#260 - Peaceful Parenting Tips for the Overwhelmed Parent with Sarah Rosensweet

by Jessica Hill, COTA/L & Rachel Harrington, COTA/L, AC June 14, 2023

#260 - Peaceful Parenting Tips for the Overwhelmed Parent with Sarah Rosensweet

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Peaceful Parenting Tips for the Overwhelmed Parent with Sarah Rosensweet

Sarah Rosensweet is a certified peaceful parenting coach, speaker, and educator. She lives in Toronto with her husband and her 16 and 19 year old kids. Her 22 year old son has launched. Peaceful parenting is a non-punitive, connection-based approach that uses firm limits with lots of empathy. Sarah works one-on-one virtually with parents all over the world to help them go from frustrated and overwhelmed to, “We’ve got this!” Read more at: www.sarahrosensweet.com or listen to her top-rated parenting podcast, The Peaceful Parenting Podcast, wherever you get your podcasts!

Free e-course: How To Stop Yelling At Your Kids https://www.sarahrosensweet.com/yelling

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Peaceful Parenting Tips for the Overwhelmed Parent with Sarah Rosensweet

As a certified peaceful parenting coach, speaker, and educator, Sarah Rosensweet resides in Toronto with her husband and three children, who are 16, 19, and 22 years old. Sarah became deeply involved in parenting approaches and recognized her innate ability to support others.

Sarah established her parent coaching business almost ten years ago by channeling her inclination to help and heal others. Today, she virtually provides one-on-one support to parents worldwide, empowering them to transform from being frustrated and overwhelmed to feeling like they’ve got this confidently!

What Is A Peaceful Parenting Coach?

Peaceful parenting is rooted in connection, devoid of punishment, and characterized by the compassionate enforcement of firm limits. Parent coaching is for parents who struggle with yelling, making threats, or engaging in power struggles, particularly with kids who resist doing as asked.

The primary role of parent coaching is to provide support so that parents have more tools, patience, and confidence when faced with challenging situations. Essentially, the goal is to equip parents with practical strategies to manage challenging behaviors and remain calm.

What Causes Some Parents to Yell?

There are typically two primary categories of parents who yell. The first group consists of individuals raised in households where yelling was the norm, so they unconsciously resort to the same behavior when their children don’t heed their instructions.

The second group comprises parents who never yelled until they had children but struggle to maintain composure. Their nervous system responds with fight or flight when they encounter challenging situations with their kids leading them to yell.

Parents still face tremendous pressure despite not being raised in an environment where yelling was commonplace. They may lack the tools to remain calm when their children exhibit challenging behaviors. Unfortunately, parenting carries a particular shame, as many feel they should inherently know how to be good parents without outside help.

At What Point Should Parents Seek Help?

If you need work done on your house, hiring someone to do it or seeking guidance to learn how to do it yourself is perfectly acceptable. So why should seeking knowledge or support to improve your parenting skills be any different?

Unfortunately, many parents wait until they’ve reached a breaking point before they finally seek the help they need when in reality, timely assistance could have prevented things from escalating to that point. In today’s world, countless external factors perpetuate the idea that we should be able to manage everything independently as parents.

For instance, a recent article in Then highlighted how many parents beat themselves up over feeling like they’re failing to juggle all aspects of parenting on their own. But the truth is, we are not meant to do it all alone.

What Strategies Can Help Parents Remain Calm And Co-Regulate?

Begin by showing yourself compassion. If you immediately feel frustrated and unsure why you’re struggling to remain calm, this can exacerbate the situation and make you more reactive.

Take a moment to pause and give yourself some love and understanding; after all, it’s completely normal to feel frustrated in challenging moments like these. Next, utilize the ‘pause button’ technique, which involves stopping what you’re doing, taking a deep breath, and giving yourself a moment to pause.

Suppose you find yourself feeling frustrated with your child. To implement this technique effectively, follow these steps:

  • Take a moment to pause and gather yourself. If you’ve already started yelling or feel like you’re about to, clap your hand over your mouth or stop talking.
  • Take a deep breath and center yourself. Place your hand on your heart and take a few deep breaths.
  • Let go of your agenda for a moment. Set it aside temporarily if you’re trying to get your child to take a bath or complete another task. It’s okay to take a break and come back to it later.

The first step to calming yourself down is vital in co-regulating with your child. When raising our children, it’s important to avoid reacting with anger and punishment when they make mistakes. Instead, we can empower them by teaching them how to learn from their errors.

After you stop, drop, and freeze, what’s next?

We should understand that there is no such thing as ‘naughty behavior,’ only maladaptive attempts to satisfy children’s unmet needs. When kids exhibit provocative behavior, it may be because they feel neglected and seek attention.

Therefore, it’s important to reframe our perspective as parents. If we view our child’s behavior as a difficult task rather than an attempt to express their needs, it becomes harder to remain calm.

Remember that your child is trying their best to navigate the world but may struggle to articulate their needs effectively. As a parent, it’s your responsibility to teach and guide them on handling challenging situations so they can meet your expectations.

Is Discipline A Part Of Peaceful Parenting?

Discipline essentially means teaching. When your child struggles to express their needs due to a lack of impulse control or other factors, there’s usually a gap between your expectations and their behavior.

At this point, it’s essential to consider how you can bridge that gap and help them learn how to behave appropriately. However, we often resort to conventional parenting methods such as threats, timeouts, consequences, or yelling to close the expectation-behavior gap and reinforce desirable behavior.

With peaceful discipline, we need to shift our focus toward identifying the support our child requires to meet our expectations. Determining the support your child needs to meet your expectations is crucial.

By providing support, we help our children internalize expectations and encourage them to comply willingly and autonomously. This approach ingrained the desired behavior as a habit rather than feeling coerced or threatened to comply.

Teaching Behavioral Expectations Without Punishment

Begin by establishing age-appropriate expectations for your child. Typically, children between the ages of five and seven start developing better impulse control.

Before that age range, a child may struggle with managing their emotions and impulses, making it difficult to avoid misbehavior. When teaching your child about expectations, it’s important to note that they may feel remorseful after making a mistake.

They don’t necessarily need to be told that their behavior was wrong, as they often understand what is expected of them even at a young age and want to make the right choices. At the core of our approach is the belief that children inherently strive to behave well.

It’s their innate desire to do so, and we should avoid making them feel guilty or ashamed when they make mistakes. Instead, we should focus on building a strong, positive connection with them, as this is what they truly crave.

They don’t want to upset us if they do that because there’s something out of alignment. Their big feelings took over, they lost their impulse control, and we don’t need to do anything to make them understand that what they did was wrong unless there’s an information gap.

Responding with empathy and involving your child in finding a solution to their mistake can be more impactful than resorting to punishment or yelling. Consider having a conversation about alternative ways to handle anger and shift your focus towards preventing misbehavior in the first place.

Parental Co-Regulation For Improved Behavior

If you find that simply stopping, dropping, and taking deep breaths is insufficient to help you de-escalate, consider having a candid conversation with your child. Let them know you’re trying to avoid yelling and require time alone to compose yourself.

Reassure them that you will return and work together to overcome the situation. However, it’s crucial to ensure your child’s safety at all times, and if you need to leave to secure their well-being, be sure to do so.

Another suggestion for parents is to jot down a personal message to keep on hand for instances when they feel overwhelmed. Such a note can help you regain composure and shift to a compassionate mindset toward your child.

If you’ve attempted the strategies mentioned earlier but still want to yell, consider revisiting the situation later and imagining yourself responding differently. Visualizing an alternate response can create new neural pathways in our brain, even if the scenario is not unfolding, and grant you more time to regulate your emotions.

Building Connection With More Challenging Children

Firstly, it’s essential to understand that children naturally strive to do well and be good. As humans, we are biologically programmed to seek connection for survival, reflected in our behavior.

If a child struggles, it’s likely due to other factors such as exhaustion or resource depletion and not a desire to misbehave. Establishing a stronger bond and rapport with challenging children can be daunting, especially when they are fatigued and feel like everything is setting them off.

To overcome these challenges, you can try employing the following two strategies to foster connection:

  • Delighting in your child: When your child walks in, greet them with a smile that conveys how delighted you are to see them and how much you care about them. This simple yet powerful tactic requires no extra resources or time, only intentionality, like a ‘micro-moment of connection.’
  • Special time: Involves setting aside 10-15 minutes of uninterrupted, one-on-one time with your child every day, or at least as often as you can manage. This dedicated time fills their attention and connection needs and promotes a stronger bond between parent and child.

By taking the time to understand and meet your child’s needs, you can create an atmosphere of trust and mutual respect. Establishing a strong connection with your child is key to feeling safe and secure in their environment, ultimately reducing misbehavior.

Implementing Boundaries Without Resorting to Punishment

Contrary to popular belief, peaceful parenting doesn’t foster entitlement, selfishness, or unruliness in children. It achieves the opposite effect by instilling a sense of intrinsic morality that transcends the fear of punishment.

For instance, if a child knows that sneaking a cookie will result in a timeout, they may refrain from doing so only if they anticipate getting caught. However, if the child internalizes that taking what’s not theirs is wrong, they are less likely to act on impulse and more likely to exercise restraint.

External consequences, such as timeouts, may deter a child from misbehaving only when they know they are watched. However, if the goal is to raise an individual who upholds ethical standards even privately, there are better approaches than punishment.

Discipline that solely focuses on the outcome of a behavior fails to impart the rationale for the boundaries you establish. By incorporating education and explanation into the disciplinary process, you can foster a deeper understanding of the reasons behind the limits and guide your child toward making sound decisions independently.

Parents must reflect on the limits they intend to set before responding with a definitive “no,” and changing their stance after initially refusing a request can send mixed messages. Although occasional reconsideration is acceptable, ensuring that your negative responses carry weight and are rooted in thoughtful consideration is essential.

Facilitating Behaviors Driven By Sensory Input

Your child may present a higher difficulty level from sensory differences, neurodivergence, strong-willed tendencies, or heightened sensitivities. These children are prone to overstimulation in their surroundings, and what may seem like misbehavior to parents could result from their sensory systems being overwhelmed.

If you’ve been consistently implementing peaceful parenting techniques for roughly three months without observing any noticeable improvements in your child’s behavior, it may be appropriate to explore other potential factors. In such cases, scheduling an occupational therapy evaluation could be the first prudent step.

Remember, punishment should never be considered for any child regardless of their behavior since it only aggravates the situation. Instead, prioritize empathy and connection in your approach to parenting.

Believing that children with challenging behavior genuinely want to do better can be a complex notion to accept for many people. When children behave themselves and act calmly, it’s easy to believe in their good intentions; however, when they exhibit challenging behavior, parents struggle not to resort to punishment.

  

 

BORING, BUT NECESSARY LEGAL DISCLAIMERS

While we make every effort to share correct information, we are still learning. We will double check all of our facts but realize that medicine is a constantly changing science and art. One doctor / therapist may have a different way of doing things from another. We are simply presenting our views and opinions on how to address common sensory challenges, health related difficulties and what we have found to be beneficial that will be as evidenced based as possible. By listening to this podcast, you agree not to use this podcast as medical advice to treat any medical condition in either yourself or your children. Consult your child’s pediatrician/ therapist for any medical issues that he or she may be having. This entire disclaimer also applies to any guests or contributors to the podcast. Under no circumstances shall Rachel Harrington, Harkla, Jessica Hill, or any guests or contributors to the podcast, as well as any employees, associates, or affiliates of Harkla, be responsible for damages arising from use of the podcast.

Keep in mind that we may receive commissions when you click our links and make purchases. However, this does not impact our reviews and comparisons. We try our best to keep things fair and balanced, in order to help you make the best choice for you.


This podcast should not be used in any legal capacity whatsoever, including but not limited to establishing “standard of care” in a legal sense or as a basis for expert witness testimony. No guarantee is given regarding the accuracy of any statements or opinions made on the podcast.

Jessica Hill, COTA/L & Rachel Harrington, COTA/L, AC
Jessica Hill, COTA/L & Rachel Harrington, COTA/L, AC

Rachel Harrington, COTA/l, AC, CPRCS, and Jessica Hill, COTA/L, CPRCS are Harkla's in-house Certified Occupational Therapy Assistants (COTA) and Certified Primitive Reflex Clinical Specialists. They have been working with children for over 6 years in outpatient settings. They specialize in creating easy-to-digest, actionable content that families can use to help their child's progress at home. Jessica and Rachel are the in-house experts, content creators, and podcast hosts at Harkla! To learn more about Jessica and Rachel, visit the Harkla About Us Page. Make sure to listen to their weekly podcast, All Things Sensory by Harkla for actionable, fun advice on child development.


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