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Episode 107

How Do We Raise
Resilient Kids?

May 13, 2024
In Episode 107, Kyle and Sara, LPCs, interview Dr. Amy King, a licensed psychologist. We have a fascinating conversation about resiliency and trauma. We discuss what trauma is and isn’t and how connection plays a powerful role in shaping how trauma affects our children. At the end, she lays out specific steps that parents can do today to build resilience in their kids. In these uncertain times, we need to prioritize being parents that raise resilient kids on purpose and not on accident. This discussion will help you do that.  

How Do We Raise
Resilient Kids? (Ep 107)

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Episode 107 Transcript:

Hello and welcome to Kyle and I'm Sara and today we have a special guest with us. We've got Dr. Amy. Hello Dr. Amy.

Hi, how are you?

Good, so you're out in Oregon, right? Enjoying the beautiful weather out there, I'm sure.

It's actually gorgeous. Um, it can be a little unpredictable out here in the Pacific Northwest in the spring, but it is beautiful right now. It is sunny and cloudless.

Yeah, well, I want to take a moment and tell our listeners kind of who you are. Okay. And then why we wanted to bring you on. I mean, we got introduced to you through a friend of ours. Um, Joey Odom, who's got a great podcast himself called the Auro podcast. And he told us all about you and it really intrigued us about having you on because I think your expertise could really help the families that we love to coach and, and support. Okay. So, so everybody listening, Dr. Amy is a licensed psychologist.

and she provides training and consultation and education to professionals and organizations. So she specializes, and this is one of the reasons why we thought it'd be cool to have her on, in trauma-informed work in resilience building. I mean, I know that's something that Sara and I are really passionate about is we're wanting to raise kids that are resilient. And especially, I think all of the families that are listening now, they've been through COVID and all these crazy times. And really, this is an opportunity, I think, for our kids to actually...

be more resilient because of all the hard things we've been through. But Dr. King advises organizations on wellness and staff vitality, and you love to create trauma responsive spaces. And that's one thing when I first got to talk with you, Dr. Amy, that I thought was really cool, is you're really passionate about helping pediatricians and other professionals that have a lot of interaction, kids and families, on how to be more informed when they're educating parents.

on how to face, you know, trauma with the big T, but also trauma with the little T, right? And so if you could just tell us kind of what, what got you into this space? Why are you so passionate about this?

Yeah, great question. So my doctorate really focused on helping families adjust to having children with complex medical needs who had gone through their own trauma, of course, when you have a child with a lot of either a disability or a complex medical condition. I really wanted to find out what helped those families thrive despite their hardships that they had encountered. So that's when my dissertation was on. I got endorsed in

a little bit more than 10 years ago, there was a big YouTube video that became viral around the Adverse Childhood Experience Study. And a bunch of professionals, especially in the healthcare sector, reached out to me and said, hey, you know a lot about pediatrics, you've been treating trauma in kids and families for more than two decades. Can you come and consult with us about like, what do we do in healthcare spaces to address stress and trauma? And so I...

the honor of working with these what I call my pilot pediatricians on how do we create resilience in health care spaces. And it was like, you know, throwing spaghetti at the wall at first. I mean, both of you have therapeutic backgrounds, so you understand, right, that, you know, we have trauma-informed research-based interventions that we work with families on for 45 minutes, an hour over the course of a long time. But when you're a professional working with kids,

you might have five minutes, you might have 20 minutes to work with a child. And so I really had to dial in these interventions that were very purposeful, very practical, very actionable for them. And so I just started with this group of pediatricians saying, you know, why don't we try to talk about relational health? What if we shored up some coping tools here? What if we talked about feelings in a different way and see if it decreased acting out behavior?

And these incredible pediatricians would come back and say, this is amazing, families are really responding to this, or I don't know, this feels kind of scary, I'm not a therapist, I need a script for this, or this feels a little bit too soft, like how do I increase my skill around this? And then fast forward, the last 10 years, I've really had the honor of working in the two spaces that children and families sit most often in their systems, which is education.

and healthcare and training both pediatricians and family practitioners and OBGYNs, as well as early educators, home visitors and nurse home visitors around how we can create what we call these small doses of resilience building for families.

I just love all of that. My background is I started out in the home visiting world and learning all I could about being trauma informed. That threw me into, okay, we all, and I think I would love, okay, a couple things. I think we all have traumas of some point, right? Some kind of stress.

what I'll call smaller traumas or stressors. And so I'd like to hear from you just what does that mean? So if someone's thinking, well, I mean, I haven't had some horrific, my children haven't had something horrific happen to them. So, so just a little bit of what, what does that mean when you say trauma or when you're talking about this with families and then the next, maybe I'll do my two part and you can go into it, but the next part being

I found, okay, it's great if I understand what trauma does in people's lives, but then the whole resiliency piece, what is that? When you say wanting to build resiliency, what are you talking about?

Okay, I love this and I'll try to respond to both parts of your questions, Sara, and then ask me for clarification. But I think the first thing that we want to normalize for families that I'm really passionate about is, you know, I don't think we need to label it as big T trauma and little T trauma. Trauma is defined as an individual's experience with an event. And so what's traumatic to you may not be traumatic to me, right? And so I can't say

that you had a big trauma, but I would have experienced it as a little trauma. If you say to me, Sara, I was at the intersection of such and such, and I had a car accident and that created trauma for me. Period. Not a big trauma, not a little trauma. It's your experience with an event that created some kind of physical or emotional harm for you. And I don't get to say, oh, well, I've been in car accidents before. That's just a small trauma. Right.

So the first thing I want to do is just validate for kids and families that are listening. If someone says something was traumatic for them, they get to be the decider of that. The second thing is we can differentiate between trauma, a single event, like a car accident, for instance, or what we call complex trauma. And I think that's what we're sometimes people think that's like big T trauma. Complex trauma is trauma that happens over the course of a person's lifetime.

with little to no access to resources or support. Those are the three defining things. So over the course of a lifetime, little to no access to resources or support. So we think about things like child sexual abuse, physical abuse, domestic violence, neglect, experiencing a parent who's been in incarceration. Some of those are defined by that early adverse childhood experience study, but we also know that the definition of trauma

has been expanded by the National Child Traumatic Stress Network to include things like sex trafficking, dealing with medical illnesses, living in a war-torn community, fear of deportation or immigration of your parents. So there's a lot of other types of trauma that kids and families experience. But what makes it complex trauma is when it's happening for a long time with little to no access to resources or support. Then the question becomes,

The second part of your question, what do we do about that? I want people to have so much hope because there is just an astounding amount of research right now that's coming out that when we look at adverse childhood experiences and then we look at positive childhood experiences, there's been new data that shows, hey, if bad things can predict long-term health outcomes,

then could good things ameliorate that? Could good things heal some of that stress and trauma? And the research resoundingly right now is saying 100% yes. And so let me tie that to your question about resilience. When we look at positive childhood experiences, it's things like, did I feel supported by my family? Is there someone that I can talk to about my feelings? Do I feel connected in my community?

Are there other non-parental adults who really take interest in me and believe in me? When we look at those positive experiences, there is one theme, and it is connection. Connection, connection. And so in our book that we have coming out this spring around creating trauma-informed practices and creating resilience roadmaps, we really talk about resilience.

is not to be confused with grit or determination or perseverance or push through or suck it up or whatever. Resilience is built in relationships. Resilience is about relational health and we build it over time, right? We're not always resilient. Like I have tons of energy today and I slept well and I felt loved and I feel connected with my family. So I'm pretty resilient today. My relational health is strong.

tomorrow may not be the case, right? My bandwidth or my ability to be resilient may change. And I think there are groups of people who have a really hard time being resilient or being asked to be resilient because they're facing a lot of hardships and it feels hard to continue to overcome despite challenges. But resilience is really built in relational health and it's our ability to face and overcome challenges despite those hardships.

but we learn it through the most important relationships in our life, which at first are our parents. And then if we're lucky, we have a village of people like family and friends and family who we call friends and mentors and coaches and teachers. And later as adults, you know, card clubs and book clubs and neighborhoods and our kids, friends, parents and all those places where we really build our relational health.

Yeah, I love your clarification that trauma is not something someone else can tell you. That trauma is something that we, it's our experience, our perception, the meaning we make of the events in our life. And so I appreciate you highlighting that and clarifying what that means. Yeah, I think it's really difficult when you say that too, especially for a lot of parents because

when you're thinking of things little kids go through on a daily basis, it's so easy as a parent to be thinking, going back to what you said, of just like, what's the big deal? Like, oh my gosh, like that's not that, like let's get over this, you know? And I think sometimes it's hard to tap into what it was like for you to be a kid. And that was a big deal, right? Cause now obviously you're looking at it from a perspective of being in your forties or something, and you're reflecting like.

That's not that big a deal. But I think for the for the kid, it's really important to, like you said, connect with them in it, not only so they can become resilient through it, but also so you can better understand what that felt like for them. You know, and I think that. Yeah.

That's great. Yeah, sorry, we only know what we know, right? So when our kids tell us that something is painful or hard or difficult or sad or whatever, I think the more we argue with their experience or the more we push back on their experience, just like our friend or, you know, dare I say our spouses.

then they dig in their heels and they're like, oh, you don't think this was hard for me? I'm gonna prove it to you, right? Let me show you how hard this was for me.

And even, I think I was always fascinated with, you could see even siblings with the same parents, same experience and very different responses to that. And that's something to keep in mind that, yeah, one child could have a much different meaning to that same event than another child. And it's important that we can hold and give space for each experience and their way of looking at it.

Yeah, absolutely. It's about the perception, right? The experience with the event.

Were you able to give advice, Dr. Amy, were you doing this work during the time of COVID and all these like different traumatic events happening from schools closing to, you know, just, you know, people that the kids know getting sick and just the fear and anxiety that was kind of in the air. And how did you help practitioners or families or educators? How did you help them? Because I know Sara and I tried to intentionally see that time as an opportunity.

It was an opportunity actually to say, how are we gonna face this, right? Like for us, we actually saw it as an opportunity to teach them a couple of cool things. Like one was the world doesn't revolve around us. You know, that really, you know, the way we interact with people right now, it's important to be intentional about how we do that and how we're, you know, if we see people who look vulnerable, how we interact with those people and things like that, right? And so I thought that was a cool opportunity, but the other one was,

to say like, man, I think for us as kids, lots of times we grew up in the 90s, in the 80s, and it seemed like life, I mean, although there were traumas in our families, it seemed like life sometimes was kind of easier. It seems like things were kind of good in a sense of politically in our country, in our world, there wasn't all these wars going on during that time. And then all of a sudden, man, all these things happening in the 2000s, and you got this...

Like I'm seeing this generation of teenagers who were born right around 9-11, and then you have like the wars going, and then COVID happens, and it's just like, oh, so I would just, I know it's a big event, but it's like these kids that we're helping, and these parents that we're helping, they're raising kids in a society where they're constantly bombarded with trauma, even if it's not wars and diseases, it's TikTok, it's Instagram, it's like the videos they're watching are traumatic, right?

So how do you help your parents do that or educators face that and create resilient kids?

Well, first of all, let's just level set, right? That we have so much access to information, we have a continual newsfeed, and our nervous system is not set up for that, right? Our nervous system is set up for predictable, controllable amounts of stress, not unpredictable chronic stress. And that's really what you're exposed to.

when you're watching a 24 seven news cycle, whether that be on a TV or on your phone or scrolling through media, right? And so, Bruce Perry says, a little bit of predictable controllable stress is actually what helps us, right? Overcome adversity. But if we're chronically in that space, which I think we have been because of this constant news cycle, it puts our nervous system into a state of fight or flight.

So one of the things I spent a lot of time on during COVID is a few things. One, we got to help the helpers. And if the helper is a physician or a teacher or a healthcare provider or a parent, we have to help them get their oxygen mask on before they can help the little people in their lives, because otherwise we just have two dysregulated people that we're dealing with. And so one of the at the beginning of the pandemic, I had two different virtual

One was for professionals who were child and family facing. The other one was for parents. But the title was the same, which is, it's OK to not be OK right now. And for the professionals, you can imagine all of these health care providers and educators who've been told, like, you got to show up. You're a first responder. You know, get your boots on and get to work. And they were experiencing horrific loss and crisis to say to them,

It's okay to not be okay right now, was so affirming to what they were going through and people who were in tears and would later say to me, Dr. Amy, I haven't had anybody tell me it's okay to not be okay, that it's okay to cry after my patient passes away, for physicians, for teachers, it's okay to be sad and worried about my kindergartners who don't know how to log into an iPad and whose parents are working because they have to work and...

my students that don't have Wi-Fi access, and then for the parents to sit with them and to say to them, it's okay to not be okay, right? Like our nervous system was not set up for this kind of chronic stress, to be working at home and have our kids at home and teaching our kids at home and doing all the things. And so often, you know, in the work that I do and for professionals, I really want to humanize our stress response.

And so I often share stories to just illustrate that I'm not okay either, right? Even though I'm sitting here and talking to these parents, I'm trying to validate for them also that I'm doing the same thing that you're doing. I'm at home and I'm working virtually and I'm teaching my kids and they're driving me bananas. And I didn't know that kids ate so much until we were all staying at home together. And like, I don't know how to teach algebra. We're like, it just, all of that. I think when we can...

normalize that for both parents and professionals, it really helps them feel seen, which is a way, right, that goes back to that relational health. That's really what builds resilience is when we're in relationship, when we're in community, when we feel seen and heard.

Yeah, no, that's so good. I love that. We'll just going back to that, having that be a baseline of building resilience is when we start to feel seen and heard by the other, then we're no longer alone in the trauma. That's the connection piece. That's the starting.

That's right, that's right. And so when I work with parents of littles, right, zero to six, that means that connection starts with the dyad, with the caregiver in the child, right? That that child learns how to cope and learns how to regulate only because they're doing it with a safe, stable, nurturing adult in their lives. And later, we can teach that child to cope and, um,

deal with hardship through other strategies as they get older. But if they don't have that caring connected basis, that foundation, so a lot of connection that we focus on with professionals in the zero to six years, whether it's nurse home visitors, physicians, family practitioners, really connection means attachment and attunement. How am I responding to my child's needs so that they feel connected, so that they feel safe in this relationship?

But that's the foundation in those little years.

What does it look like to build resiliency if I am that parent and I'm thinking, this all sounds great, I can see my kids have stressful things going on, what can I do? That sounds great. Resiliency is super important to me. I think every parent, they're talking about it, we all are very aware of the stressors. What do I do?

Yeah. Let's use a couple of examples, Sara. Throw out an age, and let's walk through a couple of different ages.

Okay, I think you just touched on the zero to six. So can we jump into the elementary? What does it look like if my kid is six to 11? Maybe right before that full time.

Yeah, so I'm gonna speak to both of your therapist hearts here, right? Um, the way, one of the ways we build resilience with like six to 11 year olds, right, is beginning to help them identify internal feeling states, because if they can identify internal feeling states, then they can ask for what they need. And if they can ask for what they need, then they're not going, they're less likely to engage in maladaptive coping later in life, right? So.

I'm always tying, like, what's the developmental task for this age that we know builds resilience? And how do we do this in a caregiving environment through relationships? So that, later on, that six-year-old, even though I know we don't wanna think about this, right, isn't like turning to drugs and alcohol, or, you know, other ways that we could cope, over shopping, over spending, pornography, the other things that we worry about, you know, our kids turning to. So one of the things, one of the little tools that I teach

parents and kids at that age is what we call Yoki feelings. So again, I'm speaking to your therapist feelings heart. But it's really a tool that we use to identify the primary feeling that the child is having because often what's happening is we're responding to the secondary feeling, which is usually anger, right? Frustration, irritation, kicking, hitting, throwing, spitting, biting.

or refusal, right? With a draw, saying no, I'm not going to. But what I do with these littles, and I would love your listeners to try this, right? Is I literally draw an egg and I draw the yolk and I draw the white part, right? And I say, in the egg whites, let's write all the feelings that you have for anger, right? All the synonyms that we have to be upset, ticked off, angry, mad.

irritated, frustrated, and all the behaviors that come with that you often quote-unquote get in trouble for. The hitting, the kicking, the refusing, the slamming your door, the tearing up your homework. Okay, those are valid, right? We all get angry. But usually that anger is a secondary feeling for your Yoki feelings, right? Your squishy, yummy feelings. And the three primary squishy feelings are sad, worried, and confused. So let's just go back and look at this most recent behavior, right?

You were upset. You tore up your math homework. You threw it in the trash. You told your dad, I'm not doing this. This is so stupid. You can't make me do my homework. And as a parent, we say, oh, wow, that is a big feeling. You are super mad right now, right? We don't want to invalidate the feeling or tell the kid to suck it up, right? We want to say to that kid, I wonder what else is going on right now.

And if we've practiced that and we've taught that skill, right, when the child's not upset and angry, then the child is able to go back and identify that primary feeling and go, I was actually really confused. I don't know how to carry over numbers yet, or I don't know how to divide those long numbers yet. And so I felt really dumb and I felt anxious. Like you weren't gonna let me go out and play until my homework got done. And I felt really dumb and it's like, oh.

The yokey feelings get the adults in our life to help us. The egg white feelings usually get us in trouble or get us matched up with another angry adult, right? And so when kids can begin to identify that with coaching, because even six to 11 year olds need that coaching still from their parents and connected adults, now we're getting our needs met, right? By the way, kids that can identify feelings and ask for what they need.

have a 50% reduction in corporal punishment, getting hit, getting spanked, getting hurt. And even in a family that's not doing that, boy, do we have a lot less explosiveness, right? So that's an example, Sara, of like, how do we help build resilience with latency-age kids? Well, we teach them how to identify feelings. Can you imagine in our world of adulting...

There's a whole bunch of us still walking around. We don't know how we feel. We don't know what we need. We're slamming on brakes. We're screaming at people. We're yelling at the bank teller. We're ticked off at the Starbucks barista. If we could just tune into our own feeling state and be able to express, I'm worried because I'm running late for work. And I just took that out on you, Ms. Starbucks barista. And right, what I actually need is to move through this line a little bit quicker.

what a different world that would be. And we can do that, we can start sooner with our kids. So that's an example of like a six to 11 year old tool.

Yeah, and I think the examples I came up with, I just love for you to kind of, what I hope listeners are hearing you do is you're coming with curiosity. You're coming with this open hand as a parent. And we use that metaphor a lot of not having a closed fist, but having an open hand to where then you're kind of inviting the kid to be free to self-reflect. You know, you're really asking them to take a moment to pause and like to really think about what's going on in there. And I was just thinking about how many parents bring

kids to us where the kid during sporting events, you know, they're just like throwing these huge tantrums because their team is losing or because the coach benched them, you know. So those look like, I think to parents, like, I want to know my kid can do hard things. You know, I hear that a lot. I want them to know that they don't give up just because it gets hard. And I think they see it as their kid is being weak. Their kid is looking spoiled.

You know, their kid is looking entitled, you know, as if he deserves to win every game. And they, they want to know, because something in them, this fear in them says, I don't want my kid to think life is always just going to be easy and handed to them, you know, that they need to know how to handle these things. But, but they think it's about stuffing. They think it's about acting like it doesn't bother you, you know, as opposed to what I hear you saying in those moments when it's something like a sporting event or even something bigger. Dr. Amy, like bullying that's happening, you know.

where I'll hear parents will first get upset about the bullying and they'll say, "'Man, I don't want this to happen, "'but my kid needs to know this is gonna happen in life. "'They just need to face these kids.'" So when kids are getting in those teenage years and these bigger things that they're really losing it about or they're really scared of or insecure about when it comes to school, how can parents help those kids face those things and become resilient through it?

Yeah, great question and such good examples, Kyle. I mean, I think first of all, what we want to acknowledge is that we always have parenting paradigm shifts. Right. And so there's a whole bunch of Gen X parents, you know, who are like, I didn't come in until the lights went out and like I figured it out and I drink from the garden hose. And then we have our are the kids of those parents who are being helicoptered, right. And they never get to experience distress. Right. So I'm using generalizations, but really.

We want to land kind of in the middle of that, right? We don't want to throw our kids out to be feral, but we also don't want to overprotect them, right? Because we want them to develop some internal ability to have some grit and perseverance. But there's a couple of things I do for those teenagers. One is about reframing an experience, right?

I'll tell you just a quick story about this. So my daughter rode horses for a while. And one of the event spaces, as you're coming into the event space, it says, you know, like, welcome to the such and such, you know, horse park. And then on the way out, it says, did you win or did you learn? And one of the resilience interventions that I do for teenagers is called building blocks versus stumbling blocks.

And so usually when we win, right, we don't learn as many lessons as when we lose or we struggle or we don't get our way. And so when parents are able to reframe that to their kids and say, well, are you going to use this as a building block? How do you learn? Um, what lesson are you taking from this? How will you become a better athlete? How will you handle this next time? Or are you going to use this as a stumbling block and are you going to blame your coach and blame your teammates and

Blame the fact that it was rainy and 72 degrees instead of sunny and 81 degrees, right? Like we can reframe lessons, life lessons, so that the child begins to realize, oh, I could take this as a lesson that I'm learning. The other tool that I teach all ages and it becomes especially important for teenagers, just like it is for caregivers when they're younger, is what I call just their circles of support. Building out who are the people in your village.

Right? We're only as great as those people that we surround ourselves with. And there's so many teenagers, especially when we think about bullying, right? Who don't have a supportive village. And so I'm always super curious with kids, like who are the people that I call like in your primary circle, your middle circle? And I'm watching. If I'm a parent, I want parents to ask their kids, who are your people?

And sometimes we know that, right? Who they're hanging out with, who they're spending the most time with, who they're bringing back to our house. Sometimes we don't know. But I also wanna watch for, is the circle empty? Is the circle changing? Are the people that are in that circle healthy? Do they have good coping tools? Are they doing relatively well in school? Are they connected and busy teenagers? And then I wanna look at, okay, well, who's the secondary circle?

for this teenager, if it's my kid, right? Like coaches, teachers, aunts, uncles, neighbors, friends, other people that I feel like are really good role models and safe in my child's life. And then the third circle are like the systems and teams and clubs and all the other things that support them. And I just wanna be really gentle with parents who might be listening. If you ask your teenager this question and you're not on the primary circle, it's okay, right? I think we..

We want to be on their primary circle. But it's also normal for our teenagers to wanna push us out of that and have us as their secondary circle, their backup people, and they need you. I'm not saying they don't need you. And I want you to keep showing up for them. And it's developmentally appropriate for them to begin to individuate. And so what I'm always really cognizant of with my own teenagers who are 17 and 19 now is,

If I'm not on your primary circle, I would love to have one other adult that we both trust who is. Doesn't have to be me, right? But maybe it's Aunt La La, maybe it's Grammy, maybe it's this coach that we both know, but I'd like somebody else with a fully developed frontal cortex to also be on your primary circle.

Yes, yes. That's the qualification. Somebody with a fully developed, so if it's an adult who still doesn't have that fully formed, it doesn't count, right? Yeah, yeah, and I would say, Dr. Amy, would you agree? I mean, we've been very intentional of trying to form that since they were born, trying to like look around and trying to first say who are our people? So who are the people that we want?

I hope every listener hears this. What Dr. Amy is saying, it's not just for kids, it's for us too. Like I find Dr. Amy that a lot of times, because parents start to get busy with life and kids, work, that all of a sudden some of those relationships that used to be part of their support network, they lose touch with them, and they're just not as intentional, and it's just because we're so busy. And so we've tried to not fall into that trap of we're like, yeah, we're busy right now.

doing a lot of very important things. And this is why we really need to cultivate those friendships, you know? And so we've wanted our kids to see us pursue that and intentionally water that and grow that because we're wanting the kids to see that modeled. And then for them to go like, this is an expectation. I wanna have that in my life. And I have found, you know, for every listener, those conversations about who are your people.

have been so, so helpful. There's actually a song called, it's a guy named Drew Holcomb, he's out of Nashville. He's got a song called, Find Your People. And we actually just played that at my oldest daughter's birthday, and was just like, I love the lyrics, and wanted her, like, this is your pursuit now, honey. Like, you know, and even when we took her on a little trip as she was turning 14, we were basically saying, just like you said, like, honey, this next phase is about you finding your people, and we're just asking you,

to allow us to be in the car ride as you're doing this. Because she had made comments like you said, where she's like, I hope it doesn't hurt your feelings, but I want you to know you're not the first people I go to when things happen. And we're like, yeah.

That's right. And then into your point, when I'm teaching professionals this curriculum and we teach circle of support, we start first with caregivers when the child is very young, right? Because first we have to build the caregiver relationship circles. Because if that caregiver doesn't feel connected and have feelings of safety and connectedness in their community and their family, it becomes paramount that we focus on that.

because only a connected caregiver is going to be able to provide needs for that child, for that baby early on. Right? And if we circle back to Sara's original question about trauma and resilience, right? The research shows us that those positive connected relationships actually ameliorate or heal trauma. So then it becomes even critically important to say, who are the people? Who are the people that are gonna be your connected people? Because if...

If bad things are compounded by not having people and good things are ameliorated by having connections, then we better get connected. It better be our number one mission to get people connected with other human beings. I just, it is my passion for kids and families.

Yeah, yeah. So if you could leave us with a few nuggets, like one, two, three great points that any parent who's saying, man, I really want my kids to be resilient humans. I really want them to know they can do hard things, that they can face those things and overcome them and not just be victims to them, but actually thrive through it. What are those key things that I would need to keep at the forefront of my mind?

as I'm approaching bullying or approaching my kid throwing a fit when they're losing that game or, you know, the one sibling thinking that we love the other sibling more, these kind of big emotional things that happen. What should they keep at the forefront of them?

Let me give your listeners three things that 100% they can focus on that will build resilience through relational health. The first one is knowing that the way their child copes with any of those stressors that you just pointed out will be modeled through them first. It is not a do as I say, do not as I do world is a monkey see monkey do world. And so if you as a parent are dealing with stress.

by yelling, screaming, acting out, drinking, whatever the case may be, you are modeling that for your child. So you are modeling the coping tools you want your child to use. The second thing that I would say is whenever possible, we wanna separate relationship from behavior and know that our kids, developmentally appropriate, are born to do dumb things, right? They're going to push our limits. They're going to act out. They're going to question us.

It is our job to be in relationship with them no matter what. We never use relationship as a form of punishment, which leads me to the third thing, the third thing that we can do that builds that secure attachment from the earliest years is unconditional love. When our child knows that he or she can go through the world, muck about, make mistakes, screw up, and that no matter what, this person who's my caregiver

will never stop loving me. There may be consequences, there may be even punishment, but it will never be my love for you. I am here for you no matter what you do, who you date, what your grades are, right? I'm never going to take away my love for you. So those are the three things, if we take away nothing else that I would, I want every family focused on. And that's straightforward, but not easy.

Well, and the thing I would add to that is I remember one of the key stories that happened in our family that initially we had decided we weren't going to do any corporal punishment, we weren't going to do timeouts, we weren't going to do any of that, right? But it was very tempting. Whenever my oldest was about two or three and had these big feelings, I was kind of like, hey, you go in your room and you figure this out, right? I did that standard thing. I wasn't thinking about...

the message I was sending. I was just like, listen, you need to get away from me. You need to get over there and basically you need to get your crap together is kind of what I was thinking. And in my mind, I was somewhat justifying by saying, she needs to learn how to work this stuff out. She needs to learn how to figure. But then when she was talking to Sara about it, as a little three-year-old, she said, Mom, dad was saying until I'm good, he doesn't wanna spend time with me. He doesn't wanna be with me. And I was like,

Dang it, that's not what I was trying to say. And so, like then I realized, wait, it kind of is what I was trying to say. Like I kind of was saying, my love is conditional. And what does my love look like? My love looks like my joy with you, spending time with you, it's the connection with you. And by separating you from me, I'm kind of using that as a token that now we're gonna trade for love. And I was, man,

Yeah, that was a real point right there. I can't, I don't want to send this message. Like I really do, even though we're not gonna do it perfect, even though we're gonna mess up a lot, I want more often than not for my kids to truly believe in their heart that they are unconditionally loved. And that no matter what they've done, no matter how they messed up, they will be welcomed back with open arms because our love isn't something we trade for good.

That's right. Yeah. I mean, Alfie Cohen, right, calls it love withdrawals when we do that to our kids. And so in that same curriculum that I was talking about, I teach a little intervention that's based out of some of the work from Becky Bailey. That's it's called the I love you no matter what ritual. She has a lot of I love you rituals, which I love. This is the I love you no matter what ritual. And you do you just set your kid up. You say, you know, did you know that there's nothing that you could do that I would ever stop loving you? Try me.

And it gives them this incredible opportunity to be like, hmm, okay. I know my mom really loves that white couch in the living room. What if I spilled grape juice all over it? Or I know my dad really loves his car. What if I dented it in a fender bender? Or what if I stole something? Or what if I cheated on a test? Or what if I decided like I liked, you know, that boy or that girl, you know.

There's lots of ways that our kids may try to challenge us with that. And our job as parents with that little ritual is to say, I would still love you. I might be confused. I might be frustrated, might whatever, but I would still love you. And I see kids just up the ante and really challenge that. And then every, after a while, they're just like, Oh, okay. I guess there's just nothing, right? I could do that. And that's what we want for kids, right?

Yeah, I know, I know, I know it's awesome. And when I'm helping them in session, Dr. Amy, that's the thing they're most concerned about. I mean, I'm telling you, 100% of the time, they're most concerned that they're gonna lose that relationship. And eventually what it seems is by the time they're a teenager, if they do believe it's conditional, then they just think, well, whatever, it seems like I'm losing it all the time. No matter what I do, it's not good enough.

And so like at an early age, like you said, doing these rituals are so important. So, well, for our listeners, I wanna say thank you Dr. Amy for coming on. Yeah, thank you. It's really enjoyable. And sharing your expertise. I know they have gotten so much great content, a lot to think about, because all of us want our kids to be able to face the hard things of life and really thrive. You know, I really love that word. We want our kids to thrive and not just be like,

crushed every time something comes along. But that takes training, it takes modeling, it takes intentional guidance and connection for your kids to succeed with that. So can you tell them real quick, how can they find your work? Kind of point them your way, because they want to know more about what you're doing, how can they find you?

Yeah, absolutely. You can go to my website, Tons of free resources on there, all the ways to work with me on socials. I'm at DrAmyLLC on all the socials. I'm on Instagram. I'm on Facebook. I'm on LinkedIn. So all of those ways are ways people can get a hold of me. And pretty soon on Amazon, my book is available for pre-order as well.

That's awesome. So yeah, I would encourage you to go check her out on those because she will continue giving you some real, like I'm sure they can see some of the cards that you do to some of the connection cards to help families with all this. It's fantastic stuff. So go check her out on that. And, um, and you're going to learn so much great information to help you do this with your kids. So, uh, thank you for joining us and, um, all the listeners, thank you for coming on and spending time with us today. And, um, you have a wonderful day. Thanks.

Thanks y'all!

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