How to have tough conversations with kids with Robyn Silverman

00:00:00    Alyssa

You're listening to Voices of Your Village, and today's episode is one of those where I was like, gosh, I need this at my fingertips at all times, because have you ever like been in one of those scenarios where your kid says something, and all of a sudden you're like, oh, yikes, how am I supposed to respond to this? Right, like, oh, we're in public, and they just said this thing that now I'm feeling really embarrassed, or I just truly had no roadmap, or how are we already here for this tough conversation? I love that we have a resource to turn to for this. Dr. Robyn Silverman wrote How to Talk to Kids About Anything, and it's full of scripts and guidance for how to do just that, how to have tough conversations with kids. And when you pre-order Dr. Robyn's book and Tiny Humans, Big Emotions, you get access to a live workshop with us and Q&A sesh where we get to chat about how to have tough conversations with kids. What does it look like to both provide those scripts and jumping off points, and navigate those conversations, and do so in an emotionally supportive way? 


00:01:24    Alyssa

I'm so jazzed to be able to team up with Robyn for this, because our work goes hand in hand with one another. What does it look like to support this from an emotional intelligence perspective, and then what do you actually say in the moment? How do you navigate those tough things that might be triggering for you? Maybe talking to kids about death, or talking to them about sex, or talking to them, so many of those topics that might feel uncomfortable or just surprise us. Head on over and snag How to Talk to Kids About Anything, and while you're at it, pop Tiny Humans, Big Emotions into your cart. Once you have both, let us know, and we will send you the link for our free workshop on how to have tough conversations with kids. All right, folks, let's dive in. 


00:02:46    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. 


00:02:46    Alyssa

Hello everyone, and welcome back to Voices of Your Village. Today, I get to hang out with a pal, which is always a good time. I get to hang out with Dr. Robyn Silverman. She is a child and teen development specialist, and she has a new book coming out on the same day as Tiny Human's, Big Emotions. We get to be book twins. You get to snag How to Talk to Kids About Anything, and we get to dive into it today. Hi, Robyn. 


00:03:13    Dr. Silverman

Hello, it's so nice to see you again. We had such a good event. I'm so excited that we get to do another thing together. 


00:03:21    Alyssa

No, hanging out is rad. Let's do more of it. 


00:03:24    Dr. Silverman



00:03:27    Alyssa

In that event that she's talking about, you heard in the intro, but you can snag the recording with, your ticket in is just the pre -order of our books and showing that receipt. And then we have an incredible recording of our event to share with you. All those details are in the intro, so you can snag it. Hello, hello, hello. Robyn. Hello, hello, hello. I, what I love so much about your book is, we've talked about this. It's like a, it's a great compliment to my book. And that like our book really doesn't provide a lot of like scripts and like, here's what to say, or here's what to do in the moment. And I feel like you, I keep saying to people like, buy both of our books and like pair those together, because I feel like you really bring that here. Like, that's what's happening here. How to talk to kids about anything requires the scripts of like, okay, but how do we talk to kids about this? What, what got you so interested in providing those scripts? 


00:04:33    Dr. Silverman

Well, I'm a parent of two. I used to think I knew how to talk to kids like perfectly before I had kids. Like, wow, genius. But as it turns out, when your emotions are really high, I don't know if you can. 


00:04:48    Alyssa

Can't relate, can't relate. 


00:04:50    Dr. Silverman

We don't talk about emotions here. When emotions are really high and you have your own kids and you're like so invested, it's hard to come up with what to say. And I started to think like, if I was having trouble with this, then a lot of other people were probably having trouble with this. And I had this conversation with somebody, a friend, when our kids were really young, we were at the park and we're sitting on this park bench and she's like, oh my gosh, she started asking me about death yesterday. She's like, are you going to die? Am I going to die? And I was like, I'm just going to change the subject. Like, she was like, who wants ice cream? And it just stopped it like totally. And I've heard that same iteration in so many ways, menstruation, sex, like, I mean, just the list goes on. People were like, no. So I knew that it was an issue and I wanted to provide what I felt like I needed. And I had this great resource, as you know, because you were on, Have to Talk to Kids About Anything, the podcast. I had been interviewing people, started in 2017. So now I've like six years of amazing interviews with like top experts like you, best -selling authors, which you're going to be, like, let's go, woo woo. And it has so much information. I feel like I'm providing the child development pie, like the script pie, and everybody else provided the deep slices. So, you know, the first chapter is on talking about big feelings, you know, and I've got, you know, a chapter on sex and porn and mistakes and failure and death and dying. Like the things that make you squirm and hear the scripts so that you don't have to anymore. So I thought that would be really helpful. It was helpful to me going through it and learning about it. Oh my gosh. I used my own script so many times. 


00:06:48    Alyssa

I was going to say, do you find yourself being like, I need chapter 10 right now? 


00:06:50    Dr. Silverman

Oh my gosh. Like seriously, and I'm not, I'm not just saying this. Like it was probably a month after I had a, I've been like writing and learning about how to talk to kids about sex. I've interviewed a couple of people at that point. And it was like a month after my daughter was like, but how does the baby get in there? And I was like, oh my gosh, I actually am ready to have this conversation. So yes. 


00:07:21    Alyssa

Thank you for not asking two months ago. 


00:07:24    Dr. Silverman

Yeah, I was like, divert, divert. No, it was, it's really actually quite helpful. And through this process of people who've read the book already as advanced readers or people like my editor, she's like, I used your death chapter. Like I just had this conversation with my kid after reading your book. There's some of the conversations we have can be like front loaded. Like we can do it right off the bat and others come flying in without, without warning. Like my daughter in the back going, when I'm talking about like the leaves dying or like something, she's like, wait a second. Am I going to die? Is my little brother going to die? In the backseat of the car on the way to dance class. I was like, oh, okay. 


00:08:12    Alyssa

And we're here now! Totally, totally. Yeah. And I think that that's, I think you bring up such a good point that like we, I can go into this feeling like, okay, I'm going to, I'm going to nail this. I'm going to be able to do this. And then you get into it and it catches you off guard. Right? Like, especially the ones who can't front load, especially the ones that all of a sudden, yeah, they're like in the backseat asking you a question. And I think, at least for me, I think we're like, oh yeah, I'll, I'll get to like that in a little bit. We're just not there yet. And then all of a sudden you're like, oh no, we're there. And I didn't know we were there. And then we, you know, slow moon walk out of the conversation and really try to like not have the conversation because it's uncomfortable for us. Especially if we grew up in households where no one had that conversation with us. You're trying to do something that's never been modeled for you. And we know anytime we're breaking a cycle in any capacity, it's helpful to have a resource, a jumping off point of, okay, what do we say? Because I know a lot of like what I don't want to say based off of what was told to me or what I've experienced, but what do I say or do in this moment? I think that's, that's huge. What do you think those like biggest challenges that get in the way of having those tough conversations are? 


00:09:36    Dr. Silverman

Well, I think you hit one of those things. Like if you weren't given the model, you don't know what to say. You've never been in that situation. And there really isn't a book that says, here's what to say. It's not part of what's provided a lot of the time. And there's arguments of like, oh, well, all the conversations are gonna be like a little bit different. Yeah, they're gonna be a little bit different, but they're also gonna be the same. You know, like how babies are made. That's gonna be, this is the conversation that you're having or what happens when somebody dies. Yes, you may have a spiritual interpretation, but the science here's, you know, so there's going to be some similarities and yes, you need that jumping off point. I think people don't have these conversations because it's freaking awkward. A lot of them are really awkward and talking to your kid about death or sex or failure, it can be really uncomfortable. I've had people like ask me, my grandmother is dying of cancer and now I have to talk to my kid, like my young kid about this and I don't know where to start because it's sad and I don't wanna talk about death with my kid and I get that, you know. So it's awkward. People don't know what to say. A lot of people think, and I think you kind of alluded to this, like they feel like they have more time, right? Like they're like, I don't need to talk about this yet. In fact, I was writing the chapter about sex and porn and I ran into a friend of mine outside of a yoga studio that we both were at at the time and she was asking me like, what are you doing? And I was telling her the chapter I was working on. She's like, well, thank goodness I don't have to have that conversation yet. Her kid was almost 13 and I get it. Who the heck wants to have this conversation? But here's the reality and this, hold onto your hats people because this may like come as like a shock, but the studies are telling us that by age 11, the majority, like over 90% of kids have seen porn. Like they actually have like, it may have been an accident. It certainly was in my house that that happened. Like, and I asked my kids like point blank. 


00:11:51    Alyssa

It wasn't your Friday movie night? 


00:11:55    Dr. Silverman

Whoops. I mean, in this case, like my kid was like, I was Googling something and then something popped up and I was like, you know, and I was like, okay here's what to do in this situation. Or here, you know, and some very similar things have happened to other kids that I know. But it's one of those things where we think we have more time, but we don't. And then the kid in the back seat is like saying, oh, wait, you were saying my little brother's gonna die and you need to respond to that. A lot of people think they're not the right person. They're like, I'm not like actually cut out for that or their dad will do it or their grandmother will do it or their teacher will do it or their coach will do it. Like, oh, there should be learning about that in school or, you know, failure and mistakes. Like, didn't your coach talk to you about that? So they think they're the wrong person when honestly you are the absolute perfect person to be talking your kids about all kinds of topics that are tough because you know your child best and you know what their sensitivities are. You know your values. You are the greatest person to talk to your kid. And here's one of the biggest mistakes and reasons why people don't talk about this stuff is they actually think by not talking about it that they are going to prevent it from happening. So if I don't talk about sex, my kid will not have it. And I won't be inadvertently giving permission to my child to have it, which is actually completely and blatantly wrong because the studies repeatedly show that when we do talk to kids about tough topics, whether it's suicide or anxiety or sex and porn, they are much less likely to engage in risky behavior. So I'll just put that one to rest, but I can see why we have that fear. Like, ooh, if I say it, if I'm talking about it. Shine a light on it. Oh my gosh, all of a sudden they're gonna, they already know. They already know about this. And if you don't talk to them about it, guess who's gonna talk to them about it? That boy in the back of the bus who knows nothing about what's going on. 


00:14:05    Alyssa

Or the internet. 


00:14:05    Dr. Silverman

The internet, who has no idea who your child is and doesn't care. 


00:14:11    Alyssa

Yeah, and you have then no idea what information they've just taken in about this thing. I, the other day was thinking of your book because I was scrolling on Instagram as one does and came across like a food nutrition account that I follow that had a post. And it was like, how to talk to kids about like certain types of food, like sugary foods or something like that. But it was broken down by different ages. And so it was like, what does it look like to talk about this with a toddler, preschooler, like elementary and like kind of beyond like, and so that was one thing I was thinking about with your book. What does it look like when we're having these earlier conversations and kind of like younger child development versus that 13 year old that you're engaging with or as they get older, kind of how does, can you give me an example, I guess, of how a conversation might change over time and why we have to kind of hit on these topics not a one -stop shop. Like we have this conversation. 


00:15:15    Dr. Silverman

I'd say your people are so lucky. They're so lucky to have you and that they're starting so early, like kudos to your people for realizing that they need to talk about these things and help their kid to be emotionally intelligent so early on. You are so ahead of the game. Like all these people who are listening right now. 


00:15:37    Alyssa

They're pretty incredible. 


00:15:38    Dr. Silverman

Oh my gosh, you're so lucky because you're not gonna be the person with a 13 year old child and going, oh, should I be talking about this? I really didn't think I was gonna need to talk about this. So you're right. Like you gotta start early. And when you're talking about, obviously, you know, like you do big feelings all the time that you're gonna start really early on by giving them the language so that they can talk about it later. When you're talking about sex, people are like, what do you mean? I'm talking about sex with my kid. Like, so early on, you're talking to your kid about their body parts, you know, and you're naming them in a way that doesn't provide any shame. You know, you're gonna say, you know, knees and elbows and vulvas and penises like without any issue. And I'll tell you, when I first started doing this, I was really uncomfortable saying those words. Now I'm not. So I just want you to know, like, you get better at it. Like for those people who are like holding their breath. I was like, I remember when I did my first interview on how to talk to kids about sex. It was in 2017. And I remember like the person I was interviewing said clitoris. I was like, I'm gonna die right now. 


00:16:51    Alyssa

I need a minute. 


00:16:52    Dr. Silverman

I need like, I was like, thank God this isn't videoed. Cause I was like practically hiding under my desk. So I just want you to know, like, even as like a child development specialist, it's like, I can't. And like you're picturing your daughter or your son and you're like, I'm gonna say these words to my young, this little. Yes, you are. Okay, because you want your child to know what they need to know early on. But you don't start at the end. You're starting at the beginning. So I'll give you an example. Like we mentioned death. And had I talked about it earlier, you know, that much earlier, I didn't realize my child was already processing things. She was probably three. Okay, she was probably three, which is a pretty normal age. Should be like asking some, starting to ask some questions, but like, you know, where's my little brother gonna die in the back seat was like, took me aback. And so I'll just say like, maybe I needed to front load this a little better. And if your child hasn't really talked about this, like, yay, look at this. All right, you can start right now. So you wanna start, if you can front load with, you know, the bug on the sidewalk. 


00:18:02    Alyssa

That's what it was for us. It was a fly that my husband snapped with a towel and it led to 7 billion conversations. 


00:18:08    Dr. Silverman

And great, like you're so lucky that you were able to have that. For people who are like, I don't even wanna talk about the bug. Like talk about the flower. Okay, talk about the leaves. You know, you can make it as benign as you want to get in. It's like the springboard to get into the conversation. And you may tell them, you know, that the sort of scientific thing that's happening, that look at this bug, it's no longer moving. You can be very simple about it. It's no longer moving. It's no longer eating. This bug is dead. Now that might seem a very abrupt and people don't love that word. But with young children, you really wanna use the name of the thing because it makes it so things are not confusing. Sometimes people will say things like, it went to sleep or the dog went to the farm. Let's avoid that at all costs. All those euphemisms cause so much confusion for kids. And in fact can actually complicate sleeping because now they're afraid to go to sleep. Or if you say it got, you know, it's sick, you know, it's got sick and died. The same language you might say if you're sick and you're staying home, that's scary. We wanna change, we wanna use the correct language if something had a disease, a fatal disease versus having the sniffles at home. So make sure of that with your young children. As kids are getting older, they're gonna start asking some questions. And the questions might feel kind of uncomfortable to you. And you feel like, why are they asking this so, it feels rude almost. Like if your grandmother dies and they start asking like, what happened to the body? Like that's actually a very normal question to ask. And I do talk about this in the book, but it's normal to ask some of these questions because that's the way their brains work, right? In that age group, as you're coming out of this. 


00:20:12    Speaker 3



00:20:15    Speaker 3

don't know about you, but when I scroll through Instagram or I'm tuning into podcasts and diving into parenting resources, resources for myself as a teacher, I can feel overwhelmed. Like, where do I start? I need a guide for what this looks like in practice. And I don't want something that's one size fits all because every child is different, right? And like, if you have multiple children, you're a teacher, you know that it's not one size fits all. Or if you have seen what works for your sister -in -law or your best friend or your neighbor, and you're like, oh my gosh, my child does not respond to that. That is how I felt. And then we created the Collaborative Emotion Processing Method. It is a guide for building emotional intelligence. And y 'all, there are five components of the set method. One is about how to respond to the kids and what it looks like to have adult child interactions. The other four are about us because I don't know about you, but I did not grow up getting these tools. 


00:21:16    Alyssa

I don't know about you, but when I scroll through Instagram or I'm tuning into podcasts and diving into parenting resources, resources for myself as a teacher, I can feel overwhelmed. Like, where do I start? I need a guide for what this looks like in practice. And I don't want something that's one size fits all. Because every child is different, right? And if you have multiple children, if you're a teacher, you know that it's not one size fits all. Or if you have seen what works for your sister in law or your best friend or your neighbor, and you're like, oh my gosh, my child does not respond to that. That is how I felt. And then we created the Collaborative Emotion Processing method. It is a guide for building emotional intelligence. And y'all there are five components of the CEP method. One is about how to respond to the kids and what it looks like to have adult/child interactions. The other four are about us. Because I don't know about you, but I did not grow up getting these tools. I did not grow up with them.  didn't grow up in this household. Where I was taught tools for self awareness and self regulation and how to do emotion processing work. And now, as a parent and as a teacher, I'm supposed to teach those skills to a tiny human? But we can't teach what we don't know. And so my first book, Tiny Humans, Big Emotions, is here to support you. You can head to and snag Tiny Humans, Big Emotions today. This is a game changer. It's going to build these skills with you, for you, so that you can do this work alongside building these skills for your tiny humans, so that they can grow up with a skill set for self awareness, for regulation, for empathy, for social skills, for intrinsic motivation. A skill set of emotional intelligence so that they can navigate all the things that come their way in life. Snag Tiny Humans, Big Emotions at 


00:22:41    Dr. Silverman

Preschool toddler age, they're going into elementary school. They're very concrete and they wanna know like, what's happening? Like, where did it go? Where did she go? Now, this is both scientific and it's the time that you can put in your religious values, like anything you want, your spiritual values, and ask them, what do you think happens? Like, what's your thought? Because that's a great conversation to have. And if you do this, here's the prize. When your teens are starting to process more about death because they really will and they get very existential, they'll talk to you about it. And they might ask like, why are we here? Why does this happen? Why would such a good person die so early? And you don't need to know the answers. You don't need to know the answers. You just have to be like a good listener and allow your child to use you as a springboard so that they can process it. And you can provide like your thoughts, but ask like, well, what do you think about this? And that's laying the groundwork for a lifelong time of conversations and connection between the two of you. 


00:24:00    Alyssa

Yeah, I think it's creating that foundation of trust, right, that they know, okay, this is something that I can ask my parent or my caregiver, whomever, I can ask them this and they aren't, they can handle it, right, that they can handle this big stuff. And if they can't ask you, where do they go with that? Because that question still remains, right? Like they're not going to stop having the question. It's like feelings. They're not going to stop having a hard feeling just because you can't handle it. They're going to still have it. And then it's, do they have a place to turn with that question or does it get bottled up? And what is that? 


00:24:38    Dr. Silverman

Does it get bottled up or put on the wrong person? 


00:24:40    Alyssa

Yeah, or turn to the internet for an answer or whatever. And then I love that acknowledgement of like, it reminds me, I was having, we have an episode with Jess Lahey, Jessica Lahey. 


00:24:52    Dr. Silverman

Love her. 


00:24:53    Alyssa

And I was talking about her latest book, The Addiction Inoculation and how, when we're looking at this, she was like, yeah, you don't have like a 16 year old who says, can I go to this party? And that's the first time you've ever laid the foundation for this conversation. It's that these foundations are happening when they learn, can I turn to you to ask you something that might feel scary for you or that you might feel disappointed about and what's your reaction going to be? Can I trust you? 


00:25:22    Dr. Silverman

Yeah, are you going to freak out when I tell you I failed this test? Yeah. Or are you going to front load that with, you know, talking about failure and what we learn from it. And remember that time we talked about when you played soccer, you know, when you were five years old and you missed the goal and you were so upset with yourself. You have a history of evidence that have built up over time so that your child feels like it can talk to you. And I tell you that as I have teenagers now, and yeah, there are some things that they're going to be more secretive about because that's the nature of being a teenager. But I think when push comes to shove, my children both know that they can say what's on their mind and tell us what's going on. And I'm not going to shy away from any topic. If I hear, and you can use, you know, so many things, but if you hear something, if there's something that happened in the news, something that happened in your community, you want to use that as a springboard, that's awesome. You know, that's the time to be able to let go. Hey, I was listening to this podcast and the person that was being interviewed said that the majority of kids have seen porn by the age of 11. You're 12 years old. So have you? And being able to be brave enough to have that conversation and know that the answer is probably yes because they're a majority. And you want your kid to be like, yeah, you know, I didn't mean to, but, and they know that they're not going to get in trouble. They have been hiding it for this long because they felt something. Did they feel ashamed? Did they feel worried? Were they afraid you were going to get mad? And then show them that you again and again can be that person. Show them the evidence. 


00:27:23    Alyssa

Yeah. And that foundation has already been laid. Right? Like we're laying that now and it's never too early or too late to start that. So, you know, maybe you haven't been laying that foundation. You've been, the very first time that Sage, my little guy had like a little baby boner. I was like, ah, ah, ah, just like my dad. There's like very much the wrong reaction. It was one of those like - I totally remember this too. Yeah. I was like, this is so uncomfortable. And I like came, I went to my husband and was like, this just happened. And I guess we have to be prepared for this now. And now, you know, he's two and it's his favorite body part and you know, stop touching it and whatever. And it's like, oh my gosh. Like it, but I had to be like, I need to arm myself with some tools here because I didn't grow up. I grew up in a Catholic household. I'm one of five kids. There were very few hard conversations that ever happened.


00:28:22    Alyssa

 And no talks about baby boners.?


00:28:24    Alyssa

Oh no, or boners at all. Like if - 


00:28:27    Dr. Silverman

Boners off the table. 


00:28:28    Alyssa

No, yeah. Then when I experienced sexual assault as a teenager, I knew I couldn't go to my parents, right? They're incredible humans. And it's, they definitely moved the needle farther than they had when they were growing up and all that. And they weren't a safe space for hard conversations. And I knew that just like instinctually, right? There wasn't a part of me that was like, okay, can I go to them? Like, no, it just, I knew it with every fiber of my being that they weren't an emotionally safe place for me to turn with that information. And so I had no one to turn to, right? And like that for me, when I look at books like yours and like resources like yours, I'm looking at, we're laying this foundation for the future. And when we're having these hard conversations, what we're really doing is saying, you can trust me and I'm gonna be in this with you. 


00:29:25    Dr. Silverman

I think it's so important to highlight what you're saying here, because this is sort of the aftermath. Like, first of all, I'm so sorry you experienced that and you did not deserve that. And there was nothing that you did to make that happen. 


00:29:42    Alyssa



00:29:42    Dr. Silverman

So if you think about just this moment, being able to turn to your parents and hear those words would have been - 


00:29:54    Alyssa

Game changer. 


00:29:56    Dr. Silverman

A game changer. And I just want your listeners, your community to really hear this, that anytime that you start to question, am I the right person to do this? Is this the right time to do this? Like, I don't know what I'm doing. Like, am I gonna mess up? I want you to remember this moment because you do not need to be perfect. You don't need to have all the answers. You just need to be present and tune in to what your child is saying. And if in this case, your child does come to you and say, this is what happened. You know, somebody touched me inappropriately, somebody pushed me down, whatever it was that happened. I was assaulted. 


00:30:46    Dr. Silverman

That you're, they might have to, you know, that parent might say those words that I just said, but they also might say, I don't know the next step right now, but let's figure this out together. I'm going to call so -and -so because they will know the answer. And you be the bridge. You be the bridge from your child to the right person. You may not be the right person, but this happened to Aunt Jenny. Let me call her and make sure you have somebody. You can talk to me about it, but would it be helpful for you to talk to Aunt Jenny? This happened to her at the same age. So you can be the bridge. You don't always have to be the sage. 


00:31:24    Alyssa

Yeah, the sage. That's my little guy's name, Sage. Yeah. I love that. And like, honestly, just having a place to land with stuff. Sometimes somebody solving the problem isn't what you need even. It's just a place to talk about it. And that's what you're doing here is you've created a resource where we can just talk. And I'm wondering, you know, as you're putting this together what does it look like on the triggers part of this, right? Like you mentioned, it can feel really abrupt or almost rude and they're like, what happened to the body? Or we're gonna feel triggered in these hard conversations. And so what does that process look like in order to show up for your kid? 


00:32:10    Dr. Silverman

I mean, you are on it. My child was talking to me about these girls in fifth grade, fifth grade, fifth grade. These girls, they were, I mean, they ostracized her. They made her feel inferior. They, you know, were horrible. It was like socially aggressive and she was not perfect either. Sure. The same thing happened to me. I could not have been more triggered. If you ask me right now what were the toughest times in your life? My toughest times were my miscarriages and fifth grade. Those were my toughest times. Like on par, like pretty much on par with each other in terms of how tough they were. So hearing about this made my whole body like go rigid. You know, you wanna just like punch somebody in the face. You're so frustrated and you can't believe that this is happening. So, I mean, first we actually have to deal with our own feelings, right? So. Damn it. I mean, damn it, right? I mean, you're so good at this, but yeah, we gotta begin to take some breaths in and get some air. I actually say the word air. Air, because I'm just commanding myself because my kids are teenagers now, right? So I need air all the time. Breathing in. 


00:33:41    Alyssa

Also as a two -year -old, I need air all the time. 


00:33:43    Dr. Silverman

They're actually apparently supposed to be so similar. Like somebody said, there's just like a lot of commonalities between toddlers and teens. So it's strangely true. So you do need to regulate yourself because it's almost impossible to help your child when you're not able to regulate yourself. And it's okay to take a few minutes too. You know, like I'm hearing what you're saying and what you're going through is really important to me. And I just need a couple of minutes too to think, to take in what you're saying. And also just so you're aware, like I am kind of triggered by this, and because I've dealt with this, but this is not about me. So I need to shift myself to make sure like I'm thinking about you and not putting on my experience. So just give me a few minutes to do that. It's okay to be able to save those kinds of things so that you can be more present with your child. If you're having a lot of trouble, you certainly should be talking to somebody about it, whether it's your therapist or your best friend or whomever, because you don't want to be talking about this kind of thing with your child in a way that isn't helpful. You know, or telling you about - 


00:34:56    Alyssa

Or that place where they become responsible for your regulation. 


00:34:58    Dr. Silverman

That's what I'm saying. Like now they need to take care of you because they've triggered you. So we're not looking for that. It's okay to, you know, hey, this happened to me before. Let me just get myself together. And you're like, okay, like I can now use what happened to me to be empathetic, but I'm going to make this completely about you and what you're saying here. And then really check in with yourself. You know, is this, am I hearing what my child is saying or is my mind telling me something else based on what I've been through? Because that's actually noise. That's not actually helpful to you. So checking in and just feel like, okay, I'm fully present. I'm hearing what you're saying. Sometimes it's best to kind of be able to power phrase what your child is saying. So what you're telling me is that this is what happened. And I actually, I did this video on Instagram. I sometimes do these ones where I'm like talking in the car to my child, but obviously nobody's there. But I'm talking about what I've talked about with my child as if they're there. And I'm modeling the conversation. And there was one on like toxic friendships. And just saying things like, okay, so what you're telling me is this is what happened. And then being able to ask powerful questions. Powerful questions are short questions that just get to the point. How did you feel about that? What happened next? So that you're getting the information. And again, you don't need to know all of the answers. You know, when it comes to especially like things like bullying or, you know, aggression, social aggression, I like to start in a place of, you know, what is a friend? Here's your, you know, here's your pre -conversation. Okay, your pre -talks I call them. What is a friend? And what are some characteristics of a friend? So when I'm presenting on this, I'll ask this to the audience and people come up with all kinds of things. And it's gonna be different for everybody. If you have those pre -talks and somebody said, your child is like, I really think a friend should be loyal and fun and kind, then you have some legs to stand on here. So it sounds like your friend wasn't being kind. They weren't being loyal. And those, as I remember, are two of your top qualities in a friend. Is that correct? Yes. Is this happening once or over time? Like, does this happen just one time or does this keep happening? It's happening all the time. Like it's happening every day. It's been happening. Is it happening for a week or has it been happening over time? You know the answer to this. You already know this person's not, hasn't been awesome to your child probably in this case. And then, so then is this person really a friend according to your definition? So pre -talks can help you in that situation and remain less triggered because you have specific, powerful questions to ask. You've already had some conversations. If you haven't, again, having a pause is going to be your best bet when it comes to triggering conversations so that you can breathe, maybe talk it out for a couple of minutes. Just taking even a moment can really do wonders. 


00:38:31    Alyssa

Yeah, because in the moment I'm like, oh, I want to go talk to that person. Give me that fifth grader, right? Like that's what comes up for me immediately is that like defense mode, the protective mode. 


00:38:42    Dr. Silverman

Of course, who doesn't? 


00:38:44    Alyssa

Yeah, totally. And I think one of the things that I personally find so helpful, just last night my best friend and I were texting and she said, do you want to problem solve or do you need to vent? 


00:38:56    Dr. Silverman

Love it. 


00:38:56    Alyssa

And like that right out the gate, I was like, I just need to vent. She's like, great. And then her responses are catered toward me venting, right? 


00:39:04    Dr. Silverman

That's it. 


00:39:04    Alyssa

She's showing up, she's being a listening ear. That sucks, blah, blah, blah, you know, like versus like, okay, I wonder what was going on for that person and what they may be feeling. I wonder if they're feeling left out and they're trying to vent. 


00:39:18    Dr. Silverman

And you're like, no! 


00:39:19    Alyssa

Yeah, I'm like, don't talk about them. Right, I'm not there yet. 


00:39:21    Dr. Silverman

Yeah, I don't want to talk about them right now. 


00:39:22    Alyssa

Right, but I think being able to separate that, you know, like if we're in the venting space, we're not problem solving, we're not empathy or perspective taking yet. Like we are expressing, we're allowing those feelings of expression. And I think, especially as kids get older, this becomes more pertinent of really helping them even build awareness of what stage are we in. 


00:39:46    Dr. Silverman

Yeah, and often we can ask like similarly, do you want my advice or you just want me to listen? So phrase it in a way that feels natural for you. 


00:39:56    Dr. Silverman

Totally. And that way your child can say, I just want you to listen because I'll tell you if you're providing advice at a time when your child just wants you to listen, that advice will not be heard. 


00:40:10    Alyssa

No, also then they'll be like, well, I'm not coming to you next time because that didn't feel right for me. Right, like I have people in my life who every time I go to them, they're like trying to solve the problem. And so now I know if I'm in a venting space, I'm not going to them because they're going to try to solve the problem. And I'm not in a space to solve the problem. I'm in a venting space. And so if that's what I'm looking for, if what I'm looking for is a space to vent, they're not my person to go to. And so when you can be both of those, when you can say like, all right, where are we? Then your kid knows, like they can come to you and just express where you don't try to make it better. And I think it's hard to be the listener in those instances because we're really good at problem solving and it can feel annoying to hear the same kind of vent session over and over and over. And I think it's important to be able to, to say like, yeah, you can keep coming to me and feeling frustrated about this. And when you're ready, we can talk about what else you can do, et cetera. But for now, like I'm just here, I'm here to listen. 


00:41:18    Dr. Silverman

Yeah, yeah. No, and it's hard as a parent to not be like, we've already been through this. Like we've already, we've already heard this. Stop hanging out with her. Yeah, exactly, exactly. You know, I've already gone through this. I've already said this. Sometimes kids need to hear things multiple times in order to - Not even as kids. Yeah, true. To take action, no kidding. And you know, and all of that is really important. And friendship is a chapter that I do and it has a lot of sensitivities to it. We've all had experiences with friends where, you know, we had to learn some very hard lessons. And because we are, you know, people always ask me like, what's going on with kids today? There's a lot of disconnection happening. When there's disconnection, kids can fall into themselves and they can act out. So what we're looking for is just a time where we can connect. And when the kids are going into school and feeling disconnected, because like my daughter had just told me like, oh, this person was just dropped from her friend group. And I saw that she was crying in the bathroom. That happens, you know, throughout. Like a friend rejects us or as a young child, she didn't get to sit next to this person. It happens in all different ways. And so you will see it throughout the lifetime. You may have had that conversation at age three or four, and then you need to have it again at age eight and at 12 and at 14. And it may be a little bit different, but it may be a little bit the same. 


00:42:56    Alyssa

Yeah, and at 25 when their college friends aren't still there. 


00:42:59    Dr. Silverman

I think I've had this conversation, so with my friend.


00:43:01    Alyssa

Yes, exactly. 


00:43:02    Dr. Silverman

No kidding. Yes. 


00:43:05    Alyssa

Ever evolving. Yeah, or like, then you're, if you choose to become a parent and you're like, how do I meet other parents? What does this look like? 


00:43:13    Dr. Silverman

What is this? And what if they see what a mess I am? 


00:43:17    Alyssa



00:43:18    Dr. Silverman

Nobody wants to. I was like, I actually really like that in a person. 


00:43:22    Alyssa

Give me your mess. 100%. 


00:43:24    Dr. Silverman

Give me the mess, because if you are thinking I need perfection, like you got the wrong girl. 


00:43:30    Alyssa



00:43:32    Alyssa

Robyn, I'm so excited for folks to snag your forthcoming book here out October 10th, How to Talk to Kids About Anything. Y'all go snag it wherever books are sold. Robyn, thank you for joining me. Where can people find you, follow you, learn more about you? 


00:43:50    Dr. Silverman

Thank you so much. This has been such a joy, so much fun. Anybody can find me at That's Robyn with a Y and Silverman, just as it sounds. So drrobynsilverman .com. And yes, I'm on social media, Instagram under @DrRobynSilverman and Twitter under @DrRobyn and Facebook under Dr. Robyn Silverman. And I'm also been trying my hands at all these other TikTok and everything else. And we'll see how that goes, but I know you and I are gonna be connecting probably the most on Instagram these days. 


00:44:25    Alyssa

Yeah, perfect. Thank you so, so much. 


00:44:27    Dr. Silverman

Thank you. 


00:44:29    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 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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