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Episode 41

Turning resistance
into cooperation 

August 1, 2022

[Kyle]: In today's podcast we're gonna talk about how to turn resistance into cooperation. What is the skill you need to help turn that “no” into a “yes”? I look forward to having the discussion with you. 


[Kyle]: Hello, and welcome to episode 41 of The Art of Raising Humans podcast. I’m Kyle.

[Sara]: And I’m Sara.

[Kyle]: And today we want to teach you how to turn resistance into cooperation and there's a specific skill in particular Sara and I want to discuss today, that I think is the most effective in doing that. Wouldn't you say, Sara?

[Kyle]: It's really hard when you're constantly having these interactions with kids and you keep asking them to do stuff and they keep saying “no”, right? It's a little annoying.

[Sara]: It is.

[Kyle]: So, I think a lot of parents get stuck on what to do when they just keep saying “no, I’m not going to do that thing”, you know? And before we get into it, I really want to talk about the skill, but I would love for you if you're enjoying these podcasts and you finding it very helpful for your family, would love for you to put a rating on iTunes or wherever you're listening to this. We've seen some of the five-star reviews people put on there, it's always so encouraging to us because, you know, we're just sitting in a closet trying to share this stuff, because we really want to help as many families as possible. We feel like it's kind of selfish for us to keep all this information to ourselves, so we want to share it with families. We'd love you to tell the families about the podcast, we'd love to increase accessibility to other families, because I think a lot of parents would really be helped, specifically with a podcast like this, but all the other ones we've done in the past. So-- But I hope today in particular, you'll walk away with some really concrete skills about how to move resistance into cooperation and so, the skill, Sara, that we would use for that is, what?

[Sara]: Positive intent.

[Kyle]: All right, and I love this skill in particular; Becky Bailey with conscious discipline does a fantastic job of talking about this in depth. We won't go into all the depth of it in this podcast, but we are going to hit upon some key things about why positive intent is the skill you need, to instead of meeting resistance with resistance, instead to turn that power struggle into a cooperative activity, you know? And why would you say it's so powerful, Sara? Why is positive intent so important?

[Sara]: Well, I think positive intent is one of those skills in parenting-- I know we know this, but the thing that I continually come back to, is parenting is really about us, right? We keep-- We think you hear, you read stuff all the time, movies, a little memes or something, they seem to say it's about us training a child, you know? But really a lot of the work apparently of parenting, is what's happening inside of us.

[Sara]: And I think parenting-- A positive intent hits that, because positive intent is about me and how I’m looking at my child and what what's going through my mind, the story I’m telling myself, all that stuff that's internal to me looking at the situation. Because if you have 10 people in a room and a child spills a drink, 10 people have different things running through their minds when they look at that child.

[Sara]: And positive intent I think feeds into that dynamic there and so, positive intent is me looking at the child and going-- And having the idea that this child is doing the best they can do with their developmental level, with the information that they have, with their skills that are available to them. They're doing the best they can in this moment and if I start from that place, rather than a place of “you've messed up! What's wrong with you!?” judgment and their lack of what they need, that breeds into anger and frustration and all this stuff coming up inside of me and it's really about me and how I’m looking at the child. If I’m looking at them that way or if I’m looking at “oh, you spilled the milk. Well, you did the best you could in that moment”, then I’m going to engage that child in that moment differently.

[Kyle]: Yeah, I love the example of the spilled milk, a classic kind of idea of somebody spills the milk, you know? And what's that initial thought about why the kid spilled the milk, you know? I mean, I know for me and this probably comes from my own childhood. Of course, it does, right? I mean, all of our initial reactions are probably what happened to us when we had that, right? And so, like as soon as that happens, I remember I’ve had to work on this when you brought it up, I was thinking “oh, yeah”, I used to be like “oh my gosh! Like, stop being so careless! Next time you're--”

[Sara]: “You weren’t being careful”

[Kyle]: Yeah, “you’re being completely irresponsible and have some self-control, you know?” and like immediately, my face says judgment, judgment, you know? “You purposely were being immature and reckless and thoughtless and you don't care about anybody else but you!”

[Sara]: “Now you've wasted the milk, now we gotta clean it up and--”

[Kyle]: Yes, “you’ve inconvenienced me, we were trying to have a good dinner or breakfast, you just messed it up!”, you know? And so, all of those thoughts come like that. Just so fast and then all of a sudden, we're talking and yelling or judging before we even know what's happening, right? And that would be negative intent, you know? And so, what's another thought you could have in that moment? So, a kid spills milk, I think everybody listening to this has spilled something, you know? And what could be the reason why someone spills something?

[Sara]: Well, it just slipped out of their hands, their hands were slippery. If I-- I mean, if what's funny is, if I saw you drop coffee, I guess I could have that, but because you're an adult I would automatically assume “oh, what happened? Was the mug slippery? Did you trip? Did something bump into you?”.

[Sara]: I would assume that there was a really good reason that that happened, but with a child with the milk, all those things could still be at play and we have the choice in that moment to go one direction or the other and it doesn't even matter which one's true, but we have the choice.

[Kyle]: But what's interesting about you saying that too, is the power of-- We won't go deep in this, but you as the parent with the kid being that tiny, let's say the kid’s two, three, four, whatever, we end up defining what happened in that moment by our reaction, you know? The kid, it just happens and the kid typically is being impulsive maybe or the kid is just like, has a lack of control over their body.

[Sara]: Maybe they can-- Yeah, too many things--

[Kyle]: Whatever, it could be all types of-- Yeah, but they're just being a kid. Kids spill things, that's what they do, it's part of actually growing up and learning. Like, the reason why you and I don't spill as much stuff, is because we've learned like, how to move things further away from us, we've learned to be more careful with our hand gestures; I’m a big hand gesture guy. But in that moment, my reaction defines for the kid their intent, you know? All of a sudden I’m like “why were you doing that!? Why you being so--?”, all of a sudden, the kid goes “wow, I must be really irresponsible, I must be really thoughtless. God”.

[Sara]: They start to believe the things you're telling them.

[Kyle]: Yeah. “Man, because mom and dad would know best, because they know me and that's why I did it. I didn't even know that's why I did this, but I did”.

[Sara]: And it creates separation in the relationship. I remember as a child dropping a dish and it broke and I didn't want that dish to break, it was my grandmother's, I didn't want it to break. I felt horrible and then I got in trouble on top of that and I was drying it and my hands were probably small, my hands were wet, the dishes were wet. I was trying, I was standing by the counter, but it slipped and it broke and I felt terrible and then I got in trouble on top of feeling terrible already.

[Sara]: And I know I can look back, I was old enough, I remember the moment. I wasn't being careless, reckless, uncaring, sloppy. I wasn't, I was trying and I was just a child with hands that don't have the abilities my hands do now.

[Sara]: My fine motor skills were still developing and all that stuff is still happening and so, I think I look back at that moment and I-- You know, but then coming down on me, that I felt even worse and just like you said, you think “oh, I am clumsier, I am careless” or “I don't care enough about this, if I cared more, it wouldn't have happened”, things like that. You start to believe and take in those messages.

[Kyle]: Exactly. Well, that's where the shame comes and like, the self-hatred starts to happen, you know? By these reactions. So, I would encourage any listener right now, to just reflect upon these moments like Sara was talking about with the dish. We've all had those and I’m sure-- I can't remember specifically me spilling some out, but I bet I did and that's why I’m thinking that. That's why when the kids spilt it, I immediately-- You know, I know for sure I can pinpoint to sports. So, there's many times I think I’m really focused when it comes to sports, so when I play sports, I’m just into it, I’m passionate, I’m focused. So, like every time my oldest daughter Abby wasn't, I just felt like “oh my gosh, get focused! Like stop caring about that girl hurting! go play the ball!”, you know? “Take advantage of that moment!” have you thinking of all this stuff and I’d have such judgment and I remember thinking to myself if Abby would be more focused and play better, I wouldn't need to get so mad. Like, why is she making me feel this way? Right? And so, I had this negative intent that she was going into the game just to play and just to have fun and not to take it serious and I had all this kind of judgment and really when I look back and talk to my parents, my dad was telling me at a similar age I was spending a lot of time just poking my feet in the dirt and kicking the dirt. It wasn't like I was just like super focused kid. I mean, I became that as an adult, but I wasn't like that five or six or seven, you know? And yet I’m expecting my daughter to have that same level of focus that I have now and so, I’m judging her that she doesn’t, I’m believing she doesn't want to and therefore, actually making it harder for her to actually ever have that, you know?

[Kyle]: Because now she's so distracted by my judgment, you know?

[Sara]: I think-- I then think, okay, let's fast forward to teenage years where stakes are higher and its grades, you know? And you look at your kid and go “you could be doing better than this, you're just lazy, you're not studying enough” and those kinds of-- and it's spread out of our own fear, right? we want them to do well, but then we look at what this bad intent instead of positive intent.

[Kyle]: yeah. Well, I was thinking of a kid the other day, a teenager who kept calling himself lazy and of course, I think that came from his own parents’ perceptions of that, but I was saying like “that's interesting”, like if a kid was sick and was laying on the couch and not doing the work, we would be understanding or if the kid had just gone through a hard breakup with, you know, someone they cared about.

[Sara]: Where we could see the obvious reasons why they're having a hard time.

[Kyle]: Yes, yeah. Then we could give them compassion, but because I don't understand it or it's not obvious, what do we do? We get hyper focused on the behavior and we start doing the very thing we talked about in the previous podcast, which if you haven't listened to it, you should go back, we start going down that stream of behavior modification. We go down the stream like “I’ve got to change this behavior” and the way most of us change our behavior and this isn't effective, is we just beat ourselves up. We shame ourselves and get mad, we don't give ourselves positive intent, we assume the worst in ourselves. So, we think, if I do that to you, if I call you lazy enough, well, you're not going to want that, so eventually you'll stop laying on the couch and doing that. You'll find a way to make me think you're productive and therefore, I’ll stop judging you as lazy.

[Sara]: Yeah, we have this negative-- I’m going to keep on the negative so that you'll then do something positive and I think though it's hard to trust it, especially with older kids. Maybe you'll give the two-year-old the benefit of the doubt with spilling the milk, but when it's teenagers and higher stakes, you know, “you've got to get good grades because this is, you know, graduation and things like that are really important”.

[Sara]: And it's harder to trust. If I give you positive intent, what's going to happen? If I believe-- I see you playing games or on your phone when you could be studying, I know you could be doing homework and you're not, how do I have positive intent in those moments? How do I trust the process of positive intent that they're doing-- they're still doing the best they can do? Being on that phone instead of homework, there are reasons for that and I still have to trust the process of, if I have positive intent that you're doing this now for reasons that maybe I don't understand, I can't wrap my right mind around, but I--

[Kyle]: And the kid may not even understand. Because there are--

[Sara]: But there are reasons and we are all in this world doing the best we can with where we're at in life and what's going through our head, and the thing even with our teenagers we're not always aware, they're not always aware of what is going through their head, what are they escaping on the phone for or why are they avoiding the work. Maybe they do feel overwhelmed or they don't understand or there's so many-- I’m just making stuff up. There's so many reasons that could be feeding into why they're choosing this over that.

[Kyle]: Yeah, and the same for us, you know? I try to tell parents a lot, Sara, like when they think the kid is lazy or the kid is, you know, not motivated, I try to-- Then what are they motivated about? And typically, it's video games or something like that. Why do you think they're motivated to do that? Because they feel good at it, they feel successful at it, they feel like they can succeed at it. I think anything that I feel like I can succeed at and do well, I don't have a hard time motivating myself to do it. The things I avoid or procrastinate on or don't seem to want to do, are things I don't think I can do very well or I believe I’m going to fail at them, you know? And so, that's why I would avoid them. So, I always want parents to kind of stop for a moment and think about the things or if I’m talking to a teenager, “what are the things you're successful at and why do those things seem so easy to want to do?”, you know? And it's typically because-- It's not even that they're not hard, sometimes they are hard, but they just think they can be successful at them, you know?

[Kyle]: And so, the reason why they don't want to do the math or do the homework or do the chores, is because they believe it's too much for them, they believe it's going to take too long. Like cleaning up the room, seems simple and maybe as an adult, maybe I can do it well, but [Unintelligible] like “it's just overwhelming”. They look at it all, they don't know where it all goes, they'll say themselves “I clean it and then with like a week-- I don't know how to keep it clean. So, I’ll just have to do this again”. So, they have all types of reasons why they're not motivated to do it. A kid who can keep their room clean, knows how good it feels to be clean, keeps it organized throughout the week, that's a kid who's motivated to do it because that kid thinks it feels good to do it. But a kid who's like “I don't know how to do it”, typically they will have a parent or a family member who doesn't keep their room clean either, they'll see all that and be like “why are we doing this? I don't understand it”, you know?

[Kyle]: So, I love a quote by Becky Bailey, Sara, that I think really helped kind of deepen this understanding. Because I used to think positive intent was just like “oh, show them the benefit of doubt”, you know? Just like you said, even though-- I know it's deeper than what you're saying, but you're saying “believe they're doing the best they can”, “okay, I mean, I’ll just take that, we'll go hypothetically, we'll see what happens”, right? But I love this quote that “a child cannot behave differently until you see them differently”. Okay. So, when you when you hear that, what does that mean? I just want the listeners to think about it. “A child cannot behave differently until you see them differently”. What does that mean to you when you hear that?

[Sara]: Yeah, I think that's getting into why positive intent is powerful, right? So, we've just spent all this time of have positive intent and that is because it-- Well, I mean, I guess you kind of touched on it, but if you're told you're lazy, you're told you can't, you're told the negative stuff. That you're clumsy, whatever it might be, you do take those messages in and especially as parents, we have such a powerful role in our children's lives that what we say to them, they take to heart and it forms their identity and--

[Kyle]: It actually wires their brain to see themselves in a certain way.

[Sara]: Yeah, and it's different than even another adult saying it. Other adults can be really powerful, but that parent-child relationship is just such-- It's so meaningful to the child's who they are, who they become and so, our words, so positive intent, if a child hears all the good stuff from us and that benefit of the doubt and you are working hard and I see the effort and even if you're still struggling, then they can be that instead of the lazy.

[Kyle]: Yeah, I think that's important-- Yeah, you're doing the verbal stuff. I would even say-- Even if I don't say it, Sara.

[Kyle]: Yeah, I mean, I’m hitting that too, but just that how I see them in my own mind and how I perceive them, that's what I’ve seen it mean too, is even I’ve seen kids make changes to not “be lazy” or to be more responsible or to be more kind, but the parent-- Or be more honest, but the parent can't see it, because the parent already has it and they'll even say things like “he always lies, he never does his chores”. I mean, like even the way they're talking to themselves about the kid, leaves no growth for the kid, you know? So, even if the kid did it one out of ten times it's the one is not talked about, the other nine are, right? Or even the kids doing it four to ten times, the six other-- It's almost like unless it's a hundred percent in the parent's mind, it's zero percent and so, the kid eventually feels hopeless and says-- I’ve actually had kids say that to me like “I did the chores all summer long, I was diligent, I actually went above and beyond and then I forgot to do the dog food one day and they would not shut up about the dog food, how I didn't feed the dog and how it just confirmed to them everything they know about me” and so, the kid said “I’m not doing anymore, I’m not doing any of it. If that's who I am to them, then that's who I am and I’m not going to change that”.

[Sara]: Yeah, yeah. I think we do know; I see a little better where you're going now.

[Sara]: Catching up, we know and if you do much of brain research or studying and how the brain works, our brain, they look for patterns, it fills in the blanks and it sort of-- It does this behavior where it looks for what it expects and so, we actually can miss what our child is doing, because of the way we've wired our own brain about our child.

[Sara]: So, positive intent wires us to see the other, but if we don't do that, we will train our own brain to see the same thing over and over and over again, and that's our work, that's that comes back on us.

[Kyle]: Yeah, it has to happen with us, it has to start with us.

[Sara]: It doesn't matter what the child does.

[Kyle]: Yeah, they don't have to change our mind about it, we have to change our mind about it, so then they now are free to change what they're doing.

[Sara]: Yeah, yeah and there's also even things, you know, when you-- I think about the mirror neurons and things we're not going to get into today, but even just our body language and our facial expressions, our children pick up on them. Even if it's not consciously, our body and our brain picks up on if you walk into the room and let's say my room is messy, you walk into the room as my parent and how you just physically come into the room and your face, will convey a lot.

[Sara]: And we'll immediately start that interaction without any words happening and I know we know this, but we have to realize how very powerful that is and the wiring that's happening in the child's brain.

[Kyle]: Well, Sara, we've all felt it when people have done it to us.

[Kyle]: When we've had positive intent, we have had positive intentions in something we did and somebody misread everything we did and we've had our own kids maybe do that, well we've thought we're coming in, but the kid is ready for you to judge and criticize, but you're seriously coming open-handed. You're seriously like, you know, like I’ve actually had kids parents will tell them how much they love them, you know? Oh, that's a great example.

[Kyle]: I had one time a parent was interacting with the kid and the parent and the kid had a lot of negative interactions, the parent had a lot of negative intent about their child, but the parent found out that there was some disability the kid had, that the parent wasn't aware of and now this illuminated the parent and moved them towards compassion and when the parent came in and to talk to the kid, it was trying to be compassionate and saying “I’m sorry for how I’ve treated you and talked to you, I’m gonna change this. I now see the cause--”. The kid looked at the parent and said “don't do that to me, don't act like you're better than me. So, now you found a reason to feel sorry for me?” and it was just so telling about her-- This kid's brain had been wired to see the parent as being critical and judgmental and even when I could clearly see the parent was being compassionate, their interactions had been so toxic for so long. But then here's what was really cool, Sara, is the parent didn't let that negative intent, the parents said “you're right, I have done that for a long time and I’m sorry and I will change it, but I am being sincerely honest with you” and you could see all of a sudden, how the kids demeanor and body language change. It was like “oh, I was trying to do the dance we did were we both judge each other and thought the worst of each other, but wait, you still think the best of me and see good in me even when I’m being rude back to you?”, it was really powerful.

[Sara]: Yeah, yeah, and I love that example how invites the child, right? To then do something different and so, we realize the power we have that if I go and I do the work, to have positive intent towards my child, my body language, my facial expressions, the words that come out of my mouth, how I come alongside my child when they are struggling with something, will all be different because I’m coming from a place of positive intent.

[Kyle]: One hundred percent, one hundred percent, yeah.

[Sara]: And then that opens the door for the child, then they come back to me in a different way than maybe what's happened before, but invites them to come close to me and engage the problem and grow and learn and develop.

[Kyle]: Listen to this quote, Sara, this is another one I’m stealing from Dr. Becky Bailey, but it's just so good. She says “here is what positive intent does, it allows me to see the best in you, it allows you to see the best in me and then the best to me calls out to the best in you and the best of you can call back to me”. It's this really beautiful picture of like-- I don't know how many times it's happened where, maybe I’ve even interacted with you, Sara, and I’m not showing you the best, I’m actually showing you the worst. Maybe because I’m frustrated with myself, I feel-- I’m fearful of a situation, I’m anxious, I’m ashamed of some stupid thing I’ve done or something like that and so, I’m just in a bad mood and I’m being snippy and like-- And then you see the best in me and it makes it to where I can go “wait, this isn't who I want to be, I want to be that person I see in Sara's eyes right now, you know? I want to live up to that”, you know?

[Kyle]: It makes me think also about this idea of as I was listening-- Thinking about these quotes and contemplating as you and I were working on this and trying to rewire our own brains to see the best in our kids and the best in ourselves, is this idea of like “why are our kids even enjoyable?”. That our kids are enjoyable because we first enjoyed them. They're not enjoyable because some kind of like magic wand that happened, they're enjoyable because you and I spent time in those early years really enjoying them and so, I want our listeners to kind of think about that. Somebody is enjoyable because somebody enjoyed them, somebody is lovable because somebody loved them.

[Kyle]: So, if somebody's being unenjoyable, what they're actually needing me to do is not double down on the unenjoyableness by becoming unenjoyable myself, which is typically what we do, you know? You're unenjoyable to me, then I become unenjoyable. It's like “No. Oh, you're being unenjoyable, I wonder how I can enjoy you in this moment?” or “you're being unlovely, how can I love you in this moment?”, you know? It's so easy to love a child that is being lovely, it is when they are unlovely that we really get to show them what it means to be loved.

[Kyle]: Isn't that true? Sara's like super struggling because she almost had to sneeze during that time.

[Sara]: It is, it is. It’s very-- Yes, I got choked up.

[Kyle]: You there? You good?

[Sara]: Almost, almost.

[Kyle]: Okay. But it's such a powerful the way this moves into helping move resistance into cooperation, is because like, if I’m seeing the resistance you're giving me, I’m going then to see the worst in you and then I’m going to give you back the worst in me. The way-- What it helps us do to invite us into cooperation, is when we think somebody sees something better in me, it then makes me want to connect with you and then be more likely to cooperate with you.

[Sara]: Yeah, I think this is probably-- It's one of the biggest turning points as a person and how I engage everybody, especially my children and it's very, very powerful in a relationship between a parent and a child.

[Kyle]: Yeah, it's so necessary to shift the dynamics, you know? If you're a listener and you're having a lot of like, bad power struggles, a lot of-- I’m telling you, this is the skill you've got to start practicing to then shift those dynamics, you know? I’ll even give you one more example, Sara, was-- There was a day where in particular my brain, I was not having positive intent, I was having negative intent towards all three kids. I was just-- It was one of those days you have a lot to do, a lot of things on your checklist and you know what? Kids just didn't care about my checklist. So, I was trying to get it done and I was getting frustrated, I thought “you know what? I need a win; I need to win right now. I’m going to take them to Chick-fil-a and I’m going to like, go, we're going to have a great meal and the kids are going to love it, it's going to shift all of us, you know, in a better mood”.

[Kyle]: And so, we go to Chick-fil-a, I remember the kids immediately were looking at the food and they were like “but dad, this isn't what I wanted-- Dad, this--”, it was all this like-- And all my brain was thinking, I could not see anything but a lack of gratitude. I was just thinking “what kids have I raised? Like such ungrateful little kids. Like, I took you to Chick-fil-a and you still-- I mean, this is your favorite place to come and you still are not able to see gratitude for goodness sakes!?” and in that moment I remembered this skill. I thought “a child cannot behave differently until I see them differently”. “So, if I want grateful kids... Oh my gosh! What am I doing? I’m actually modeling a lack of gratitude while they're being ungrateful. So, how do I switch to gratitude?”.

[Kyle]: So, I did a thing where I just sat and I shut my mouth and I tried to calm myself down and I looked at each one of them and I tried to smile and just be so happy that I get to have these kids, that they're mine, that they're not sick, you know? That they're healthy, that they're all developing well, you know? That there's no glaring big scary issues. I mean, I can just see them so happy they're mine and I just smiled each of them and they kind of thought it was weird and they kind of looked at me like “what are you doing, dad?”. “Like, I’m just trying to be really grateful for all of you, because you guys are a gift and I’m just want to be grateful that I get to spend this time with you. Even if it's at Chick-fil-a and we're all complaining about the food, I just want to be grateful for that” and then it was neat to see as I did that, Sara, the kids were like “well, it wasn't that I didn't like the food, I did, I just--” and it was interesting how all of a sudden, the thing I thought was gigantic, this lack of gratitude, was actually very small. Like, they actually were very thankful for the food, they just were having some little nitpicky things about it, right? But I almost turned it into a gigantic mountain of like “look what we have done, this whole parenting approach stinks! Throwing out the window raising these ungrateful little rude brats!”. That was going on my head, but within a few minutes it had shifted to just like “I’m so glad I get to sit here with them”.

[Sara]: Yeah, yeah, and which invites them to shift.

[Kyle]: And invites them, yeah. I think they can then see in my eyes that they are grateful kids, you know? In many ways they are. In this moment maybe it was hard for them to be that, but they still are those kids, you know? So, what's some practical stuff real quick as wrapping up that you do, Sara, to help you shift? If you're seeing negative intent, if you-- One, how do you notice you are and then how do you shift to change that approach with them?

[Sara]: I think just knowing this skill and it's something that I practice outside of really hard times and it's something that you and I talk about. You and I even will say, will point it out, “I need to have positive intent”. I think we have to bring it up and talk about it.

[Sara]: We have to remember to do that work ourselves outside of the moment, the heat of the moment. It's really hard to step into it in the end of the moment, so I need to find ways I-- You know, sometimes I have kept a gratitude journal, you know? Which keeps me focused on why-- You know, what I love about my kids, what's wonderful about each one of them, a gratitude journal focused on my children.

[Sara]: So, I do that to stay in that place and to wire my brain into that place.

[Sara]: But in the moment, just like you just you said in that example, you have to stop and just take a deep breath. I tell myself “This is not an emergency, this is not the end of the world” and I have a moment here to take a deep breath and to refocus my mind and just like you said, maybe there's other ways, but I just switch it to “what do I love about them right now?”. Even if it's my screaming child in the back seat because the wrong cookie was put in the bag or something like that, just take a moment to fill your mind up with what you love about that child, which shifts me and then I can re-engage the moment from that space.

[Kyle]: Yeah, so good, and two things, we won't get into this because we have gone kind of long on this, but two things that I add to that, Sara, is when you're doing that, it's also important to do it to yourself, you know?

[Kyle]: So, a big part of this is having positive intent for yourself, you know? I love how Becky Bailey when she's teaching this she'll say “you know, we've all yelled at our kids and we did it because we loved them and thought it was the best thing to do at that time. We thought we needed to, but now you know there's a better way, so you don't need to keep doing it”. So, I think that was a big part for me too, Sara, was once I started doing it with the kids, I allowed the freedom to do it to myself. To go “yeah, I spoke to the kids in a way I didn't want to” or “yeah, I grabbed that thing out of Ellie’s hands and I wish I hadn't”, you know? But at that moment I felt like it was the best thing to do, I felt like I almost had to do that, you know? But I don't have to, I don't need to do that, I can do it a better way.

[Kyle]: And what you'll notice and I hope the listeners hear this, when you give yourself the positive intent, lots of people feel like this lets people off the hook. It actually doesn't, when you have positive intent towards your kid or toward yourself, it actually frees you to take responsibility for it and actually do it differently. That's really the big thing, is that it was such an eye-opening thing of like “wait, when I judge them and come at them, I actually don't give them any room to take responsibility because I take it for them. It's my job now to change you, to make you not be that bad thing I think you are, right? But if I actually believe the best in you and believe you're doing the best you can, it frees you then to take responsibility for your actions and then do something.” I know that's what it's done for me, it freed me then to change. I beat myself up long enough about not being the parent I wish I was, now I just believe I’m doing the best I can and I believe in my ability to grow and change and get even better.

[Sara]: Yeah. No, you're absolutely right, I think that is step one. Can't really give it to others if you can't give it to yourself, you've got to give it to yourself.

[Kyle]: And the last part and this is-- We'll do a whole another podcast about this, this is how you change the fighting among siblings. Is if you believe the best in them, they can start seeing the best in each other and then they stop judging each other stop, stop seeing them as like someone who's taking from them, but instead that's someone who's benefiting them, someone who-- Having a brother or sister makes their life better, you know? And so, that's just a little tease for another podcast some another time, but positive intent helps that sibling conflict change, because they learn to stop and think the best about their sibling. But it has to start with us, we have to do with ourselves first, then do it with them and then invite them to doing it with each other.

[Kyle]: So, I hope this was a really eye-opening, you know? I hope it's a thoughtful one, I hope it gave you a lot to think about for you to stop and even notice, how do you feel when people have negative intent towards you? Are you more likely to take responsibility? Are you more likely to be cooperative? I think for the most part, you'll notice you're less likely to do that, you're less likely to want to do what that person's saying, you're less likely to want to take responsibility for what happened. So, just notice that in your own interactions, then notice how even doing positive intent with your marriage or with your friendships, how much it shifts those relationships towards something that is more intimate, more vulnerable, more transparent, more healthy, you know?

[Kyle]: So, I really love talking about this and really hope that it illuminates stuff in your family. We'd love to hear your feedback and any thoughts you have, feel free to send comments to us. You can always go to our website at and email us from there ( and we get those and also, any other thoughts about future podcasts. So, hope you have a great day, this summer is hot, hope you're enjoying it.

[Sara]: Thank you for listening.

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