with you in this season. And the kicker being kids don't ask for it by saying, Hey, will you come connect with me? I need a little more. They ask for it with things like the helplessness, or the baby talk, or the whining. 


00:31:12    Caley

Yeah, they do. And it's so obvious. And, you know, I prepared mentally for the, I was for this, I knew we were gonna have this topic. And so it's just been on my radar a bit more the past week. And I'm stepping into this little like week long challenge that I do with my members called the Get Silly Challenge, where we embed moments of playful connection during the mundane routine activities, right? And so all this has been on my brain. And so I've been looking for ways to do it with my children lately. And my children, now they're older, my two oldest ones are older, where they don't default to baby talk. We haven't had baby talk in a long time. But my six year old has definitely been defaulting into helplessness. And the other day he was doing it and my husband was annoyed, like rightfully so. You know, it's just been going on all day. And we have we've had things like you were saying you and Zach do like we've got definitely [muffled]. And so I just looked at my son and I said, Hey, do you want to sit on my lap? And he's six. How often does he still climb on my lap? Not that often. Not like when he was two or three or even four.


00:32:21    Alyssa



00:32:23    Caley

And I cradled him like a baby on my lap. And he, like I'm remembering what his body felt like melting into me. And I just held him like that. And it's like he recharged, he recalibrated, and he was able to bounce up and then all of a sudden meet the demand, or the expectation that my husband had presented him with that previously, it was turning into this blow up with him. He's a very umm spicy child


00:32:53    Alyssa

Yeah, real expressive. 


00:32:56    Caley

Yeah, real big, real fast. And so same with the baby talk, you know, for the for your people who specifically pointed out baby talk as what in the world do we do with that, because sometimes leaning into that baby moment, and when they're doing it, picking them up and cradling like, them like a baby, or even role playing like a baby, you know, and this is knowing your child- some kids would eat that up with a spoon and love that and relish in that other children, you have to be more subtle with it, they might be repulsed by you treating them like a baby. But whatever speaks to your child in that moment, I even found, especially with our new baby on the scene, I, my kids have baby books, like picture books. And I just saw my eight year old who's almost nine in his room the day looking at his, and looking at those things together and telling them stories about when they were a baby. And sometimes like the next step for my six year old or for another person with a little like a two or three year old, when you're holding them like that, they I remember when you were a baby and you loved it when I would sing this song to you. Or you loved it when I blew raspberries to you or what,  and then reenact that a little bit, because we're, we're helping them remember, this is how deep and strong our connection is, we're bringing them back to that comfort zone. And it acts as a launching pad for them. It's the, like I said, it's the back swing before the forehand or the windup before the pitch, you know, it's powerful. 


00:34:33    Alyssa

Oh, I love it so much. I started to cry when you were talking about a six year old, like having him in your lap, because it's also one of those little like things for me of, we don't know it's the last time sometimes when it's the last time. Right. And that is something I like hold very close in my heart. And I was talking to a friend of mine who has a 16 year old and he just went through his first big breakup. And she was like, Alyssa, it's been so hard. And he asked me to sleep in his bed. We watched a movie and had a sleepover in his bed. And she was like, I... Makes me cry. She was like, he fell asleep. And I just cried before I fell asleep because I don't know if it'll ever happen again. And I don't know the last time it happened. And she was like, it was such a gift to get to play that role. And I think so often when we're in this space of like, the next thing or we have our age bias come up of like, oh, they're old enough, they should know better blah, blah, blah, that we can get stuck in that space and not see these little moments where they are saying, hey, I just need to be your baby for a minute, as such a gift. Oh, got me.


00:36:02    Caley

I started tearing up with that 16 year old story. What? That is so beautiful. And I pray that I have a moment like that with my child, with one of my boys at some moment, because, you know, maybe it's because now I have an infant and I have a son who's exiting early childhood. Yeah, right. He's turning nine. So early childhood is now, we're graduating. So I have this perspective of, I know what it's like to be in the trenches with a toddler and a newborn. I know what it's like to have two kids plus a newborn and a high needs baby. You know, we were, one of us was at the hospital 24/7 for five weeks. Like I get what that stress is like. And I also know what the overwhelming can feel like. And so when you're feeling overwhelmed, giving yourself permission to lean in a little bit, whatever you can muster in that moment, because I know it's hard to authentically show up in that moment when you are overwhelmed, or touched out or whatever it might be in that. Because instead of going into this tug of war where the child keeps asking, and you keep pushing them away, there's a back and forth, by leaning in, it kind of melts away, the child will melt into it, and then they feel confident and you'll see them jump up and carry on. But it's almost like our fear of, well, I mean, think about how cool you would sound if we were afraid that that 16 year old would want mom to start sleeping in his bed every day. 


00:37:36    Alyssa

Right. And instead, she was like, I don't know if it'll ever happen again. 


00:37:39    Caley

No, right. You know, like just giving us permission to like meet our child where they are, authentically, like whatever you can muster, maybe it's not letting them climb on your lap, because you have a baby attached to you, I get that, like, those are a lot of days for me, 


00:37:54    Alyssa



00:37:55    Caley

But I had that one moment present itself. And what it did for the rest of the night, was then that was the same night I was like, Hey, do you want me to come with you in the bathroom and wash your hair? 


00:38:07    Alyssa



00:38:08    Caley

I mean, it was it was Yeah, it was great. It was the first time he came to the dinner table, excited to sit down with us in a few weeks. Most of the time, dinner has been constant, I don't like that or getting up and not paying attention, not eating, like that kind of stuff. 


00:38:25    Alyssa

Totally, just disconnected. 


00:38:27    Caley

Yeah, exactly. And so there's just so much power in that if we can just be intentional when we can muster it up, because I know it can be tricky sometimes. 


00:38:38    Alyssa

Totally. Well, I think it's a good note too, that like, it doesn't, you don't have to do it all the time, right? Like the other morning, Sage was having a hard time and I opened the fridge and I was getting something out and I saw a bottle of whipped cream in there. And I was like, buddy, do you want to try something super fun? And he's never done this before. And so I was like, do you want to open your mouth and I can squirt whipped cream in your mouth and you can eat it. And he was it was like nine in the morning and he was like yeah. And we just did it and it took like four seconds and he thought it was the greatest funniest coolest thing ever and it just like brought us back into connection for a second when we'd been experiencing disconnection and I think that that's something that can get missed in the connection talk is like you don't have to carve out one -on -one time with kids all the time or have a half hour to give them or go on a special date whatever. Sometimes it's literally like, Hey, I'm standing at the fridge. Do you want me to squirt whipped cream in your mouth? Right? Like that's it. 


00:39:41    Caley

That's it. I love that because that is why I came up with what I call the Get Silly Challenge, but it's nothing more than like those moments and finding those moments. Because I remember as a younger mom, other moms with multiple children asking me, how am I supposed to find 15 minutes a day per kid each day? I'm like, I don't know. I that's just what the book says. I don't know, you know, and but finding these authentic moments, because the connection is the energy, right? It's the energy between two people and creating a powerful moment where we just capitalize and it can be in the kitchen while we're getting stuff out of the fridge, it can be when we're buckling them into their car seat, or when we're putting the shirt over their head, and then we play peekaboo where we get scared because they disappeared. You know, I mean, those are all sweet, cute, beautiful moments. And when we proactively do them, oftentimes we decrease our children's need to go into behaviors like the baby talk, the helplessness. They might still be there because we can't always anticipate everything. We're human. 


00:40:45    Alyssa



00:40:46    Caley

And being disconnected, like going in and out of connection is just, I mean, that's just the human experience. Part of-


00:40:52    Alyssa

Being in relationship, yeah. 


00:40:53    Caley

Yeah. It's like normal. Let's just say that. Yeah. Totally expected, guys. But being able to do that when we're aware of it, there's so much power in that and it can just help save ourselves and sanity and take the edge off of when it does come up like, Oh, I remember that. 


00:41:12    Alyssa

Yep. Yep. Exactly. 


00:41:15    Caley

It's okay. 


00:41:16    Alyssa

Yeah. Yes. And just, oh yeah. Okay. Caley I feel like you can do this forever with you. I love, as I like kind of bring it back together and think about what does this really look like then? We talked about a few things here with the baby talk, the helplessness, being able to, maybe not all the time, but sometimes be able to come back into connection and whatever that looks like. Sometimes it can almost feel like a distraction in the moment, right? And like that we might have our own baggage and triggers with. And it's really saying like, man, we're both disconnected and we're gonna reconnect here so that we can do these other things and move through and be in partnership. So it could be as simple as squirting the whipped cream in them or in their mouth. Right now, Sage, it'll be like a race to do something. Who can do it faster is really big. Or like putting his shirt on, like getting changed from the tubby to bedtime whenever there's been resistance there, which seems to ebb and flow there. It is like a, oh, I think that this shirt is way too big for you. I think we got this one out of your like next size up bin. I don't think it's gonna fit. And then he's like, look, it fits and like wants to be a part of the game, right? And like, I'm like, oh, but no way, these arms are way too big. And then he puts it in, like it fits, right? So we play, just like playing these little games that really can feel, I think for some of us in the moment, like a distraction. And it's really just us saying like, hey, I'm here to be playful and connect with you. So that as one strategy, proactively, and then reactively in the moment when we can, recognizing it's not always possible and that's fine, there's literally no perfection here, but that when we can, that we can see this as like, oh, this is what's going on here and be able to tap into that, lean into the baby talk part of it and say like, oh, I remember when you were maybe looking at those pictures, or do you want me to snuggle you or sing that song, etc. And really saying, like, oh, they're trying to feel connected. And they're observing that this might be a way to connect. And that it feeling like it's not a way to connect is really our bag to carry and not theirs. 


00:43:37    Caley

Yeah. And so even if the takeaway from this is just us taking a step back and getting rid of that fear. 


00:43:45    Alyssa



00:43:45    Caley

Of, oh my gosh, they're never going to put on their own shirt, they're never going to be able to wash their own hair, you know, interrupting that script, right, that we're not meeting it with fear. And maybe eventually, after a few days of doing that, you are able to lean in and access a little more compassion, a little more playfulness, a little more connection with them. 


00:44:06    Alyssa

Right. Yeah. Caley, where can people find you connect with you learn more about you? 


00:44:12    Caley

Well, I'm on Instagram, intermittently these days because I'm at home a lot with my baby, you know, but it's just @caleykukla, it's my name, and I have a podcast too COR Parenting Conversations where I love talking about this kind of stuff and just like you said we were talking before kind of geeking out on the nerdy stuff and making it really tangible and actionable. So the parents can look up, or anybody, can look up COR Parenting Conversations. And then my website, 


00:44:42    Alyssa

Perfect. We will link all of those in the show notes in the blog post. If you are like me and you're on the go and you're like, wait, what was that? You can head to to find all those links and everything that she mentioned. Thank you, Caley. Thank you for sharing your brilliant brain with us and your time with us. 


00:45:02    Caley

Thank you, Alyssa. And I'm so excited for you, and I guess when this airs, there's going to be a baby and a book and just so much sweetness on the horizon for you. I'm thrilled. So thank you for having me. 


00:45:13    Alyssa

Thank you. 


00:45:15    Alyssa

Thanks for tuning in to Voices of Your Village. Check out the transcript at Did you know that we have a special community over on Instagram hanging out every day with more free content? Come join us at, S -E -W. Take a screenshot of you tuning in, share it on the gram and tag 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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