Pursue What Matters
Episode 187: Practical Parenting with Kimball Lewis
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Dr. Melissa Smith 0:00
Parenting is hard, right? What makes parenting so challenging? Do you sometimes feel like you’re missing a lesson book? Well join me today for practical parenting with Kimball Lewis.
Dr. Melissa Smith 0:17
Hi, I’m Dr. Melissa Smith, welcome to the Pursue What Matters podcast where we focus on what it takes to thrive in love and work. So parenting is among the most rewarding, but also the most challenging activities that we engage in in life. Why has it gotta be so hard? Well, when we can think about kids trying to problem solve, we can shift our understanding of their behavior issues. And so today, I want to give you some good direction on that. And the thing is, this has got a lot of application to work as well. So we’ll be talking about some parenting principles. But these are principles. And so they also apply at work. And so I want you to think about your teams, I want you to think about having clear expectations at work. And I’ve brought in someone to help us with this topic.
Dr. Melissa Smith 1:21
So Kimball Lewis, is going to help us with some practical parenting that can be helpful both at home and at work. Of course, every week with the podcast, my goal is to help you pursue what matters. By strengthening your confidence to lead, we do that in one of three areas. So leading with clarity, leading with curiosity, and leading a build and building a community. And so when it comes to leading with clarity, we’re really focused on what matters and why Where are we going, and why does it matter. Second, is leading with curiosity, where we really are building more self awareness, and self leadership. And then of course, leading and building a team. And I would say, today’s podcast certainly hits on all three. But primarily, we want to focus on leading and building a community, we want to think about practical, timeless parenting principles that can really help us to guide our families. And again, this has great application at work, as well. And so without further ado, let’s, let’s jump into the interview. So we are so excited to have a guest with us today. So of course every week with a podcast, our goal is to help you pursue what matters, both at work and home. So we want to give you tools that will help you be more more effective leaders both at work and home. And we know that leadership happens in both places. And so we thought that it would be great to bring in someone to talk with us about parenting principles and application, right. And the thing that I really appreciate about this individual and what I’ve learned so far, is that the things that we’re going to talk about today also apply at work. So I want you to be thinking about your teams, we’re going to be primarily talking about parenting and how do we write like, how do we help our kiddos in the tough job of growing up. But I hope you’ll also be listening in for how these principles right, apply to work because when we think about principles, there are lots of application. And so without further ado, our guest today is Kimball Lewis and so he’s an executive who has spent his career using research and technology to improve the lives of individuals and businesses. That’s pretty good. He began his career as a health welfare and child policy researcher for a leading public policy think tank in Washington DC. He then served as a technologist and executive in a series of successful healthcare startup businesses. Mr. Lewis joined empowering parents.com as CEO in 2017. Empowering parents.com Mr. Lewis is committed to ensuring that the timeless practical parenting advice of James Lehmann, and the total transformation in doors for future generations of parents struggling to manage the most challenging child behavior problems.
Dr. Melissa Smith 4:17
So Mr. Lewis resides in Florida with his wife and two, two teenage sons. So you should have all the good parenting advice, right? You’ve, you’ve had it tested. And I am also a parent, I have three kiddos and they’ve, they’ve made it to adulthood at this at this point, but we’re keeping our fingers crossed, that they that they make those next steps. So, so Kimble, we’re so happy to have you with us today. And I don’t know if you have more to add to your to your bio or maybe just tell us a little bit about your shift into parenting work.
Kimball Lewis 4:56
Well, this is actually turns out to be a very good podcast for me because I spent a bulk of my career in corporate America doing startups and managing teams and technology. But I also had this, you know, I have, I have a research background originally, and spent the first part of my career at a think tank, working on child welfare and policy issues. And then full circle 20 years later, after, after one of the companies we sold, we had a pretty good exit, and I had a chance to make a change. And I spent 20 years in healthcare at that point, I’m like, I kind of want to move somewhere else. And I had this opportunity came up with this program called The Total Transformation Program, which is a parenting program that came out in kind of the late 2000s by a guy named James Lehmann. And you see all over the radio ways back when people listen to radio, and now podcast, if you’re driving home from work pretty much in any state because it was all over the airwaves, he had this, he had this program called The Total Transformation Program. And he would say, you know, if you’re, if you’re driving home and expecting an argument with your child, when you walk in the door, just remember, you don’t have to attend every argument that you’re invited to. That goes on from there. And it was it was a quote that I loved and actually had met James Lehmann, and, you know, tragically, he died, he died in 2010. Right at the very height of his popularity. And, and then, and then around that time, also radio and television, which is where most of the advertising was done for, for the programs had sort of a decline in the internet and technologies, where is where it came from. So So I came into the business as to do what to do a couple of things. One is to make sure that, that his ideas and programs which are timeless, continue on and second of all, to make sure that it’s done in a in a technologically advanced way, because people aren’t using books and DVDs and that kind of stuff. They’re they’re consuming content online. So I came in as both a technologist and someone who’s interested in child welfare issues and had a business background, and also a parent of two teenagers. And I knew James Lehmann, and it’s this is not anything I ever really planned. If he told me this is my plan, I’d be like, No, this just kind of came out of the blue. And when the opportunity was there, I looked at it talk to my wife and said, Wow, this is like so different than anything I’ve ever done. And so we went for it. And it’s been, you know, it’s been since 27, we actually started in 2016, by officially took over in 2017. And now it’s been, it’s been five years of this. And, you know, at this point, 500,000 families have used the program. Wow. And it’s and we have, we got unbelievable feedback from parents about like, this has just changed my relationship with my child and has given us hope. And we have, we have a way forward now with with managing what we consider the difficult kids, some kids are easy. Some kids are hard, and it’s the child, it’s not the parent most of the time. And, and we all know that because you’ve all met, or we all have situations where you have two kids that seem to get along pretty well. And the third ones just tough. And they require being managed differently than the other two kids and a lot of parents are kind of at a loss on how to how to manage that. So that’s what we offer. It’s a it’s a how to book on dealing with defiant, and kids who are struggling with behavior problems.
Dr. Melissa Smith 7:59
Okay, that’s cool. Well, I love that you shared a little bit about your career path, because that’s also very applicable to, to our listeners, and it’s something that I talk about a lot that, you know, sometimes when we set out on a career path, we think, okay, there’s going to be a clear, you know, trajectory, and that is rarely the case. And so, you know, that ability to, to pay attention to what calls to you and, and to, to leverage your your skills and your expertise in this new area. That’s, that’s pretty cool. So, yeah, so when we think about parenting, a couple of the thoughts that came up for me, as, as you were talking a little bit about the program is that, you know, parents, I think parents need a lot of they need skills, but I think even more than skills, they need confidence. And so to be able to have some resources, where, you know, they’re getting, you know, they’re getting some good skills, but they’re also getting some good perspective, like, okay, you know, you know, more than maybe you think, or, you know, sometimes these challenging kiddos can can challenge our parenting. And I think one of the big mistakes parents make is that they assume that that they can parent each child differently. So in our home, we had a, an interesting little experiment, and I was also in the middle of my dissertation when this happened, but we adopted a child and then discovered I was pregnant. And so we have two kiddos eight months apart, so raised like twins, but of course, very different backgrounds as far as genetics, and it’s just been fascinating to see how unique they are right? And that, you know, we have consistent principles in terms of our parenting, but we also recognize that each kiddo is unique and we can approach each of those For kids the same way, it just won’t be as effective. And so I love that you give, give parents some resources and some tools to really help them. Not only with the skills, but also with the confidence, it’s a, it’s a big need.
Kimball Lewis 10:15
Yeah, a lot of a lot. One of the things, one of the common themes you have is parents, just like guilt, when you have a troubled child who’s struggling, there’s, there’s a lot of guilt wrapped up in that and you start blaming yourself for your child’s behavior. And that’s one of that’s, that’s sort of file that under the category of confidence now that you’re bringing that up, and but the problem with that is, is you have to remember your child’s behavior, it’s not your behavior. Exactly. And we’re not perfect parents, no one’s a perfect parent, but when your child’s sitting in the middle of the kitchen, and they have an opportunity in there, and they and they say fu mom or they say something terrible, but those are the those are the parents are coming to us picking on these kids, teenagers and adolescents will swear at their parents. At that moment, they know they’re not supposed to do that they have a choice to make. So that that’s their choice. And we tell parents, that’s their choice, it’s their decisions, and what they need to be done is held accountable for their decisions. And don’t Don’t blame yourself for their behavior. Because that, first of all, it’s not effective, because you want to make sure it’s their behavior, and they’re accountable. And then second of all, something else happens along the way too, which is that the child figures out that you’re blaming yourself, they know they have guilt, they know that you’re blaming yourself. And and one of two things happens. One is they manipulate you through that. And they go, I know mom’s going to feel guilty, and I’m going to make her feel bad. And then I’ll get what I want. Or, and this is even worse. But that happens a lot. The manipulation happens a lot, this is even worse, is that the child believes like really, really believes that the reason that they can’t behave well is because their parents are bad. And then it makes it very difficult for the child to change because they feel like they’re not in control of their future, their future was decided for them by someone else who’s a third person and they can’t change their past. And that is that is a very, very ineffective way to go through life you want you want the child to be empowered. You know, we’re we’re called empowering parents, we’re empowering parents with the skills that this guy James Lehman had dealing with the fine kids. But we also want to empower our kids to realize that they’re responsible for their, for their behavior and their actions, and their successes as well as their failures. And that’s a very powerful thing.
Dr. Melissa Smith 12:11
Yeah, well, and that’s exactly what I was thinking about that that second, that second path that can happen is that is that kids are disconnected from accountability for their actions. And, you know, we think about that, the small ways that that shows up at home, and boy, the consequences just get bigger, the older the kids get, and you know, as a psychologist, when I have worked with parents, I have said, you know, be willing, be willing to set the boundaries and provide the consequences when they’re, you know, 345 and six, because then you have a consistent pattern, do not try and wait until your kiddo is a teenager or as an adult, because society will have very big consequences for them. And, you know, I think that’s an important part of Empower empowering parents is to say, yeah, no, you need, you need to bring in discipline and boundaries and consequences as part of good parenting.
Kimball Lewis 13:10
Yeah, I’m glad you brought that up. Because we have a, one of the tenants of James Lehman and the Total Transformation Program has is that is that the primary reason kids are acting out is that it’s a problem solving tool for them. Okay? I’ll give you an example. Right, they get frustrated with a toy or frustrated with something, and, and they start acting out or they throw it around mom or dad steps in and then fix the fixes the problem for them, so that acting out actually solve the problem for them, an adult came in and fix the problem for them. Or likewise, if you don’t want to do your homework, like, kids, kids are dealing with responsibilities in life, that’s one of the problems we’re starting to face early on is that they’ve now they have responsibilities and ever had them before. And they like them. They don’t like them, and they don’t know how to deal with them. And so one way some kids, the kids who figured out realize, well, if I, if I learned to be, you know, look, gained some discipline and learn to meet my responsibilities, then life is pretty good. But other kids, other kids don’t have those problem solving skills. And what they do instead, is they act out and they act out by not doing their homework and fighting and fighting and fighting, until they get to the point where the parents too tired to even make them want to do their homework anymore. And they don’t even they stop trying. And for the trial, that’s actually the problem solving work. That’s that’s the problem with that is that they were now absolved of their responsibility to do their homework by acting out enough to the to the to the point where the parents like, I can’t take this anymore, or with chores too long. A lot of parents won’t make their kids do chores, because it’s actually easier for the parent to do the chore themselves than it is to fight with their child. And all of those things are our problems or the wait a child is solving their problem. It’s by acting out it’s by doing things and then and then that problem goes away temporarily. It’s a bad problem solving skills. Not a good one, right? It’s exactly what you said, which is that as your responsibilities and your social interactions become more complex as you get older, if you’re going oh two is to act out to solve those problems, you’re gonna have to start acting out, in way many different ways and a lot stronger in order to get people to do what they want. And at some point they, they won’t and then you’ll be, then you’ll be struggling.
Dr. Melissa Smith 15:11
Yeah, absolutely. So I really liked the way that you frame that, that, that these are our kiddos attempting to solve problems. And so, you know, as as parents, right, so So help us out with, you know, how that perspective on the part of parents can help shift how a parent might respond so that the parents aren’t unwittingly solving the problem that the kiddo needs to learn how to solve?
Kimball Lewis 15:43
Yeah, so the the fundamental, there’s two things fundamentally going on, and one is you want to make sure that those the acting out, the swearing, the breaking things, the punching walls, all of those things result in, in consequences that are negative for the child as opposed to their problem gets solved for them. So you want to make sure that their poor problem solving skills no longer work. So that so that when they, when they employ these things, that doesn’t work, that they’re not absolved of their responsibility to their homework, they actually get consequences that matter to them at that point. And the second thing is they need to learn alternative behavior. So there’s an entire coaching aspect to the thing. So and the coaching aspect, and a lot of people when they misunderstand our program, because they hear consequences, consequences, punishments, punished, that’s all he hears punishments, but it’s two things happening at once it’s making sure those core problem solving skills don’t work. And then it’s and then when things are calm, offer, they will offer them alternative behaviors as to what to do instead, the next time this thing happens, and the next time is going to happen again, because the parents will come to us don’t come to us after happened once it can they come to us after it’s happened 1020 3040 times. So you know what’s gonna happen again. And, and so we offer that we offer that, here’s, here’s how you come up with a consequence, it’s going to be effective for that child, so they won’t, so that they will be less inclined, I will say won’t do it again, because it takes time for these things to to, to work. But an effective consequence of where there really is a consequence, and over time, the child will decide this isn’t worth it anymore. And then at the same time, offer them offer them coaching as to what to do instead offer them alternative behaviors.
Dr. Melissa Smith 17:18
Yeah, and that second part is so right. Obviously, the first part is really important, because unless there are consequences, there’s not much motivation to change that behavior on the part of the child. Right? That’s number one. That’s number one. Yeah. And then that second part of coaching, right, if we, if we are approaching this, as you know, problem solving, skill development? Well, there has to be some coaching, there has to be some teaching, and that is the the unique position of parents, right. And of course, we have other people in society that do that. But But parents taking that role as coach, seriously. So tell me, tell me why you use the term. Coach, I I like that term, but But tell me how you how you frame that up for parents in your program?
Kimball Lewis 18:08
Well, we look at it as you well, it’s its teacher and coach. So you want to teach them some things. But then once, once they know what those things are, you want to give them encouragement, you want to show them how to use it, when they when they do it? Well, you want to you want to point it out, let kids especially kids that have behavior problems they have, they tend to be doing everything wrong, like and all they all they get as negative interactions with adults, like it’s just a constant stream of things. And it’s understandable because the kids, these are kids that are that are are struggling and acting out all the time and are actually abusive to other people, that’s, that’s part of the problem. But when they do behave correctly, and when they do something, right, you have to point it out, you have to give them that pause, that you need to be looking for opportunities to say, you know, I saw that your sister was really bothering you. And this time you didn’t snack or the way you did before you had consequences. You you, you left a situation you went to your room and you cooled off for that, I noticed that, thank you for doing that. That’s what you need to be doing. So pointing that stuff out is is very important.
Dr. Melissa Smith 19:07
Yeah, that is such an important skill. And I think, you know, I would imagine parents in these situations, that’s a hard skill for them to develop, because by the time they get to you, they’re so frustrated and maybe they have assumptions like this behavior shouldn’t be happening at all. And so, you know, they’re not as apt to notice the good behavior, right? And, and I do think for these kids, they’re in such a challenging position, right? Their behavior just continues to undermine them but they can’t really catch a break anywhere. So just like you said, everywhere they go they’re just, you know, they’re having a hard road and so the the importance of the parents really pointing out the the approximations to the correct behavior, right or like, just just like you said, with your example I really appreciated the way that you responded.
Kimball Lewis 19:55
Do you want a couple more very specific examples?
Dr. Melissa Smith 19:57
I would love it
Kimball Lewis 19:58
I was part of the workplace so I can I can actually I can draw the parallels. Because we have a kid who’s struggling at home, we say you need to treat your family like it’s a business, actually. And you’re the man, you’re a good manager not one that blows up and yells and scream. You’re the manager that it’s like calm, consistent, has high expectations.
Dr. Melissa Smith 20:13
I love it. Yes.
Kimball Lewis 20:14
So one thing is that kids that are struggling with these things, we recommend very strongly that you write down the rules of your household, like the major principles of your household, it shouldn’t be a list of 30 or 40. It’s a list of like 567 things in this household, we don’t swear at each other. We don’t, we don’t do electronics, we’re homeworks done. There’s like five or six things, and you put them on the refrigerator, you list them out. And you point to them, whatever the kids are having an issue is whatever you constantly point to them and said, these are the rules of our household and you set you set a culture of accountability, and your values in the household and you put them on the refrigerator, just like in a business. You have an employee handbook, or you have a mission statement, you have all those things and you work out what is it about this company? What is it that we do as a company, what do we value here are values and a family, you need to do the same thing. Now if you have easy kids, you don’t need to do that. Because they just get along fine. If you write if you have a small startup, and you have nothing but superstars that you recruited from your last three startup, you don’t have to do anything, you just let them loose and go do your thing. Tell me what you need. But this is not your family’s not that kind of organization is an organization where you have a mix of employees that that that some are struggling and some aren’t, you have to have those rules up there and need to know, and it does a bunch of things. One is it clarifies for these kids who it’s not clear to them what the rules aren’t necessarily. And it does. Another thing is it really cuts down on arguing because it it sets the it sets the tone that the reason we do this is because we have rules in the household, not because it’s an arbitrary decision between mom or dad and the child. And when it seems arbitrary that every time that there’s a conflict, then it’s that it’s a fight between two individuals not not a fight between the child and the rules. Now, of course, the parents make the rules that’s there, and they’re entitled to and we tell parents that like there’s it’s your household, you get to make the rules. But the rules then become its own thing. And if the child wants to discuss the rules, you can discuss it at a relaxed time schedule some time tomorrow, from five to 530. We’ll discuss the rules, you can give me your input, but usually they don’t want to discuss the rules, what they want is the DoD have the rules apply to them. And the rules are very important. I always put this example out there is that if if there were if it were up to the discretion, or actually if if the speed limit signs weren’t posted, and it was up to the police officer to decide whether you’re speeding or not using their judgment, and they pulled you over, it’s going to be an argument every single time. You’re gonna say I wasn’t speeding, and the police officers go, Yeah, but you were speeding says, well, what’s the speed limit? It’s like, well, it’s, you know, you should know, it’s whatever. But it’s not posted, the police officer doesn’t want that the police officer wants to build to say, you get the ticket, because you were going at in the speed limit is 65. And you can point to the sign that speed limits is 65. And it just cuts down on a lot of arguing. It doesn’t it doesn’t make every interaction an arbitrary fight between two individuals.
Dr. Melissa Smith 22:57
Right. And it’s better for everyone. Right. And sometimes it might take, it might take some quick arguing to make the case for that. But that that makes a more fair and more reasonable household, right, that makes them more fair and reasonable team as well, right? It’s not that everything is always fair, but to say we have set expectations, right. And if we think about work, we can think about what is our culture? How do we treat one another, like you said, the employee handbook. But one of the things that I often share with, you know, coaching clients, and when I’m out presenting is that you cannot hold others accountable if you have not set expectations. So I love the family rules. Because yeah, you may have assumptions about what those rules are, but you cannot assume that you’re your child, you know, even if they came from you, your child, or you know, your team members share those same rules. And so you’ve got to make it explicit. That’s great. Really great.
Kimball Lewis 23:54
Yeah, it really it really helps. It seems it seems hokey, but it seems like you shouldn’t have to do it, but we’re approaching it from the point of view of a of generally well functioning adults who kind of get it and and figured life out, but these kids haven’t.
Dr. Melissa Smith 24:06
Yeah, absolutely. Well, I always say when in doubt over-communicate. And so I think that that’s maybe an example of like, we’re just going to make it as clear as we can, so that we can avoid those endless arguments that are never productive.
Kimball Lewis 24:21
Yeah, I like to use that communication too. Because that reminds me of of one of one of the things that we if you’ve ever been in couples therapy or marriage therapy, you know that communication is a huge issue. It might be the number one issue between couples is that they don’t communicate properly or well. And what they don’t tell you is that a lot of the problems we have with our kids are are a communication issue. They don’t bring that up as much about the kids and that’s a big communicating with your child is a big deal and the way they communicate them especially with kids who who are are defiant and I’m gonna say they were born to find because you know, usually by like two or three, you know this one’s going to be tough
Dr. Melissa Smith 24:58
You have a sense
Kimball Lewis 24:58
Yep, you have a sense. You could just tell and then God bless those kids because because they become business leaders and they become a lot of like really productive people, if they channel that the clients properly if they don’t they end up in jail if they do the CEO, right, so that’s right. So anyway, it’s it’s, um, you know, the kid who has completed the Ruffalo all the time and as easy is I gonna guess is less likely to become the person who’s leading the charge, but they’re playing it safe. Yeah, exactly. They’re playing it, they’re playing it safe. So So there’s so if you have one of those kids that’s very willful and very difficult and, and just, you know, be hopeful that like, if you could channel it, right, you can, you can have an incredible these are incredibly productive kids. Yeah, but but the the communication aspect of it is something we bring up a lot. And in fact, in the Total Transformation Program, we actually give you like scripts, this is what you say to your child, and point out things that don’t work. And we have something we called the Y trap. And why does it trap? The Y trap is that when you walk, you walk into your child’s room, and they’re playing electronics, and there’s gonna be doing their homework, and, and nine times out of 10, a parent who hasn’t had this pointed out to them will say, look at their child say, why aren’t you doing your homework? And then they’ll sit there and wait for an answer. And we we tell parents don’t. If you don’t want your child to give you an excuse, don’t ask for an excuse. What you do is you walk into the room and say, you know, you’re not supposed to be doing electronics, go turn off your electronics and go do your homework and then turn around and walk away. Yeah. And and handle it as if as if you as if you are the authority in the household, because you are and a lot of times you have to tell parents that you are it’s okay for you to make the rules. It’s not it’s not a democracy, it’s your household. Yes. And you have an obligation to your child to set limits and to enforce those limits. And it’s your right to as well. So, so we tell them act like you’re the boss and go because you’re you are going there and say stop doing your electronics, do your homework, turn around and walk away, don’t don’t invite a discussion doesn’t go beyond that. And if they didn’t check back, check back. And if they’re not doing it, and then you go into applying consequences. Yeah. And you you have a complete mindset as to how you have to approach these kids.
Dr. Melissa Smith 26:58
I love that. So one of the one of the things, you know, in the clinical world, so we think about therapy, one of the the conversations that I often have is don’t bother asking why people come to therapy with that, why question all the time? Why am I doing this? Why is my kid doing this? Why that? And it’s like, okay, well, you could maybe spend a few minutes on that question. But it’s not a very productive question. Because it gets us into our head where we’re going to make excuses, right, where we, we develop these rationales that may have absolutely no foundation in reality, but they help us to kind of prop up our argument and way more valuable than now, why question is really looking at, okay, well, what needs to happen? And how do I go about that? Right? So again, moving the child to, you know, what is what is the expected behavior? And then like, how do we help them with problem solving, right? So whether it’s okay, well, I’m getting stuck on a math problem. Okay, well, let’s sit down and go over that together. So you’re actually addressing the issue, rather than getting caught in, you know, the details of the bad behavior, recognizing that, of course, they need to have the consequences for that behavior. But yeah, those that that why question is, I think most often a trap. So I appreciate that.
Kimball Lewis 28:14
It’s a trap. It’s not effective. And there’s lots of other things like that. That might be interesting. It might be interesting to know why exactly. But but you don’t, but you know, the likelihood that you’re gonna get an answer that is correct. As long I mean, you maybe you’ll figure it out, maybe you won’t, it’s just one of those things, you know, like, like, motivation, like how do you it’s hard to know exactly what’s going on. What what you need to know is what’s effective to do to have an outcome that you want, and you may not always understand exactly why that happens that way, but you just know, these things are affected. And these things aren’t. So
Dr. Melissa Smith 28:42
Yeah, that’s great. So, before we wrap up, I just want to I want to come back to something that you mentioned at the at the beginning, as we started talking about this, and and that is, you know, how, how do you maybe coach or how do you help parents to to keep some healthy separation from the, from their kiddos in that situation? Right. So I think one of the things that can happen is parents get so frustrated, and they right, like they get pulled in to the drama or they get pulled into, you know, bad behavior on their own in their attempt to respond to their child’s bad behavior. And so, how do you, you know, how do you help parents to really keep keep that healthy separation so that they can write so that they can really be helpful, and not actually just, you know, exacerbate the bad behavior that’s happening?
Kimball Lewis 29:40
That’s a That’s a great question. And Parenting is hard because we have so much emotion Yeah, involved in it and we’re invested in our kids and and how our kids turn out you know, we believe it’s a reflection of loss also. So we have this, you know, we have pride in that. Also, not in a good way, not because it’s So. So that’s, that’s a huge challenge. And what we, what we, what we say to parents is you want to have that separation, and you have to realize that, that your, your child’s not going to like you a lot of the time, especially if they’re struggling and you’re setting limits. And it’s okay. Because because you’re not, you’re not meant to be your child’s friend, you’re meant you’re the child’s parent.
Dr. Melissa Smith 30:23
Yeah. Which, right? There’s a big shift, right? These parents that say they want to be their kids best friend, I’m like, oh, boy, we’re in trouble now.
Kimball Lewis 30:31
Yeah maybe when you’re adults, but you haven’t, you have an obligation, and it might happen, when they’re younger, to have the child’s getting along fine, or whatever, but you’re not their friend, you set expectations, just like a boss, like, like bosses and employees, there’s a tension there between the two. And it’s, it’s, um, it’s a little bit difficult. So what we, and we tell parents, you, we want you to model the behavior that you want your child to have. So if you don’t want your child to yell and scream, you know, like, like, don’t be yelling and screaming at your child. That doesn’t work in the workplace either. Like, like, if you work in a company, where, where the, you know, supervisors are yelling and screaming at the employees, like, like screaming fights, that’s not a good place to work. And usually, the manager gets fired for that. Like, that’s not that’s not appropriate, even if the employee is doing it. There’s the ways to deal with it. But but the manager getting into the fight is not your solution. So, so. But the question is, how do you do that when there’s so many things tied up in and so many emotions tied up and what we do? The main thing we do when we do this to our coaching processes that, again, since I mentioned earlier that these parents are coming to us, because it’s happened wants to come into us because it happened 1020 3040 times and their wit’s end. And we use that as a strength, what we do is we say, it’s predictable what’s going to happen next time, and we’re gonna put a plan together, and here’s the plan, the next time they do what you’re gonna go into execution mode, you’re gonna say this, you got to do this, you’re going to do this, then you’re going to disengage, you’re going to walk away. And when the child and when when the parent has a plan in place for the next time the child does it, it actually lowers their blood pressure, they get much calmer, execute, it’s a problem that’s happening, but they know what they’re going to do. It’s like It’s like trained, like EMTs trained and first responders trained over and over and over again, so that when they, when they when they hit this really difficult, stressful situation, they go into execution mode, not like oh my god, what am I going to do mode, and we have parents, like plan your consequences ahead of time, have a menu of consequences, know what you’re going to do know what you’re gonna say, know how you’re going to react when your child does this thing, inevitably, because I’ve done it a whole bunch of times. And that’s the value because we offer parent coaching along with our programs. And, and the whole point of it is to prepare the parent for the next time it happens, right? execute it. And then and then when you talk with your coach, talk about how did it go? Did it work? Well? Are you doing the right thing? Do you have to stay the course because it takes a while for the kids to learn these better alternative behaviors, you know, might take it might take a few days, it might take a few weeks, and you need someone you need someone with support saying, Okay, you’re doing the right thing, stay the course stay the course, they’re going to turn things around, or we need to modify things a little bit, because x, y and z is happening. So the planning ahead of time for this is really in the preparation is really the best way to remain calm, and the end to have that separation. Because again, you go into you go into this weird like execution mode, it’s time when it happens. And suddenly you’re you’re you’re dealing with it fine.
Dr. Melissa Smith 33:16
Yeah, it’s great. So then the parents are going to those situations with confidence and competence, right? They have some skills and and I think just like we were talking about the manager behaving badly, right, it just, it just reminds me the importance, again, of having clear expectations, because those rules apply to the parents too, right, that we don’t yell at each other in our home. So it’s interesting in in my leadership work, I do a lot of training of teams on you know, effective communication, and how do we build trust and create psychological safety at work, and one of the key components that I teach is the role of the stress response, right? And how do you prepare for these challenging interactions so that you can you know, you’re not necessarily calm because you have a stress response. But you can think clearly, you can follow your plan, and you don’t get pulled into an outsize stress response, which, you know, doesn’t usually end well for anyone involved.
Kimball Lewis 34:22
Yeah, if you have ever done layoffs, or employee terminations, like you need to know your script, you need to you need to know ahead of time going into it. And we and we treat those interactions with our kids in a in a similar way, because you’re not going to, you’re not going to wing it and figure it out. So we do a lot of role playing, playing in person. If there’s any lawyers that listen to this, you know that trial lawyers will do mock trials, and they’ll they’ll work out things I’ll try to figure out exactly what what the other what the other side might do and what your response would be all those things. It’s a lot, a lot of rehearsal and repetition so that so that you’re prepared for that stressful situation.
Dr. Melissa Smith 34:58
Okay, that’s great. Well, Kimball, thank you so much for your time and everything that you’ve shared here I think is so helpful for us, you know, both at home and at work. Any, any last words that you want to share with us before we let you go?
Kimball Lewis 35:14
Yeah, so So the one last thing I always like to leave with parents, which is that we see so much success and turning kids around. And don’t take your child’s behavior personally. Yeah. And what I mean by that is when they swear at you, and they say awful things to you, we have, we have an article on our site called, I hate you, Mama, wish you were dead. If you that has behavior problem, because because if you view it as a behavior problem, it really is they’re trying to solve a problem by getting you angry and getting you upset, then when they when when you go through our program, and your kids are behaving better. If you haven’t taken it personally, you can forgive them a lot easier. And you can move on and have a good relationship with them. But if you take those things, personally, those terrible things are saying, there, it’s really hard to do that. So don’t take it personally. It’s just It’s just what it’s just what they’re doing to try to solve their problems. And also, they’ll say terrible things to you. And so yeah
Dr. Melissa Smith 36:01
Yeah, that’s it. That’s really, really good advice. Very helpful. So again, thank you so much for your time. Of course, with our show notes, we will have all the links for Kimball and for his resources. So if you want to learn more about his program, you can check those all out. My show notes, so we’ll include all of those. And again, Campbell, thank you so much for your work. It’s such important work. And thank you so much for your time with us today.
Kimball Lewis 36:30
Dr. Melissa Smith 36:31
So make sure you head on over to my website to check out the show notes with all the great resources for this episode at www.drmelissasmith.com/187-practicalparenting one more time. That’s www.drmelissasmith.com/187-practicalparenting. Of course, at my show notes, I will include all the links to Kimball and his resources. So if you want to learn more about him, and about his tools to help you build both competence and confidence when it comes to practical parenting. You can find all of those on my website. Of course, I’d love to connect with you. I’m social. I’m on Instagram @dr.melissasmith and I’d love to hear your reactions to the podcast. I’d love to hear your recommendations. What do you want to hear more of? In the meantime, I’m Dr. Melissa Smith. Remember love and work, work and love. That’s all there is. Until next time, take good care.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai