090: How to Stop Blowing Up at Your Kids, with Marcy Caldwell, Psy.D.

Picture of hosted by Penny Williams

hosted by Penny Williams

Listen on Apple Podcasts  |  Google Podcasts  |  Spreaker  |  Spotify  |  iHeart Radio

We are all guilty of it. Blowing up at our kid at one time or another is inevitable, because we parents are human and we make mistakes. Of course, we don’t want to blow up at our kids, and it certainly doesn’t have to be part of our everyday family lives, and it shouldn’t be.

In this episode, I’m talking to psychologist and ADHD specialist, Dr. Marcy Caldwell about the reasons we blow up at our kids with ADHD, and strategies to blow up less and how to handle it when we do blow up. They keys are mindful awareness, co-regulation, empathy and validation, and connection between parent and child. Listen in now to get Dr. Caldwell’s expert insights and strategies to improve your interactions with your kids. 


Some of the resources may be affiliate links, meaning I receive a commission (at no cost to you) if you use that link to make a purchase.

Interoception (body connectedness) with Kelly Mahler

STOPP acronym and process (image via Lotus Petal Support
on Twitter @LotusPetalPNDRight-click the image to save and print.

via Lotus Petal Support
on Twitter @LotusPetalPND

Subscribe to Clarity — my weekly newsletter on what’s working in business right now, delivered free, straight to your inbox.

Work with me to level up your parenting — online parent training and coaching  for neurodiverse families.

My Guest


Marcy Caldwell is a psychologist, writer, speaker, mother and ADHD specialist in Philadelphia PA. As someone who spends all of her time, both at work and at home, with amazing people with ADHD, she is a believer in the beauty that can come with an ADHD brain. That is why she started her private group practice, Rittenhouse Psychological Services, to help adults with ADHD translate that beauty to a nuerotypical world.

Dr. Caldwell also believes strongly in the power of knowledge, skills and science to destigmatize the shame and uncertainty that can come with trying to live with ADHD. In an effort to get this power to even more people, she created ADDept.org, a blog dedicated to translating the science of ADHD treatment into tangible ADHD friendly skills, stories and strategies to help adults with ADHD unlock their potential at at work, at home and in their family life.



Dr. Marcy Caldwell (00:03): Relationships often are stronger and conform deeper connection after rupture, and so for a child to see that whole thing unfold, that a, they had an impact on their parent, be their parents, not perfect, and Ken blow off and can make mistakes and then see that they can take responsibility for those mistakes, repair the relationship and now the relationship that made them stronger. That's an incredibly powerful lesson for them to learn.

Intro (00:40): Welcome to the Parenting ADHD Podcast where I share insights and strategies on raising kids with ADHD straight from the trenches. I'm your host, Penny Williams. I'm a parenting coach, author, ADHD-aholic and mindset Mama honored to guide you on the journey of raising your atypical kid. Let's get started.

Penny Williams (01:10): Welcome back to the Parenting ADHD Podcast. I'm thrilled today to be talking to dr Marcy Caldwell, who's a psychologist and ADHD specialist. In this episode, we're going to talk about how to stop blowing up at your kids a topic that we can all very much relate to and information that we can all use. Even those of us who kind of teach parenting or coach parents still need reminders of how to be less emotionally reactive sometimes. Thanks for being here. Marcy. Can you start by introducing yourself, let everyone know who you are and what you do?

Dr. Marcy Caldwell (01:49): Of course. Thank you so much for having me. My name's Marcy Caldwell. I'm a psychologist in Philadelphia. I specialize in helping adults with ADHD thrive. I have a group practice in center city, Philadelphia and I also have a blog and digital resource for adults with ADHD called adept.org and there we talk about living, working, parenting and loving with ADHD.

Penny Williams (02:16): So much great information on that website. I encourage everybody to check it out. A lot of really timely information and just general foundational stuff to hear, which is awesome. Well, let's start at the beginning. I think with defining what we're really talking about here, when we talk about blowing up at your kids, we're really talking about being emotionally reactive, right? What does that mean? What does that look like?

Dr. Marcy Caldwell (02:42): Yeah. I like to think of ADHD as a regulation issue. And so when we're having a hard time regulating, our executive functions and our attention and focus and energy, we also have a hard time regulating our emotions. And so it's a matter of keeping our responses in line with our intention. That's often how I think about emotional regulation — it's not necessarily constraining the extent of the emotion. It's not a bad thing to have a lot of emotion. I think where the problem comes is when that emotion then translates to behavior that's not in line with our intentions.

Penny Williams (03:37): Yeah, that's such an insightful way to describe that. I talk all the time about behaviors, communication from Ross Greene's work and really seeing behavior as a symptom. And that can help us be calm and stay calm as parents when we're dealing with behavior. But to also see that sometimes the regulation shows up as acting in a way that really isn't the intention. Talk a lot about looking at the intention of your kid's behavior as well. And that really illustrated it in such a succinct way. I think about the quote that we need to respond to our kids and not react. That certainly is helpful as well. So we're in the midst of some intense behavior from our kids or even, we're on the road to meltdown. What do we do to keep ourselves from kind of mirroring that behavior, right? Giving it back to them and being very reactive. What can we do to stay more calm?

Dr. Marcy Caldwell (04:46): So I often analyze acting out and, and I'm talking about a parent acting out here cause we can expect kids to be acting out right now and honestly we can expect parents to be acting out too. But we're all trying to limit the parenting acting out. And so I think of it as happening in three phases. The first phase where you can intervene is the escalation of the bad behaviors that are going to trigger a parent meltdown. The second stage is the actual parent meltdown or blow up and avoiding, or at least minimizing, that blow up. And then the third stage is if one and two still happened, then it's about repairing after a blow up happens. And so you can intervene at any one of those spots. And honestly, intervention at any one of those spots is really useful. Useful for the kid, useful for the parent and useful for the relationship.

Penny Williams (05:53): Yeah, definitely. I see parents talk about all the time that they blew up at their kids and they have a lot of guilt and I think the best thing we can do is show our kids how human we are and that it's okay to make mistakes. And so that, that part of repairing after is huge. Let's start first though with the first step intervening.

Dr. Marcy Caldwell (06:17): Yeah. So the intervening is really hard and it is because it means that you have to be aware of those signals that our kids are giving off, that they're out of balance. Because I think most bad behavior comes from a child who is out of balance. And that out of balance can happen in so many different ways, right? Like they could be hungry, they could be tired, they could be under-simulated, they could be overstimulated, they could be feeling like they're emotionally kind of not being taken care of enough. They could be feeling like they're being overtaken, overly taken care of. Right. So it can happen on so many different spots. And so trying to see those signals, those red flags for when that out of balance happens. Every child is different in terms of what they look like, but they tend to be kind of a change in the energy. So if they were receiving higher, they suddenly get ramped up and kind of crazy. Or the other way around, it can be starting to act out or getting physical in some way. All of those things are red flags that something's out of balance here. And so then going in and seeing what exactly is out of balance. For adults with ADHD, this is a particularly hard thing because it requires a lot of attention and sustained attention and sustained focus on their children. And being very, very aware of subtle cues is not best strengths.

Penny Williams (08:11): Right. I think it's hard for all parents in some way to really stay that in tune all the time.

Dr. Marcy Caldwell (08:17): Yeah, definitely. And I think right now in quarantine there's this additional difficulty of we have them all day and a lot of us are still trying to work and so we have so many more distractions happening strangely, even though our world is smaller. But it's not like we just have kid time or just have work time. Now that you are interconnected it's really hard to be attending to those small little shifts in energy from our kids when we have a job to be attending to or food to be making or whatever.

Penny Williams (08:57): I think there's a lot more emotion going on right now too, especially fear and anxiety. Sadness. And I mean personally, I'm dealing with a lot of emotion around the whole thing and it's hard. It's hard when you're cooped up and you're seeing the news and our brains can easily run away with the emotional pieces of it if we allow that. And we have to remember that while our kids may not be expressing fear, they likely are feeling it in some way or another. And so that can be affecting behavior during this time more as well, I think. And that dysregulation.

Dr. Marcy Caldwell (09:35): Yeah, I think that's so right. At least for younger kids, they really don't understand. All they know is that their whole life just changed. They know that there's something kind of big, bad and scary out there. But they don't understand what it is or how it's transmitted. Just today I was at a large park with my five-year-old and he said, "Mommy, that little girl is going to get the sickness," which is what he calls coronavirus. And I said, "why?" And he said, "because I think she's having a play date with another little girl and that's how you get the sickness." Oh my heart broke. We've tried to communicate in a way that would be understandable, but not too much information, but when they fill in the blanks with their own interpretation then that leads to a lot of fear.

Penny Williams (10:31): Yeah. Yeah. I know in our house there has been a little bit more emotional reactivity than normal during the time that we've all been staying in place and staying home. And I think that's just natural, but it's also, a good way to practice how to see these red flags, to see behavior creeping up or see something ramping up and to be able to practice noticing and intervening.

Dr. Marcy Caldwell (11:03): Yeah, I think you're right. I think with every crisis there is opportunity and I do think that we're all learning a lot about each other right now. When you have this much time with people, you really learn more subtle things about them. Parents are learning a lot about their kids, a lot about what sets them off and what works for them. And these aren't necessarily something you signed up to learn, but there are lessons that they're learning and that will be useful down the road.

Penny Williams (11:38): Yeah. What are some strategies for intervening? If we see some red flags starting, maybe our child is getting worked up, keyed up about something, frustrated, upset, whatever it might be... Refusal — I often see refusal as a sign of either dysregulation or a lagging skill with managing what's happening. What do we do then when we see these red flags to try to intervene in a meaningful way to either reduce what's happening or stop the train from going off the tracks?

Dr. Marcy Caldwell (12:16): Yeah. Yeah. I often talk with parents about the importance of connection. That the dysregulation, while it doesn't always come from a lack of connection, connection is often the point to then figure out what it is that's setting things off, right? So connection is everything. And so just getting at eye level with your kid and really making eye contact as best as possible and checking in with them and saying, "Hey, what's going on right now? Let's check out what's happening in your body. Tell me what's happening right now." And some reflecting is good too. I often say to my kids, "it seems like you have a lot of energy inside that body right now. Tell me more about what's happening." So connecting, reflecting what you're seeing in child language and then checking in and asking them, asking them what their experience is.

Penny Williams (13:24): Yeah. And the piece that you mentioned about asking them how their body is feeling is monumentally important, especially for kids who often have some interoception issues. Connecting with how their body is really feeling and connecting their emotions with their behavior, communicating emotions differently. And this is something that I've learned more recently in the last few years that I wish over and over I had known to do when my kids were little. It's a hugely helpful process to kind of walk them through to make sure they're connecting. Anxiety is a really good example to use because that's pretty easy. When we get really anxious, we might have butterflies in our stomach or a stomachache, we might have a tingling sensation, there's a lot of physical things that can happen when you have anxiety. And then that can be used as a tool to say, "Oh, I'm getting anxious. What can I do?" As kind of a self intervention, right? And so building that awareness for our kids early with relating how they're feeling to kind of what's happening for them mentally and emotionally, I think is so huge in helping them with things like dysregulation or self regulation and being able to communicate with people better, in a more effective way.

Dr. Marcy Caldwell (14:52): When you start to understand how you're feeling, then you can also start to understand how others might feel in similar situations later.

Penny Williams (15:05): It's a big, big deal. And again, I wish I had known so many years earlier.

Dr. Marcy Caldwell (15:11): Right, exactly. Keep going. We all make mistakes and I don't think it's ever too late. I actually, I got that language honestly from my work with adults. Because I think there are so many adults walking around in the world who are so disconnected from their bodies and so many of my clients are, I started to see this happening, with a lot of people with ADHD and a lot of people without ADHD and kind of not having this connecting. They might be aware of a sensation, but they would just feel irritated by it.

Dr. Marcy Caldwell (15:53): They wouldn't necessarily know what it meant and once that connection happened, it then gives us key into your experience, which then allows you to actually make some change. Again, you're seeing that as a symptom and being able to dive deeper to really work on why something is happening, which is so paramount.

Penny Williams (16:19): It's everything, especially in parenting, our traditional parenting is to punish behavior, give them enough pain or fear that they won't repeat the behavior but that never addresses why it happened. And for neuro-atypical kids, kids with ADHD or autism, it's just not effective. There's something underneath. And I fully, wholeheartedly believe that authoritarian parenting through the fear tradition that we have is wrong for all kids. But especially kids who have all this dysregulation and lagging skills and developmental delays,. We have to look at why something is happening and then that helps us with intervening in a meaningful and effective way.

Dr. Marcy Caldwell (17:05): Yeah. And I think that this kind of awareness, body awareness, it's how I talk to people about the stage two of this blow up is that for a lot of parents and particularly parents with ADHD, there tends to be an on off switch for emotions and lots of things, rather than kind of a dimmer switch. So they're not as aware that their anger is building. They just are either fine or they're blowing up. And so having this awareness of your body turns that on off switch into a dimmer switch so that as the kids are acting up and you're trying to kind of ignore it because you're trying to get some work done or make dinner or whatever or just zone out because you need to zone out for a moment, but you're getting irritated, right?

Dr. Marcy Caldwell (18:03): And you're just trying to, you're trying really, really hard to ignore it, but that irritation is building and your breathing gets a little bit more shallow and your heart rate starts to increase a little bit. Maybe you start to feel kind of flushed. These are the little cues inside your own body that are saying that dimmer switch is moving. It's moving closer and closer and closer to that blowup stage. And once I click over to there, we know what happens there, right? There's yelling. There's a big explosion. And so being aware of those red flags inside our own bodies as parents is really important to avoid that blow up.

Penny Williams (18:49): Absolutely. Yeah. And I think again, that goes back to the mindfulness, the mindful awareness, really being connected within yourself, even to be able to recognize when something needs to change. It's so, so important. We talk so much about authenticity and it's kind of this buzzword that everybody's tired of hearing, but that's the only way that we can be ourselves and for our kids to be themselves, who they truly are. So often kids with ADHD feel like we're trying to change who they are because we're trying to change these different behaviors that are often part of their brain, part of their ADHD, something that they can't just turn off. And when we get so reactive sometimes to some of those things, it's kind of sending them the message that we don't like who they are. We want them to be some someone different.

Penny Williams (19:52): And that can be so damaging. I think so often when we're not aware, we're not connected to ourselves, we are not living our truth and that's so important for our kids. And I find in my family, a lot of my son's blow ups over the years have been when he felt like he was misunderstood or he was not really heard. And that's really common for kids with differences that they often feel like people don't get it. And we don't, I mean, truthfully, I don't have ADHD, I don't fully get it, but I try my darnedest to learn and to be open to really hearing him and to throwing out those normal expectations for them to be who they are and for us to stop fighting that. A lot of that reactivity comes in that place where we have all this friction from pushing against the reality of who our kids are.

Dr. Marcy Caldwell (21:04): I completely agree. When we push against who our kids are, we can't help but throw them out of balance because that balance happens within the authenticity. That balance happens from being who I am, owning who I am and operating from what I have available to me.

Penny Williams (21:25): Yeah. I wrote a book several years ago called "The Insider's Guide to ADHD" and I was so desperate to understand what my son was going through and how he was feeling, what his experience was like because I felt like I couldn't possibly help him if I didn't get it. And so I surveyed a bunch of adults with ADHD thinking that was the population who could tell me what worked and didn't work for them as kids. And over and over I kept getting, different stories, but with the same thread of truth to all of them that they felt like they were not heard or couldn't be themselves. So I talk a lot in that book about seeing our kids' truth and honoring that truth, letting them be who they are and not trying to push an atypical kid into that very neuro-typical box of expectations. That's where so much of these kind of explosive interactions come from as expectations just aren't aligned with our kids' truth.

Dr. Marcy Caldwell (22:41): Yeah, I completely agree. That's also so much of what I see with the people that I work with who are largely adults and often really high achieving adults who have ADHD, but often they didn't get diagnosed until later, so they didn't have a language for what was going on for them. And so there was even more of this kind of being pushed into a box that didn't fit for them. And when that happens, kids are left to explain for themselves why they don't fit this box that everyone thinks they should fit. And almost always when we we're left to explain for ourselves the way we explain it is that there is something wrong with me. And we don't think there's something wrong with my brain or there's a difference with my brain. We think there's something wrong with me as a person and it almost always gets interpreted in that way and that can be so damaging. It's often what leads adults to therapy. Because that's the interpretation. That by the time they're adults, they've figured out how to handle a lot of the struggles they have, but it's really the misinterpretation of their struggles that's the biggest issue for them.

Penny Williams (24:07): Yeah. I moderate the online forum for ADDitude Magazine and so many adults talk about when they're diagnosed in adulthood. I always thought there was just something wrong with me. I always thought it was just me. I'm so glad to have a reason, which is then often followed by why didn't somebody figure this out sooner? You go on this emotional journey when you're diagnosed in adulthood very differently from when you're diagnosed as a child, it's just kind of your norm, if you're diagnosed when you're young, but it is very much what happens. You internalize. And I think too, not only do you not see that your brain is different or you that it's not just that you're bad or broken, but seeing that the person on the other side of your interactions could be mishandling it, I guess. We take it all upon ourselves, but we don't live this life in a bubble. Like we have other people with us. And so sometimes it really can be that the way someone else interacted or reacted was really at fault. But as human beings, I do think we internalize so much. It's the only thing we can control. We can't control other people. Yeah, it leads to a lot of therapy.

Dr. Marcy Caldwell (25:32): Yeah. And I think that's particularly true of kids, right? Because it's too scary for kids to think that the adults in their life or the world in general doesn't know what they're doing or could be wrong. Because kids are so dependent on us as adults and so they almost always just as a self preservation and sanity saver blame themselves because if they're wrong, then at least their world is stable and safe.

Penny Williams (26:04): Yeah, that's a good point. I should backtrack a little and say kids who are diagnosed as kids also struggle with that. I realized that was kind of a broad statement that I needed to clarify, but my son was diagnosed right after he turned six. He was super hyperactive and was just jumping out of his skin and couldn't succeed at anything, really sad all the time and we could tell that something was off. And he now, at 17, is doing a lot of work with his therapist over the last year on self-confidence. All of these things that we were seeing on the surface, like some really bad coping mechanisms, really unhealthy coping mechanisms that he was using or wanting to give up on school and just quit and not bother anymore. It was really all drilling down to his self esteem and his self worth.

Penny Williams (27:01): And his feeling that had built over the years at school that he wasn't good enough or he wasn't capable of doing what other kids could do. And despite a lot of fighting to try to get him the accommodations and really the understanding that he needed because he's twice exceptional, he's super smart and that's what people tend to see on the surface and write out their expectations for. And so even when we know that it's ADHD, even when you have a parent like me who's super invested in researching and understanding and really diving as deep as possible, that can still happen. They can still translate things as a lack of capability or a lack of competence. Why don't we go ahead and talk about then step number three, repairing. So we've had blow up, we're feeling guilty about our parenting. Do we then repair?

Dr. Marcy Caldwell (28:09): Yeah. So I think this step is super important. Obviously it's important in terms of repairing the relationship, but it's also important in terms of kids' development that they experience. So I often start with it's not the worst thing in the world for kids to experience their parents getting mad and frustrated and blowing up. While we all feel super guilty about it and we wish we'd never ever, ever done it, I don't know that it actually would be the best thing for kids to enter into adulthood never having had somebody get angry at them because that's just not real life. To know that they have an impact on their parent, that not only can they make their parents happy and joyful and and love them, they can also make their parent really angry. That's a really important thing for a child to know and understand and develop.

Dr. Marcy Caldwell (29:10): So I often start there in terms of "I know you didn't want to blow up, but it's really not the worst thing in the world." And now this repair step offers kids the opportunity to see through example what it's like to apologize, what it's like to take responsibility for your actions. And to do that in kind of a right-side sort of way. Not an "I'm the worst parent in the world, that was horrible," and like berating yourself but also not, off the cuff. Like, "I shouldn't have done that. Moving on." Then experiencing the repair that happens and that relationships often are stronger and can form deeper connections after rupture.

Dr. Marcy Caldwell (30:13): For a child to see that whole thing unfold, that they had an impact on their parent, see that their parent's not perfect and can blow up and can make mistakes and then see that they can take responsibility for those mistakes, repair the relationship and now the relationship is even stronger. That's an incredibly powerful lesson for them to learn. By the way, they're not going to learn it if it happens once, it has to happen over and over. And so it's okay if we blow up, obviously we don't want to blow up every single day or every hour. But, it's also okay if we blow up sometimes because this is an important lesson and they need to learn it.

Penny Williams (31:00): Yeah. And we're modeling too for them. What happens when you've had that behavior? What should you do if you blow up and scream at your friend? Do you pretend it didn't happen like most parents would like to do when we blow up at our kids, or do you take responsibility and make an apology and then be able to move forward with a healthier relationship instead of a lot of pent up animosity?

Dr. Marcy Caldwell (31:24): Exactly. And that's often when I talk about what that repair looks like, I often will say you kind of build through those steps. You say, "I'm really sorry for how I acted. You didn't deserve that." I often think that's an important piece to add in. I shouldn't have blown up. I often most ask parents to say to their kids, "what I should have done is X, Y, and Z." And usually it's like take some space. When I started to notice myself getting frustrated because that, that offers some of that additional learning of this is what I should do but I didn't and I'm really sorry that had an impact on you. And then I often say to ask the child, "what was it like for you?" Allow them to say a little bit about what that was like and have it be more of an exchange rather than just a monologue from the parent.

Penny Williams (32:26): Yeah, I think it's so important to cue them to talk about their feelings. We tend to hear as a society, disregard that. We don't want to share our feelings. We don't want to be open. Our culture has created a lot of shame around anger and sadness and the feelings that we would call negative. And we really have to be very mindful about teaching our kids that all of the emotions are natural and acceptable. It's what you do with them. Really. That is the key.

Dr. Marcy Caldwell (32:59): Exactly. I love that.

Penny Williams (33:02): While you were talking about repairing after, I wrote down, "when we protect kids, we don't prepare kids." Our inclination is for our kids to never feel pain and that's where helicopter parenting comes in. But even beyond that, we have this really strong drive to try to keep our kids happy all the time. And then we end up with kids who don't know how to get through something hard or painful without us, which is kind of where my parenting has landed lately — I have a 21 year old in college and then my son is 17 and what I'm learning from his therapist is that I'm still enabling him, I'm still kind of rescuing him when things get tough. I don't want things to be hard for him and I'm not allowing him then to figure out how to manage on his own to figure out that, yeah, there are hard things in life and I can do them. I can get through them. I can be okay. Another tidbit I wish I had known when my kids were a little younger, but it's really something that we don't think about because we have such a protective instinct and we really do have to let our kids experience some things that are hard and painful or challenging for them so that they can see, they can actually feel that they can do it.

Dr. Marcy Caldwell (34:40): Yeah. That sense of self efficacy, which is what you get when you go through hardship and survive, is so important. And particularly for people with ADHD. I think that's really important because there are so many struggles and so many hurdles and people with ADHD are given the message so often that they can't do things and if they can build up any sense of self-efficacy that helps fight against that and it helps fight against this feeling of the minute a hurdle gets presented in front of me, I have to take the path of least resistance. If you have a positive sense of self-efficacy, then actually I can get over this hurdle. I can do this hard thing. It's okay.

Penny Williams (35:32): Yeah. My son is the King of Avoidance. We've had a lot of school refusal over the years. He'll do anything, anything to try to avoid something that he thinks is going to be hard or painful or uncomfortable. And it's a tough thing. It's a tough thing to know where that line is, how much do we push and challenge without breaking our kids? Without really going over that line? And I think the answer is just little bits at a time. Challenge a little. Challenge enough that they can still succeed and you get some of that self-efficacy feeling and the more they feel they can do things, that's rewiring the brain. We can tie all this even to neuroscience. It's a big deal. And I think then too, it helps with your mental health. If you always have this victim mentality, you might be anxious, you might be depressed, you're always kind of in that negative space of feeling. But if you really feel confident and competent, then you are much happier. It's a more pleasant life experience when we're in that mindset.

Dr. Marcy Caldwell (36:52): Yeah. If you can get through hardship, then you don't have to feel anxious about it. Right? You don't have to feel like you have to be on guard and operate from this place of fear or scarcity because you know that you can get through it and yes, it won't be pleasant, but it will be okay. There's so much freedom in that. And when you can experience that freedom, I completely agree that it really helps with overall mental health.

Penny Williams (37:27): There is so much freedom in that! I love how you put that, there's so much freedom in it.

Penny Williams (37:33): Any last thoughts to wrap up?

Dr. Marcy Caldwell (37:44): I think the only thing that we didn't talk about is one kind of concrete strategy that might be useful for some parents in terms of that blow up time. If you do notice increasing anxiety, stress, pressure, anger building, there's the old CBT method called STOPP. It's an acronym. So the S stands for space and you want to take some space, you want to just get out of the environment. For me, I live in a small row home in center city, Philadelphia. And so I go to my basement, but I have clients that put themselves in a pantry or a bathroom, it doesn't matter. Just getting away from the situation and taking breath which calms our physiological system and allows our thinking to kind of come back online once we've been able to calm our system.

Dr. Marcy Caldwell (38:44): The T from STOPP is take a breath, O is observe what you're feeling and what's happening — going back, checking in with our body, what's happening, but then also observing, "so I started to get really frustrated because the kids weren't listening to me" or whatever. The first P is put into perspective what's happening. "They weren't listening to me, but this is a really challenging time and I was pretty distracted. So they got into their own world and then they weren't listening to me." Putting in that perspective, kind of zooming out, seeing what was going on. And then the final P is practice what works and proceed. So once everything's been calmed down, you've just had a little perspective, then you go back in and you connect and you look at them in the eye and you say, "I got really frustrated. I'm sorry, I do need you to listen to me right now." And you make that connection.

Penny Williams (39:44): Yeah, we need to print those out and put them all over the house everywhere. It's hard in those moments to really walk through a process like that. It takes practice and so does a mindful awareness. But it's so helpful for our kids to learn that STOPP practice too.

Dr. Marcy Caldwell (40:03): I do actually recommend that people make a big sign and draw it out with their kids, make it an art project and hang it prominently and it can be a tool that everybody uses.

Penny Williams (40:18): I'm glad you thought to mention that and remembered it before we closed because that's super helpful. And I'll try to link up to you some sort of flyer or poster or something that people can print out and post as well in the show notes. We'll also list any other resources that we've talked about as well as ways to connect with Marcy and her work, her websites, social media. And I certainly encourage you to do that as well. And I want to thank you most of all for giving us some of your time and wisdom to help our parents to have a more authentic parenthood. Parenting more with intention creates a better experience for all of us.

Dr. Marcy Caldwell (41:04): Of course. I'm so happy to be here and thrilled to be able to talk to you

Penny Williams (41:09): And with that we will end the session. I will see everyone next time.

Outro (41:11): Thanks for joining me on the parenting ADHD podcast. If you enjoyed this episode, please subscribe and share and don't forget to check out my online courses, parent coaching and mama retreats at parentingADHDandautism.com.

Thank you!

If you enjoyed this episode, please share it. Have something to say, or a question to ask? Leave a comment below. I promise to answer every single one. **Also, please leave an honest review for the Beautifully Complex Podcast on iTunes. Ratings and reviews are extremely helpful and appreciated! That’s what helps me reach and help more families like yours.

I'm Penny Williams.

I help stuck and struggling parents (educators, too) make the pivots necessary to unlock success and joy for neurodivergent kids and teens, themselves, and their families. I'm honored to be part of your journey!

Pinpoint the
Help You Need
right now

Take my free quiz to cut through the overwhelm and get focused on the information and resources that will help you and your child RIGHT NOW.

free video series
Quick Start: 3 High-Impact Actions to Transform Behavior

Transforming negative or unwanted behavior is a long and complex process. HOWEVER, there are a few actions you can take right now that will provide a big impact. These 3 high-impact strategies address foundational aspects of behavior, empowering you to help your child feel better so they can do better.



Makes time visual for those with time blindness.


Blends gaming with off-screen activities to teach coping skills through play.


Manage chores and routines while building self-confidence and independence.


A chair that gives kids a sensory hug.

About the show...

I'm your host, Penny.

Join me as I help parents, caregivers, and educators like you harness the realization that we are all beautifully complex and marvelously imperfect. Each week I deliver insights and actionable strategies on parenting neurodivergent kids — those with ADHD, autism, anxiety, learning disabilities…

My approach to decoding behavior while honoring neurodiversity and parenting the individual child you have will provide you with the tools to help you understand and transform behavior, reduce your own stress, increase parenting confidence, and create the joyful family life you crave. I am honored to have helped thousands of families worldwide to help their kids feel good so they can do good.

Listen on Apple Podcasts  |  Google Podcasts  |  Spotify  |  iHeart Radio

Share your thoughts.

Leave a Reply

Start Typing