Creating Harmony in the Home
with Dr. Lynyetta Willis
Harmony in the home can be really tough to attain when you have a child with ADHD or other neurological-atypical diagnoses. Emotions are high and day-to-day life can be harder. But, peace and harmony are absolutely attainable. Join me and Dr. Lynyetta Willis to learn how to recognize stable misery and how to get unstuck and foster positive, meaningful relationships throughout your family. We talk about co-regulation, intention, recognizing our own triggers, and Dr. Willis’ PATHS framework to guide helpful interactions with our kids and our loved ones.
Dr. Lynyetta Willis
Dr. Lynyetta G. Willis, psychologist and family empowerment coach, helps frustrated families break unhelpful patterns and cross-generational cycles so they can move from stable misery into peaceful harmony. She helps her clients and audiences learn to strengthen their parenting, partnership, and personal growth practices so they can feel harmony in their hearts and homes.
Thanks for joining me!
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Dr. Lynyetta Willis (00:03): But it starts with that first level of understanding that yes, there are things that come up in us, that are awakened in us by our children's behaviors and their words. And the more that we can get clear on what part of this is my stuff, the more we can shift the relationships that we have with them and with ourselves.
Penny Williams (00:31): 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 (01:00): 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.
Dr. Lynyetta Willis (01:23): Yes, absolutely. Thank you so much for having me. This is exciting. Hi, I'm Dr. Lynyetta Willis. I'm a psychologist and a family coach, and I really enjoy helping frustrated families break free from what I like to call stable misery, which is that place that we find ourselves in sometimes where things are rolling along, but it maybe in one or two areas of maybe our parenting or a partnership, we might find ourselves just repeating the same unhealthy patterns again and again. And a lot of the parents I work with this is often the case in their parenting, especially when we're talking about parenting neuro-diverse children. I've been in this field for 20 years now. It's hard to believe that. But in my career I spent a large part of my career evaluating children, teens, and young adults for ADHD and learning disabilities, and also supporting families around that who weren't sure how to parent their neuro-diverse children. And now I don't do the evaluations anymore, but I still do coaching with parents who yeah. Just, just feel stuck and in that stable misery pit and just, aren't sure how to best engage their children.
Penny Williams (02:46): Yeah. It's so easy to get stuck. Yes, it's really so easy to get stuck and it's much, much harder to get out of that please afterwards. So I love that we're going to talk about that some and really help the families who are listening. I think especially it's, I've found myself more stuck since the pandemic because we're less active. We're not going as many places and I've, I've really settled into that way more than I should. And so I feel stuck, but also not really in control of getting unstuck in some of those ways right now I'm kind of stuck in being more of a homebody than I already was, and that just needs to be, but there's a lot of ways, especially our relationships with our kids and our significant others that we can be getting unstuck right now.
Dr. Lynyetta Willis (03:39): Oh, that's so true. It's so true. And, and it's that stuckness, I think that leads us into that stable misery place. Right? I always talk about the stories we tell ourselves, right? And when we tell ourselves the stories that it's always going to be this way or, and a lot of times they're not conscious, right? But like, Oh, this is the new normal. And we get into this space. It limits our ability to be really creative and figure out alternate creative ways to engage our children in this new now. I'm not claiming new normal, new now creative ways that really work well for our families, for our kids and especially for ourselves, right. I think it's easy to forego our needs as parents when we're in situations like this, because we're so focused on what does my child need for school? What does my child need socially? What does my child need for this, this, this, and that. But when we, when we forego our needs and we act as if our needs are less important or don't matter, that really does affect the entire system in all ways.
Penny Williams (04:56): Yes, it affects the entire family that heavy, negative energy affects everyone around us. And I talk a lot about in self-care that you have to feel good to do good. And when we take care of ourselves, we're actually in a place where we can do better for our kids and our families. So when we sacrifice ourselves for our kids and our families, we're actually sacrificing some of what we can do for them, which is the opposite of the intent.
Dr. Lynyetta Willis (05:30): Exactly. And I know in this parenting realm, we talk a lot about co-regulation and it's often associated with, Oh, okay, well, if I'm calm, then my kid will get calm. But I often say, co-regulation, I like to look at it. As you sit where you want your kids to meet you, and then you send signals so that they can find you there. And sometimes we sit in places where we don't necessarily them to meet us. Right. So when we're not taking care of ourselves, we're still co-regulating with our kids. Right. And they'll come fight in that space and they will happily sit with us. So if we're burnt out, if we're exhausted, if we're overwhelmed, if we're right, all of that impacts how our children relate to us and what our children feel. And I know that's really hard because then it puts more pressure on us as parents like, Oh, wait, one more thing I have to do now.
Dr. Lynyetta Willis (06:24): Right. And really what it is, is it's not necessarily something that if I think a cleaner way to think about it is it's not necessarily something you have to do for your child or for your family. Think about it as something that you do for yourself. And the by-product of that is that you model healthy things for your kids, that you have closer connections with your partners, right. And instead of, Oh, this is one more thing that I have to do for someone else. Now you're doing it for yourself. And a great by-product is the place where you end up, sitting in a place where you actually want your children to come join you because it feels good and it feels supportive and it feels nurturing to you.
Penny Williams (07:07): I love the way you described that... to sit in places where we want them to come join us. That's amazing. And it makes it sound a little more doable actually. Right. Say, okay, this is where we need to be. And I invite you to come join me instead of trying to change the situation in the midst of something, which is so often what happens to parents of neuro-diverse kids. We're instead saying, okay, I'm in this place and we can do well in this place. Let's go there together. It's powerful stuff. Where else are you seeing right now that families are really struggling? Where can we focus to create harmony? What should we be looking at and working on?
Dr. Lynyetta Willis (08:05): So, in my practice, I work with parents and I also work with couples. And one thing that I'm seeing is that in an attempt to really come around the children and support them, the marriage or the relationship, or the partnership begins to suffer. And when that happens, that actually drains energy from a whole system, from the whole family, and really isn't good for anyone. So one thing, interestingly enough, that parents can do to support their kids is to really strengthen their relationship. Right? If you are in a partnership with someone strengthen that and make sure that that is a strong foundation, because when we start to separate people in the home, start to separate, what ends up happening is that it just becomes really chaotic. And instead of having a laser beam focus like you're kind of moving together as a unit.
Dr. Lynyetta Willis (09:07): It's more like an atom bomb and energy is just kind of flying everywhere. People are frustrated and overwhelmed. Usually one parent ends up doing most of the work. It just really sets a situation where instead of four wheels on the car, you have maybe three, maybe even two wheels, and you're trying to fly down a highway. So one thing that, to really maintain that harmonious home is to make sure that as many elements as possible are in good working order. And that also means the relationships with other people in the home. And some people might have it might be in a single Parenthood situation, making sure that as much as possible, you were able to garner support from other people around you because you need that support, especially during this time. So that's definitely one area where I see things starting to wax and wane a little bit more really having that strong foundation in the home with relationships, with others in the home or with support systems.
Penny Williams (10:09): Yeah. And it's interesting because we're kind of all stuck in the house together, but that doesn't mean we're connecting. It doesn't mean we're spending meaningful time together. Often, especially families with teens and young adults, like mine, we're all separated in different rooms. Because teens want to do what they want to do. And so it's difficult. It's difficult to when you're just stuck at home to create opportunities for quality family time. A lot of times we do that in other places. And then we could go for hikes or walks or things like that. But I think it's more limited. And some things that we used to do as a family, we can't necessarily do right now. And that makes it tougher.
Dr. Lynyetta Willis (10:58): So true. And it really is. Going back to that creative space my husband and I, so our kids are older than maybe some of the kids, but listeners, my children are eight and 11 and at nighttime we'll tell them, all right, this is mommy, daddy time. Like you all can sit in your bed and you can read or until you fall asleep, whatever, but this is time where we're coming in our room. We may watch a movie or something and it's just time for us to make a very clear distinction. Like this is time for Patrick, my husband and I to come together as a unit and intentionally connect, right. Or like this is. And so that a lot of times is something that, that is important. Just setting the intention that we are going to come together every week. What is night at 8:00 AM in the same room with the intention of just being together,.
Dr. Lynyetta Willis (11:54): No phones, or we may watch a movie if that's what we choose to do but we're going to, at the very least be focusing on the same thing. Right. So setting that intention and setting very clear it same with the children like the other morning with my son. So he was home cause they had ball breaks. They didn't have to be online or anything. And my daughter had to be, she went, it wasn't her fall breaks. They go to separate schools and I intentionally clear two hours of my schedule. And I said, I'm not going to do anything. Even if I just sit at the kitchen counter and we stare at each other, I'm just going to be here. And without any distractions, no phones, computers, meetings, anything so that if he wants to engage with me, he can. And what ended up happening is after about 10 minutes, he was like, Hey mom, you want to go play basketball with me? And I was like, sure. Right. So sometimes it's also just creating space to allow a connection with those around us.
Penny Williams (12:55): Yeah. And we, again, when we get stuck or we're kind of in that stable misery, then we're not being intentional. So we're not creating that space. We're just kind of on autopilot. I think it's really important to try to come back to that intention to try to keep that awareness of when we're on autopilot and when we're being intentional and purposeful and trying to always return to that place of intention. I love the idea of scheduling it, schedule time to connect with each other, block it out make sure that you're in the same room and try to do the same things. And I find that that's a really good way to kind of break that autopilot and we don't have to think about it. We it's just on the schedule, it's there and we do it. And that can be a lot easier for families with ADHD. A lot of families who have kids with ADHD, also, the parents might have ADHD. And so that schedule and routine makes it easier for families who have those sort of challenges.
Dr. Lynyetta Willis (14:04): So true. So true. And another area where I see speaking about the being stuck, another place where I see parents really struggling is getting into that space where they're more triggered than usual and things really set them off that normally they can handle. It's like,
Dr. Lynyetta Willis (14:29): And I work a lot with triggers. That's, that's a lot of what I do actually have a parenting program called triggered a transformed where we walk through a framework I created to actually help parents literally transform their triggers because it's so big. And now with this pandemic happening, it's, it's one of those things where it's like this pandemic or really any stressful, a lot of times what it does is it magnifies issues that were already existing. So if you already had issues in your partnership, they're probably magnified. If there was already connection issues with your kids. Now they're magnified because that's what stress often does. It leads us back to our default mode and our brains in a way where we just start to rely on old things that we've done. And that frontal lobe part of our brain, where we learn all this juicy, great information it's less accessible during overly stressed times or times more overwhelmed or exhausted.
Dr. Lynyetta Willis (15:27): And so we're more likely to feel triggered. We're more likely to feel overwhelmed and frustrated. And with the framework that I often use, it's, it's called paths P it's an acronym. And it actually it's, I created it after being in this field for close to 20 years, because what I started to notice is there's key areas where a parent can work on themselves or shift for themselves so that they actually feel more empowered as a parent. And when I started to notice like, Oh, there are similarities between all of these areas. That's what led me to create this framework. I can talk a bit about it if that would be helpful. Yeah, absolutely. It's proven to be like a really, really powerful way to kind of narrow down the areas that we can really put our attention. So we're not, so over-reactive in our families.
Dr. Lynyetta Willis (16:27): The first one, so it's P a T H S the P stands for perspective. As I said earlier, we often the stories we tell ourselves are so powerful and we don't often realize that we're telling ourselves these stories and we find ourselves extremely over-reactive or what I call bringing an atom bomb response to a laser beam situation. Like when we're reacting in the moment, that's a really good sign that we're probably telling ourselves an unhelpful story, right. So really getting clear on what am I telling myself about this moment or about my child. And I know, especially for neuro-diverse or parents of neuro-diverse children, it's really easy to get into that space of your child does something and then our, we can, we can snowball effect it, Oh, our child, my child did this. And that means, and that means, and that means, and they're going to be living in my basement when they're 40 going to start Wars conventions.
Dr. Lynyetta Willis (17:26): Right? And so way, way out to the extreme. And then we react in the moment as if that's true, because we're so scared that that's going to actually yes. So getting really clear on the stories we're telling ourselves can be very helpful to calm our system. The A stands for awareness, and I know we talk a lot about this in the parenting realm and, and it is very important to be self-aware of what's going on in my body right now, where am I carrying stress? Where am I carrying tension? And another area that I think it's important to be aware of is kind of going back to the co-regulation like, how are my actions impacting my child when I do this, when I say this, what does my child tend to do? Because here's the thing. Our children have triggers too. Yeah. Lots of them, right? Sometimes we're not a ball of laughs to live with either.
Dr. Lynyetta Willis (18:21): We can set them up too. And the more aware we can become of how we dance with each other and our relationship and what causes you to dip and what causes you to flip in what causes you to turn it and what causes me to do those things, then the smoother the dance can go and they're not stumping all over each other's feet. So the awareness piece is really, really important. And it also just slows things down because when we're triggered, we often react, react, react, we pop very, very fast, right. And we take time to be aware and allows us to slow down just so needed. Yes. And the T stands for tools. And that's really important. A lot of times when a parents come to me, that that's what they want. They're like, just tell me what to do.
Dr. Lynyetta Willis (19:14): And I always say unless you have the awareness and the clarity on what's going on within you, the tools aren't really going to be as helpful because when times get stressful and you're just going to default back to the old things, right. And a lot of what I help parents do, I actually created a model called the elemental living model. And part of my impetus for creating this was a belief that we all have different children. So sure. I can give you a list of things to say and things to do, but it may not work for you. It may not feel authentic for you, and it may not work for your child. And what I did with the elemental living model, because I also recognize that what I was hearing a lot from parents is when I get in, when I'm triggered, I know what to do, but I can't, I forget, or I just can't bring myself to do it.
Dr. Lynyetta Willis (20:02): And what we know from learning theory is that when you pair something that is when you're trying to learn something new, you pair it with something really well. And you're more likely to recall it, even if your frontal lobe isn't activated. So what I did was I took the four elements, earth, air, fire, and water. And I paired them with different parenting tools and strategies. And then I created this framework where even when you're triggered, like if you live on planet earth, how the elements work, like that fire puts out or water puts out fire, right? Like things like that. So I created the system where even when parents are triggered, they can understand how to shift themes with their kids. And for an example, when we talk about fire and water, like when your kids throwing a tantrum, a lot of times we say that they're being very, you could say they're being very fiery.
Dr. Lynyetta Willis (20:58): And as parents, our tendency may be to bring more fire. That may be our default, but intuitively we realize if you bring fire to fire, you just create a much bigger fire. Okay. So we know, okay, well you have to bring water. Well, what does bringing water look like for you? Because water, we have this intuitive sense that water is calm and it's compassion and it's clarity, right? So it's just all those more soothing things. So going back to that space, around creating a system that works for you, instead of me saying, when your child throws a tantrum, you need to go and hug them, or you need to go and sit next to them. And that may not work for you or your kid. Exactly. So it's like, what does bringing water look like for you? And how can you do that in the moment, in a way that makes sense for you?
Dr. Lynyetta Willis (21:51): And this is also something you could teach kids how to do, because kids are very visual and like to play with things like that. So I asked my kids all the time. It seems like you need water. How are you going to bring yourself water right now? What's the plan? Or how can I bring some water to you right now? Right. And they'll really sit and start thinking, like, I think I just need some time by myself. Great. Go take that. You do you. So really when it comes to tools, getting clear on what does my family need to, in order to handle this particular situation or that particular situation, what works for us, and then allowing that to guide your decisions on what you bring in and what you, because if you just go, if you go to a bookstore, there's a whole section on parenting, like literally rows and rows and rows on parenting things. And it's just so overwhelming. So figuring out what is my, what does my family need? What does my child need? What do I need? And then allowing that to guide your choices on the tools that you bring in.
Penny Williams (22:52): Yeah. We need to raise individuals instead of trying to create mini-me's as parents, or make sure that our kid follows that traditional path where we're raising individuals and what we do to try to help them is only going to work if it, if we're really honoring who they are and where they are and what they need. And the same is true for us.
Dr. Lynyetta Willis (23:19): Yes, exactly. When we try to force our foot into that glass slipper, it often doesn't work well. Right. So being able to say, okay, what, and what a key question that I always encourage parents to ask, especially when I'm the first, the very first question in the element of living model is what is the purpose of this behavior? So what is the purpose of my child's behavior? A lot of when you're dealing with a child who I like to say dances with who dances with ADHD it can often seem like in the moment that they're just being annoying or they're not paying attention, or they're not listening or they're not, but sometimes that's not it at all. Sometimes they are trying to self regulate. Other times they maybe just getting energy out or in a very playful mood. One thing I always say about children, new dance with ADHD is it's not that they can't focus and pay attention. They can. It's just that they don't always look as in pay attention on what we want them to. Right?
Penny Williams (24:29): Yeah. Their nervous system focuses for interest and emergency. When they're neurotypical, we also add importance. But for kids with ADHD brains, that often is not enough to kind of ignite it.
Dr. Lynyetta Willis (24:44): Exactly. I love the way you put that. 100% true. And being able to realize in the moment when, when we see our child doing something or not putting on their shoes are not moving fast enough asking like, what's the purpose of this right now? Is it because they're interested in something? Is it because something else is going on that that does need attention? Like what is the purpose of this? And oftentimes that can help, but help to guide our choice as opposed to when we're like, Nope, this is what it is. You're doing this just to be defiant and you're not listening. And then and then that takes us down a completely different road in our head and in our actions and how we engage them. So you gotta be really powerful to ask ourselves that question. And then the age of the model stands for healing.
Dr. Lynyetta Willis (25:29): And this is one that we often, I think bypass unfortunately in the parenting realm around asking questions when I'm triggered or when I have this reaction, what is that a sign of with about myself? Like what, what within me needs to be healed or honored? Like maybe I need to heal something that happened to me when I was five or maybe I need to honor the fact that I'm not getting enough sleep or maybe I need to heal and honor the fact that I really haven't dealt with the grief associated with having a neuro-diverse child. I didn't plan for this in my fantasies before I had kids. Right. And, and maybe there is a part of me that's still trying to stuff my child into that glass slipper, even though it's not fitting. And when it doesn't work, maybe I'm getting really overwhelmed and frustrated and angry at the situation and at myself and and so really figuring out what is this sugar, or what is this overreaction? What is it giving me insight into? Like, it can really be a gift. So like in, in triggered a transform, we spend time really focusing on that and exploring that because it can really be
Dr. Lynyetta Willis (26:44): A game changer around our triggers when we realize like, Oh, that's what's going on. Or that's what this is reminding me of. Or that's where this is taking me. So really getting clear on that can be really, really powerful. So asking what needs to be healed and or what needs to be honored within myself and what is this an indicator of in me super important.
Penny Williams (27:12): And it reminds me too, of making sure that we understand which stuff is really about our kids and which stuff is more about ourselves, which I just learned to do maybe in the last year or two, that kind of came into my realm. And it was profound because I realized so much of the stuff was my stuff. It was my fear. It was things that triggered me or upset me as a kid and I was using that fear and placing it on my kids. And maybe it wasn't their fear. Maybe they don't have that same anxiety about being accepted by others, which was a big one for me because I had social anxiety. I still do. And so I realized looking back how many times that I have placed that insecurity in my own childhood, that worry onto my own kids and made it their stuff.
Penny Williams (28:18): And it wasn't their stuff. One thing was that I always wanted the clothes the popular kids were wearing because I thought then they would accept me. And so as my kids have grown up, I'm like, 'well, what are the other kids wearing? Let's go get that.' And my daughter would say, 'I don't need that. I'm fine with the jeans from Target. I don't need that.' And I would be like, 'Oh, but I think you need it,' because it was my stuff. And so figuring out that so much of what we're doing as parents is actually our own stuff and isn't even about our kids can be really freeing.
Dr. Lynyetta Willis (28:57): So true. One of the things I love to say is those who bring our stuff up are here to help us wake up. And so when our children are triggering those things in us, they can actually as frustrating as it may be when we look at it as a gift, especially we see our kids pushing back against us in ways like for me, I was raised in a home where it was not okay to cry and play like, like it, you could play, but in certain conditions it was considered just nonsensical and unimportant. Right. And so when my child, my son, especially very, very playfully, he's my, every child, like, he just kind of goes off and his
Dr. Lynyetta Willis (29:42): Own thing, I would get so impatient, I would get so impatient and it wasn't until I really sat down and realized like, okay, what is the purpose of his behavior it's to play? And why is that so triggering for me? And I realized there was a part of me that I had shoved in the basement, a very playful part that was considered a liability in my brain. So when, when he, when I saw it in him, it was like, Oh, don't stop. Just focus. Can we just come over here? And like, what do you do when we come on? And realizing like, that's who he is. And that's beautiful. And I can actually learn something just like, sounds like you can learn some things from your daughter. Right? Like learn some things from my son. But it starts with that first level of understanding that yes, there are things that come up in us that are awakened in us by our children's behaviors and their words. And the more that we can get clear on what part of this is my stuff, and the more we can shift the relationships that we have with them and with ourselves.
Penny Williams (30:53): Yeah. Yeah. I think our stuff creates barriers and we put up walls. And so when we really have that awareness, then we can have a much more connected relationship because we can pull some of that out of the middle
Dr. Lynyetta Willis (31:08): 100%. And I tell people a lot of what we do in trigger to transformed. It's not about me telling you what to do, because I truly believe in my heart of hearts that we know what to do on a deep level inside of ourselves. We know how to relate and how to connect. I mean, unless we're sociopaths, we know how to have those relationships, but what gets in our way is our stuff, right? So if we can move the big boulders of stuff out of the way, then I think that really clears the channel for us to have a more natural connection with our kids. So a lot of it is what are the stories? What's the story boulder, what is the awareness boulder that I'm missing? What unhelpful tools am I using day-to-day with myself and my kid? What's that Boulder look like in my life?
Dr. Lynyetta Willis (32:01): What's the stuff from my past? What's the stuff that I'm not attending to? That's the big Boulder, right? And then the S stands for self-empowerment and powerful question that I often encourage parents to ask is where is my power in this moment? Because when we're with our children and, and other people in our home, our partners, whomever, when we get into those moments where we're triggered and we're start overreacting, it's because we feel disempowered and we feel out of control and, and we're, we're trying our best to regain that sense of power and control. But when we at any given moment in time, I have power there's power in this moment. And I just need to understand what it is and I need to recognize it. And so asking myself, where is my power in this moment? What can I do to shift the moment, even slightly? Sometimes the most powerful thing that you can do is to back up or slow down or go take a break or ask a question, or so really figuring out like in this moment, where is my power and how can I use it? So that I'm less likely to overreact.
Penny Williams (33:20): I think that's so important right now to you when there are things in the world that we don't have control over, we wish we did, and they affect us and impact us. And I talk to parents a lot about 'let's categorize what you have control over and what you don't have control over.' Because a lot of times we get so upset about the things that we truly don't have any control over, and we're spending so much energy worrying about those things or trying to affect those things. We're being triggered by the fact that we don't have control over those things. But when we can sit down and say, okay, I don't have control over this, but I do have control over these other things. Or I don't have ultimate control over this thing, but here's what I can do about it or how it impacts me.
Penny Williams (34:09): We always have control over the way that we respond. And when we recognize that, I think it, it gives us a little bit more of that sense of power back to say, okay, I may not have control over this, but I do have some control around it because at least I can control how I respond or how I move through that. That's a lot of power in itself realizing what you can and can't control and really honoring that really shifting, saying, okay, I really don't have control over that. I have to be aware of that. And I have to go forward with that knowledge,
Dr. Lynyetta Willis (34:48): 100%, when all else fails, you can't think of anything, one powerful question — I want to say I'm very big on questions because it's from a brain perspective is really difficult, if not impossible, to answer a question without activating your frontal lobe. And when we get into those triggered moments, our frontal lobe is the first thing to shut down. So I often offer parents questions because if you ask yourself a question, then you're automatically sort of like, jump-starting right. Like you do a car. You're jump starting that frontal lobe, which is more of where we want to be. And when all else fails and you can't think of something in the moment, a powerful to ask yourself is what can I teach my child? What insight or information am I getting?
Dr. Lynyetta Willis (35:44): Because if my child is responding to a situation in a way that I think is unhelpful, and I'm very intentional about using words like unhelpful or helpful versus good or bad, if they're responding in ways that are unhelpful, is there an opportunity for me to discipline in its true sense of the word? Cause to discipline means to teach? Is there a way for me to teach them something that will help the next time this happens? So sometimes our power lies in our ability to really help our children gain a new tool or gain new insight or practice with something that will help them in the future as well. Because at the end of the day, they don't like being in the conflict with us either. Like, it doesn't feel good to them. They don't even course, right. Like next time you're in a, you're in it with your kid, just look at them, really having fun. I doubt it. So learning 'what can I teach in this moment?' Or maybe not in that moment, but what can I teach my child so that we can both handle the situation a little bit differently the next time
Penny Williams (36:56): Kids do well, if they can. And the same is true for our parents. We do well when we can, too. And we all have things that get in the way. Sometimes we all have triggers and we talk so much in the ADHD community about the triggers of our kids' behavior triggers and lagging skills. Well guess what, as parents, we also have triggers. We also have things that we're not great at handling, and we need to recognize those too, not just what's happening for our kids. And when we do have that awareness, those interactions become so much easier and so much more helpful, right? We're able to interact in those difficult moments from a much more helpful place than if we don't have the awareness that we also can be triggered. Or we also struggle with maybe handling intense emotions. We're all human beings and we all have sort of those same general traits, which is what I love about your PATHS acronym is everything in there is good for parents and kids, adults, and really any age.
Dr. Lynyetta Willis (38:18): So true. So true. And thank you for that. And going back to what you just said about it's so easy to focus on what our children need and what they need to change and what they need to do. And then the image that came up for me when you were talking was it's like trying to teach someone else how to dance without first learning the steps. Like that would be a mess. I have a lot of friends who love to do the tango and it would be like me watching them learn the tango and then me hopping up with them and trying to do the tango with them. It would be a hot mess cause I don't know about it.
Dr. Lynyetta Willis (39:01): So it's important to realize that in teaching our kids all of these great skills, if we don't know that it's going to be a hot freaking mess or just going to get in there and like muck it up as we would like and coordinate it as we would like. So making sure again, that we pour into ourselves too and realizing that what they need may not always be what we need and how can I navigate negotiate that. Right? So definitely that self-reflection and self-awareness around, okay, what do I need? What do I need to learn? I need to get a little bit better in this moment or in situations like this.
Penny Williams (39:43): And recognizing that each of us have needs. When my kid and I are struggling with each other, I see my needs. He sees his needs, but are we communicating and honoring and even recognizing that the other also has needs that each of us are coming from that place of need, but it's not matching up. How do we make it match up? How do we honor both parties, parent, and child in those situations? And, we have to. Again, that's going to be the most helpful.
Dr. Lynyetta Willis (40:21): And sometimes it's really hard to acknowledge our needs and sometimes it's hard to acknowledge our child's needs and what ends up happening when we don't acknowledge it is we end up reacting to get those needs met instead of making conscious actions, taking conscious actions to get those needs met. And if, when our child's needs conflict with our needs and we're in reactive mode, sometimes what we unintentionally do is we minimize their needs and lead them to believe their needs are not as important. And that's what leads to things like hardcore rules like children should be seen or not heard. And what happens in this house stays in this house, and stop crying before I give you something to cry about. But like all those old age parenting phrases came out of acknowledged needs in parents and realizing, but in this old semi awareness that what my child is doing right now, isn't really working for me. So I'm just going to stop my child,
Penny Williams (41:20): Right. We shut them down. And that sends such a bad message. It sends the message that we don't care. We don't care about their thoughts and feelings. Kids will interpret that as we don't care, or don't love them at all. You have to really be aware of the message you're sending when you try to shut your kid down because that's what you need. So unhelpful, so very unhelpful,
Dr. Lynyetta Willis (41:48): So unhelpful and it just creates more distance and more disconnect in the relationship, which research tells us anything. It's that connection is the most powerful tool that we have in any relationship. If the connection is there and I've seen this, like one of the things I say that I notice often differentiates couples that move through couples, coaching rather smoothly. And the ones that maybe struggle a little bit is that connection. And it often comes in the form of trust around intention. So the couples that feel like they can trust that the other person, their intention is positive. Like even if you say ridiculous stuff, I trust that you have my best interest at heart. They go a lot smoother than the ones who are skeptical and think, no, I don't trust that. And I think the same thing is true with our kids. The more that we can establish a relationship where they can trust us and believe that our intentions for them are ultimately good. Even though we may not execute it the same all the time. If that underlying understanding is there, that will carry us a long way through a lot of faults and stops and starts and fits and turn to a lot of that.
Penny Williams (43:16): So true. Anything else you wanted to be sure we talked about before we close?
Dr. Lynyetta Willis (43:21): Oh, no. I think we talked about so much.
Penny Williams (43:26): Good stuff. Yeah. And so powerful right now when things are harder if we can just go back to basics, go back to understanding each other, respecting each other's needs and the fact that they're different from our own. So often that can carry us such a long way in times that are extra hard.
Dr. Lynyetta Willis (43:48): Yes, yes, yes, yes.
Penny Williams (43:50): Such a great conversation. I want to thank you so much for being here and giving us some of your time and your insights and expertise. I know that the parents who listen really value that. The show notes for this episode, where you will get a link to Lynyetta's website, social media, I will post a link for her program that she has mentioned as well. All of that's in the show notes at parentingadhdandautism.com/112. Thank you again, it's been a blast. I love your energy. It's been really fun. And I want to thank you on behalf of everyone who listens. I know that they're going to really benefit from this conversation.
Dr. Lynyetta Willis (44:37): Thank you. This was so good. And yes, we're doing our next round of the Trigger to Transform program in January. So I would love to see you there. And I know you're going to put it in the show notes. I have a download where you can literally download the entire PATHS program, what each of them stand for and how to use it. And so I would really encourage people to go and grab that, especially in this pandemic time, which is really a struggle for everyone at healing, stable misery.com.
Penny Williams (45:09): Awesome. I'm going to go grab it too. Well, thanks again with that, we will end this episode. I'll see everyone next time. 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.
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