Amy McCready on 5 Hard Truths About Parenting (& Steps to a Calmer Home Life)



Child: Welcome to my Mommyís podcast.

This episode is brought to you by Dr. Stephen Cabral and his 21-Day health challenge. Are you struggling to lose weight and keep it off? Or tired of trying fad diets and juice cleanse only to be disappointed by the outcome? Dr. Cabral has worked with thousands of people on this and he knows that the only way to finally lose weight and get well is by removing the underlying root cause holding you back. Your liver filters all of the blood in your body every 6 minutes, but with the influx of toxins in our environment, our livers cannot keep up and our bodies have no choice but to store these toxins away in our fat cells, organs, and even our brain so they are not floating around in our blood stream. Over time this toxic buildup begins to cause symptoms of poor health and eventually can lead to all types of diseases in the body. The Dr. Cabral detox is a comprehensive, full body Functional Medicine detoxification system that gently eliminates harmful toxins while rebalancing the body at an underlying root cause level. Benefits of the 21 day detox include: Decrease bloating & puffiness, lose weight & speed up metabolism, rebalance your hormones, reset healthy inflammation levels, get clearer skin, enjoy healthy blood sugar levels, increase energy, improve sleep, and strengthen digestion. This is your chance to hit the whole body reset button and get guaranteed results. You can get a 21 Day Detox at $100 off or a 7 Day Detox at $20 off at

This episode is brought to you by Paleovalley- a family run company whose products Iíve loved for years. My family loves many of their products and their beef sticks and Essential C are daily staples at our house. But today, I wanted to specifically talk about another of their products that Iíve been loving lately, which is their apple cider vinegar supplement. Apple cider vinegar is great because it can support: Breaking down proteins (amino acids) for better absorption, improving the blood sugar response supporting with satiety and cravings. The main ingredient Acetic Acid supports in extracting nutrients from food for use by the body. They combine Apple Cider Vinegar with other healing spices (turmeric, ginger, cinnamon, and lemon) for added benefits for digestion. Studies also show that it can be helpful in increasing stomach acid to better absorb food, in supporting weight loss by helping you eat less, help with muscle cramps and improve glucose and insulin response. But the taste of straight-up apple cider vinegar is pretty strong, which is why these capsules are so great! The added spices give it an extra digestive and immune kick and I find this one especially helpful this time of year when Iím trying to shed the few extra pounds from the holidays. Check out this ACV supplement and all of their products at and use code mama15 at checkout for 15% off your order!

Katie: Hello and welcome to ďThe Wellness Mama Podcast.Ē Iím Katie from and, thatís ďwellnessĒ with an ďeĒ on the end. Thatís my personal care line. And this podcast is with someone who I love having conversations with, and who always shares so much great information. Iím here with Amy McCready who isÖshe describes herself as a recovering yeller, and sheís the founder of Positive Parenting Solutions and the creator of ď7-Step Parenting Success.Ē She has two best-selling books about parenting, and sheís always a well-sought after and well listened to guest on this podcast. She shares extremely practical information for families. And I will say firsthand that her tips have definitely changed my relationship with my children and been extremely helpful in my household.

This episode is about five hard truth about parenting and steps to calmer, easier home life. We talk about learning how to delve into why behaviors are happening in the first place, versus just reacting to them. And we talk about these five truth bombs, including things like kids continue the behaviors that work for them, parent priorities arenít the same as kid priorities, how to order, correct, and direct less, while getting actually more done in your home, why the carrot and stick approach doesnít work with consequences, and what to do instead. She has some really great practical tips here. How to encourage internal motivation and control, versus external motivators of control like rewards, and to help kids foster their sense of agency and capability.

As always, this is a super practical episode packed with lots of really applicable tips that you can implement today in your family. And I really recommend her course if you wanna go deeper on this. She takes you through everything from all the different ages of parenting, how to deal with things, everything from tantrums to getting kids to help out around the house to rebellious teenagers. And she has very practical approaches to all of those. So without further ado, letís go learn from Amy. Amy, welcome back.

Amy: Thanks for having me, Katie. Itís always such a joy to be with you.

Katie: Well, likewise. And every time youíre on, we get such great feedback. People love you. And Iím excited to get to go deeper on some of these topics that weíve talked about a little bit previously, today, especially what you call the five hard truths about parenting. And I think your work is so, so important right now, especially with moms and everything weíve had the last couple of years and the excess pressure that a lot of moms are feeling, not to mention the excess logistics many moms have been dealing with. So, certainly, thereís a lot to navigate, and I love that you have such clear approaches to actually helping tangibly make shifts, and that you really address the inner side and the motivation side, which I think is where a lot of the conversation in parenting can get lost when we donít actually take it down to that level.

So I feel like thereís a lot of kind of misunderstood aspects of parenting that you break down so, so clearly. And in your course, you talk about specific parenting truth bombs, which I love, that change how we think about parenting, and especially how we are acting in our family environment. And I know from getting to work with this amazing community of moms for so long, Iíve always said moms are the changemakers, moms are the most powerful force on the planet. And when you support the moms, you make ripples that help families, that help society, and your work definitely does that. So, to start off broad, maybe just walk us into a couple of these truth bombs that you talk about.

Amy: Yeah. So, just to your point, like, I just love to dig into why the behavior is happening in the first place. And itís natural for parents to want a bandaid solution, I want a consequence to stop this issue or that issue, or a reward to see more of this behavior that I want. But if we really dig into why the behaviors are happening in the first place, it allows us to be much more strategic in the strategies that weíre going to use. So, one of the first truth bombs that we talk about is that kids continue the behaviors that work for them. And that doesnít mean that kids are trying to be manipulative, but kids through trial and error find that certain behaviors give a particular payoff that theyíre looking for.

For example, and I think we might have even talked about this before, you know, when a young child is whining and the parent picks them up, like, the child learns that that behavior creates a particular result. Again, sheís not doing it to be manipulative, but she doesnít have the verbal communication skills to explain like, ďHey, mom, you know, Iíve been away from you all day at daycare. And I know youíre busy trying to make dinner, and youíre multitasking, and, like, youíre looking at your phone. But, like, what I really need is your time and attention right now, but I canít communicate that to you. And so all I know how to do is hang on your legs and cling to you and whine because when I do that, youíll pick me up.Ē And so thatís one example of how a behavior works for a child.

For older kids, you know, we know that kids have a need for personal power, they need to have some control over their own lives. And for a lot of kids, they donít feel like they have a lot of age-appropriate control. And so one of the ways that kids will get a sense of control is pushing their parentís buttons, you know, triggering them because that gives them a certain reaction. Itís not the kind of positive power they really want and positive control that they really need, but itís still a sense of control or power in what sometimes feels like a powerless situation for them. So, again, kids arenít trying to be manipulative, theyíre not trying to give us a hard time, but they go about through trial and error finding ways that give them the head of attention they need, the connection that they want, or the head of power that they have to have. And theyíll get that one way or another.

Katie: Yeah. I love how you explain that. And I think of you as like the functional medicine approach to parenting because itís like in nutrition and health, often if you hyper-fixate on a symptom and you just try to treat the symptom, you miss the reason why the symptomís happening in the first place. And I love that you apply this to parenting and say like, ďYeah, you could do a quick fix that addresses just this particular thing. But if youíre not stepping back and understanding why itís happening and then kind of fixing that initial thing thatís causing it, youíre just gonna keep repeating that same pattern of whatever the thing thatís happening is.Ē

And I love that point too about, you know, kids are natural connectors of dots. And thatís amazing. Theyíre designed to be like that. Thatís how they learn languages, and how they donít get discouraged, and how they have creativity, and all these amazing things. But that means, youíre right, theyíre not being manipulative, but theyíre paying attention and their brains are so hardwired to find patterns. So when we routinely do things in response to something they do, their brain is perfectly suited to go,Ē Oh, cause and effect, this is how I get this outcome.Ē And I know in our other episodes, youíve talked so beautifully about their need for belonging and significance, and often it going back to those. And so I think when we can step back and take that broad approach, it really helps us understand where theyíre coming from versus react to what theyíre doing.

Amy: You know, Katie, to that pointÖ everything that we teach in our program is based on the work of Alfred Adler and Adlerian psychology. And Alfred Adler said that children are excellent observers, but poor interpreters. And I think that crystallizes it because the child observes that when I hang on her legs, she will pick me up but doesnít understand how to really get the connection and attention that she wants, or when a new sibling comes into the family, the older child observes that when that little baby cries and fusses and poops in his diaper, mom or dad are on it and giving the attention and spending time with that child. And so very often, you see that regression with the older child when the new sibling comes home because, again, the child observed correctly but didnít interpret properly how to get what they need in terms of that attention on the belonging and significance that you mentioned.

Katie: And it seems then like the antidote to a lot of this is if you identify that core need, finding a way to give them what they actually need without them having to do behavior that might be the behavior you donít want them to do, can you give a couple of examples of that?

Amy: Absolutely. And I think weíve talked about this in a previous segment. So, instead of having the child try to get your attention or that connection that they need through the negative behaviors, why not front-load what the kid really needs, right? And so one of my favorite tools to do that is called Mind, Body, and Soul Time. And Mind, Body, and Soul Time, some of your listeners probably already know, is spending 10 to 15 minutes with each child one-on-one every day where you are proactively and positively filling their attention bucket. And so the definition of Mind, Body, and Soul Time is one-on-one time, one parent one child, where you are fully present in mind, body, and soul so there are no distractions, your phone isnít around, the other siblings arenít around, if you have a partner, theyíre not around. Itís when, you know, that child has you completely to himself, and youíre doing what that child wants to do for that 10 minutes.

And so talk about a hit of emotional connection. They have you all to themselves for that 10 minutes and ahead of power because for once in this kidís day, she gets to call the shots on what youíre going to do because so much of a kidís day is adult-directed, either parent or teacher. And so this is one of those few opportunities where they really get to call the shots. So Mind, Body, and Soul Time once a day, 10 minutes with each kid and I know every listenerís probably thinking, ďOh, yeah, Amy, right. Like, I have 10 minutes, and I have three kids.Ē But I promise you, youíre already spending that 10 minutes on the nonsense behavior, the power struggles, the fights over technology, whatever it happens to be, youíre spending that time already. Weíre just gonna spend it on the front end positively and proactively because when we do, then those negative nonsense behaviors start to fall off the radar screen. So thatís an example of how you can front end what the kid really needs, in this case, that emotional connection with you.

Katie: I love that. And to speak to that, I have six kids and this is actually one of the most freeing parts of what Iíve learned from you is even with six kids, thatís only one hour a day. And it has relieved pressure in so many other areas of motherhood that itís actually, even with six kids, freed up time because our home environment is so much calmer because they all feel connected. And itís also, like, led to just beautiful independent connections with each of my kids and their ability to ask for what they want, which I think is a very valuable life skill that Iím very glad theyíre learning to put into words like I would love to do this thing. Just so many benefits to that. I know you also have one of these hard truths about priorities. And Iíd love to talk to the priority aspect.

Amy: Yes. So one of the truth bombs of parenting is that parent priorities are not the same as kid priorities. And when I say that, your listeners are probably like, ďYeah, right. I know that like, right? Kid priorities are not the same as parent priorities.Ē But again, think about that childís day. So much of our communication with them are about parent priorities, cleaning your room, and getting off the technology, and itís time to eat, and itís time to do that, and you have to get, you know, your piano lesson done. And thereís so much ordering, correcting, and directing from us to them about our priorities. But if weíre not meeting their priorities, like the need for emotional connection through Mind, Body, and Soul Time, you can see where the kids gonna be like, ďNo, Iíve had it, I am pushing back.Ē

And so the lesson there is that if weíre constantly pushing our agenda and our priorities, we are going to have power struggles, like, that is a guarantee. So we had better be using effective strategies from the toolbox to be able to get those things done that arenít necessarily our kidís priority. But the other key thing is that if weíre not meeting their emotional needs for emotional connection and attention and positive power, you know, weíre gonna continue to struggle there. So just that realization, like, ďOh, yeah, my kids donít really care if the room is clean, or if thereís a wet towel on the floor.Ē Thatís my priority, and they could care less about that, actually.

Katie: Youíre right. That seems like a simple thing, but itís so profound because as moms, especially, often our priorities seem logistical. Like, the house needs to be clean, food needs to be on the table, we have to get all these places. And so we get swept up in this idea of we all need to be on the same page about these priorities without really stepping back and asking, like, what are their actual priorities? And how could I align their motivations to actually want to help accomplish these same things? And what do they need to feel supported? And I think when we look at it like that, it changes the whole conversation completely. And I think this also ties into another one that you mentioned about, I think, number three, that I think when you say it, every mom is gonna be like, ďOh, well, yeah, thatís true, but I havenít thought about it in that particular way before.Ē

Amy: Yes. So truth bomb number three is that human beings are born with free will. And again, duh, we all know that, but think about how that relates to your kidís behavior. Again, I donít know about you, Katie, but my personality tends to be a little bit on the controlling side. Iím very type A, I want things done a certain way. And the more that I, again, order, correct, and direct, the more I want things done my way, the natural reaction for any human being, large or small, is for them to push back because nobody wants to be told what to do, nobody wants to be pushed around because we are all born with free will. And I always tell parents like, ďIt doesnít matter if your child is 18 months old or 18 years old. They have the free will to listen to you, to cooperate, to do the right thing, and they have the free will to fight you every step of the way.Ē So howís it gonna go, right?

And so that requires us to use strategies that are aligned with their free will. Having them have some say so in the way things are done. Again, not that they rule the roost, but, my goodness, we have to give them some sense of decision-making opportunity for littles all the way up to the bigs, or theyíre not going to have the opportunity to exercise their God-given in their DNA need for free will, right? So, for all kids, you know, we talk about creating a decision-rich environment. And that means that everybody has the opportunity to weigh in on things.

So, for little kids, itís things like, do you want to use the blue towel or the yellow towel, right? Do you want to use this toothbrush or that toothbrush? Again, itís a decision. I always say decisions equal power. So every decision that a human makes, theyíre getting a little hit of power, they have a sense of agency over their own world. For bigger kids, it can be, you know, helping plan the menu for the week, or if you are a homeschooling family, getting involved in the lesson plans. There are so many opportunities within the family environment where we can bring kids into the decision-making process that give them a sense of agency and let them feel like they have some sense of control over their own lives because they have free will, and in the end, the decision on whether or not they listen, cooperate, do the right thing, itís always their choice.

Katie: Yeah. I donít think we can overstate how important that is and also how it changes the whole energy of the home when I think parents come from a place of respect for that. I think any mom whoís ever had a 2-year-old understands logically that you cannot actually force a child to do anything. And if you want an exercise in futility, attempt it with a 2-year-old, certainly. But I think it touches on that importance of agency which often maybe gets overlooked, especially when things get busy and overwhelming in the parenting dynamic. But how you talk about age-appropriate control, I think thatís such an important piece because the goal is weíre raising adults, weíre not raising kids.

And so I had always thought of it as by the time theyíre even young teenagers, I want them to have the agency and have the skills to be able to be largely self-sufficient, and to be there more as a guide for the bigger decisions or the harder things, but theyíre so capable by that age of understanding, and by young ages as well, understanding so much. Maybe what are some tangible ways to support them at different ages in that age-appropriate control, especially as we have a bunch of teenagers now when theyíre in that phase where they are psychologically supposed to be separating and independent, and being able to make decisions? Any tangible tips for guiding them into that.

Amy: Absolutely. And I want to just go back for one minute, if you donít mind, Katie, when we were talking about sort of like who has the control? Just in the parenting strategies that we use, we can affect their sense of agency. So there is this sort of belief in some parenting that, you know, we have to use the carrot and the stick approach, right? Iím gonna reward the behaviors that I want to see more of, and Iím gonna punish the ones that Iím trying to change. And just that philosophy fosters an external locus of control, external agency. So the childís not making a decision or a choice because itís the right thing to do, itís because what their internal compass is directing them to do, itís because, you know, A, theyíre trying to get this reward or the gimme, again, this external force thatís affecting their behavior or choices, or theyíre trying to avoid this punishment, this bad thing that could happen if they make that choice.

So itís not their internal compass directing their behavior, itís these external forces. And thatís what weíre really trying to get away from the parenting strategy piece because as you said, we are raising kids who are going to go out into the world and we want them to have good decision making, we want them to make good choices because itís the right thing, not because there are these external forces of reward and punishment that are influencing what they sayÖIím sorry, influencing what they do. So you ask the question, I totally took a tangent there, but I felt the need to mention that. So you asked the question about what are some ways we can support kids in fostering that sense of agency? Well, at all ages, just developing their sense of capability, all right?

So youíve heard me talk about belonging and significance so many times. That sense of significance means, you know, I am capable, I make a difference, I contribute in meaningful ways. And that gives them a sense of agency and control. And so, at all ages, we should be fostering their sense of capability by training them on age-appropriate tasks. So, for little kids, it can be self-care activities, it can be little jobs in the home, whether itís, you know, wiping off chairs, things that they can reach, getting their own bowls and cereal, like putting things at age-appropriate levels, anything that allows the child to function independently. I always like to ask the question, if no adults lived in this home, how could this child operate completely independently, right? So anything that we can do to foster their capability and make the physical environment easier for them to be independent, that fosters that sense of personal agency and significance.

And then as they get older, as I mentioned, bringing them into the decision-making process, the more that you can create a decision-rich environment, the more that you donít have to be in charge of everything. Let the kids get involved in family decisions as appropriate. That is such a power hit for kids and it makes them feel like, ďLife is not being done to me, I have some personal influence over how my life turns out, how my day in, day out turns out.Ē So creating that decision-rich environment is so important. The other thing is, you know, allowing them letting go so they can make some age-appropriate risks, right? So whether itís, you know, allowing them to do things that may be a little bit outside of your parental comfort zone. But if theyíve created a plan, and you feel good about it, and youíve talked about all of the what-ifs that could happen, and again, this could be a 6-year-old or a 16-year-old, but showing that you have the confidence that they can do new things and take reasonable risks, those are all things that develop their sense of personal agency.

Katie: Yeah, I love that. And I think part of that too, at least Iím seeing in my teenagers is also realizing when they do take those risks, sometimes things wonít work out how they hoped. And thatís such a beautiful learning experience and a chance to have that conversation of like, you know what? For adults too, sometimes we run into failure and things donít work out the way we thought. So how does that feel? And, like, what could maybe have changed? What could you have done differently that might have had a different outcome, but still letting it be theirs to work through versus jumping in and problem-solving at that point when something doesnít go exactly how they hoped. And weíve talked about it a little bit, and I want to go deeper on this, the difference between punishment and discipline and how this plays out. And I know thereís another truth bomb related to this as well.

Amy: Yeah. So punishment versus discipline, and we talk about this a lot in our 7-Step Parenting Success System. So, punishment, and Iím gonna give you a Jane Nelsen definition, you probably know her as the founder of ďThe Positive Discipline Movement.Ē And she describes punishment as any tactic that causes the child to feel blame, shame, or pain that can be physical or emotional. And certainly, punishment, that carrot stick approach that I kind of talked about before, that can certainly work in the short-term, right? That can interrupt the behavior in the moment, but itís typically not helpful for long-term behavior change because when a child is experiencing, or an adult for that matter, is experiencing blame or shame, thatís like the worst emotion I think, or pain, their instinctive reaction is to shut down, you know, go undercover. You have lost the learning opportunity at that moment.

So, punishment, based on blame, shame, or pain is typically an action that happens as a result of a previous behavior. Discipline is really focused on training for the future. So, discipline comes from the Latin root disciples or disciple, which means, as a verb, to teach or to train. And so they were always looking for the training opportunity. Yes, kids will mess up, and they will be held accountable, and all of those things, but any strategy that we use with kids should always be through the lens of, ďIs this helpful and is this going to further their skills, their knowledge, to help them make a better decision in the future?Ē And so thatís why, you know, we always just want to make sure that we are focusing on training. And so the truth bomb that I think you were referring to was that, when we use blame, shame, and pain punishment, we create an environment that virtually guarantees that kids will lie.

And as parents, like, we totally freak out about the idea that kids are gonnaÖyou know, we freak out when kids lie. But we have to understand that lying is a perfectly reasonable response when youíre a kid. And if youíre a kid and you expect that blame, shame, and pain is gonna follow, right? Any kid, even an adult would probably lie to get out of that. So when we have this blame, shame, and pain, Iíve messed up, and I am gonna be in so much trouble, and blame, shame, and pain is coming, of course, kids are gonna lie to get out of that situation. And so the beautiful thing is that when you shift from that carrot and stick approach, from punishment to discipline with a focus on training and skill development, and fostering that open communication in the relationship, kids donít have to be afraid when they mess up, right? They can come to you and youíre can talk about it because they know theyíre not going to be in trouble. Like, sometimes we have to fix things and make it right, but thatís not a huge deal. Thatís just part of learning and growing up. But they know that they can come to us and we are going to help them with solutions rather than just punishing them for something that they did that, you know, can be for any number of reasons.

Katie: Yeah. I think back to my own childhood and I think by all accounts, my parents did so many things amazing, and Iíve learned so much from them. But I can also think of instances in my childhood where their reactions were more in that blame, shame category, and even at a young age. And then when I was a teenager and I would hear them say like, ďYou know, if you ever are in a bad situation or youíre in trouble or whatever, you can always call us, and we wonít be angry, and weíll come get you.Ē But I didnít ever feel actually able to do that because I knew the pattern.

And so itís like learning these things early at a lower cost environment when theyíre young to build that trust so that when they are older, they do actually feel comfortable. I saw a beautiful quote the other day that said, ďYou know, when my kids mess up, I hope that their first thought is like, ĎI really want to call my mom.í Not like, ĎOh, momís gonna kill me.íĒ

Amy: Absolutely, absolutely. I love that. You know, itís so funny. I was just having a conversation the other day with somebody who one of our positive parenting solutions students who had seen a therapist for some challenges that her daughter was having. And so the parent is in our program and has a focus on discipline and training for the future and that sort of thing. And the therapist actually had recommended this very harsh punishment after the fact, like after the kid did this thing. But so often with our kids, theyíre not trying to do the wrong thing very often, especially with younger kids. They have a lack of impulse control, or they donít have the skills yet to manage their really big emotions. Like, there are so many reasons why kids make what we perceive as poor choices. But if all weíre doing is punishing them for that, it only reinforces the feeling that I must be a bad person, Iím a bad kid, and it doesnít do anything to help that child with a skill development to prevent the behaviors from happening in the future.

Katie: Itís so important. And this kind of segues perfectly into the next truth bomb, which is a hard lesson Iíve learned largely from you in parenting, and also that I see applying in business, which is anytime within the culture of whether itís family or my team in business, that thereís a problem. The vast majority of cases, I can trace that back to a leadership problem, which means that is great because that means I actually have some ability to change that course at that point. But I think this is also very applicable here and maybe a hard one for parents to hear. I know it was like a hard shift for me to realize is like when my kids are doing these things, step back and go, ďOh, okay, is this actually a parenting problem?Ē But letís talk about this number five truth bomb.

Amy: Yes. So the truth bomb is that misbehavior is never just a kid problem. And thereís a parenting educator, Alyson Schafer, who said it differently, and she says that misbehavior is a co-created experience. And I think thatís a great way to put it too. You know, we so often think we have to fix our kids, but we donít take personal responsibility. And this is not about pointing fingers or blame or any of that, but itís just a fact of human life. Like, even between two married partners, I say something that triggers my husband and then he says something back and so, like, whose fault is it? You know, itís always a co-created experience. And so with our kids, this is such a wonderful opportunity because if we can adjust our reactions, then weíre 50% of the way to solving a lot of those behavior issues.

So one of the things that we always look at is our personalities. So, in our program, we have parents go through this personality assessment. I know youíre already familiar with that, but it helps you identify how your natural bend, like how your natural personality brings out certain behaviors or responses in your parenting. So mine is very controlling and so my personality naturally invites power struggles, thatís my natural bend. And so if Iím not aware of that and if I donít use strategies that are more effective, then Iím going to have one power struggle after another with the important people in my life. So, our own personality style is really important. But again, super empowering because if we can just not have to change your personality but just recognize your typical responses and then do something differently, and, of course, there are lots of strategies to help you do that.

The second thing is just the way you respond to misbehavior. So, like backtalk is a very common thing that, you know, our parents deal with. And so when the kid talks back, you know, gives some sassy remark, the parent has a choice in that moment, right? Like, you can respond back with power, like, ďWho do you think you are young man to talk to me that way?Ē You can respond back with power, or you can just defuse the situation and say, ďWow, I love you too much to fight with you about this right now.Ē Right? Like, you make that a little emotional connection, ďI know youíre really upset about this. Letís table this and talk a little bit later.Ē

So, in that moment, if you just create that moment of emotional connection and then disengage, ďIím ready to talk to you whenever you want to talk, but Iím not going to engage in this battle with you,Ē and so that is so empowering as a parent because I still feel like Iím in control when I do that, right? Iím in control of myself, Iím in control of a situation, and Iíve created a bridge with a child, Iíve created an emotional connection so he knows, ďI get it. I know youíre having a really hard time right now, but I love you too much to argue about this.Ē

So just making some simple adjustments to how we respond to behavior in the moment can totally defuse so many power struggles, as opposed to, you know, adding fuel to the fire and actually escalating the power struggle based on our sort of gut or intuitive response.

Katie: Yeah. And I love how you talk about this in terms of, like, how to be more aware of our intuitive parenting responses and how to, like, choose different behaviors that help our kids than choose different behaviors because I think intuition is a great tool. And in many areas of life, itís awesome. But I think in parenting, thereís so many things that come into play there, whether it be how we were parented as a child and our own inner child responses to now when our kids have big emotions, or that power struggle that certainly as adults we can get swept up into as well. So can you talk a little bit about maybe dissecting some of those intuitive parenting responses with maybe tools to change the conversation then?

Amy: Yes, absolutely. So, you know, I think the thing that is great about our intuitive response is being loving and nurturing and all of those types of things, like that we want to keep doing, of course. But one intuitive response is just what I gave you, like that sense of, like, needing to be in control and shutting it down, and in meeting power with power. That for a lot of us is an intuitive response, totally not helpful, right? So learning those other strategies like I just talked about are really important. The other intuitive response is kind of, I call it sort of not making waves, right? Like, you donít want to get into a battle, like, you know, I find parents really have a hard time implementing boundaries around technology, for example, because theyíre like, ďOh, this is going to be a battle. Thereís no way my kid is going to go for this.Ē So you donít put that boundary in place.

Sometimes we donít do the thing that weíre kind of like supposed to do. We donít do the hard thing because we fear the wrath and we donít want to make waves. But in that situation, I think we have to just think about our short-term versus our long-term parenting goals. In the moment, in the short-term, yes, itís just a lot easier to just kind of go with the flow and not make waves. But is that in service to our long-term parenting goals, which is to raise responsible, respectful people who understand boundaries and consequences and all of those kinds of things? So that tends to create kind of that pendulum parenting. So where the pendulum swings back and forth between, you know, being too strict and tons of rules, and, you know, really in control all the time, and then that creates a whole lot of power struggles.

And so then we swing to the other direction where itís just like, sort of, go with the flow, and then that creates a mess. So itís finding that happy medium where you have boundaries in place, thereís a sense of accountability. But thatís all handled with respect. So itís just being very clear on what our long-term job description is here, right? Taking these people who are completely dependent on us and getting them to a point where they are completely independent, fully functioning adults who can go out into the world and, you know, function successfully. And thereís a lot that has to happen, obviously, to get them from one point to the other. But itís keeping that balance between our loving intuition and being nurturing and all of that, but making sure that that doesnít get in the way of our long-term job.

Katie: Yeah. And that long-term focus, I think, helps be more clear when youíre in the moment of whatís going to actually best serve them long-term, like they do need agency at some point, they do need these skills. And so is my short-term response thatís going to make my life may be easier in this moment actually going to make my life harder in the long term? And to this note, you talk your way about consequences, and that you say you canít consequence your way to a better behavior. And yet, I know as moms, all of us can think of instances where we were, like, in a struggle with our kid, or we had a very particular problem, and you have the whole five-step process for consequences. So letís talk a little bit about this in a tangible way.

Amy: Yes. So let me go through the 5 Rís, kind of the formula that we teach, and then weíll talk about that truth bomb because thatís sort of a good way to wrap it up. So the 5 Rís formula is actually adapted from Jane Nelsenís ďPositive Discipline,Ē and itís just a great way to ensure that when we are using consequences that theyíre being handled in a way that actually will serve the child, will create a learning opportunity, will help them become more responsible, and do not include any blame, shame, or pain. So the first of the 5 Rís is that the consequence is respectful to the child and to the adult. And so that means it would not involve any physical pain and it would not involve emotional blame or shame as well. So itís handled in a very calm and respectful way. You as the adult, youíre not out of control, youíre handling it in a very respectful way as well.

The second of the Rís is that the consequence must be related to the misbehavior. And this is where parents most often miss the boat, in my opinion, because there is this, and this can be one of those sort of misunderstood parenting ideas out there, that thereís this idea that the way that we manage behavior is we leverage the thing that the kid cares about the most, right? So if the kid cares about technology, or allowance, or going out with their friends, or whatever it is, thatís the thing we leverage. So if they behave well, we let them have the technology. If they donít behave well, then we take away the technology. So we use that thing that they care about the most for every behavior situation.

Well, that doesnít work because it doesnít create a learning opportunity. But what ends up happening is the kidís like forget about the technology, whatever, right? Like, the power struggle with a parent becomes more important than that thing that he supposedly cared about that much. So, instead of just doing that willy-nilly taking away technology for everything, we want to make sure that the consequence is related to the misbehavior. So, for little kids, if the kid doesnít wear a bike helmet, then the related consequence is then you canít ride your bike. Like, itís specifically connected to that issue. If you donít make curfewÖand again, weíve agreed on all these things ahead of time. This is, like, not a one-off situation, but weíve agreed on these things ahead of time. If you donít make curfew, well, then youíre not going to get to go out with your friends the following weekend. And if you canít follow our family rules for technology, well, then youíre going to lose your technology privileges for a previously agreed-upon period of time.

So those things are absolutely related. Thereís a connection and that learning event takes place. And so, in the childís mind, they may not like the consequence, but it does feel fair, right? Like, itís connected and it feels fair.

The third R is that the consequence has to be reasonable in duration. And this comes from that mindset of punishment versus discipline. So consequences are not intended to make your kids suffer or pay for their mistake, right? And consequences are intended to help them learn. And so to do that, it only needs to be reasonable, right? Reasonable timeframe based on the childís age and development. What sometimes happens, though, is if a consequence isnít working, then parents will say, ďOkay, thatís it, two more weeks,Ē right? Like, they make it more severe. If the consequence isnít working, it probably means that it was not set up appropriately in the first place, or more likely that consequences were not the right tool.

So weíve got respectful, related to the misbehavior, reasonable in duration. The fourth R is that it has to be revealed in advance. Like, you canít just do consequences willy-nilly. You have to have a conversation about that ahead of time and talk about, ďYou know, Iíve noticed weíve been having some issues around technology. It seems like when I asked you to turn off the iPad, either you ignore my request, or thereís a lot of moaning and groaning, or begging for more time, and, you know, thatís not okay because we do have technology limits in our family. And to enjoy those technology privileges, you have to be able to follow the rules. So letís talk about that.Ē And so then you reveal what the consequence will be if that happens again in the future, right? If you ignore my request, if thereís moaning and complaining, if, you know, thereís begging for more time, then youíre going to lose your technology privileges for the next week, or the next day depending on the kidís age.

But when we do that, again, weíre having a very calm conversation, this is not in the heat of anger, then that allows the child to understand, ďOkay, what is the concerning behavior, and I understand what the consequence will be because consequentiality is a fact of life, right? Well, people will learn consequentiality, theyíre either going to learn it at home with you where itís safe and the stakes are lower, or theyíre gonna learn it out in the world when itís, you know, a lot scarier. So it is our job description to help them learn that in a safe way. So now, Iíve revealed the consequence in advance, but I want to close the loop with the fifth R, which is having them repeat back. ďSo just so weíre on the same page on this, can you just repeat back to me what our new rule is for the iPad, and what the consequences will be if you choose not to follow that rule?Ē And then once the child repeats back, then you know that you have a verbal agreement, right? He understood, you confirmed that, and now weíre good to go.

And so if the time comes that I actually have to follow through and implement that consequence, itís not going to be a surprise, He may not like it, but itís not going to be a surprise because weíve had this conversation and he repeated back to me. So, you know, he canít be mad at me, he can only be mad at himself. Now, of course, heís gonna be mad at me and thatís okay. Thatís part of this process. But the key is weíve given the child the opportunity to make a choice, right? He can follow the rules for technology, or if not, well, then thereís a consequence that goes with that. So, again, following those 5 Rís ensures that it creates a learning opportunity for the child. He has some agency. Now, again, it may not be what he wants. If you left it up to kids, you know, theyíd have technology access all day long with no limits. So it may not be what he wants, but he still has some control over whether or not he gets to continue having his privileges based on the choices that he makes.

Katie: And that consistency and clarity seems to be so helpful for kids in heading off a lot of these problems. Iíve noticed with my own kids because it makes sense when you put yourself in the childís shoes if only sometimes thereís a result of an action, and sometimes thereís not, and the result changes all the time, and you donít know what itís going to be, youíre living in this very uncertain environment which leads to more emotional instability. And also, youíre more likely to test those boundaries because theyíre always changing anyway. And so having this ahead of time, I feel like, yeah, kids still might not like it, but at least they respect that they understand it and that it was presented respectfully. And then weíre honoring, to your point, their agency ahead of time.

This episode is brought to you by Dr. Stephen Cabral and his 21-Day health challenge. Are you struggling to lose weight and keep it off? Or tired of trying fad diets and juice cleanse only to be disappointed by the outcome? Dr. Cabral has worked with thousands of people on this and he knows that the only way to finally lose weight and get well is by removing the underlying root cause holding you back. Your liver filters all of the blood in your body every 6 minutes, but with the influx of toxins in our environment, our livers cannot keep up and our bodies have no choice but to store these toxins away in our fat cells, organs, and even our brain so they are not floating around in our blood stream. Over time this toxic buildup begins to cause symptoms of poor health and eventually can lead to all types of diseases in the body. The Dr. Cabral detox is a comprehensive, full body Functional Medicine detoxification system that gently eliminates harmful toxins while rebalancing the body at an underlying root cause level. Benefits of the 21 day detox include: Decrease bloating & puffiness, lose weight & speed up metabolism, rebalance your hormones, reset healthy inflammation levels, get clearer skin, enjoy healthy blood sugar levels, increase energy, improve sleep, and strengthen digestion. This is your chance to hit the whole body reset button and get guaranteed results. You can get a 21 Day Detox at $100 off or a 7 Day Detox at $20 off at

This episode is brought to you by Paleovalley- a family run company whose products Iíve loved for years. My family loves many of their products and their beef sticks and Essential C are daily staples at our house. But today, I wanted to specifically talk about another of their products that Iíve been loving lately, which is their apple cider vinegar supplement. Apple cider vinegar is great because it can support: Breaking down proteins (amino acids) for better absorption, improving the blood sugar response supporting with satiety and cravings. The main ingredient Acetic Acid supports in extracting nutrients from food for use by the body. They combine Apple Cider Vinegar with other healing spices (turmeric, ginger, cinnamon, and lemon) for added benefits for digestion. Studies also show that it can be helpful in increasing stomach acid to better absorb food, in supporting weight loss by helping you eat less, help with muscle cramps and improve glucose and insulin response. But the taste of straight-up apple cider vinegar is pretty strong, which is why these capsules are so great! The added spices give it an extra digestive and immune kick and I find this one especially helpful this time of year when Iím trying to shed the few extra pounds from the holidays. Check out this ACV supplement and all of their products at and use code mama15 at checkout for 15% off your order!

And Iíd love to kind of maybe go through a couple of quick examples of like what to do if situations for maybe common things that might be coming to mind and the parents listening. We talked a lot about screentime which was super, super helpful. I think another one that comes up often I hear from moms at least is, what if they donít want to do their jobs around the house and contribute to the family?

Amy: Yes, so not wanting to do their jobs around the house. And this is where we introduce that last truth bomb that I mentioned that you canít consequence your way to better behavior. And what I mean by thatÖpardon me, what I mean by that is that consequences are not the go-to tool for every situation, right? And so thatís why we have an entire toolbox of different strategies. Sometimes you use consequences when it clearly meets those 5 Rís. But if it doesnít clearly meet those 5 Rís, then we donít use it. And doing family jobs is one example of that. So I think weíve talked about this before, Katie, but a lot of our listeners probably refer to these family jobs as chores, and Iím going to beg them to stop using the word chore. And instead, use the term family contributions because that reinforces to your kids that when they do things around the house when they help out, they really are making a difference. Theyíre contributing to the greater good of your family, and that fosters their sense of significance and agency, as weíve been talking about all along.

So the first step is to make sure that your kids know that theyíre contributing, that you are encouraging their contributions, like just saying something like, ďYou know what? I know that unloading the dishwasher is your least favorite job. But I want you to know that when you do that, that makes such a difference for me, like itís a huge job that I donít have to do, and I want you to know that I appreciate that so much.Ē Just that simple encouragement can make all the difference for our kids. So make sure, again, these are our priorities, not theirs. So letís make sure that we give lots of encouragement and appreciation for when our kids do help out.

The next thing is to use different strategies to get those things done. So one of them, and I think weíve talked about this before, Katie, is a when-then routine. A when-then routine requires the yucky stuff be done before the more fun parts of your routine. So if your kids are normally allowed an hour of technology time, your routine should always be set up so that when your homework is done and your family contributions are completed and Iíve checked them, if thatís necessary in your family, then you can enjoy your technology time. So we always set up those routines in a when-then format. Now, the technology is not a reward or a bribe, itís something that heís normally allowed to have. Youíre just structuring the routine so that the yucky stuff has to get done before he enjoys the more fun parts of the routine. That works beautifully for getting family contributions done. Now, they still may moan and groan about it. You just let that go in one ear and out the other and just say, ďWhen your jobs are done, then you can enjoy your technology.Ē So thatís one example.

Another one that I really love is to invite cooperation. So, again, these are our priorities and not our kids. And so sometimes itís nice for kids to have agency and whether they do those jobs or not. So maybe itís something outside of their normal responsibilities. Maybe, you know, you have a call right after dinner and normally, you know, you might be cleaning up the kitchen, but you might say, ďHey, guys, I have a call right after dinner, anything that you could do to help out with the kitchen would be amazing.Ē Or whatever it is. ďAnything that you can do to help out with that putting the laundry away would be amazing.Ē But when we give kids the option, ďanything that you can do to help,Ē and we give them the choice, and we have to be fully prepared that they may be like, ďNo, I donít want to do it.Ē But Iím telling you 90% of the time, they will do it when you invite participation or cooperation rather than demanding it. Again, itís giving them the power, the agency on how things are done.

The other thing that I will tell you is that if you are doing Mind, Body, and Soul Time on a regular basis, Katieís nodding her head, yes, if you are doing Mind, Body, and Soul Time on a regular basis, your kids, I promise you will be so much more cooperative in doing the things that are your priorities, like the family contributions. So it all works together to create an environment where everybody has that sense of belonging and significance and weíre all working for the greater good. We may not enjoy those jobs, we may not love all the rules that are in place, but weíre going along with everything because weíre working as a team, working as a family. Thatís just how we roll.

Katie: Yeah. I love how you lay that out. And I will make sure we have links to your course as well because that was a game-changer for me, personally. I think another one that is a high-stress point for a lot of moms with young kids is the temper tantrum power struggle scenario that happens with little ones. And I know you have some really specific helpful suggestions for these instances as well. But I know that one emotionally to moms can often feel overwhelming. And I think thereís a really beautiful opportunity in those to make sure they have the space to feel and affirm their emotions, and also guide their actions. And you explain this so well.

Amy: Well, yes, the temper tantrum is so stressful for parents, and itís not just for littles, itís for bigger kids too. Anytime kids are not in control of their emotions, thatís really scary for us. So I think the most important thing is for parents to adjust their mindset. And so very often we view a temper tantrum or a meltdown as a behavior issue. And itís not, right? Ninety-nine times out of 100, it is just the child is having a really hard time with their big emotions, they donít have the skills to work through a transition, or they donít have the skills to manage big emotions or disappointment, or whatever it is. So, again, thinking about our job description, that is to help them build those skills. So, in the moment when that temper tantrum happens, if we can stay calm, and just remember like, ďItís okay, every parent goes through this even if itís in the middle of the grocery store,Ē if we can just stay home and help them calm down and then transition out of those big feelings, thatís going to be the most helpful thing that we can do in the moment. Letting them know that we are there, we get it, itís hard, itís hard.

If we create that empathy in the moment and that emotional connection, then we can start to transition them out of it. However, outside of the moment, we have to be doing a lot of skill training in this area because there are a lot of things that we can be teaching our kids on breathing techniques and all sorts of things that they can be doing when their emotions become more than they can handle. And even though weíre doing all of these things outside of the moment, and the breathing training, and all of those things, thereís no way theyíre going to be able to remember that in the moment. And so, again, that is our job in the moment is to be the bridge to take that child from that super escalated tantrum meltdown that theyíre having and move them to a place where they can start using some of those strategies weíve worked on outside the moment, the belly breathing, whatever it is. But we are there with them side by side to help them through that, as opposed to viewing it as a misbehavior that, you know, weíve got to crack down on.

The other thing too, Katie, of course, is also recognizing the triggers, right? And if you kind of keep track over the course of a couple of weeks on when those tantrums are happening, in which situations, you can usually identify some reoccurring themes. So they tend to happen, you know, right before Iím ready to start cooking dinner. Well, maybe a little dose of Mind, Body, and Soul Time right before youíre ready to start cooking dinner could preempt some of that. Weíre filling their attention bucket, giving that dose of belonging and significance. Mind, Body, and Soul Time can be extremely regulating for kids who have big emotions. So if we start to identify some patterns in when those tantrums are happening, and then we can go and say, ďOkay, what can I do to preempt that? What strategies proactively can I put in place to avoid those situations from happening in the first place?Ē

Katie: Got it. Okay. I love how clearly you explained that. I know you have so many more resources too than we can cover in an hour. And I highly recommend your course on this because like I said, it definitely was a game-changer and stress reliever for me. I think the beauty of your work is that these things not only make things much easier on parents, they also make life much easier for kids and defuse so much of that family stress that I think is really the actual root cause of a lot of these things. Itís not the action to themselves, itís the stress thatís related with these patterns that get out of hand. And you explained it so well. But for anybody whoís new to you, hopefully, everybodyís heard of you by now, whereís a good jumping-in point if they want to keep learning and start really applying these to their family?

Amy: Yes. Well, if they want to really dig in and learn the rest of the tools in the toolbox, weíve just touched on a couple here. But our 7-Step Parenting Success System is where I teach parents all of those tools. So you learn the tools in the toolbox, how to apply them for littles and bigs, thereís coaching support. Just like you have the ďWellness MamaĒ community, we have a Positive Parenting Solutions community, one for bigs and one for littles, where you can get a lot of support and peer coaching. We have coaches on our team that help parents out. So itís really a, we take you by the hand and teach you all of the tools that you need for these stressful situations so you can deal with the situations in the moment, but more importantly, just prevent them from happening in the first place so you are feeling great about your skills as a parent and youíre feeling so great about the progress that youíre seeing your kids make, right? Like, getting them to a point where theyíre so independent and responsible. And thatís for a 3-year-old, you know, all the way up to the teenagers, they can be learning those skills. So parents can just go to our website,, and I know you have a link for that, Katie, and learn more about that 7-Step Parenting Success System.

Katie: Perfect. And lastly, I love to ask if thereís a book or a number of books that have had a profound impact on your life, and if so, what they are and why?

Amy: Well, thereís so many great parenting books out there. Itís funny, probably the one that has had the most profound effect on my life personally and in my business is actually a really, really old book. Itís called ďChildren: The Challenge,Ē and it is by Rudolf Dreikurs. I mentioned Alfred Adler, everything that I teach is based on the work of Adlerian psychology, and Rudolf Dreikurs was a contemporary of Alfred Adler. And his book, ďChildren: The Challenge,Ē was one of the first fundamental texts on this whole theory of parenting. He was really the one who made it mainstream that we donít have to do this authoritarian top-down, you know, punitive approach to parenting, and that we can raise kids who are responsible and respectful and contribute to the greater good. And so his book while it is so old, I used it as a text for years in the in-person classes that I taught, just because it is so rich. Now, the examples, when we read them now, they seem sort of crazy because theyíre so old. But just the Adlerian principles themselves are so rich and really help you think about how youíre applying them to your own parenting.

Katie: Iíll make sure that itís linked in the show notes as well, thatís for all of you guys listening, as well as a link to Amyís course, which I highly, highly recommend. And, Amy, itís always such a joy to chat with you. I feel like every time I talk to you, I could talk to you all day. But Iím very grateful for you coming back again and sharing even more wisdom with us today.

Amy: Katie, thank you so much for having me. And thank you for all the work that youíre doing for moms. Iím just a huge fan of your work, and itís always a privilege to be with you.

Katie: Well, thank you, and thanks as always to all of you for listening, sharing your most valuable resources, your time, your energy, and your attention with us today. Weíre both so grateful that you did, and I hope that you will join me again on the next episode of the ďWellness Mama Podcast.Ē

If youíre enjoying these interviews, would you please take two minutes to leave a rating or review on iTunes for me? Doing this helps more people to find the podcast, which means even more moms and families could benefit from the information. I really appreciate your time, and thanks as always for listening.


Source link


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here