Episode 47: Minding the Gap in Conscious Parenting

In this episode of The Family Couch, we talk with Casey O’Roarty about minding the gap in conscious parenting.  

We jump right in and discuss controversy surrounding positive parenting and the misconception that it makes children defiant.  O’Roarty provides that she hears more often that children are entitled instead of defiant. People confuse positive parenting with permissive parenting.  O’Roarty discusses that one of the pillars of Positive Discipline is providing kindness and firmness at the same time. Permissive parents have the kindness piece down but do not have firmness.  Authoritative parents are set on firmness but there is a connection to the child that is missing. In both of these styles, we are inviting rebellion or submission but not feelings of independence or unconditional love.  Positive Discipline is also called Democratic Parenting–it’s where everyone has a voice and problems are solved together. Mutual respect is another pillar. This means that you respect yourself while respecting the person in front of you.  The more we can practice tools for connection and problem solving we find ourselves spending more time in the authoritative style and less time in the two extremes.

We further discuss minding the “gap.” O’Roarty provides that parents will participate in one of her classes or listen to her podcast and tell her that they enjoy it and all of the tips provided, but when they are challenged by their children they just “snap.”  The gap is the space between the parent people want to be and the parent they are “in the moment.” O’Roarty feels that this is where personal development and growth occurs. When we choose how we want to be and practice the skills we need to get there, we are living a better life in our own bodies as well as our relationships.

We change gears and discuss how families can meet in the middle and grow together.  O’Roarty advises that there is no set formula. She uses the iceberg example, where the tip of the iceberg is undesirable behavior.  We spend a lot of time focused on that and what we need to do to make it stop. When we look under the surface, one of the areas we can take a look at is relationship.  We need to pay attention to how we connect with our children. O’Roarty says that the most powerful we have for influencing behavior is the relationship that we’re in with our kids.  If all we do is start to pay attention and look for more opportunities to connect and have “special time” for 15-20 minutes per day, you will notice that because they are becoming more connected to you the behavior at the tip of the iceberg often takes care of itself.  O’Roarty suggests that once you feel connected, you can start having some powerful conversations. We make a lot of assumptions about how children feel and why they act the way they do, but we need to just listen to understand. When we hear from them, we can tell them what we need and figure out a way to work it out together.  

We next discuss how a parent who is onboard with Positive Discipline can deal with the “iceberg” behaviors.  O’Roarty notes that one of her favorite sayings is, “They’re doing the best they can with the tools that they have in the moment.”  We like to think that our children are manipulative and they do not care, but this is not true. Children are great perceivers but not skilled interpreters.  If you drastically change your parenting behavior from yelling and flying off the handle, your kids will automatically feel uncomfortable because of the change.  You have to be aware that this happens–you can be transparent with your children. You can say that you are sorry for the way you’ve been acting and let them know you’re working on it.  If you make a mistake, you tell them you’re working on it and what you’ll do differently next time. This is called making amends. O’Roarty feels that if she does make a mistake, it is important to let her kids know that it was not okay for her to treat them in that way and let them know she’s sorry.  

We talk about how positive discipline handles the parental notion that children act the way they do intentionally.  O’Roarty provides that this is not about manipulating children into doing what we want. She mentions a quote from Rudolph Dreikers, “A misbehaving child is a discouraged child.”  When we think children are trying to manipulate us, we put ourselves in the center of the universe. Ultimately, we have to look at what our children need when they are misbehaving.  Assuming children are trying to manipulate you falls to the wayside when practicing Positive Discipline because this does not fit into the parenting style. O’Roarty provides an example of a time when her son was younger and told her that she was always telling him what to do.  She realized that from the time he came home from school to the time he went to bed, she really was giving him constant directions. She came up with a new after school routine with his input, and his behavior changed for the better.

We finally discuss what O’Roarty would tell the parent that is stuck in the gap.  She provides that a key component is soul care. You have to look at how you are tending to your soul.  If you decide you want to be a more present, connected, calm parent, you need to look at how this feels in your body because you need to have a place to anchor in. O’Roarty recommends practicing going there before you need to go there.  She also encourages parents to journal and explore meditation. Meditation is the work of recognizing what we’re doing when we’re doing it.



Casey O’Roarty is a positive discipline trainer and coach.  She owns a business called Joyful Courage where she does both online learning as well as live workshops and trainings with parents.  She has two children who fuel her passion for herk work–a 12 year old son and 14 year old daughter. She began using positive discipline when her children were little.  



WEBSITE: http://www.joyfulcourage.com/

PODCAST: http://www.joyfulcourage.com/jcp/

FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/joyfulcourage

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EMAIL: casey@joyfulcourage.com

MINDFULNESS MINI SUMMIT: http://www.joyfulcourage.com/mindfulmini/


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